Wednesday Halolinks: Angels still have room to add payroll, but is anyone worth it?

Christian Petersen

The challenge GM Jerry Dipoto faces will be finding the pitching pieces once the season starts.

When it comes to news, we're still in the lull before the storm part of this off-season.  This time next week we'll be bombarded with glorious reports of players actually playing catch, running sprints, hitting baseballs.  The sun will be shining and our heroes will be in sight.  Until then, Halolinks:

  • When reading this post on the Angels' site, I came across this little tidbit: Los Angeles Angels look to fill rotation spots with young arms - angels.com.  "Dipoto would still like to add a veteran or two on a Minor League contract, and there's a strong chance that a lot of starting pitching will come available via trade in-season -- an intriguing route with the Angels still having nearly $15 million in financial wiggle room."  I was under the assumption that the tax was calculated on opening day, but according to the CBA, the date is December 2nd, with payment due January 21st.  In other words, the final payroll figures change throughout the season with the signings and trades that typically occur, and it's not until December that the actual figures are known.  (Here's a link to the Collective Bargain Agreement.  The competitive balance tax stuff starts on page 98.)  The biggest obstacle won't be payroll flexibility, but having the pieces other teams will want in dealing their players (see the top 100 rankings below).
  • I thought it was somewhat humorous that the previous headline mentioned the Angels' rotation getting younger, and then the next article I read highlights how a 36 year-old pitcher might be a key addition to the pitching staff.  Mark Mulder makes pitch to renew career with Angels - latimes.com.  "On Nov. 25, Mulder threw two sets of 25 pitches off a bullpen mound in Tempe, Ariz., for scouts from the Angels, San Francisco and Arizona. "You could tell right away this was a little different than most guys who do these things," said Tim Huff, special assistant to Angels General Manager Jerry Dipoto. "After 10 pitches, all three of us kind of looked at each other and said, 'Who's going to get on the phone to their GMs faster?' " Mulder's fastball ranged from 89 to 92 mph and he located it to both sides of the plate. He also had good feel for his breaking ball and changeup. He threw another 50-pitch session Dec. 18 that Huff said was "just as good or better" than the first."
  • This is pretty smart, and why organizations like the A's and Rays are able to remain competitive with lower payrolls: How Paying Established Closers Saves Teams Money - The Hardball Times.  "There you have it. By keeping Cook out of the ninth inning for just one year, the A’s appear to be saving around $7.4 million in arbitration costs. This makes the net cost of having Jim Johnson close for the A’s in 2014 around $3M. You could argue that these numbers are a bit generous, but assuming that Cook continues to be an effective reliever, the A’s appear to be saving at least $5 million with this move. A $10 million Jim Johnson doesn’t look too great, but at $3-5 million he has to be considered a steal."
  • These are lean times for the Halo minor leagues, and fans who follow the up-and-comers.  2014 Top 100 Prospects - FanGraphs Baseball.  "Teams With the Fewest Top 100 Prospects 30: Angels (0)"  Yeah, the Angels were the only organization not to have a prospect in the top 100.  However, they did have the number one guy in this ranking: The Astros signed baseball's worst pitcher - Beyond the Box Score.  "Last season, 81 starting pitchers threw enough innings to qualify for the ERA title and other postseason awards. Jerome Williams was not only the worst starting pitcher, he was the worst starting pitcher to qualify by throwing at least as many innings as games his team played (162 innings in this case). He's also the worst pitcher per fWAR, fangraphs' version of the WAR statistic created primarily from components and outcomes that a pitcher can control."  I think this is unfair, as Williams was far from the worst starter (I'm thinking Joe Blanton).  He was just the worst who qualified, which is a feat all its own.  You gotta be good enough to continue getting into games.
  • How much is he worth?  Anthony Castrovince: Los Angeles Angels need to figure out what Mike Trout is worth - angels.com.  "But there's no denying that Trout has all the bargaining power, at present. The two largest extensions in history given to players at least three years from free-agent eligibility went to Pujols (seven years, $100 million) and Buster Posey (eight years, $159 million). For Trout, Posey's $19.9 million average annual value is probably a mere starting point, and the decision he'd have to make is whether he wants to do a seismic decade-long deal that takes him into his early 30s, a shorter-term deal that buys out his arb years ahead of time or something in between."  $20 million?  $25 million??  10-year/$300M?
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