Spring Training is about to kick off, with pitchers and catchers reporting this coming Tuesday and the rest of the Halos showing up on Friday. It’s here, people. The 2017 Angels baseball season. With the Cactus League action comes positional battles, which will give the Angels the ability to suss out the opening day roster.
Position battles are a spring training tale as old as time. Often you will have multiple things to keep an eye on throughout camp, at just about every facet of the game, in order to get some clarity on your team. The Angels don’t really have a lot of question marks, at least that we haven’t already know about for awhile.
Like it or not, the unknowns are the same as they were when the offseason began last November: Bullpen and 5th starter. What is going to become of these two crucial questions?
Number five guys
There are so many ways the fifth starter could go. Our very own Jessica did some work on this recently, trying to predict the opening day rotation, and then introducing us to the guys who could all have a shot at being a #5 starting arm this season. There are a LOT of ways it could go, let’s just put it that way.
I’m partial to Jesse Chavez. Well, not in regards to his pitching skills, exactly, but if I am trying to nail down who the team is thinking of as their fifth starter, then I’m going with the first pitcher Eppler picked up this Winter. Chavez has a one-year deal, and like pretty much all the other arms that the front office acquired recently, it’s extremely low-risk.
Some like Alex Meyer as a dark horse to crack the rotation, and while I dig that dude’s work, I will join in the chorus in those singing the praise of moving Meyer to the ‘pen. Fringe, AAAA guys like Brooks Pounders, Daniel Wright, J.C. Ramirez or Manny Banuelos are decent bets, I suppose, as is Nate Smith. It seems like a jumbled up mess right now, but that’s what Spring Training is for, right?
We’re not totally sure what to think or expect of Huston Street. Well, that’s not entirely true, seeing as we definitely think he’s trending the wrong direction. We also think he may have had his last days as closer for the Halos. But we’re really not sure what the team themselves will think.
Cam Bedrosian seemed ready to take over the bullpen at points last season, other times, not so much. He is looking like he can make things interesting this Spring, though. There are other things that will muck up the reliever situation, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Andrew Bailey had some flashes of his prime during his Angels stint last season, and I’m looking forward to getting some more looks at him. There are guys like Alex Meyer or Vicente Campos or J.C. Ramirez, who could be given fifth stater consideration but who could also be important bullpen arms. Will we see some growth out of Greg Mahle, or some early promotion buzz for Keynan Middleton? Mike Morin...paging Mike Morin.
Billy Eppler really knocked this offseason out of the park, but the biggest whiff was probably the bullpen moves...as in, his lack of bullpen moves. There is no clear closer, and everybody on down the line is in flux, so where do they go from here? The good news is we’re probably about to find out.
Ben Revere and Cameron Maybin will be your left fielders. We know Danny Espinosa is going to take over 2nd. Maldonado and Perez are your backstops. Maybe we’ll wonder who gets the most playing time: Cron or Valbuena. But both of those guys will end up playing a decent amount of time, regardless. As for starting rotation, #1-4 is penciled in already. Position battle fans turn their eyes to the #5 hurler and a clear picture of the relievers. This is going to be interesting.