Chat with Mark Saxon
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, Los Angeles Angels writer Mark Saxon will stop by to chat some baseball.
Saxon is a staff writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. He spent six years at the Orange County Register, and began his career at the Oakland Tribune, where he started an 11-year journey covering Major League Baseball. He has also covered colleges, including USC football and UCLA basketball.
Send your questions now and join Saxon Thursday at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT!
Mark Saxon (2:00 PM)
I doubt there has been an Angels off-season with this much anticipation. So, let's get the first ESPNLA Angels chat of 2012 underway, there's a lot of ground to cover.
Tom (Marina Del Rey)
In what order of importance do these questions need to be answered in the affirmative:Morales comes back healthyTrumbo makes conversion to 3rd baseThe bullpen as presently constituted will gel in a positive way.
Mark Saxon (2:02 PM)
Tom, I'd put Morales at the top of the list. Because Albert Pujols is so patient, he tends to get walked a lot and finding protection for him is more important than it was for, say, Vladimir Guerrero, who swung (and hit) a lot of balls. I am skeptical about Trumbo playing much third and I think his playing time could go way down. The bullpen is iffy, but most bullpens are iffy.
MonkeyWithaHalo.com (The Internet)
How much leeway do you think the new front office regime will give Vernon Wells before they pull the plug and install Mike Trout as a permanent starter?
Mark Saxon (2:03 PM)
MWAH, That's a really forward-thinking question. It could push itself to the front of the discussion as the season moves along. For now, I think the Angels are hoping for a bounceback season from Vernon, but look at the end of last season, when he and Bobby Abreu weren't playing every day. His leash could get shorter, especially if Trout is tearing up the PCL.
Jon (San Diego)
Francisco Cordero is still on the market. His value has to come down due to the demand. Do the angels have enough money left in the budget to go after him? And if not who is the one guy in the bullpen you see as taking the next step in improving his game for next season?
Mark Saxon (2:05 PM)
Hey Jon, I can't get a handle on Jerry Dipoto's public comments. He keeps saying he's very unlikely to make another major move, but he also said he was unlikely to make an offer to Albert Pujols. But what I've found in asking questions is that the Angels are comfortable with the payroll and don't want to exceed $150 million by much. Cordero is unlikely.
Jeff C (Eugene, OR)
Is there any new developments on how Mark Trumbo is doing in his preparation to play 3rd?
Mark Saxon (2:08 PM)
Jeff, I asked Dipoto yesterday and he said there was nothing new with Trumbo's foot injury. It sounds like Mark will come to spring training a little limited, but hitters generally don't need six weeks to get ready for the season. If he can play in 15 games, he'll probably be fine.Again, I'm skeptical he'll be solid enough defensively to play much third. Being limited in ST won't help him in that process.
As much as i love the signing of Pujols, i am huge fan of Morales & Trumbo. I think it's important they keep the youth movement going while phasing out Hunter, Abreu etc. Do you think Trumbo will be kept along with Morales?
Mark Saxon (2:10 PM)
Hey Thomas, I agree with you about the young players and thought that was the most exciting thing about last year. At first, I thought they would trade Trumbo, but now I'm beginning to think they'll hold onto him with the idea of using him in the outfield next season. It doesn't cost them much (he'll make about $450,000). The only thing that might change that thinking is if another team offers them something enticing in a trade.
do you see williams holding down the 5th spot or one of the young kids taking the spot over?
Mark Saxon (2:11 PM)
Mike, When I watched Jerome Williams last year, I saw the ideal candidate for a back-of-the-rotation pitcher. He throws strikes, has confidence in his stuff and works deep enough into games. I would be surprised if he isn't the fifth starter all year.
Whats the likely hood the angels are going to make a trade for a third baseman or signing another relief pitcher by spring training
Mark Saxon (2:13 PM)
Andrew, Again, Jerry Dipoto keeps saying big moves are unlikely, but it might be the poker player in him. I did a post on this the other day: What's wrong with Alberto Callaspo? Obviously, he lacks power, but he's an good on-base guy who plays strong defense and hits close to .300. The bullpen could use another arm, but nothing appears imminent.
Edgar (Garden Grove)
I know its a long way from now, but what do you think are the chances that the Angels will try to hang on to Torii after he becomes a free agent in 2013?
Mark Saxon (2:15 PM)
That's a tough one, Edgar. Torii is the lifeblood of this team in so many ways, but he's getting older and he's blocking some good young players. I think it's very slim, much as I think every Angels writer and most fans would like to see him stay another 10 years.
What do you expect from Vernon Wells? A Toronto like season or will be seeing Trout?
Mark Saxon (2:17 PM)
Paul, That could depend on how patient the Angels are if he gets off to a slow start again. Mike Trout is one of the most dynamic young players in the game, so Wells might feel some pressure and elevate his game. By the end of last year, he seemed mentally defeated by his struggles. That was a pretty awful season. With his extreme unwillingness to take pitches, he's really been reduced to an all-or-nothing slugger whose only value added is home runs. I'm still fairly pessimistic about Vernon.
Hi Mark, welcome to the world of chat! How is the dodger auction going be like? Can you break it down for a lehman like myself? For instance will it be a true auction or will Selig step in if he doesn't like the potential buyer with the largest bid (Cuban).
Mark Saxon (2:18 PM)
Alfred, I really have no insight into the Dodgers' sale process, but it seems to me Ramona Shelburne has been doing a great job on our site exploring all of the ownership options.
Hi Mark, are you gonna be a regualr chatter now? If so, could you give us the scoop on what these chats are going to be like. Are these LA baseball question only or do you do all of baseball and all of LA sports? Thanks!
Mark Saxon (2:19 PM)
Maximus, We're planning to do these every week and the idea is to confine them generally to Angels baseball. Frankly, my knowledge of L.A. sports beyond the Angels and USC football is embarrassingly limited anyway.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
How will the Angels do with Albert Pujois in the Lineup & CJ Wilson in the Rotation?
Mark Saxon (2:21 PM)
I think when they signed those two guys for a combined $327.5 million, they had pretty high hopes for what they'll bring, Chris. If you look at their histories, they've both been about as bankable as players come, so I'd be surprised if either player struggled a la Vernon Wells. But are those two additions good enough to get past the Rangers, Yankees, Red Sox and Rays at some point?
Zack (Ithaca New York)
Mark, What do you think we will do with our 3rd base situation. Do you see a trade on the horizon? Whats the latest on Kendry? Finally, do you see us getting more bullpen help? Thank you!!
Mark Saxon (2:23 PM)
Zack, It's interesting you mentioned Kendrys Morales and third base in the same question. He played a lot of third in Cuba and, judging by the way he improved as a first baseman, I wonder whether this might be an option at some point this season as his health improves. If you can get him into a lineup with Pujols and Mark Trumbo (at DH), you've got some serious firepower. I addressed the bullpen earlier. I think they might make a move, but it won't be earth-shattering.
Do you believe kendrys will actually be healthy by opening day? Do you see Trumbo being able to play third?
Mark Saxon (2:25 PM)
Mike, That was such a depressing story line last yar, seeing Morales just continually stuck in the mud in his rehab. They're saying positive things now, but I think everybody has to wait until late March before getting too excited. I'd be surprised if Trumbo played more than 15-20 games at third this year. Mike Scioscia likes infield defense.
Mishon (Fort Worth, TX)
Mark, As the rosters look right now, who would you predict winning the division this year...Rangers or Halos?
Mark Saxon (2:27 PM)
Mishon, That's the $64k question right now. I'd lean toward picking the Rangers at this very second, but it could come down to whether they can keep their big guys in the lineup most of the year. Their best hitters are injury-prone, while the Angels' big horses have tended to be durable. The Angels' pitching gets a slight nod. Overall, it could be a thrilling rivalry.
Brian (Simi Valley, CA)
If Morales comes back and is healthy/productive... how many AB's do you see Trumbo and Abreu ending up with this year? I guarantee someone is going to be very unhappy at some point.
Mark Saxon (2:28 PM)
Brian, I'm not sure if he'll say anything, but I think Abreu will be unhappy the minute spring training starts. He's been an everyday player for a long time and he's looking to accumulate numbers. I've said it before and I'll say it again. I think the Angels will move him before the end of spring training. Trumbo, as a second-year player, might just have to accept his demotion to a bench role.
How long do you believe Pujols can keep up his MVP numbers and what do see him doing at the end of the contract?
Mark Saxon (2:31 PM)
Peter, Obviously, the Angels overpaid drastically for a 32-year-old players, but if they win a World Series in the next few years, will anyone care? With truly great players, it's hard to say how they'll age. Ted Williams was unbelievable through his late 30s. I think Albert has at least one more MVP-type season in him, probably in the next two years.
Brian (Simi Valley, CA)
The Angels have so many logjams at certain positions right now (especially OF, 3B and DH)... do you see them making any moves before the start of training camp to shed the excess, or do they seem content with holding onto all of these pieces?
Mark Saxon (2:32 PM)
Brian, I think they might unclog some of these logjams, but I think it will come near the end of spring training. Abreu and Maicer Izturis are the most likely to go, IMHO.
Hey Mark, great articles man. I was wondering, will the angels be aggressive this year around the trade deadline? What possible trades can you imagine?
Mark Saxon (2:33 PM)
Hey Osiris, I think they'll be very aggressive around the deadline. That seems to be Dipoto's m.o. (the Angels can thank him for the Dan Haren trade and so, too, can the Diamondbacks, who have two really good left-handed pitching prospects because of that trade).
Do you think Conger will get much starts or do you see Innetta getting the bulk of catching? How does the pitchers do with a new catcher it seemed like the loved having mathis behind the plate
Mark Saxon (2:34 PM)
Interesting questions, Steve. It sounds like Iannetta will catch a lot of games, meaning Bobby Wilson will be slotted as a backup and who knows what they'll do with Hank Conger. He's another trade possibility, but I think it'd be a mistake to part with a left-handed-hitting catcher with that kind of offensive upside.
Edgar (Garden Grove)
What are the odds of Pujols hitting a home run in the first home game of the season? And where should I be standing to catch his first home run?
Mark Saxon (2:35 PM)
They're pretty good, Edgar, maybe one-in-four or so? With Albert, it's hard to know where to set up. he has power to left and right-center.
Andy (Los Angeles)
Mark, where will we see CJ Wilson in the rotation? Number 2 starter? 3?
Mark Saxon (2:36 PM)
Andy, My guess is Wilson will be the No. 3 starter, at least at the start of the season. I think Dan Haren deserves that No. 2 spot based on his career and last year.
Mark, this has been an unbelievable year for the Halos! Because of this, do you see the Angels as the Clippers of baseball, on the cusp of finally aligning with their rivals the Dodgers for fanbase and notariety?
Mark Saxon (2:37 PM)
MRV, It seems like there are a lot of parallels between those two franchises right now, but the Angels have been up and coming for a decade now while the Clippers' move is really over the last few years.
Do you think its possible that vernon wells is benched, 20 million dollars and all, in place of mike trout?
Mark Saxon (2:38 PM)
Osiris, I don't have a good feel for that right now, but as I said earlier, I don't think he'll be playing every day in May if his April is as bad as last April. It will also depend on how Mike Trout does at Triple-A.
Mark Saxon (2:39 PM)
Great start to our weekly Angels chats. You can tell by all the informed questions people are really paying attention and excited for this season. We'll do it again next week.