There is a headline that constantly scrolls in my mind every time predictions begin to swirl around the Los Angeles Angels’ offseason moves—each scenario popping with the lights of a ‘50s-style camera.
Big names. Big money. Big moves. Big…mistakes?
It never fails—especially in the past few seasons—making the Angels one of the more intriguing organizations to watch in the winter.
What will they do for an encore?
Remember: This is the Los Angeles Angels we are talking about here. If they went out on the first day of the offseason and acquired four top-tier pitchers for cash and the eating of a few contracts and Vernon Wells, would you really be surprised?
However, to me, this offseason will be different. Not less interesting, but definitely different. For the first time in at least three seasons, I don’t think we see any major hype.
Sure, the cameras will be there, it’s 24/7 sports news in the offseason—they need filler. But the idea of big moves and bigger headlines coming from Anaheim just doesn’t make sense.
Granted, whenever it comes to predicting the Angels’ offseason moves, I also immediately think of those studies that explain the chances of winning the lottery.
Both instances, regardless of how you think it will go, are never an easy hit. Most often, it’s a miss—about a 1-in-175 million chance of getting it right.
In the case of the Angels, with owner Arte Moreno always poised for the unknown and astonishing, that number may be a little greater—like 1-in-180 million.
But I won't let the odds keep me from throwing in my two cents. It's fun. No shame in that.
And though I don’t think something drastic will happen—it's way too early to completely exhaust every angle and detail anyways—I do feel there are three key scenarios that will lead to this revolution (let’s call it that) of an offseason.
So, let this be the first of probably thousands of prediction-based articles for the Angels this offseason.
Arte Moreno will surprise the guessers, as usual in the offseason, and keep both Jerry Dipoto and Mike Scioscia
What’s the rush on this? This team is not going to be fixed overnight, and it certainly isn’t going to get some high-powered boost if Moreno cuts loose either Scioscia or Dipoto (or both).
In fact, any such moves might set the team back even worse—if you can believe that.
Sure, I’ve seen the same reports, from the same writers as you, but I struggle to understand how this debate is clear to so many when there is obvious doubt towards the effect seeping from the cause.
We know the team is a ship without sails at this point. They have little room for spending money in the offseason, and the best efforts will be parting ways with good talent in order to secure the now and the future.
There is Albert Pujols, causing worry and concern.
There is Josh Hamilton, causing worry and concern.
There is a need for pitching, while understanding that Mike Trout is going to get more expensive.
It’s a difficult situation, no question.
But why take a ship with no sails and start removing the boards from the haul for the sake of blaming why the sails went missing in the first place?
Wouldn’t that ultimately just sink the ship?
In recent months, it seems as though both Dipoto and Scioscia have made nice, at least in the PR-latent form we hear spewed to reporters from time to time.
(It’s like watching two cast members on a sitcom, who dislike each other, smile pretty when the camera is rolling and the questions start flying their way. “No, no, we have had our differences…but I think we have a good thing going here and I think…”)
The truth is Scioscia likes to control the situation—the entire situation. But so does Moreno. To that, I imagine Dipoto would like a little flexibility to control things too, though his chances are slim.
They all like the idea of control.
In the end, it will always be a three-way struggle between Scioscia, Dipoto and Moreno, and ultimately that will be the downfall of the working relationship.
But that doesn’t mean the group needs to break up right now, dissipating like a baseball version of Guns and Roses.
There are more important things.
Dipoto has one year left on his contract. Scioscia has until the end of the 2018 season left on his—with some heavy cash to go with it.
The smart move would be to let both continue to attempt rebuilding the squad and act accordingly if failure continues in 2014 like it did in the past—a la Dipoto’s pitching acquisitions not performing well, or Scioscia struggling to manage effectively in one-run and extra-inning games.
If that kind of failure continues, then Moreno can unleash with fury, at the expected times—Dipoto at the end of 2014, followed by Scioscia not long after that.
It doesn’t need to be a surprise every time a move is made. After all, it’s thinking like that on Moreno's part that originally cut the sails on this ship in the first place.
Mark Trumbo will overshadow Howie Kendrick on the market
I had some original doubt that the Angels would be completely willing to trade Howie Kendrick during the trade deadline. His value—in the clubhouse and on the field—seemed too great of an asset to the team.
Trading him, in my mind, equaled the same kind of sour deal that occurred with Torii Hunter.
Kendrick, almost by some "you tried to send me to the enemy default," will be traded this winter.
And why not? There aren’t too many scenarios—especially with the teams Kendrick can block in a trade going from 13 to six—where I see the second baseman not gaining interest.
With that interest, there should be a chance for the Angels to pick up talented, young (that’s talented first, young second) arms to add to the pitching staff.
However, I don’t see Kendrick gaining the most interest of all possible trade candidates; that crown goes to Mark Trumbo, who comes with the same high-risk reasoning that got the Angels in trouble these last few years: ditch the small ball, dig the long ball.
Trumbo is certainly a long ball kind of guy. If the 29, 32 and 33 (and counting) home runs he has produced for the team the past three seasons doesn’t tell you that, then the 2012 Home Run Derby display should jog the memory.
The guy can crush a baseball.
The problem is, however, Trumbo’s average has suffered—even by new-aged power-hitter numbers—and his second-half dry spells the past two seasons have not helped the Angels.
Power aside, he is not the type of player that can provide much else. And the Angels have got other players—C.J. Cron and Kole Calhoun—that can fill in with better consistency.
There is also light at the end of the tunnel: Teams in search of a power bat will not care about the batting average. They look at the power potential and that is it.
And Trumbo has definitely got that—not to mention he will be turning 28, while Kendrick will be 30 (turning 31) next season. All of those factors could be enough to land Trumbo on the most-prized trade chip this offseason.
If you go by this next guy's words of wisdom, it may also help the Angels get back to a winning form of old.
Jered Weaver’s thoughts and advice will impact how the Angels move forward
While there will be plenty of guessing from the talking heads, writers and fans about the Angels’ offseason moves and future, it really comes down to what the players think.
They are the ones in the clubhouse, and on the field, who have the best idea about what needs to be done for the betterment of a team.
Jered Weaver is that guy for the Los Angeles Angels.
If you didn’t get a chance to read the article MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez wrote about Weaver’s thoughts on the Angels’ situation, you are missing what I consider to be a team-changing moment for this franchise.
Or, at least, words from the clubhouse level to management level on how to reconstruct the club.
Weaver made it clear:
I think we changed our approach as far as how Angels baseball [was]. When I first got here, it was doing the little things—stealing bases, first-to-thirds—and we didn't really sit back and wait for home runs and things like that. I think that now, we have some guys with some sock in the lineup and guys who hit home runs. The lineup is a little different from that regard.
And by different, he didn’t mean bad or good. Mediocre perhaps.
We have a lot of talent in this clubhouse, man; it's just a matter of time before it starts clicking. I think that the way we used to go about things and the way we go about things now has taken a little bit to get used to. We've seen glimpses of us working together and playing well, and there's obviously been times where it hasn't worked out and we've been struggling. We have to find that happy medium where we're playing good, consistent baseball.
Remember that goal: a happy medium.
When the seemingly right answer this offseason is to add pitching, then add some more pitching, getting rid of whoever is the man of the day. Remember what Jered Weaver has told us.
Basically, things are not all that bad; they just need a tweak here and there.
They don’t need to be flashy, highly paid or ready for ratings.
It can be as simple as relying on the learning curve of Cole Calhoun, Garrett Richards, J.B. Shuck and Grant Green, while Hamilton and Pujols, C.J. Wilson and Weaver do their thing.
Of course, Trout will do his part.
Will Dane De La Rosa, Ernesto Frieri and Michael Kohn do the same?
Will Sean Burnett?
If they do, then the predicting just got a whole lot easier.
Note: All stats provided were courtesy of MLB.com unless otherwise noted.
For more thoughts and opinions from Rick Suter, follow him on Twitter@rick_suter.