Tag: Josh Rutledge

Johnny Giavotella Getty

Johnny Giavotella officially wins starting second base job with Angels


The Angels made a host of moves after their game last night, which made it official that former Royals prospect Johnny Giavotella has secured the team’s starting second base job.

Josh Rutledge entered spring training as the frontrunner after coming over from the Rockies this offseason, but he batted just .192 (10-for-52) this spring and will begin the regular season in Triple-A. Prospect left-hander Andrew Heaney, who was acquired from the Dodgers for Howie Kendrick this winter, was also sent down after Friday’s game.

The 27-year-old Giavotella was acquired from the Royals for right-hander Brian Broderick in December and owns a .238/.277/.334 batting line over 465 plate appearances in the majors. That doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence, but his playing time was sporadic with Kansas City and the Angels are clearly hoping that his solid minor league numbers will finally translate. He’s hitting .315/.373/.537 with one home run, five doubles, and two triples across 57 plate appearances this spring.

2015 Preview: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2015 season. Next up: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The Big Question: Is the Angels’ window slamming shut?

It took a long time to pry that window open, actually. There was some serious disappointment in Anaheim after the signings of C.J. Wilson, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton didn’t pay immediate dividends. But, finally, last year the Angels fulfilled their promise and made it into the playoffs. Which is nice, but it still isn’t what Arte Moreno had in mind when he backed up the Brinks truck for those guys. He was likely thinking dynasty, and it’s hard to see how that can happen on the backs of those big money guys.

Albert Pujols is clearly not the MVP-caliber player he used to be. He’s a great second banana to Mike Trout — last year’s 28 homer, 105-RBI performance will certainly play in the middle of anyone’s order — but he’s clearly a player in decline. The Angels can hope it’s a nice slow decline that allows him to be productive for many more years, but the notion that Pujols and Trout would be a latter day Ruth and Gehrig is no longer operative. It’s now more of, I dunno, a DiMaggio/Tommy Henrich. Which, hey, was pretty darn good! But Henrich didn’t cost what Pujols costs and is going to keep Jerry Dipoto from going out and picking up the modern equivalent of Johnny Mize if he needs someone to provide some extra production.

Josh Hamilton’s problems are well-documented of course, so he can’t really be counted on to be, I dunno, Hank Bauer (sorry; the analogy is fraying here). Jered Weaver has declined for three straight seasons. C.J. Wilson is dealing with health problems this spring and is coming off a bad year himself. It’s as if the moment after the Angels finally pushed through and fulfilled their promise you can go up on a steep hill in Los Angeles, look south, and with the right kind of eyes, almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.

Or maybe not? I mean, those old expensive guys are varying levels of disappointment, but the best player in baseball still happens to play for the Angels and he’s only 23. Beyond him the lineup was nicely balanced last season with no real weak spots and a nice emergence of Kole Calhoun. Their best pitcher last year, Garrett Richards, is healthy again and should be ready to resume what he was doing last season some point early this season. The rotation doesn’t fall off a cliff after him either, as Matt Shoemaker posted a 120 ERA+ last year and some new arms are now in camp (more on them below). The bullpen, always a weak spot for those earlier underachieving Angels clubs was a strength last year.

Is the window closing? Only if you define that window in terms of Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. What the Angels showed last year is that with Mike Trout, all things are possible. And that they don’t need those big money veterans to be the best players on the team in order to compete. If anything, the Angels might have won 98 games as a team in transition last year. And that’s a scary thought for the rest of the A.L. West.

What else is going on?

  • While Josh Hamilton’s relapse has been a big story this spring, the biggest loss heading into this year is not Hamilton. He was largely a non-factor last season, actually. No, the biggest loss is Howie Kendrick, whose office is now a few miles north with the Dodgers. Kendrick has been a fixture in the middle infield for the Halos for nearly a decade, hitting .291/.337/.423, for an OPS+ of 116 while averaging 142 games played over the past four seasons. That’s gonna be hard to replace. They’ll be trying to replace that will be some combination of Josh Rutledge, Grant Green and Johnny Giavotella. I’m sure they’re nice fellas, but they ain’t Howie Kendrick.
  • David Freese might be the biggest X-factor on offense for the Angels. He was clearly a disappointment last year, but a lot of that was attributable to a horrific first half. He was still uneven in the second half — great July and September, bad August – but his power numbers picked up a bit. If he can improve just a little bit it’ll make the loss of Kendrick and Hamilton less of an issue.
  • That whole team-in-transition thing can best be seen in the rotation. Richards is the ace and Weaver and Wilson are still big names there, but the Angels are clearly not blind to the decline of the latter two. That’s a big reason why they traded for Nick Tropeano and Andrew Heaney, two top pitching prospects from the Astros and Marlins organizations, respectively (Heany spent a few hours as a Dodger back in December and was acquired in the Kendrick deal). Obviously both of these guys need some more mileage on their odometer before they can be counted on to do anything, but they’re interesting guys to watch in 2015.
  • Huston Street was fantastic after coming up I-5 from San Diego after being traded last year and now the Angels will have him all year. Joe Smith was already one of the more reliable setup men around, but his reduction in walks last season helped him elevate his game. Vinnie Pestano lost it in Cleveland and then found it again in his short stint in Anaheim in 2014. If that is the harbinger of his return to form the bullpen will be a source of strength once again.

Prediction: The Angels have a lot of question marks for a team that won 98 games last year. But they still have an awful lot of talent. It’s not the talent they thought would carry them through this decade, but it’s solid all the same. And of course, they have at least three guys who were supposed to be carrying them through the decade — Pujols, Weaver and Wilson — from whom it wouldn’t be shocking to see a late-career spike season. If that happens with the still-good Pujols, it’d bring a nice overall improvement to the offense. If that happens with the struggling Wilson and Weaver, this team would really be cooking with gas.

The Mariners are improved and nipping at their heels, but by no means juggernauts. The Astros are not going to be doormats forever, but they’re still not contenders either. The A’s are all kinds of different than they used to be and no one knows what to expect from them. The Rangers are broken once again. Against that backdrop, I have no problem picking the Angels to be First Place, AL West.

The 2014 Winter Meetings in Review

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These past few days in San Diego were borderline crazy. The Dodgers turned over a huge portion of their roster. The Cubs and White Sox made all kinds of noise. The Phillies finally began their tear-down and, perhaps, their rebuild. The Tigers and Red Sox shuffled and reloaded. The Yankees acted like some small market team. The Marlins and Reds, well, we’re not entirely sure what they did. It’s almost too much to keep track of.

But that’s why HardballTalk is here, dear readers. Below are links to the highlights of these few days in December when the past season was put in the rear view mirror for good and the foundations for the next season were laid:

The biggest deal: Jon Lester signed with the Cubs for $155 million. And here’s what the deal means for him, the Cubs and the Red Sox.

The next biggest: Matt Kemp was traded by the Dodgers to the Padres.

The Dodgers signed Brandon McCarthy to a four-year deal.

The White Sox signed closer David Robertson to a four-year deal. And the Yankees never even made him an offer. For that matter, the Yankees didn’t make an offer for McCarthy either.

But that’s not all! The White Sox also traded for Jeff Samardzija.

The end of an era in Philly: Jimmy Rollins was traded to the Dodgers.

Yoenis Cespedes (and some other guys) was traded to the Tigers for Rick Porcello (and some other guys)

The Tigers then traded for the Reds’ Alfredo Simon to replace Porcello in the rotation.

The Reds then traded another starter, Mat Latos, to Miami. Who’s gonna pitch in Cincinnati, you guys?

The Red Sox rotation makeover continued with the acquisition of Wade Miley and the signing of Justin Masterson.

The Dodgers traded Dee Gordon and Dan Haren to Miami for Andrew Heaney and some other guys. Haren may retire, however.

Oh, and the Dodgers didn’t really want Heaney anyway: they flipped him to the Angels for Howie Kendrick a few hours later. Heaney nonetheless looked back fondly on his many, many minutes as a Los Angeles Dodger.

The Twins signed Ervin Santana for $54 million

The Cubs re-signed Jason Hammel, showing that you can go home again. They also traded for Dbacks catcher Miguel Montero.

The Astros did some bullpen work: they signed Luke Gregerson and then they turned around and signed Pat Neshek.

The Veteran’s Committee had ONE job — to induct someone to the Hall of Fame — and it failed to do so.

The Rays reached an agreement allowing them to look for a new stadium. And, if they don’t get a new stadium, they’ll probably be sold and moved.

We learned that Madison Bumgarner once dated someone named Madison Bumgarner.

The Braves signed infielder/utilityman Alberto Callaspo.

The Royals signed DH Kendrys Morales.

Tom Gage of the Detroit News won the Spink Award. On the broadcasting side, Dick Enberg won the Frick Award.

The Angels acquired a guy who may be the worst hitter in baseball.

The Baseball Writers Association of America made a recommendation regarding the Hall of Fame ballot, but it was lame.

The Braves made an offer everyone will pretty much easily refuse.

The Pirates got Antonio Bastardo from the Phillies.

The Rangers acquired Ross Detwiler from the Nationals

The Rockies sent infielder Josh Rutledge to the Angels for a good relief pitcher.

The Cardinals got Mark Reynolds for some reason.

Nyjer Morgan is raging against the dying of the light: he’s going to go play in Korea.

Scott Boras did what Scott Boras does best.

Finally, I ranked all 30 major league managers by handsomeness again. Because that’s what’s really important.

I think we all need a breather now. Baseball can stop for a few days while we get our bearings if it would like to. Indeed, that’d be much appreciated.


The Angels acquire Josh Rutledge from the Rockies for Jairo Diaz

Colorado Rockies v Los Angeles Dodgers

Less than an hour ago we learned that the Angels had traded Howie Kendrick to the Dodgers. So, who plays second base for the Angels? Well, here’s a possibility:

Rutledge turns 26 in April. While he has shown some flashes in short bursts — and while he really rocketed through the Rockies system — he’s never really established himself as a major league quality bat, hitting .259/.308/.403 in 947 plate appearances across three seasons. He has played more shortstop than second base, but that’s not to suggest that he’s a plus glove either, as he really can’t handle short. Obviously the Angels will, as the Rockies have done, see if he can handle second base full time.

In exchange, the Rockies got themselves a really nice reliever. Diaz had a 2.20 ERA and a 48/10 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings in Double-A last season before coming up in September and allowing two runs in 5 2/3 innings for the Angels. With his high-90s fastball and slider, he could be a long-term closer for Colorado.