BALTIMORE — From the moment he was hired as the Angels’ general manager in November of 2020, Perry Minasian has made no secret of the fact that he put the top priority on acquiring pitching.
Now, as he has watched the 2022 Angels sink under the weight of an underperforming offense, he acknowledges they also needed more bats.
“Yeah, I think you always look back and say ‘I wish I added this, and I wish I added that,’” Minasian said on Sunday. “I think it’s human nature to go back and look in the rearview mirror and see what you could have done differently. The rotation was a huge priority for us. If you asked anybody who watched the club last year what our No. 1 need was, I think the word pitching would have been front and center, probably multiple times before the word hitting came up.”
Unfortunately for Minasian, the Angels are showing they desperately needed both. Although he spent $55 million of the 2022 payroll on deals for pitchers Noah Syndergaard, Michael Lorenzen, Aaron Loup, Ryan Tepera and Archie Bradley, the lack of offensive depth has been a significant issue.
Injuries to third baseman Anthony Rendon and infielder David Fletcher – who put the ball in play, at a minimum – and prolonged slumps for Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Jared Walsh, Brandon Marsh and Max Stassi have left the Angels as a strikeout-riddled, offensively-challenged mess.
“We had some individual performances that have been stellar but one through nine as a whole, we haven’t swung the bats well,” Minasian said.
The collective failure of so many hitters has prompted questions about the accountability of hitting coaches Jeremy Reed, John Mallee and Paul Sorrento. Minasian declined to answer specifically about the coaches, saying it was “unfair,” but he did take personal accountability for the players producing those results.
“There’s no individual person I’m putting blame on,” Minasian said. “I’m in charge of building the club and these are the players I’ve given the staff to work with.”
Minasian said he doesn’t believe there is any organizational, overarching reason for the struggles of the hitters.
“I think it’s individual,” he said. “Nobody has the same swing. Nobody’s the same size. Guys do it differently. Some guys are aggressive. Some guys aren’t. It just depends on the player and their style. I think it’s more individually based.”
The team’s major league strikeout total could be viewed as a philosophical issue for the team about the approach, but Minasian believes it’s more a factor of the players who are getting the chances.
“You have contact hitters who don’t strike out who are not in the lineup,” Minasian said. “We were planning on having Fletcher and Rendon and (Matt) Duffy. You take those guys off the roster and put in other guys that don’t have the contact skills and the strikeouts are going to significantly increase.”
Minasian also said that power hitters like Trout, Ohtani and Walsh are naturally going to strike out.
“Very few guys with power don’t strike out,” Minasian said. “That’s the elite of the elite. That being said, I think our strikeouts can improve. The quality of the at-bats and situational hitting, in general, can improve.”
The poor hitting has also put pressure on the pitching, and the Angels’ bullpen that Minasian rebuilt over the winter has not delivered. Iglesias, Tepera and Loup have all struggled at different times.
Minasian defended their performances, saying that their underlying numbers suggest they will still perform well over the course of the season.
“All three guys are professionals and they know what they’re doing,” Minasian said. “They know how to maneuver through lineups, and I expect them to be really good the rest of the season.”
In the short term, Minasian has some decisions to make in advance of the Aug. 2 trade deadline.
He would not comment on any specific players or his plans, as far as whether the Angels would buy or sell or some combination.
“We’re still too far out to make decisions, as far as concrete decisions, but I’m realistic too,” Minasian said. “We’re not in the position we were a month and a half ago, but there’s still time to go before we have to make a concrete decision to go one way or another.
“I think you look at everything. Buy. Sell. Long term. We might be in a bad spot, but there might be a long-term buy, where we trade prospects for a guy with control. I don’t think you shut anything out.”