It’s true that the Yankees and Dodgers are winning the off-season with their savvy handling of the luxury tax threshold. However, it’s also true that another team is having an excellent winter, even if it’s going a little unnoticed. That team is the Los Angeles Angels and they are quickly becoming one of my many adopted baseball teams (along with the Rockies, whom I love).
Going unnoticed isn’t new to the Angels. After all for the past six years they’ve had Mike Trout, the best baseball player since Barry Lamar Bonds. Yet we never hear about him or his team. Part of that has to do with his personality (he’s boring). Part of it also has to do with how poorly the Angels have surrounded him with talent. They’ve wasted many of his prime years in a fashion I’ve never seen a sports franchise waste a superstar’s prime. It’s a criminal act when you think about. The terrible LA (of Anaheim) front office has robbed baseball fans of watching Trout in the playoffs. Shame on you Angels front office.
That being said maybe (maybe) they’re turning the corner as we enter 2018. It’s been low key, as all things Anaheim are, but it’s been quite the hot stove season for "the Mike Trouts". Let’s take a look at what they've done:
-Resign Justin Upton to a five year, $106 million deal. Upton posted a career best .901 OPS in 2017 to go along with 35 home runs.
-Sign Shohei Ohtani, which will be awesome for baseball
-Trade for Ian Kinsler, still a great defensive second baseman
-Sign Zack Cozart for three years and $38 million (a great defensive shortstop) to play third base, since LA already has the best defensive SS in baseball. Cozart also broke out at the plate last year and belted 24 homers.
Aside from Ohtani none of these moves are particularly splashy, but it’s important to remember that many Angels players were so bad in 2017 that even slight upgrades such as Kinsler and Cozart will be massive to the Trouts (that’s just what we’re calling them now). If you want the numbers check out this excellent piece by Michael Baumann of The Ringer.
This isn’t to say the Trouts will definitely be playoff bound come next Fall. They still have the world champion Houston Astros to contend with in the AL West. But the Trouts are taking a step in the right direction. I’ll be watching a ton of their games on mlb.tv this year but it won’t be the same unless we get Trout to the post-season for the second time ever. I want to see Trout play in the playoffs. I also want to see Ohtani pitch (and hit!!) in the playoffs. Let's make it happen.