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Thursday Halolinks: Are the Angels looking at things differently?

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Big money free agents aren't the only way to improve your team.

"Hey, look at that headline!"
"Hey, look at that headline!"
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Is it cold where you are?  It is here:

I live about where the "v" points to in "How do you people live like this" section.  Please, someone help me.  Please.

Anyway, here are some toasty Halolinks:

  • We touched on this Tuesday, but OC Register's Jeff Fletcher has the inside info: Cowart's struggles could test limits of Angels' patience - The Orange County Register, "If Cowart does hit exclusively left-handed in 2015, and the results don’t improve, then he may try something even more dramatic. When the Angels drafted Cowart as an infielder, other teams had their eyes on him as a pitcher. As his offense has failed to come around, the Angels and Cowart have discussed the possibility of moving to the mound. "I don’t think I’m there yet," Cowart yet. "Maybe after next year sometime. Right now I’m still hitting." Dipoto agrees. The Angels are still high on Cowart’s defense, his attitude and work ethic. Those positives, along with his age, allow them to remain patient with his bat."
  • Here's an interesting article which mentions newly departed Hank Conger.  I think the pitch framing valuation method is still arbitrary, but it does show Conger did have more value than what the Angels gave him credit for: The three people who explain baseball right now - FOX Sports, "Let'€™s look at the Conger deal. The Astros already have an All-Star catcher in Jason Castro. Why trade a pitcher like Tropeano who, while not in line to be a world beater, has a chance to be a non-anonymous part of someone'€™s rotation for ... a backup catcher? The secret lies in Conger'€™s hidden super power. In the last few years, there'€™s been a revolution in the way that teams understand (and value) catcher defense. Particularly, we now know that some catchers are good at "€œstealing"€ extra strikes for their pitchers. This process, known as "€œpitch framing"€ seems to be the result of catchers who catch the ball "quietly"€ (i.e., without moving the glove very much.) .... That means that Conger was actually somewhere around a 2.5 win player last year. Even if he sees reduced playing time, if he does roughly what he did last year, he'€™ll clear about a win and a half of value (or so) out of the backup catcher'€™s spot, a spot that most teams barely bother to think about. It'€™s not the sort of move that wins a pennant, but it'€™s another message about where baseball is going. While most people think of roster building from the top down (hence why everyone is worried about where Lester will sign), the Astros found a way to create value from the 22nd spot on the roster. Not bad."  The important take-away here is there's more than one way to add value to your team, one which it appears the Angels are starting to embrace as evidenced by some of their recent moves.  Even this one can be added to that philosophy; the pitcher they acquired seems to be one of those "fringe-type" players who can add unexpected value.  Something I wrote about a few years ago: November 7, 2008 and at The Halo is Lit.
  • Here's another: Rule 5 Draft Rumors - MLB Trade Rumors, "The Angels have inked left-hander Atahualpa Severino to a minor league pact, according to a tweet from MLB.com’s Mike DiGiovanna. Severino, 30, spent last year at Triple-A for the Braves. He has yet to make it back to the bigs since a brief cameo with the Nationals back in 2011."
  • And, potentially another: The Top Minor-League Free Agents by the Projections - FanGraphs Baseball, "A weblog post by Cody Christie at NoDak Twins Fans suggests that Triple-A third baseman Deibinson Romero is "knocking on the door" of a major-league roster spot. What’s perhaps revealing about that post, however — in particular, for how it pertains to Romero’s career prospects — is that it’s dated June 9th, 2013. In the season and a half played since the publication of that post, Romero has made zero appearances at the major-league level. That’s not to say that he hasn’t merited consideration. In 862 plate appearances, Romero has recorded a batting line 20% better than the International League average while also making 90% of his defensive starts at third base. Enough, that, for Steamer to consider the 28-year-old a roughly league-average player."
  • But not this guy: Braves designate Jonny Venters for assignment - MLB Daily Dish, "Venters, 29, will likely miss the entire 2015 season after undergoing his third Tommy John surgery in September, but a major-league source notes that he is looking to make a comeback and pitch in the big leagues again at some point. Indications are that Venters is expected to clear waivers and become a free agent, with the Braves likely to have interest in bringing him back on a minor-league deal so that he can continue his rehab as a member of the organization."  Otherwise, Venters would be near the top of the "Please Acquire" list.
  • Yes, please.  Probably not, though: Ten free-agent signings that should happen. - SportsonEarth.com, "James Shields, RHP What I'd like to happen: Angels. With Garrett Richards working his way back from a knee injury and Tyler Skaggs on the mend following Tommy John surgery, the Angels are going to need a workhorse in their rotation. Shields might be in line for something akin to the C.J. Wilson contract (five years, $77.5 million), and who better to provide it than the team that signed Wilson. Wait? What's that? The luxury tax? Ah, yes. In terms of average annual value (which is what counts for tax purposes), the Angels have more than $140 million committed to just 10 players for 2015, so getting this done without hitting the $189 million threshold is doubtful."
  • A couple of posts for you stat guys (and gals): Consecutive Seasons of a Power Decline - Beyond the Box Score, "With this sample I looked for consecutive declines in the players' HR total of at least 5 HR. Again, 5 is a mostly arbitrary number. I could have used some sort of combination of a drop of 5 one season, and 4 or 3 the next, but decided to keep things simple, and really, a drop of 10 home runs from 2012 to 2014 is fairly substantial. Note that doing things this way excludes any player that hit fewer than 10 home runs in 2012, so there is a better chance that this will catch players that we would consider to have decent power." Albert Pujols would have made this list had it not been for his bouceback year in 2014 which saw him hit 28 HR. His previous HR totals were 47, 42, 37, 30, 17 (2009-2013).  Does this mean we should expect something in the 20-25 HR range in 2015?
  • And...Making an attempt at strength of contact using PITCHf/x - Beyond the Box Score, "Seems reasonable, no? There is a decent jump from 310 to 311 that doesn't occur from 309 to 310 or from 311 to 312. 311 feet is about 0.72 standard deviations above the median. So 311 will be my cutoff. The next logical step is to determine the production and frequency of a can of corn compared to a hard hit fly ball."
  • Could it be there's more to this Dan Haren/a frequent HH commenter thing than which we know about?  Dan Haren of Los Angeles Dodgers would rather retire than pitch outside LA - ESPN Los Angeles, "My signing with the Dodgers last year and my decision to exercise my player option were based on my desire to play in Southern California near my family," Haren told ESPN in an email. "I had other opportunities, but at this point in my career, I have no interest in playing in a city away from my family." Haren's name surfaced in trade discussions recently, according to a CBSSports.com report. Haren made little secret of how difficult it was to be away from his family during the 2013 season, when he pitched for the Washington Nationals. A native of West Covina, California, and a product of Pepperdine, Haren and his family now live in Orange County."