Restoring the rosters: No. 10 – Los Angeles Angels

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This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
No. 25 – Chicago (AL)
No. 24 – Chicago (NL)
No. 23 – Pittsburgh
No. 22 – Detroit
No. 21 – Tampa Bay
No. 20 – New York (NL)
No. 19 – Houston
No. 18 – Oakland
No. 17 – St. Louis
No. 16 – Florida
No. 15 – San Francisco
No. 14 – Texas
No. 13 – Cleveland
No. 12 – Minnesota
No. 11 – Arizona
Held back only by an inability to develop outfielders, the Angels kick off the final third of the rankings.
Rotation
John Lackey
Jarrod Washburn
Jered Weaver
Ervin Santana
Joe Saunders
Bullpen
Francisco Rodriguez
Bobby Jenks
Scot Shields
Jose Arredondo
Darren O’Day
Scott Schoeneweis
Matt Wise
Santana and Saunders have been hurt and ineffective for much of this season, but the rotation still looks like a very nice group going forward, and the bullpen has one of the best one-two punches in the league. Depth is an issue, particularly with the futures of Shields and Wise in doubt. Troy Percival appears to be near-retirement, so he wasn’t included. Next in line for spots are Kevin Jepsen and Sean O’Sullivan.
Lineup
2B Howie Kendrick
SS Erick Aybar
RF Kendry Morales
DH Troy Glaus
CF Jim Edmonds
C Mike Napoli
LF Garret Anderson
3B Brandon Wood
1B Casey Kotchman
Bench
C Bengie Molina
2B Alberto Callaspo
INF-OF Alfredo Amezaga
OF Chris Pettit
Plenty of decisions to be made here. As mentioned previously, the Angels have pretty much stopped developing outfielders since coming up with Anderson, Edmonds, Tim Salmon and Darin Erstad. As a result, I’m sticking Morales in right field, leaving first base for Kotchman. Also, Edmonds gets the nod in center. He did hit .256/.369/.568 in 298 at-bats for the Cubs last season, and he never officially announced his retirement. He’d definitely make more sense in left than center these days, but the alternatives were Erstad, Amezaga or Reggie Willits.
If Glaus can still play the infield regularly, there’d be a lot more flexibility for the bench. Molina could catch three days a week, with Napoli seeing time at DH and Wood or Kotchman going to the bench.
Other options for the bench included Jeff Mathis, Robb Quinlan, Sean Rodriguez, Alexi Casilla, Dallas McPherson, Erstad and Willits. The way I see it, Amezaga’s versatility made him an obvious pick, and I really think Pettit would prove useful as a lefty killer. As outstanding as Morales has been this year, he’s still hit just .270/.283/.440 against southpaws.
I think it’s a fine lineup, if a bit odd. It’s certainly one that’s well equipped to deal with injuries.
Summary
Typically slow to make trades or give opportunities to youngsters, the Angels have occasionally been guilty of failing to capitalize on the wealth of talent produced by the system. Still, they’re set to go to the postseason for the sixth time in eight years and they won a World Series in 2002. If the system has hit a bit of a lull lately, it’s partly because free agent signings left the team without a true first-round pick in 2005, 2007 and 2008. The Angels, though, pursue tough signs later in the draft and continue to compete internationally. With their resources, it’s doubtful that they’ll fade from contention any year soon.

Video: Nelson Cruz hits second-longest home run of 2016

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 14:  Nelson Cruz #23 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates his solo homerun with Daniel Vogelbach #20 of the Seattle Mariners to take a 2-1 lead over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the seventh inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 14, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.

It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.

Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.

Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.

Report: John Farrell won’t rule out a postseason return for Pablo Sandoval

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 11:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 11, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Orioles defeat the Red Sox 9-7.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.

On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.

At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.

If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.

Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.

Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.