Angels GM Perry Minasian ready to focus on upgrading pitching – Press Enterprise

Angels GM Perry Minasian ready to focus on upgrading pitching – Press Enterprise

As Perry Minasian is still getting comfortable in his new office and getting to know all his staff, he must soon address the elephant in the room.

How can he improve the Angels’ pitching?

Five days after he was hired as general manager, Minasian held his first press conference and faced several questions about how his Angels could succeed where other recent teams have failed.

One of the steps, he said, is to look beyond the pitchers when it comes to improving the pitching.

“With pitching comes run prevention,” Minasian said on Tuesday. “I think we can’t lose sight of that either. That entails defense. We have to play quality defense. We have to catch the ball. Game-calling, game-planning, positioning … all the things that entail run-prevention, we’re going to attack.”

The Angels endured their fifth consecutive losing season in 2020, in large part because they had a 5.09 ERA that ranked 26th in the majors. The bullpen also had 14 blown saves, tied for the most in the majors.

Owner Arte Moreno, who participated remotely in Minasian’s press conference, singled that out as one of the main reasons for the team’s failure in 2020.

“If you take half of that, that adds seven wins to our total and we’re a playoff team,” Moreno said. “You can really go through and nitpick different parts of the game, but at the end of the day, we weren’t finishing games and those L’s need to turn into W’s.”

The obvious need to improve the pitching was further hammered home to Moreno and president John Carpino during what Moreno recalled as about 18 to 20 interviews with GM candidates.

“Pitching was really addressed,” Moreno said. “Even though the last few years we’ve invested in pitching, we did not perform at the (necessary) level. So the real question is, how was the game planned? How has that translated onto the field? Also, looking at the depth of the organization, and the minor league level.”

If the Angels are going to invest in getting more pitching this year, a large part of that will obviously be determined by Moreno’s willingness to spend. Trevor Bauer, the top starting pitcher on the free agent market, is likely to net a deal that will pay him at least $25 million per year.

While there has been a suggestion that the pandemic would affect the ability to spend, Moreno didn’t indicate the Angels would be cutting back. Although he wouldn’t answer specifically about the payroll projection for 2021, he said: “Let’s put it this way, it’s not going down.”

Putting that money to good use will be the first order of duty for Minasian.

He suggested that pitching upgrades can be found without breaking the bank, though. As the Atlanta Braves assistant GM, Minasian helped that team pluck Tyler Matzek off the scrap heap and turn him into a productive late-inning reliever in 2020. In previous years, the Braves also got quality work out of Anibal Sanchez, who signed a minor league deal and become one of their top starters in 2018.

“There are different ways to find arms,” Minasian said. “It’s going to be up to the baseball operations department to do what we need to do to find those arms. And whether that’s through the draft, whether that’s through international signings, whether that’s through free agency, whether that’s through the independent teams, at the end of the day, it’s about finding the right guys, finding the right fit.”

The Angels’ rotation at the end of the season included Dylan Bundy, Andrew Heaney, Griffin Canning, Jaime Barria and Patrick Sandoval. They also have Shohei Ohtani, who is expected to be healthy and resume his role as a two-way player in 2021.

Minasian, who scouted Ohtani in Japan, said it’s too early to commit to specifics on how Ohtani would be used.