Arte Moreno, Vernon Wells, Tony Reagins

Report: With $140 million payroll, Angels all capped out

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Angels owner Arte Moreno is done spending for the moment, sources told Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com.  According to the report, Moreno has told GM Tony Reagins he won’t be allowed to take on any additional salary this summer.

Including the $12 million they’re paying Scott Kazmir and the $11.4 million due to Gary Matthews Jr. in the final season of his 68-year deal, the Angels are spending just over $140 million on a 33-37 team this year.

$18 million of that is going to their big winter acquisition, Vernon Wells.  However, Wells is hitting just .193/.235/.317 with six homers and 16 RBI in 171 at-bats for his new club.

The Angels are also paying $8.8 million to relievers Scott Downs and Hisanori Takahashi after signing them as free agents.  Downs has been exceptional, but he has served two stints on the DL.  Takahashi has a 4.08 ERA and isn’t much more than a mop-up man at the moment (18 of his last 19 appearances have come in Angels losses).

Despite their struggles, the Angels are still very much in the AL West race.  They’re just three games back of the Rangers, who have lost five in a row.  However, without reinforcements, they’ll be at a definite disadvantage as the year goes on.  They have little pitching depth beyond their current rotation, and while their offense could get a little better if Wells and Torii Hunter rebound, the team doesn’t figure to finish any higher than ninth or 10th in the AL in runs (it’s 11th right now).

Orioles re-sign Michael Bourn to a minor league deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Michael Bourn #1 of the Baltimore Orioles hits a single in the fifth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.

Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.

Shelby Miller is in the best mental shape of his life

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 24:  Shelby Miller #26 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches in the first inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller had about as bad a season as one can have. He was the headliner in the trade that sent 2015 No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson, All-Star outfielder Ender Inciarte, and highly-regarded pitching prospect Aaron Blair to the Braves. It was a trade that was pilloried at the time and continues to be pilloried to this day.

Miller didn’t do then-GM Dave Stewart any favors with his 2016 performance. He went 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA and a 70/42 K/BB ratio over 101 innings. That included a bout with mechanical failure, as he kept hitting the mound with his follow-through. He went on the disabled list. And after that, he was demoted to Triple-A. After getting fired, Stewart expressed remorse over acquiring Miller — or, more accurately, giving up Swanson to do so.

So, the 26-year-old Miller heads into 2017 without any momentum. To his credit, though, he’s going into the new season with a very positive perspective. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

I’m just in a really happy place, away from the field, on the field. […]

Maybe it’s just the way I go about everything, trying to be positive in every single aspect of life. Baseball’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. I know bumps in the road are going to happen. Last year was obviously not just a bump, but a huge mountain. Right now, that’s completely behind me. I’m not worried about any of that.

I’m really ready for this year, ready to redeem myself so much.

Even pitching coach Mike Butcher sees the change in Miller’s mentality. “He’s not a different guy. But you can see there’s a presence in him. That’s what we need. Just be Shelby Miller. You don’t have to live up to anything. Just be yourself.”

Manager Torey Lovullo, too, praised Miller. “I saw a guy who had spent a lot of time taking care of his business in the weight room — he looks fantastic, in fantastic shape,” he said.

It sounds like Miller is not only in great mental shape, but great physical shape, too. Is it the “best shape of his life”? Only time can tell.