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The Angels hoped for the best, and here’s what they got – Orange County Register

Although the Angels talked during spring training about having higher expectations than the rest of the baseball world, reality hit them hard during the first quarter of the season.

The Angels are between 16 and 28 years old. This equals the second-worst start in franchise history, better than their 14-30 record in 1969.

While this was disappointing for the Angels and their fans, it shouldn’t surprise anyone.

The Angels are here because of the decisions they made, starting with owner Arte Moreno.

The Angels won 73 games last season, then lost Shohei Ohtani, who was both their best pitcher and their best hitter. They didn’t replace him with either a pitcher or a leadoff hitter.

This was the result of Moreno’s decision to reduce the wage bill. The Angels’ payroll, as calculated for the luxury tax, was about $233 million in 2023, and it is about $191 million for 2024, according to FanGraphs.

Moreno said during spring training that his plan was to “lower the budget.” … I’m not going to spend money just to show that we’re going to spend money unless it changes the team significantly.

Moreno said in that same interview that he was excited about the young players.

“I’m in this because I believe we can build a team to win,” he said.

In order to win in 2024, the Angels needed significant development from their young core and better health from their veterans.

Whether it’s a realistic expectation or an overly optimistic fantasy, it’s clear that neither has happened so far.

Injuries have once again decimated the squad. Five of the 13 position players who were on the Opening Day roster are now on the injured list, including the three with the biggest salaries: Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon and Brandon Drury. (They could get Luis Rengifo and Miguel Sanó back in the coming days.)

The result has been a roster that regularly features players recently released or designated for assignment by other teams.

The Angels lost starting pitcher Chase Silseth, which allowed José Soriano to move from the bullpen to the rotation. They lost reliever Robert Stephenson, who was their biggest acquisition of the winter. The top three remaining experienced relievers – Carlos Estévez, Matt Moore and Luis Garcia – all underperformed.

As for the young players the Angels hoped would improve, outfielder Jo Adell is the only one who did. Shortstop Zach Neto, left-hander Reid Detmers and catcher Logan O’Hoppe – arguably the three best young players on the roster – are all essentially who they were last year. First baseman Nolan Schanuel didn’t play enough last season for anyone to really know what he could be this season, and he was understandably inconsistent.

Left-hander Patrick Sandoval, right-hander Griffin Canning and outfielder Taylor Ward have all lived up to their professional expectations. They showed flashes of their potential, but with struggles in between.

All of the aforementioned players have clearly demonstrated their talent to be quality major players, elements of a winning team. Some nights, they show it, like during their impressive victory against the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday.

Many other days were like Monday (the bullpen collapse) or Tuesday (the squeeze failure), where they did a lot of things right, but just enough wrong to end up with a roster of what-ifs and almosts that lead to a loss.

California Daily Newspapers

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