Earlier today, our Assistant Editor, Eric “cupie” Campuzano, had the great opportunity to speak with the Assistant General Manager of the Angels, Ken Forsch. A former pitcher for the organization (and Ranked 66th All Time in our Top 100 Angels countdown), Ken oversees the team's scouting and negotiations with pitchers as well as a host of other front office duties. He was nice enough to give us at Halos Heaven a few minutes.
ERIC “CUPIE” CAMPUZANO: Ken, if you go back in time and play GM for the Halos would you still make the trade Ken Forsch for Dickie Thon?
KEN FORSCH: (Laughs) I think both teams were happy with the trade. Down the road, If I remember, I slid into first base and tore up my shoulder and was never really able to recover from it and around the same time, I believe that Dickie got beaned in the head and was really never the same player.
ECC FOR HALOS HEAVEN: When drafting pitchers, where do you stand on the high school and college debate?
KF: We would like to draft the college pitcher first. But due to the last few years, we have been unable to do it. We are drafting to late in the round to find that pitcher so we usually we have to draft the more raw high school pitcher. Hopefully it is a high risk and with a high reward.
HH: How important is mental makeup on pitchers, and what are the relevant attributes that are either positive or negative? A warning sign, or cause for hope, etc…
KF: The mental make up is very important to us. It is easy to put up a radar gun and see it the high 90’s and the ball is moving all over the place, but if he does not have the mental make up between the lines than it really doesn’t matter. That being said, if your fastball is 80 mph and you have the great mental make up it doesn’t matter either. Obviously the goal is to have the pitcher that has great command, movement, and the mental make up to be a big league pitcher. Our scouts are always looking at body language to gauge this make up.
HH: The Angels used to have a reputation/talent for finding relievers off the scrap heap and getting great performances (Ben Weber, Brendan Donnelly, etc.). Now it seems they are more throwing money at Carrasco/Speier types. Has a talent been lost?
KF: Budget. We have a different budget now than we had when we found Ben Weber and Brendan Donnelly. The new budget allows us the opportunity to find guys that are already successful and established. That being said, our scouts are out there always looking for Brendan Donnelly type. If I remember, we found Brendan in AA and what turned him around was that he was finally able to command the zone. And he moved up the system relatively quickly. He was one of those guys with mental make up but was unable to get the ball over the plate consistently. Once, he did that he had some good years here.
HH: Seriously, how many people does Jason Bulger need to strike out in AAA before he gets a shot?
KF: The problem is not what Jason is doing in AAA, it is what he's doing at the major league level. He is extremely consistent and has great stuff in AAA, but when he is pitching for the Angels, he is very good one day and struggles the next. It is very difficult for Mike to find a place for Jason on the staff due to his inconsistency at the major league level.
HH: Jered Weaver started striking people out in bunches & otherwise pitching pretty well after mid-May or so last year. Do you see him making a qualitative jump forward, like when John Lackey finally figured it out?
KF: We hope so. In the past, his off season work outs were not where we wanted them. So it took him a while to get going. This off season, we are happy with his work outs. He has really stepped it up. We are hoping that this season both Joe (Saunders) and Jered will make that jump like Lackey did. If that happens… We will have a very solid starting rotation.
HH: Who is responsible for the off season programs? Is it the players responsibility?
KF: At the end of every season our Strength and Conditioning Coaches make up a program for every player. We follow up with them every month and if they get hurt during this time we bring them in here immediately and address it. At the end of the day, it is up to player to follow their strength and conditioning program during the off season. They are on their own. We think it is important, especially for the pitchers, to follow this program. Their bodies are a lot more difficult to turn off and then turn back on. It is a very difficult and delicate process for a pitcher.
HH: Are there any injuries that a pitcher may have had they would cause the Angels to not acquire them via trade or free agency? Also, is Mark Mulder the type of player the Angels wouldn't be interested in acquiring because of injury, declining skill sets, or something else?
KF: We try to stay away from anyone with any type of shoulder injury. Today, the elbow can be fixed. But once your shoulder goes it is very difficult to recover from. With any player we are looking at we are following their conditioning and how they are recovering. It is what Boston is going to have to do with Smoltz. They don’t know how things are going to turn out with him and his shoulder. They just need to be on top of everything with him and his shoulder.
Thanks to Angels VP of Communications Tim Mead who coordinated this interview for our blog, and to Jim Gardner and Matt Welch for suggesting some of these questions.