Mike Scioscia

Mike Scioscia prefers a pitcher to a hitter

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The Angels led the AL in ERA last year, while finishing 10th in runs scored, yet manager Mike Scioscia would prefer a pitcher to a hitter as the team’s big addition this winter.

“We need to get stronger pitching,” Scioscia said. “I know you look at Weav and Haren and Santana and it sounds like you’re getting greedy. But you need five guys going out there during the season to give you a chance to win, and right now we might have an incredible playoff rotation, but you need a full rotation to give yourself that opportunity to get into the playoffs.”

C.J. Wilson heads the team’s list. As things stand now, the Angels have only journeyman Jerome Williams, rookie Garrett Richards and swingman Trevor Bell behind Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana in the rotation. So, they do need one more quality arm there. Whether they need it more than a bopper for the middle of the lineup is questionable, but there’s an argument to be made.

The Angels could also consider adding a late-inning reliever. Jordan Walden was an All-Star as a rookie and seems poised for a nice run as the team’s closer, but since there aren’t any top-flight setup men to invest in, the Angels could target Ryan Madson with the idea of moving Walden into an eighth-inning role.

Aramis Ramirez is viewed as the Angels’ top target when it comes to offense, but they’ll face competition from the Phillies and Brewers there.

Max Scherzer still can’t throw fastballs

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals works against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fifth inning during game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.

The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.

Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.

The Dodgers asked the Tigers about Justin Verlander this offseason

DETROIT, MI - MAY 18: Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches during the first inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins on May 18, 2016 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
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File this under “man, that would’ve been cool.” Or, if you’re a Tigers fan, file it under “man, that would’ve signaled several years of misery.” However you fall on the matter, however, know that, according to Jon Heyman, the Dodgers inquired about trading for Justin Verlander over the winter.

It never went anywhere, but it’s not like it was silliness for the Dodgers to ask. As you may recall, the Tigers were reported to be willing to listen to offers on any and all players back in November, as GM Al Avila contemplated a tear-down. That never came to pass — the Tigers had a quiet offseason and are keeping the team together to make another run at the playoffs with the Verlander/Miguel Cabrera core — but it couldn’t hurt to ask.

Verlander, who is coming off a resurgent season which saw him return to form as one of baseball’s best pitchers, has 10-5 rights, allowing him to veto any trade. He’s married to an actress/model, however, owns a home in L.A., and the Dodgers are a clear contender, so there’s a good chance he would’ve allowed such a trade to happen. Heck, dude even loves pitchers batting, so a chance to do it all the time would be right up his alley.

The bigger issue likely would’ve been Verlander’s $28 million salary. The Dodgers already pay the luxury tax so taking on that commitment would cost them more than the sticker price. And, of course, if the Tigers are going to ever give up one of the best players in franchise history, it would take the motherlode of prospects to do it.

So, no, a Verlander-to-L.A. trade wasn’t ever a strong possibility. But even the slight possibility seems exciting in hindsight. It was a boring as hell offseason.