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Home of the "Trade Mike Trout" article



Updated: 2017-11-20T04:00:02-08:00

 



MondoLinks: All quiet on the Anaheim front

2017-11-20T04:00:02-08:00

Nothing cooking in Anaheim until Turkey Day, so let’s catch up on everyplace else. Finally, things are slowing down after season’s end. For the Angels, practically zero news at all. Nothing but whispers came out of the GM meetings, which are now over. And the week is short, so many are already taking things easy and in that audience must be just about everybody employed by Arte. That’s OK with me, because I want an easy week, too. Besides, we have some great writings coming your way by my peers and those articles need the best of your argumentative selves. But, to kick off your day, have some Short-Week-Offseason-Links: A Little Bit of Angels News Arte might not be winning the battle for Los Angeles, but he appears to be gaining ground in Zimbabwe........... Everywhere In Baseball The Shohei Ohtani deadline is today. Since I compose these the night before, I have no idea what the news will be by the time you read this. But if his opportunity to come to MLB goes forward FanGraphs takes a hard look at which teams are most likely to land him, based on the multiple factors of Team Interest, Potential Playing Time, Money Available, Team Success, Cultural Comfort, and Fan support.............Hideki Matsui is already lobbying for Ohtani to join him in New York......... Here is a friendly reminder of the reality within which we live. Free Agent contracts will be signed this offseason and some will seem extraordinarily expensive. We have had more than our fair share of those, but that doesn’t mean that is always the case. Usually, what seems like an overpay when the contract is signed doesn’t seem that way a few years own the road as salaries go up everywhere. Take, for example, Jason Werth............ Imagine having Alex Rodriguez teaming up with Joe Girardi and doing baseball analysis of Yankee games next year? Wouldn’t that just be the shits for Brian Cashman.......... Heads are rolling in Atlanta, and MLB’s penalties to punish the Braves are still on their way.......... It’s way too early, since you won’t remember any of this by the time we get to May, but that just means you get to talk about it twice in the same offseason! For this holiday week, mull over the pending milestones at stake for the 2018 season...........What is not on the list, is the chance for Mike Trout to jump up to the Top 150 career bWAR leaders of all time. And the names he is going to start passing are starting to get mind-blowing............ Mr. Mertle is alive and well in Utah. If you don’t know who Mr. Mertle is, you are a mere shell of a baseball fan, and you now have a new entry to put atop your holiday gift wish list........... Wow. I didn’t expect this. MLB ratings for the Word Series killed it in non-MLB markets! And, for the record, both Sacramento and Portland are NBA markets..........And feel free to drop by my place any time, Scott Van Pelt. I would be happy to tell you just how much ESPN sucks, right to your face........... Hot Stove I hope you folks are following the series initiated by our masthead staff, each taking their turn at GM for a day. In case you were not around this weekend, we had Jessica on Friday, followed by Chad on Saturday, and Carlos yesterday.........Everybody is working hard to estimate payroll flexibility. Our team has agreed on $38 million. That is pretty much in line with the estimate forecasted by FanGraphs........... One thing to add to your FA expectations, though, is the ongoing hard turn towards youth rather than the tradition of paying high on “proven” older guys with long-term contracts. “Proven”, as in paying for that the older guy used to be............ Jerry Dipoto is once again adhering to his “throw spaghetti on the wall and see what sticks” approach to roster building. Once again he is well on his way to making far more trades than anybody else........... Two teams have made formal offers to the Miami Marlins in hopeful exchange for the services of Giancarlo Stanton. The Giants, and the Cards...........The Astros think they have lots of money to spend, [...]



If I were Billy Eppler..., Part III

2017-11-18T15:41:39-08:00

Adding stability and depth to the Angels’ All Star core. Welcome to the third installment of our arm-chair GM series! As a reminder, here are the basic guidelines: For the luxury tax payroll, we are using the number calculated by Cot’s contracts, which is about $142.3 million for next season. The luxury tax threshold, which owner Arte Moreno has indicated as the spending limit in years past, is $197 million for 2018, leaving us with almost $55 million to play with. We then knocked that number down to $45 million to ensure that there is enough payroll flexibility to make mid-season acquisitions possible. As for our proposed offseason moves, we are using MLB Trade Rumors’ free-agent predictions and FanGraphs’ crowdsourced contract estimates as baselines for any free-agent signings. For trades, we vow to keep them as realistic as possible. A popular tactic among baseball fans on the internet is simply offering a bunch of players you don’t like in exchange for some you do. That’s not how trades actually work, so that’s off limits. And lastly, if we are acquiring an arbitration-eligible player, we are using MLB TR’s arbitration projections to calculate the player’s effect on the payroll, as the final arbitration numbers are not yet in. As anyone who has been active on Halos Heaven the last few weeks knows, the Angels’ biggest needs have become glaringly obvious: Three quality infielders who are worthy of sharing the diamond with Gold Glove-winning, DRS leading, should-have-been-an-All-Star shortstop extraordinaire Andrelton Simmons; MLB-quality depth around the margins. With a free agent pool littered with potential landmines, the team’s richest investment should be the most stable option possible. I am talking, of course, about: Carlos Santana, 1B - 4 years and $68 million ($17M AAV) I will spare you the corny Black Magic and Evil Ways references, as his body of work has reached the point that it should speak for itself. Anyone who has lurked the comment threads recently knows I am particularly excited about the idea of the Angels luring my namesake to play first base for a few seasons. And I probably don’t have to convince many of you why, but humor me, anyway: Career 123 wRC+, which has never fallen below 100 since he has been in the league. It has creeped under 110 only one time in his career. He has elite-level plate discipline, generally around top-10 in the league, combined with a well-above average strikeout rate. His career slugging percentage is .455, so the power plays at first base. He is also a switch-hitter with no concerning platoon split, adding much-needed balance to the middle of the line-up. This is “professional hitter” defined. According to UZR, he has been one of the five best defensive first basemen in baseball the last three years. If he were Eric Hosmer’s age, he would likely top him for highest-paid free agent first baseman this offseason. Even at age-32, the MLB Trade Rumors estimate feels a little light to me, so I elected to lock him up to a deal more in line with Dave Cameron’s estimate at Fangraphs. src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/6eGG3sUeVGg?rel=0&" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"> There are a plethora of options to fill second base, all of which would be a marked improvement over what the Angels have received there since trading away Howie Kendrick. Jessica’s acquisition of Cesar Hernandez would be the coup de gras to end our years of second base misery, as he brings defense, on-base skills and youth to the table. Unfortunately, with the Phillies looking to add controllable pitching to bolster their rich collection of position players, I just do not see a match to make this perfect fit come true. Chad recommends Dee Gordon, which is nearly as good a match to solidify second base for a few seasons. Even when he does not hit .300, his defense and base-running prowess are enough to make him an average big league regular. [...]



If I were Billy Eppler..., Part II

2017-11-18T12:00:02-08:00

It’s time to play with some imaginary money. Because so many baseball fans love to play GM every offseason, we here at Halos Heaven decided to get in on the action. You may have seen Jessica DeLine’s post a couple of days ago. That was the first part of a series in which each member of the HH staff outlines his or her ideal offseason. The basic guidelines for the series are as follows. For the luxury tax payroll, we are using the number calculated by Cot’s Contracts, which is about $142.3 million for next season. The luxury tax threshold, which owner Arte Moreno has indicated as the spending limit in years past, is $197 million for 2018, leaving us with almost $55 million to play with. We then knocked that number down to $45 million to ensure that there is enough payroll flexibility to make mid-season acquisitions possible. As for our proposed offseason moves, we are using MLB Trade Rumors’ free-agent predictions and FanGraphs’ crowdsourced contract estimates as baselines for any free-agent signings. For trades, we vowed to keep them as realistic as possible. A common tactic among baseball fans on the internet is simply suggesting that their team trade a bunch of players they don’t like in exchange for some they do. That’s not how trades actually work, so that’s off limits. And lastly, if we are acquiring an arbitration-eligible player, we are using MLB TR’s arbitration projections to calculate the player’s effect on the payroll, as the final arbitration numbers are not yet in. Got it? Here’s my plan of attack, and you can look for the rest of the HH staff’s plans in the coming days. Dee Gordon Three years, $37.9 million, plus a $14 million vesting option for 2021 (includes a $1 million buyout) remaining on current contract Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports In a perfect world, Cesar Hernandez, currently of the Phillies, would man second base for the Angels next year. He’s only 27 years old; he’s under team control for three more cost-controlled seasons; and he has carried a .372 on-base percentage since 2016. But the Angels have reportedly been eyeing the switch-hitter since last offseason and have thus far been unwilling to meet Philadelphia’s asking price, and I would be, too. Detroit’s Ian Kinsler would also work, but he’d only be a one-year solution, and I’m looking longer term here. Fortunately for the Angels, the Marlins came under new ownership recently, and they are aiming to shed about $50 million of their payroll. Enter: Dee Gordon. The Dodgers traded the speedy Gordon to the Marlins prior to the 2015 season, which ended up being his breakout season; he posted 4.8 Wins Above Replacement that year. The following year, however, Gordon was busted for performance-enhancing drugs and suspended for 80 games. When he was on the field in 2016, he posted his worst offensive numbers since 2013, hitting .265/.305/.335 (73 wRC+, where 100 is average). But he rebounded this season, getting on base at a .341 clip while accumulating 3.3 WAR and swiping a league-leading 60 bases. Gordon won’t draw many walks or hit more than a handful of home runs, but he will more than make up for it with his solid glove work and elite baserunning. By FanGraphs’ baserunning metric, the 29-year-old was the second-most valuable baserunner in the National League in 2017, and he was baseball’s best defensive second baseman by Ultimate Zone Rating. The money left on Gordon’s contract along with Miami’s desire to trim payroll and begin rebuilding means that Gordon shouldn’t have an exorbitant asking price attached to him and can likely be had for a reasonable bundle of prospects. I’d take on the remainder of the money and center the package around Chris Rodriguez and Jaime Barria, two right-handed pitchers who MLB Pipeline ranks as the seventh and eighth-best prospects in the Angels’ system, respectively. In this scenario, the Angels would manage to hold on to their best prospects (Jo Adell, Jahmai Jones, Matt Tha[...]



WeekEnd HaloLinks: Altuve/Stanton close Awards

2017-11-17T04:00:01-08:00

The Major Award season is now over, and we can turn attention to roster moves. Congratulations to Jose Altuve (AL) and Giancarlo Stanton (NL) for their 2017 MVP honors. Mike Trout ended up finishing 4th (Jose Ramirez was 3rd), but he actually still picked up six 3rd place votes. This, of course, is the worst consideration finish of his career and it’s all due to his missing 25% of the season. For my part, I regret less his MVP finish than I do what he might have actually done production-wise had he not injured himself. Remember that when he went out his slash line was .337/.461/.742 with an OPS of 1.203 and a RE24 of an astounding 28.24 over only 47 games!! Assuming a normal 159 game season, that would have projected out to a season-ending 95.53. His highest to date is 75.42 in 2013 (10.5 fWAR). 95.53 would have been good for 7th-best all-time, 4th greatest in history if you remove the three obscenely juiced. Still, he had a helluva year........... Also, Andrelton Simmons came in 8th and Justin Upton 16th. Simmons actually got one 5th-place vote. Miguel Cabrera, for the first time in his career, did not register a single vote. We outsiders in the IBWAA came to the same conclusions of Altuve and Stanton, although in the AL we parked Trout 3rd with Ramirez 4th. Simmons was 10th. My personal choices were Altuve in the AL, and Anthony Rendon in the NL. Both the BBWAA and the IBWAA parked Rendon 6th. Numskulls. I’ll chart up my final tally next week. But that’s it for the major awards. Dine on some Now-We-Can-Focus-On-FA-Fun-Offseason-Links: A Little Bit of Angels News Have some Trout Porn: “For as long as Mike Trout is doing his thing, the only real way to make an MVP race fair is to have him sit out 40 games. They should really just name the award for him and use it to annually honor whichever mortal appeared the second best baseball player that season.“..............Hey, but at least we aren’t getting that “no meaningful games” baloney this year.......... Mike Moustakas wants to come to Anaheim, whether you like it or not............ Upside #1 = Matt Shoemaker is a really cool guy. Upside #2 = free McRibs! Downside = why no Mike Trout Filet o’ Fish sandwich??............ Have a little pitching pipeline love from FanGraphs........... Everywhere In Baseball The Yankees are seeking a chance to dip back under the Luxury threshold so that they can reset their consecutive tax penalty, just in time to make a run at Bryce Harper?............ I don’t care whether Jack Morris gets into the Hall of Fame, or not. I really don’t. If the Hall is a little larger to encase more of the meaningful stories and memories so what? But what I DO love is the back-and-forth. The Old Guard insists on clinging to dead ideas and the New Guard just shreds them into tiny pieces of embarrassing irrelevance for it. Yesterday’s episode comes from Jay Jaffe.......... This is what we predicted here back in Spring. And we also gave you the update this week. Manfred is going ahead with what he wants to do about pace of play with or without the union. And, since he has the power in the offseason according to the CBA, he’s going to take full advantage............... The Curse of Houston goes forth. Next in line: the Detroit Tigers. Which will Bless not just the boys of Detroit, butt he boys of Chicago, Cleveland, Minnesota, Kansas City.......... Montreal might get back their Expos, but not unless they give Rob Manfred a shiny new stadium to visit........... The Yankees fired Joe Girardi because, for one reason, he couldn’t communicate with his players. Well, one potential replacement - Hensley Meulens - won’t have that problem. He speaks 5 languages........... Hot Stove So Giancarlo Stanton wins the NL MVP Award. Normally, that would mean a very nice ceremony for Opening Day in Miami next season in front of all three of their fans. But because we are talking about the Marlins, Stanton could very well be traded away anyway..........[...]



If I were Billy Eppler - Part I

2017-11-16T15:34:21-08:00

My plan to win the 2018 season Note: This is a series that each of the HH writers will be contributing to with their own unique plans. In the end, you can decide who’s plan you like best and/or who has the craziest ideas, etc. Enjoy! Billy Eppler easily has one of the coolest and most difficult jobs in all of baseball. You are the one the assembles the team. You are the one that has to comb the wavier wire, know players that may be trade targets, keep track of value, deal with the likes of Scott Boras (has to be the worst part of the job), and basically never have an off day. Pretending to be GM is pretty fun too even though it’s a bit more difficult without a team of scouts and analytics experts to back you up. With that in mind, and like the rest of the writing staff here, I present to you my off-season targets if I were running the show. First, we are going with the number of 38 million available to spend or about 159 in committed payroll (this includes 7 million for the 2018 draft and 10 million for trade deadline wiggle room). The luxury tax threshold for 2018 is 197 million. All the salary numbers below are estimates based on internet rumors and already published arbitration estimates on MLB Trade Rumors. My Goals: Upgrade at second base Upgrade at third base Solidify the bullpen Bring in an innings eating starter Second Base Cesar Hernandez My first choice here is Cesar Hernandez. He comes at a great value of only 4.7 million and the dude can get on base. Hernandez is also younger at age 27 so he could be a longer term solution. Hernandez is a switch hitter so he brings that left handed bat and has a career .357 OBP. My targets for the not as payroll friendly guys would be Jason Kipnis and Dee Gordon but only if Hernandez isn’t available. There are a lot of moving pieces so which guy you target depends on who you put at third base. Ie., if you put a right handed bat at third, you go after Kipnis. If you get a left handed bat at third, you target the speedy Dee Gordon. Cost: 4.7 - 10 million (AAV) Third Base Zack CozartIf you read my previous articles, you know I’m a fan of upgraded third base and using Cron and Valbuena at first. My top choice here is Zack Cozart. Cozart is a shortstop by trade but the Angels can get him to play third it’s a big win. Cozart may cost 12-15 million and he can back up Simmons on his days off (Valbuena would play third). Some say he may cost even more but he did only make 5 million last year and it depends on how you structure the contract to bring down the AAV. Up next after Cozart would be Mike Moustakas who can bring some left handed thump to the lineup. He may cost around 17-18 million and may require a 5 year deal, but the Angels don’t have any near term options at the hot corner and Moustakas is one of the youngest options available. Moustakas has the added bonus of not costing any prospects but he WOULD cost a second round pick in 2018 which is not ideal. Cost: 12 - 18 million (AAV) Bullpen Yusmeiro Petit + ? Yusmeiro Petit has to be one of the first guys you lock down here. Assuming you lock down Petit for around 3.5 million or so, your depth chart looks like: Cam Bedrosian, Keynan Middleton, Yusemeiro Petit, Blake Parker, Eduardo Paredes, Blake Wood, Noe Ramirez, Troy Scribner, and Jose Alvarez. The Angels should part ways with Wood (and use that 1.8 million on new bullpen pieces), Scribner may end up in AAA and Alvarez doesn’t instill much confidence though I would keep him around for now at 1.1 million. I don’t have other specific names, but the plan would be to go out and find one or two middle innings kind of guys at a cost of around 2-4 million total. You are saving 2 million from Wood so the added pieces cost a net value of 0-2 million + Petit’s new salary. Cost: 3.5 - 5.5 million (AAV) Starter Andrew Cashner When Cashner was available last year, I was hoping the Angels would jump but now we have that[...]



Thor’sLinks: Deep Cy

2017-11-16T04:00:02-08:00

Remember when we had Cy Young candidate pitchers? That was fun. To what should be the absolute surprise of nobody beyond the unfriendly confines of Massachusetts, Corey Kluber (AL) and Max Scherzer (NL) won the Cy Young Award for their respective leagues. Nice of the BBWAA to agree with me, once again. And I can do this without the need to demand free hot dogs. Also, our outsider’s group of the IBWAA came to the same conclusion. I swear, had they not screwed up the Manager of the Year vote, I would think that I constitute 100% of the IBWAA voting bloc. But the saddest part of the CYA chatter each year is how we have no dog in the hunt. The last time we had any pitcher draw even a single vote for any place was 2012, when Jered Weaver came in 3rd with 0 first-place votes. We haven’t had a single 1st place vote since some home-town scribe tossed one John Lackey’s way back in 2007. Bartolo Colon in 2005 was our last CYA winner. So much for the MSM meme of “Mike Scioscia + catching instructor guru + CERA + Angels pitchers love Angels catchers”. Those same guys don’t have much respect for the results. Have some Deep-Cy-Offseason-Links: A Little Bit of Angels News The big news here is the rumor that Billy Eppler is sniffing around the soon-to-be-a corpse Ian Kinsler. I read that and I’m like, HOLY BALLS! Why have a 36-year old 2B coming off a 90 OPS+ seasons, with only 1 year of service locked up costing $11 million and for which you have to trade away assets, when you can have a 34-year old 2B coming off a 119 OPS+ season, who is a complete Free Agent without any QO ties AND for whom you can have without losing any assets AND for less money AND for whatever length of contract you desire?? Who is that other cat? Howie Kendrick..............And maybe my fold brain is fossilizing and I am mis-remembering, but isn’t Kinsler the guy who when he was a Ranger, after a tight loss to Texas in Arlington late in the season in a tight pennant race shouted at our guys to “get the fuck off our field?”............If Eppler is willing to surrender assets and pay a 2B the north side of $10 million per year and doesn’t mind having a problem on his hands, take Dee “The Needle” Gordon of off Jeter’s hands.......... Better news comes from later in the day, when the rumors flipped to Neil Walker or Zack Kozart........... Just in time for sending out cards, take your family to Angels Stadium for Holiday Photos in the Clubhouse! You can send them to all your Oakland fan buddies.......... The Angels ARE doing some international signings. Just not the one you were hoping for.......... Everywhere In Baseball Here comes our pitch clock. I wonder if the clock pauses while batters step out of the box between pitches? I am also thinking that this might make for some fun in-stadium drinking games on those dull Wednesday nights, especially when Shooey is pitching.............. The Braves are about to get pummeled for getting caught screwing around with their international signings. The final list of penalties is still growing, but they are rumored to include “a substantial fine, restrictions in future international signing markets that amounts to being severe, and the loss of prospects signed from Latin America is basically guaranteed....including top prospect Kevin Maitan.“.....At least they didn’t do something REALLY bad, like committing a Federal crime and stealing data from another franchise. had that happened, wow, can you just imaging the punishment??............ And the shenanigans of the International system still go on, as the Pirates just found out........... Scott Boras might end up earning a section unto himself this offseason. yesterday he was in prime form. Talking about Eric Hosmer, Boras bragged: “He’s Playoff-ville, Federal Express“......Then, about Jake Arrieta: “big squirrel with lots of nuts in his trees.“.....Speaking about the Cubs, and the deep p[...]



Angels Fall/Winter Leagues prospects update #2

2017-11-15T15:55:17-08:00

The Winter AND Fall Leagues are a happening place for prospects. The Angels don’t have anyone all that shiny playing in the winter leagues but they do in the Arizona Fall League. Angels minor leaguers are currently playing in 3 different winter leagues + the Arizona Fall League so let’s take a look at who is still playing and how they are doing. Players who have a strikethrough below have become free agents since the winter/fall leagues started. LVBP (Venezuelan) - runs through 12/29LMP (Mexico) - runs through 12/29LIDOM (Dominican) - runs through 12/17 AFL (Arizona Fall League) - runs though 11/16 (with playoffs on Saturday) Sometimes writing about the prospects in the Angels system is super fun fun task, and sometimes it’s a painful chore. This off season is much more of the later since there really isn’t a standout int he system playing at any level currently. Zach Houchins (25, 3B) LVBPHouchins has proved himself well enough so far with a .252 AVG, .319 OBP, and 4 home runs. The Angels run very thin on 3rd base prospects and Houchins is about the only guy who could be major league ready in the next few years so playing good ball this winter could go a long way toward his development. Jose Briceno (25, C) LVBPBriceno has just 1 hit in his 18 ABs. He spent most of last year in AA before logging a few games in Salt Lake where he will probably land this year as catching depth for the big league team, though the pool is starting to get deeper with Taylor Ward and Wade Wass having the potential to end up in Salt Lake at some point in 2018 as well (Wass having already been there). Julian Leon (21, C) LMPLeon has only 18 AB and 5 hits. He’s stuck out 7 times with 1 walk. Leon spent most of 2017 in Burlington where he hit .304 with a .386 OBP and 59 Ks over 207 ABs. Abel De Los Santos (24, RHP) LIDOMDayan Diaz (RHP) LIDOMDiaz has been lights out with a 0.68 ERA and 13 Ks over 13.1 innings. Opponents are so far hitting just .167 off him. Diaz is an intriguing prospect. He’s 28 years old and released by the Astros last year but over his minor league career he has racked up 438 in 433 innings with a 2.41 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. However, over the past 2 seasons he’s thrown 19.2 big league innings and has allowed 23 hits, 5 home runs, and 11 walks so his minor league success has not yet translated to the MLB level. Luis Diaz (28, RHP) LVBPDrew Gagnon (27, RHP) LVBPJohn Lamb (27, LHP) LVBPJhondaniel Medina (24, RHP) LVBPOsmer Morales (25, RHP) LVBPMorales hasn’t had a great winter so far, giving up runs in each of his 5 starts for a total of 11 ER in 10 IP. He’s also struck out 6, walked 2, and allowed 2 home runs. Morales had a solid 3.22 ERA and 1.34 WHIP over 50 innings in Salt Lake this past season. Felix Pena (27, RHP) LIDOMPena has only tossed 2.2 innings and has given up 1 run. He’s also walked 3 and struck out 3. Pena was picked up in a trade with the Cubs for a PTBNL just a few weeks ago. He had a less than impressive 2017 at the AAA and big league level. Carlos Salazar (RHP) LMPSalazar has so far allowed 4 runs in 5 innings along with 5 Ks and 4 walks. The Angels signed him in May as a free agent to a minor league contract. He had a pretty decent season in Burlington but has a very high walk rate that he needs to get under control. —- Wade Wass (C) AFLWass ended up on the team after Taylor Ward was taken off the roster due to a shoulder impingement issue. He’s had just 1 hit in 21 ABs and has struck out 12 times. Wass is average catcher in the system but his future role may play out in 2018 when he should see some Salt Lake playing time and a chance to prove himself with his bat. He showed some power and plate discipline in Mobile last year with 11 home runs and a .364 OBP in 59 games. Wass only caught 21 games last year, being used as a DH and 3 times in corner outfield spots. Troy Montgomery (OF) AFLMontgom[...]



Who Do We Love to Hate Part 2: The NL Central

2017-11-15T13:00:02-08:00

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Part two of our ongoing quest to find out which franchise Angels fans loathe the most. If you haven’t yet voted for the NL West entrant of your choice, click here.

Moving from the NL West to flyover country, we now select the Angel fans least liked team from the NL Central.

Here are your options:

St. Louis Cardinals: the consensus “best fans in baseball” dumped an aging Albert Pujols on us and was the grooming ground for Joe Buck.

Chicago Cubs: last year’s bandwagon team du jour with their cool old ballpark and Old Style beer, stewarded by Joe Maddon, the one the Angels let get away.

Milwaukee Brewers: broke our hearts back in 1982 then left the AL before we could get a rematch.

Pittsburgh Pirates: we’ve played them six times in the last decade. Maybe somebody got beaned or something? No, OK, I’m sure somebody has a reason.

Cincinnati Reds: the first professional baseball team. Without them, we’d have so much more free time.