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“Alluhring Strategy” Team Preview: 2017 Los Angeles Angels

We Know There Are Angels in the Anaheim Outfield, BUT is that Enough…

After a 13-year “sabbatical” to the East Coast, my family and I return to the Golden Shores of Southern California and with that, pre-season coverage of several of the state’s Major League baseball clubs. First up, we start at Disneyland with The Los Angeles Angels or Los The Angels Angeles depending on which language you are translating.

Is that an Angel? Yes, it is the Arch Angel, Michael…Trout

2016 was not a banner year for The Halos as they finished with a record of 74-88 which was good for 4th place, 21 games behind the 1st place, Texas Rangers. Angel fans could always look forward to watching MVP, Mike Trout, and…well…not much else. As a result, GM Billy Eppler got busy this off-season bringing in a half-dozen new faces in hopes of improving a team that will reinvigorate a hungry fan base. Are the veterans additions going to be enough to make a run at the possible powerhouse clubs in Arlington, Houston and Seattle? Oakland made some noise this off-season as well making the AL West potentially the best division in baseball.

 

Key Off-Season Transactions

Additions:

  1. Luis Valbuena 1B
  2. Cameron Maybin LF
  3. Danny Espinosa 2B/SS
  4. Ben Revere LF
  5. Martin Maldonado C
  6. Jesse Chavez RHP

There are some nice pieces that were added here. Eppler added three bats that should see

significant at-bats through three separate trades during the initial phase of the off-season. Veteran infielder, Danny Espinosa, will be a nice addition to the team that should really sure up-the-middle defense into one of the best in the league. The Angels went through seven LFs last season and picked up two more for the 2017 campaign. I don’t see much offense coming out of LF this season but the club definitely improved the defense with Maybin and Revere joining a strong Trout and Calhoun tandem in the outfield. Maldonado will likely start or at least split catching duties 50/50 with Carlos Perez. He doesn’t offer much with the bat, but is a solid receiver. Finally, Jesse Chavez is a journeyman pitcher that could earn the 5th starter spot or pitch out of the pen. The veteran will add depth to a shaky Angel’s pitching staff.

Subtractions:

  1. Jhoulys Chacin RHP
  2. Jared Weaver RHP
  3. CJ Wilson LHP

Subtractions aren’t always a bad thing. These three pitchers cost the Angels $41,600,000 last

Angels saving some Cash!!!

season. Weaver was a fan favorite for many seasons before he inexplicably forgot how to pitch over the last two season and ending 2016 with a league worse 37 HRs against. Struggling with injuries, it appears that CJ Wilson has retired after not throwing a regular season pitch in 2016. Chacin was simply a failed experiment. Clearing over $40 million may be almost as important if not more so than the additions. This could make the Angels’ players down the stretch and with Josh Hamilton coming off the books after next year, they will be primed for the big free agent classes coming up in 2018 and 2019.

 

Projected Opening Day Roster Notables

Lineup

  1. Yunel Escobar 3B
  2. Kole Calhoun RF
  3. Mike Trout CF
  4. Albert Pujols DH
  5. Luis Valbuena/CJ Cron 1B
  6. Cameron Maybin/Ben Revere LF
  7. Andrelton Simmons SS
  8. Danny Espinosa 2B
  9. Martin Maldonado C

The strength of this lineup is clearly the 2-4 hitters. 80+ HRs and 300+ RBIs should be

“The Holy Trinity” in Anaheim this season

achievable between Calhoun, Trout and Pujols if the three remain healthy for most the season. The remainder is somewhat of a wild card. The likely 1B platoon of newly signed, Luis Valbuena and CJ Cron should provide plenty of power in the 5 hole. Valbuena could also spell Espinosa and Escobar from time to time and Cron could swap off with Pujols to give him some reps at 1B. The new platoon combo of Maybin and Revere has solidified their defense but likely will fall short at contributing at the plate. Revere could provide some steals, but will likely draw the short end of the platoon. This strong defensive unit will keep them in many games but they will count of the heart of the order for most of the offensive production.

Rotation

  1. Garrett Richards RHP
  2. Matt Shoemaker RHP
  3. Ricky Nolasco RHP
  4. Tyler Skaggs LHP
  5. Jesse Chavez RHP

So this rotation probably scares most Angels’ fans. Staff Ace, Garrett Richards, is coming back from an elbow injury where he elected Stem Cell therapy instead of Tommy John Surgery. So far so good as his velocity has been strong this Spring and he’s working on his curve-ball. Injury risk aside, Richards is probably a #2 or #3 in many rotations, but will be counted on as the Ace of this staff. Matt Shoemaker should probably be the #2 guy, but he is recovering from brain surgery after getting hit in the head but a line-drive last season. Although he says he is 100%, there is always a chance that he could have some regression, especially if he has a close call with another line-drive. 33-year-old Ricky Nolasco actually pitched very effectively during his time with the Angels last season. That being said, he is what he is…someone that will eat innings and hopefully keep the team in the game until one of their big hitters makes a clutch play. The last two spots should be Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano. Both of these promising young pitchers had TJ last summer and likely misses the entire 2017 season. Both are now safely labeled as “injury prone” and could never truly pan out to be a serviceable pitcher. Oft-injured Tyler Skaggs and newly signed Jesse Chavez are the likely candidates to take those last two spots. However, Skaggs has had a set-back this Spring and Chavez spent all of 2016 in the Toronto bullpen. This could leave the door open for prospects Alex Meyer or Nate Smith to spend some significant time in Anaheim this season.

Bullpen

  1. Cam Bedrosian CL
  2. Andrew Bailey 8th
  3. JC Ramirez 7th
  4. Huston Street INJ

Make no mistake, if Huston Street didn’t strain his Latissimus Dorsi muscle, he would be the Closer to start the season. Unfortunately, this doesn’t really matter because the 33-year-old veteran reliever is one of the worst rated Closers in the league. Likely replacement, Cam Bedrosian, is also recovering from an injury that hampered him in 2016. In the 40.1 innings that he did pitch last season, he was fantastic. 1.12 ERA/1.019 WHIP/3.1 BBp9/11.4 Kp9 all supported his 2.13 FIP proving he had turned the corner into a dominate reliever. His plus fastball and slider project well as a Closer. If he excels during the first few weeks with the job, Huston may not get it back. Andrew Bailey was signed during the season last Summer and hopes to give Cam some competition for the job. Bailey most likely lends his experience to the 8th inning initially and slides down to the 7th once Huston is healthy. Bottom line, however, Eppler didn’t bring in any significant arms this off-season to bolster the bullpen. Even if Cam does well, this is likely to be one of the worst bullpens in all of baseball.

 

Prospects to Know for 2017

Billy Eppler inherited one of the worst Farm System in all of baseball when he was hired in October of 2015. On the plus side, the club had just drafted Taylor Ward and Jahmai Jones who instantly became their best prospects in the organization. Eppler followed that up with a solid 2016 draft adding two more hitting prospects in Brandon Marsh and Matt Thaiss. The

Building a Farm

later was considered to be one of the more polished hitters in the draft class. Despite these efforts, these guys are a few years out still and there are no significant help coming up this year on the offensive side. The club doesn’t have any Top 100 prospects on the pitching side, but there are a few worth monitoring due to opportunity. Former top prospect in the Twins organization, Alex Meyer, has a shot to make a contribution in the rotation this season. Meyer has a plus fastball and hard slider that will play well if he can discover any sort of command. At 27-years-old, this will likely be the season he puts it together or establishes himself as an official bust. The other guy to keep an eye on is 25-year-old Nate Smith. He has dreadfully average stuff across the board, but he does mix four pitches to keep hitters guessing and his best quality is above average control. The Left-handed pitcher has a shot a grabbing a rotation spot at or near the beginning of the season. He could provide some quality just not extraordinary innings.

 

Key Spring Training Position Battle

CLOSER

As mentioned previously, Cam Bedrosian has the edge over Andrew Bailey due to age and stuff. Huston Street will mix in within the month, but would be more ideal as the 8th inning guy if Cam shows signs of being dominate.

5th Starter

Jesse Chavez likely gets the nod. However, if Tyler Skaggs is not healthy, Chavez moves up to #4 and Alex Meyer vs. Nate Smith battles out for #5. Meyer should win out as Angels will want to see what they have in him, Smith will get called up early in the year because there is no way the rotation stays healthy very long.

 

Fantasy Targets

Obviously everyone wants Mike Trout, but if you don’t have the top pick, you likely don’t get

Who should I be targeting?

him. Guys I’m targeting in middle are Garret Richards and Kole Calhoun. Richards likely will drop due to questions on his health. I’m looking to snag him as my 3rd or 4th SP in the middle rounds. Kole Calhoun is a solid hitter that will give you some power production and doesn’t strike out a ton. That being said, the OBP is lower than you would like and he doesn’t run. I will try to get two stud OFs early and Kole will be a nice complement in the middle rounds. I view Matt Shoemaker and Cam Bedrosian as late round grabs with high risk/high reward potential. Both could be extremely productive but injury risk should help them drop to the later rounds.

 

2017 Team Outlook

This is a good news/bad news scenario. Good News is the team is moving in the right direction. Two solid drafts have began to improve their farm system, especially their position

Angels’ 2017 Goal?

players. Good, cheap hitters that were brought in this off-season will help and bolsters their depth and makes them one of the best defensive teams in baseball. However, the bad news is that injuries have riddled their pitching staff in the past few seasons and their best pitchers are coming back from injury or are still injured. The bullpen by and large is terrible and will likely get hammered this season. I just don’t see any possible way this thin staff with so much injury concern can keep up with the other teams in the stacked AL West. 81 wins seems like a ceiling to me where a slight improvement to 76 wins is where I pencil them in for 2017. I plan on getting to the park to see Trout play, but not sure there is much else to look forward to this season at Angel Stadium.

 


Bryan Luhrs

Major League Fantasy Sports
Writer & Contributor
Real Deal Dynasty Sports
Owner, League Developer & Executive Commissioner

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Major League Fantasy Football 2017 League Openings

(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday March 5th, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #77 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week we break down both Central divisions. We will discuss potential lineups, rotations, bullpens, and any minor league potential for each team along with a heavy fantasy spin.

Our guests this week are Hernan Batista, and Jesse Ellison. Jessie is the owner of Ellison Baseball Instruction in S.E. VA. You can visit his organization at ebicamps.com. Hernan is a frequent guest on our shows, and an experienced MLFB league member.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday March 12th, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #78 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week we break down both West divisions. We will discuss potential lineups, rotations, bullpens, and any minor league potential for each team along with a heavy fantasy spin.

Our guests this week are Kevin Bzdek and Kevin O’Hara. Kevin Bzdek is one of our newest additions to our baseball writing staff in 2017. His articles publish every Friday morning. Kevin O’Hara is a big dynasty baseball fan and a moderator for the fantasy baseball community on reddit.com.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

Faith, Family and Fantasy Sports.These are the three words that best describe me. I am a faithful husband and father of 6 amazing children. I work to earn a living, but I live for every precious moment I can spend with my family and a passion for sports.

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