By Ryan W. Krol (Founder)
The Los Angeles Angels have inked catcher Geovany Soto to a one-year contract for the 2016 season. The club announced the move today amidst a flurry of font office changes.
Soto, 32, has been a serviceable backstop (with pop) for the Cubs, Rangers, A’s, and White Sox. This past season his offensive numbers fell a bit, to a .219 batting average, and a .301 on-base percentage. However, his power remained, as he slugged .406 in 78 games.
The right-handed hitting (and throwing) Soto has a .246 / .331 / .434 slash line for his career. He also had a 30% caught stealing rate in 2015, and has a 27% rating for his career. Not bad.
The Angels have been in need of filling a hole at the catcher position to replenish production lost from a down year in ’15 by Chris Iannetta, as well as him walking via free agency and signing with the Seattle Mariners. This move also adds depth, as the Halos also have the young Carlos Perez to pair with Soto, as well as prospect Jett Bandy in AAA.
Soto will receive $2.8 million in 2016. So the signing puts the club at about $20 million below the luxury tax threshold, and provides a low-cost solution at the catcher position, giving them more money to pursue possibly more expensive options in other areas.
Angels announce pitching coach Mike Butcher and hitting coach Don Baylor will not return for 2016 season
Aaron Forstner/The Halos Network
ANAHEIM – New Angels General Manager Billy Eppler announced Tuesday that both pitching coach Mike Butcher and hitting coach Don Baylor will not be returning to the Angels dugout in 2016. While parting ways with Butcher is said to be “mutual”, Baylor’s contract is being allowed to expire and will not be renewed.
“Don’s career with the Angels is one that has embodied commitment, dedication and leadership,” Eppler said in a statement. “From his MVP season in 1979, subsequent induction into the Angels Hall of Fame, and eventual return as hitting coach, Don will always remain synonymous with Angels Baseball.”
This is not expected to have any impact on manager Mike Scioscia‘s decision to forego his opt-out clause and return to the Angels dugout in 2016, as he announced just after the Angels were eliminated from the postseason on October 5. The Angels are faced with many decisions once the World Series concludes. Outfielders David Murphy ($7M) and David DeJesus ($5M) have club options, and the Angels also have several players due to hit the free agent market including 3rd baseman David Freese, catcher Chris Iannetta, and others. It looks like they will now have to add a new pitching & hitting coach to their shopping list as well. Welcome to the big chair, Billy Eppler!
Angels walkoff again to win 6th straight, AL West race gets tighter
Aaron Forstner/The Halos Network
ANAHEIM – The Angels began their final home series of the 2015 season Monday night as they took on the Oakland Athletics in the first of a 3-game set. The matchup pitted Angel starter Hector Santiago against the A’s Felix Doubront in a matchup of southpaws. It was a back-and-forth battle all night long, but in the end the Angels prevailed on a walkoff single by David Murphy to win 5-4 and gain ground in the AL West.
The A’s struck first in the top of the first inning as Santiago’s control was a little erratic to start off the game. Billy Burns led off the game with a single, then Santiago hit Mark Canha with a pitch. After Brett Lawrie legged out a potential double play ball to put runners on 1st & 3rd with 1 out, Santiago issued a walk to Danny Valencia to load the bases. Billy Butler then hit a shallow fly into right-center that was caught by Mike Trout, but Billy Burns was indecisive about tagging on the flyout and the Angels had him caught in a rundown. Unfortunately however, first baseman C.J. Cron dropped the ball when attempting to make the tag and Burns was able to slide in for the score to give the A’s a 1-0 lead.
After a bit of a wild 1st inning, Hector Santiago was able to settle down and the score remained 1-0 until the bottom of the 3rd inning when the Angels broke through against Doubront. Chris Iannetta led off the inning with a walk, then Johnny Giavotella and Erick Aybar hit back-to-back doubles off Doubront to plate a pair and give the Angels a 2-1 lead.
It didn’t take long for the A’s to strike back as with 2 out and nobody on in the top of the 4th inning, A’s shortstop Marcus Semien got a hanging changeup from Santiago on a 1-2 pitch and drilled it into the A’s bullpen in left field to tie the game 2-2. It was Semien’s 14th home run of the season.
The Angels struck right back in the bottom of the 4th inning however as C.J. Cron led off the inning with a single and David Freese followed by working a walk. Shane Victorino then laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Freese & Cron up to 2nd & 3rd with just 1 out. That’s when Chris Iannetta hit a fly ball to medium center field, allowing Freese & Cron to tag on the play. Freese ended up being thrown out at 3rd to end the inning, but not before Cron was able to score to give the Angels a 3-2 lead.
After both teams failed to score in the 5th, the A’s once again broke through in the top of the 6th. Hector Santiago hit Brett Lawrie with a pitch to lead off the inning, then after a Danny Valencia flyout, Billy Butler hit a double to put runners on 2nd & 3rd with 1 out. That’s when Jake Smolinski lifted a fly ball out to right field that allowed Lawrie to score to tie the game at 3, and Butler to advance to 3rd base. That would end the night for Santiago as manager Mike Scioscia lifted him in favor of reliever Cory Rasmus. Rasmus then issued a walk to Marcus Semien and Scioscia then brought in reliever Jose Alvarez to face Craig Gentry. A’s manager Bob Melvin then countered by sending up pinch-hitter Coco Crisp. Crisp was able to bloop a single into right field to score Butler and give the A’s a 4-3 lead.
The Angels would again strike right back in the bottom of the 6th however, as with 1 out and nobody on, Albert Pujols got an 0-1 fastball right down the middle from Doubront and drilled it into the rock pile in left-center to re-tie the game at 4. It was Pujols’ 38th home run of the season and 558th of his career.
The score remained 4-4 through the 7th & 8th innings until the Angels came to bat in the bottom of the 9th against Oakland reliever Edward Mujica. C.J. Cron led off the inning with a single and was then lifted for pinch-runner Collin Cowgill. David Freese then reached on a throwing error by Mujica that allowed Cowgill & Freese to advance to 2nd & 3rd with nobody out. Mujica then intentionally walked Shane Victorino to load the bases. That set up a showdown between Mujica & Chris Iannetta with the bases loaded, but Mike Scioscia had other plans. He sent pinch-hitter David Murphy to hit for Iannetta, and Bob Melvin countered by going to his bullpen to bring in lefty Fernando Abad. Here’s what happened next:
Another walkoff!!! Murphy was able to slap a grounder through the A’s drawn-in infield to score Cowgill and give the Angels the 5-4 victory!!
It was yet another uplifting emotional win for the Angels in a week that has seen a few of them. In the end, Santiago ended up giving up 4 runs (3 earned) on just 3 hits over his 5 2/3 innings of work, and Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian and Trevor Gott all got key late outs to keep the score tied to set the stage in the 9th inning.
On the A’s side, Doubront ended up giving up 4 runs on 4 hits over 6 innings of work, and former Angel Fernando Rodriguez tossed a scoreless inning. Daniel Coulombe contributed a scoreless 1/3 inning, but Mujica ended up taking the loss as the 9th inning run was charged to him.
Houston, Minnesota win, Texas loses
With the win the Angels were able to keep pace with 2nd Wild Card leading Houston as the Astros defeated Seattle 3-2 Monday night, so the Angels are still a half-game behind Houston. The Twins were also able to keep pace and stay a game behind the Angels with their 4-2 victory over Cleveland. AL West leading Texas fell 7-4 to Detroit however, so the AL West race got a little tighter. The Astros move to 1.5 games behind Texas while the Angels find themselves just 2 back of the division lead with 6 to play – 4 of which are against Texas after this Oakland series concludes.
The Angels will continue the series with Oakland Tuesday night with the 2nd of the 3 games. The Angels will send Nick Tropeano (2-2, 4.35) to the mound in place of Matt Shoemaker (7-10, 4.46) as Shoemaker continues to deal with lingering forearm soreness. The A’s will counter with Chris Bassitt (1-7, 3.07). Tuesday’s game begins at 7:05pm PT.
Oakland Athletics (65-91, 5th AL West) @ Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (81-74, 3rd AL West)
Angel Stadium of Anaheim – Anaheim, CA
Weather Forecast @ 1st Pitch: Clear, 80F, Wind W 6mph (Out to RF) 6mph, 0% Chance of Rain
Felix Doubront (3-3, 5.53 ERA)
After failing to make the Cubs’ opening day roster out of spring training and signing a minor-league contract with Toronto in mid-April, Doubront did not make his season debut until July 3 with Toronto. He was then sent to Oakland for cash considerations on July 31 and has been pitching out of Oakland’s rotation since August 18. In 7 starts with Oakland Doubront has posted a 2-2 record and a 6.43 ERA as he’s been really up & down over that stretch. His last start was Wednesday against Texas and it wasn’t a good one. In that game Doubront gave up 7 runs on 8 hits in just 4 2/3 innings to take the loss in a game the A’s lost 10-3.
Hector Santiago (9-9, 3.47 ERA)
In what has been quite a whirlwind season for Santiago, he comes into tonight’s game looking for his 10th win of the season and will also be looking to build on the bounce-back performance he showed in his last start after having his worst outing of the year two starts ago. On September 17 in Minnesota, Santiago was rocked for 5 runs in just 2/3 of an inning in a game the Angels came back to win 11-8. Hector’s last start was much better however as he held the Astros to 2 runs on 4 hits over 5 innings on Tuesday to take the win in a game the Angels won 4-3.
- Oakland will send southpaw Felix Doubront to the mound for Monday’s series opener at The Big A. Doubront allowed four earned runs over six innings in a winning effort against the Angels on Aug. 31 but has been inconsistent since the A’s acquired him midseason. In seven starts with Oakland, Doubront is 2-2 with a 6.43 ERA and 33 walks vs. 16 strikeouts in 35 innings.
- The last time Angels lefty Hector Santiago squared off against Doubront and the A’s on Aug. 31, he didn’t make it out of the third inning en route to an 11-5 loss. But Santiago (9-9, 3.47) is on the verge of becoming a 10-game winner for the first time in his career while setting a season-low in ERA as a starter. He posted a 3.56 ERA in 34 appearances (23 starts) with the White Sox in 2013.
- The Angels will likely have to go the final week of the season without their top two arms at the back of the bullpen. Huston Street injured his groin Saturday and setup man Joe Smith has been out with an ankle injury since Sept. 17. On Sunday, right-hander Mike Morin retired Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano and Jesus Montero to pick up his first career save and preserve a 3-2 win against Seattle.
- CF-Billy Burns – .298
- 1B-Mark Canha – .254
- 2B-Brett Lawrie – .264
- 3B-Danny Valencia – .295
- DH-Billy Butler – .252
- LF-Jake Smolinski – .192
- SS-Marcus Semien – .256
- RF-Craig Gentry – .093
- C-Bryan Anderson – .000
- SS-Erick Aybar – .269
- RF-Kole Calhoun – .262
- CF-Mike Trout – .297
- DH-Albert Pujols – .237
- 1B-C.J. Cron – .266
- 3B-David Freese – .258
- LF-Shane Victorino – .226
- C-Chris Iannetta – .188
- 2B-Johnny Giavotella – .269
AL West Standings:
- Texas: 84-71
- Houston: 82-74 – 2.5 GB – E5
- Angels: 81-74 – 3 GB – E5
- Seattle: 74-82 – Eliminated
- Oakland: 65-91 – Eliminated
AL Wild Card Standings:
- East: Toronto – 90-65
- Central: Kansas City – 90-65 – AL Central Champions
- West: Texas – 84-71
- New York: 86-69 – +4.5 G
- Houston: 82-74
- Angels: 81-74 – 0.5 GB – E7
- Minnesota: 80-75 – 1.5 GB – E6
- Cleveland: 77-77 – 4 GB – E4
- Baltimore: 76-79 – 5.5 GB – E2
- Boston: 75-80 – 6.5 GB – E1
AL Contender Matchups:
- Boston @ New York – 4:05pm PT
- Toronto @ Baltimore – 4:10pm PT
- Minnesota @ Cleveland – 4:10pm PT
- Detroit @ Texas – 5:05pm PT
- Houston @ Seattle – 7:10pm PT
Angels hold off Astros, keep slim playoff hopes alive
Aaron Forstner/The Halos Network
HOUSTON – In what was a must-win game if the Angels were to maintain any realistic hope of catching the Astros in the chase for the 2nd Wild Card spot in the American League, a pair of first inning home runs by Mike Trout and Albert Pujols along with a solid effort from starter Hector Santiago and the Angel bullpen helped the Angels pull out a victory Tuesday night to keep those playoff hopes alive. Santiago pitched into the 6th inning and the bullpen was able to hold off a couple of late-inning rallies to give the Angels a 4-3 victory.
The Angels opened up the scoring in the top of the 1st inning when after Erick Aybar led off the inning with a single, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols hit back-to-back home runs to give the Angels a 3-0 lead. For Trout, it was his 40th home run of the season marking the first time in his career he’s reached the 40-home run plateu, and the first time an Angel has hit 40 home runs since Troy Glaus hit 41 in 2001. It was also Trout’s 138th career home run, the most ever by a center fielder through his age 23 season. For Pujols, it was his 36th of the season and 556th of his career, moving him past Manny Ramirez into sole possession of 14th on the all-time home run leaderboard.
The Astros struck back in the bottom of the 2nd inning when Marwin Gonzalez and Chris Carter connected on back-to-back home runs of their own. Both were solo shots and the pair of home runs cut the Angel lead to 3-2. It was Gonzalez’s 11th home run of the season, and Carter’s 20th home run of the season.
After all of the home runs over the first two innings, things settled down through the middle innings. Astros’ starter Lance McCullers settled down and allowed just 1 more hit after the 1st inning home runs, and Hector Santiago also settled down and kept the Astros off the board in the 3rd, 4th & 5th innings. Things then got a bit interesting for Santiago in the bottom of the 6th inning as after issuing a leadoff walk to Marwin Gonzalez, Angel manager Mike Scioscia came out of the dugout to take Santiago out of the game. On his way off the field, rather than heading toward the dugout Santiago got into a heated exchange with home plate umpire Chris Conroy, presumably over ball & strike calls. At the end of the exchange Santiago was ejected from the game even though he’d already been pulled by Scioscia. Angel reliever Fernando Salas was able to come in and complete the 6th inning without allowing any runs.
After both teams failed to score in the 7th, the score remained 3-2 heading to the 8th. In the top of the 8th inning after a leadoff double by Chris Iannetta, a single by David DeJesus, and a sac bunt by Erick Aybar put runners on 2nd & 3rd, Kole Calhoun flared a single into left field to score Iannetta and extend the Angel lead to 4-2. That would be all the Angels would get in the inning however and the game moved to the bottom of the 8th with the score still 4-2 Angels. That’s when Jed Lowrie led off the inning with a single and was eventually moved over to 3rd on a pair of groundouts. At that point, Angel closer Huston Street was brought in to get the 4-out save, and with Luis Valbuena batting Street unleashed a wild pitch that allowed Lowrie to score to cut the Angel lead to 4-3. That would conclude the scoring for both teams on the evening as Street would go on to intentionally walk Valbuena, strike out Jake Marisnick to end the 8th, and post a scoreless 9th inning to end the game.
Overall, Angel starter Hector Santiago was a bit wild, but managed to pitch out of jams over his 5+ innnigs of work He was charged with 2 runs on 4 hits, but walked 5. Angel relievers Fernando Salas, Trevor Gott, Jose Alvarez and Huston Street posted a combined 4 innings of 1-run ball with Street notching his 39th save of the season. Houston starter Lance McCullers ended up giving up 3 runs on 4 hits over his 7 innings of work, and Houston relievers Chad Qualls, Joe Thatcher, Pat Neshek, and Will Harris combined to post 2 innings of 1-run ball in the losing effort.
Angels keep playoff hopes alive
With the victory the Angels pulled back to 2.5 games behind the Astros for the 2nd and final AL Wild Card spot. With only 11 games left on the schedule and only one more against Houston this season, the Angels are certainly in must-win mode from here on out if they are to have any hope of catching the Astros to snag a playoff spot. Minnesota and Texas both won as well on Tuesday, so the Angels remain 0.5 games behind Minnesota in the Wild Card standings, and 4.5 games behind Texas in the AL West.
The Angels will resume their series in Houston on Wednesday with the rubber match beginning at 11:10am Pacific Time. It’s another must-win for the Angels as they can ill afford to fall 3.5 games behind Houston in the Wild Card chase. With a victory they can pull to within 1.5 games and keep their playoff hopes alive. They will hand the ball to Nick Tropeano (2-2, 5.06) as due to Saturday’s doubleheader the Angels need to use a 6th starter even though Matt Shoemaker made his return Sunday. The Astros will counter with Mike Fiers (7-10, 3.64) who has gone 2-1 with a 3.06 ERA (including a no-hitter) with Houston since being acquired from Milwaukee in a July 30 trade.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (74-72, 3rd AL West) @ Minnesota Twins (75-71, 2nd AL Central)
Target Field – Minneapolis, MN
Weather Forecast @ 1st Pitch: Partly Cloudy, 66F, Winds SW 6mph, 0% Chance of Rain
Garrett Richards (13-11, 3.81 ERA)
Richards had been pitching quite well through the months of August and September other than that bump in the road against Toronto where, let’s face it, none of the Angel pitchers fared very well in that series. From August 8 through September 9 Richards posted 6 quality starts out of 7, with the Toronto game being the outlier. Richards didn’t fare so well his last time out Monday in Seattle however, as he struggled with his command and gave up 4 runs on 5 hits and 4 walks while throwing 100 pitches in just 5 innings. It was an ugly game overall for the Angels as Richards suffered his 11th loss of the season and the Angels went down by the final score of 10-1.
Mike Pelfrey (6-9, 4.09 ERA)
Pelfrey has certainly had his ups & downs so far this season, but has pitched effectively overall for the Twins. In a 3-start stretch before his last start he had a bit of a rough patch where he went 0-2 with a 10.22 ERA over that span. That rough patch came on the heels of a 6-start stretch in which he posted a 2.55 ERA. Pelfrey’s last start was 10 days ago in Kansas City. In that game he held the Royals to 1 run on 5 hits over 5 1/3 innings, but ended up with a no-decision as the Twins eventually won the game 3-2, but not until after he left the game.
- Pelfrey will be working on extra rest on Saturday having not started since Sept. 9 against the Royals. He took a no-decision in that game, giving up one run in 5 1/3 innings.
- Minnesota manager Paul Molitor made a late change to his rotation following Friday’s rainout. He originally said Pelfrey would start the first game but later switched Pelfrey to the later start. Molitor was unavailable to explain the switch, but the pitchers’ splits might tell the story. Gibson owns a 3.58 ERA in day games this season as opposed to a 3.80 mark at night. Pelfrey’s numbers show a more dramatic difference. Pelfrey owns a 3.97 ERA at night compared to 4.37 during the day.
- Los Angeles’ two big bats, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, will try to break some tough luck against Pelfrey. Pujols has hit just .235 in 17 career at-bats against Pelfrey and hasn’t homered against the big right-hander. Trout hasn’t faced Pelfrey as much, but has been held to just one hit in seven at-bats for a .143 average.
- SS-Erick Aybar – .266
- RF-Kole Calhoun – .261
- CF-Mike Trout – .292
- DH-Albert Pujols – .238
- LF-David Murphy – .287
- 3B-David Freese – .258
- C-Chris Iannetta – .185
- 1B-Efren Navarro – .256
- 2B-Taylor Featherston – .173
- 2B-Brian Dozier – .237
- 1B-Joe Mauer – .267
- DH-Miguel Sano – .279
- 3B-Trevor Plouffe – .250
- RF-Torii Hunter – .244
- LF-Eddie Rosario – .271
- SS-Eduardo Nunez – .269
- C-Chris Herrmann – .153
- SS-Byron Buxton – .200
AL West Standings:
- Texas: 79-68
- Houston: 77-71 – 2.5 GB – E13
- Angels: 75-72 – 4 GB – E12
- Seattle: 72-76 – 7.5 GB – E8
- Oakland: 64-84 – Eliminated
AL Wild Card Standings:
- East: Toronto – 85-62
- Central: Kansas City – 86-61
- West: Texas – 79-68
- New York: 81-66 – +4.5 G
- Houston: 77-71
- Angels: 75-72 – 1.5 GB – E14
- Minnesota: 75-72 – 1.5 GB – E14
- Cleveland: 73-73 – 3 GB – E13
- Baltimore: 72-75 – 4.5 GB – E11
- Seattle: 72-76 – 5 GB – E10
- Tampa Bay: 71-76 – 5.5 GB – E10
- Boston: 69-77 – 7 GB – E9
- Chicago: 69-77 – 7 GB – E9
- Detroit: 68-78 – 8 GB – E8
- Oakland: 64-84 – 13 GB – E2
AL Contender Matchups:
- N.Y. Yankees 5, N.Y. Mets 0 – F
- Boston @ Toronto – 1:07pm Pacific
- Kansas City @ Detroit – 4:08pm Pacific
- Oakland @ Houston – 4:10pm Pacific
- Seattle @ Texas – 5:05pm Pacific
The pennant races are getting red hot! The Angels are still within striking distance of a playoff spot. The club had a successful homestand, considered their most important of the season. And we have more information from Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register in the Angels Weekly Podcast, and right here in our newest weekly running post of ‘Fletch’s Reports’!
- Turns out that Kole Calhoun has quietly thrust himself into an elite right fielder.