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The Los Angeles Angels Have Had a Great Offseason

Outside of watching Mike Trout dominate on a nightly basis, there wasn’t much else to be happy about in 2016 with regard to the Los Angeles Angels.

They went a disappointing 74-88 and missed the playoffs for the fourth time since 2012, which was Trout’s rookie season. To make things worse, it’s also been hard to feel optimistic about the organization’s future in recent years.

It’s getting better, though.

ESPN’s Keith Law (subscription required) no longer views them as baseball’s worst farm system, but coming in 27th out of 30 teams isn’t anything to party about. On the big-league level, big contracts to C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver have come off the books, leaving just one more year of paying Josh Hamilton and another five years (womp womp) of Albert Pujols.

Without the financial means to throw money at a free agent or the farm system to offer a boatload of intriguing prospects in a trade, general manager Billy Eppler had to get creative this winter, which is exactly what he’s done.

Are the Angels now playoff contenders? Probably not, but they look better on paper for 2017 than they did in 2016.

Let’s see how much of a lift the roster could have with a series of moves that haven’t grabbed a ton of headlines over the past few months.

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Ryan Dull’s record streak ended Saturday

On Saturday Oakland A’s reliever Ryan Dull saw his streak of not allowing an inherited runner to score end at a record setting 36 runners. 

Starter Kendall Graveman had pitched eight beautiful innings but found himself in a bit of trouble in the bottom of the ninth Saturday, when he allowed back to back singles to the Houston Astros’ Jake Marisnick and Marwin Gonzalez. He was relieved by Dull, obviously a pitcher used to entering the game to help other pitchers out of their jams.

Jose Altuve then grounded out to Tyler Ladendorf who tossed the ball to second baseman Jed Lowrie getting Gonzalez out but allowing Marisnick to score from third, thus ending Dull’s streak. Dull offered up one more run when Luis Valbuena singled in Altuve but he struck out Carlos Gomez to get his very first big league save, and preserved the very deserved win for Graveman.

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MLB Trade Rumor: Luis Valbuena To The Kansas City Royals

After losing Mike Moustakas to a season-ending injury, the Royals are in desperate need of a third baseman. As of right now, Cheslor Cuthbert is their only viable option, but he isn’t cutting it. Cuthbert is batting .277, with two home runs, six RBIs, nine runs, and a .294 OBP in 85 plate appearances. His numbers aren’t terrible, but the Royals are going to need more production at third base if they want to retain their lead in the American League Central.

There are multiple potential third base options that will be discussed near the trade deadline, but Luis Valbuena could be a very good option for the Kansas City Royals. As of right now Valbuena is the starting third baseman for the Houston Astros, but their top prospect, Alex Bregman, is making a very good case in the Minor Leagues that he is ready for the bigs. If the Astros decide to promote Bregman, Valbuena could find his way on the trade block immediately.

 

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Move Over Luis Valbuena, It’s Alex Bregman’s Turn

The Houston Astros have struggled in 2016 and one of their biggest flaws is how streaky their offensive lineup can be at times. While many players contribute to this flaw, Luis Valbuena could be the streakiest of them all.

 

Valbuena is known for his above average power at third base, but so far in 2016, Valbuena has been far from above average. Through 169 plate appearances, he is batting .221, with six home runs, 17 RBIs, 19 runs, and a .319 OBP.

 

The Houston Astros are currently ranked 9th overall in home runs as a team (67), but they are ranked 19th overall in on base percentage (.316). It is clear the Astros aren’t struggling to put the ball over the fence, but getting on base has been a problem.

 

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Odds To Win The American League Rookie Of The Year

The American League has some young talent, however about only half of the guys on this list will even break camp with their parent big clubs,and others will be blocked for various reasons -including against each other on their own squads. There is really only one good bet and one bad for entire 15 guy list.

The American League has some young talent, however about only half of the guys on this list will even break camp with their parent big clubs,and others will be blocked for various reasons -including against each other on their own squads. There is really only one good bet and one bad for entire 15 guy list.

Hunter Stokes (BBBA Featured Writer) 

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1st off the Twins have the top 3 players listed for the category in Buxton, Ho-Park and Berrios.

All Minnesota youngsters could make the squad, although Buxton is posting just a .567 OPS  in Spring Training –  after only putting up a .576 OPS in his 129 AB for 2015. He will be given the starting job to either make it or not, after the trade of Aaron Hicks.  Don’t like the favorite status for most of these categories, this will ring true one more time.

Ho-Park has looked solid at the dish so far with a 3 Slash of .283/.306/.543 – with 3 HRs and 13 RBI in his 46 AB, and at 29 years of age – coming over from the KBO, he has years of experience next to his classmates.

Jose Abreu and Ichiro Suzuki both came over as later in life rookies to the Junior Circuit and took the honors  Ho-Park was a beast in Korea – blasting over 50+ HRs in each of the last 2 years there for his club team Nexen.

While you have to temper expectations coming overseas to North America from there, what I love is that the guy improved his numbers in each of the last 5 years.  This bodes well for him in Minny.

With a 4 year deal in his back pocket, Park will and should remain on the big roster based on his early success.

I am not sure he will win the Award, and I am not placing any cabbage on him too, but at least he won’t be subjected to service time restrictions like other rookies. Read the rest of this entry

Bold Predictions For The 2016 MLB Year

a bold predictions

Hunter Stokes (Featured Writer) 

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Every year we do an article called “Bold Predictions”.  I love this concept as most of these ideas are so preposterous that none of them will actually happen.  I liken it to the “Riverboat Gambler Theory” where you can really get rich quick if it were to come to fruition.

There may not be too many secrets in the National League where the clubs seems to be either really good or really bad.  The American League has a lot more parity.

I suppose I could start off by saying that the NL would win the Interleague series versus the AL, but that it is probably not going to happen based on a 12 year losing streak. (more…)

Houston Astros State Of The Union For 2016

The Houston Astros were the worst team in the Major Leagues from 2011 - 2013, where they topped the 100 Loss barrier for each of those seasons, underwent an ownership change, and also moved from the tough NL Central to the AL West. Last year the Astros finally turned the corner with the 2nd Wild Card Spot, won that game in New York and took the KC Royals to the brink of elimination before they lost. They are young, have a core nucleus of team controllable superstars and exceptional depth that they can use for upgrades. It is a great time to be a 'Stros fan.

The Houston Astros were the worst team in the Major Leagues from 2011 – 2013, where they topped the 100 Loss barrier for each of those seasons, underwent an ownership change, and also moved from the tough NL Central to the AL West. Last year the Astros finally turned the corner with the 2nd Wild Card Spot, won that game in New York and took the KC Royals to the brink of elimination before they lost. They are young, have a core nucleus of team controllable superstars and exceptional depth that they can use for upgrades. It is a great time to be a ‘Stros fan.

Hunter Stokes (Chief Writer/Part Owner) 

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The Houston Astros are set to contend for the foreseeable future.  A 6 year stretch in which they revamped their entire Minor League System – and kept payroll down to grab top Draft Picks finally reeled in the teams 1st playoff spot in a decade in 2016.

After taking a 6 – 2 lead in Game 4 of the ALDS series against the Royals with  2 – 1 lead the Bullpen coughed up the margin – with the club also losing the next game to the eventual World Series winner.

It was a tough lesson to learn in the postseason – but it may be the 1st of many appearances in October in the near future.

The #1 task of acquiring a lock down Closer has been addressed in the recent trade for Ken Giles.  Yes it cost them Brett Oberholtzer, former #1 overall Draft Pick Mark Appel, and a few other prospects, but it also sets up the nucleus core for 4 – 5 more years.

The clubs offense featured 11 guys with double digit Homers in the lineup, and 2 others that fell just a dinger shy of the clip. Read the rest of this entry

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