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Tuesday Halolinks: Defensive positioning and spending the owner's cash

Was one of the reasons for the Angels failure due to positioning? Who knows how much money the Angels will spend?

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, did you get the memo?  Thanksgiving is this week.  While the holiday season will officially begin in about 72 hours, the Angels have already begun cleaning out the toy room in anticipation of all those bright and shiny new additions to replace the broken dreams of winters past.  Ah, the joy of the season...and Halolinks:

  • Here's an interesting theory; one of the reasons the Angels have done so poorly the past couple of years is because they players were standing in the wrong spot?  Angels trending with appointment of Rick Eckstein to coaching staff -  "Over the years, as they've been absent from the playoffs the last four seasons, things got stale and fresh perspectives were needed, many inside and outside the organization believe. A relationship strain between Scioscia and Dipoto, who are said to be on the same page these days, led to differences over how scouting and analytical information should be presented. And some believe the Angels' significant drop in Defensive Runs Saved -- from second in 2012 to 27th in 2013 -- was due in large part to bad positioning."  So, the answer to this problem was to trade away one of the players who can cover more spots than any other player in the league?  Maybe this new coaching position will have its benefits, as long as Mike Scioscia is open to using the data.
  • I thought this weekend's signing of Joe Smith was a good move by the club, but it seems that although he's a good pitcher, some feel the Angels were in no financial position to spend $5 million a year on a set-up man.  Breaking Down The Angels' Joe Smith Signing -  "If ERA alone doesn't convince you Smith is a top setup man, then it's hard to find a particular standout skill he displayed in 2013.  He's not a strikeout guy, he doesn't have great control (especially versus left-handed hitters), and his groundball rate and BABIP weren't anything special this year.  His ERA was low because he stranded 86% of his baserunners.  The Angels probably don't have a reason to expect that to be repeated, so they're left with a guy whose only above average skill might be inducing groundballs from right-handed hitters.  They didn't need to spend $15.75MM to find a guy who can do that, with Matt Albers and Jamey Wright also on the free agent market.  That's not to suggest Albers and Wright are as good as Smith, but with limited payroll flexibility and a need for two starting pitchers, this signing was a questionable allocation of resources for the Halos."  No one who is privy to the actual financial restraints the team has is talking, so to question how much the Angels actually have to spend is kind of pointless.  We all know what their current payroll is, and we all know what the luxury tax threshold is, but none of us know how much Arte Moreno is willing to spend.  Here's another post about Smith and payroll, but more important is the breakdown of how good (or bad) of a pitcher he is: Joe Smith: Boring Name, Decent Reliever - FanGraphs Baseball.  "However, one might wonder if the Angels’ situation really called for them to go out of their way to get Smith. Their closer, Ernesto Frieri, throws right-handed, and though Dane de la Rosa (also a righty) is probably not as good as his impressive 2013, it is not clear that Smith is leaps and bounds better. A good argument can be made that the Angels would be better of saving the money spent elsewhere, say, on upgrading the back end of their rotation (insert your own Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, and a time machine joke here)."
  • Sure, these two guys are possibly available, but nowhere within this post does it speculate what the Royals are looking for in return for first year eligible relievers.  If the Royals are willing to deal some bullpen parts because they are getting too expensive, the rumored Howie Kendrick trade4 to Kansas City makes no sense at all: Royals open to dealing Collins, Crow - MLB Daily Dish.  "Both Collins and Crow are entering their first year of arbitration-eligibility and each figures to earn no more than $2 million, which is quite a bargain when compared to bloated free agent contract relievers are receiving, such as the three years and $15 million the Angels gave to Joe Smith over the weekend."  Also, the "bloated" Smith contract is a bit of hyperbole.  Smith is worth what the Angels paid, the question is why did the Angels pay it.
  • If it is true the Halos are under some sort of "salary cap", wouldn't it be prudent to start adding players who are cheap due to some sort of "issue", but still have some up-side?  If I were the Angels front-office, I'd be cornering the market on DFA'd pitchers hoping one or two rebound, such as: Indians Designate Tyler Cloyd For Assignment -  "However, Cloyd was hit hard at the big league level in 2013, posting a 6.56 ERA in 60 1/3 innings and averaging 6.1 strikeouts and 3.7 walks per nine innings with a 39.4 percent ground-ball rate. His 86.3 mph average fastball is one of the slowest you'll see from a right-handed starter, creating plenty of room for doubt, but his FIP of 4.49 this season does leave some room for optimism."  And if you're going to possibly deal your second baseman, you might want to get an insurance policy on the position: Minor Moves: Irving Falu, Tyler Robertson -  "The Royals have requested unconditional release waivers on second baseman Irving Falu, tweets Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. The 30-year-old switch-hitter has an impressive .337/.366/.427 batting line in an admittedly tiny sample size of 95 plate appearances. He's been solid but less spectacular at the Triple-A level, hitting .283/.342/.365. He received just four big league plate appearances in 2013."  Or make a deal for a possible useful bullpen piece that another organization doesn't have room for: Fernando Abad traded to Oakland Athletics from Washington Nationals - ESPN.  "The 27-year-old Abad, who was designated for assignment last Wednesday, went 0-3 with a 3.35 ERA in 39 appearances for the Nationals last season. He spent 2010-12 with the Houston Astros and has a career record of 1-14 with a 4.56 ERA in 127 outings."  Maybe, it's just impatience on my part, but it just seems like there are many options available that the club seems to be ignoring.
  • Oh, great.  The Angels didn't want to pay Ervin Santana's option last season, but are now rumored to be interested in the "poor man" version: Ervin Santana and Bronson Arroyo present huge risk as free agents - ESPN.  "He is essentially then the poor man's Santana -- when Arroyo keeps his home run rate under control, he's a decent pitcher. When he doesn't, he's a complete disaster. And Arroyo has been even more volatile than Santana -- in each of the past four seasons, the soon-to-be 37-year-old has had at least a 40-point shift in his FIP."
  • Here's some fun: Name That Blue.  "How well do you know your shades of blue? Test your ability to identify the colours of popular brands, companies and lots of other stuff with this never ending quiz."