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.

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.