Diving into the depths: Los Angeles Angels

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Rotation
1. Jered Weaver
2. Joe Saunders
3. Ervin Santana
4. Scott Kazmir
5. Matt Palmer
6. Sean O’Sullivan
7. Anthony Ortega
8. Trevor Reckling
9. Trevor Bell
10. Tommy Mendoza
The Angels still haven’t announced any non-roster invites, so their depth chart is bare of retreads. It’d make an awful lot of sense for them to add a veteran or two to battle Palmer and O’Sullivan for the fifth spot in the rotation. Palmer did manage an 11-2 record as a starter last year, but his cutter won’t fool as many hitters his second time around the AL.
I really worry about this group. Weaver is the only one of the top four who didn’t battle an arm problem last year, and none of the pitchers after Kazmir seem like decent bets for 2010. Reckling is the most interesting alternative, but he’s probably going to need at least three months in Triple-A. At the very least, the Angels should go sign Jose Contreras. He’ll be dirt cheap, and unlike most of the alternatives, he has a track record of decent results in the AL.
Bullpen
1. Brian Fuentes
2. Fernando Rodney
3. Kevin Jepsen
4. Scot Shields
5. Jason Bulger
6. Matt Palmer
7. Rich Thompson
8. Rafael Rodriguez
9. Sean O’Sullivan
10. Trevor Bell
11. Robert Mosebach
12. Fernando Rodriguez
While there’s no shutdown reliever here unless Fuentes regains his old form, the Angels have plenty of power right-handers and odds are that a couple of them will step up. I prefer Jepsen.
With Palmer penciled into the rotation, Thompson and Rafael Rodriguez would seem to be in line for the last two spots as things currently stand. However, there will be some additional veteran relievers in camp. The way I see it, Thompson would be just fine as a 12th pitcher, but everyone below him belongs in Triple-A.


Catcher
1. Mike Napoli
2. Jeff Mathis
3. Bobby Wilson
4. Ryan Budde
First base
1. Kendry Morales
2. Brandon Wood
3. Mark Trumbo
Second base
1. Howie Kendrick
2. Maicer Izturis
3. Freddy Sandoval
Third base
1. Brandon Wood
2. Maicer Izturis
3. Freddy Sandoval
Shortstop
1. Erick Aybar
2. Maicer Izturis
3. Brandon Wood
The Angels may have flirted with Adrian Beltre, but all signs point to Wood getting his chance in place of Chone Figgins. Also, Kendrick figures to return to a starting role after being replaced by Izturis against righties down the stretch last season. Izturis should still get plenty of action between three infield spots.
Left field
1. Juan Rivera
2. Gary Matthews Jr.
3. Reggie Willits
4. Chris Pettit
5. Terry Evans
Center field
1. Torii Hunter
2. Gary Matthews Jr.
3. Reggie Willits
4. Peter Bourjos
Right field
1. Bobby Abreu
2. Gary Matthews Jr.
3. Terry Evans
4. Chris Pettit
Designated hitter
1. Hideki Matsui
2. Juan Rivera
3. Mike Napoli
4. Chris Pettit
There’s been no taker for Matthews’ contract, so it looks like he’ll remain the fourth outfielder. He wasn’t all that bad while hitting .250/.336/.361 with 50 RBI in 316 at-bats last season. With Matthews back, the Angels might as well jettison Willits, who just isn’t good enough defensively to justify a spot. Sandoval, Evans and Pettit would be the candidates to join Matthews, Mathis and Izturis on the bench. I think it’s time Evans gets a spot. He offers power, speed and pretty good defense in the outfield corners. Pettit is the superior hitter, but since he wouldn’t have much of a role in the majors, he’d be better off getting regular at-bats in Triple-A for the first few months of the year.

Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez to be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday

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This Sunday three players will be honored in Cooperstown as Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez become the 313th, 314th and 315th members inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Executives Bud Selig and John Schuerholz will be inducted as well, making it 316 and 317.

Raines was quite possibly the NL’s best player in a five-year span from 1983-87.  WAR thinks so, placing him ahead of Mike Schmidt, Tony Gwynn and Dale Murphy, all of whom got more plaudits at the time. Raines hit .318/.406/.467 during that period and averaged 114 runs scored and 71 steals per year. During those five years, only Rickey Henderson scored more runs (572-568) and only Wade Boggs had a better OBP (.443 to .406). That Raines had to wait until his last year of eligibility was in large part due to him being a very similar player to Henderson. Which is kind of an unfair comparison — Henderson is one of the best players of all time — but that’s how the voters operate sometimes.

Bagwell likewise had to wait a bit longer than he should’ve, mostly due to thus far evidence-free beliefs that he used PEDs. On the merits, Bagwell was one of the best first basemen of all time, with a career line of .297/.408/.540, 449 homers and 1,529 RBI. Between 1994 and 2001, he averaged — averaged! — a line of .306/.428/.589, 37 homers and 120 RBI while playing in perhaps the worst hitters park in history in the Astrodome.

People whispered about Rodriguez and PEDs just as much as they did Bagwell, but he got in on the first ballot, suggesting that the BBWAA is getting over its hangups. He is also clearly deserving of induction. Rodriguez, the 1999 AL MVP, was named to 14 All-Star teams and he won 13 Gold Gloves. He finished his career with a .296/.334/.464 line, 311 homers and 1,332 RBI. His 2,427 games caught is a major league record. He was, without question, the best defensive catcher of his era and many believe he was the best of all time. If he’s not, he’s in the top two or three.

As for the executives: we’re long on record as believing that Bud Selig’s induction is a disgrace. It was nonetheless a foregone conclusion, as the Hall of Fame has tended to view induction as part of retiring commissioners’ severance package. If there was any remaining doubt about him getting in, the fact that the committee which elected Selig was, more or less, hand-picked by people loyal to Selig and/or Major League Baseball put it to rest.  John Schuerholz is clearly deserving as he was one of the top executives of the past half century, starting out with the Orioles and then building winners in both Kansas City and Atlanta, sustaining those organizations’ success for far longer periods than most teams experience it.

Beyond those two, ESPN’s Claire Smith will be on the stage to accept the 2017 J. G. Taylor Spink Award, given to baseball writers. She is the first woman to be given baseball writing’s highest honor.  Athletics broadcaster will be honored as the Ford C. Frick Award winner for broadcasting. Smith passed away in 2005.

The ceremony will be held on a big lawn a mile south of the Hall of Fame. If you’re in the neighborhood, admission is free and lawn chairs and blankets and things are welcome. If you’re not in the neighborhood, the festivities will be broadcast live on MLB Network and will be shown via webcast at http://www.baseballhall.org.

Aaron Judge broke a tooth celebrating the Yankees walkoff win

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Brett Gardner hit a walkoff homer last night, giving the Yankees a dramatic 11-inning win. A grand celebration ensued. And then a trip to the dentist presumably ensured for Aaron Judge.

Seems that Judge broke a tooth during the scrum, as Gardner’s helmet — which was bouncing around, not on Gardner’s head — bounced up and smacked Judge in the mouth. Judge quickly went to the clubhouse and wasn’t available for comment afterward. If he was, he likely would’ve said “Thith wath a great win. Gardner juth looked for hith pitch and put a good thwing on it.”

Judge is expected to make the start tonight for the Yankees.