Let the Kids Play!

The Angels are entering a really intriguing off season this year. The expected loss of Shohei Ohtani combined with the youth movement spearheaded by Zack Neto, Logan O’hoppe, and others leaves the Angels with a lot of potential directions to take with the team.

I’ll be going over a few of those options and will start with what is probably my favorite: let the kids play. It is a Herculean task to get the Angels to the post season in 2024, but perhaps by taking stock of what we really have we can accelerate the rebuild/retooling process a bit.

66. That’s the number of players the Angels trotted out in 2023. It was the same number in 2022. That type of roster turnover simply doesn’t give players enough time to go through the adjustment period required at the MLB level.

No player exemplified this more than Mickey Moniak this year. Over last off season Moniak made a notable adjustment to his batting stance. He was much more open which gave him a much better look at the ball with both eyes. The early results were incredible.

He’d continue to be hot right until the calendar flipped to August. At that point his K rate went up and he slashed a meager .208/.222/.359 over his last 108 plate appearances. The league obviously adjusted to Moniak and we have no idea if he’ll adjust back. On the year he put up a nice 114 wRC+.

The talent is obviously there. Can he even it out over a full season? There’s only one way to find out.

Jo Adell has absolutely no trade value. He’s done will in AAA but struggled at the MLB level. However, he did put up an OPS+ of 87 and a wRC+ of 86 meaning he wasn’t that much worse than the average MLB bat. Those figures are pretty much in line with what one expects from a utility infielder or starting catcher.

And on the verge of going all Lyle on you, he did look a lot better at the plate in many after his call up in mid September. Assuming we lose Ohtani, Adell could have some value roaming the grass so Trout can get the bulk of the DH at bats and hopefully stay healthy for a season. And finally seeing him sink or swim will help the team plan ahead.

Logan O’Hoppe put up a really solid wRC+ of 113 from the catcher’s position; a spot that is usually well below league average. Due to shoulder surgery Logan only had 199 plate appearances. Playing him more often in 2024 is obvious.

Zach Neto gets a lot of love for defensive plays like this:

And while I appreciate the fact shortstop is historically a defense first position, that has changed over the last few years. Sluggers abound. And Neto’s wRC+ of 86 could use some improvement. He’s obviously the shortstop of the foreseeable future but his he the 2-2.5 WAR guy he was last year or a 4 WAR stud? Let’s see.

Nolan Schanuel was 12% better than MLB average but will he ever hit for any power? And will his OBP stay this high if MLB pitchers don’t fear he’ll hit one over the wall or to the alley for a double? Only one way to tell.

All of the Angels young pitchers disappointed this year. Patrick Sandoval in particular took a big step back, but he also led the league in unearned runs. He needs to make some mental adjustments but the talent Sandoval and Reid Detmers possess is apparent. I’d much rather invest in better coaching and video for the young guys than another Tyler Anderson.

Hopefully Ben Joyce can stay healthy and some of the Trash Pandas develop. Maybe they don’t. I’d still rather watch them try than watch Tepera and Loup types fail while making big money.

And this plan doesn’t necessarily prevent a smart longer term investment or two. Aaron Nola had a rough platform season but is durable and the type of guy who could help a young, five man rotation for a few years. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Teoscar Hernandez are proven bats who are only 30 and should still be good when the team is actually ready to compete in a year or two.

Obviously adding 25 year old Japanese ace Yamamoto would be the ideal way to play out this strategy. I’ll have more on that in my second piece.

And I like Perry’s strategy of trading fringe prospects for non-tender candidates. It didn’t pan out with Gio Urshela and Hunter Renfroe this year but the reasoning was sound.

Still, I want to see the bulk of the playing time go to the kids. A few should be good and a part of the next competitive team. A few will sink, but at least we’ll know it.

Bottom line, I’m looking at a rotation of Free Agent/Detmers/Sandoval/Anderson/Canning. An outfield of Trout/Ward/Moniak/Adell. And an infield of Rendon (yeah, right), Neto, Drury, Schanuel with Rengifo and a free agent for depth. O’Hoppe and Thaiss at catcher.

Really, I’d target a non-tender candidate for an outfielder and a third base capable infielder. Honestly I’d be fine bringing Urshela back. A sweet glove capable of covering multiple positions with a wRC+ of 92 is as good of a bench piece as you’ll likely find.

Does this team win the AL West? No. A Wild Card? Most likely not. But could this team turn into something good over time? Yes. Which is more than any team that will feature 66 players can say.

28 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Roy Hobbs
Trusted Member
5 months ago

Artie needs to sell jerseys and Perry needs to win to keep his job so it will be very interesting to see the path the team takes. I think most of the young players you mention will be playing everyday anyway. I would be very surprised to see Adell get much playing time though if he is still with the organization. I also beleive it’s possible Moniak will be packaged in a trade. I think they might try to trade for Soto as an Ohtani replacement. I don’t think they are far from being a good team if they get some coaches that help their young pitchers. Trouts health and Rendons contract are the big limiters.

BannedInLA
Super Member
5 months ago
Reply to  Roy Hobbs

If we do go “big”, I’d
prefer the Japanese Ace over Soto and go with short term “prove it” deals to augment the lineup.

Heck, perhaps we get 140+ games from Trout & Rendon…. (Piss off, let me dream…)

Last edited 5 months ago by BannedInLA
FungoAle
Super Member
5 months ago
Reply to  BannedInLA

Yamamoto is the only top 25 guy I would pounce on. Can fill the starting staff with 3rd tiers FAs like Maeda, Wacha and or Lugo. This team is so far away from competing for the division.

BannedInLA
Super Member
5 months ago
Reply to  FungoAle

Re: Yamamoto, I can’t help but wonder if Shohei’s experience in OC, e.g., lack of winning, would scare off top Japanese tier imports moving forward.

That said, I hope we do it – if we go “big”….

Last edited 5 months ago by BannedInLA
FungoAle
Super Member
5 months ago
Reply to  BannedInLA

Thinking the same as well…

Cowboy26
Legend
5 months ago
Reply to  FungoAle

Or Shohei’s ease in acclimating to the OC and the team coming over straight from Japan will endure himself to the organization.

Drew-S
Member
5 months ago
Reply to  BannedInLA

YES IT WOULD! There’s your answer to that.

BannedInLA
Super Member
5 months ago

I’m on board with going the “Kids” route, but having PTP replicate a couple more Brandon Drury level acquisitions would be nice.

gitchogritchoffmypettis
Legend
Reply to  BannedInLA

Agreed. Signing anyone, even the Japanese star, is a bad idea.

Why? Well, let’s think on “windows” for a minute. People like to look at the “We had XYZ players and won nothing.” side of a window. They never really look at the rest of the League or division the same way though.

As soon as Pujols proved to play like a 60 year old, then Hambone happened, then Rendon got poisonous fan juice all over him…. those were all windows shutting. Trout and Ohtani didn’t matter. Mostly because, even if Adell had been a revelation at age 20 and we’d signed Wheeler, Houston was still going to be better. Cleveland was better. The A’s were better. The Mariners got better. The Twins were better…. the climb for our team got steep. See, the Astros are actually fairly dysfunctional with an ACTUAL asshole for an owner…. and yet players sign there. The same would be true here if the team actually “feels hot”. But it doesn’t.

Texas, Seattle and Houston are all ahead of us for now. We are years from taking those guys on regularly and winning. We need to build, like the Braves and Orioles have. Then we will get free agent interest. We’ll have the roster to take on the other teams…. some of which will have started to crumble in a couple years.

We don’t need Arte to come out and say we are rebuilding…. well, some of the sad vindictive shits around here may need it, but the team itself doesn’t. But we do need Arte to do a rebuild. And sure, maybe Diamondbacks blah blah. But that team needed magic AND the Doyers, Padres and Giants floundering…. so yeah, we shouldn’t plan for that.

Sign “solid” and versatile. Jed Lowrie on the A’s. Play the kids. Get other prospects if we can. Focus on coaching and development. Sadly, it’ll take time. Some of the old pissbag Angels fans may even die off before we win regularly again. That’s fine as long as we get it done right.

Drew-S
Member
5 months ago

Kings fan here. I say the exact same thing. When people get fixated on stuff like how everything will be fine because the optic is The Los Angeles Kings as though there are no other teams drafting talent and improving. You’re spot on.

Btw, I’m not sure if you ever read the article from the Athletic and the behind the scenes in terms of what the Angels have wrt analytics, development and many other bts aspects. But it was pretty chilling. It made Arte and the org look pretty second rate, as though people hadn’t already figured that out.

KingsHalos10
Member
5 months ago
Reply to  Drew-S

Been saying that for years on both teams. Kings finally figured it out moving away from the Lombardi years. Angels need a plan and stick with it. Start w ownership and upper management while playing the kids and building back the organization.

Last edited 5 months ago by KingsHalos10
Cowboy26
Legend
5 months ago

With what would appear to be the inevitable departure of the Unicorn and the fact we got nuttin left down at the farm, , I think this guy would be a great addition. https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2023/11/dodgers-do-not-extend-qualifying-offer-to-j-d-martinez.html

Unfortunately, he’s right handed and we we’re all stocked up on everyday Right handers with Moniak Schaunel & Rengifo (S) the only remaining LH options ( I am intentionally ignoring Thaiss and Cabbage)

Is that enough balance or do we need another LH DH/OF option?

BTW the brain trust over at MLB Trade Rumors has us signing Teoscar Hernandez this off season. Let’s hope we dont sign that Turd I’d rather watch JD Martinez butcher balls in the outfield.

Last edited 5 months ago by Cowboy26
halofansince1978
Super Member
5 months ago

For forever my best baseball buddy has said, “Bring up the kids and let them play!!”

Cowboy26
Legend
5 months ago

Actually It became mission Impossible since right after that X Tweet in July Moniak slashed .220/.240/.347 with only 4 walks and a whopping 61 strikeouts in 154 Plate Appearances.

I believe the league finally realized that the Mick has a strike zone you can drive a Mack through and even though I saw some slight improvement in the last few weeks , Without correction this will doom his career. You can survive with low walk rates. Garret Anderson had a long career despite being too GA to take a free pass (only a 14.7% Walk rate per PA) but he didnt swing at shit outside the zone ( 13.3% K/PA) Unlike Mickey not so fine.

Roy Hobbs
Trusted Member
5 months ago
Reply to  Cowboy26

Actaually, Garrett was very undisciplined and also had a large strike zone but he didn’t swing and miss very often. He hit most of the bad pitches he swung at. Mickey though, swings at pitches he can’t reach.

Last edited 5 months ago by Roy Hobbs
BannedInLA
Super Member
5 months ago
Reply to  Cowboy26

Yeah, it’s safe to assume that Moniak is no Anderson now or never.

gitchogritchoffmypettis
Legend

I think you’re right. I’ll also enjoy watching the kids more even if the team’s not too good.

Drury, Rendon, Trout…. if you ad a combo of a gritty utility guy, or 1B/DH, or back up catcher and then a a little stubble to the pitching staff…. that’s enough veteranishness.

I know it’s hard for people who want things when they want them to understand it, but the Dbags and Rangers were a perfect example. Teams win when random guys perform. Young guys and vets.

The team can actually be competitive if a majority of Sandoval, Detmers, Anderson, Trout, Drury, Ward, ShamWow, Rendon, O’Hoppe, Rengifo, Neto and some pen arms just do their friggin jobs and don’t get hurt.

It’s why I always roll my eyes at the “I;m flabbergasted from asshole to eye sockets by how we had Trout followed by Ohtani and have no play offs!” crap. The best player in baseball is, very often, on crap teams because it’s NOT BASKETBALL. You need another dozen league average players at least…. that aren’t hurt. On top of that, both those ggggggggrrrreats! were hurt plenty of the time. Plus, even young Trout sucked ass late in seasons. It’s not really that mind blowing.

I may not be totally enthralled with PTP. But I don’t want to ditch him because he comes from a background of good player development, he’s making changes in the system, and I’d rather have him flop around the last couple years and keep improving the over all org than start from scratch.

If that’s the case, then we’ll need to play the kids. So might as well get on with it. Some of them are going to suck and there will always be some dickhead moaning that Adell’s in the line up but forward’s the only way through it.

Please, for the loaf ah Gah, don’t sign any large free agents this winter. I want to be totally unexcited by just about every move.

Angelz4ever
Super Member
5 months ago

BTW-In the “Experts don’t know sh**!” department.

In regards to Shohei re-signing with the Angels highly unlikely-The “Experts” had pegged the Halos with a 7% chance of signing him originally, so they don’t know sh**!.

Fansince1971
Legend
5 months ago
Reply to  Angelz4ever

Well, that analysis of where Ohtani would originally sign was truly based on ZERO information at all. Ohtani and his agent have clearly said he wants to play in the playoffs and World Series. He has said that’s a priority. That insight makes it very unlikely he will sign on with the Angels after six losing seasons. I mean we have to be realistic rather than wear rose-colored glasses.

As for this article- Jeff 100% agree. Let the kids play and let’s see what can be built! As I’ve said many times, I’d rather root for young players, working their butts off at a bunch of overpriced veterans

gitchogritchoffmypettis
Legend
Reply to  Angelz4ever

Did you read the post you are commenting on?

Cowboy26
Legend
5 months ago

I know you’ve been away alot Gitcho but did you seriously think things would be any different?

Angelz4ever
Super Member
5 months ago

Yes, but just wanted to vent on the “Experts” that name a team everyday that is now “…in on Ohtani” just so someone ends up correct.

BannedInLA
Super Member
5 months ago
Reply to  Angelz4ever

I’ll bite, if you were advising Shohei, where would you advise him to go?

Biggiswrth
Trusted Member
5 months ago
Reply to  BannedInLA

Dodgers 2 year $90 million

Marcotor
Trusted Member
5 months ago
Reply to  Biggiswrth

Boston. Same deal. Just for the deliciousness of the exploding heads.

BannedInLA
Super Member
5 months ago
Reply to  Biggiswrth

Agree. Doyers. It makes sense on every level.