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We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2013 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2013 Angels Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Garrett Wilson from Monkey With A Halo.

1) There’s nothing bad we can say about Mike Trout.  Not one darn thing.  We’ve even gone to the streets for interviews (<— Complete lie) to see if anyone can find something wrong with this kid and the answer comes back ‘he’s perfect’.  So perfect, he’s being drafted in the first round of most mock drafts and is ranked 4th overall by Razzball for 2013 fantasy baseball rankings.  The question is, can we reasonably expect another near 30/50 season and .300 average or are we setting ourselves up for disappointment with a repeat in mind?

Can you really ever expect a .300/30 HR/ 50 SB season out of anyone?  Those numbers are absurd for even Superman (who Trout might actually be).  There has been a lot of chatter about Trout having something of a sophomore slump this season, by which they mean he’ll put up numbers more befitting of a mortal, but I’m not so sure.  I think people still just can’t get their heads around him being so good so soon.  I get that he faded a bit down the stretch last season, but I think he will also have an opportunity to pad his numbers over 2012 because he won’t be in the minors for the first month of the season.  I think he should be able to approach all of those numbers, but if I had to bet against one, it is the homers if only because that seems to be the least developed of his many offensive skills right now.

2) The Angels yet again landed the biggest bat in the free agent market this winter when they grabbed Josh Hamilton for a 5 year, $125 million dollar contract.  However, despite hitting a career high 43 home runs last year, his strikeout rate of 25.5% was also his career high.  Is there any concern for a declining ability to make contact or was he simply pressing to earn a big contract?  What are your expectations for him in 2013?

What?  Hamilton had contact issues down the stretch?!?!!  Why have I not heard about this before?!?!?!!?  I mean, it is not like I’ve been obsessing over those numbers ever since the Angels signed him or anything.  On one level, the way he finished last season has me deeply concerned, but at the same time, I have brainwashed myself into believing that his slump might have been tied to off-field issues like his supposed problems with quitting chewing tobacco.  No longer being the focal point of the offense could do him some good and give him a little less to focus on mentally.  I still think that a decline is coming this season, if only because of the change in ballparks, but hopefully not a huge one.

3) The Angels picked up fantasy pitching enigma Tommy Hanson from the Braves this off-season in exchange for Jordan Walden in the hopes of shoring up their starting rotation after losing Zack Greinke to free agency.  Due to his up and down record to date – both in terms of health and production – what are you expecting from Hanson this year and should fantasy owners be interested in drafting him in 2013?

You are aware that Hanson’s shoulder is made out of pudding, right?  I’m no GM, but I’m pretty sure that when you trade a guy with ace-level talent who is only just entering his first year of arbitration for a reliever with control issues and a slider that only travels 58 feet, then it is probably because you have absolutely zero faith in that starting pitcher’s ability to stay healthy.  In other words, my expectations for Hanson are low.  Maybe he comes to camp having gotten in better shape and is now used to pitching with a few less MPH on his fastball and settles in as a mid-rotation guy.  But more likely is that he is a wild roller coaster ride all season long, vacillating stretches of dominance and awfulness ultimately combining to leave him with a pretty below average line at season’s end.

4) Ernesto Frieri was a true, out of the blue savior for the bullpen last year for the Angels and took over most of the closing duties for LAA last year except for the occasional Downs sighting.  Many would’ve thought he’d be the closer this year but Ryan Madson is being handed the job out of Spring Training if his arm is healthy enough.  So, if you were me, which Angels’ reliever would you be drafting and how many saves does that person end up with by the end of the season?

This is a tough call because Mike Scioscia is something of a slave to bullpen roles, but he also has fired his closer in the first week of the season two years running.  For fantasy purposes, I think it is a pretty safe bet that Madson will eventually get the lion’s share of save opportunities, probably from the start of the season as the early reports on his recovery are very good.  However, I think Frieri will be the better pitcher from start to finish.  So, if you just want saves and can live with a guy who might hurt your ERA and WHIP, go with Madson.  If you want a truckload of strikeouts and maybe just a handful of saves (my guess is that Madson will be babied earlier in the year and won’t pitch on consecutive days very much), then you’ve got to get Ernasty.

5) The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have just won the World Series in 2013.  What’s one of the most plausible related stories as to how and why they got there from the list below:
A) Albert Pujols is AL MVP
B) Mike Scioscia insists the team needs to trade for Mike Napoli midway through the year to improve their offensive numbers from catcher.  He then proceeds to make Napoli his 4th string catcher behind Pudge Rodriguez whose not even signed to the roster.
C) Vernon Wells becomes a ‘Yankee killer’ by single-handedly destroying that already decrepit lineup and forcing them out of contention
D) Mark Trumbo admits to the media that ‘he’s been juicing’ for the past three years.  Reporters neglect to note he was talking about his Jack LaLanne Power Juicer, he’s suspended 50 games and the Angel’s DH spot goes into flux.  Scioscia still refuses to play the traded for Napoli even at this time
E) Garrett Richards develops and becomes the Angels 3rd best starter in the second half.
F) All the catchers minus the traded for Napoli catch the superflu and are unable to play during September.  Scioscia DFA’s Mike and plays behind the plate himself the rest of the way.

I’ll take secret option G, which I will explain in short order.  Let me first explain why your other hypotheticals shall never come to pass.  First and foremost, if any Angel wins MVP, it will be Trout.  He should have won it last year, so I think there will be something of a “make up” vote coming his way this year if he puts up similar numbers.  Second, the Angels will never trade Vernon Wells.  I am convinced they keep him around to soak up all the vitriol of the fan base whenever anything goes wrong.  Even when he isn’t playing, Wells gets blamed for everything.  Give it another few weeks and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the Sandy Hook Truthers “discover” that Vernon masterminded the whole plot.  Next, if Trumbo were juicing, he wouldn’t have collapsed in the second half of 2012 after he hurt his back.  As for Richards, I just checked and it turns out that the Garrett Richards is Going to be Good Bandwagon has been foreclosed on and sold at auction, sorry.

Finally, all of your Napoli scenarios are invalid, which is why the aforementioned option G comes into play.  Napoli left Anaheim on less than pleasant terms.  I want to say “irrational cartoon hate,” but I’m not sure that phrase is strong enough.  What I think would happen is that the Angels would trade for Napoli, but Mike would be so thoroughly enraged at the idea of playing under the iron fist of Scioscia again that he would “suddenly” need season-ending surgery on his wonky hip, thus saving him from Scioscia and screwing the Angels in the trade at the same time.  I imagine he would then spend the first several hours of his post-surgery recovery laughing maniacally in his hospital bed with an occasional break to manscape his ever-present 5 o’clock shadow.
  1. Piotr says:
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    It appears that Vernon Wells has been traded…so much for “never.”

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      Yeah, we got these up here much later than I wanted but there’s only so much webspace!

  2. Baron Von Vulturewins

    Baron Von Vulturewins says:
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    I enjoyed this. Also, it’s actually weirdly prescient: Vernon Wells has indeed become a Yankee-killer.

    Well. Played.

    Randomly: Would anyone here trade Jedd Gyorko for Jose Veras? Someone in my league suddenly decided he wants Gyorko yesterday (mostly b/c all his 3Bmen are hurt). He offered Veras. Bite?

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      Ha, thanks!

      100% no RE: Gyorko. You don’t even know if Veras will keep a job and for an Astros team that probably won’t win more than 65 games? You don’t want that.

  3. Baron Von Vulturewins

    Baron Von Vulturewins says:
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    Also: Samardzija.

    Yessir.

    Looks like I’ll have to learn to spell his name after all.

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      Ha, loved him this year too. Glad to see he’s off to a good start.

      • JoeC says:
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        @Sky: Well, it was the Pirates. But I like him. Hot fastballs make me weak in the knees.

        • Sky

          Sky says:
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          Well, those Pirates are in his division so he’ll get to face them plenty this year. Overall, solid SP3 this year with room to be more.

  4. SpecialFNK says:
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    yahoo, 5×5, roto, 12 team league non keeper.

    is this trade good?

    giving – Giancarlo Stanton, Angel Pagan, Alcides Escobar.
    getting – Adrian Beltre, Brandon Phillips, Carlos Quentin.

    I tried to include Machado and ask for Choo, but he asked for this above.

    MY TEAM
    CA- Salvador Perez. 1B- Joey Votto. 2B- Howie Kendrick. 3B- Manny Machado. SS- Evereth Cabrera. CI- Prince Fielder. MI- Alcides Escobar.
    OF- Giancarlo Stanton. OF- Nick Swisher. OF- Angel Pagan. OF- Dexter Fowler. OF- Denard Span. UT- Jedd Gyorko.
    BN- Aaron Hicks, Peter Bourjos, Geraldo Parra,
    SP- Clayton Kershaw. SP- Cole Hamels.
    RP- Rafael Soriano. RP- Bobby Parnell.
    P- Joaquin Benoit. P- Vinny Pestano. P- Brett Anderson. P- Ryan Vogelsong. P- Jaime Garcia.
    BN- Jose Valverde, Bruce Rondon.

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      @SpecialFNK: I don’t see the value in that trade for you. I’d hold.

  5. emporersmonkey says:
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    Looks like Ike Davis is up to his usual tricks. 0-5 with 4 strikeouts while his team scores 11 runs. I hate him.

    Is there anything more frustrating than how Comcast handles their MLB season ticket broadcasts? Bunching up all the games on a handful of channels so they overlap, when there are like 50 surrounding channels not airing a goddamned thing? No games in HD on opening day, pretty clutch.

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      @emporersmonkey: I owned him through the whole ordeal last year and drafted him again this year. I kinda hate him too right now…

      It’s comcastic!

  6. Buddy Biancalana says:
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    Ernesto Frieri was a a true, out of the blue savior for the bullpen last year

    Javy Guerra was A True, Tom Wilhemsen was AAA True and Aroldis Chapman was MLB True

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      Ha! Thanks for the catch, I’ll update.

  7. Brandon Hall says:
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    Erick Aybar at SS or Andrelton Simmons for my team?

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      Well Simmons is being given a shot to lead off, give him a go.

  8. Shake N Bacon says:
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    Which side of this trade do you like better? Mike Trout for Andrew McCutchen in a keeper league where you can keep players as long as you want. No dollar values or draft rounds associated with either player.

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      @Shake N Bacon: I’d think you’d want the younger of the two in a keeper that has no limits so Trout.

  9. Project Merkin says:
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    Sky, dawg, you’re killin it with all these posts. Keep up the good work.

    10 Team League, I just picked up Ryu and am probably going to start him against the Giants tomorrow. Here’s the rest of my staff, hopefully Razzball enterprises will be happy with it:

    Greinke
    Latos
    Niese
    Peavy
    Estrada
    Bailey
    B McCarthy
    DL ‘stashe – Garza

    I have 2 questions:
    1) Do you have the minerals to start Estrada against the Rockies tomorrow?
    2) Who do you like better both for tomorrow’s start, and the season: Ryu or Hammel (aka: “drop Ryu for Hammel?”).

    I guess that was 3 questions….

    Thanks!

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      @Project Merkin: Ha, thanks!

      That’s a really nice staff from top to bottom. I have zero bad to say about it so onto your questions:

      1) Well, it’s not in Coors so I don’t see why you wouldn’t. Too early to call Estrada a sit…

      2) I think that’s a needs question. If they both do what they should do, you’re gonna get more K’s from Hammel but better ratios from Ryu. I’d hold Ryu for now, personally, as his matchups will be better over the course of the season. Overall, though, the thing to remember is you play in a 10 team league. Guys like Hammel/Ryu are gonna be out there. If I had to pick, actually, I’d drop McCarthy for Hammel but that’s not what you asked me :)

      • Project Merkin says:
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        @Sky: Thanks. I’m kind of anxious to see what a healthy McCarthy can bring to the table this year, but I’ll keep that in mind.

        Just plunked Estrada into my open SP slot. Here goes!

        • Sky

          Sky says:
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          You mean a currently healthy McCarthy. He’s decent but his move was a push. Better home park before but faced AL hitters. Bad homepark now but gets to face NL. He’s a 5~6K/9 guy with decent ratios. Nothing to really worry about holding onto, IMHO.

          Go Estrada! I’m a fan. I don’t have him in enough leagues but I have his uncle from CHiPs autograph so there’s that (last part not true).

          • Project Merkin says:
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            @Sky: Ha! Had that been true, I’d be so jelly.

            Arrrgggg decisions decisions. So that’s your rundown on a currently healthy McCarthy. Can I hear your Hammel pitch? Do you like him against the Rays tomrorow? (2nd start against the Twins is a little better)

            • Sky

              Sky says:
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              I’d avoid the Rays start completely but see what his end-line looks like. If he can hold the gains he made last year, he’s a better tail of your rotation starter but really: 10 team leagues you’re gonna be twirling through two tail end pitchers all year like they had tassel pasties on.

              • JoeC says:
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                @Sky: But the Rays offense kinda blows, besides Longo. Why not start Hammel there? I think he’s being seriously underestimated.

                • Sky

                  Sky says:
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                  I think you’re underestimating the Rays offense by a large margin there. I’d rather see how he plays against them than start him today and go from there.

                  • JoeC says:
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                    @Sky: @Sky: Eh? What am I missing? Longo and Zobrist and Jennings (bleh)… seriously, who else do they have? It’s like a whole team of Tony LaRussa part-time players!

                    • Sky

                      Sky says:
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                      Let’s talk again after the game and go from there. I’m not saying they look great on paper. But I don’t think you can write them off as a streaming option.

                    • JoeC says:
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                      @Sky: Did you mean “steaming” option? ;)

                    • Sky

                      Sky says:
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                      extremely steamy. Doctor McSteamy even.

                    • JoeC says:
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                      @Sky: Whelp, I guess we could call that a draw. Hammel pitched pretty well up until that 6th inning. Then he kind of fell apart. The leadoff walk was a killer. The announcers speculated that he had been sitting too long from the previous inning. Luckily, the O’s were able to score some runs in the top of the 7th to get my boy the W. Nothing sweeter than that.

                    • Sky

                      Sky says:
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                      I’ll give you a draw but to be fair, Hammels didn’t actually pitch too well. His K/B splits pitching wise were a mess BUT the fact that the Rays couldn’t take advantage of that through the first 4 or 5 innings already speaks to your sentiment so a draw it is. Still think the Rays offense isn’t a cake-walk but of course, the Dodgers were supposed to be a stud offense and they’ve scored a total of 4 runs in two games…one of them a solo shot by Kershaw! It’s early, these things will sort themselves out.

                      Oh and just in case before you ask: I still heart Estrada. You catch any of the game? Lotta piddly hits off of him. HRs are always gonna be his downfall but in reality, he could’ve/should’ve lasted longer had the Rockies not got so many bullsnit singles. In looking at his style and his lack of over-powering stuff, I’m thinking he’s a Ted Lilly-type during his days with the Cubs with more K potential.

                    • JoeC says:
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                      @Sky: I did see Estrada’s start. I thought he pitched fine. Obviously the 8 Ks were pretty nice. Too bad he couldn’t hold on for the win after the Brew Crew gave him a lead.

                      For me though, Estrada was over-drafted in my league, as he was taken in the 13th round (by a fellow Razzball adherent). Meanwhile, I got Hammel (not Hammels!) in the 21st round.

                      That, my Zeusian friend, is an example of taking the Super Express Shuttle to Value Town. :)

                    • Sky

                      Sky says:
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                      Haha, don’t know why I tacked on the ‘s’. I think it’s a question of what you believe in. I still think over the course of the season, Estrada is gonna have the better numbers. Hammel is a decent SP5, don’t know if I trust him as anything better/more than that. If Estrada is being bought as an SP3, he’s being overbought. SP4, I’m fine with.

                      Ha, yeah, even in the deepest of leagues, there’s value out in the SP market. I have Iwakuma in a deep keeper league. Plucked him after the draft when guys moved to their NA and DL slots. Not as much K upside but I think he’ll help your ratios more over the long haul and just might have as many chances at wins.

                      Now I want to see Arrieta’s first start this year. Go look at his peripherals last year on your trip to Value Town :)

  10. Seth says:
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    Hi all, I’m in a 9-team 5×5 roto NL-only league with unlimited starts/innings. Here’s my roster post-draft. I think it’s balanced, but would love any thoughts you had about it. Any advice on what I should be targeting going forward? Thanks.

    C Russell Martin
    C Evan Gattis
    1B Adrian Gonzalez
    2B Jedd Gyorko
    3B Aramis Ramirez
    SS Starlin Castro
    2B/SS Josh Rutledge
    1B/3B Todd Frazier
    OF Ryan Braun
    OF Carlos Gomez
    OF Hunter Pence
    OF Ben Revere
    OF Cameron Maybin
    UTIL Michael Cuddyer
    P Matt Cain
    P Gio Gonzalez
    P Aroldis Chapman
    P Marco Estrada
    P Mike Fiers
    P Homer Bailey
    P Brandon McCarthy
    P Kyuji Fujikawa
    P David Hernandez
    P Mitchell Boggs
    BE Oscar Taveras
    BE Darin Ruf
    BE Erik Kratz
    BE Andrew Cashner
    BE Mark Melancon
    BE Mike Adams
    BE Eric Stults
    BE Ty Wigginton

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      That’s a really solid looking team. Good lineup, solid rotation and plenty of upside on the bench. Nice work!

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