Angels project to decline in 2015

January, 8, 2015
Jan 8
1:18
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Last year, the Los Angeles Angels won 98 games, the third-highest total in the 54-year history of the franchise. They earned it, too, finishing second with a plus-143 run differential and baseball's highest runs scored per game (4.7). They had -- and have -- the unquestioned best player in the game in AL MVP Mike Trout, who is headed into his age-23 season, they found a surprising breakout pitching star in Garrett Richards and they built an outstanding bullpen on the fly during the 2014 season.

Despite a disappointing showing while being swept in the ALDS against the Royals, it was a successful year for the Angels, and their main competition, the A's, followed up their season-ending slide with a series of difficult-to-understand moves that may have set Oakland back. On the surface, the Angels would seem to be poised for another successful run in 2015.

And yet the projections don't quite see it that way. Steamer, one of the most respected projection systems, has the Angels as only an 84-win team, five games behind the Mariners in the AL West. Have the Angels really done anything to make themselves 14 wins worse than last year? Probably not. But the projections can't simply be tossed aside as frivolous, either -- and here's why.

Defensive storylines of the offseason: AL

January, 8, 2015
Jan 8
10:10
AM PT
Getty ImagesRussell Martin, Didi Gregorius and Yoenis Cespedes are notable defense-minded acquisitions.

The major-league baseball offseason still has a ways to go, but we thought we’d take a look at how teams have changed defensively heading into 2015. Here’s our look at the American League:

 

AL EAST

Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles lost Gold Glove right fielder Nick Markakis, but there have been questions as to just how effective he is defensively, as the metrics (-13 Runs Saved in right field the past three seasons) never matched the eye test.

Baltimore should be better with the return of Manny Machado at third base and Matt Wieters behind the plate, though they're already formidable in the latter spot with Caleb Joseph. Baltimore ranked first in Defensive Runs Saved as a team in 2014 and with those two back and the re-signing of J.J. Hardy, they could be just as good again in 2015.

Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox changed the look of their pitching staff such that it’s very groundball friendly. That works given what Boston has at first base, second base and third base, with Mike Napoli, Dustin Pedroia and newly signed Pablo Sandoval (four Runs Saved last season). But Boston's biggest goal should be to do what it can to develop Xander Bogaerts, who had -10 Runs Saved at shortstop last season.

Hanley Ramirez in left field will be an interesting adventure and the first few times he plays a ball off the Green Monster will be worth watching. The Red Sox still have some decisions to make with Shane Victorino, Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo and Daniel Nava among those fighting for the other two outfield spots.

Behind the plate, they expect big things from Christian Vazquez, who possesses an excellent throwing arm and showed himself to be a solid pitch framer in his 54 games behind the plate. He'll be further mentored by another solid defensive catcher in new acquisition Ryan Hanigan.

Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays significantly boosted the offense they'll get out of the catching spot with the departures of Hanigan and Jose Molina and the addition of Rene Rivera and they won't lose anything defensively because Rivera rates as Molina's equal in terms of pitch framing and is a more effective basestealing deterrent.

It's not fair to judge Steven Souza by one miraculous catch to end a no-hitter, but if he's that good in the outfield, the Rays will catch a lot of fly balls that others won't, so long as Desmond Jennings stays healthy and Kevin Kiermaier hits enough to stay in the lineup. The defense won't miss Wil Myers and his -11 Runs Saved in two seasons in right field.

New York Yankees
Didi Gregorius is no Derek Jeter, but Jeter is no Gregorius when it comes to defensive play. The Yankees finished with -12 Defensive Runs Saved last season and we'd expect them to improve by at least 10 runs there, especially given the full-time presence stellar-fielding Chase Headley, who was terrific after his acquisition from the Padres.

The big question mark will be at second base where scouts have concerns about Rob Refsnyder, the leading candidate to be the everyday guy there, which is why the Yankees agreed to a deal with Stephen Drew.

Toronto Blue Jays
So long as Russell Martin can handle R.A. Dickey's knuckleball, the Blue Jays made a huge upgrade at catcher both offensively and defensively. Martin, judged by some to be the game's best pitch framer, is the type of catcher who can lower a staff's ERA by himself (so long as he's healthy).

At third base, Josh Donaldson covers a tremendous amount of ground. Donaldson has been better than the guy he's replacing, Brett Lawrie, though at their best, there probably isn't as big of a gap as last year's numbers might indicate, given Donaldson's adventurous throwing arm.

The big question will be who plays center field. Right now, it's slated to be rookie Dalton Pompey, who had a couple of Web Gems in a brief stint. If he rates major-league average, that'll be an upgrade from what the Blue Jays got from Colby Rasmus and company last season.

 

AL CENTRAL

Chicago White Sox
The White Sox made big moves to upgrade their team, though defense wasn't their center of attention. Melky Cabrera is a below-average left fielder (-5 Runs Saved each of the last two seasons). Adam LaRoche may end up DHing, but if the White Sox want to put the best defensive team out there, they'd play him at first base and let Jose Abreu just hit. There is a considerable difference between the two.

The White Sox should also have Avisail Garcia every day in right field. He still has something to learn based on the -10 Runs Saved he accumulated in 400 innings there last season (due mostly to his failure to catch balls hit to the deepest parts of the park).

Cleveland Indians
The departure of Asdrubal Cabrera clears the way for a better shortstop (Cabrera's flash was terrific … the rest of his defensive work didn't match up statistically). Jose Ramirez already showed he's more than adequate there (four Runs Saved in just under 500 innings) but he may just be keeping the position warm for Francisco Lindor.

There may also be a surprise upgrade in the outfield if the Indians decide not to DH Brandon Moss, as he's shown a modest amount of success in past tries in right field.

Kansas City Royals
The Royals haven't done much to their lineup this offseason, other than swap out Nori Aoki for Alex Rios and there's little difference between the two stat-wise. Expect to see lots of Jarrod Dyson serving as Rios' late-game caddy.

Detroit Tigers
The Tigers should be better defensively having let Torii Hunter walk while acquiring Yoenis Cespedes in trade from the Red Sox. Austin Jackson had amazing numbers for his first two seasons, but then his defense became rather ordinary, according to the metrics. Anthony Gose figures to be the new center fielder and he rates about average from what the numbers have shown so far.

The return of Jose Iglesias could do wonders to the Tigers infield, given his penchant for Web Gem-caliber plays. This is a big one to keep an eye out for.

The Tigers have also committed to using more shifts, particularly against right-handed hitters, considering they got great value from their (not-often used) shifting in 2014.

Minnesota Twins
General manager Terry Ryan is adamant that Torii Hunter is still capable of playing a good right field. The defensive metrics (-28 Runs Saved the last two seasons) beg to differ. That could lead to some interesting decisions for new manager Paul Molitor and his staff.

 

AL WEST

Houston Astros
One of the offseason's earliest acquisitions was the Astros netting Hank Conger in trade from the Angels and there was definitely a defensive motivation behind that. By our calculations, Conger netted more called strikes above average than any other catcher in baseball last season (in other words, he's really good at framing pitches).

The acquisition of Jed Lowrie was a case of prioritizing offense over defense at shortstop. Lowrie has totaled -28 Runs Saved at shortstop the past two seasons.

Lastly, it will be interesting to see where the Astros slot Jake Marisnick, who could end up in left field, though a case could be made for moving him to center. Marisnick has 16 career Runs Saved in just over 500 innings in center field. Current Astros center fielder Dexter Fowler had -20 Defensive Runs Saved last season.

Los Angeles Angels
The Angels shipped reliable second baseman Howie Kendrick across town to the Dodgers, and could go with either Josh Rutledge or Grant Green there. Both probably won't fare as well as Kendrick did.

The acquisition of Matt Joyce from the Rays may have a positive defensive effect if it slides Josh Hamilton (-9 Runs Saved in the outfield last season) into an everyday DH spot.

Oakland Athletics
The Athletics infield underwent a major makeover this offseason, with the new look featuring Brett Lawrie at third base, Marcus Semien at shortstop and Ike Davis at first base (with holdover Eric Sogard at second).

Lawrie could be as good as Josh Donaldson if he stays healthy, which has been a challenge. Davis rated above average as a rookie but has been average to below average since then. Semien is a question mark.

Seattle Mariners
The Mariners haven't done much to alter their defense from last season, the one adjustment being the addition of Seth Smith, who rates decently (a combined six Defensive Runs Saved in 2014) but doesn't necessarily wow.

Texas Rangers
Prince Fielder returns though it's worth wondering if the Rangers would be better off making him a full-time DH since he has always rated poorly in the field and Mitch Moreland at least represents an average first baseman.

Elvis Andrus hit an odd bump in the road last season, as his defensive numbers, which had been top-10 caliber at shortstop from 2011 to 2013 fell to bottom-5 (-13 Runs Saved) in 2014. That was probably just a fluke, but 2015 will go a ways in determining if Andrus has slipped.

Arrest made in death of Ryan Bolden

January, 5, 2015
Jan 5
1:08
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COLLEGE PARK, Ga. -- Police in suburban Atlanta say a man has been arrested in the shooting death of former Los Angeles Angels first-round draft pick Ryan Bolden.

College Park Police Maj. E.W. Strozier said Monday that 25-year-old Stacie Williams is charged with felony murder and is being held in the Fulton County Jail.

Police have said a dispute between children at an apartment complex over candy Dec. 17 escalated with adults getting involved and the 23-year-old Bolden eventually being shot.

Strozier says Williams was already in jail on charges linked to a domestic dispute when he was charged in Bolden's death Jan. 1. It's unclear if Williams has an attorney.

Bolden, of Madison, Mississippi, was drafted out of Madison Central High School and played for the Angels between 2010 and 2013.


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Strange But True feats of 2014

December, 26, 2014
12/26/14
2:25
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Joe MaddonDavid Banks/Getty ImagesJoe Maddon doesn't have to apologize to you or Tommy Tutone for his Strange But True lineup card.

How wacky was the totally nonfictional baseball season of 2014? So wacky that an actual major league manager made up an actual lineup based on an old Tommy Tutone song. So wacky that a team "hit" into a double play -- on a walk. So wacky that one of the best pitchers in baseball had to head for the disabled list because he hurt himself trying to make a sandwich.

And that all happened. In real life. No kidding. So because it's the end of that wacky year just past, and because it's an end-of-year tradition right up there with resolutions, midnight smooches and pretending you know more than the first 10 words of "Auld Lang Syne," it's time for our 2014 roundup of the Strange But True Feats of the Year.

And just so you have something to look forward to, besides digging through the attic to locate the champagne glasses, we're presenting all this as a two-part series this year, beginning with the Strange But True Regular-Season Feats of the Year. Coming Tuesday: The Strange But True Postseason Feats of 2014.

Strangest But Truest Man Of The Year


Would it even have been possible to compile these awesome Strange But True collections for the past decade without the Molina family? Seriously. They make it easy. And never more than this year, when, down in Tampa Bay, Jose Molina did all this:


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Path to the playoffs: AL West

December, 20, 2014
12/20/14
2:08
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Path to the playoffs logo
The American League West may be baseball's most entertaining division in 2015 -- following an entertaining 2014 when the A's blew a huge midseason lead. The up-and-coming Astros and a healthier Rangers squad should both be improved, turning this division into a potential five-team mad scramble.

Here is each team's path to the playoffs ...

Los Angeles Angels
2014: 98-64, +143 run differential, lost in ALDS
2015 projection from FanGraphs: 84-78, +26

After leading the majors in wins, it would be easy for the Angels just to stay the course and ride Mike Trout for another playoff season.

As you can see from the projection, however, the Angels don't project as anything close to a 98-win team. General manager Jerry Dipoto understands this and has added depth to a starting rotation that may have been over its head last year, acquiring Andrew Heaney for Howie Kendrick and Nick Tropeano from the Astros, two young pitchers who will compete for a starting job.

AngelsThe path to the playoffs for the Angels:

Garrett Richards and Matt Shoemaker have to be the real deal again. They were two of the biggest surprises in baseball last year, with Richards developing into one of the best starters in the league before his August knee injury and Shoemaker going 16-4 with a 3.04 ERA as a rookie (after a 4.64 ERA in Triple-A in 2013). The Steamer projection system has Richards with a 3.64 ERA -- a run higher than 2014's 2.61 -- and Shoemaker at 4.06.

• Mike Trout, back-to-back MVP winner.

• A healthy season from Josh Hamilton. He doesn't even have to be the Josh Hamilton of his Rangers days, but something better than .263/.331/.414 and 89 games would be helpful.

• Something from second base. Trading Kendrick (5.4 WAR) is a big blow. Former Rockies infielder Josh Rutledge is the favorite for the job right now.

• More consistency from C.J. Wilson. He went 13-10 but with a 4.54 ERA as he walked 85 in 175.2 innings and averaged fewer than six innings per start.

• The bullpen that was terrific from June 15 onward (3.08 ERA) to be terrific all season.

• Another 200-inning season from Jered Weaver. After dipping below 200 innings in 2012 and 2013, Weaver was back up to 213, as he tied for the league lead with 34 starts (and tied for the lead with 18 wins). He did allow a career-high 27 home runs and his 3.59 ERA was his highest since 2009, but he's still a solid No. 2-caliber starter.

The Angels beat up on the Astros and Rangers last year, going 26-11. They also went 11-0 against the Twins and Phillies. Can they count on going 37-11 against the bottom-feeders again in 2015?

A'sOakland Athletics
2014: 88-74, +157 run differential, lost wild-card game
2015 projection: 82-80, +11

Billy Beane has made so many moves this offseason, so let's take stock of where the club stands. The lineup would look something like this:

CF Coco Crisp
3B Brett Lawrie
DH Billy Butler/John Jaso
1B Ike Davis/Butler
RF Josh Reddick
C Stephen Vogt/Josh Phegley
LF Sam Fuld/Craig Gentry
SS Marcus Semien
2B Eric Sogard

SP Sonny Gray
SP Scott Kazmir
SP Drew Pomeranz
SP Jesse Hahn
SP Jarrod Parker/A.J. Griffin/Chris Bassitt/Jesse Chavez/Sean Nolin/Kendall Graveman

Bullpen: Sean Doolittle, Dan Otero, Eric O'Flaherty, Ryan Cook, Fernando Abad

It's difficult to get a good read here. The projections see a .500-ish team, but there are so many moving parts it's a difficult team to project proper playing time. Bob Melvin will be platooning throughout the lineup and the rotation has many options, depending on whether Parker and Griffin are back from their Tommy John surgeries and which of the young guys step up.

The lineup obviously has a big hole minus Josh Donaldson, but here are the positives: They're going to catch the ball; they have some hitters with on-base skills; they have a guy who looks he's ready to be a No. 1 in Sonny Gray; they have depth in the rotation; and the bullpen should be solid.

They're going to need the pitching staff to carry the team, but it looks like a rotation that could be sneaky good, with Pomeranz and Hahn, two young starters who looked good last year in limited action (Hahn came over from the Padres in the Derek Norris trade). They need Reddick to stay healthy and hit a few more home runs and Butler to hit better than he did in 2014 with the Royals and Semien to handle shortstop and display the on-base ability he showed in the minors.

Everyone's going to be counting out the A's, but in some ways this club resembles the 2012 team that came out of nowhere to win 94 games. I'm not saying they're going to win 94, but sometimes the sum of the parts add up.

MarinersSeattle Mariners
2014: 87-75, +80
2015 projection: 88-74, +65

The Steamer projection system that FanGraphs uses has the Mariners as the best team in the American League. But games aren't won via projection systems!

How the Mariners can make the postseason for the first time since 2001:

1. Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma both have to stay healthy. There is little depth in the rotation, so a major injury to one of their workhorses could be catastrophic, especially considering young starters James Paxton and Taijuan Walker both had injury issues in 2014.

2. They need Paxton and Walker to deliver on their potential.

3. Nelson Cruz has to be worth the money. He doesn't have to hit 40 home runs like he did with Baltimore, but he needs to stay on the field and produce that right-handed power in Seattle's lefty-leaning lineup.

4. Production from the leadoff spot. That probably means Austin Jackson, who was terrible after coming over from Detroit.

5. Better offense and defense from Brad Miller. He's been in trade rumors all offseason and now there's the idea that he turns into a hybrid shortstop/right fielder (platooning with Justin Ruggiano). Miller hit .221/.288/.365 last year, but Steamer projects a .252/.314/.395 line and he has more potential than that if he can hit lefties better.

6. More of the same from lineup linchpins Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager.

7. More tightrope walking from Fernando Rodney. Seattle's bullpen had an MLB-best 2.52 ERA last season, and they are bringing back everyone except Joe Beimel. Some regression is likely. While the M's have depth behind Rodney, he's still a big key as the ninth-inning guy.

8. Mike Zunino has to improve his awful approach/OBP. Yes, he hit 22 home runs, but that came with a .199 average and .254 OBP (and that was helped because he got hit by a league-leading 17 pitches). Is he simply the new J.P. Arencibia or will he be something better?

The Mariners have core players in their prime years and excellent front-line talent in Felix, Cano, Seager and Iwakuma. I'd still like them to acquire another hitter to give them more depth, and they have a big problem in center field if Jackson doesn't hit. The strides made in 2014 appear legitimate, but can they go farther in 2015?


AstrosHouston Astros
2014: 70-92, -94 run differential
2015 projection: 76-86, -47

The Astros have made some free-agent signings -- relievers Pat Neshek and Luke Gregerson and shortstop Jed Lowrie -- that suggest general manager Jeff Luhnow expects the Astros to make a leap into contention.

Certainly, improving the bullpen will be a huge help. The Astros had an MLB-worst 4.80 bullpen ERA last season, but that doesn't tell the whole story. The Astros were just 61-8 when leading entering the ninth inning. The MLB average is barely over three games lost when leading in the ninth, so better ninth-inning work could be worth an additional four or five wins.

The Astros also had two positions where they got basically no production: first base (they ranked last in the majors in WAR as Jon Singleton hit .168 in 95 games) and third base (they ranked 29th in majors as Matt Dominguez hit .215 with a .256 OBP). Lowrie looks like he'll stay at shortstop in 2015, holding down the position until Carlos Correa is ready, so Dominguez may get one last chance to show he can hit at the major league level. Singleton will certainly be given another chance at first base. They need much better results from both players.

They can also expect big numbers from a full season of George Springer -- I like him to exceed the 2.6 WAR projection by quite a bit. Jose Altuve became a star in 2014 and Chris Carter tied for the MLB lead with 18 home runs after the All-Star break. The Astros were next-to-last in the AL in runs scored but all indications are that total will increase.

The rotation was much improved as Dallas Keuchel (2.93 ERA) and Collin McHugh (2.73 ERA) developed into a solid 1-2 combo. While nobody expected those numbers, their peripherals were solid, indicating they weren't fluke seasons. Scott Feldman was a solid No. 3, so they just need some improvement from the back end of the rotation. New catcher Hank Conger, one of the best pitch-framers in the business, could help here.

The Astros improved by 19 wins in 2014. If they improve by 19 wins again, that's 89 ... and maybe a postseason berth.

RangersTexas Rangers
2014: 67-95, -136 run differential
2015 projection: 77-85, -34 runs

Obviously, it starts with getting Prince Fielder healthy. And Shin-Soo Choo. And Yu Darvish. And Jurickson Profar. And a full season from Derek Holland. Anyway ...

If we start the Rangers out at 77 wins, there are three areas where there is need for improvement:

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--Corner outfield. Choo may end up in left or right, but the other position is projected at less than 1.0 WAR. This is why the Rangers were rumored to be in on Justin Upton.

• DH. The Rangers are projected at 0.6 WAR. So either Mitch Moreland outperforms or they find a better solution.

• The back of the rotation behind Darvish and Holland. Those two combined for 6.4 of the 8.8 projected WAR from the rotation. At least two from the group of Ross Detwiler, Matt Harrison, Nick Tepesch and Nick Martinez must have big seasons.

Fielder and Choo are huge keys. Both are capable of on-base percentages close to .400. Get them back and producing like they did in 2013 and a lineup of Choo, Adrian Beltre and Fielder suddenly has a lot more meat to it.

Still, the Rangers probably need to make a big move or two. Maybe they go after an outfielder/DH (Seth Smith or Carlos Quentin from the Padres?). Or maybe they sign James Shields or Max Scherzer. It's an organization with depth and some interesting young players like second baseman Rougned Odor and third baseman Joey Gallo. They won 90-plus games from 2010 to 2013. They won't lose 95 again.

Angels land Matt Joyce for Jepsen

December, 16, 2014
12/16/14
12:43
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[+] EnlargeMatt Joyce
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsMatt Joyce batted .254 with nine homers and 52 RBIs last season for Tampa Bay.

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Angels have acquired outfielder Matt Joyce from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for right-handed reliever Kevin Jepsen.

The Angels have big plans for Joyce, envisioning him as their primary designated hitter and possible No. 2 hitter, which would allow AL MVP Mike Trout to hit third in front of Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. Joyce's left-handed bat and playing experience at both corner outfield spots also should allow Hamilton to spend more games as a designated hitter.

"He gives us a lot of flexibility and makes us a deeper and more balanced team," Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "We just felt like this was an opportunity for us to build a deeper and well-balanced lineup for 2015, and continue to move in such a way that we feel like we're making the team better."


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Mid-December World Series odds

December, 15, 2014
12/15/14
12:08
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Courtesy of Bovada.lv ...

Los Angeles Dodgers: 15/2
Boston Red Sox: 9/1
Washington Nationals: 15/2
Chicago Cubs: 12/1
Detroit Tigers: 12/1
Los Angeles Angels: 12/1
San Francisco Giants: 14/1
Seattle Mariners: 14/1
St. Louis Cardinals: 14/1
Baltimore Orioles: 18/1
Toronto Blue Jays: 18/1
Kansas City Royals: 20/1
New York Mets: 25/1
New York Yankees: 25/1
Atlanta Braves: 28/1
Chicago White Sox: 28/1
Cleveland Indians: 33/1
Miami Marlins: 33/1
Pittsburgh Pirates: 33/1
Cincinnati Reds: 40/1
Milwaukee Brewers: 40/1
Oakland Athletics: 40/1
San Diego Padres: 40/1
Texas Rangers: 40/1
Tampa Bay Rays: 66/1
Arizona Diamondbacks: 75/1
Colorado Rockies: 100/1
Houston Astros: 150/1
Minnesota Twins: 150/1
Philadelphia Phillies: 150/1

On Oct. 30, the Cubs were 50-1. After signing Sandy Koufax and trading for Yogi Berra, they're down to 12/1. I mean, Jon Lester is a nice pitcher, but come on.

My good buys right now: Pirates and Indians at 33-1. The Pirates have made the playoffs the past two years, have a superstar in Andrew McCutchen and some young guys who could improve. The Indians won 85 games in 2014 and their starting rotation really came together in the second half. Obviously, the odds are somewhat reflective of market size, which is why Pittsburgh and Cleveland have longer odds right now. And teams that have made a big splash so far in the offseason seemed to have gotten a big boost in their odds.

Bad buys: Tigers at 12-1 and Braves at 28-1. The Tigers have been busy so far but have mostly just been spinning their wheels, while likely losing Max Scherzer. With the Indians and White Sox potentially stronger, the Tigers' grip on the division is more tenuous than it's been in years. The Braves have lost their best player in Jason Heyward and still have big issues on offense while coming off a sub-.500 season in a division where the Marlins and Mets should both be better.

The offseason is young. Lots of free agent signings and trades to come. We'll see how the odds change before Opening Day.

Richards could miss start of season

December, 11, 2014
12/11/14
6:56
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[+] EnlargeGarrett Richards
Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox/Getty ImagesGarrett Richards, hurt in August, may miss the beginning of the season.

The Los Angeles Angels don't expect starting pitcher Garrett Richards to be ready for the start of the 2015 season, manager Mike Scioscia said Wednesday.

Richards had surgery after tearing a tendon in his left knee while covering first base in a game at Boston on Aug. 20. He was 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA last season.

"I think the prognosis of having him back somewhere in the first month to maybe the first six weeks of the season looks very good," Scioscia said.

Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto took a slightly different approach than his manager, calling Scioscia cautious.

"Mike is preparing for the worst-case scenario, which is more his nature," Dipoto said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "We understood it would be a six- to nine-month [recovery]. Mike sleeps better at night planning for it to be the latter of the two. We believe Garrett will be back if not on Opening Day, then at some point in the not-too-distant future."

Richards said earlier this offseason that even though his year ended early, he felt good about what he accomplished.


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Dodgers acquire Howie Kendrick

December, 10, 2014
12/10/14
11:00
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SAN DIEGO -- The Los Angeles Dodgers overhauled their infield and shook up the third day of the winter meetings with trades with the Miami Marlins and Los Angeles Angels that involved eight players.

The Dodgers acquired All-Star second baseman Howie Kendrick from the Angels for young left-handed pitcher Andrew Heaney, a player they had acquired hours earlier Wednesday from the Marlins. The Dodgers also got infielder Enrique Hernandez, reliever Chris Hatcher and minor leaguer Austin Barnes from Miami.

The Marlins received Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon, pitcher Dan Haren and infielder Miguel Rojas.

And the Dodgers weren't done with one more day left at the winter meetings.

They agreed early Thursday with the San Diego Padres on a deal sending Matt Kemp to San Diego and catcher Yasmani Grandal to Los Angeles, according to media reports.

The Dodgers have coveted Kendrick, 31, for several years and nearly completed a trade for him involving pitcher Zach Lee


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Dodgers acquire Howie Kendrick

December, 10, 2014
12/10/14
9:36
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SAN DIEGO -- The Los Angeles Dodgers have acquired second baseman Howie Kendrick from the Los Angeles Angels for left-handed pitcher Andrew Heaney, a player they acquired just hours earlier from the Miami Marlins.

The Dodgers remade the middle of their infield during a frantic day of deal-making at the winter meetings, adding three-time All-Star shorstop Jimmy Rollins in a deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, then moving Dee Gordon and Dan Haren to Miami in exchange for Heaney and three prospects.

The Dodgers have coveted Kendrick for several years, nearly completing a trade for him two Julys ago in exchange for pitching prospect Zach Lee.


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Scott Snodgress takes offer from Angels

December, 10, 2014
12/10/14
1:57
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SAN DIEGO -- Left-hander Scott Snodgress, who became a free agent when he was non-tendered by the Chicago White Sox last week, has reportedly signed with the Los Angeles Angels.

The White Sox were believed to be exploring the possibility of bringing Snodgress back to the organization, but the Southern California native took a minor-league offer from the Angels with an invite to big league camp in spring training. The Angels are the closest major league team to his hometown of Yucaipa, Calif.

Snodgress was a September call-up this past season but struggled in his brief opportunities (2 1/3 innings). He has a 3.84 ERA over four minor league seasons.

The White Sox made Snodgress their fifth-round pick in the 2011 out of Stanford.

Dodgers trade Drew Butera to Angels

December, 9, 2014
12/09/14
2:48
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SAN DIEGO -- The Dodgers continued to tinker at the margins of their roster while everyone here seems to be anticipating bigger deals.

They traded catcher Drew Butera to the Angels on Tuesday for a player to be named later or cash considerations. Butera had been designated for assignment three days earlier to make room on the 40-man roster for Ryan Lavarnway, who was claimed off waivers from the Boston Red Sox.

It’s the first trade between the Dodgers and Angels since 1976, when they swapped outfielder Orlando Alvarez for catcher Ellie Rodriguez.

Butera hit .188 with a .288 slugging percentage in 61 games for the Dodgers. He is eligible for arbitration and out of options. The Dodgers, at least for now, appear to be content with a catching rotation that includes A.J. Ellis, who batted .191 last year, and Tim Federowicz, a .194 lifetime hitter, with Lavarnway, whose catching defense is marginal, possibly getting some time at catcher and first base if he makes the major-league roster.
video

Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto comments on his team's 2014 season and the outlook heading into the 2015 season.
video

Topps' Zvee Geffen breaks down his company's reason for bringing back its High Tek baseball product and some of the features and autographs collectors can expect from it.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Howie Kendrick
BA HR RBI R
.293 7 75 85
OTHER LEADERS
HRM. Trout 36
RBIM. Trout 111
RM. Trout 115
OPSM. Trout .939
WJ. Weaver 18
ERAG. Richards 2.61
SOJ. Weaver 169