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.

Yordano Ventura represented the best and worst of baseball’s culture

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images
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It was reported this morning that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. Former prospect Andy Marte was also killed in a separate car accident. Along with Jose Fernandez and Oscar Taveras, the baseball world has lost a lot of young, exciting talent in a very short amount of time.

Ventura was, like all of us, a complex human being. At his best, he was an exciting, talented, emotive pitcher who featured an electric fastball which sat in the mid-90’s and occasionally touched 100 MPH. At his worst, he was an immature, impressionable kid trying to fit in by exacting revenge against batters he felt had wronged him by slinging those electric fastballs at vulnerable areas of their bodies.

Baseball needed Ventura when he was at his best. It is players like him and Fernandez, not Mike Trout, that bring in new fans to the sport. To baseball die-hards, Angels outfielder Mike Trout is the pinnacle of entertainment because we know he’s an otherworldly talent. But to the average fan, Trout is just another player who hits a couple of homers and doesn’t do anything particularly interesting otherwise. Trout is milquetoast. Ventura was never an All-Star, but fans knew who he was because he made his presence felt every time he made a start. He was fun, if sometimes vengeful.

Ventura’s baseball rap sheet is rather lengthy for someone who only pitched parts of four seasons in the big leagues. Early in the 2015 season, Ventura found himself in a handful of benches-clearing incidents in quick succession. On April 12, he jawed with Trout, apparently misunderstanding the motivation behind Trout yelling, “Let’s go!” Though catcher Salvador Perez intervened, Trout’s teammate Albert Pujols ran in from second base and the benches cleared shortly thereafter. On the 18th, some drama between the Athletics and Royals continued. Ventura fired a 99 MPH fastball at Brett Lawrie, resulting in his immediate ejection from the game. More beanball wars ensued in the series finale the following day. Finally, on the 23rd, Ventura hit White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu with a 99 MPH fastball in the fourth inning. Ventura was not ejected… until after the completion of the seventh inning. Walking back to the dugout, Ventura barked at White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton and — you guessed it — the benches cleared. All told, Ventura was fined for his behavior with the Athletics and suspended seven games for the White Sox incident.

In August 2015, Ventura called Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista a “nobody” and accused him of stealing signs. He apologized shortly thereafter. Two months later, during his start in Game 6 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, Ventura got into it with Jays first base coach Tim Leiper. Nothing happened beyond that, but apparently it was part of the Jays’ plan to try to put Ventura “on tilt.”

Most recently, in June this past season, Ventura hit Orioles third baseman Manny Machado with a pitch. Machado charged the mound and got in at least one punch before the players spilled out onto the field in a blob of royal blue and orange. Ventura was suspended for eight games.

Ventura was by no means a model of civility, but he was a product of baseball’s intransigent culture forcing players to assimilate or be ostracized. The old culture taught players to never show emotion. Hit a home run? Put your head down and circle the bases in a timely fashion or risk taking a fastball to the ribs. Players like Fernandez and Bautista — typically players from Latin countries — challenged those old cultural norms and are, as a result, the vanguard of the new culture. Ventura displayed aspects of each, the worst of the old culture and the best of the new. He was not a one-dimensional person; he was strikingly complex. At one moment willing to use a fastball as a weapon, the next stopping by some kids’ lemonade stand and giving out fist bumps. Baseball is made more entertaining and more interesting by its personalities and Ventura’s was a behemoth, for better or worse. His absence from the sport will be felt.

MLB remembers Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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Following the tragic passing of 25-year-old Yordano Ventura and 33-year-old Andy Marte, both of whom were killed in separate car crashes on Sunday morning, players and executives from around Major League Baseball expressed an outpouring of grief and support for the players’ families and former teams.

Fans have gathered at Kauffman Stadium in memory of the former pitcher.