Hello, Angels fans. The team you follow lost another harrowing game on Sunday, squandering a late lead to lose 11-10 for the second straight Sunday. It was rough, and it was long -- the longest nine-inning game in Angel Stadium history.
Fifty games remain on the Angels’ 2017 schedule, and they are 55-57. Yet, they are only three games out in the American League wild-card race. Parity, baby.
This week, the Angels will host Baltimore and then begin a nine-game road trip with four games in Seattle. Both teams are slightly ahead of them in the playoff hunt.
Let us get to some questions about the team.
I don’t know that all teams necessarily have to commit to rebuilding or competing.
Across baseball, there are success stories of teams who have contended and rebuilt at the same time. People usually call it something different, like refueling or retooling or some other “re-” verb, but it’s been the basic premise of the New York Yankees’ strategy the last few years, and it’s worked quite well. To a lesser extent, the Milwaukee Brewers have done the same thing. Neither team appeared really focused on winning this season, but both teams ended up buying at the deadline, pushing a few chips toward 2017 while taking few away from the future.
Now, that is not the norm. Houston did a full-scale rebuild. Philadelphia is in the middle of one of those, mirroring the NBA team in their town, which popularized the phrase “Trust the process.”
As a Philadelphia-area native, Angels manager Mike Scioscia likes to use that phrase when he kids around. But I do not expect the Angels to execute a full-scale teardown anytime soon. Of course, it would not make sense to do so while employing Mike Trout, and they are not trading Trout.
Most likely, next year’s team will retain the backbone of this year’s. Expect more at-the-margin tweaks and a big addition or two with the money freed up by Josh Hamilton’s contract finally expiring.
Well, Tyler Skaggs’ return on Saturday indirectly pushed Jesse Chavez out of the rotation, and Andrew Heaney’s impending return should force Troy Scribner back to triple-A Salt Lake. That’ll define the rotation this way, depending on how you order it: JC Ramirez, Parker Bridwell, Skaggs, Ricky Nolasco and Heaney.
The Angels are not going to get any other starters back soon, as Matt Shoemaker is undergoing season-ending surgery and Alex Meyer and Garrett Richards remain a ways away. The Angels obviously still lack a top-of-the-rotation starter, which only stresses Richards’ value to the organization.
Andrelton Simmons has hit no lower than fifth in each of the Angels’ last 16 games. It seems unreasonable to term that being buried.
Again, batting orders are generally not worth worrying about. There are occasional cases where it warrants clamoring, and while I would not pick to provide Ben Revere additional at-bats over Simmons, it just doesn’t much matter. The evidence confirms that.
Jefry Marte did not succeed in his big league chance this season, striking out more than a year ago while hitting for less power and suffering from some bad batted-ball luck. That led to a .570 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, which is not what you want from a position like first, third or left. It’s not what you want anywhere, but it’s potentially palatable at shortstop or catcher given great defense.
Marte does not play great defense. In left field in particular, his defense leaves a lot to be desired. I would be surprised if the Angels asked him to fill that 2018 hole. At third base, it’s a bit better, and I suppose I could see him competing with Luis Valbuena for time there next year. Valbuena is also in the midst of a poor season, and he’ll be 32 next year, with a lengthy injury history. A sort of platoon might make sense.
I like the in-interview moment when you realize you have something interesting to build a story around. It is always enjoyable.
The Angels are three games out of a wild-card spot as I write this. That in itself is obviously surmountable. More daunting are the four teams in front of them, because you figure at least one will perform well over the next eight weeks. Maybe none of them will, though. It’s possible.
Outside estimations of the Angels’ playoff chances peg them at about 10%, which seems reasonable to me. I don’t think it’s unrealistic to hope for something that has a 10% chance of happening.
Nick Tropeano is out for the season. He underwent Tommy John surgery one year ago. His rehabilitation is continuing as scheduled, and he’s planning to pitch in the Arizona instructional league in September or October. He’ll then shut his throwing down for the winter. It appears he will be fit to compete for a spot in the Angels’ rotation next spring training.
The fake rocks are a relic of Disney’s reign over the team, there since the late-1990s as part of an installation called the California Spectacular. They are pretty much the only unique aspect Angel Stadium has going for it. So, yeah.
This is the last Angels mailbag of the season. I will be helping cover the Dodgers for the rest of the year. Thanks for reading and asking.
Follow Pedro Moura on Twitter @pedromoura