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Angels Mailbag: Questions after another so-so week

Angels Mailbag: Questions after another so-so week
Angels outfielder Mike Trout smiles during batting practice before a game against Kansas City on April 26. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)
This is where questions about the Angels will be answered. They are 12-13 this season, still fluttering around .500, and in Milwaukee this week to face one of baseball’s worst teams before returning home to host Tampa Bay. This weekly feature on Mondays is the forum to get responses to any queries regarding the team or any topic at all, submitted through my email (pedro.moura@latimes.com) and Twitter accounts (@PedroMoura).
@bshah79: What could Angels get if they trade Trout? With pathetically thin farm system & Moreno not willing to go over tax, might as well.

The inherent issue in trying to trade Mike Trout is that it would be nearly impossible to receive fair market value for him. Any package would require decimating another organization, and Major League Baseball organizations don't often choose to decimate themselves.

In addition, several people in the Angels’ organization have told me they have absolutely no intention of trading Trout. It has never been an internal discussion, from everything I understand.
I don’t think it’s quite fair to throw out a specific dreamed-up package, creating some story out of nothing. But I am here to please, @bshah79, and so for you I will entertain the parameters of what might get it done, say, this upcoming off-season.
As a kid, I loved the NFL draft. For reasons I no longer understand, I particularly loved draft-pick trades. I used to print out a value chart like this and obsess over what picks teams could move to and from. When a deal happened, I’d immediately consult my chart and form an opinion.
Let’s use that framework for what a deal might look like. Pick a team that might want a 25-year-old center fielder under team control for four more years, grab its star player with at least as much control, and throw him into a pile. Grab another young player, preferably at third, second or in center field, and put him in.
Then, go to Baseball America top-10 prospects by team page, and throw the team’s top two into that pile. Now, scour their system for one more player you like, and top that pile off.
Something like that, probably.
@Chip_GI11: When can we expect to see Jett Bandy get his shot?
Bandy is the owner of a phenomenal name, but he is not exactly hitting well in the Pacific Coast League. When I last checked his statistics, he had two extra-base hits and two walks in 12 games. He’s a 26-year-old catcher and a 31st-round draft pick from five years ago who has never really hit outside of last season in the PCL. So, I’m not really sure he deserves a shot.
But, if you’re asking when the Angels might lose faith in Carlos Perez’s abilities, I think that’s still a long way away. Manager Mike Scioscia has long hewed toward catchers who handle the defensive side of the game, and Perez can. He has a capable arm, pitchers like throwing to him, and the Angels’ staff believes he is a fine framer, although the numbers don’t support that theory.
Geovany Soto can hit a little bit. So, if the team truly sours on Perez, I think the first move would be for Soto to receive more opportunities. If that didn’t work out, then maybe they would turn to Bandy.
@lifedecoded: It’s a small sample size, but is there a growing sense that Geovany Soto’s bat will propel him into a starting role?
Hey, cool! An opportunity to write more about Soto. Actually, Soto and, probably, Yunel Escobar, have been about the only Angels to exceed expectations through the season’s first month.
I asked Scioscia about this Sunday afternoon: Is this the sort of production from him that might make you reconsider how many starts you give him per week?
“Well, you couldn’t have caught three better games than Carlos Perez caught against Kansas City,” Scioscia said. “So that position’s gonna be evaluated not so much on what you’re doing at the plate, but what you’re doing behind the plate.”
For Perez, that is a good thing, because he has not been hitting. Since he debuted one year ago this week, he has hit .232 with a .283 on-base percentage and .315 slugging mark. Of the 275 players to log 300 or more plate appearances within the last year, only 18 have been worse than Perez, by Fangraphs’ wRC+, a metric that incorporates those statistics and adjusts for ballpark and league.
The list is not illustrious. Alex Rios is on it, and he doesn’t have a job. Jake Marisnick is on it, and he’s in the minors. Pablo Sandoval’s on it, and, well, you know.
Scioscia then noted Soto had a good defensive game Sunday, including throwing out a runner at second base.

"That's gonna earn him at-bats," he said.

@OnBaseUnit: Do you think it would be prudent for the Angels to bat Trout fourth since he's coming up with men on so infrequently?

No, I do not think so. I do not think it is a good idea to take away at-bats from the best player in baseball. I think he should hit second.
But what Mike Scioscia tried on Sunday, hitting Kole Calhoun second, is probably his best option if he is going to continue to bat Trout third -- at least until Daniel Nava returns. I retain some belief that Nava can be an above-average No. 2 hitter when healthy. That could be as soon as Friday.
If the Angels were to bat Trout fourth, Albert Pujols would be the No. 3 hitter of choice, I presume? He has a .300 on-base percentage in 161 games over the last year.
@davidusc708: Who gets demoted when Tyler Skaggs returns? Shoemaker? Tropeano?
This question was asked before Matt Shoemaker was demoted over the weekend, of course, but let it demonstrate the folly in attempting to predict roster moves more than a few days down the line.
Skaggs is scheduled to be evaluated by a doctor Monday in Southern California. He has been experiencing shoulder tightness. So it’s still unclear when he’ll be ready to return, as well. But, since I think what you were seeking with this question was a sort of starting pitching depth chart, I’ll provide my best guess at one. Only healthy pitchers are included.
  1. class="li1">Garrett Richards
  2. class="li1">Hector Santiago
  3. class="li1">Jered Weaver
  4. class="li1">Nick Tropeano
  5. class="li1">Matt Shoemaker (in AAA)
  6. class="li1">Nate Smith (also in AAA)
  7. class="li1">Kyle Kendrick (also in AAA)
The world has seen better groups.
@kevin3841: As pitching injuries pile up, might we see a trade for a starter? Someone like a Dan Straily? Much concern over [Skaggs] & [Andrew] Heaney.
Straily has been part of five organizations over the last two years. He was claimed off waivers 31 days ago. I don’t know that he is the type of pitcher the Angels would target. He seems like a nice man, though.
I don’t think the Angels are in any position to trade for an impact starting pitcher. Yes, they have had a lot of injuries, but they still have enough healthy men to fill their rotation, and you have to figure they will get one of their three injured left-handers back before the trade deadline. It is going to be nearly impossible for the Angels to acquire someone better than a healthy C.J. Wilson, given their payroll constraints and lack of prospect talent.
@Jarathen: Is Scioscia going to give Choi more opportunities against righties, esp as PH? A roster spot's a valuable thing to hold up.
This is an interesting question. Ji-Man Choi has not had many chances to hit, which is pretty much the only reason he’s in the big leagues. And this is not the best week for him to start, with the Angels in a National League park and already considering how many days they can start Pujols at first base -- probably two, I’d guess. Any starts he does not draw would go to C.J. Cron.
Pinch-hitting hardly exists in the American League. The Angels have one pinch-hit this season, in 11 plate appearances. Choi has had one chance. He did not convert it. His other 16 plate appearances have come as a starter, and while he’s walked five times, he’s notched only one single.
So it’s unclear what the long-term plan is with him. He is a Rule 5 pick and cannot be optioned to the minor leagues without being offered back to Baltimore. There does not seem to be a path for him to gather more than 150 plate appearances on this team, barring significant injury.
@OnBaseUnit: What’s your perfect taco?
I don’t believe in perfection. But so many tacos are so pleasing that they leave absolutely nothing to be desired. A few of them: the stuffed, fried, shrimp taco at Mariscos Jalisco in East Los Angeles, the Ensenada-style fish taco at Ricky’s Fish Tacos near downtown L.A., the black cod taco on blue corn tortilla at Taco Maria in Costa Mesa, the Chiles en Nogada taco at La Santisima in Phoenix.
Also, any taco trucks or stands that appear on the street late at night when you are thinking about them. Those might actually prove perfection.
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.

Twitter: @pedromoura

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