Is the Angels’ window for contending closing?

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After being swept out of the playoffs by the Royals last night Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto was asked if his team’s window for contending was closing and he strongly disagreed, telling Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com:

We had a fantastic season, won 98 games. Our desire was to win a world championship, and obviously we fell short, but I still feel really confident in the foundation of the players that were here. … We’re not a team that can’t sustain and can’t balance what we’re doing. We like the group of players we have; we feel like we’re a well-put-together team. Again, we fell short. Next year, with the full contingent, believing that we will have Garrett Richards back and in large part have a big part of the foundation of this team. We feel we’re tweaks and turns from being a very good team again. There’s no reason that will change.

Spending big on free agents Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, and C.J. Wilson has worked out horribly for the Angels and will continue to hamstring Dipoto, because he has very little payroll space remaining unless owner Arte Moreno approves a big budget increase.

With that said, Mike Trout is the best player in the league at age 23 and having him around erases a lot of mistakes and a lot of iffy payroll-related decisions. There’s no way the window is going to slam shut on a team coming off a 98-win season with Trout and a payroll approaching $200 million, but Dipoto has quite a few issues to address and not a whole lot of roster or payroll flexibility.

Pujols is signed through 2021, Hamilton is signed through 2017, and Wilson is signed through 2016.

José Ureña drills Ronald Acuña, Marlins’ and Braves’ benches clear

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Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña has been on a tear lately, homering in five consecutive games and in seven of his last eight. His last three games, all against the Marlins, have featured a leadoff home run.

Understandably, Marlins starter José Ureña was not eager to face Acuña leading off Wednesday night’s game. However, Ureña got around facing Acuña by drilling him in the left elbow with a first-pitch, 97.5 MPH fastball. The benches emptied. No punches were thrown, but there was a lot of yelling.

Braves manager Brian Snitker was thrown out after yelling at the umpires because Ureña was not immediately ejected. The umpires conferred and later decided to eject him before play resumed. They then issued warnings to both teams.

Ureña will almost certainly be fined and suspended by Major League Baseball. And he should be.