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 (1:58 PM)
The Angels are struggling since the All-Star break and we've got plenty of topics to explore, so let's get started, shall we?
Mills had a great outing against BAL, is there any talk of calling him up to fill their needs in the bullpen or even as a starter to fill for Haren or Santana? It would be great to have another Lefty in the rotation or even middle relievf since Takahashi has been so dissapointing.
Mark Saxon (2:00 PM)
Q, They've said they're totally committed to Haren and Santana in the rotation, so I wouldn't expect anything to happen there any time soon. On the other hand, Jerome Williams' leash might be getting shorter and shorter. It sounds like they need Mills as rotation depth, so I don't think they want to turn him back into a reliever. Also, that experiment didn't go well at Triple-A.
Is there any timetable to get Jean Segura into the bigs anytime soon? Or is it possible he gets dealt with the middle infield signed for the next couple years?
Mark Saxon (2:01 PM)
Josh, I would say there's a relatively good chance he gets dealt, mostly because the Angels don't have many minor-league commodities that teams covet and he's one of them. Also, of course, Aybar and Kendrick are signed for the next four years. Is Segura an option at third? Maybe, but he doesn't have huge power or great on-base skills.
Do the Angels pick up some bullpen help before the trade deadline?
Mark Saxon (2:02 PM)
I think they'd like to, Josh, and I would expect Jerry Dipoto to get something done, whether it's in the bullpen or rotation. If he does, I would expect it to be a youngish pitcher with a few years left of affordability.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Is Angels Outfielder Mike Trout Related to Former MLB Pitcher Steve"Rainbow"Trout?
Mark Saxon (2:04 PM)
Chris, No, he's not.
Shea (Santa Paula,CA)
Mark, Heard the Rays are looking for a young catcher what about Hank Conger for one of their pitching prospects? I really like Hank and don't know why he isn't at Majors?
Mark Saxon (2:09 PM)
Shea, I haven't looked too closely at Tampa's pitching prospects but the scenario you mention isn't so farfetched. Remember, Joe Maddon is acquainted with Hank Conger from spring training and Tampa typically has young pitching in spades.
Shea (Santa Paula,CA)
Mark, with all the rumors about the Angels looking at these star pitchers to trade for do you really think Jerry Dipoto will risk the future players for a couple of months?
Mark Saxon (2:10 PM)
He says he won't, Shea, so I think we have to take him at his word until something happens to change that.
with the deadline two weeks to go which Angels player will likely be dealt? What rumors have you heard?
Mark Saxon (2:14 PM)
Hey Rob, the trading deadline must be approaching because this seems to be the theme of the day. Any pitcher who is reportedly available who is signed beyond this season I would imagine has been discussed internally. Remember, the Angels might have two or more holes in their rotation to fill next year if they decline some pricey options on Dan Haren and Ervin Santana. I'd be shocked if that consideration wasn't a big part of their planning.
Was yesterday just a blip for Wilson?
Mark Saxon (2:15 PM)
It seemed like it, Alex. He periodically struggles with his command and it sounds like he just couldn't control the movement on his pitches. I think one of the reasons C.J. has been known to struggle in big games is that his command isn't as pinpoint as someone like Jered Weaver's for example.
Mike (Los Angeles)
Two questions: Do you think the Angels have any interest in bringing KRod back? If they did, maybe it could be a bigger trade. Our catchers are below average. But, with Lucroy coming back for the Brewers, they have multiple catchers, but their middle infield is awful. What about a package where the Angels get KRod and either Lucroy or Maldonado, and the Brewers get Segura and a pitcher, maybe Richards.
Mark Saxon (2:17 PM)
I don't know about that one, Mike. I think the Angels already got Francisco Rodriguez's best years and can they really afford to give up Garrett Richards with so many question marks popping up in the rotation. Starting pitching, taken collectively, is clearly the most important facet of a baseball team.
Any real interest by teams for Wells? I know JD says he doesnt want to give up Borjous, but chances of him and Morales being sent some where? If somehow the angels traded for hammels the chances of him staying on board after this season?
Mark Saxon (2:20 PM)
I imagine Cole Hammels has some interest in pitching close to where he grew up in San Diego, Dannesh, but it also sounds like -- if Philly can't get him signed -- he is keen on testing the market. That means he'll probably take the best offer, regardless of geography. As for Wells, I'm sure teams aren't exactly calling Jerry Dipoto frantically to get their hands on him. It's probably more like him trying to interest other teams in Vernon and them listening or not listening depending on how much of the $42 million left on his deal the Angels pick up.
Mike (San Diego, Ca)
Do you see Albert Pujols having a monster 2nd half that will put his numbers to his normal production?
Mark Saxon (2:21 PM)
He's showing signs of that, Mike, and he had a very good second half last year. But the phrase "monster numbers" mean something different with Albert because of the ridiculously high standard he has set for himself. I don't think there's any way his numbers get back to vintage Pujols seasons, but if he can get them up to what they were last year, that would be impressive and might carry the Angels to the playoffs.
Chris Pepper (LA)
The Hank Conger situation is ridiculous. They could've used the last two months to determine if he can be the guy. Instead we still don't know. And we find out that Hester and Wilson are who they are. Journeyman 3rd option catchers. What is Sosh's fascination with playing sub .200 hitters at catcher? Conger seems to be lighting up the minors AGAIN. I don't think you're doing your job if you can't dig a little deeper than this.
Mark Saxon (2:23 PM)
Hey Chris, I've asked Mike about Conger many times and I've talked to Hank about the situation multiple times. I called him after he was demoted and he seemed to be taking it in stride. Offensively, the Angels are leaving a lot on the table by not playing Hank these games, but would they be giving up something on the pitching side if they play him? It's tough to be too critical about the situation if you don't know the ins and outs of what pitchers and others are saying behind the scenes. I still think Hank will have a thriving career at some point, but it may not be with the Angels.
Matt (Tarzana, CA)
Do you think it would be worth it to package a deal around Borjous in order to get that top of the line starter in Greinke or Hamels even if they aren't guaranteed to stay here after next year? Should the angels first thought be, win this year?
Mark Saxon (2:25 PM)
I wouldn't do it, Matt. What if you trade Bourjos and get one of those guys and still don't make the playoffs -- or lose in the one-game wild card round? Then, you go into next year with the very real possibility of Vernon Wells being an everyday outfielder again. We saw how that went.
Stephen (Irvine, CA)
Hey Mark! What has been the problem with Angels starting pitching of late? Or have they just run into much better offenses?
Mark Saxon (2:27 PM)
Definitely, a lot of the latter, Stephen. It's easy to look great when you're facing the Dodgers, Giants or Mariners. Not so easy against the Yankees or Tigers. But the Dan Haren and Ervin Santana situations, combined with whatever's going on with Jerome Williams, are very real concerns.
What's your best guess as to what Soc will do with Vernon Wells when he gets back off of the DL? They can't deal him because of his contract, but Trout, Trumbo and Torii are all performing very well and Trumbo at 3B did not go well at all.
Mark Saxon (2:28 PM)
Mike said Trumbo and Trout will play every day, so you can breath easy again, Q. I expect Jerry to try very hard in the next two weeks to unload Vernon for whatever salary relief he can fetch, but that's a tall order. Failing that, I think they'll keep him as a fourth outfielder and part-time DH. Who knows, he may even get a big hit for him in September and everybody will love him, at long last.
How are Darrin Downs and Scotty not related? They look like like brothers.
Mark Saxon (2:42 PM)
I'm not sure, but I guess there is more than one Downs family in America.
Rick1V (Beverly Hills)
Just hard Torii announced he's willing to take a big cut in salary to stay on after this year. Tough choice for the Angels, he's 37 and they have a cheap alternative in Bourjos to slot in to an outfield spot. That said, Torii really seems like the clubhouse leader. What do you think the Angels are going to do?
Mark Saxon (2:43 PM)
It sounds like everybody is keen on getting Torii back next year, Rick, but at whose expense? If they deal Bourjos, I see it as a real possibility. Otherwise, there's just no natural fit.
jon (alameda, ca)
it looks like the league has caught up with mike trout. 4K's last two games. Do you think he'll adjust accordingly and do you believe the new hitting coach can help? Thank God Mickey Hatcher couldn't get his hands on him...
Mark Saxon (2:45 PM)
Jon, I'm not so sure the league has caught up based on fragments of two games. I think it's more that he faced a couple of pitchers with good stuff and had a couple of mediocre games. He is human, though it didn't seem like it for a few weeks there. And I think the best hitting coach for him might be Albert Pujols. They have similar approaches and they've actually chatted about hitting periodically.
Luke (Riverside, Ca)
Mark, if you were manager, would you do a straight up trade: Trout for Kemp? I understand Kemp just re-signed. Just hypothetically.
Mark Saxon (2:46 PM)
I wouldn't make that trade, Luke. I realize Kemp has more natural power and is a superb athlete, but Trout is so much younger, so much cheaper and we still haven't seen his ceiling yet. Right now, any trade involving Mike Trout has a good chance of one day being listed in a "Worst Trades in History" story and that's not where GMs want to end up.
jon (alameda, ca)
Is it possible to sign Cole Hamels or Greinke next year as FA's if we decline both Santan's and Harens options?
Mark Saxon (2:47 PM)
I'm not sure what the payroll restraints will be next year just yet, Jon, but the Angels recent history certainly suggests they might be players for those guys.
Who gets opitioned when Ianetta is healthy, Wilson or Hester? Wilson can't hit and Hester has a noodle arm.
Mark Saxon (2:47 PM)
Wilson can't get optioned without clearing waivers. Hester can. It might be as simple as breaking the tie because of that.
Keith (East Coast)
Does the majority of folks on the west coast accept the Angels using the name "Los Angeles"? Does it make more sense to someone living in that area?
Mark Saxon (2:49 PM)
Keith, I think most people on the West Coast couldn't care less at this point. That happened eight years ago and most people realize it's just a marketing thing, so Southern Californians have moved on. Everywhere the Angels go, they have to deal with the lame jokes from other teams' broadcasters and sports writers, but they're just going to have to live with that. They created it.
Do you think from here on out that Trumbo will be slotted into that Cleanup spot? Or are we going to be seeing a changing lineup day to day still if Trumbo has a few bad games there?
Mark Saxon (2:50 PM)
I think it's Mark's spot until he stumbles into a 1-for-40 slump or something else eye-popping like that. How can you not use your MVP guy in the 3 or 4 slot?
He just hit a home run. Does that answer your question?
Mark Saxon (2:51 PM)
Why yes, it does.
Mark Saxon (2:51 PM)
Another good chat. See everybody next Thursday.