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Thursday Halolinks: Garrett Richards making progress towards spring return

Reports say Richards is ahead of schedule for return after knee surgery.

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Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

We haven't entered into the "he's in the best shape of his life" territory yet, but with just over a week left before pitchers and catchers report, they're just around the corner.  Until then, I'll help you wade through the ranking and comeback trail post.

The Show Must Go On in: 8 days

  • Earlier this off-season, Jerry Dipoto and Mike Scioscia seemed to have a different opinion on when Garrett Richards might return to baseball activities.  Dipoto was pretty confident that Richards would be ready when spring training opened, while Scoiscia thought the Halo starter wouldn't be ready until the end of camp.  At the Winter Meetings, Scioscia commented, "I don't think we're going to see Garrett on opening day, but I think the prognosis of having him back somewhere in the first month to six weeks of the season looks very good."  In the same LA Times article, Dipoto said, "Mike is preparing for the worst-case scenario, which is more his nature," Dipoto said. "We understood it would be a six- to nine-month [recovery]. Mike sleeps better at night planning for it to be the latter of the two. We believe Garrett will be back if not on opening day, then at some point in the not-too-distant future."  It's looking like we'll see Richards sooner rather than later:  Spring training will present a test for Angels pitcher Garrett Richards - LA Times, "He is slightly ahead of schedule in a six- to nine-month recovery process, and has regained full range of motion in the knee and most of the strength in his quadriceps and hamstring."  And...Richards hoping to be cleared for bullpen sessions -, "He had an ear-to-ear smile," physical therapist Keith Kocher said. "He said he felt like a baseball player again."
  • We've talked about this before, but here's another "who needs to have a better season" post: 5 players set to hit comeback trail for Angels in '15 -, "SP C.J. Wilson: The 34-year-old left-hander led the American League in walks, didn't complete six innings in 14 of 31 starts, posted a 5.64 ERA over the last four months and exited his lone postseason start before the end of the first inning, after giving up a bases-clearing double to Alex Gordon in Game 3 of the American League Division Series. The 2014 season was Wilson's worst in five years as a Major League starter, and 2015 will be the fourth of a five-year, $77.5 million contract."  The other four players are Josh Hamilton, Garrett Richards (see above), Tyler Skaggs (Huh?  He's out for the season following TJ surgery), and Jose Alvarez.
  • Sounds like a solid plan: Organizational report: Angels add youth to veteran core -, "What we've attempted to do is fill the 40-man roster with optionable players who are talented, focusing on the mid-20-year-old group, guys who can potentially come to the big leagues and help you now, while we grow the lower levels of the system through the draft and international signings," Dipoto told USA TODAY Sports."
  • Could the AL West be the best division in baseball? Schoenfeld predicts the Astros will finish the season above .500.  Although he predicts the Rangers to go 72-90, a record they could easily beat if healthy, the AL West could have each of its teams finishing the season with a winning record.  Ranking the teams: 18 through 13 - SweetSpot Blog - ESPN. "15. Houston Astros -  Prediction: 83-79"
  • As I wrote yesterday, I wish this guy would just get it over with and sign with a team:  How Moncada compares to top middle-infield prospects -, "If he were eligible for the 2015 First-Year Player Draft, Moncada would be a strong contender to go No. 1 overall to the D-backs. His overall 65 grade would place him among the top dozen prospects in baseball right now, and it's arguably a bit conservative, because teams haven't had the chance to evaluate him against much quality competition. Only the first three players on the Top 100 earned overall 70s: Buxton, Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant and Correa."
  • I thought the really interesting thing from this post was the net value of Shields' contract; he signed for 4-years at $75M, but the net value is about $38 million due to California's high tax rate: How much are taxes affecting James Shields' payday with the Pads? - FOX Sports, "Think about that: The Padres offered Shields $15 million more than the Cubs, but the difference after taxes amounted to less than $4.5 million."
  • The Babe, Prime Pedro, and Baby Bryce: Taking a Trip Through Major League Baseball’s Film and Video Archive , "Working in a small room filled with screens, dials, and a mysterious mini closet, Jon Rose was scrutinizing a game when I walked in. It took about 0.00001 seconds to realize he was watching vintage Pedro Martinez! Not just any Pedro game, either. This was the pitcher’s August 29, 2000 masterpiece at Tropicana Field, a game in which Martinez fired a one-hit shutout with 13 strikeouts and no walks. At any given point during the day, Rose will be hunkered down in front of a screen, digitizing seven games at once. Once those games have all gone digital, they become infinitely easier to share with various partners, such as MLB Network and ESPN, regional sports networks, or various other third-party users. Rose doesn’t really need to watch the game on his screen all that closely while the machines capture footage. "But it’s Pedro," he says, "so why not?!"
  • This isn't baseball related, but I thought it was a weird sort of way: High-Speed Chase Ends With Civilians Dishing Out Street Justice, "Police got into a high-speed pursuit with a robbery suspect in Dallas today, and the chase ended when the suspect slammed into a line of cars at a stop light. That's when he was apprehended not by police officers, but by a road-raging couple who were not about to let some asshole just get away with wrecking their car."