Hello, hello, Angels fans. Another poor week for the team you follow has passed. The Angels won once. Their record is 32-44, their comeback victory Sunday saving them from a pace to break the franchise record for losses.
Let’s take a brief look behind us and a big one ahead here with questions and answers. As always, this is the place to ask anything you want about the Angels, with questions submitted through my email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Twitter account (@pedromoura).
Here’s the start.
@pedromoura Gut feeling - is this Scioscia’s last year? I know it’s not all his fault, but team is dropping like a rock.— Mr. Freeman (@LakesideFreeman) June 24, 2016
No, I do not think this is Mike Scioscia’s last season. It’s hard to argue sensibly that the Angels’ disastrous season is his fault at all. The Angels are not winning games because they do not have enough good, healthy players. He did not set the team’s budget in the off-season. He did not injure Garrett Richards and Andrew Heaney. Now, all that said, could the team benefit from a new manager in charge after 17 seasons of the same?
Of course, I think. But I don’t think it’s going to happen. Scioscia has two more years at $5 million remaining on his contract, and the bet here is he fulfills them.
@pedromoura who do you expect the Angels to sell within the next month, and what returns can we as fans expect from these trades?— The Mick (@basedhaloballs) June 24, 2016
I expect the Angels to sell third baseman Yunel Escobar and set-up man Joe Smith. Beyond those, it depends. If Richards and Heaney’s injections do not yield enough improvement to avoid surgery, then trading closer Huston Street makes sense, because 2017 is not going to be a winning season without those two starters. Left-hander Hector Santiago might be an option, too, but he has to pitch better to have value.
As for the returns, Escobar should attract a more valuable prospect than what the Angels gave up for him, right-handed reliever Trevor Gott. The in-kind prospect value for Smith depends on how he pitches for the next three or four weeks. Reliever performance is so volatile; no one will want to give up anything significant for a 32-year-old who has not performed well this season. Smith’s strikeout rate has cratered and his walk rate has surged. That’s not what you want. The same goes for Street, if he’s traded.
@pedromoura Thoughts on keeping Kole, Trout, & Pujols batting 1,2,3 in the lineup? We need our best guys getting more ABs (sorry Yunel)— David G (@davidusc708) June 27, 2016
Until the Angels sell Escobar, he makes perfect sense as their leadoff hitter. I get that Albert Pujols has a track record as one of the best hitters in baseball history, but he is no longer that player.
Since the start of 2015, he’s hitting .241 with a .307 on-base percentage and .457 slugging percentage. Since the start of 2015, Escobar is hitting .313 with a .369 on-base percentage and .414 slugging percentage. Escobar’s the better man to hit more often. Pujols can still hit for power, and the cleanup spot is a fine spot for a power-only hitter to occupy.
@pedromoura Who do you think is the odd man out in the angels rotation when everyone is healthy?— . (@TroutPls) June 24, 2016
This is so hard to answer. Think about what everyone means: Richards, Heaney, Santiago, Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Tyler Skaggs, Nick Tropeano, Tim Lincecum, Jhoulys Chacin, and Matt Shoemaker. I’d guess the four best of those are Richards, Heaney, Shoemaker, and Skaggs, and the fifth is exceptionally hard to even guess. I don’t know. A good portion of those 10 will never throw a pitch for the Angels after 2016, though.
@pedromoura how did the fall and decline of jared weaver as the angels’ ace commence?— topher lambert (@lambandbert) June 24, 2016
Jered Weaver was not supposed to develop into an ace, but he did, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say the same qualities that allowed him to defy the odds forced him into becoming a shell of himself earlier than most. Weaver admitted during spring training that he never completed the stretching exercises recommended of him until recent seasons, and was lax with weight-lifting for much of that time too. He believed he didn’t have to do the same routines his counterparts were doing. It turns out he did. But, he is 33, he has had a great career, and he is still eating innings this season, through all the neck and shoulder tightness and everything.
@pedromoura as a fan what should I be watching for? Give me a reason to watch this team lose games with little young talent on the roster— SQ (@Squidwai) June 24, 2016
Baseball’s a big commitment. There are a lot of games. I don’t know that watching every night makes much sense with the team this far out of the race. Maybe you should stop watching and just read my recaps of every game?
Assuming you like baseball, here are the chief reasons to watch the 2016 Angels, listed: Mike Trout, the best ball player in the world; Jered Weaver, gutting it out every five days with Division II-level velocity; Andrelton Simmons, the best defensive player I’ve ever seen; Kole Calhoun, a high-effort, sneakily skilled near-All-Star.
@pedromoura If you’re Billy Eppler, do you shift into rebuilding mode now or do you hold out and hope for a turnaround?— Aaron Burkart (@aaronburkart) June 24, 2016
If I’m Billy Eppler, I wait until the market is the ripest and then sell what pieces I have. I believe that’s what the actual Billy Eppler will do, and the actual Billy Eppler knows better than the fake Billy Eppler when that actually is, so I’ll defer to him on the timing.
It’s not that the Angels can’t play better. They can. They’ve played to a .421 winning percentage thus far, and I think they’re closer to a .500 team as assembled. With 86 games remaining, though, that’s nowhere near good enough to contend. It makes more sense is to settle in as a loser this season and accept the fate of a top pick in next June’s MLB draft. There are worse fates.
@pedromoura y doesnt A Moreno get more blame 4 this mess? Every1 thinks hes such a great owner bc he lowered beer prices 1 time 4 2 months— Jason (@Jay4455) June 24, 2016
Come on, people. The beer thing has run its course. Clearly, the Angels’ organization is not in good shape for the future, and of course that falls chiefly upon Arte Moreno, their longtime owner. Ample mistakes have been made. Moreno will not speak to them. He has steadily ignored interview requests sent through the team’s media-relations staff since the season began and declined to speak to The Times on multiple occasions during spring training, when he was more visible around the team. So, what more can really be said?
@pedromoura what are we supposed to do until football season... Not used to being out of playoffs in June.— Socalsports (@socalsports1984) June 25, 2016
Oh, man. There’s so much to do. It’s summer. Where do you live? Go to your nearest park and read a book. Buy some new music. This album came out a year ago this week and is good. Learn a couple great recipes. Read the L.A. Times.
Have the Angels given any thought to having Bengie Molina work with Timmy? Bengie caught Tim in his original mechanics before Timmy’s body got more rigid on him. Timmy has in some ways “gotten used to” all the compromise he’s dealt with over more recent time, but Bengie remembers his more free and easy style, and could be the perfect guy to help him “let go and throw.”
Katherine (via email)
I asked Tim Lincecum about this the other day. He said he had not spoken to Molina this year but planned to, as Molina works for the Angels in an unofficial capacity in Arizona and gave Lincecum a recommendation when the Angels asked last month.
The two worked well together during four shared seasons in San Francisco. Nobody has caught Lincecum more than Molina.
“When you see a pitcher gives up a home run that he’s catching, his heart breaks,” Lincecum said. “It’s not the pitcher’s; it’s his. That puts it in perspective. He can relate.”
That said, I don’t think having Molina around would cure what ails Lincecum. That is time, the same thing that ails us all. He is 32 and does not have the velocity he once did.
That’s it for this week’s Angels mailbag. Send in your questions to the below addresses at any time, and check back each Monday for answers. Enjoy your summer.