With LA Angels fan favorite Johnny Giavotella recently being DFA’d, manager Mike Scioscia and GM Billy Eppler will have to deal with a major question mark concerning 2nd base going into the off-season.
As the season comes to a fold, the LA Angels will have a busy off-season as they have holes in multiple positions. Besides the starting rotation and left field, a new hole has recently developed for the Angels, that hole being 2nd base.
Now, for the last two years, the 2nd base position was being commanded by fan favorite Johnny Giavotella. When he first began his career with the Angels, he saw himself winning the starting job through spring training and eventually cracking the starting lineup. Johnny G. saw himself being the most successful in clutch situations which is why he developed a relationship with his fans as becoming a fan favorite. At many times, Giavotella would bring home that runner with two outs or would be involved in a walk off of some sort which is also why he stuck around with the organization. But frankly, Johnny G has performed average to below-average for the Halos.
So far on the season, Johnny G has a batting line of .260/.287/.376 which equals out to a .662 OPS, which is not very stellar for a starting quality player. While his batting average is not necessarily the problem, he does have a tough time staying on base. Giavotella has only walked 13 times this season in 99 games. Not only that, but he also has the lowest OBP of any starter. While he is not necessarily known for his bat, the least Johnny G could do is contribute by getting on base and he has not done that task for the Angels.
What are some of the Angels options?
The Angels will look hard into this decision concerning 2nd base. Luckily, the Angels do have some options and are not completely clueless going into the off-season.
One option the Angels could look at this season is Gregorio Petit. Yes, I know that Petit is 31 and doesn’t have much left in terms of his age and career, but he did perform well when given the time to shine. Playing in 72 games this season, Petit’s batting line is better that Johnny’s as it sits at .261/.314/.375. His bat is better than Giavotella’s and he much better defensively. However, while he is an option, I expect the Angels to keep Petit in the role he is in now which has made him successful. His ability to play multiple positions besides 2nd base is a key reason why I believe the Angels will keep Petit in the role he is now as a bench player.
Another option the Angels have at 2nd base is Cliff Pennington. Much like Petit, Pennington is more of a bench player, but when he gets the chance to play he thrives. His batting line on the season is .208/.269/342. Now, that batting line must be taken into consideration as he has only started a quarter of the season for the Halos due to an injury. Unlike Petit, Pennington has some starting experience as well when he played for the Oakland Athletics which could contribute to the Angel’s decision. Also, out of the three, Pennington is by far the best defensive 2nd baseman. In 40 games started at 2nd base, Pennington has only committed one error and has a fielding percentage of .992. GM Billy Eppler has a philosophy of playing good defense and Pennington gives them the best shot at following that philosophy. However, I don’t see Pennington winning the starting role. His play off the bench is key to the Angels and Pennington has had some struggles concerning staying healthy.
Minor league options?
As most Angels fans would know, the LA Angels farm system is not very good and arguably the worst farm system in the league currently. Many bad trades and acquisitions have lead the Angels into producing a terrible farm system that literally offers no help for the Angels. The key to having a successful organization is having a good farm system so that teams, like the Angels, can have something to rely on in case things go south at a certain position.
In regards to prospects and the 2nd base position, the Angels have no one to rely upon. According the MLB.com and their prospect watch list, the Angels do not have a single prospect in the current top 100 list which is scary to say the least. Say the Angels still wanted to tryout a 2nd baseman from their crop, the most notable players would either be David Fletcher or Nonie Williams. Both whom are ranked top 10 in the Angels farm system. However, both of those prospects have yet to reach the Triple-A level of competition and seem like a long-shot to crack the roster.
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What about free agency?
Lastly, another option the Angels can look at going into the off-season is the free agency market. Many people believe this year will be a down year for free agency as there are not a lot of key names on the market, especially 2nd base. But, with C.J Wilson and Jered Weaver‘s contracts expiring after the season and another year off the Hamilton contract, the Angels have some money to make a big signing.
Aug 15, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; New York Mets second baseman Neil Walker against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
One name that comes to mind is Neil Walker from the NY Mets. Walker is a natural 2nd baseman and would be a significant upgrade over the 2nd baseman that the Angels have currently. Walker offers consistency with his bat as well as his health as he usually stays pretty healthy. Also, the Angels looked at Walker last year but never made a move. Will they make a move this year?
Another name and perhaps a smaller deal that the Angels could make is Daniel Descalso of the Colorado Rockies. Descalso has had a decent year for the Rockies going .274/.379/.419 and having an OPS of .797. All better than any Angels 2nd baseman. Daniel has also appeared in two World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals and he has winning experience that he could offer to a much needed Angels lineup.
The Angels have many holes this year going into the off-season. With left field being the biggest hole as well as the starting rotation, I see the Angels spending their money towards those positions and letting the three baseman that they already have compete for the starting job at 2nd base. To put it bluntly, the Angels do not have the money to go out and look for a star 2nd baseman nor does the free agent market even offer one. They already have to address the outfield and starting rotation as well and their farm system is also weak. I believe the three will be going into a heated spring training for the starting job next season.