Manager Mike Sciosia is entering his 18th season as the Angels manager. The Angels have finished with a winning record in 12 of Scioscia's 17 previous managerial seasons and two of the past three. Many of these writers seem to have forgotten that the Angels won 85 games in 2015. Not only have they written the Angels off, but many have foolishly suggested the team should trade Trout, maybe because they feel the Angels "don't deserve him." Not only are the writers clueless in their assessment of the Angels, but a trade of Trout would do nothing but harm to the Angels, even if they decide to completely rebuild.
Not only is Trout the best player in the game, but he has shown no signs of decline or depreciation. The fact that he is 25 years old means he is just entering the prime of his career. If the Angels were interested in making a trade, they would have the right to ask for a package of players that had never been included in a trade. A case could be made that no team has the farm system to give a return that would satisfy what the Angels can justifiably demand. For example, if the Angels were talking to the Yankees, they could respectively ask for catcher Gary Sanchez, outfielders Aaron Judge and Clint Frazier, shortstops Gleybar Torres and Jorge Mateo and pitchers James Kaprielian and Luis Severino. While no Yankees fan would except that trade, the Angels could make a case that the package may still not be enough. As another hypothetical, I will use the Chicago White Sox. For Trout, the Angels have the right to ask for infielders Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson, pitchers Lucas Giolito, Carson Fulmer, Carlos Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez and Michael Kopech and it very well might simply not be enough (+ Jose Quintana?). The point is, the Angels have the right to ask for an unprecedented return and stick to it. And nobody that has interest in Mike Trout will step up to the plate and make such a deal. Finally, if Mike Trout is ever traded for a package of players that does not satisfy his worth, not only should the entire executive branch of the Angels baseball department lose their jobs, but a case could be made that the owner should give up ownership for the team and not receive a dime for it.
One thing that stands out about the 2016 Angels is the fact that only six players managed to play in over 100 games and only three starting pitchers made 20 or more starts for them last season. The team managed to address their offensive depth situation by adding outfielder Cameron Maybin, second baseman Danny Espinosa and catcher Martin Maldonado in trades and signing free agent corner infielder Luis Valbuena. Journeyman starting pitcher Jesse Chavez was also brought in to battle for a spot in the back of the Angels' rotation. Veteran starter Jered Weaver is gone via free agency and three of the Angels projected four starters are coming off of major injuries. Garrett Richards made just six starts last season and could have had Tommy John surgery. Instead, he chose to rehab and seems ready to start the season in the Angels rotation. Tyler Skaggs missed the entire 2015 season due to the operation, but did pitch well in most of his ten starts in the second half of the season. Matt Shoemaker's 2016 season ended on September 4, but is expected to be in good shape to start the season. Pitchers Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano have their 2017 seasons lost due to TJ. One of the bigger surprises last season for the Angels was right handed pitcher Ricky Nolasco, who pitched to a 3.21 earned run average and averaged 6 and a half innings for his 11 Angels starts. He was acquired from the Minnesota Twins in a deal for left hander Hector Santiago. Non roster invitees Bud Norris, John Lamb and Yusmeiro Petit are all competing with Chavez and former Twins righty (also in the Nolasco/ Santiago trade) Alex Meyer for the number five spot.
Closer Huston Street had his 2016 season shortened due to injury. Prior to his season ending, Street pitched to a scary 6.45 injury and may be a concern to start this season. Cam Bedrosian (1.12 ERA, 11.4 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched) may be ready to take over as the full time closer. Veteran Andrew Bailey pitched to a 2.38 ERA in 12 games for them last season. Left hander Jose Alvarez and righties Mike Morin and Deolis Guerra seem to be locks to gain spots in the pen. Left handed pitcher JC Ramiez and right hander Daniel Wright will battle with Norris, Chavez, Lamb and Petit for a spot in the front of the bullpen.
For the first time in a couple years, the Angels have a pretty good offense to protect the game's best player. The additions of Maybin, Espinosa and Valbuena add a little bit more of a length to a lineup that relied on Trout, Albert Pujols and Kole Calhoun last season. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons hit a career high .281 but was limited to 124 games in his first season in Los Angeles. First baseman CJ Cron hit 16 home runs in 116 games last year and third baseman Yunel Escobar hit over .300 for the second consecutive season. The catching situation should not produce a lot of offense, but the Angels like the game calling abilities of both Maldonado and Carlos Perez. The Angels lineup I would use opening day is Maybin LF, Escobar 3B, Trout CF, Pujols DH, Calhoun RF, Cron/ Valbuena 1B, Espinosa 2B, Simmons SS, Maldonado C. Veteran Ben Revere is in to be a fourth outfielder and infielder Cliff Pennington will help out in the middle infield.
Outfielder Jahmai Jones has the ability to become a star. With his father and brother having made it to the NFL as wide receivers for the Detroit Lions, Jahmai has used that genetic athleticism and added it to his already superior baseball IQ. 2016 first round pick Matt Thaiss, who is a Jackson, New Jersey high school alum, has a great eye at the plate and does not strike out very much. This is worth watching as few potential power bats are able to curb the K's like Thaiss has shown early on. Right hand pitcher Keynan Middleton could crack the roster as a reliever this spring. If not, expect him to have the same impact on the team Bedrosian did last year. Meyer is still considered a prospect, but that status is hanging on by its last legs.
The Angels have a very good squad that can compete with anybody if everybody stays healthy. Injuries destroyed the team's chances and they will need to have Skaggs, Richards and Shoemaker healthy if they want to compete with the more talented teams in the American League West division, clearly the best division in baseball. I think the Angels can stay in the Wild Card race into the month of September, but just do not have (on paper) the overall talent to win more games than the Astros, Mariners and Rangers. Anything can happen, but the Angels need a lot more to go right than the other ALW teams to come out on top in this division. The Las Vegas over/ under for the Angels is 76.5. I am taking the over, thinking the Angels can finish at 82-80, fourth place in the American League West division.