The Angels finished in 2nd place in the AL West division, 10 games back of the AL champion Texas Rangers. That said, they were in the race for the division title longer than their finish represented. Rev. Halofan of Halos Heaven was nice enough to answer our questions about the team, their glut of outfielders, and other topics.
On the Front Office Changes:
MLBDD: It was a bit unexpected that GM Tony Reagins resigned, but it seems like a change was needed. What are you hoping to see in the next general manager, and are there any candidates that you specifically think would be a good fit?
RH: Anyone who knows what On-Base-Percentage means. Someone who understood the concept of BABIP. I mean, we are talking about a truly primitive front office in terms of understanding the strides in thinking about the game that have been made in the past decade. I have a hunch, a funny feeling really, that our owner Arte Moreno saw the Moneyball movie and was like "uh-oh, what am I missing". Can you imagine his wife seeing it because Brad Pitt is in it, and she comes home and tells him to call Tony Reagins and quiz him on what On-Base-Percentage means. And there is Arte on the phone with the wife yelling about the team to him and Tony on the other end rambling about RBIs and he suddenly realizes that his wife knows more about baseball after seeing a two-hour movie than the schmoe he handed the keys to the kingdom to four years ago.
There is no specific person I have in mind other than someone well-versed in comprehending the best analytical points that stats and scouts can quantify. Bill James or Sean "Total Zone" Smith would be my dream GM acquisitions.
My Thoughts: As an Athletics fan, I don't really want to see the Angels run both efficiently and with a massive payroll potential. That said, at some point I imagined that the Angels would replace Reagins one way or another. Making the move to acquire Vernon Wells, and how that has turned out just seemed like it would be too big of a hurdle for Reagins to clear and still keep his job. To this point, Damon Oppenheimer, Kim Ng, and Thad Levine have all been mentioned as interview candidates. It sounds like they aren't limiting their search to former GMs, which could be good for this organization. It will be interesting to me to see how the new general manager interacts with long-time manager Mike Scioscia.
Read more of the Rev's thoughts on Mike Trout, the Jered Weaver extension, and what he'd like to see the team do for 2012 after the jump...
On Top Prospect Mike Trout:
MLBDD: The Angels came into 2011 with one of the top 2 prospects in the Majors in Mike Trout, and the team made the surprise move of calling him up straight from AA in early July. Do you think he will make the team out of Spring Training, and if not, where do you think he starts his season?
RH: Two scenarios: They will trade Peter Bourjos in a blockbuster headline-grabbing acquisition (something like Mark Trumbo and Peter Bourjos and two Single A pitching prospects for Miguel Cabrera) and give Centerfield to Trout for the rest of the decade or they will stand pat with him at AAA. What they should do is create a strict DH platoon with Bobby Abreu and Vernon Wells and cement Trout in Left Field but that would make way too much sense for this team to pull it off.
My Thoughts: The hard part isn't figuring out what they should do. I agree that they should probably put Trout, Bourjos, and Hunter across the outfield. But whether or not manager Mike Scioscia is on board with having that much payroll in a platoon is an entirely different issue. I think more likely Trout is sent to AAA, and will be recalled either when he is likely to be clear of Super-Two arbitration, or when one of the group makes it abundantly clear that they no longer belong in an Major League lineup.
On the Overcrowded Outfield:
MLBDD: With or without Trout, there really is a potentially huge game of musical chairs developing between the outfield, the DH spot, and even possibly 1B. Do you see the team making a move to try and alleviate some of this excess, or do you believe the problem will kind of "solve itself" come Spring Training?
RH: Between Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells and Bobby Abreu, there is ample likelihood of injuries clearing space in Anaheim.
My Thoughts: Yeah, none of them have ever really shown themselves to be beacons of health or production in recent years. The part that may actually clog these positions worse is if Kendrys Morales can return to form and play a full season. It was rumored that Mark Trumbo would be trying to learn 3B in the Winter Leagues, but I don't think that this is likely to provide a solution in the long-term.
On the Jered Weaver Contract Extension:
MLBDD: One of the last moves that Reagins made was to sign ace Jered Weaver to a 5 year, $85 M contract extension. It was widely reported that Weaver made it clear he wanted to stay in Anaheim, and was willing to sign before free agency to do so. How do you feel about this contract, and how surprised were you that he signed it over a year from free agency?
RH: I had it on very good authority that Weaver wants to be an Angel for life so I was not surprised, but I was surprised in how Scott Boras rolled over on this one. It is sickening how embittered Arte Moreno is over being used in negotiations by Boras over Mark Teixeira's free agency after the 2008 season that the man will not even deal with him. We could have afforded Adrian Beltre and would be in the post seaon right now had Arte just played ball with Scott. This is a club-friendly contract and Jered understands that one player having an inordinately large percentage of his club's available money hurts a team's chances to compete. He is not a dumb jock which separates Jered from most of his colleagues in the sport as well as from his manager.
My Thoughts: I do like to see when teams are able to keep a player for either the majority or the entirety of their career. Weaver went to school at Long Beach State, signed with his hometown Angels, and realized that the difference between the $85M he received and the perception of possibly earning $100-$120M was not relevant to him. Good for him.
On Potential Offseason Moves:
MLBDD: The team finished in 2nd place in the AL West, and 5 games out of the Wild Card. Is there one pressing need that you believe the team could fill to get them that much closer to a playoff spot in 2012? Or do you feel that there is more than one move that is needed to move the team forward?
RH: They need two more 20-homer / .800+ OPS bats in that lineup. They might have one in Hank Conger if he were to get a majority of the starts at Catcher. Getting one at 3B would be swell but 150 games of Mike Trout would almost certainly be the other, someone in the 2011 outfield be damned. Assuming the starting pitching regresses a little, the bullpen might actually perform better with Jordan Walden more experienced, Bobby Cassevah a little more confident and Scott Downs continuing his amazing 2011 setup man campaign, so the pitching and defense can be anticipated to produce about the same results, so a little more isolated power could go a long way. That and CJ Wilson no longer being in Arlington would propel the Angels to controlling their destiny within the division in 2012.