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Thor'sLinks: 8 days to go!

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Our bread basket is more like a dust bowl But instead of mortgaging our best asset for new seeds and praying for rain, we just need to apply modern fundamentals and start farming correctly.

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Noisy day yesterday. Keith Law has taken a closer look at our ugly baby and declared that our baby is ugly. He also suggests that the time may be near when we need to make our baby not ugly anymore by handing over our magic unicorn. That should shake up Facebook for a few days.

Look, right off the top, trading away Mike Trout in order to make our farm system better is a stupid, stupid, stupid idea. No farm system, once made strong and deep, remains there just because it got there. The strength and depth of any farm system will matriculate to the big leagues and will then require replenishment. So trading away Trout might make the farm system look good for a year or three, but without also doing the things we should have been doing all along we will be right back here in the same spot three years later, except that we won't have Mike Trout. And we won't have him forever.

So hell to the NO on that idea.

The first thing that needs to be put out there in the public forum is the franchise priority. It's now realized that MLB teams are trending towards favoring youth over veterans. Kids are cheaper before they hit their FA age, and those pre-FA years tend to have huge chunks of prime abilities. So more and more teams are loading up on draft picks and doing international scouting/signings and shying away from Big Price Tag Free Agents on the open market. It's happening. Are the Halos in on this or are they still more committed to paying higher dollar averages for proven talent? The latter is not a bad thing because talent that is proven is far more of an exact science than talent that is merely possible, or even probable. So Arte and Eppler need to tell us what it's going to be before we start jumping to all the wrong conclusions. are they in on that wave or are they going to stay old-school?

If the plan is to retool the pipeline, even gradually, the changes needed are far simpler to map out than Trading The Mike Trout and becoming the laughingstock of sports for generations to come. Those would be:

1) Hold on to your #1 and #2 picks. Not because it's cheaper. But because 67% of the current MLB Top 100 Prospects were #1 or #2 picks. Only 7% came from later rounds. (There has to be some sort of bias at work there. In a larger sense, people who rank these things are part of the same community that drafted them high in the first place. As hard as Turk's Teeth likes to remind us that Brandon Wood was undeserving of the expectations everybody was placing on him, it's still very true that he was once ranked #3 overall by at least Baseball America. In fact, #1 in that same ranking was Delmon Young, who is now without any team at all and trying to stay out of jail. So keeping the rose-colored glasses on when the scouting community is busy looking at their own baby might be at play here.)

2) Get back into the International scouting business. BIG. 26% of the current MLB Top 100 Prospects were NOT drafted - at all - but came as international signees. ALL of them came after Arte fired his international team and shut it all down. This means, for shit's sake, they were totally obtainable all along without any frikkin' concern about any Qualifying Offers or anything. If ever there was a have your cake and eat it, too opportunity this has been it, and Arte has been pissing away. Of course, with a new CBA coming around the corner, this window may about to be closed shut.

Draft-1

See chart above and how the current MLB Top 100 cluster in the very area where the Angels were self-handicapped.

3) Choose wisely. This means better scouting and talent evaluation. Success can be had in all rounds. It's just a lot harder, and luckier, to have success in later rounds. But you need a larger organization of well-qualified workers operating in a command structure properly chartered to get the job done, in order to improve your chances of succeeding in each round. I harp on this all the time, but the evidence is right there to be seen if you care to look for it. Arte runs a super lean ship, and whether that's because he is cheap or he has a different strategic vision for the talent acquisition process, it is what it is. But what is, is clearly not working.

4) This is a personal bogeyman of mine. Stop wasting picks by loading up on catchers in later rounds. Catchers are ugly babies. Only 4% of the current MLB Top 100 Prospects are catchers. That's not a good pathway to improving the franchise pipeline. In the time span of drafts that comprise that MLB Top 100, the Angels have spent 11.8% of their picks on catchers. Meanwhile, 22.6% of the current Top 100 are middle infielders, and the Halos only drafted 12.1% there. And whaddya know? The Halos have zero depth in the middle infield, and no high-ranking draft picks with which to use as trade bait to move up.

Draft-3

Notice the difference between where the Angels have emphasized their drafts, versus the kinds of players that turn into farm assets.

If the road to future riches is paved by following the opinions of prospect rankers, there is an industrial-sized paver sitting idle on the side of the road with our name on it that can do the job perfectly well. All we have to do is climb aboard, get Arte to pay to fuel it up, and turn the keys.

Ok...dig some Links:

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Everywhere In Baseball

Wise Cracks: Spring Training is just days away now, and you all know the memories you have racing throough your brain. Cool spring air, warm sun, fresh grass, the pop of basbeall hitting gloves in warnups, and the crack of the ball against the bat. That's the sweetest memory of all. So let's ruin that with too much science..........

Featherston: Well, it's official. Jerry Dipoto hung on to Taylor Featherston all season long and forced all hands to deal with only 23 roster slots for franchise flexibility, AND walked away from the chance to snag a longer term 2B during the trade season, all so that Billy Eppler could gift Featherston over to the Phillies for some pocket change and a random minor league bus rider to be named whenever they figure it out..............

Pujols Porn: Miguel Cabrera is the contemporary gold standard for best pure hitters in all of baseball.  Albert Pujols is well past his peak and in advanced decline. And yet, Cabrera still is failing to gain ground on what Pujols has done with a bat. That's just how far out ahead of Cabrera Albert had pushed himself before he went over his personal hilltop...........And, let's be clear, Pujols has been pretty good for us, but nothing like the Great he was up to right before he came West. Pujols was really, really great...........

Yu Coming: It' s my job to bring the news, both good...and bad. That's why I am keeping an eye on Yu Darvish. That guy is gonna hurt us this season. And he is coming hard, possibly hard enough to compensate for any resurgence we might get out of infield upgrades or any Weaver/Pujols resurgence. By the time we get to August, we might be hoping for some kind of innings limit in Texas............

Yanking on the Hank: Here's a fun one. As the Braves flee to the suburbs and away from a perfectly viable and shiny Turner field, it looks like they might have to leave behind the status of their greatest hero, Hank Aaron. the statue doesn't actually belong to the Braves. Apparently there is an old contract where the Braves agreed to surrender their rights to location to the City of Atlanta...........

Dog Fighting: Yeah, if I recall correctly the last time I was at Dodger Stadium the well-known "Dodger Dog" had melted from being famous, to infamous. It was terrible, not at all like I remember as a youngster. Of course, memory science being what it is these days I know not to trust my childhood memories anymore, but I digress. Adam Carolla is all over it, calling the Dodger Dog "...the worst piece of meat shaped in a stick...a horrible, horrible hot dog..."

Phenom: Teenager Jimmy Boyce has been having a tough time playing for his high school baseball team up in Washington State, because of the bureacracy involved in trying to declare his eligibility as an international transfer from New Zealand. But next week all that will be resolved, as that same bureacracy will watch Boyce take the mound for New Zealand in the WBC. Because he will be facing pro athletes who are taking time out to represent other nations, that very same bureacracy will go into overdrive and strip Boyce of his amateur status, preventing him from playing high school baseball, ever...........

WBC: Speaking of which, the WBC is off and running. Qualifiers have already started. Check your schedules, because streaming is over at mlb.com.............

Best 27 of All Time: Poor Mike Trout. If only he were to become as good as Juan Marichal..........

Jurisprudence: Rob Manfred is now the major commissioner stepping up to the plate on the issue of domestic violence in his sport. He has his issues. And he has a short remaining window within which to resolve them............

Sports Biz: The ESPN death spiral has grown to be so huge, it's starting to have a measurable impact on The Ultimate Cash Cow Mothership, Disney itself. I hope historians are taking lots of notes, and can assemble a Hall of Shame for all the EPSN deciion-makers and personalities who were playign a role in the shitstorm that has been the ESPN cloud over sports for the past decade. It would be great to see those asshats memorialized with busts of infamy to be ridiculed for all time...........

Winter Sports: It's still winter, and sports facilities can still be useful. Even ones that don't host a winter sports team. For example, in Anaheim, we have things like Supercross and  Monster Jam. In Boston, they have Monster Air. Just as cool................

For Hire: Do you find yourself spending way too much time here on Halos Heaven? Do you post a lot of comments? Do you want a gig in baseball? Come on, I know several of you who are, if nothing else, over-qualified already. Well, MLBTR.com is hiring. I was disqualified as soon as I got to this: "Exceptional knowledge of all 30 baseball teams, no discernible bias." Yeah, well, eff the A's...........

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