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Los Angeles Angels

Phillies Should Forget Mike Trout; Pursue Bryce Harper Instead

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The Phillies are in desperate need of a superstar.  They need a draw, someone who can help them sell tickets and anchor their lineup for the foreseeable future.

Listening to local radio chatter and reading fan message boards it is clear there is only one player who fits that profile—Millville, NJ’s own Mike Trout.


Mike Trout patrolling centerfield in Citizens Bank Park wearing a Phillies uniform would be a dream come true for many fans and locals.  There is an added appeal to having the game’s best player in your lineup when he grew up in your backyard, a Phillies fan all his life, and was actually at the ballpark—tailgating, in the parking lot—the night the team clinched its most recent World Championship.

Could the Phillies have draftedMike Trout?

Possibly, but not likely.  Due to the free agent signing of Raul Ibanez their first pick in the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft—27th overall—went to Seattle, but Trout was selected two spots earlier anyway.

However, what if the Phillies had had their own pick, wanted Trout, and offered him substantially more money than Anaheim would have been willing to invest?  Could that have brought Trout to Philadelphia?  (A similar situation happened with A.J. Pollock in the same draft, when Boston was interested a few spots before Arizona but wouldn’t commit the $1.7M he eventually got as the 17th overall pick.)

Even if the Phillies liked Trout back then, and had their own pick, it’s unlikely they would have stepped up to get him.  For all the money they spend, and have shown a willingness to spend, on their major league payroll, the Phillies do not seem inclined to invest much of if on amateur talent.

They will easily fork over $10M+ for a washed up, position-less Howie Kendrick, but won’t get involved in bidding for Cuban sensation Luis Robert. 

In any case Mike Trout is not a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, and he likely never will be.  At this point in time that’s probably a good thing, too.  Waiting until he’s a free agent (3+ years) and then outbidding the rest of baseball for his services is foolish.

The Phillies’ rebuilding plan hopefully puts them in contention long before the 2021 season—Trout’s first in a new contract.  More importantly, though, would be that by then Mike Trout will be 29 years old and have already played the best baseball he ever will.

In the post-PED era players simply do not get better in their thirties than they were in their twenties.  Trout is on his way to being one of the best players to ever play the game, but he could also easily become his teammate, Albert Pujols…a player who gives his Hall of Fame-production to one club, then cash’s the reward checks with another.

The Phillies would be wise to not be that team. 

The Phillies could trade for Trout, but Anaheim has shown zero willingness to part with him.  Even if they did,the Phillies do not have the pieces.  While their farm system has been greatly improved in recent seasons, they still lack that premier, impact prospect a package for Trout would be centered around.

The Phillies could gut their entire farm system for Trout, offering every young player they have, and it still likely wouldn’t be better than what some teams could offer.

If the Angels ever do decide to shop Trout, the matchup with the Yankees makes way too much sense.  A historic franchise with a longterm need in centerfield, a farm system rich with front-line prospect, and an organization that has always prided itself on employing the game’s best and most dramatic players. 

Who better to be the next great Yankee than the one who has been compared to Mickey Mantle since stepping foot in the league?

If Trout does end up in the Bronx—and even if he doesn’t—the Phillies should target Bryce Harper instead.  He may not be the lovable, local player Trout is, but he’s easier to obtain (requiring only money, of which the Phillies have plenty), and his skillset would play fantastically at Citizens Bank Park. 

The Phillies have dropped every hint that they intend to spend big on free agents soon.  Why not start with the biggest, signing a 26 year old Harper to a mega deal that transforms the National League East for the next decade?

Hey all, what's up? My name's Tom. I'm a New Hampshire transplant from Philadelphia, which makes me a die-hard Philly sports fan...Phillies & Eagles mostly. I love debating about sports, and there's nothing better than a good argument...especially when I'm right!

Detroit Tigers

Outlook On Justin Upton To The Angels

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Never say never. The trade deadline may have passed a month ago, but seeing that there are nearly 1,500 exceptions to everything the MLB does, the time to trade is now.

The Detroit Tigers traded outfielder Justin Upton to the Los Angeles Angels for No. 9 prospect starting pitcher Grayson Long along with a player to be named later or cash. The Tigers are in total rebuilding mode, as Upton is the fourth veteran the Tigers have traded this season. The Angels will look to use Upton’s big bat and speed to stay in the Wild Card race, where they are currently 1.5 games behind the Minnesota Twins.

Here are some pros and cons along with an outlook of this trade for each team.

Pros

The Angels are rolling the dice with this one, but it’s all necessary to compete for a playoff spot. Upton’s having an excellent year with a .279 average and .362 on-base percentage with 28 home runs, 94 RBI’s and 10 stolen bases. The Angels figure to find room in the outfield for him by releasing former Tiger Cameron Maybin to Houston.

Ideally, Upton would hit third or fourth in the Angels batting order. He’s got impressive power and defense ability complemented by a humble persona. He’s been the most clutch hitter in a Tigers’ uniform this season. If the Angels were looking to acquire a key piece to their playoff puzzle after the July 31 trade deadline, this is just about as ideal as it will ever get.

For the Tigers, getting rid of Upton’s massive contract is a gem in itself. But they also got a solid prospect in Long. He’s a big guy at 6’5.” He’s in his second year in the minors, where he’s posting a 2.69 ERA in High-A and Double-A. Tigers GM Avila is confident that Long can be a future MLB starter at least in the back end of the rotation.

Adding a pitching prospect is a big victory for any club. Guys like Long are often too valuable to be traded. This makes Detroit’s end of the deal that much more impressive.

Cons

Trading for Justin Upton comes at a price. That price is $88.5 million through 2021. Upton also has on opt-out clause of his contract after this season, meaning he has the option to abandon his contract and become a free agent after the conclusion of the 2017 season.

This could be a lose-lose situation for LA. If Upton leaves after this year, then LA just gave up one of their top prospects for a month-long rental who may or many not even make a difference. If Upton stays, LA is forced to acquire his mega contract on top of the huge contracts of Albert Pujols and Mike Trout, who already make up about a quarter of LA’s entire payroll.

For Detroit, there is always the question of will Long pan out in the majors. Time will only tell how he’ll work out, but it is worth noting that he only has three good pitches as of now—fastball, slider and changeup.

Outlook

This trade just came out of nowhere. Only rarely do high profile players get traded this late in the season. In this regard, LA certainly found the piece they desperately needed to complete their wild card puzzle

But if LA still misses the playoffs and J-Up opts-out, the Angels lose in every possible way. Even if Upton decides to stay, this still may or may not work in their favor long-term. LA is betting on Upton propelling them to the postseason. If it works, they look like geniuses. If not, they look like morons.

Detroit needed to rebuild in every way they could, and this helps big-time. They already traded JD Martinez, Justin Wilson and Alex Avila this season, but Upton’s deal finally addresses Detroit’s far-too-colossal payroll.

Granted, Upton said he probably would have used his opt-out if not traded, thus redeeming the Tigers of his contract in any situation. But this way, Detroit got a pitcher in return.

The outlook on LA’s gamble for Upton will be decided by their ability to make and succeed in the postseason, followed by Upton’s decision to either stay or opt out of LA.

The outlook on Detroit’s side of the deal is greeted almost completely with positivity. Upton has no use in rebuilding Detroit. By trading him they saved money and received a pitching prospect. It doesn’t get much better than that.

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Detroit Tigers

Angeles Bolster Outfield By Acquiring Justin Upton From The Tigers

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As they continue to make a push for one of the two wild-card sports in the American League, the Los Angeles Angels improved their outfield on Thursday by acquiring Justin Upton from the Detroit Tigers.

Upton, 30, was traded to the Angels in exchange for minor league right-handed pitcher Grayson Long and a player to be named later or cash considerations. The team’s official Twitter account confirmed the trade on Thursday afternoon.

Upton will now join a team that is currently chasing the Minnesota Twins for the second wild-card spot in the American League. The Angels trail the Twins by 1.5 games.

This season, Upton is batting .279 with 28 home runs and 94 RBIs. He is third in the AL in RBIs. Upton will definitely be a solid addition to an Angels outfield that already has Mike Trout.

With the August 31 waiver trade deadline looming, Angels general manager Billy Eppler knew that he was going to have to make a move soon. After this date, teams cannot complete a waiver trade and still have the players involved be eligible for the playoffs. Because the trade with the Tigers was completed on Thursday, Upton will be available to play for the Angels in the playoffs if they do make it.

From the Tigers perspective, this trade represents another step in the rebuilding process. By trading Upton, they will save a lot of money. Prior to the 2016 season, Detroit signed Upton to a six-year, $132.75 million contract. He still has four years left on that deal, and will be owed $88 million over the course of that span. However, he can opt-out of the contract after this season and pursue free agency. If this happens, then the Angels will not owe Upton anything past this year if they do not choose to re-sign him.

Upton will now be inserted into a lineup that already includes Trout, Albert Pujols and Andrelton Simmons. With this kind of offensive talent, there is no reason to believe that the Angels cannot make the playoffs.

The Angels outfield underwent another change on Thursday, as  Cameron Maybin was claimed off of waivers by the Houston Astros. Maybin is the American League co-leader in stolen bases. Because they now have Upton, this move does not really impact the Angels that much.

Along with Trout, Upton will try and help get the Angels into the playoffs for the first time since 2014. It will be interesting to see if the team can play well enough in September to accomplish this.

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Los Angeles Angels

Angels Starter Andrew Heaney Will Return To The Mound On Friday

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The Los Angeles Angels are trying to secure one of the two Wild Card spots in the American League, and their starting rotation is about to get a nice boost.

Angels starting pitcher Andrew Heaney is expected to make his return to the rotation on Friday when his team visits the Baltimore Orioles. Heaney, 26, has not made a Major League start since April of 2016.

Heaney tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow during his first start of the season in 2016. The Angels initially decided to give him a platelet rich plasma injection in his left elbow, and then placed him on the disabled list. Things did not really improve after six weeks, so Heaney had Tommy John Surgery on July 1.

Considering the fact that he underwent Tommy John surgery just over 13 months ago, Heaney recovered relatively quickly. Now that he is healthy, he will have the opportunity to help the Angels as they make their playoff push.

Going into the 2017 season, it was clear that one of the Angels’ biggest weaknesses was their starting rotation. Ricky Nolasco is considered their No. 1 starter, and he has not exactly pitched like an ace. In 25 starts, Nolasco is 6-12 with a 5.16 ERA. Young right-hander Tyler Skaggs has pitched well since returning from the DL on August 5. On the season, Skaggs is 1-3 with an ERA of 3.63 in eight starts.

Despite not having a true ace this season, the Angels starting rotation has not been as bad as expected. Their starting pitchers have a combined ERA of 4.32, which is sixth-best in the AL. So far, the Angels have been able to survive with what they have. If all goes well, Heaney can now step in and be the top-of-the-rotation guy that they have been lacking.

Heaney has shown a a lot of promise in his brief MLB career. Originally drafted by the Miami Marlins in the first round of the 2012 MLB Draft, he was traded to the Dodgers in December of 2014 as part of the blockbuster deal that sent Dee Gordon to the Marlins. Just hours after being dealt to the Dodgers, he was traded to the Angels for Howie Kendrick.

The Angels called Heaney up in June of 2015. He proved that he was ready to be a Major League starting pitcher, going 6-4 with a 3.49 ERA in 18 starts. Had he been healthy these past two seasons, Heaney probably would have been one of the top starters in the Angels rotation.

As the postseason draws nearer, the Angels are going to need their players to keep performing like they have in order to hold onto a Wild Card spot in the AL. Their offense, led by Mike Trout, is in good shape. With Heaney about to return to the rotation, their pitching staff now has the chance to improve before the season ends.

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