Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Texas Rangers

Diving into the depths: Los Angeles Angels


This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

Which teams improved and declined the most in 2015?

Joe Maddon

I was curious about which MLB teams changed their fortunes the most this season compared to last year, so I crunched the numbers.

First, here are the biggest win total improvements from 2014 to 2015:

+24 Cubs
+21 Rangers
+16 Astros
+15 Diamondbacks
+13 Twins
+11 Mets
+10 Blue Jays
+10 Cardinals
+10 Pirates

The top five teams on the biggest-improvement list all had managers in their first season on the job, led by Joe Maddon joining the Cubs after tons of success with the Rays. Also worth noting: Of the nine teams with the biggest win total improvement, eight made the playoffs. Only the Twins improved to double-digit games and still failed to make the playoffs.

Now, here are the biggest win total declines from 2014 to 2015:

-20 Athletics
-16 Tigers
-15 Orioles
-14 Brewers
-13 Nationals
-13 Angels
-12 Braves
-12 Reds
-11 Mariners

Not surprisingly, a whole lot of those teams have changed managers, general managers, or both. And a couple more may still do so before the offseason gets underway. Oakland retained manager Bob Melvin despite an MLB-high 20-win dropoff and just promoted Billy Beane from general manager to vice president of baseball operations.

MLB games were six minutes shorter this year

Pitch Clock
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According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.

The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.

Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.

It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.