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Angels mailbag: Who's coming back next season?

Angels mailbag: Who's coming back next season?
Albert Pujols, right, gets a high-five from Kole Calhoun after hitting solo home run on Aug. 29. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea / Getty Images)

Hello, Angels fans. Thanks for checking out this week’s mailbag. The club did not have a great week. There are 20 games left in the 2016 season, and the Angels would need to win 18 of them to avoid a losing season. At 63-79, they are on pace to win 72 games and pick ninth in the 2017 MLB draft.

This is the place to ask anything you want about the team, with questions submitted through my email (pedro.moura@latimes.com) and Twitter accounts (@pedromoura).

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/pedromoura">@pedromoura</a> 2017: aside from <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/s?src=hash">#s</a> 5 &amp; 27, who&#39;s returning/who&#39;s not?</p>&mdash; JAB (@JAB44U2) <a href="https://twitter.com/JAB44U2/status/775149311357136896">September 12, 2016</a></blockquote>

OK, this seems like a good point to begin. Barring trades, the 2017 Angels will feature Mike Trout (No. 27), Albert Pujols (No. 5), C.J. Cron (No. 24), Kole Calhoun (I’m going to stop with the numbers now), Andrelton Simmons, Huston Street, Cliff Pennington, Matt Shoemaker, Tyler Skaggs, Ricky Nolasco, Cam Bedrosian, Alex Meyer and Jett Bandy.

That’s 13 men, just over half the roster. They can have Yunel Escobar if they want. He has a club option. Players who will either be in triple-A or the majors include Jose Alvarez, Mike Morin, Kaleb Cowart, Jefry Marte, Carlos Perez and others who I will not mention for the sake of space and further questions. They will also have Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano, but both of them will be recovering from Tommy John surgery. They might have Garrett Richards, but no one knows yet if he’ll be fit to pitch next year. Explore previous mailbags or our plentiful coverage of his injury if you are curious about him.

C.J. Wilson is not returning next season. Jered Weaver’s contract is up, but it’s not impossible to envision him returning. Geovany Soto will be a free agent. Andrew Bailey too. The Angels either traded or released all their other impending free agents. 

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/pedromoura">@pedromoura</a> is Wilson still alive? The 15 million dollar man seems to have fallen of the face of the earth.</p>&mdash; Ryan Martinez (@TheRyanM10) <a href="https://twitter.com/TheRyanM10/status/774751967751106561">September 10, 2016</a></blockquote>

Wilson, making $20 million this year, is alive. I’ve not seen him at Angel Stadium in months, but others have. He underwent season-ending shoulder surgery and will be a free agent, so there’s not a lot for him to do at the stadium. He texted in July saying he plans to pitch next season.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/pedromoura">@pedromoura</a> What prospects look closest to contributing in 2017?</p>&mdash; Kawhy (@warriorschoke) <a href="https://twitter.com/warriorschoke/status/774793148149018624">September 11, 2016</a></blockquote>

Well, so, yeah: The Angels don’t possess many prospects who are close to contributing  in 2017. The consensus is there’s one: 25-year-old left-hander Nate Smith, who held his own in triple-A this season.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/pedromoura">@pedromoura</a> the angels have an agglomeration of bullpen arms. Could you name a few who you think have a good chance of being in pen nxt yr</p>&mdash; Crudmeister General (@Crudemeisters) <a href="https://twitter.com/Crudemeisters/status/774736747909423108">September 10, 2016</a></blockquote>

Out of A.J. Achter, Jose Alvarez, Andrew Bailey, Jhoulys Chacin, Cody Ege, Deolis Guerra, Mike Morin, Brett Oberholtzer, J.C. Ramirez, and Jose Valdez, I’d guess Morin and Guerra have the best chance at being in next season’s bullpen. Alvarez, Ramirez and Oberholtzer would probably compose the next tier. Bailey will be a free agent.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/pedromoura">@pedromoura</a> in your opinion, what percentage of the Angels fan base wants a change at Manager?</p>&mdash; Mauricio Munder (@MauricioMunder) <a href="https://twitter.com/MauricioMunder/status/774735262182088704">September 10, 2016</a></blockquote>

This is an interesting question, but like all questions about the fan base at large, it requires significant assumptions to be made. Namely: Who are we calling a fan? If someone attends a game a year and wears an Angels hat on occasion, are they a fan? If yes, I think those types outweigh the more dedicated subset.

Also, I’m probably subject to a biased sample, in that most of the fans I hear from are fervent enough to be tweeting to a beat writer. Out of the fans I hear from, it’s probably something between 70% to 90%. Among all people who would self-identify as an Angels fan, I’d guess more like 40% to 60%.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">@pedromourJonathan Judge believes Weaver is so bad he is breaking the DRA model. Does Weaver transcend his stats? <a href="https://t.co/rbf14QTJqK">https://t.co/rbf14QTJqK</a></p>&mdash; Baseballgabbagabba (@ringoangel653) <a href="https://twitter.com/ringoangel653/status/774735415622373376">September 10, 2016</a></blockquote>

DRA, or Deserved Run Average, is a new metric created last year by three folks at Baseball Prospectus. As you might expect from the name, it attempts to correct for the factors within ERA that pitchers do not control or deserve. I look at it regularly as an accompaniment to ERA and FIP. It’s calculated on the same scale as ERA and FIP.

Weaver’s DRA this season is 8.45, by far the worst in the sport. That mark would indicate he’s been worth six wins below the typical replacement player to the Angels, or, basically, the worst major leaguer ever. That is obviously not accurate. Like the question-asker said, Weaver is basically breaking the model. 

That he has managed to keep his ERA at 5.25 while striking out five men per nine innings, walking half that, and yielding a homer-and-a-half each start is amazing. That the Angels have won half his starts is a testament to the value in eating innings — and run support.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/pedromoura">@pedromoura</a> top 5 fall albums/songs</p>&mdash; Daniel Gallen (@danieljtgallen) <a href="https://twitter.com/danieljtgallen/status/774735189075427328">September 10, 2016</a></blockquote>

I enjoy both songs I’ve heard from Dawes’ new album, “We’re All Gonna Die”, the title track and “When the Tequila Runs Out.” Joyce Manor’s “Fake ID” is great, and I’m sure the new album will be too. The same for Cymbals Eat Guitars and “Have a Heart.” I have listened a lot to Roosevelt’s self-titled album. Pitchfork described it as an “almost scientific approach to a summer dance record,” and I find that apt. I like the new Bon Iver songs and am curious about the album, especially after reading this from Steven Hyden.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/pedromoura">@pedromoura</a> how often do you find baseball players humorous?</p>&mdash; Kelvin (@OnBaseUnit) <a href="https://twitter.com/OnBaseUnit/status/774733889117888512">September 10, 2016</a></blockquote>

Not too often. Generally, there is not enough of a focus on exploring new ground within jokes and too much relying on old tropes.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/pedromoura">@pedromoura</a> Who&#39;s your AL Cy?</p>&mdash; Tim Brown (@TBrownYahoo) <a href="https://twitter.com/TBrownYahoo/status/774733370571960321">September 10, 2016</a></blockquote>

Right now, this is impossible to answer for certain. I don’t envy my 30 colleagues who have to decide in a few weeks. I am quite glad Los Angeles Times employees do not vote for those awards. I still receive occasional Twitter and email harassment from Seattle fans because I voted for Corey Kluber over Felix Hernandez on my 2014 Cy Young ballot. At the time, it was a torrent of hate.

Chris Sale, maybe?

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/pedromoura">@pedromoura</a> Why do you insist on the proliferation of the word &quot;lit?&quot;</p>&mdash; Shotgun Spratling (@ShotgunSpr) <a href="https://twitter.com/ShotgunSpr/status/771439315544969216">September 1, 2016</a></blockquote>

Some words are disproportionately fun to say, and, for me, “lit” is one of them. Everyone has their words. 


Hello,

   I was wondering about the Matt Shoemaker story post brain surgery. If he is unable or unwilling to return to the mound next season — and I can certainly understand why he wouldn’t want to chance another head trauma — what happens to his contract? Is this a case of medical disability? It seems that there are more and more of these kinds of cases.  Will this kind of thing be part of negotiations for the next agreement?

   It certainly would be a tragedy if he can’t return. I don’t recall many instances of that ever happening.

Jon Thurber

Shoemaker is going to be eligible for arbitration as a Super Two this off-season, and stands to benefit from a significant raise when the Angels offer him arbitration. Indications are that he will be able to pitch again, but if come next spring he cannot yet, I suppose the Angels would place him on the disabled list, where he’d still be paid, until he was ready. 

In the event that Shoemaker opts not to pitch, that’d be treated as retirement, I believe. He’s not under any sort of long-term contract. The Angels can keep him through 2020 at below-market rates, because of MLB’s salary system.

I don’t know that a solution to injuries like his lies in any CBA negotiations. I think it’s more applicable to the next question.


Hi -

In light of Matt Shoemaker's catastrophic injury from being hit in the head by a line drive in Seattle, and subsequent emergency brain surgery, can we urge the Angels and all MLB teams to mandate that pitchers start wearing helmets on the mound?

The risk of being hit may be small, but Shoemaker's injury shows that the consequences of being hit can be terrible.  Is it too much to ask pitchers to wear helmets?

David J. Wilson

Tarzana

It’s difficult to see MLB mandating pitchers wear helmets. Of course, they are allowed to wear protective gear on the mound, and one pitcher even has. It’s not really reasonable to tell pitchers paid to perform like they always have that they must suddenly wear something they never have. If the league could push more incentives into the field of developing something comfortable and safe for pitchers to have at their disposal, that’d be great, and I think that’s the best immediate hope.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/pedromoura">@pedromoura</a> new follower here. What do you do/write about during the off season?</p>&mdash; RebuildingMode (@rebuildingmode) <a href="https://twitter.com/rebuildingmode/status/774847427350147072">September 11, 2016</a></blockquote>

I stare out the window and wait for spring.

No, I will still write about baseball. The Angels will have to reformulate their roster and figure out whether they can contend next year, and it’ll be my job to chronicle it. Instructional-league play is about to begin, and Garrett Richards could be pitching there soon. The general manager meetings are a month after the season concludes. The winter meetings are a few weeks after that. Moves will be regularly made through the New Year, and then spring training starts around Valentine’s Day.

That’s it. Send in your questions to the addresses below at any time, and check back each Monday for answers.

pedro.moura@latimes.com

Twitter: @pedromoura

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