How frustrated are the Angels after starting the season 6-12?
After last night’s 3-2 loss Torii Hunter talked to reporters about how everyone on the roster has “to dig deep” and then seemingly called out manager Mike Scioscia for his lack of in-game strategy.
Hunter specifically seemed upset about Scioscia’s failure to call a bunt with two runners on base in the second inning, which led to the Angels being held scoreless following back-to-back singles to begin the frame.
Hunter avoided flat-out ripping Scioscia, but based on his comments to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times it’s pretty easy to read between the lines:
We have to fight a little harder. I don’t think we believe we’re trying that hard. We’re just going through the motions. We have to do what we’re capable of doing. That’s everybody; not just the players.
Obviously “not just the players” is directed toward Scioscia, although DiGiovanna called it “a veiled criticism.” However, when asked specifically if a change in early game strategy could have turned the game around Hunter replied:
You mean if we bunted in the second? What can we do? All we do is play the game.
Meaning, of course, that the players can only follow orders from Scioscia in those spots.
Hunter has always been praised for his leadership and is generally one of the most well-liked players in baseball, but in times of adversity dating back to his days in Minnesota he’s shown a willingness to publicly rip teammates and, now apparently, managers.
UPDATE: DiGiovanna reports that the Angels are holding a players-only meeting before today’s game, adding: “Can’t say I’m surprising after the events of last night.”
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.