Five New Year’s Resolutions For The LA Angels for 2017

Angel Stadium

Jul 28, 2016; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels left fielder Daniel Nava (25) celebrates with teammates after reaching base on a throwing error in the ninth inning to allow two runs to score in a 2-1 walk off victory against the Boston Red Sox at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As 2016 comes to an end for the LA Angels, the team needs to turn the page and hopefully have a new beginning in 2017.  Here are five New Year’s Resolution the Angels should have to make 2017 a better year.

The LA Angels have made a lot of moves this off-season in hopes of making 2017 a much better year for the team.  Just like most people it is hard to keep all your resolution, I’m not sure if the Angels will be able to do so either.  If they do keep these five resolutions we could be sipping bubbly in Anaheim with a return trip to the playoffs a strong possibility.

From staying healthy to getting more consistent pitching, the Angels need to correct some things in order to contend.  I think the moves that Billy Eppler has made while they may not be for big name players, it definitely has the improved the team for 2017.  If players produce the way they should the team should have a very good year in 2017.

So without any further adieu lets get to the Resolutions.

Carlos Perez (58) breaks his bat during the sixth inning against the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

#5.  – Get More Production From The Catching Spot.

We cant expect miracles from Carlos Perez and expect him to hit 20 homers and drive in 80 runs, however I’m sure he is capable of hitting better than .209 with five homers and 31 RBI’s.  Perez had a decent rookie year in 2015 after taking over for Chris Iannetta midway through the season finishing with a .249 average with 4 homers and 21 RBI’s.

In 2016 Perez was almost an automatic out in the bottom of the lineup and he just looked clueless at the plate.  Perez does make up for his lack offense with stellar defense as he was a finalist for a Gold Glove in 2016.  The Angels also added Martin Maldonado who hit eight homers with 21 RBI’s but he also barely hit above the Mendoza line finishing with a .202 average. Maldonado is also a very good defensive catcher, but he has a career average of .217.

The Angels made a curious move trading for Maldonado and trading away young catcher Jett Bandy.  Nothing against Maldonado, but the move didn’t make a lot of sense.  Bandy was the only catcher other than oft-injured Geovany Soto that had some pop in his bat.  Bandy hit eight homers with 21 RBI’s while hitting .234.  Those numbers aren’t much better than Perez or Maldonado, but it was also Bandy’s first season in the majors so he was still adjusting to the pitching.

So in conclusion the Resolution is for whoever plays catcher to hit at least .260 and hit 10 homers and 50 RBI’s.  I don’t think this is asking too much. We will see.

Starting pitcher Matt Shoemaker (52) gives a thumbs up as he leaves the field after he was hit in the head off by a ball off the bat of Seattle Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager  Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

#4. No major injuries to the starting rotation.

Within a month after the 2016 season began, the Angels lost their top two starting pitchers for the season due to UCL Tears to their pitching elbows.  Andrew Heaney went down in the second game of the season with a torn UCL in his left arm.  less than a month later staff ace Garrett Richards went down with the same injury.  Both of these injuries ended their respective seasons and put the starting rotation into a tailspin they were never able to full recover from.

By the end of the 2016 season the only pitcher who started the season in the rotation that was left at the end of the season was Jered Weaver. Hector Santiago had been traded for Ricky Nolasco, and Matt Shoemaker went on the disabled list in August after suffering a skull fracture being hit in the head by a line drive.  Nick Tropeano who replaced Heaney in the rotation and pitched well going 3-2 with a 3.56 ERA also suffered a torn UCL and won’t be back until 2018 due to Tommy John Surgery.

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So with Richards on target to be back to start the 2017 season as well as Shoemaker the 2017 staff should be much improved. Ricky Nolasco will also be back for his first full season with the Angels as well as a healthy Tyler Skaggs.  Skaggs came back in late July from 2014 Tommy John Surgery and made it through the rest of 2016 healthy with mixed results.

The only question mark is who will be the fifth starter when the season begins.  The Angels have a plethora of options with 6’9 Alex Meyer who was acquired in the Hector Santiago trade last season.  The team also acquired for Oakland A’s pitcher Jesse Chavez who could be the long man in the bullpen or the fifth starter for the Angels.  Daniel Nelson, Nate Smith, converted reliever J.C. Ramirez, or even bringing back free agent Jered Weaver are all possibilities for the 5th starter job.

So for my 4th resolution for the Angels I would like to see the top four starters stay healthy for the full season and hopefully all of them will pitch to their potential as well.

Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Andrew Bailey (37) throws during the ninth inning against the Texas Rangers. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

#3. Improved pitching from the Angels bullpen.

Among the many things that went wrong for the Angels in 2016 was their bullpen. The Angels bullpen saved only 29 games and blew 21 save opportunities.  The 29 saves was the third lowest in the majors and their save conversion rate of 58% was fourth lowest in all of Major League Baseball. This is not to mention all the injuries to key members of the bullpen that led to the demise of the Angels relief corps.

Huston Street pitched in only 26 games due to multiple injuries and he was not very effective when he was healthy as he had a 6.45 ERA in 22.1 innings.  Cam Bedrosian had a break-out season but was lost for the final two months of the season due to a blood clot in his arm.  In addition Fernando Salas and Joe Smith were traded away at the trade deadline.

The Angels bullpen should be much improved as Cam Bedrosian and Huston Street should be fully healthy.  Also Andrew Bailey who saved the day in the final six weeks of the season converting six saves in six opportunities signed a one-year contract to return for the 2017 season. Jesse Chavez and J.C. Ramirez could also be key parts in the bullpen.  The Angels could also bring someone up from the minors such as Greg Mahle or Kenyon Middleton who skyrocketed from Single-A to Triple-A last season and has a 97-99 MPH fastball.

The only question mark the Angels may have is a left-handed specialist if Jose Alvarez or Greg Mahle can’t show consistency.  If they could acquire a lefty to fill that void the bullpen could be solid in 2017.

This is my third resolution I have for the Angels in 2017.

Washington Nationals shortstop Danny Espinosa (8) hits an RBI single against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the second inning during game five of the 2016 NLDS playoff baseball game at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

#2. Getting offensive production out of the second base spot.

Second base was a sore spot for the 2016 Angels as Johnny Giavotella, Cliff Pennington, and Gregorio Petit all manned the second base spot last season.  All of them had their moments of production, but as a whole they were not very consistent. They also provided hardly any power and as a whole batted under .240 combined. Giavotella was released in early August and finished the remainder of the season in Triple-A. Petit and Pennington were very good defensively but offensively were very lacking.

So now enter Danny Espinosa, who the Angels acquired early in December, brings with him a stellar glove and some much needed power. Espinosa hit 24 homers with 72 RBI’s, but only hit .209 and struck on 174 times in 2016.  Hopefully Espinosa will cut down on his strikeouts and raise his average.  If Espinosa can do so it will strengthen the bottom of the Angels line-up in 2017.

Thus my second most important resolution for the Angels to follow in hopes of returning to the playoffs is increased production from the second base spot.

Detroit Tigers center fielder Cameron Maybin. The Tigers won 9-5. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

#1 A solid every day left fielder.

For the past couple of years the Angels have tried to rely on a platoon system in left field and the idea has failed miserably.  The production in left field from these platoons has been last in the league. In 2016 the Angels used seven different left fielders with only one showing any production, which was Jefry Marte.

Daniel Nava, Craig Gentry, Todd Cunningham, Ji-Man Choi, Shane Robinson, Rafael Ortega and Nick Buss all had a shot to prove themselves in left, but none of them panned out and have since been released. Jefry Marte is the only player who played multiple games in left field and is still on the roster for the Angels going into the 2017 season.

So what did the Angels do in order to fix this problem. They acquired two every day left fielders.  First the Angels made a trade with the Detroit Tigers for two minor leaguers.  Then last week they signed Ben Revere to a one-year deal.  The Angels could employ a platoon system again in left as Maybin bats right and Revere hits from the left side.  Or they could decide to use one of the pair as their primary left fielder and use the other as a utility fourth outfielder and a late inning pinch hitter/pinch runner.

With Maybin being a career .259 hitter and Revere a .285 career hitter, the production should be much better out of left field.  If the Angels could get some consistency from the duo it will go a long way to improving the 2017 Angels.

Just like with normal New Year’s resolutions will see how long the Angels can stick to the longer they do the more likely the success of the 2017 will be.

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