You have to give Billy Eppler some credit. This past off-season, Arte Moreno basically said, "Here's 20 bucks, go make a winning ball club".
Eppler went to wheeling and dealing. He tried to shore up our defense. He brought in players with higher OBP and lower K rates. Then he went dumpster diving for diamond-in-the-rough pitchers since he had no cash left to do much else.
At the beginning of the season I don't think Eppler and Scioscia were just paying lip service by saying we had a team that could content in 2016. After spring training, the rest of us were believing it as well. Of course we all know, and all too painfully this year, that spring training doesn't count and once April hits, it's literally a whole new ballgame.
There have probably been 800 articles written about how the Angels are wasting Mike Trout's best years (because we are). But what do we do about it? The short answer, at least for 2016 is - not much. Trout is locked in until 2020. There are some moves we can make this year to be competitive in 2017. Even more so in the 2018-2020 window. But what do we do?
First thing - host a fire sale! Everything not bolted down must go. I think we should keep some of the home grown talent, the young pitchers, etc. But there are players we can afford to, and should let go. I'm not going to go into which teams need which positions - may be a topic for another day.
Here is my fire sale list:
- Yunel Escobar - His value is high right now and the Angels gave up a good relief prospect and an average starting prospect in the deal. There is no reason to believe we couldn't get back the same right now. Or we could get one high end prospect back in return which would be great. Call up Kaleb Cowart or throw Marte at 3B.
- Johnny Giavotella - This little scrappy dude didn't have much value, but he does now. Not sure we could get a top tier prospect for him, but we could get at least a middle grade prospect if we find the right team in need of a second baseman. Move Petit to second base or even bring up Sherman Johnson. Why not?
- Carlos Perez - He is not having the best year at the plate but he's a good defensive catcher. He has a .233 MLB career AVG and most teams can use an MLB quality starting catcher. If you trade now, call up Anthony Bemboom as backup until Soto returns. Perez should fetch at least a mid-tier prospect in return.
- Fernando Salas - Despite 2 losses and 4 blown saves, Salas still has a 1.02 WHIP and 3.62 ERA in 2016. He's had pretty impressive numbers in his career and has a 1.15 WHIP and 3.58 ERA in 7 seasons. He may even be worth a top tier prospect for a team that could use one good reliever to contend. We don't have a lot to backfill except for many one of our extra starting pitchers moving to the pen or call up Cody Satterwhite who is putting together a good year for Salt Lake. You could even give home-grown Chris O'Grady the nod.
- Jhoulys Chacin - This guy could fetch a top tier prospect and we may soon have a plethora of pitchers again. When Tropeano and Skaggs come back, he should be fair game. He's put together a pretty good stint with the Halos and there are teams that could use more guy in their rotation.
- Joe Smith - This will have to wait until he's off the DL, but he could fetch a good prospect. Not sure what we could get from him though, since his contract is up after this season. He'd be a cheap set-up man rental.
- Albert Pujols - no one is taking on his contract. Ever. We have him until he's like 52 (unelss he already is that old - in which case, we have him until his AARP eligible).
- C.J. Cron - He is our potentially starting first baseman in the near team when Pujols can't play it anymore, which may be rapidly approaching.
- Andrelton Simmons - we gave up a lot of him so we might as well keep him at least for the next few years until we have a replacement ready.
- Kole Calhoun - He is the future of our outfield with Trout. Needs to stick around a while.
- Hector Santiago - We should have sold high. No one will want him now unless they think they can get him to get his in-game sh!t together. If they can, he'd be a good trade chip.
- Huston Street - We don't have anyone else that can close. We need him for now.
- Cam Bedrosian - Proving a *little* bit of worth lately, plus Scioscia loves him too much to trade him. He could have value though and I'd love to see him go.
2016/2017 off-season coming off the payroll:
- Jered Weaver - $20 million
- C.J. Wilson - $20 million
- Yunel Escobar - $7 million (unless we get the relief earlier)
- Joe Smith - $5 million
- Geovany Soto - $3 million
- Erick Aybar - $2.5 million
- Sherman Johnson (2B)
- Kaleb Cowart (3B)
- Juan Graterol (C)
- Jett Bandy (C)
- Rafael Ortega (OF)
- Nate Smith (LHP) - Could landing a starting spot in 2017
- Tyler DeLoach (LHP) - May be a good bullpen piece in 2017
- Chris O'Grady (LHP) - Was supposed to be MLB ready by now. May crack the pen in 2017 or later i 2016.
- Andrew Daniel (IF) - Second baseman that can play most infield spots. Could land a utility role by 2018.
- Cal Towey (OF) - Originally targeted for a 2016 MLB arrival - tearing it up in AA this year
- Chad Hinshaw (OF) - Originally targeted for a 2016 MLB arrival but having an abysmal year in 2016 for AA
- Victor Alcantara (RHP) - Could even seen him hit the pen some time in 2017
- Kyle McGowin (RHP) - This guy could even see our roster in 2017 but we are potentially loaded with 2017 starters.
- Grayson Long (RHP) - Maybe a bit of a long shot, but he would be 24 in the the 2018 season. This 2015 3rd round draft pick has had an amazing minor league career so far. Will need to see how he handles higher caliber hitters once he gets up to AA and above.