Here is the latest news from the Los Angeles Angels, including the release of Raul Ibanez; the trade market; and quick hits.
Angels Release Raul Ibanez
The Angels announced that they have released Raul Ibanez. One of the most reliable left handed hitters in the game over the past decade, Ibanez (age 42) was declining rapidly in the Halos’ starting lineup, to the tune of just a .157/.258/.265 slash line, and only 3 home runs.
Coming off a season that seemed like a bit of a power resurgence, the Angels signed Ibanez to a 1-year, $2.75 million dollar contract to serve as their designated hitter. After what was a very productive April, even providing huge hits and a game-tying homer in the bottom of the ninth inning of a game against the Mets, Ibanez struggled just to find the holes. Opposing pitchers instead exposed the holes in his swing.
Also working against Ibanez was a slew of young role players whom Mike Scioscia has had to work hard to squeeze into the everyday lineup. The most likely candidate to replace Ibanez at DH is young power bat CJ Cron. It has been questioned a lot by people everywhere, why the Angels have not released Ibanez and put Cron in at DH. Or, at least why Scioscia hasn’t relegated Ibanez to a bench role to give more productive players time on the field.
Well, that situation has now been resolved. And the Angels will have the more productive bats in the DH role, as well as an additional spot for role players to move around in the lineup. This is also creates an opening for lefty swing man Hector Santiago to stay on the big club, and perhaps work out of the bullpen.
Ibanez has played 19 seasons with the Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Yankees and Angels.
Starter or Reliever?
In light of the impending trade deadlines, and the Angels’ position as potential buyers, this is a question that I’ve actually been bringing up over the past couple of weeks.
Should the Angels trade for a starting pitcher, or a reliever?
Most would speculate the latter. And I agree with them. The Angels need bullpen help badly. It was made obvious on the last road trip, and I will not repeat what happened because it still pains me to this day.
The solution lies in both areas. If the Angels were to trade for a starter, they could then push Matt Shoemaker and Hector Santiago into the bullpen. Some oppose this, and that’s understandable. But my contention is that neither of those two have proven to be that reliable on a consistent, long-term basis. Shoemaker is making his case, but Santiago has been up and down, back and forth. This move, however, would ensure depth in both the rotation and the bullpen.
That’s if Mike Scioscia actually does use those two in the bullpen instead of sending them to Triple-A and thus thinning the bullpen once again.
The other more mainstream solution is simply getting a valuable reliever. The Angels are well equipped in their rotation already, which is a big reason for their improvement over the last two seasons. But they’re lacking in bullpen depth, and they are one of the worst at throwing first pitch strikes, and allowing inherited runners to score. This will be their downfall if it is not addressed, whether in-house, or on the market, or both.
Plus, in either scenario, Santiago should be a prime candidate to go to the bullpen. He’s a swing man, not a full-time starting pitcher. Perhaps he can continue developing into a starter. He’s still young. But for now, he’s more of a spot starter/long-reliever/lefty specialist. He’s a jack-of-all-trades.
Now, the question lies in what the Angels have to offer, and what they should go for.
If they go for a starting pitcher, I’m ruling out David Price, even though his price tag has gone way down since the off-season due to a sub-par season and being closer and closer to free agency. I think a Jason Hammel would make more sense. But I could also see them getting Ian Kennedy. In any case, all they need is more depth in their rotation.
Should they go for a reliever, well Huston Street is a great option. Perhaps he comes over with Kennedy? That might be a long shot. But let’s keep playing. Brad Ziegler and lefty Oliver Perez are having fine seasons with the last-place Diamondbacks. Wesley Wright and James Russell are interesting options from the Cubs. Jake McGee is a lights-out candidate from the Rays.
There are a lot of good, cheap relievers out there right now. The Angels also have a number of good young players who are major league ready, most of whom are performing and building their trade stock. This might be one of the bigger bullpen trade markets in recent years. It’s just a matter of what the Angels will go for: starter or reliever?
Why not both?
Nike Honors Mikey
Mike Trout just keeps rising further and further toward becoming a baseball legend…
In his latest accomplishment, Nike has created a signature cleat for Trout, called the Nike Lunar Vapor Trout. The shoe was unveiled in Fullerton, CA yesterday before the Angels 7-3 win over the Texas Rangers.
The shoe features a red and fluorescent yellow color scheme. More than 30 biomechanics experts collaborated with Nike’s Oregon headquarters, and took two years to produce, with Trout as a consultant.
What makes this even more special, is that Trout is only the second baseball player since Ken Griffey Jr. to have his own Nike shoe line. God only knows what’s next for this kid.
Oh, I forgot… he is a baseball legend!
Facts and Figures
- To fill Ibanez’s spot, the Angels recalled 1B/OF Efren Navarro. The team also optioned righty reliever Cam Bedrosian, and called up another righty bullpen arm, David Carpenter… Yes, there are two of them.
- Jered Weaver starting tonight’s game against the Texas Rangers means that Shoemaker will get the call Sunday night, and Santiago will finally go back to the bullpen, temporarily.
- Grant Green (.354/.368/.462) is back with the club after the Angels optioned reliever Dane De La Rosa to Triple-A Salt Lake. Infielder Ian Stewart was reinstated to the 40-man roster and was also optioned to Salt Lake.
- Speaking of 2014 draftees, the reason why the Angels have yet to sign their first round draft pick, Sean Newcomb, is because he’s been participating in the College World Series. Once the tournament is over, both parties can then complete their agreements.
- The Angels did sign second round pick Joe Gatto, along with Alex Abbott and a large number of other draft picks.
- Just imagine this rotation coming into 2017: Garrett Richards, Sean Newcomb, Tyler Skaggs, Joe Gatto… And there’s always the possibility of either Weaver or CJ Wilson being extended to add to that group. Plus, Shoemaker and/or Santiago could still be around then. The Angels are well on their way to rebuilding their organizational starting pitching depth.
- A July 27 game against the Tigers, scheduled as TBD for ESPN Sunday Night Baseball at 5:00 PM PT, will start at 12:35 p.m. PT. ESPN picked up Dodgers-Giants instead. The early start time could allow the Angels and Indians to make up their rain out the next day.
- Outfielder Brennan Boesch, who signed a minor league deal with the Angels over the off-season, hit three home runs for Triple-A Salt Lake during a doubleheader on Wednesday.
- Today, the Angels signed another free agent to a minor league contract, right-handed pitcher Caleb Clay.
- Erick Aybar has hit .347 in his past 26 games with 17 RBIs.
- Albert Pujols has nine RBIs in his past seven games.
- As if the Nike story wasn’t enough, Trout is the first player in MLB history to record 300 runs, 75 homers and 75 steals in his first 400 games.
- Mike is also hitting .393/.473/.787 with a 1.259 OPS over his last 24 games… That’s just insane.