Angels 2024: Turning Japanese!

In my last piece I advocated for letting the kids play. In the long term, that’s probably a good idea. However, Arte doesn’t think long term and considering this year’s shallow class of both free agent and non-tender candidates, I think it is time we set our sights so far West they are actually East.

So, inspired by the 1980 jam that has a touch of the punk roots of this site, here’s plan 2:

The Angels desperately need a legitimate ace to top the rotation. There isn’t one on the farm, probably not one on the US market, but there is one pitching for the Orix Buffaloes squad that just won the NPB championship.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto, come one down. This 25 year old is absolutely filthy and would immediately slide into the spotlight Ohtani created here. He’s young, he’s vibrant, he’s everything the Angels need. Just look at these highlights.

But the Angels need far more than just an ace. The back end of the rotation is unreliable and the bullpen is in flux. Nothing stabilizes the back end of a rotation more than pushing everyone back a notch in that rotation.

Shota Imanaga we have a place for you. The lefty you might remember from the World Baseball Classic has pitched to a 3.24 ERA in Japan and sports a tidy 7.3 walk rate. Limiting free passes is a great way to go deeper in games and keep the bullpen rested. He’s projected as a 3 to 5 on a good team but he’d be no worse than our 3 here. At 29 he won’t get nearly the coin Yamamoto requires but should still have plenty of good years ahead of him.

And now for the perennial Achilles heel of the Angels, the bullpen. Carlos Esteves looked pretty good early but ran out of gas. That probably doesn’t happen if the Angels have multiple guys who are filthy and can cover for each other. And this guy is absolutely filthy.

Yuki Matsui has 7 consecutive seasons of ERA’s under 2.00. He strikes guys out, he doesn’t walk them, and he can get out hitters on both sides of the plate.

This is already a team that is far more exciting to watch than the one currently constructed, but while I’m living in fantasy land, let’s take it one step further and resign Shohei Ohtani to a ridiculous deal. If I’m Arte I’ll consider it a good problem to have trying to figure out how to pay for all of this as I become an octogenarian.

An ace, a middle rotation arm, a closer, and a unicorn. The Angels would be the Team Japan of the WBC on a nightly basis and create fans out of an entire nation. Most importantly, the team would be electric and much deeper and much more fun to watch.

This piece is a little tongue in cheek but the international free agent market is intriguing this year; perhaps more intriguing than in any recent year. I think the list of players who have made the transition from Japan to MLB is long enough to feel confident.

Even if/when Ohtani leaves I would want the Angels to target these players. If they did pull this off, or even part of it, the Angels would be far better on the field, at the box office, and on TV for it.

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Fleckstein
Trusted Member
6 months ago

I enjoyed that. However, the Hanshin Tigers won the title over the Buffaloes in 7 games

gitchogritchoffmypettis
Legend

This plan is poppycock. But man, it sure would be fun to be “The Japanese MLB team”. Great thing to ponder…. but won’t happen.

BannedInLA
Super Member
6 months ago

Hey man, the offseason is our “Championship” so let us have some fun !!!

Looking at the top-100 FA’s according to this publication so take it for what it’s worth….buuut….. 1B/3B Candelario just screams like target #1 for us. Insurance for the rookie & Rendon is a question that demands an answer.

Cowboy26
Legend
6 months ago
Reply to  BannedInLA

Just a standard Gitcho reponse. But I believe Any reply with Poppycock is Poppycock

Fansince1971
Legend
6 months ago

I call this one – “spend $500 million for 80 wins”.

Jeff, I realize you are creating fun content and not advocating for this. However, I just cant help feeling a shudder. It just seems like more of the same ole stuff – which is probably what we are in for with the same ownership.

BannedInLA
Super Member
6 months ago
Reply to  Fansince1971

We’ve struck out repeatedly on past their prime & way overvalued American FA’s so why da’ fook NOT try the Japanese route? We’d at least be interesting 🙂

Last edited 6 months ago by BannedInLA
BannedInLA
Super Member
6 months ago

Of all the potential ‘Go Big Or Go Home’ scenarios, this is easily the most entertaining one and frankly, it would would probably be a wise business decision as well in terms of attention & revenue.

Last edited 6 months ago by BannedInLA
FungoAle
Super Member
6 months ago

I’d take the Japanese WBC Team over the Angels roster, so there is that

tommyshalo
Trusted Member
6 months ago

Reasonable Comps
Yamamoto=Tanaka

Imanaga=Kikuchi
*Though more stable than Kikuchi.

Matsui≒Hisanori Takahashi
https://www.fangraphs.com/players/hisanori-takahashi/10091/stats?position=P

It’s definitely time to shop in Japan with the weak yen, but the thin FA market will likely make these guys more expensive than they should be and may end up not as exotic as expected when you put it on your shelf.

On the contrary, maybe it would be better for the Angels to look for buy-low and sell medium type like the A’s did with Fujinami.

Angelz4ever
Super Member
6 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Joiner

Of course, since the Halos weren’t even named in reports as a team that watched Yamamoto workout, the chances of signing him to the Halos are assumably very slim.

halofansince1978
Super Member
6 months ago

Interesting read Jeff…thank you!!

Angelz4ever
Super Member
6 months ago

I’d love for the Halos to shock the world and sign Yamamoto & Ohtani.

Angelz4ever
Super Member
6 months ago

Yamamoto will be a better pitcher than Ohtani in 2024.

Cowboy26
Legend
6 months ago
Reply to  Angelz4ever

Source?

Angelz4ever
Super Member
6 months ago
Reply to  Cowboy26

Ohtani won’t be pitching in 2024.

red floyd
Legend
6 months ago
Reply to  Angelz4ever

My ass will be a better pitcher than Ohtani in 2024, but not in 2025.

Angelz4ever
Super Member
6 months ago
Reply to  red floyd

“Your starting pitcher for today, number 51…Red Floyd’s ass….(Cheers)”

red floyd
Legend
6 months ago
Reply to  Angelz4ever

Post-game interview.

comment image

Last edited 6 months ago by red floyd
Angelz4ever
Super Member
6 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Joiner

I said that because Ohtani won’t be pitching in 2024.

red floyd
Legend
6 months ago
Reply to  Angelz4ever

As did I.