The Halos Network Writer’s Roundtable: All-Star Break Edition

Mike Trout poses with the 2015 MLB All-Star Game MVP trophy during a post-game ceremony after the AL defeated the NL 6-3 in the 86th MLB All-Star Game at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, OH on July 14, 2015 (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Mike Trout poses with the 2015 MLB All-Star Game MVP trophy during a post-game ceremony after the AL defeated the NL 6-3 in the 86th MLB All-Star Game at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, OH on July 14, 2015 (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Now that the 2015 All-Star Week festivities have come & gone, we are of course in baseball’s “dead period” – two days of no on-field action as players get a break before resuming the season on Friday. While the season’s 2nd half “technically” started when the Angels played their 82nd game of the season on July 5 down in Arlington, the season’s ceremonial 2nd half doesn’t begin until the Angels host the Boston Red Sox for a 4-game series at the Big-A beginning Friday night. We here at The Halos Network thought we’d try to fill some of the dead period by looking back on the Angels’ 1st half, looking ahead to their 2nd half, and discussing some other general baseball topics in a “writer’s roundtable” format:

Who is your first half Angel MVP not named Mike Trout?

Hector Santiago delivers a pitch during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium on June 3, 2015 (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Hector Santiago delivers a pitch during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium on June 3, 2015 (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Aaron Forstner: I’ve gotta give it to Hector Santiago. With the other guys in the rotation struggling with inconsistency for one reason or another, Hector has come in and been a real stabilizing force at the top of the rotation. The dude just comes in and gives you 7+ quality innings every 5th day. If someone had told me in March that Hector Santiago would have a 2.33 ERA at the All-Star break I would have told them they were crazy, but that’s exactly what has happened. With better run support Hector would have double-digit wins and be right in middle of the AL Cy Young discussion. I do have to give an honorable mention to Johnny Giavotella though. Besides coming in and stabilizing a position that was a huge question mark coming into the season after the Howie Kendrick trade, Johnny G has given the Angels 8 game-winning RBI. Johnny G has been Johnny Clutch!

Albert Pujols bats against the Pirates' Gerrit Cole during the third inning of the 86th MLB All-Star Game at Great American Ball Park on July 14, 2015 (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Albert Pujols bats against the Pirates’ Gerrit Cole during the third inning of the 86th MLB All-Star Game at Great American Ball Park on July 14, 2015 (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Ryan Krol: I would have to say that Albert Pujols is the choice for non-Mike Trout MVP. At 26 homeruns at the All-Star Break, Albert has carried the Halos offense on his back. Something Trout I don’t think is quite mature enough to handle yet. Without Albert Pujols, the Angels offense would have faded into distant memory a long time ago.

Adam Tenenbaum: Hector Santiago, no doubt about. He currently leads the team in ERA, and is tied for the team lead in strikeouts. He has been somewhat of a surprise, but definitely deserving of this honor. My honorable mention would be Albert Pujols, who currently leads the Angels in RBI’s with 56, and is tied with Trout with 26 homeruns at the all-star break.

John MagdalenoI won’t get to into numbers on this one and I’m not going with the obvious choice. I’m going with Huston Street, his presence in the bullpen and his ability to close out games in tight situations is something the angels have not had since the departure of Frankie Rodriguez.

What was your favorite moment from the Angels first half?

Carlos Perez is doused with sports drink by Erick Aybar after hitting a walk off home run to win a game against the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium on May 5, 2015 (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Carlos Perez is doused with sports drink by Erick Aybar after hitting a walk off home run to win a game against the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium on May 5, 2015 (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Aaron: Hmmm….so many to choose from. Carlos Perez hitting a walk-off HR in his MLB debut was pretty cool. I also enjoyed Jered Weaver’s complete game shutout when everyone was saying he was washed up.

Ryan: Honestly, Andrew Heaney’s call up and successful run so far has really helped to stabilize a starting rotation that was either being consistent (Santiago, Richards) or back and forth (Weaver, Wilson, Shoemaker). Pushing one of the remaining three will be another boost to this club. I see Heaney being in what projects to be a young, superb rotation two years from now.

Adam:  The eight run seventh inning against Oakland on June 19th is probably my favorite moment. I also liked C.J Wilson’s one hitter on June 13, and Carlos Perez hitting a walk-off homer in his MLB debut on May 5th.

John: This is a tough one but my favorite was when Carlos Perez collected his first major league hit and later that evening came through in the clutch with a walk off shot to left to send the Halos home with the W on Cinco de Mayo.

With the non-waiver trading deadline coming up on July 31, what move(s), if any, do you see the Angels making?

Andre Ethier hits a 2-run double during the 7th inning of a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Dodger Stadium on July 10, 2015 (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Andre Ethier hits a 2-run double during the 7th inning of a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Dodger Stadium on July 10, 2015 (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Aaron: There’s been a rumor floating around for a couple of months about a possible swap of C.J. Wilson and Andre Ethier with the Dodgers. Jerry Dipoto addressed the rumor briefly before his resignation, giving just the general GM line of “We’re always looking at ways to improve the club.” It’s a trade that I think makes sense for both sides. The Dodgers need pitching and the Angels need a lefty hitting outfielder. The money is similar – Wilson’s AAV is $15.5M while Ethier’s is $17M. There’s a perception that Ethier is not the same player he once was, but if you look at his numbers he’s been consistently hitting his career averages every year with just a slight dip in 2014. For his career Ethier is slashing .285/.359/.463 and so far in 2015 he’s slashing .281/.372/.481. Any way you look at it, Ethier represents quite an upgrade over Matt Joyce.

Beyond Ethier, Jay Bruce of Cincinnati, Adam Lind of Milwaukee, and Ben Revere of Philadelphia are interesting targets and have been linked to the Angels in one form or another on the rumor mill recently. I don’t know if the Angels have the pieces that would be necessary to acquire any of them, but I wrote about this in more detail back on June 8 on the blog.

Gerardo Parra hits a solo home run during the seventh inning of a game against the Washington Nationals at Miller Park on June 11, 2015 (Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)

Gerardo Parra hits a solo home run during the seventh inning of a game against the Washington Nationals at Miller Park on June 11, 2015 (Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)

Ryan: Even though the Angels don’t really need a big bat (they’re 5th in the AL in home runs) they could probably use an additional threat to take the load off of Trout and Pujols once in a while. Those two aren’t always going to hit bombs, so it would be nice to have a bat like Adam Lind hitting behind Albert. Gerardo Parra I think would be a good addition if they can pull off that deal for both he and Lind. The Angels don’t need a big bat as much as they need better on base ability at the top of the order. But who knows? Johnny Giavotella has done well in that spot, and Calhoun is a solid number two hitter. And, like I said they could Lind behind the Pujols to take the baton once in a while. I see the Halos going for a leadoff hitter more than a big bat. But I can also see them getting that big bat, or both. But I’m leaning more towards a leadoff hitter.

Adam: It is well known that the Angels are looking for a bat, one that bats left, and preferably plays left field and/or DH. The emergence of C.J Cron over the last week or so, could have possibly filled the DH role, but the under-performance of Matt Joyce, leads me to believe that we acquire a left fielder. Names to consider would be Josh Reddick, Jay Bruce, and Gerardo Parra.

John: I feel like we need a lefty power bat in the line up. Joyce has been a disappointment and Cowgill has spent slot of time on the DL. Maybe the Angels will look for a guy like Jay Bruce, but again this is purely me spitting out what I feel.

Who, other than Mike Trout, do you think will be a key for the Angels if they are to repeat as AL West Champs?

Chris Iannetta hits a 2-run home run during the third inning of a game against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on July 7, 2015 (Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

Chris Iannetta hits a 2-run home run during the third inning of a game against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on July 7, 2015 (Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

Aaron: Well, obviously Hector is going to have to keep doing what he’s been doing, and I’d like to see Garrett Richards round into the form he showed last year, but obviously the majority of the Angels’ struggles have been on the offensive side. My key for the 2nd half would have to be Chris Iannetta. He is supposed to be the starting catcher and a leader of this team. I like Carlos Perez, but he’s just a rookie and most good teams have a solid veteran leader behind the dish. Over the last 28 days Iannetta’s bat has started to come around to the tune of .277/.407/.426, and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the Angels have played much more consistent baseball over that stretch.

Ryan: The back end of the bullpen. This has been the difference in every successful season the Angels have had since manager Mike Scioscia was hired. Bullpen has been once of the key components, but was seemingly lost around 2010-2013. As soon as the Angels

Matt Shoemaker delivers a pitch during the fourth inning of a game against the San Diego Padres at Angel Stadium on May 26, 2015 (Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

Matt Shoemaker delivers a pitch during the fourth inning of a game against the San Diego Padres at Angel Stadium on May 26, 2015 (Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

acquired Grilli and Street last season, it was on. The Halos went from allowing the most ninth inning runs in the Majors on the day they acquired Street, to creating an area of strength that allowed them to do something the club had not been able to do going back to 2010: put teams away!

Adam: Starting pitching will need to continue its success if the Angels are to repeat as division champs. I have confidence the offense will round into form, as we saw flashes of that before the break. Combine both, and Angels will repeat.

John: Matt Shoemaker. Last season was a career year for Shoe and we can all honestly say that we did not expect that, however we need him to come through big again this season for us to continue rolling in the 2nd half, we all know he can keep us in games and we need him to continue to do that.

Playoff predictions – who’s in?

Aaron: Well, obviously the Angels win the AL West….lol. As for the other divisions I think Kansas City will hold onto the AL Central. In the AL East, well, uh, tough to call there. I think the Yankees’ age will catch up to them and they’ll fade down the stretch, but it’s going to be a real interesting 3-team race with Tampa, Toronto and Baltimore. Ultimately I’ll pick Tampa to come out on top due to their youth and better pitching. As for the wild-cards I’ll go with whoever comes in 2nd out East and Minnesota. Yes…I said Minnesota. I think Houston will fall just a game or two short, but their time is coming.

  • ALWest: Angels
  • AL Central: Royals
  • AL East: Rays
  • WC1: Twins
  • WC2: Orioles

Over in the NL, it certainly looks as though the Cards & Pirates are running away with the Central. That race could go either way, but whoever ends up 2nd there will certainly take the 1st wildcard. The Dodgers & Nats are the sexy picks in the West & East respectively, but the Giants aren’t going away out West and the surprising Mets are sticking right with the Nats in the East. Ultimately I think the Dodgers & Nats do pull those races out, but the interesting race will be the 2nd wildcard. I’m actually picking the Cubs to edge out the Mets & Giants for that spot, but I REALLY like the Mets’ young pitching staff. I think the Mets have finally built a team that can compete for years to come.

  • NL West: Dodgers
  • NL Central: Cardinals
  • NL East: Nationals
  • WC1: Pirates
  • WC2: Cubs

Ryan: AL: Angels, Royals, Orioles, Twins, Yankees. I think the Angels are going to slowly continue their progress over the last two months. After starting 11-15, the Halos have gone 37-25. Meanwhile the Astros, after starting 18-7 and riding a 10 game winning streak, have gone 31-35. What many thought was a team playing with heart, and a better team than the Angels, is simply not the case. The ‘Stros have lived and died by the home run ball all season, and that’s just not going to cut it. The Angels have the most well balance roster in the AL West, possibly in all of the AL. Unfortunately, they had too many bats get off to slow starts all at the same time. The Royals are a good consideration for having the most well balanced roster. Now that their young homegrown players are figuring it out, KC looks a lot more like a carefully well-built ball club. I think Orioles are eventually going to overtake the Yankees. They’re the only AL East team that has decent rankings as a team both on offense and pitching. I will not reward a Yankees pitching staff that is 11th in ERA on July 16. But I’m giving them the second Wild Card by default because the rest of the AL is very sloppy. Teams are either hitting and not pitching, or vice versa. The Yankees right now are the only team of the remaining alternates that even look like they have a chance.

  • AL West: Angels
  • AL Central: Royals
  • AL East: Orioles
  • WC1: Twins
  • WC2: Yankees

NL: Dodgers, Cardinals, Mets, Pirates, Nationals. The Dodgers need some more offense, and an additional arm in their rotation, but their core is potent and productive enough that they will make things extremely difficult for opposing teams in the NL West. The Cardinals are going on a a similar run as the Angels did in the middle of 1995. Can they sustain it? Being tops in the NL in ERA will likely guarantee them a playoff spot despite being 8th in the NL in runs. Pitching is the Cardinals’ MO any ways. The Mets and Nationals are both struggling to score runs, so it’s really going to come down to pitching. Right now the Mets have that edge. But regardless of which team wins that division, I think the other will be the second Wild Card. And that is why I had to skip my favorite NL team right now: the Pirates. They’re basically the same team as the Cardinals, but St. Louis is having such a dominant starting rotation this season, that I think they have the edge on that race. Still, whoever loses that race will be the first Wild Card.

  • NL West: Dodgers
  • NL Central: Cardinals
  • NL East: Mets
  • WC1: Pirates
  • WC2: Nationals

Adam: In the AL, I have the Angels in the West, Royals in the Central, and Orioles in the East. The wild card is very interesting, as there is young surprises like the Twins and Astros, and the Blue Jays who are looking to end their playoff drought. There’s also the Yankees Tigers and Rays, and possibly the Mariners if they can turn it around. That said, I will go with the Yankees and Tigers for the two wild card spots.

  • AL West: Angels
  • AL Central: Royals
  • AL East: Orioles
  • WC1: Yankees
  • WC2: Tigers

For the NL, the obvious picks are Nationals in the East, and Dodgers in the West. I think the Cardinals hold off the Pirates in the Central. For the Wild Card, I have the Pirates, and the second spot is up for grabs, between the Cubs, Mets and the defending champions, Giants. This a tough choice, but I like the Mets pitching and if they can get a bat, they will win the second wild card.

  • NL West: Dodgers
  • NL Central: Cardinals
  • NL East: Nationals
  • WC1: Pirates
  • WC2: Mets

John: In the AL West I’ve got the Halos (come on now). AL Central KC, they will be tested by Detroit but I just don’t see them getting dropped for the 10 count. AL East is weak and I don’t see the Red Sox busting through. Tampa is hanging in there but honestly I see them tailing off, so with that said I have the Yankees. As for the wild card I’ll keep it simple Detroit and call me crazy but I’m going with the Mariners that’s my sleeper.

  • AL West: Angels
  • AL Central: Royals
  • AL East: Yankees
  • WC1: Tigers
  • WC2: Mariners

As for the NL I’ll keep this short West – Dodgers, Central – Cardinals, East – Nats with the wildcards being the Pirates and Giants.

  • NL West: Dodgers
  • NL Central: Cardinals
  • NL East: Nationals
  • WC1: Pirates
  • WC2: Giants

Finally, Pete Rose has been in the baseball news recently as MLB made the somewhat controversial decision to allow him to make an appearance at the All-Star Game in Cincinnati. Where do you stand on Rose? Should he be reinstated and inducted into the Hall of Fame while he’s still alive?

Pete Rose lines a single into left-center field for his 4,192nd career hit, breaking the all-time record, during the first inning of a game against the San Diego Padres at Riverfront Stadium on September 11, 1985. Eric Show was the Padres pitcher who gave up the hit, and current Giants manager Bruce Bochy was catching for the Padres that day. (AP Photo)

Pete Rose lines a single into left-center field for his 4,192nd career hit, breaking the all-time record, during the first inning of a game against the San Diego Padres at Riverfront Stadium on September 11, 1985. Eric Show was the Padres pitcher who gave up the hit, and current Giants manager Bruce Bochy was catching for the Padres that day. (AP Photo)

Aaron: I’m old enough to have seen Rose play, and I never saw anyone before or since play the game with more passion & intensity. The Hall of Fame is certainly incomplete without the all-time hits leader. That said, I’m a firm believer in the notion of if you do the crime, you’ve gotta do the time. Gambling on baseball is the Cardinal Sin if you’re a Major League Baseball player. There’s been a sign in every clubhouse since 1920 that reads “Gambling on baseball will get you banished for life.” It doesn’t say “only if you bet against your team and try to lose” and it doesn’t say “only if you do it as a player but not if you do it as a manager.” It says betting on baseball in any form will get you banned for life.

The integrity of the competition is the basis for the entire business of professional baseball. It’s why we pay good money to watch these guys play – because we believe we’re watching the best players in the world give 110% of themselves to win every single game. The possibility of players, coaches, or umpires giving less than their best effort toward a pure on-field product because they have outside financial interest in the outcome turning out a certain way would eat away at the very fabric of the game and therefore the business would eventually unravel. This is why the punishment is so harsh. It cannot be tolerated.

Pete Rose is the first player since the “Black Sox” scandal in 1919 to be banished for gambling on baseball. Several players have admitted that what happened to Rose has made them think twice about gambling on baseball in the years since Rose’s punishment was handed down. That is the fundamental purpose of a punishment – to be a deterrent. If Rose were to be reinstated without some evidence exonerating him, the “banned for life” punishment would lose all meaning. It becomes “banned until enough years have passed and we soften up.” I believe that reinstating Rose, as great as he was and as much as the Hall of Fame needs the all-time hit leader, would undermine the entire purpose for his punishment and could lead baseball down a slippery slope where players, coaches, or umpires may not be so worried about being punished for gambling on baseball, using PEDs, or violating any number of rules.

Ryan: I’m going to be very brief on this, as I’m sick of this topic. Reinstate him. He’s done enough time. We’ve all seen the consequences. You don’t have to be a genius to understand what gambling will get you. I highly doubt it takes that much to engrain it in the minds of young ballplayers how much of a violation gambling is in Major League Baseball. If you have to perpetually sell Pete Rose as a constant villain on the matter, then I question the character of other players around Major League Baseball. I question the methods of development, coaching, and upbringing within the game. If you have to be so hell bent on using Pete Rose as an example of what happens when you gamble in baseball, it shows me a sign of insecurity within that system to begin with. And if that’s not really something MLB should be that worried about, then reinstate him. If not, and there’s a whole can of worms I just opened that exposes things about ballplayers we never knew, then yes, keep using Pete Rose as an example. I just find it really hard to believe that baseball really needs to go through all of that trouble to send the message that gambling is forbidden. That is all. Told you I’d be brief…

Adam: Never saw Pete Rose play, but as far as his baseball accomplishments he should be in the Hall of Fame. But he did break the #1 rule of gambling, and accepted a life time ban. I believe he should be in the hall eventually, but unfortunately for him, it should be after he passes away.

John: Okay this one is easy for me. I don’t expect anyone to agree, but my opinion is it’s the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Morality. Let the man in. I don’t like him personally but the man performed on the field.

Mike Trout slides home to score on Prince Fielder's RBI single during the fifth inning of the 86th MLB All-Star Game at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, OH on July 14, 2015 (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Mike Trout slides home to score on Prince Fielder’s RBI single during the fifth inning of the 86th MLB All-Star Game at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, OH on July 14, 2015 (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

That’s all we have for you in today’s All-Star Break edition of The Halos Network Writer’s Roundtable. I hope you all enjoyed it. Thanks for taking the time to read our little discussion on Angel Baseball and general MLB topics. Please feel free to give us your opinions in the comments section. We here at The Halos Network welcome lively baseball discussion and debate. We simply ask that you remain respectful to the THN writers and to each other.

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