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.

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.