That's one week of 2016 Angels Spring Training baseball in the books, folks, so it's probably a good time to settle down a bit and take a look at what we've learned. Here are the things that pop into my mind as soon as I start thinking about this year's camp, so far.
1. The bench may be pretty decent, praise be to Eppler:
Ji-Man Choi has quickly become a fan favorite around these parts, and for good reason. His prowess at the 1B bag, his ability to possibly cover LF when needed, his great contact hitting and amazing Halos Heaven meme(Ji-Spot!) are all bright spots of a young month of March, especially considering this guy was just a Rule 5 pickup. Put him with guys like Rafael Ortega or Cliff Pennington, and you immediately get some comfort that the Angels' bench may be quite useful this season. Ortega and Pennington still have to make the cut, as others could emerge, but Choi will definitely be on the roster at the end of Spring Training. He's this year's Taylor Featherston...only valuable.
2. The Craig Gentry/Daniel Nava platoon can work?!?!:
Nava currently has an OPS of 1.436 and Gentry an OPS of 1.038, and both have been serviceable-to-good out in the field. The LF conundrum was the main source of overall fan dissatisfaction and disgruntlement over the off-season, so while it's only been one week of Spring Training, you're loving what you've seen so far. Many here on HH, myself included, thought that as unexciting as a Gentry/Nava platoon sounds, it was set to still be an improvement on last year's LF, and so far that seems to be the case. Emphasis on "so far".
3. Jered Weaver's fastball refuses to go fast:
We've all seen it coming for a couple seasons now, but 79mph?!?!? Brutal. And sad. Brutally sad. Maybe he's just getting warmed up, but even then, what does that mean? He "gets warmed up" and throws a mighty 84mph? We tried getting by on that last year, cost us some games. Weaver probably doesn't that The Stuff any more, and it's sad.
4. Albert Pujols is playing in baseball games: Hey, remember when most thought Albert Pujols wouldn't even be doing activities at camp until mid-to-late March? Old Man Pujols' foot apparently healed faster than predicted, and the dude came into came pretty much unrestricted in his abilities. He's pretty much penciled into the Opening Day lineup at this point. Yay? Boo? Your mileage may vary.
5. The starting rotation still needs sorting out:
Along with the aforementioned Weaver issues, you also have comeback hero candidate Tyler Skaggs and contract year stud candidate C.J. Wilson still not pitching in games. It's thought that they'll miss a couple starts each in the regular season, pushing back their debuts to mid-April or so. Well...shoot. This is making me feel quite relieved that the Angels didn't trade away any starting arms over the off-season, because while they had a surplus of them, they're already having to dip into those second or third options(like Matt Shoemaker) and we're not even halfway through Spring Training.
6. Garrett Richards throws hard:
Richards hit 100mph a couple times on the radar gun the other day. He doesn't HAVE to throw that fast to be successful for the Angels. He can stay in the mid-90s range, wisely using his array of non-100mph pitches, and still make guys look like fools swinging in the wind. It's sort of like when seeing Stephen Curry throw down a 360 windmill dunk in warmups: it's far from what he needs to do to be the best in the game, but you are also far from complaining about the awesomeness you just witnessed.
7. Mike Trout is the Mike Troutiest Mike Trout to ever Mike Trout:
Mike Trout is on fire already, on the field and at the plate. ESPECIALLY at the plate, where he's barely haan AB where he doesn't get on somehow. He's basically just being Mike Trout, or to quote Mr. Show with Bob and David, he's "King Shit of F*** Mountain" right now and we're all loving every second of it. Mike Trout IS baseball.
We were so thirsty for baseball just a week ago, and now we're a few games into Spring Training, but our thirst has only gotten worse. Opening Day is next up for us to freak out about, and then the Billy Eppler rubber hits the Mike Scioscia road. What'd I miss here today, though? What are some of your takeaways from the first week of Spring Training 2016?