Chat with Mark Saxon
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, Los Angeles Angels writer Mark Saxon will stop by to chat some baseball.
Saxon is a staff writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. He spent six years at the Orange County Register, and began his career at the Oakland Tribune, where he started an 11-year journey covering Major League Baseball. He has also covered colleges, including USC football and UCLA basketball.
Send your questions now and join Saxon Thursday at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT!
Mark Saxon (1:59 PM)
Let's see, Mark Trumbo is taking grounders at third, Kendrys Morales is jogging, Bobby Abreu is ticked off and we've had our first Albert Pujols controversy (El Hombre-Gate). Plenty to talk about this week.
Who are some potential trade targets for Abreu? I would think a similar out-of-favor starting pitcher or reliever on the last year of his deal would be the ideal scenario.
Mark Saxon (2:02 PM)
Rich, It's going to be a tall order getting much for an aging DH whose production appears so drastically in decline. But you're right, if they can get it done, they'll likely have to swap bad contracts. Perhaps they can get an overpaid player who is a better fit on this roster.
Are you expecting a Trumbo trade?
Mark Saxon (2:03 PM)
No, I'm not, at least not right now. He could take over in right field next season, so they might get through this season hoping they can find 350 at-bats or so for him and keep him sharp. But it's definitely a possibility, particularly if Mike Trout is tearing up Triple-A.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Is Angels Stadium in Anaheim,CA the Original Stadium that was Built 45 Years ago?
Mark Saxon (2:04 PM)
Yes, Chris, though the Walt Disney Corp. did a major renovation starting in 1996.
chris pepper (LA)
Do you see Conger a Halo long term. How is his career projecting right now?
Mark Saxon (2:05 PM)
Chris, That's a stumper. My best guess is that Conger starts the season at Triple-A, but before long, this team will have to figure out if he's the catcher of the future or not. Chris Iannetta has a mutal option for 2013, so that might be the moment of truth.
Hey Mark, enjoying your updates on what's happening with the Halos. From what I've been reading about plans for the lineup this year, I'm noticing Kendry Morales mentioned quite a bit. Please tell me the club is feeling confident he's going to be fit to start the season. If he can come back and be the player he was, the thought of him hitting either before or after Albert seems absolutely explosive.
Mark Saxon (2:07 PM)
Yeah Rick, that will probably be the most important question this spring. The Angels are a different team if Morales is productive again and hitting cleanup. So far, there's not much to report. He's jogging and said he feels no pain, but hasn't sprinted or run the bases. He won't be ready by the exhibition opener March 5. Will he be ready for April 6? Hard to say, but I'd say it's doubtful.
Jason (Los Angeles, CA)
If Abreu continues to voice his displeasure with his role on the team, at what point do the Angels cut him loose?
Mark Saxon (2:09 PM)
Jason, This piggy-backs nicely with the last question, because it could depend on Morales. If Kendrys isn't ready by Opening Day, the Angels could use Abreu's left-handed bat in their lineup. In my dealings with Bobby, I've never known him to be disgruntled, so I'm guessing he backs down somewhat from his comments to Enrique Rojas. If not, it might turn up the heat on the front office to either trade or release him.
Justin (Moreno valley)
bobby abreu wants to play everyday If he hasn't seen the roster yet he can tell there is no way for him to play everyday This is kind of the same as the lakers situation with odom When the Angels trade him, will they get what he is actually worth? Unlike the lakers who basically gave Lamar to the mavrics?
Mark Saxon (2:10 PM)
Justin, I guess there are some parallels there, but Lamar Odom is younger and, probably, better at his game right now than Bobby Abreu is at his. So, losing Abreu probably wouldn't hurt the Angels as much as losing Odom hurt the Lakers.
Jeff (Yorba Linda)
Mark, what have you heard about Kendrys Morales in the last few days? I know he didn't experience any initial soreness from the outfield sprints he did on Monday, but have you heard anything new in the last few days? Is he getting ready to move to the next level in his workouts/rehab?
Mark Saxon (2:12 PM)
"No pain, no soreness" is now Morales' stock answer to these questions. He still has been jogging rather than sprinting and it's all straight ahead. The Angels tend to be conservative with these types of rehabs.
chris pepper (LA)
Mark, you have the greatest job covering the Halos and SC football. My two favorite teams. And I think you do a great job with both of them. I hope you enjoy it as much as I envy you from afar.
Mark Saxon (2:14 PM)
Hey Chris, Thanks for this note and, yeah, I love my job. It's gotten more interesting now that the Angels are a national story and USC could be the best team in the nation next year.
Josh (Rowland Heights, CA)
How much is Abreau worth? What are possible destinations for Abreau?
Mark Saxon (2:15 PM)
Josh, I'm sure he's worth a lot to his family and friends. It sounds like he's not worth so much (at least not worth $9 million) to other baseball teams, as the Angels haven't been able to place him. We touched on this earlier, but the Angels might be forced to release him in the end. He was a great player, but like a lot of players, the ending isn't his to choose.
Scott (Fullerton, CA)
Does Luis Jimenez have a shot at making the team if he has a monster spring? I am very high on his speed/power combo.
Mark Saxon (2:27 PM)
I don't think so, Scott. He had a good year at Double-A (.290, 18 homers, 94 RBIs), but the Angels will probably send him to Triple-A. I doubt they think he would do better than some combination of Alberto Callaspo, Maicer Izturis and Mark Trumbo at third.
Here is the most important question of spring! We already have one "Izzy" (Maicer) now that Jason Isringhausen has signed a contract and his name is also "Izzy", what do we do? I am very worried about this!
Mark Saxon (2:29 PM)
That is a worrisome situation, Mychal. Another one is, "Who will wear No. 44?" Isringhausen has had it his whole career, but Mark Trumbo wore it last year. There is all sorts of intrigue about the new signing. I'll try to get to the bottom of it.
John (Long Beach)
Mark- thoughts on the Izzy signing?
Mark Saxon (2:30 PM)
Excellent move by Jerry Dipoto, IMHO. There's essentially no risk since it's a minor-league deal and, if he pitches as well as he did last year and is motivated, he could be a big help to Jordan Walden and give the Angels a nice setup crew.
I think I have a rational response to Bobby Abreu: "If you're unhappy, feel free to leave and commiserate with Tony Reagins, and while you're at it, profusely thank him for insanely giving you the 3rd year vesting option you're currently enjoying."
Mark Saxon (2:30 PM)
Tom, Maybe Bobby is following this chat back in Venezuela (though I highly doubt it), so consider your thoughts expressed.
Tom (Myrtle Beach)
do you see Jepson rebounding this season?
Mark Saxon (2:32 PM)
I just talked to somebody who said Jepsen's bullpen session looked great, Tom, so yeah, I definitely think he could push his way back into the bullpen picture. He'll have a lot of competition now, though, with Isringhausen, Rich Thompson and Bobby Cassevah, primarily. I'd put him at 50-50 to make the Opening Day roster, but much higher to make an impact at some point this year.
Anthony (Houston, Tx)
Which former players signed to minor league deals have the best shot at making the team this year? Cantu can play a few positions and I feel that Isringhausen can be a great mentor for Walden and the rest of the young arms in the pen.
Mark Saxon (2:33 PM)
Anthony, You nailed it. Those are the two guys I would pick. The other pitchers, like Eric Hurley and Brad Mills, don't seem too exciting. Cantu is less likely than Isringhausen at this stage, I would think. His best shot is if Morales isn't healthy to start the year.
A lot of my friends were really upset when the Angels didn't sign Figgins to a long term deal. The Angels look pretty smart now. Same thing with Lackey too. Sometimes the best signings are the ones you don't make. Do you agree?
Mark Saxon (2:34 PM)
For sure, Zolty, but a lot of people actually think Chone Figgins would have remained productive if he were still the Angels' leadoff hitter and not the Mariners' No. 2 hitter. Lackey clearly wasn't healthy last year. But yeah, it looks like they dodged a couple of bullets there.
Any updates on the potential 5th starters? How wide open is it?
Mark Saxon (2:37 PM)
Dennis, It's going to be a free-for-all between Jerome Williams, Garrett Richards, Trevor Bell and Brad Mills. No, actually, I think Williams has a big lead and would have to be pretty awful down here to lose it. The other guys are pitching to avoid Triple-A and carve a niche.
Shopping Cart Joe (Under the Big A)
I love the Angels and the billboards- do you think they'll change the El Hombre one's?
Mark Saxon (2:38 PM)
SCJ, No way they'll take them down now. But they usually don't linger much past Opening Day anyway, so I imagine they'll just kind of disappear (just as this controversy will eventually).
Mark good job keeping us updated. The only hole I see is a good leadoff hitter. Do you see Peter Bourjes as a long term solution?
Mark Saxon (2:40 PM)
Tom, I asked Mike Scioscia about that a few days ago. It sounds like they'd love for him to do it, but they don't think he's ready just now. I bet you Scioscia uses Erick Aybar there at first, which I think isn't necessarily the best way to go. I would want to get as many people on in front of Albert Pujols as I could and not worry too much about how fast they are since he's so powerful.
Mark, do you think it's going to be another close race for the AL west or will the Angels or Rangers pull away from one another?
Mark Saxon (2:42 PM)
Alex, Let's hope it's close because it will be more fun to watch. But it would be totally unsurprising if one of the two teams was a colossal disappointment. It happens all the time in baseball. You don't win a pennant in January.
Why would the Angels wait this long to get rid of Abreu? I feel this is already becoming a distraction...
Mark Saxon (2:42 PM)
And he's not even here!
Jason (Los Angeles)
Is there any truth to the rumor of the Angels having interest in Vlad? How much does Vlad want and could the Angels have enough if they find a suitor for Abreu and free up some money?
Mark Saxon (2:43 PM)
That's the most bizarre rumor I've heard, Jason. I'm not sure they need another aging right-handed hitter who can't play the outfield any more. But he was definitely one of the all-time great Angel, if not No. 1.
Vince (Portland, OR)
Do you think Trumbo will try third base and how will he do if he does?
Mark Saxon (2:44 PM)
He already is, Vince, but it's too early to tell. He's been taking rollers off a coach's bat. I'll talk to Rob Picciolo and Alfredo Griffin to get their impressions soon, so check the blog.
Nick(HD) [via mobile]
Are the Angels concerned about taking on any more payroll, when considering there trade options? It seems to me Artie is all in for a 3-5 year run
Mark Saxon (2:45 PM)
That hasn't been discussed internally yet, but I'll bet you he'll authorize a bump around the trading deadline if the Angels are competing.
I was actually surprised that the Angels didn't sign a proven closer this offseason. What would you see happening if Walden struggles out the gate with a bunch of blown saves? Would the team continue to stick with him or look to bring in someone new?
Mark Saxon (2:46 PM)
Well, Dustin, it's not that easy to trade for a closer early in the year. I think they would try to patch the whole with a combination of LaTroy Hawkins, Scott Downs and, maybe, Jason Isringhausen until they could make a trade in July.
Nick(HD) [via mobile]
If the Rays are out of it in July what do you think of a Trumbo, Borjus for Longoria trade?
Mark Saxon (2:48 PM)
I like it for the Angels, but it might take another player to get that done. Longoria is one of the best players in the game and is signed through 2016 if they pick up all his options. I'm guessing they would only trade him if they're under a mandate to shed tons of payroll.
Has Pujols approched the Angels about removing those billboards?
Mark Saxon (2:48 PM)
No, in fact he seemed a bit peeved to be talking about it yesterday. He did say he would prefer they didn't call him that.
I'm really happy to see the front office (Dipoto) making a push towards more OBP. Do you think Aybar's below average OBP makes a contract extension less likely?
Mark Saxon (2:49 PM)
My gut feeling is, yes, that's a factor. A lot of the defensive metrics have him as an overrated defender, too, though I was surprised by that.
From looking at other available DH options, it seems as though a market for Bobby Abreu is pretty thin. Teams will be willing to pay way less than the $9M owed to Abreu for Damon/Matsui/Vlad. Should Bobby keep his mouth shut, collect his inflated check, and play as hard as he can whenever he gets his opportunity? It could be worse having to play on a team that will compete for a title this year. Plus, the Angels can't except to get anything worth while in return on Abreu, right?
Mark Saxon (2:51 PM)
All true, but in his defense, he was awfully good for a long time. He probably still thinks he can make an All-Star team. Maybe he's right, who knows?
Vernon has tweeted a lot about his off-season workouts, how do you see his season going?
Mark Saxon (2:52 PM)
I think it will be better, Dennis, but will it be good enough to hold off Mike Trout in the long run? Hard to say.
How long is the leash on Bourjos if he struggles to start the year?
Mark Saxon (2:53 PM)
It's hugely long, Domes. Bourjos had a good season hitting last year, played every day and was a Gold Glove-caliber center fielder. He has as little to worry about as anybody on the team other than Albert Pujols and Howie Kendrick.
do you think the Angels could still try to sign a 5th starter like Oswalt ?
Mark Saxon (2:54 PM)
Yeah, you could make that argument. But Oswalt appears to have locked in on three other teams and there aren't a whole lot of guys left out there. I think Pedro Martinez is probably retired.
Mikey D (Breezewood)
If abreu goes, who sees themost time as 4th OF? Trumbo platoon? Does Moore contribute?
Mark Saxon (2:55 PM)
Yeah, Trumbo can play out there some and the door might by slightly ajar for Ryan Langerhans.
Jason (Mick O'Sheas)
Will Ervin follow be able to pick up where he left off last year? His groundball rate seemed to say he can.
Mark Saxon (2:55 PM)
I agree. If he's consistent, the Angels are in good shape with their pitching.
Does Vlad go into the HOF as an Expo or Halo?
Mark Saxon (2:56 PM)
Probably an Expo, don't you think? He played there longer and was a little better there.