Buyers are in love with Shakespeare’s theatre

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2020 Angels spring training preview: infield

first_img Angels’ poor pitching spoils an Albert Pujols milestone MOVE THEY COULD MAKEThey don’t have any pressing needs on the big league roster for an addition from outside the organization, but there is a major potential decision waiting for General Manager Billy Eppler. Will they sign Simmons to a contract extension? He is set to become a free agent at the end of 2020. Simmons will be 31 at the end of the season, which is an age when most shortstops are nearing the end of their time at that position. Will Simmons, however, be the exception, aging more like Omar Vizquel, Barry Larkin or Derek Jeter? And was last year’s decline with the bat just an injury-related hiccup? And could Fletcher or Rengifo step in at shortstop in 2021? All of this will factor into the Simmons situation, which the Angels might choose to address before the season.Related Articles Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Angels’ Mike Trout working on his defense, thanks to Twitter As the Angels head toward the first workout of spring training on Feb. 12, we are providing a breakdown of how they stand with their roster. Players acquired this winter include the method of their acquisition in parentheses. Today, the infield. (Previously, the rotation, bullpen and catchers.)2019 RECAPMore went wrong than right for the Angels’ infielders last season, most notably with shortstop Andrelton Simmons having an injury-marred, disappointing season. Although Simmons played his normal outstanding defense, he hurt his ankle twice and played just 103 games and hit .264 with a .673 OPS, his worst with the Angels. At first base, Albert Pujols held up well physically – remaining active the entire season at age 39 – and his production was adequate for his age. Pujols still hit .244 with a .734 OPS, which is below average for a first baseman. Even the biggest positive of the season on the Angels’ infield came with a negative. Tommy La Stella came out of nowhere to earn an All-Star berth, but he broke his leg and missed almost the entire second half. David Fletcher moved between second and third and took another step forward, lifting his batting average to .290 with a .734 OPS and playing outstanding defense at multiple positions. Luís Rengifo made his debut and showed some flashes of his potential. Overall, the Angels were below average offensively at all four spots.HOW IT LOOKS RIGHT NOWThe worst spot among the four was third base, with the Angels posting the worst OPS in the majors. They appear to have filled that hole for years to come, by adding Anthony Rendon (free agent, from Nationals) on a seven-year, $245-million deal. Rendon, who finished third in the NL MVP race, gives the Angels outstanding defense and offense at a position that’s been a hole in recent years. With Rendon at third and Simmons back healthy at shortstop, the Angels now have Fletcher, La Stella and Rengifo all to vie for playing time at second. That gives them the chance to ride the hot hand. La Stella also might see some time at first, which won’t be occupied as often by Pujols this year. This year Pujols is going to get more time back at DH, because Shohei Ohtani will vacate that spot to accommodate his pitching schedule. La­ Stella has barely played first, though, so it remains to be seen how much time he’ll get there, and how much will go to Jared Walsh or Matt Thaiss. The addition of a 26th man to major league rosters this season should allow the Angels an extra infielder.THE NEXT LAYEREither Thaiss or Walsh figures to start the season in the minors, ready as the replacement if the other struggles or Pujols gets hurt. The Angels also might choose to have Rengifo start in the minors if they don’t think he’d get enough playing time in the majors. José Rojas and Jahmai Jones also figure to be playing in the infield at Triple-A, ready to answer the call if needed. The next impact infielders to come from the farm system are likely deep in Class-A or below. Shortstops Jeremiah Jackson, Kyren Paris and Arol Vera are among the Angels’ top prospects, but none has even played a full season yet.center_img Jose Suarez’s rocky start sinks Angels in loss to Astros Angels offense breaks out to split doubleheader with Astros Angels’ Shohei Ohtani spending downtime working in outfield last_img read more