Now that Spring Training has officially begun, I feel it’s time for me to unleash a barrage of meaningless predictions so that you can waste time at home/work/between classes hearing about one man’s take on the Angels (Here at MWAH, we specialize in brutal honesty). These aren’t my infamous “Bold Predictions” released every year which always cause a stir, more or less these are the Angels Spring Training predictions version where I actually try to make sense of things.
- Matt Lindstrom makes the squad – The Angels have a plethora of relief depth within the organization, but it’ll be Lindstrom, the guy they signed to a minor league deal right before camp, that’ll break camp with the Angels. He’ll impress during Spring Training, but I don’t think he’ll be pitching with the lead any time soon with the other arms the Angels have. But he will add a valuable veteran presence (along with Street) to help stabilize such a dynamic group of pitchers.
- Josh Rutledge breaks camp as the starting second baseman – Much to the chagrin of fans and bloggers alike, Rutledge will be the starting second baseman. Normally, nobody would take this so hard if it weren’t for the fact that Jerry Dipoto in his most unpopular move made in two years dealt what was likely the best relief prospect in the organization for a utility infielder that can’t hit major league pitching with any regularity. But therein lies the predominant reasoning for such a move, the Angels gave up something of value for Rutledge and wouldn’t do so with the idea that he’d ride the bench or be stashed in AAA. Clearly Dipoto believes he sees something other teams don’t see in Rutledge, I just hope for the Angels sake he’s right.
- Hector Santiago will be the fifth starter – Before you call for the head of decision-makers hear me out. Richards will start the season on the DL, whether he likes it or not. That means, two of the Heaney, Santiago, Tropeano trio will pitch in the rotation, the other will head to AAA or the bullpen. Going back to the logic I used for Rutledge, the Angels gave up something of value for Andrew Heaney (Howie Kendrick), they wouldn’t have done so just to stick him in AAA or the bullpen. Heaney will win the fourth starter spot, Santiago will be fifth. But Hector will only make one or two starts before the Angels activate Richards from the DL and banish Santiago for the bullpen where he’ll help limit Richards’, Wilson’s and Heaney’s innings early in the year so that they may pitch for the long haul.
- C.J. Cron will earn the DH spot handily over Collin Cowgill playing LF (and thus Matt Joyce batting DH) – Cron’s a power hitter and is coming in with confidence knowing what to expect from the major leagues. Spring Training in Arizona is the perfect place for Cron to shine (remember his epic AFL performance two years ago?). Cron will break camp with the Angels and will bat sixth.
- Taylor Featherston makes the squad – This one may not come as that much of a surprise but Featherston will win out the utility infielder spot by a large margin. The only way he doesn’t open camp with the Angels is if Green wins the second base job and the Angels decide to use Rutledge as the utility infielder. It just isn’t going to happen because as I said, the Angels didn’t give up Jairo Diaz for a backup. Featherston has the most pop and is the best defensively of all the candidates and will serve as the Angels utility infielder this year, backing up Rutledge, Aybar and Freese.
Bonus: Either C.J. Wilson or Hector Santiago will be dealt before May. This is me just reading between the lines but there’s an easy scenario in either case. Picture this, C.J. Wilson continues to look brilliant in one start and lost the next, while his competitors (Heaney, Tropeano, Santiago, Rasmus) all continue to impress. Now picture this, Richards comes off the DL and the Angels decide to send him to the bullpen where he’s stated repeatedly he doesn’t want to pitch. As a long reliever, Rasmus or Ramos can easily replace him. As a lefty specialist, Ramos already has a shot at that spot. As a setup man, he may sit behind Morin, Pestano, Lindstrom, and Salas. Meanwhile, 20 teams come calling because the Angels have a left hander capable of positing an ERA under 3.50 as a starter just hanging out in their bullpen.
It could be the Red Sox, dangling Allen Craig, Shane Victorino, a prospect or simply a willingness to take on a contract in Wilson’s case. It could be the Padres in a swap for Carlos Quentin, it could be the Blue Jays or the Yanks looking for warm bodies in the rotation, or it may even end up being Texas, who needs pitchers because they all get hurt or flame out.