If I Was Perry Minasian

The first thing I would do is understand that the goal is to turn the Angels into a fearsome playoff caliber team by the start of the 2023 season. I would understand that there are just too many holes in the roster to fill in one off-season for this transformation to happen any earlier.

This is especially apparent when you consider how much pitching the Angels currently need. Just look at the three AL divisional winners in 2020: the White Sox relied on 16 pitchers who threw at least 20 innings, the Astros had 17 pitchers toss at least 20 innings, and the Rays used 20 pitchers who threw at least 20 IP. That amount of manpower is what it takes these days to pitch a team into the playoffs.

Adding one or two more pitchers this off-season is just not going to be enough to convert the Angels into a playoff-caliber team. Minasian needs a little more time than that to assemble a staff of about 20 competent-to-great pitchers.

I feel confident, however, that this (along with a shortstop and catching tandem upgrade) will be pretty much in place by the start of the 2023 season. It seems like the Halos already have about ten of those competent-to-great pitchers. With more free agent signings, trades, development of guys like Detmers, and ascendancies from the large pool of young arms in the high minors, the Angels should have a playoff caliber pitching staff by the time the 2023 season rolls around.

The next thing I would do if I was Minasian is to turn the Angels into an elite base running ball club. I would hire a top flight base running coach to teach all of the Angels all of the elements of the art of stealing bases — how to get a good lead, how to read a pitcher, knowing when the pitcher is most likely to throw an off-speed pitch (I would also hire an analytics person to make updated, detailed reports for the tendencies of all opposing pitchers as to what pitch they throw in what count against what-handed batter they are facing, etc.).

And with that in mind, when I was deciding whom to go after to be the Angels’ new shortstop, I would choose someone who either already is an excellent base stealer or has the potential to become one. Whit Merrifield of the Royals would be a good candidate. He is signed by the Royals through the 2023 season, and KC is looking to continue their rebuild and seem like they would be interested in a trade. Whitfield was second in the MLB in 2022 with 40 steals.

Another option is Isiah Kiner-Falefa of the Rangers, who have been cited as interested in trading him. He had 20 stolen bases in 2021, won a Gold Glove in 2020, and would be the Halos’ emergency catcher. Trea Turner is on schedule to become a free agent after the end of the 2022 season, and that would be an exciting pick up.

If I was Minasian, I would push for the Angels to go crazy on the base paths. I would push for Merrifield/Turner, Trout, and Ohtani to steal 40 bases each. I would push for Marsh, Adell, and Fletcher to nab 20 stolen bases. I want to see Marsh or Adell scoring from first on a Fletcher hit-and-run single. Having an elite running game is a powerful weapon for a ball club to have, and the Angels could easily have that if Minasian decided that it was important to him.

If I was Minasian, I would make the base running coach also be responsible for teaching Angel runners what to do when the runner in front of them is caught in a rundown. It has been frustrating the past few years to see Angel player after Angel player just stand on first base while the Angel runner ahead of them is caught in a rundown between 2nd and 3rd or 3rd and home. YOU TAKE THE EXTRA BASE(S) while your teammate is in a rundown. There is almost a 100% chance he is going to be out, so the trailing runner should always advance to second or third instead of stand around senselessly on first base like a spectator as his teammate is being tagged out.

In addition to a base running coach, I would also hire a coach whose job would be to rotate throughout the system and teach Angel players how to bunt. With the prevalence of defensive shifts, there are many free bases available to batters who know how to bunt. Over the course of a season, these free bases acquired through a bunt should result in two or three extra victories, and those two or three additional wins could very well be the difference between making the playoffs or missing them.

Also, in the late innings in the playoffs against an elite pitcher, when you get a lead off runner on base, bunting him over to second could be the key to scrapping out a tense victory. It would be nice for Maddon to know he could count on his players to be able to deliver if that was the strategy he wanted to use.

The Angels have a fantastic core in place already: Trout, Ohtani, Rendon, Walsh, Fletcher, Marsh/Adell, Syndergaard, Iglesias, Loup, Sandoval, et al., so it is easy for me to see an imminent future where the Angels add the players and coaches required to elevate themselves into an above-.500 club in 2022 and then into a legitimate contender to be the champions of the sport in 2023.

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Trusted Member
26 days ago

I like that you took a different spin on this by focusing on team philosophies instead of getting into gritty details on contract number or trade equivalencies. My main counter would be that a base running coach can’t make guys run faster. The team has some decent speed on it, but aside form Ohtani (and Adell if he blows up next season), I’d be shocked if any other players could get close to 40 SB, not due to them being coached poorly, but due to them not being very fast.

Trusted Member
26 days ago
Reply to  2pints

To Counter – Albert Pujols has been known to steal every so often. It can be done – with proper coaching

(Sure not 40 SB – but more stealing is good, if done well, and keeps the defense on its toes).

Trusted Member
26 days ago

Sure, more SB would be great. My point is that a better coach won’t add enough in speed to boost players to be faster than they’ve ever been. Coaching can def help be a smarter baserunner though, like your Pujols example. But Pujols was also getting like 2 SB a season, so lets not give too much credence to what Pujols did for this conversation.

25 days ago
Reply to  2pints

Pujols didn’t get caught stolen once in the last 6 years, which is pretty good for a player seen by many as the slowest player in MLB. Granted, he only tried 12 times.

But the real benefit of a better baserunning philosophy is the pressure it puts on opposing pitchers. Just the threat of someone running will make a pitcher pitch differently and maybe we’ll get a few more meatballs to hit.

Jim Atkins
Trusted Member
27 days ago

Taking extra bases? Bunting to beat the shift? HELL YES!

red floyd
Super Member
26 days ago
Reply to  Jim Atkins

I’m with you. If you look at the 2004-2009 run, it was made up of “small ball”.

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