Coming off a 2014 season in which they nearly won 100 games, the Los Angeles Angels fell back to earth a bit in 2015. Missing the postseason despite a late push, the Halos wound up unable to repeat as AL West champions.
With Christmas around the corner, what might the Angels have on their wish list in order to get Mike Trout and his teammates back to October in 2016?
Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Gordon or Justin Upton
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Still in need of a starting left fielder and middle-of-the-order hitter, the Halos have been kicking the tires on several marquee free-agent outfielders. The revolving door of David DeJesus, Shane Victorino and David Murphy left a lot to be desired last year (except for Murphy, who was fine offensively), so a frontline replacement to complement Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun is definitely something GM Billy Eppler wants to find – and soon.
Whether Cespedes, Gordon or Upton would fit within the Halos’ preferred financial commitment remains to be seen. After all, this is the club that regretted a five-year, $125 million deal with Josh Hamilton almost immediately.
A suitor for C.J. Wilson and his contract
Perhaps connected to the left fielder search is the Angels’ desire to rid themselves of C.J. Wilson and the $20 million he’s owed in 2016. Obviously, this won’t be an easy task unless the Angels absorb most of the money. Wilson’s 2015 season ended early with elective elbow surgery, another potential complication in their quest to send him somewhere else to open up a rotation spot and get his contract off the books, so to speak.
But, as always, Wilson is a left-handed pitcher who can still turn in solid outings on the mound so there could very well be some club intrigued (desperate?) enough to take a flier on him and his contract.
Velocity for Jered Weaver
Jered Weaver’s fastball seemed to be thrown slower than most pitchers’ changeups in 2015, something that worried many folks around the league. While he has yet to really have the type of arm injury that would help explain such a stark drop in velocity, Weaver’s peripherals sent up red flags to some that watch the game with an analytical eye. Also owed $20 million in 2016, Weaver would assuage some of that uneasiness should he find a way to throw the ball with more velocity next season.
If he can’t, Weaver might find it hard to improve upon a 2015 that saw him struggle, ending the year 7-12 with a 4.64 ERA (the highest of his career) and just 90 strikeouts in 159 innings of work.
No more manager/GM disagreements
The inability to see eye-to-eye with manager Mike Scioscia was a motivating factor for Jerry Dipoto stepping down from his previous role as Angels’ GM. That decision, back in the summer of 2015, was further proof to some that the Halos’ organizational hierarchy is unlike that of any other club in MLB. Owner Arte Moreno and Scioscia have a strong bond, evidenced by Scioscia’s standing as longest-tenured manager in the league. So far, newly-appointed GM Billy Eppler seems to get along nicely with Scioscia both on a personal basis and regarding his thoughts on running the organization.
This solid rapport needs to continue so the Angels don’t find themselves with another tenuous situation between the skipper and the general manager.