4/25-4/27 Series Preview: Los Angeles Angels

Mailbag: Prospects, All-Stars, Castro, Samardzija
MLB comes to its senses, eliminates new transfer rule

Mike Scioscia

Following a successful seven-game road trip, the Yankees return home to the Bronx to kick off a nine-game homestand tonight. The first of three teams to visit is the Angels, who have won just seven of 22 games at the new Yankee Stadium. The Halos used to give the Yankees fits but that really isn’t the case these days.

What Have They Done Lately?
Mike Scioscia’s team has split the first six games of their nine-game trip to the East Coast. They just took two of three from the Nationals in Washington and were a spectacular blown save away from a sweep (four-run ninth!). The Angels are 10-11 with a +17 run differential overall. That’s actually the second best run differential in the league.

At 5.3 runs per games with a team 111 wRC+, Scioscia’s club has been one of the very best offensive teams in baseball so far this season. They are without two key players in OF Josh Hamilton (thumb) and OF Kole Calhoun (ankle) right now. That’s their cleanup and leadoff hitters, respectively. Both were off to strong starts and will be out for several weeks. They aren’t returning this weekend.

Trout. (Leon Halip/Getty)
Trout. (Leon Halip/Getty)

The Angels are led by the best player in baseball. New Jersey kid OF Mike Trout (172 wRC+) is still amazing and not in anyway underperforming this year. He’s amazing. 1B Albert Pujols (171 wRC+) leads the league with eight homers and is having a great year, but he isn’t all the way back to being his old self. This version is hitting .284 with a .351 OBP. The old Pujols hit like .330 with a .440-something OBP. He’s still super dangerous though. These two bat second and third in the lineup and will be scary as hell all weekend.

Yankees killer 2B Howie Kendrick (121 wRC+) is off to a nice start, as is the catching tandem of C Chris Iannetta (114 wRC+) And C Hank Conger (97 wRC+). OF Collin Cowgill (178 wRC+ in limited time) has done a fine job filling in during the injuries. Former Yankees OF/DH Raul Ibanez (46 wRC+) and OF Brennan Boesch (61 wRC+ in very limited time) have had poor starts, ditto SS Erick Aybar (71 wRC+) and 3B David Freese (21 wRC+). Freese has been losing playing time to 3B Ian Stewart (102 wRC+ in limited time) lately. OF J.B. Shuck (44 wRC+) and IF John McDonald (160 wRC+) fill out the bench and have played sparingly.

Pitching Matchups

Friday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (vs. LAA) vs. LHP C.J. Wilson (vs. NYY) (GIFs)
Of all the big money pitching contracts handed out in recent years, I think Wilson’s get the most undeserved crap. He has been a steady and reliable horse for the Halos. The 33-year-old comes into tonight’s start with a 4.21 ERA (3.92 FIP) in four starts this year, pairing an excellent strikeout rate (9.82 K/9 and 26.4 K%) with good ground ball (46.4%) and walk (3.16 BB/9 and 8.5 BB%) totals. Righties (.344 wOBA) has roughed him up a bit this year, but not lefties (.294 wOBA). Wilson throws five pitches pretty frequently: low-90s fastball, upper-80s cutter, mid-80s changeup, low-80s slider, and upper-70s curveball. That’s a lot of different looks at different velocities. He took a pounding in his first start but has been solid since.

(Leon Halip/Getty)
(Leon Halip/Getty)

Saturday: LHP Vidal Nuno (No vs. LAA) vs. LHP Hector Santiago (vs. NYY) (GIFs)
Santiago, 26, is a local guy from Newark. He has a 3.68 ERA (4.17 FIP) in four starts this year after being acquired from the White Sox in the three-team Mark Trumbo trade over the winter. As usual, his strikeout (8.18 K/9 and 21.1 K%) and walk (4.91 BB/9 and 12.6 BB%) rates are high while his ground ball rate (29.5%) is low. Righties (.321 wOBA) have hit him harder than lefties (.285 wOBA). Santiago is best described as a three and a half pitch pitcher. He uses low-90s four and two-seam fastballs to set up his low-80s changeup, and every once in a while he’ll bust out a mid-70s screwball. Click the link for the requisite GIF. Santiago’s first two starts were rough, but the last two have been very good.

Sunday: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (No vs. LAA) vs. RHP Garrett Richards (vs. NYY) (GIFs)
The Angels have a young back of the rotation and Richards has been the standout so far. The 25-year-old has pitched to a 2.52 ERA (2.91 FIP) in his first four starts with very good strikeout (8.64 K/9 and 24.2 K%) and grounder (51.7%) rates. He does walk too many (5.04 BB/9 and 14.1 BB%), which has been an issue in his previous three big league seasons. Richards has a reverse split early this year — righties have a .301 wOBA, lefties a .201 wOBA — and he’s essentially a two-pitch pitcher, relying on a mid-90s fastball and a mid-80s slider. He’s throw a handful of upper-70s curveballs per start, but that’s it. No changeup to speak of. The Athletics roughed Richards up two starts ago, but otherwise he’s allowed two runs in his other three starts combined.

Frieri. (Harry How/Getty)
Frieri. (Harry How/Getty)

Bullpen Status
The Angels were off yesterday, so Scioscia’s bullpen is as rested as can be right now. RHP Ernesto Frieri (8.80 FIP) melted down big time on Wednesday but remains the closer. RHP Joe Smith (2.33 FIP) and RHP Kevin Jepsen (3.57 FIP) have been the primary setup guys. LHP Nick Maronde (0.69 FIP in very limited time) is Scioscia’s only lefty reliever.

The rest of the team’s bullpen is … an interesting mix. RHP Yoslan Herrera (4.03 FIP) last pitched in the big leagues in 2008 before being called up a few weeks ago. RHP Fernando Salas (4.58 FIP) closed for the Cardinals for a few months back in 2011 but has been derailed by control problems. RHP Michael Kohn (3.71 FIP) is just a guy named Michael Kohn. Can’t find anything interesting about him. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the status of the Yankees bullpen, then check out Monkey with a Halo for some Angels analysis. The Angels blogosphere really leaves something to be desired now that True Grich seems to be dead.

Mailbag: Prospects, All-Stars, Castro, Samardzija
MLB comes to its senses, eliminates new transfer rule
  • Zach

    I still cringe at thinking how close we came to getting Mike Trout.
    If the Angels scout hadn’t known his father, he was going to be as good as ours.
    Ah well, without solid pitching, we still wouldn’t have gone anywhere, something he’s learned with the Angels the past couple of years.

    • JMK

      I haven’t read anywhere that Mike Trout was nearly a Yankee. You have a source for this?

      • whoisthedogg

        I believe he was selected a pick or two before the Yankees when he was drafted and Oppenheimer was “all-in” to get him.

        • JMK

          The Brewers, Mariners and Red Sox had selections before the Yankees at 29. I’m not saying he’s wrong, just that I don’t remember seeing anything that suggested the Red Sox, Brewers or Mariners wouldn’t have selected Trout if he were available then.

        • Zach

          He was.. but the Angels beat us to him.
          I would say this, regardless of the Angels getting the comp pick for Tex, they still had another one in front of us, and they were going to use it on him no matter what.

      • TWTR

        I have heard/read the same thing, but to me it doesn’t mean much. So many of the teams I have rooted for missed drafting a player by by one pick who would have been a great fit, or even a difference maker. But really, so what? In the end, if you didn’t get the player.

      • jjyank

        The Yankees were reportedly planning on drafting Trout, but the Angels took him before they had the chance.

        • JMK

          Right, they were planning on taking him. I know that. My question is more do we know the Red Sox, Mariners or Brewers didn’t plan on taking him?

          As TWSS wrote above, it doesn’t really matter to me. We didn’t get him. Is what it is.

          • Kevin G.

            I don’t understand what you’re trying to prove. Zach’s point was that the Yankees were close to taking him. No matter what any of the teams between the Yankees and Angels would have done, they Yankees still would have been pretty damn close to selecting him.

            • nycsportzfan

              I didn’t realize they were that close to drafting Mike Trout. Kinda wish I still didn’t.lol

            • whozat

              No, Zach said that the Yankees were close to _getting_ Trout, which is not that close to true. If he’d been on the board when they picked and they considered him but chose someone else, THAT would have been close to “getting” him. Many teams were aware of him, though, and several of them picked before the Yankees and had dollars to spend. So, while it’s true that Trout slipped into the 20s on draft day, the Yankees were still not actually close to getting him.

              They were close to getting Gerrit Cole when they drafted him and couldn’t convince him to sign. They were close to getting Cliff Lee when the Mariners decided they liked Smoak more than Montero as the centerpiece of a trade package. At no point were they close to actually getting Trout into the organization.

    • JAG

      You can play this game with virtually everyone who wasn’t a 1st overall pick somewhere along the way. 5 teams just straight-up missed on Jeter. Ellsbury was a late 20s pick, if I recall. Posada was a 20th rounder.

      Everyone misses someone in the draft, it happens. Everything I’ve heard suggests that there’s no way the Angels were letting Trout go.

      • vicki

        (it’s not completely fair to say five teams missed on jeter. pre-slotting system days, some just didn’t want to pony up the bonus.

        • nsalem

          Jeter had a full scholarship offer to the University of Michigan and made it quite clear that he was taking it if he was not drafted by the Yankees.

          • Yankee$

            I remember the scholarship, but I don’t remember the “only the Yankees ultimatum.” You have a link?

    • Rancid

      Complete Fallacy

  • willie w

    if only the yanks had done more to draft trout, some sort of trade or something

    • Steve (different one)

      I agree, they should have moved to the NFL right before that draft.

      • jjyank

        Well played.

      • Long-Past-His-Day-Rod


      • willie w

        excellent idea !!!

    • W.B. Mason Williams

      Wrong league.

    • willie w

      I have researched this and found it is not allowed by MLB.

      I am instituting a lawsuit against MLB, I will claim they have deprived me the chance to watch Trout in a Yankee uniform
      my Psychiatrist will testify that this has caused great distress in my life

      I will be suing for $150 million.

  • Rancid

    Halo’s Heaven is actually a really popular blog.

    • Macho Man “Randy Levine”

      It might be popular, but it’s pure shit. They constantly whine about the Yankees. They got pissed at the Angels when they did something to honor Jeter and his foundation a few years ago.

      Then there’s this:

      • Masahiro Dinero


        I award that blog writer no points, and may God have mercy on his soul.

      • Long-Past-His-Day-Rod


        Someone must have pissed, shit, and ejaculated in that man’s Wheaties.

      • JLC 776

        I love the assertion that the Yankees are “medias’ hometeam” because they are both based in NY. This implies that, 1) all of media is based in NY, and 2) that the Mets, also based in NY, are completely ignored.

      • vin

        Mike Trout deserves a better blogosphere. If I were him, I’d demand a trade closer to home. Finally, our long-time RAB obsession will actually help the Yankees!

      • Mandy Stankiewicz

        Are you sure this isn’t satire?
        (sic) ‘Boston only has fans because the Yankees coverage of their rivalry gets on tv?’ Forget that tv has only been around half the life of baseball, or when the curse of bambino was laid upon the city of Boston LA was only an incorporated city for about a decade. And forget about when they eventually got their first baseball team (which, ahem, wasn’t even the Angels). Yankees (and Sox) were around generations before this crappy team, with a fan base. And (sic) ‘Manhattan is the center of the tv universe’…guys you are in L O S A N G E L E S (or, now just adjacent to). A quick wiki search of LA yields in the first intro section ‘los angeles leads the world in tv production.’ And yes, f*ck you rally monkey.

        • chris

          That’s completely wrong if he is serious.

          Any of you who have lived in Boston or within ‘Red Sox Nation’ know that Red Sox fans spend WAY more time talking about the Yankees and the ‘Rivalry’ than any self-respecting Yankees fan would do with the Red Sox, at least those of us in the NY metro-area. And for the record, ESPN is broadcast out of New England and hates the Yankees. The official team store at Fenway actually has ‘Rivalry’ merchandise, I’ve never seen that in Yankee Stadium. I grew up not liking the Red Sox, but we put them on the same level of distaste as the Mets. I could honestly not believe how much Red Sox fans talk about the Yankees when I lived there. I remember commenting to one of my NY friends once that it reminded me of that high school girl who constantly complains about some guy because she secretly has a crush on him.

          A lot of Red Sox fans have an unhealthy obsession with the Yankees.

        • Macho Man “Randy Levine”

          Pretty sure they wouldn’t know satire if they invented it.

          See Kevin G.’s post below.

      • Kevin G.

        I’ll one up you. I remember this back in the day


        Rev Halofan is a douchebag

        • Macho Man “Randy Levine”

          Totally forgot about that one.

          I rest my case.

        • Mandy Stankiewicz

          I bet Rev could get a job at the Post.

  • Macho Man “Randy Levine”

    Mike, I could strangle you for that GIF. I see that face in my nightmares.

    • vicki

      i nominate it for the gif hof. i spat-took my coffee.

  • Zach

    Tis true and in the grand scheme of things, pitching is what matters more then anything.

    • Darren

      *Except hitting.

  • W.B. Mason Williams

    Not that I want fans to suffer, but it’ll sure be some “shoe on the other foot” justice when the A-Rod contract is over and the Pujols contract isn’t even in the right decade to be over…

  • Yang eddard Solarte

    The Yanks crush LHP. Doubront, Lester, Price. Much better lineup this year vs LHP. They will take 2/3 with the same lineup as yesterday playing the next two games.

  • JMK

    Hector Santiago, the opposing pitcher on Saturday, seems like a pretty fantastic guy.

    Here’s a link worth reading on the Newark native:


  • forensic

    Nothing much on Michael Kohn, but his Grandfather sounds like he kicked some ass back in the day: