The Halos employ Mike Trout, the best player in the league (arguably), and yet he’s only sniffed the postseason one time so far in his career (2014, when they were swept by the Royals in the ALDS). Clearly, wasting Trout’s prime on teams incapable of making it to October would be a frustrating scene for the Angels, so they’ll no doubt be as hungry as ever to make it back to the postseason in 2016…if they can manage to pull it off.
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Figure out what they have with Weaver
You’ve heard it repeated for the past season and a half or so: Jered Weaver has lost his velocity, he throws his fastball softer than most pitchers’ changeups, and so on. At this point, can the Angels count on him as their ‘ace’? That’s anyone’s guess, and after a difficult season in 2015 marred with inconsistency and frustrating outings he’s a fascinating case to study heading into next season, when he’ll be 33 and entering his eleventh year in the majors.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY SporJayne Kamin-Oncea
Enjoy the boost of Andrelton Simmons' defense
Bringing in shortstop Andrelton Simmons was a flashy introductory move by Eppler. Simmons is a gifted defensive wizard, though his offense has yet to match that element of his game. Simmons, Trout and Kole Calhoun are three of the top defenders at their respective positions, which will assuredly cut down some runs in 2016…and that could be a viable way to (attempt to) offset the Angels’ offensive inconsistency.
Brett Davis-USA TODAY SportsBrett Davis
Send C.J. elsewhere - if possible
Lefty C.J. Wilson ended his own 2015 early with elective elbow surgery, and his season up to that point effectively represented his Angels tenure perfectly: 8-8 with a 3.89 ERA. He’s owed $20 million in 2016, the final year of his contract, and the Halos would love to free up a rotation spot (and roster spot) by finding a suitor for his services…if one exists. If not, they’ll likely have to absorb a ton of the money owed to him in order to free up that spot, which isn’t exactly a desirable situation from the team’s perspective.
Lance Iversen-USA TODAY SportsLance Iversen
Maybe find a better LF option?
Left field has been a black hole for the Angels for a while – dating back to the Josh Hamilton trade (and even before, when he barely contributed there with the Halos). Having missed out on the premier free agent LF’ers so far this offseason due to their astronomical price points, Eppler may have to get creative in order to find a suitable and appropriate fit…though the Angels also don’t have a very robust minor league system at the moment.
John Rieger - Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Welcome back, Skaggs
Tyler Skaggs was a big ‘get’ for the Angels a few seasons ago, but Tommy John surgery robbed him of a 2015 season. He’s working very hard at the moment to get back to the mound and pitch in 2016, and could very well wind up a key cog in the staff in 2016 – alongside Garrett Richards, Jered Weaver, Matt Shoemaker, Andrew Heaney and the Hector Santiago/C.J. Wilson merry-go-round at the back end of the rotation.
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY SportsJoe Nicholson
Get to the next level
This goes along with the 'capitalize on Trout's skills' slide, but it's worth repeating. The Angels are simply too good 'on paper', with too many bona fide stars, to continue to miss making a trip to October. The AL West will be tough once again, but having the core the Angels possess ought to give them a pretty solid chance.