More on the Angels

Rally Monkey

Writer Friend Rob in Iowa e-mails after the Angels’ 16-inning win over Seattle Friday night:
Out of the box…2nd half…Pujols/Hamilton combined: 1/13, no runs, no RBIs, 3 Ks. Oh yeah, and the Angels pulled it out. It’s almost as if Calif might make the post season in spite of P/H. Beyond embarrassing.

I wouldn’t be too concerned with 13 AB, especially in a pitchers’ park against a decent M’s staff (Angel Stadium–wasn’t it Edison Field until, like, a week ago?–now appears to be pitcher-friendly, though not as friendly as Safeco-and I’m shocked to see Citizens Bank #28, though that may be the Phils offense this season, e.g. Cesar Hernandez and the remains of Dom Brown, as much as the actual ballpark).

The concern with Hamilton is that he’s walking more than ever (career high walk rate of 11.3% of his AB, thanks, Fangraphs), which sounds like a good thing, but also striking out more than ever (career high K rate of 29.1% of his AB), which suggests that the dude simply can’t make good contact anymore and is a really really old 33. And he’s signed through 2017.

Pujols is sort of the opposite: a career LOW walk rate, but striking out the same as his career rate (and signed through 2021). I’m less concerned with him, other than the contract. He’s still above average, if barely, and at least you can move him from 1B to DH as needed. I’d rather have him than Mark Trumbo.

I don’t like the Grilli-Frieri trade. I get it as a change-of-scenery thing, but Frieri is 8 years younger and has pitched much better than his ERA this year (strikeout/walk ratio of about 4-1); Grilli on the other hand has pitched worse than his ERA (strikeout/walk ratio of about 2-1). Frieri is (I think) now a setup guy for the Pirates; with the Huston Street acquisition, Grilli is now buried in middle relief. Both Frieri and Grilli are free agents after the season. Maybe Frieri was an asshole in the clubhouse and/or maybe the Angels wanted the veteran Grilli who seems like a decent mentor-type to have around. Skills-wise, I don’t get it.

For that matter, I don’t really get the Huston Street acquisition, since I don’t think he’s much of an upgrade over Joe Smith, who was closing for the Angels and has been terrific (15 SV, 2.22 ERA, strikeout/walk ratio of 5-1). I guess it doesn’t hurt to have two potential closers and the Angels may have given up quantity more than quality (though as the 1980s Phillies will tell you, all it takes is one Julio Franco to even out a 5-for-1–or a 4-for-2 in this case).

Whatever, these are marginal differences in the long run. If Trout, Pujols, Kendrick, Richards, and at least one other starter (Weaver/Wilson/Skaggs) can remain healthy, the Angels are now 20 games over .500 so this should be enough to make a run. I’ll still take the A’s to win the West. The AL is anyone’s guess.

Did I mention I hated the David Freese trade too?

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