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Angels

Angels mailbag: And now, a good week

Los Angeles Angels’ Albert Pujols follows through on a three-run home run swing off a pitch from Tex
Angels’ Albert Pujols hits three-run home run swing off against Texas on April 28.
(Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press)

Hello, Angels fans. As of today, your favorite baseball team is 14-13, on a 84-win pace, and, wow, has that number changed. The outlook remains less than great, but it’s better than a week ago. So let’s answer some questions about the state of the Angels.

As always, please submit mailbag questions through my Twitter account (@pedromoura) or via email at pedro.moura@latimes.com.

Around the industry, there is a lot of talk that the Angels and Kansas City third baseman Mike Moustakas are a likely pairing. It’s far too early to say so with any degree of certainty, but he is going to be a free agent, he plays a position that they have not yet filled for 2018, and he’s a Southern California native.

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Of course, he’s going to seek a long-term contract for a great deal of money, and like his teammate Eric Hosmer, it’s unclear whether he is worth that kind of commitment. His career statistics are mediocre: a .248 batting average, .303 on-base percentage, and .409 slugging percentage. He’s a good defender, but he’ll be 29 in September and possesses what scouts call a “bad body.”

Left field will be vacant come the off-season, as will second base, and probably one spot in the starting rotation. It would make sense to make additions there.

Yes. Beginning July 2, the Angels can spend up to $4.75 million to sign an international free agent, and even more if they’re willing to incur penalties again. It was the $8-million signing of Roberto Baldoquin in December 2014 that relegated them to an international timeout and effectively cost $15 million because of those penalties.

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I’ll cover this year’s market in greater detail as it gets closer.

Albert has five years left on his contract.

Q: Do you think Pujols could possibly release the Angels from his contract within the next few years if he believes his playing skills have diminished?

Maybe move into their coaching staff or front office?

Thanks!

Halo fan since ’66

Bill (eyesofbliss@yahoo.com)

I don’t expect that to happen. I do expect to continue to receive this question. I’ll answer it at the same rate I have for the last year, once every few months.

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Of course his skills have diminished. He is 37 years old. But, as I detailed last week, he’s basically been worth his contract to date. The Angels are having him hit cleanup, by their own choosing. Why would he even think about retiring? Maybe it will be different in 2021, when he’s 41, but it is way too early to say.

Yes. I wrote about that here. Because the nature of his swing enables him to make frequent contact, he is often tempted to hit pitches with which he can do little. He’s trying to remember to swing only at what looks great, not passable.

Simmons is a fascinating hitter. I do not expect him to OPS over .750, as he did in April, but he does seem capable of more than the slap hitter he was through the first four months of 2016. This is the number you always hear about regarding Simmons, from scouts to coaches to teammates: He hit 17 homers in his first full season.

Certainly. But there’s no reason for Trout to agree to such an arrangement. Players sign early-career extensions for financial security. By the time this contract expires, Trout will already be massively secure.

I would guess not, but it would depend on how both pitchers are performing at that time. There’s little point in speculating about temporary relief roles in advance. And, if Bailey beats Bedrosian back by a significant amount of time, that is a poor sign for the Angels.

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I’d expect Cam Bedrosian to recapture his role as the club’s top reliever when he is healthy. If Huston Street returns from injury throwing like he did in 2015, maybe installing him as the ninth-inning man and utilizing Bedrosian as a late-innings fireman would make sense.

I do not share those thoughts. Of course the bullpen has been better than expected considering the injuries that have struck, but there’s not nearly enough certainty in the current bullpen to regard the team’s relievers as such a strength.

It seems the Angels have uncovered two relievers they can count on in right-handers Blake Parker and Bud Norris. That is a great sign for them. Left-hander Jose Alvarez, too, is a capable pitcher. Beyond them, there are a bunch of fungible fellows right now. But if Bedrosian, Street and Andrew Bailey all return healthy in a month to join that trio, that will be OK. It could work out.

That’s an interesting question. The Angels do not have the kind of bullpen depth that would allow them to entertain that for a lengthy period. You’d essentially be replacing a big-league caliber player with a fringe guy who’d almost certainly clear waivers.

Further, the majority of American League teams do not use eight-man bullpens. When I looked it up Friday, nine of the 15 teams had fewer than eight relievers on their roster. One team, Baltimore, had six. An eight-man bullpen leaves you with a backup catcher, a backup infielder, and a backup outfielder, which is limiting.

Also, C.J. Cron went on the disabled list on Saturday. The decision will be delayed at least another week.

Fangraphs.com and Baseball-reference.com calculate the number in slightly different ways. Fangraphs’ formula for position players is listed here, and pitchers here. I find myself checking WAR figures far more for position players than pitchers, because it’s easier to attain a basic understanding of a pitcher’s worth with conventional statistics. If the innings are there, the strikeout-walk ratio is pleasant, and the home-run ratio isn’t out of control, everything is pretty much good.

The Angels have repeatedly said they see Luis Valbuena playing regularly against right-handed pitching. I’d expect Jefry Marte to garner most of the starts against left-handers.

It depends on several factors. What’s the wild-card race looking like? Is Garrett Richards healthy? Is the lineup pretty much intact? Is Houston hurt?

If the answers to the latter questions are affirmative and the wild-card leader is nearer than six games, I’d guess them to add a player or two. If the answers are negative, I doubt they would add. But this is not a team that has a lot to sell. Their veterans on expiring contracts are Yunel Escobar, Cameron Maybin, Ben Revere, Danny Espinosa, Cliff Pennington, Ricky Nolasco, Yusmeiro Petit, Norris, Street and Bailey.

Right now, few of those players have surplus trade value.

Send questions to the below addresses to be considered for the mailbag every Monday, all season long.

pedro.moura@latimes.com

Twitter: @pedromoura


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