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Sunday, January 15, 2023

Why The Angels’ Small Moves Might (Finally) Add Up To Big Success

One of the underrated reasons for Los Angeles’s struggles was that it gave so much playing time to outright bad players. According to wins above replacement,1 only the ghastly Pittsburgh Pirates (-13.4), Oakland Athletics (-13.0) and Cincinnati Reds (-12.5) lost more wins via negative-value players than the Angels, whose subzero-WAR contributors cost them 12.0 wins last season. If the Angels are the ultimate example of a “stars-and-scrubs” roster, the scrubs have been dragging down the stars for years.

And so, the Angels have finally made plans to address this recurring problem over the offseason by upgrading the non-star portion of the roster. On the position-player side, the team has bolstered its talent by trading for infielder Gio Urshela and outfielder Hunter Renfroe, as well as signing jack-of-all-trades Brandon Drury. Renfroe and Drury figure to receive the lion’s share of playing time in right field and second base, respectively, while Urshela looks to be sliding into a utility role. All three put together solid seasons in 2022, and will provide a much-needed boost to an offense that was 25th in runs scored.

Los Angeles added more dependability on the pitching side of the scale. In any other season, Tyler Anderson being a team’s biggest free-agent signing would be quite a disappointment. But Anderson put together his most effective season by far in 2022, thanks to a new grip on his changeup that drastically improved what was already his best pitch. He also threw it a ton more, and thanks to its incredible success the result was a 2.57 ERA (63 percent better than league average) over a career-best 178⅔ innings.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 15, 2023 at 10:52 PM | 23 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: angels

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   1. DL from MN Posted: January 16, 2023 at 10:49 AM (#6113341)
A comeback season from Rendon would make a big difference.
   2. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 16, 2023 at 12:26 PM (#6113349)
A comeback season from Rendon would make a big difference.

ZiPs is a believer in the quality, if not the quantity.
   3. McCoy Posted: January 16, 2023 at 12:39 PM (#6113350)
One thing i learned at watching years of Cubs SS is that it can always get worse.
   4. Steve N Posted: January 16, 2023 at 12:53 PM (#6113353)
Following baseball for decades I have learned that the Angels will screw it up.
   5. JimMusComp misses old primer... Posted: January 16, 2023 at 01:34 PM (#6113355)
As a fan of the Angels for 40 years now (wow, I turned 50 last month and now I sound like I'm 1000 years old) I understand the sentiment in #4 - but this offseason seems like it was led by the GM, not the owner, and each move really addressed a need from 2022.

1) Signing Anderson will add another solid arm to the rotation - boosting a strength - and adding depth in case of injuries. The arms on the farm are pretty good - and between Canning, Rodriguez, Silseth, Barria - they have decent insurance policies if anyone in the rotation goes tits up.

2) Adding Renfroe to the OF lets them not need to count on Adell or Moniak at all (aside from injury replacement). And that's good. Adell gets one year to figure it out and this allows him to do so without any expectations. Also, it plugs a 3 WAR player into the mix - something they had far too few of last year.

3) Urshela is Rendon insurance and the RH part of a 1B platoon that Walsh has looked like he has needed for a while. Also, if Walsh doesn't come back from his crappy 2022 - Urshela can be put at 1B full time and another 3 WAR player is added to the mix.

4) Drury is the perfect extra guy to play 1B, 2B, 3B, and the corner OF slots 4-5 times a week. And if they just give him the 2B job - which I have heard might happen - then Fletcher is on the bench - which is fine.

5) Estevez is a live arm in the pen and added to Tepera, Loup, Herget, etc. is a perfectly decent pen without breaking the bank. The AA arms should be able to help there too by mid-season. Also, Chris Rodriguez was great in the pen in 2021 - so he's another option there if he can stay healthy at all.

6) Phillips is a fine add as OF defense insurance - I guess. He's the only guy I don't think was necessary. Another BP arm was higher on my list, but this is fine.

This team is much better suited to be good this season than last - and I thought they could be good last year. This is, potentially, an 88 win team if things don't go off the rails, and with luck - like good health and steps forward for Detmers and Suarez, and a continuation of last year for Ward - they could win 92-93 games...

I'm excited, as I always am in January/February, but this year it might be warranted for the first time in a while.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: January 16, 2023 at 02:45 PM (#6113363)
Or Drury returns to being the replacement level player he was before 2022 ... although playing him mostly at 2B will probably help.

Or Tyler Anderson returns to being the solid, unspectacular SP he was from 2017-21.

Or Renfroe is the 2nd coming of Justin Upton (that's deep analysis there).

It's a bit unfair to suggest the Angels didn't try, that they were always nothing but Trout (then Ohtani). Rendon was overpriced but a heck of a player before arrival. Marsh, Walsh, Calhoun, Cron were all decent players out of their system (or elsewhere cheap) and Adell was supposed to be. Fletcher, Upton, Simmons, Kinslder were all good players before showing up. Even Freese (did his job), Escobbar (5 WAR, 0 WAA in 3 seasons prior), Valbuena (7.4 WAR, 3 WAA in 3 seasons prior). Drury and Renfroe fit right into that list.

Sorry to be a downer, hope springs eternal.
   7. JimMusComp misses old primer... Posted: January 16, 2023 at 04:03 PM (#6113372)
Or Drury returns to being the replacement level player he was before 2022 ... although playing him mostly at 2B will probably help.

Or Tyler Anderson returns to being the solid, unspectacular SP he was from 2017-21.

Or Renfroe is the 2nd coming of Justin Upton (that's deep analysis there).

Sorry to be a downer, hope springs eternal.


A version of Drury that approximates 2021-2022 would be a much better option for the Angels than any alternative.

Anderson is basically the #4 starter - if he gives 160 league average innings - that's worth the $13 million.

Renfroe - for one year - is likely to approximate the average of his last five full years of production - I mean a .775 OPS from him would be a big boon for this offense and that's less than his career numbers.

While I agree it could all go terribly bad, this team is more ready to whether a few injuries than they have been in a long while. Just putting a real MLB player out there in case of injury will help - and these depth pieces to that.
   8. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: January 16, 2023 at 05:03 PM (#6113378)
I refuse to let myself be optimistic about this team. I just end up angry. I'm going in with the expectation of another injury-riddled, 75-win season where Rendon disappoints, Trout is great but only plays 90 games, the additions somehow all fall off a cliff at the same time, and Ohtani gets traded.

Oh, who am I kidding? HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL! The Angels are winning the West this year!!!
   9. Hombre Brotani Posted: January 16, 2023 at 05:16 PM (#6113379)
I'm excited, as I always am in January/February, but this year it might be warranted for the first time in a while.
As am I. The Angels were 16 games under .500, so it's not like they were a GOOD team, but no team can lose their entire starting infield to injuries and injury-related ineffectiveness and still be competitive. They were 27-17 to start the season and 21-16 to end it. In between those two stretches, they were a catastrophic 26-57, mostly without Trout, entirely without Rendon. and with Walsh, Fletcher, etc., wounded. The Angels' 6-7-8-9 spots were, combined, the worst in baseball by about six miles. Even if Anderson and Drury regress some, a reasonable return to form for Walsh, Fletcher, Rendon, and a few of the bullpen arms would be a massive improvement.

If they get a few reasonable breaks, I think they're an 86-win team right now, and 86 wins was a wildcard team last year.
   10. Darren Posted: January 16, 2023 at 06:50 PM (#6113383)
I always kind of root for the Angels because they do seem to invest in the team and try to win. I agree with the positive takes above about the moves they've made this year. With a little better health and luck, they could go far!
   11. Walt Davis Posted: January 16, 2023 at 07:01 PM (#6113384)
C'mon folks ... there is no reason to think that Drury is a better player than Valbuena was (the numbers clearly say Drury is worse). There is no reason to think that Renfroe is better than Upton or Calhoun were. It's fair enough to say that the law of averages says eventually one of these guys will be at least average or maybe even get lucky to balance out some of the horrible luck they have had with other players. But that would be conceding the point that the Angels of the past have made the same sort of moves they made this offseason.

Renfroe didn't get a full season until age 25. Over 6 seasons, it's 10 WAR, 2 WAA, 2.5 WAR/650 with 0 dWAR/yr
Calhoun didn't get a full season until age 26. Over 6 seasons, it's 14 WAR, 1 WAA, 2.4 WAR/650 with 0 dWAR/yr

Maybe you want just 3 seasons, age comped. OK, Renfroe 28-30 had 4.9 WAR, 1 WAA, 2.6 WAR/650 vs Calhoun 5.2 WAR, -1 WAA, 1.8 WAR/650.

Drury 27-29: 1.8 WAR, -0.5 WAA, 1.7 WAR/650 (just 700 PA)
Valbuena 28-30: 7.4 WAR, 2.8 WAA, 3.5 WAR/650 (the 3 years before joining the Angels; ages 27-29 is 2.9 WAR/650)
Escobar 30-32: 5.2 WAR, -0.5 WAA, 2.0 WAR/650 (ages 27-29 is 3.6 WAR/650)

Anderson will look good in almost any comp because of that huge 2022. I think we all agree that if he carries any of that forward then he is a bg addition. I'm not sure the Angels have added anybody like this since ... CJ Wilson? (sorry!) OK, for all I know, he'll match Othani on the mound.

The fact you poor bastards are excited about the addition of Renfroe and Drury tells the rest of us all we need to know about being an Angels fan. :-)
   12. JimMusComp misses old primer... Posted: January 16, 2023 at 08:51 PM (#6113393)
You aren’t entirely wrong, Walt but Calhoun left like 4 years ago and Upton was not good after 2019.

All I’d say is that look at the 2022 reserves and compare THEM to Drury, Urshela, and Renfroe.

There’s the difference.

   13. Hombre Brotani Posted: January 18, 2023 at 12:18 AM (#6113544)
The fact you poor bastards are excited about the addition of Renfroe and Drury tells the rest of us all we need to know about being an Angels fan. :-)
Max Stassi: 62 OPS+
Jared Walsh: 81 OP+
Andrew Velazquez: 53 OPS+
Matt Duffy: 77 OPS+
David Fletcher: 77 OPS+
Tyler Wade: 56 OPS+
Brandon Marsh: 80 OPS+
Jo Adell: 79 OPS+

Angels fans aren't "excited" about the new additions, just reasonably confident that things can't get any worse than having the absolute worst 6-7-8-9 in baseball. This is one of those situations when mediocrity would be an enormous improvement.
   14. Rally Posted: January 18, 2023 at 09:57 AM (#6113553)
5) Estevez is a live arm in the pen


They need to make him the closer and bring out “Wild Thing” as his entrance music. He has the same birth name as the actor we call Charlie Sheen.
   15. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: January 18, 2023 at 10:59 AM (#6113559)
This is Angels-related, but otherwise off topic. And sorry it's behind a paywall (one I happen to subscribe to). However, I wanted to get this out there as a piece of evidence in all the accusations toward Moreno being outwardly extravagant with his spending on free agents but actually a penny-pinching miser when it comes to anything else. This is a piece about how the Angels severely scaled back the production of Spanish language broadcasts throughout the Moreno years. This makes no sense as a team in Southern California, but it's consistent with Moreno not caring about his local fanbase. I would understand if this was something that started after 2019 when the pandemic hit, but it sounds like their Spanish radio broadcasts we severely curtailed in production value (and the broadcasters/producers taking a severe paycut) beginning back in the '00s. Here's a snippet:

It was more than three years ago, Tolentino said, after the 2019 season. More than 20 years since Tolentino first became the Spanish radio voice of the Angels. Back then, he was treated like a legitimate major-league broadcaster. He said he made $80,000 a year and had full benefits. The Angels broadcast all 162 games and traveled on the road.

But Tolentino had seen the team’s commitment to its Spanish broadcasts slowly erode. Fewer games were available in fewer places. He’d been unceremoniously relocated out of his Angel Stadium booth and wasn’t given a broadcast partner. He was forced to choose between calling games from a soundproof closet in right field, a studio in Los Angeles, or inside a laundry room from his Mission Viejo home.

He was no longer a full-time employee. Instead, he made $350 a game as a freelancer, with his producer making $110 per game for 6-8 hours of work. Despite calling upward of a thousand Angels games, he felt as though the team’s management couldn’t care less if they ever called one more.


Moreno's tenure can't end soon enough.
   16. Cris E Posted: January 18, 2023 at 11:09 AM (#6113562)
That's a guy who needs to start interviewing with other MLB clubs. He can do anyone's games from his apartment.
   17. Rally Posted: January 18, 2023 at 01:37 PM (#6113582)
#15, Here’s what throws me. How does someone making 80,000 a year afford a house in Mission Viejo?

And it comes across like 80k, his former salary, is supposed to be a good thing.
   18. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2023 at 01:47 PM (#6113585)
#15, Here’s what throws me. How does someone making 80,000 a year afford a house in Mission Viejo?

And it comes across like 80k, his former salary, is supposed to be a good thing.


He probably has a day job if he can call games from home.
   19. NaOH Posted: January 18, 2023 at 03:05 PM (#6113593)
Non-paywall link to the article JAHV linked in #15.

The trick, folks, is sites like the one I've linked which will provide the content for articles at The Athletic now that it's a NY Times property (and thus has a more porous paywall than The OG Athletic had).
   20. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: January 18, 2023 at 04:08 PM (#6113596)
#15, Here’s what throws me. How does someone making 80,000 a year afford a house in Mission Viejo?

And it comes across like 80k, his former salary, is supposed to be a good thing.


He's 61 and played major league baseball, albeit briefly. I can easily imagine he bought the house when he was younger and Mission Viejo was still a newish, affordable community. It says he also runs a baseball academy.

Torentino isn't necessarily a huge victim here; I feel bad for him, but he seems like he's doing alright for himself. Mostly I feel like this is one more short-sighted business decision in a long list of them that has characterized Moreno's ownership of the Angels and Carpino's presidency. I don't know that this particular decision has, or will have, any tangible on-field ramifications, but it's not helpful in connecting with the local community, many of whom come from Latine households where Spanish is regularly spoken. As an Anaheim resident, it rankles.
   21. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 18, 2023 at 04:29 PM (#6113598)
Is Adell available? I've been a fan of his, and I think he'd fit in KC well.
   22. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: January 19, 2023 at 07:48 AM (#6113633)
(The Angels) gave so much playing time to outright bad players.


2022 Tigers have entered the chat

Actually, Detroit was only -6.6 with their negative-WAR players, most of that being Torkelson (who'll improve...won't he?), Cabrera (see ya Cooperstown, Miggy!) and a dumpster fire named Elvin Rodriguez. The Tigers' problem isn't that they have so many rotten players, it's that they don't have any good players. When your top producer is a guy with a 2.5 WAR and a $20MM paycheck, ya got trouble.
   23. JimMusComp misses old primer... Posted: January 19, 2023 at 10:19 AM (#6113643)
2022 Tigers have entered the chat


The saddest of all hijacks?

When the 2022 Tigers try to out-awful the 2022 Angels.

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