In case you missed it, here is Part One of my recent interview with Angels broadcaster Victor Rojas. He told some great stories about growing up in a baseball household and we started to get into his take on the 2019 Angels and the Mike Trout extension.
We’ll pick up the transcript where that article left off. I hope you enjoy it, although the first question aged horribly.
Speaking of not looking 1 and 5, that’s been the pitching staff. Harvey’s looked good, Cahill’s looked good, its really early but they seem to be exceeding most people’s expectations. Do you agree?
“Yeah. Yeah. And really through two teams that have swung the bat well.
Oakland’s got off to a great start offensively. Seattle’s playing way out over their skis offensively as well. And through that, I think there’s only been one hiccup really.
It was, on the relief side, no on the starter side.”
“Pena, yeah. Had kind of a shaky start. Stratton had kind of a shaky start at the beginning but kind of settled in. He’s a number 5 starter. But besides really Pena, even the bullpen is throwing the ball well.
Look, Luis Garcia, last night threw a ball at 97 plus miles per hour. Fastball on the outside part of the plate. It was just a great piece of hitting. To a left handed batter who is typically a pull type hitter, with two strikes. And he did a great job, it was a great piece of hitting. He hit a home run the opposite way. And he hit is a long way, he’s a strong man.
So those things are going to happen. You make your pitch, you execute it, and sometimes you get beat by the guy at the plate.
Sometimes those things are going to happen but you know what has been an issue for this ball club over the last couple of years has been situational hitting and really the struggles against left handed pitching. And we continue to see that. We’ve seen that here in the early going especially the situational hitting. And that’s why I think this team will be alright if they can get that going because they’ve had opportunities, they’ve had men in scoring position, they’ve had opportunities early in games and just haven’t capitalized.
So the hope is, beginning on this opening home stand they can turn things around, then get out on the road and hopefully even things out a little bit.”
Yeah. In my opinion, I think the lack of situational hitting is just because the lineup has been so freaking top heavy. You have guys like Trout and Upton and then it just drops off to a Cozart or a fill in the blank whoever.”
You’ve mentioned Trout and obviously the big news is 12 years $430 million. Just your thoughts on that. You seemed to really be genuinely happy for Mike Trout when that happened
“Absolutely. I think it couldn’t have happened to a better person, better player. And I’m glad that it worked out.
I’ve always been of the opinion, and I’ve stated this opinion over the years when I’ve been asked about Trout perhaps leaving. You know the rumors and the East Coast and all the stuff like that and everybody to a man, and it’s funny that nobody’s texted me to say ‘hey you were right,’ but its been the same thing that I’ve said all along: he’s not going anywhere.
I would highly doubt that he ever goes anywhere else because he genuinely loves where he’s at. He loves his teammates, he loves the area, he loves the opportunity where he has the best of both worlds, right? He can come out here for six months, seven months, whatever the case may be, do his thing, and then he can go back and be Mike from Millville and hang out with the family out in New Jersey and go to Eagles games and stuff like that.
So when I thought about it, when I was asked these questions in the past I would think ‘why would you want...and knowing who he is, a guy who is not motivated by being the highest paid guy, not motivated by getting the record deal or market or anything like that. You factor all those things in and its like unless Arte decided they were going in a completely different direction then there’s no way he’s not going to sign with the Angels if that’s what they decide they want to do.
And so I wasn’t overly surprised. I was thrilled that it happened at the time that it did just because it put the kibosh on any type of speculation or conversation of what he’s going to do after his walk year next year. +
Or even this year to be perfectly honest with you. What if the Angels are 25 games under .500 and you get into July first and you have the opportunity, I guess, you can really change the look and feel of your franchise for a really long time by trading Mike Trout? For a year and a half of Mike Trout. You would have a bevy of suitors out there that would do that and more than likely overpay.”
It would be the Herschel Walker trade of baseball
“Right, exactly, no question about it. And look how that’s changed a lot of things. I think its just one of those. It was perfect timing.
And I can only imagine that for Trout’s sake, and I don’t know that he’d ever say it, but just knowing him, the last thing he’d want to do with Machado and Harper signing is during the season deal with a daily or semi daily of ‘what do you think of the contract?’ or ‘are you guys negotiating?’ You know, ‘are you going to care what your overall number is?’
I can’t imagine a guy would really want to deal with that kind of stuff and so it was just a perfect situation for all involved.
And if you’re ever going to sign a guy to that kind of contract, make him the cornerstone of your franchise, which he already was, and make sure he retired here. It’s the perfect model. They just broke the mold when they made him.”
Agreed. I always had a feeling, and I make deals for a living, that as long as Arte threw something that was fair out there that Mike’s team would listen. I’m not inside like you, but deals get made when both sides want a deal to get made and that’s what it looked like to me.
You mentioned Mike loves his teammates. Do you follow the prospect pipeline much? Are you aware of the Jo Adell’s, the Griffin Canning’s, the players that are expected to join Mike Trout for the next contention window?
“Yeah, on the periphery. I don’t get too into it a whole lot because it doesn’t affect us on a daily basis with what we do.”
Yeah, obviously you focus on the game that day.
“But there’s no question that I follow it. That’s the beauty of it is that for the first time since I’ve been here, obviously this being the 10th season, other than Trout maybe Brandon Wood a little bit because there was a lot of hype with him coming out, we haven’t had this since I’ve been here.
I got a chance to sit on the other side of it when I watched the nice wave that came through with with Figgy and those guys. You know, I watched GA and those guys evolve and it just seemed like the Angels had a constant pipeline of guys that somehow coming in and coming up and/or getting a free agent and they’d fill a void somehow and those guys would do damage, however briefly. Dallas McPhereson, I remember Dallas McPhereson, I remember when he was a highly touted prospect. I remember him hitting a big home run against Francisco Cordero in Texas and it just seemed like ‘man, here we go again.’ It just seemed endless.
We haven’t had that since I’ve been here. And even Trout, really to a certain extent if I remember correctly, he was a highly touted prospect but I don’t think anybody...like when Acuna came up last year or with Tatis this year or they talk about Vlad Jr., it’s like these guys are the second coming of the greatest player in baseball, right?”
“That wasn’t Trout’s, that wasn’t the label on Trout. He was a really special player but it wasn’t ‘this guy’s going to change the game.’ Like we had to see it unfold before our eyes.
So its good to hear when and then you see like Jo Adell is legit, and Brandon Marsh is getting there, and Griffin Canning, you stole Griffin Canning in the second round and then Jose Suarez has evolved. You know, Jam Jones, just down the list and you’re like ‘alright.’
And then you get to see them play in Spring Training a lot. So its cool to know.
Jose Rojas. Nobody really knew who Jose Rojas was other than the locals and friends and people like that. But the emergence of Jose in Spring Training with the way he swung the bat, that’s cool to see.
And I think that really pumps up the organization and really the fan base that you get a commitment from the best player in the game that he’s going to stay here for the rest of his career and then, oh by the way we have B, C, D, E, F, and G coming up the line. Now they may not all, but even the two guys that got drafted last year in the first and the second rounds as well. Now they’re just kids but everyone’s talking about them already because they’re in the Top 30 of the prospect list.
That’s fun to see and be around. Look, I hope it all works out. I hope they all come up and contribute at some point.
It would have been interesting, with the freak injury to Justin if Jo hadn’t been hurt, if he would have been the guy in left field. Can you imagine that? How cool that would have been?”
I saw Jo in Spring Training and his first couple of steps, I mean when you track the ball to center field by the time you track it to center field he’s already where he needs to be. He has the physical tools to track it down if he really needs to turn it up but its uncanny for him to already be there, already get those reads at 20 years old.
“And Trouty, everything we heard about Trout was he’s like a football player in a baseball uniform but wait til you seem him run. And then he takes off running and you’re like ‘ok’ and then you see him home to first and it’s like ‘jeezus, holy cow!’
Until you see, and you watch videos, now you can watch anybody anywhere. You see 16 year olds in those Perfect Game things so you can see who’s out there.
You can watch all the video you want but until you see with your own eyes and see sprint speed. See them running in a straight line or seem them cutting the bases like he and Peter Bourjos do, it’s just, it was impressive.
You can see that in Jo and in a lot of those guys. You see the talent that’s there. Its not just a hyped up thing, you know.
There’s so much information now, Jeff, and readily available to everybody where, and its not a knock on Peter Gammons, but you go back 10, 15 years ago when you hear about ‘the Yankees are trading uber prospect whatever’ it was all hyped up guys hyped up by the media. You know what I’m saying?”
“It was ‘oh, we got so and so’ and he never pans out. Well now, anybody can do the homework. Anybody can see the reports, anybody can see the videos and say ‘this guy’s legit’ or ‘this guy’s got a hole in his swing.’ There’s no BS’ing now when it comes to that stuff.”
This will wrap Part Two. We got into Victor’s latest ventures and teased an upcoming Halos Heaven event that will feature Victor live and in person for a special dinner in part three.