Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles Angels’

Even Shohei Ohtani can see how much he’s improved as a player.

The two-way superstar is pushing hard to repeat as American League MVP, battling neck and neck with New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge. The competition is especially stiff this time around, but Ohtani is feeling much better about his performance in 2022 compared to last year.

“I don’t like to self-critique myself in any way,” Ohtani said, according to Megan Garcia of MLB.com, after surrendering three hits over seven shutout innings against the Seattle Mariners on Saturday. “One thing I could say is, overall, balance-wise, I’m having a better season this year than I had last year.”

Ohtani’s 2021 breakout with the Los Angeles Angels centered around his explosive offensive performance, which included a .965 OPS, 46 homers, and 26 stolen bases. This season’s numbers are down slightly but remain elite, as he ranks top 10 in homers (34), runs (82), slugging (.536), OPS (.891), triples (six), and total bases (278).

It’s on the mound where he’s truly making jaws drop, having emerged as a bona fide AL Cy Young candidate. Now that he’s officially qualified for league leaderboards, Ohtani leads the majors in strikeouts per nine while also sitting sixth in strikeouts, third in FIP, and fifth in both ERA and WAR.

Ohtani’s last 2 pitching seasons

YEARIPERAFIPWHIPK/9WAR (AS P)
2021130.13.183.521.0910.83.0
2022148.02.432.441.0411.95.0

Ohtani’s pitched shutout baseball in seven of his 16 starts since June 9 and allowed three or more earned runs just twice during that span. He’s even found company with some elite pitchers, most notably during a historic four-start stretch in early July. On the two-way front, he’ll soon become the first player since 1900 to make 600 plate appearances and face 600 batters in one season, according to Sarah Langs of MLB.com, likely by the end of his next start.

Unfortunately for Ohtani, Judge’s push for 60 homers may render his chances of repeating as MVP moot. Even if Judge gets there, it won’t be an easy choice for voters, although those around Ohtani in Anaheim may disagree.

“I don’t take this for granted at all,” Angels interim manager Phil Nevin said of Ohtani. “We’re all seeing things that we haven’t seen before; to be that dominant on both sides. I’ve said it before, he’s the most valuable player of our game right now and until somebody can come in and do the things he does on both sides, I don’t see it going any other way.”

Though Yankees manager Aaron Boone admitted the MVP choice is a difficult one, he unsurprisingly responded to Ohtani’s pronouncement by endorsing his own superstar.

“I think Shohei might be having a better year (than in 2021), but Judge is having one for the ages,” Boone said Sunday, according to Chris Kirschner of The Athletic.

Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno is looking into potentially selling his team, the 76-year-old businessman announced Tuesday.

The Angels retained Galatioto Sports Partners as a financial advisor to help with the process of exploring strategic alternatives.

“It has been a great honor and privilege to own the Angels for 20 seasons,” Moreno said. “As an organization, we have worked to provide our fans an affordable and family-friendly ballpark experience while fielding competitive lineups, which included some of the game’s all-time great players.

“Although this difficult decision was entirely our choice and deserved a great deal of thoughtful consideration, my family and I have ultimately come to the conclusion that now is the time. Throughout this process, we will continue to run the franchise in the best interest of our fans, employees, players, and business partners.”

Los Angeles only made the playoffs six times since Moreno took over in 2003. The last time the Angels competed in the postseason was in 2014.

The club has struggled in recent years despite fielding superstars such as Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. Moreno was also responsible for signing Trout to a 12-year, $430-million extension in March 2019, Anthony Rendon to a seven-year, $245-million contract in December 2019, and Josh Hamilton to a five-year, $125-million pact in December 2012.

The Philadelphia Phillies are acquiring outfielder Brandon Marsh from the Los Angeles Angels for catching prospect Logan O’Hoppe, the clubs announced Thursday.

Marsh will finally shore up the Phillies’ center field, which has been their weakness for some time. The 24-year-old has split time between left and center in L.A. this year, tallying seven defensive runs saved in the corner spot and minus-four DRS in center.

Now in his second big-league season, Marsh is a lifetime .239/.299/.354 hitter with 10 homers and 56 RBIs across 163 games with the Halos.

Baseball America ranked O’Hoppe as the Phillies’ No. 3 prospect and top position player prospect in their organization. The 22-year-old owns a .269/.385/.492 slash line with 15 homers, 45 RBIs, and six stolen bases across 74 games this season at Double-A Reading.

In addition to acquiring Marsh, Philadelphia is designating outfielder Odubel Herrera for assignment, The Athletic’s Matt Gelb reports. The 30-year-old has disappointed as the Phillies’ primary center fielder this year, hitting .238/.279/.378 with five homers and 21 RBIs in 62 games.

The Phillies are also designating reliever Jeurys Familia for assignment, according to FanSided’s Robert Murray. The 32-year-old has struggled in his first season in Philadelphia, posting a 6.09 ERA with 33 strikeouts in 34 innings in 2022.

The Atlanta Braves bolstered their bullpen in a big way, acquiring reliever Raisel Iglesias from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for veteran right-hander Jesse Chavez and left-hander Tucker Davidson, the teams announced.

Iglesias adds even more firepower to a stacked Braves bullpen that already includes Kenley JansenCollin McHugh, and A.J. Minter. He also replaces Will Smith, who was dealt to Houston on Monday.

The 32-year-old has saved 16 games for the Angels this season while tallying a 3.17 FIP, 1.07 WHIP, and 48 strikeouts to just nine walks. While his 4.09 ERA is his highest since 2019, he’s one year removed from a stellar campaign that saw him strike out 103 batters and receive down-ballot Cy Young votes.

L.A. re-signed Iglesias to a four-year, $58-million contract last offseason. He’ll earn $16 million in each of the next three seasons.

Chavez joins his third team of the season after having started 2022 with the Chicago Cubs before being traded to Atlanta. The 38-year-old, who was part of the Braves’ 2021 championship club, posted a 2.11 ERA and 2.54 FIP with 47 strikeouts in 31 outings for Atlanta. He previously pitched for the Angels in 2017.

Davidson, 26, owns a 5.11 ERA with 30 strikeouts and 25 walks across parts of three big-league seasons. He’s spent most of 2022 at Triple-A Gwinnett.

The Los Angeles Angels traded right-handed starter Noah Syndergaard to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for former first overall pick Mickey Moniak and outfield prospect Jadiel Sanchez, the teams announced.

The Toronto Blue Jays were considered the other finalist to land Syndergaard ahead of the 6 p.m. ET trade deadline, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network.

In his first action back from Tommy John surgery, Syndergaard is authoring a 3.83 ERA and 3.96 FIP, though with a steep dip in velocity and strikeouts. The former All-Star agreed to a one-year, $21-million contract with the Angels this past winter after signing a qualifying offer with the Mets.

Syndergaard joins the best starting rotation in the National League by FanGraphs WAR, currently led by Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler.

The Phillies, sitting third in the NL East, occupy the final NL wild-card spot at 55-47. They are 10 games back of the first-place New York Mets and six and a half behind the Atlanta Braves.

Moniak, 24, was surprisingly taken with the Phillies’ top selection at the 2016 MLB Draft. The outfielder has struggled with his development since, making his major-league debut in 2020 and hitting .129/.214/.172 with one homer in 47 games over parts of three seasons.

Sanchez, 21, is currently on the seven-day minor-league injured list. The outfielder has hit .239/.289/.437 with six homers and two stolen bases over two minor-league levels this year.

Shohei Ohtani might not be untouchable.

The Los Angeles Angels are listening to offers for the reigning American League MVP, Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. Though a blockbuster trade still appears unlikely to happen before Tuesday’s deadline, the Angels are fielding offers on all of their players and aren’t outright saying no to teams calling about Ohtani, according to Heyman and Sherman.

While Ohtani’s continued to dominate the majors with his unparalleled two-way success, the Angels haven’t been able to take advantage of his brilliance. Los Angeles, heading toward missing the playoffs for an eighth straight season, currently sits fourth in the AL West. The team’s promising start was upended by a 14-game losing streak in May that cost manager Joe Maddon his job, and their other superstar, Mike Trout, is out indefinitely with a back issue.

Ohtani is continuing to produce through all the chaos. As a designated hitter he sports a .256/.350/.489 slash line with 21 homers, 59 RBIs, and 11 stolen bases across 96 games. On the mound, he’s been even more dominant, coming into Friday’s start with a 2.80 ERA, 2.42 FIP, 1.00 WHIP, and 134 strikeouts across his first 93 1/3 innings.

Ohtani was at it again Thursday, striking out 11 Rangers for his sixth double-digit strikeout start this year, one shy of the Angels’ single-season record. Despite his brilliance, the Halos lost to Texas 2-0.

The 28-year-old, who has only one year of arbitration remaining before free agency, addressed the rumors following his start.

“Regardless of where I’m playing, I want to give it my all, try to win the ballgame that’s right in front of me,” Ohtani said, according to Sam Blum of The Athletic. “I’m with the Angels right now. And I’m very thankful for what they’ve done. I really love the team. I love my teammates. Right now I’m an Angel, and that’s all I can really focus on right now.”

Other Angels who could potentially be traded before the deadline include relievers Ryan Tepera and Aaron Loup, plus former All-Star starter Noah Syndergaard.

Los Angeles Angels All-Star outfielder Mike Trout is dealing with a rare condition in his back, making a timetable for his return to the lineup unclear, Angels trainer Mike Frostad said Wednesday, according to The Athletic’s Sam Blum.

Trout, who’s dealing with a condition called costovertebral dysfunction at T5, has been on the injured list since July 18 with back spasms.

“This is a pretty rare condition that he has right now in his back,” Frostad said. “The doctor (Robert Watkins), who is one of the most well-known spine surgeons in the country, if not the world, doesn’t see a lot of these.”

However, the three-time AL MVP brushed off concerns when he spoke to the media Wednesday.

“I appreciate all the prayer requests but my career ain’t over,” Trout said, according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. “I’m not worried about it. It’s one of those things. You play and swing a lot and things pop up. I was playing through it for a while and it was one of those things where it was time to figure it out. We figured it out, and it’s going in the right direction.”

The 30-year-old added that he believes he will play again this season.

Trout has rib-cage inflammation that is causing the back pain, and Frostad admits there’s some worry that the condition could sideline Trout long term.

“I think we have to have some concern on that,” Frostad said, according to Blum. “… He’s a little more upbeat today. And I think he’s starting to feel like he’s getting the benefits.”

Trout recently received a cortisone shot that could take two weeks to work. He has not begun baseball activities, but he has started a core-stability program and cardio work, Blum reports.

Frostad also acknowledged that Trout will likely have to manage the condition for however long he continues to play.

“But long term, we do have to look at this as something that he has to manage, not just through the rest of this season, but also through the rest of his career probably.”

Despite the Angels’ slide down the standings, Frostad wasn’t willing to make any proclamations when asked if Trout might be done for the campaign.

“We hope not. I don’t think we’re at that point where we’re going to make that decision.”

Los Angeles Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon will undergo season-ending surgery on his right wrist next week, the team announced Friday.

The 32-year-old hasn’t played since June 14. He was removed from a contest against the Los Angeles Dodgers after aggravating his wrist during a swing.

Angels head trainer Mike Frostad said Rendon has a subluxed tendon in his right wrist, which he attempted to play through, according to MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger. The injury is expected to sideline Rendon for four-to-six months.

Rendon hasn’t appeared in more than 60 games in any of his three seasons with the Angels, although the 2020 campaign was shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He inked a seven-year, $245-million contract with the team ahead of the 2020 season. The Texas native has produced a .252/.359/.421 slash line with 20 home runs and 89 RBIs since signing with the Angels.

He still has four years and $154 million left on his deal.

The Los Angeles Angels relieved manager Joe Maddon of his duties Tuesday and named Phil Nevin his interim replacement.

Los Angeles has lost 12 straight games to fall out of the American League’s playoff picture.

Despite the rough results, Maddon said he was surprised by the dismissal.

“A little bit. Actually, a lot. You always rely on people in charge to read the tea leaves properly,” Maddon told The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. “This time, they did not. You didn’t even have to ask me. You can ask any of the players or coaches. They’re the ones who really know.”

He added that he hopes to continue his managerial career.

Angels general manager Perry Minassian said the club’s struggles over the past few weeks made it clear the team needed a change.

“It’s something I thought would never happen three weeks ago … I love Joe Maddon. I love the person, and I love the conversations,” Minassian said, according to The Athletic’s Sam Blum. “Waking up today, I felt like it was the right decision.”

Minassian added that Nevin will manage for the remainder of the season, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.

After Monday’s 1-0 loss at home to the Boston Red Sox, frustrations appeared to boil over for Maddon when he had a testy exchange with a reporter about the team’s competitiveness.

Maddon chalked up Los Angeles’ skid to a combination of factors bubbling up to the surface at the same time.

“Look at the teams (opponents). We’ve got guys hurt. The bullpen had a really hard time. And we just stopped hitting,” Maddon said. “It’s just one of those things that became contagious. It wasn’t an issue of camaraderie or lack of leadership. It was a calamity that occurred all at one time.”

The 68-year-old was in the final season of a three-year deal inked in 2020. Maddon finishes his Angels tenure with a 130-148 record and never led the club to a winning record or postseason berth.

Nevin, 51, was in his first season as the Angels’ third base coach. He has also spent time coaching with the San Francisco Giants and New York Yankees after a successful 12-year playing career.

 Baseball had seen nothing like Shohei Ohtani’s unanimous AL MVP season in over a century.

With the new season arriving quickly for his Los Angeles Angels, Ohtani is eager to make more history.

“I feel like I can’t be doing the same thing as last year, to have the same stats as last year,” Ohtani said Tuesday through his interpreter at the Angels’ spring training complex. “I need to get better and keep on improving, so that’s the plan.”

Ohtani’s stats were absolutely daunting in 2021: A 9-2 record with a 3.18 ERA and 156 strikeouts over 130 innings on the mound, and a .965 OPS with 46 homers and 100 RBIs at the plate.

Even after the most impressive two-way season since Babe Ruth’s heyday, Ohtani remains unsatisfied.

“Obviously, skills-wise, there’s room for improvement,” Ohtani said. “But physically, I already feel a lot stronger than last year, so I think we’re on a good start.”

Ohtani wants to do more in every area, and he’s hoping that production will translate into more team success for a franchise that hasn’t had a winning season since three years before he arrived stateside. He hasn’t made as many significant additions to his offseason training regimen as he did before last season, justifiably feeling that what he has been doing is still working well.

“Nothing is really going to change personally just for having one good year,” Ohtani said. “I feel like the key is to continue having success for a lot of years to come. As long as we can do that, I feel like our team is in a good spot.”

Angels manager Joe Maddon sees one particular area where Ohtani might be able to expand his game, even though he has zero complaints about last season.

“It’s hard to imagine he’s going to do more this year than he did last year,” Maddon said. “I’ll take a repeat performance, adding maybe several more innings as a pitcher. But he’s just a different animal. He’s a good man that happens to be a really good baseball player.”

Ohtani made 23 starts last season in the Angels’ six-man rotation, and that number isn’t likely to rise by more than a couple of starts. Los Angeles bolstered its starting rotation in the offseason with the additions of Noah Syndergaard and Michael Lorenzen, but the Angels are still counting on Ohtani to excel on the mound.

Ohtani hopes to improve his control this year, particularly early in the season. He seems likely to be the Angels’ opening day starter on the mound April 7, although Maddon won’t confirm it yet.

“There is a part of me that would like to start opening day, but it’s not what I’m really thinking about,” Ohtani said. “Whether I’m hitting or pitching on opening day, I just want to get off to a good start.”

Ohtani and interpreter Ippei Mizuhara met with Maddon on Tuesday morning to renew their connection. Maddon believes he has a good system in place with Ohtani and Mizuhara, and he intends to keep the same constant dialogue this season, paying particular attention to the health of Ohtani’s legs because any weakness could lead to overcompensation in other areas.

In fact, the biggest obstacle of Ohtani’s offseason might have arisen when baseball owners imposed their lockout: Mizuhara had to resign from his position as an Angels staff member or he wouldn’t have been able to stay in daily contact with Ohtani as a team employee.

Mizuhara, who grew up in Japan before attending high school and college in the Los Angeles area, has been Ohtani’s right-hand man since their days with the Nippon-Ham Fighters. The Angels immediately rehired Mizuhara after the lockout ended.

Ohtani’s long-term future with the Angels isn’t settled. He is under team control through next season, but he doesn’t sound interested in talking about potential contract extensions during the season.

“There’s a really good vibe in the clubhouse right now,” Ohtani said. “All the new guys seem like they’re really great guys. I’m excited to play with this team. … As long as we can all stay healthy, I feel like we have a really good shot at the postseason.”

If the Angels end their seven-year playoff drought, Ohtani is likely to be a big reason. There’s another way in which Ohtani is hoping to contribute even more: After several significant rule changes were included in the recent collective bargaining agreement, the Angels would love it if baseball figured out a rule alteration to allow Ohtani to stay in games as a designated hitter after he is pulled as a pitcher.

“I’m hoping it happens,” Maddon said. “And the American League West is hoping it does not, if I had to guess.”