Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Texas Rangers

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.

Rotation
1. Jered Weaver
2. Dan Haren
3. Ervin Santana
4. Joel Pineiro
5. Scott Kazmir
6. Trevor Bell
7. Hisanori Takahashi
8. Matt Palmer
9. Tyler Chatwood
10. Anthony Ortega

The Angels have the fine top four, but I don’t expect Kazmir to bounce back and there isn’t a lot behind him. While Takahashi was signed with the idea that he’d pitch in a setup role, it’d be no surprise to see him called on as a starter early on in the season.

Bullpen
1. Fernando Rodney
2. Scott Downs
3. Hisanori Takahashi
4. Kevin Jepsen
5. Jordan Walden
6. Jason Bulger
7. Rich Thompson
8. Francisco Rodriguez
9. Michael Kohn
10. Matt Palmer
11. Trevor Bell
12. Bobby Cassevah

There are probably just four locks for the Angels pen, but the team should be hoping that Walden leapfrogs everyone and entrenches himself in the closer’s role sometime before Memorial Day. … Thompson won’t be a candidate for saves this year or any other, but he’s another right-hander with a pretty good chance of being more effective than Rodney.

Catcher
1. Jeff Mathis
2. Bobby Wilson
3. Hank Conger

First base
1. Kendry Morales
2. Mark Trumbo
3. Brandon Wood

Second base
1. Howie Kendrick
2. Maicer Izturis
3. Alberto Callaspo
4. Freddy Sandoval
5. Alexis Amarista

Third base
1. Alberto Callaspo
2. Maicer Izturis
3. Brandon Wood
4. Freddy Sandoval

Shortstop
1. Erick Aybar
2. Maicer Izturis
3. Brandon Wood
4. Andrew Romine

If Mathis gets 400 at-bats this year, he could well doom the Angels to mediocrity all by himself. Wilson is nothing special, but he’s adequate both offensively and defensively. Conger has all of the offensive upside in the group, but if it was about offense, Mike Napoli never would have been traded in the first place. … The Angels should be able to get by with Callaspo and the oft-injured Izturis at third base. I’m putting Callaspo atop the depth chart, but Izturis could well be the team’s leadoff man on Opening Day.

Left field
1. Vernon Wells
2. Bobby Abreu
3. Reggie Willits
4. Chris Pettit

Center field
1. Peter Bourjos
2. Vernon Wells
3. Reggie Willits
4. Mike Trout

Right field
1. Torii Hunter
2. Bobby Abreu
3. Chris Pettit
4. Jeremy Moore

DH
1. Bobby Abreu
2. Mark Trumbo
3. Hank Conger
4. Chris Pettit

Or the leadoff man could be Scott Podsednik, if the Angels decide to put Wells in center and send Bourjos back to Triple-A. That’d be another lateral move, though. If the Angels really think they’d be better off with that arrangement, they might as well trade Bourjos now, since Trout, baseball’s No. 1 prospect, is going to be ready in a year, if not earlier.

Orioles sign ex-Padres reliever Dale Thayer

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Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.

Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.

At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.

Phillies acquire Taylor Featherston from Angels

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Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.

Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.

He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.

Keith Law: The Braves have the best farm system in baseball

Braves 2
Associated Press
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Flags fly forever! Hooray for The Process championship!

Ah, sorry. This is about as much rooting as I’ll get to do this year, so cut me some slack.

This is the week when ESPN’s Keith Law releases his prospect and farm system rankings. He kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility. The top system: the Atlanta Braves. The bottom: the Los Angeles Angels, about whom Law says “I’ve been doing these rankings for eight years now, and this is by far the worst system I’ve ever seen.” Enjoy Mike Trout, though, you guys.

If you want to know the reasons and the rankings of everyone in between you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription. Sorry, I know everyone hates to pay for content on the Internet, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it and this is what pays their bills. I typically don’t like to pay for content myself, but I do pay for an ESPN Insider subscription. It’s worth it for Law’s work alone. And though he drives me crazy sometimes, Buster Olney’s daily column/notes thing is also worth the money over the course of the year.

Some Mets fans are not happy that Beyonce is playing at Citi Field

Beyoncé performs during halftime of the NFL Super Bowl 50 football game between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif.  (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Associated Press
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The funny thing about that “stick to sports” stuff I was going on about the other day is that, in reality, a whole lot of the people who say “stick to sports” don’t really want to just stick to sports. They’re totally cool going on about political, social or cultural stuff as long as it fits their world view. It’s not “stick to sports.” It’s “don’t talk about the social implications of sports-related stuff in ways that upset me.” If sports and culture come together in other ways, however, they’re completely fine in grinding their axe.

For example, Beyonce is playing a concert a Citi Field this summer. The show is so popular that they added a second date. The Mets’ Twitter feed just announced that tickets will go on sale for the new show soon:

A while lotta Mets fans responded to that negatively. For political/social/cultural reasons that they are willingly bringing in to a conversation about a pop singer and a baseball stadium that will double as a concert venue:

And they go on and on.

How much do you want to bet that a whole lotta these respondents would tell you to “stick to baseball” if you wanted to bring up how race affects the sport or how, if instead of Beyonce, this was announcing a Kid Rock/Ted Nugent-headlined festival and you mused whether that was a case of the Mets somehow endorsing their messages?