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.