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  1. I do believe that the AL West is a four team division, not five, and they finished 3rd, not forth. But as always, great article.

    Comment by mmoritz22 — March 29, 2011 @ 10:06 am

  2. The process for determining the Future Talent rankings needs a major overhaul next year. It’s simply unacceptable for half the league (exaggerating, obviously) to be tied for 5th place. I’d almost like to see what the rankings would look like if they were compiled without the Future Talent component because it seems like a virtually worthless metric in its current form.

    Comment by Lanenator — March 29, 2011 @ 10:11 am

  3. I have the Angels ranked as 7th best, so slightly low but reasonable imo. A front office that has put together a winning team in the recent past. A solid minor league system. An organization that is ranked 9th most valuable by Forbes. Then dragged down very slightly for having a large payroll and what amounts to a likely .500 team this year.

    I’d have Toronto then Colorado/Cincy next.

    Comment by Xeifrank — March 29, 2011 @ 10:37 am

  4. Agreed. Makes the series much worse this year. Gotta get more than two voters next year.

    Comment by Mike H — March 29, 2011 @ 10:47 am

  5. Combine that with over-reaction based on previous offseason.

    The only thing that could/should change significantly from year to year is present talent, right?

    Future talent would change to a lesser degree, simply due to the nature of prospects.

    .. and IMO, financial resources does not carry enough weight.

    Almost equal weighting is placed on Baseball Operations, something we don;t have good metrics for.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — March 29, 2011 @ 10:53 am

  6. Organizationally, the Blue Jays and Rangers are this high?

    Comment by CircleChange11 — March 29, 2011 @ 10:58 am

  7. “and just completed his second-best season at 32.”

    Wells was 31 in the recently completed season, turned 32 in the offseason. And while his 2010 season was better than most years for him, it sure looks like 2003 and 2006 were better.

    Comment by Rally — March 29, 2011 @ 11:00 am

  8. Vernon Wells = Edmund Fitzgerald

    Comment by Joel — March 29, 2011 @ 11:00 am

  9. Remember, this is organizational depth and a front office state of affiars, not necessarily current team depth.

    Last year the Jays farm system was rated 4th – and then they added Gose and Lawrie.

    I have no idea about the Rangers though.

    Comment by MathuC — March 29, 2011 @ 11:05 am

  10. Best part is, you’re not even exaggerating that much. Completely agree, I feel like these rankings have told us about nothing. There are a handful of bad teams, a handful of great teams, and a bunch of decent teams with differing strengths and weaknesses that are all about even with each other.

    Comment by Xenophanes — March 29, 2011 @ 11:06 am

  11. So, Vernon Wells is going to sink into the stormy waters of Lake Superior this summer, then have Gordon Lightfoot write a moving ballad about him?

    I hope Torii Hunter doesn’t stop by the Glensheen Mansion in Duluth, then–otherwise, it’s curtains for the Angels’ outfield!

    Comment by Jim — March 29, 2011 @ 11:44 am

  12. That first comment really didn’t make any sense, but this comment is a beautiful reply to that nonsense, Jim. :)

    Comment by Patrick — March 29, 2011 @ 11:50 am

  13. Vernon Wells will also be one of the best beers in America.

    Comment by Alex Remington — March 29, 2011 @ 12:01 pm

  14. I will say that this is the one ranking that I disagree with my co-authors on the most – I’d have the Angels 5-10 spots lower than this. They’ve squandered a lot of their future resources by locking themselves into awful contracts, and I just don’t see the depth of talent needed to compensate for some high priced failures.

    Comment by Dave Cameron — March 29, 2011 @ 12:23 pm

  15. Does no one else thing the Angels’ franchise is a disaster?

    It has huge payroll potential, but has lots of locked up assets in the next couple of years and thus little flexibility.

    It has good future talent, but they’re all pretty far away.

    It has pretty bad present talent, this is a team that was .500 and by various rankings you could argue that they were still pretty lucky and may be worse this year.

    Reagins is just a bad GM. Wells for Napoli? Really?

    Honestly, this team is one of the worser franchises IMO, I have no idea how this got ranked so highly.

    Comment by AndyS — March 29, 2011 @ 12:31 pm

  16. If “Baseball Operations” includes Mike Scioscia, that 22nd ranking seems awfully low, and as a Mariner fan I’m not biased in their favor. We can argue about the value of a manager and obviously the dubious Vernon Wells acquisition colors this category, but the Dan Haren heist ought to partly offset that. Someone needs to figure out how the Angels consistently outperform their projected record, but it seems to me that the Angels’ on field management and coaching staff are just about the best in baseball (Joe Madden and Bud Black have done pretty well of late after apprenticing with Scioscia). Bump up that category a bit and the Angels would be in the top ten, where I think they belong.

    Comment by john — March 29, 2011 @ 12:35 pm

  17. As a fan I would have the team ranked quite a bit higher.

    — Track record of success – check.
    — Strong farm system (top 10) – check
    — Large capital resources – check
    — Team that could easily win 85+ games – check

    I guess if the emphasis is on winning in just 2011 then the Angels should fall outside the top 10. However, if we are talking about laying bets on who will continue to be an 85-90 win team over the next 5 years the Angels have to be among just a few teams in baseball.

    For the record, the Vernon Wells deal was bad. No other way to spin it. They are paying $12m/year too much for Wells. However, the team will be better with him in LF. And the $12m isn’t that big of a deal. GMJ’s 100 year contract at $10m/year finally falls off the payroll this year. We were paying Speier $5m for the last 2 years to watch baseball from his house. Kazmir was a sinkhole in 2010 and is shaping up to be one in 2011. Point is, as horrid as that trade was (and yes it was horrid) there is just way too much emphasis on it. The deal will hurt the club but not cripple it. We’ve dealt with far worse in the past.

    But that’s OK. The Angels are always the underdog because they do things their way. It may not make sense. It may not seem right. However, the formula for success is there.

    Comment by BJsWorld — March 29, 2011 @ 12:37 pm

  18. This is an absolutely stupid criticism. Given the uncertainty inherent in teams’ futures, it would be unscientific to say much more than this with any confidence.

    Comment by Al Dimond — March 29, 2011 @ 12:56 pm

  19. TEX deserves their high ranking. they have a first place team now, and a good farm system as well. new TV deal means payrolls can drift up (see the beltre deal). they’re definitely looking good.

    Comment by brendan — March 29, 2011 @ 1:03 pm

  20. Yeah, it must hurt to see the Angels this much higher than the M’s. :)

    Comment by Xeifrank — March 29, 2011 @ 1:14 pm

  21. Al Dimond: If that’s your attitude, then why do these rankings at all?

    Comment by Oscar — March 29, 2011 @ 1:32 pm

  22. Xenophanes: your last sentence is completely correct. The purpose of these rankings, I think, is to put a rough sort on those categories and try to get a feel for why each organization is in its respective category and how likely it is to move in one direction or another.

    Oscar: I’m not Al Dimond, but from my point of view, the answer to “why do these rankings?” is simple: because what I’ve said in the paragraph above is worth doing. Just because you can’t grill a filet mignon for dinner tonight doesn’t mean it isn’t worth having a bowl of soup instead.

    Comment by The Ancient Mariner — March 29, 2011 @ 1:53 pm

  23. You amuse me. Your sole criterion for the value of these rankings appears to be whether they agree with your pre-determined opinion. That sort of attitude toward life is a great way to ensure you never learn anything.

    Comment by The Ancient Mariner — March 29, 2011 @ 1:54 pm

  24. They have $75m tied up in 2012. $25m in 2013. $21m in 2014.

    Compare that to …

    Boston – 2012 – $101m / 2013 – $79m / 2014 – $65m
    New York A – 2012 – $153m / 2013 – $126m / 2014 – $76m
    Philly – 2012 – $112m / 2013 – $82m / 2014 – $50m
    Chicago A – 2012 – $95m / 2013 – $63m / 2014 – $39m

    I could go on but for a team that is ranked with the 4th highest Financial Resources their commitments don’t seem too high.

    After this off-season the team sheds GMJ and Kazmir ($25m in dead contracts). Following year is the last for Torii. I’m not sure how you could argue that the team doesn’t have financial flexibility in the future.

    This was a 500 team in 2010 that lost their best hitter for 2/3rds of the season. Had less than half of a season of Haren, and missed 60+ innings from Pineiro. They won’t see the sinkhole they had at 3rd. Every regular hitter regressed in 2010. That also won’t happen again.

    The team was “lucky” in that I don’t anticipate Weaver repeating his 2010 season. Every other member of the pitching staff was well within their talent level. The bullpen will be significantly better.

    Anyway, to each their own. I’ll be happy to eat crow if the team is really “one of the worser franchises”.

    Comment by BJsWorld — March 29, 2011 @ 2:20 pm

  25. I’m not “doing” the rankings, I’m just reading them. This may be a bit cynical, but the reason to “do” these rankings is to draw eyeballs to the site and make money on ad impressions.

    I think we’re paying a lot of attention to where the teams rank and less to what the scores and the underlying facts mean. The reason I read these is because when the writeups are good they’re a good summary of a team’s prospects for contention in the future, and because they show how FG authors grade organizations, factual errors and all. Because they cover things that would be overlooked in other types of articles.

    The actual numerical rankings? They’d mean more if the categories were better-defined — perhaps still subjective, but at least with a consistent rubric providing a frame for that subjectivity and forcing the voters to examine it. I still think they’d show that there are a few great orgs primed for long success, a few bad ones primed for long failure, and a lot of teams in the middle with such qualitative differences that it’s hard to rank them quantitatively. I think they’d show that because it’s a reflection of reality.

    Comment by Al Dimond — March 29, 2011 @ 2:27 pm

  26. Weaver has godly peripherals. I don’t follow the Angels closely, but based on stats alone I’d rather have him going forward than just about any other starter in the AL.

    Comment by Luke in MN — March 29, 2011 @ 3:01 pm

  27. Not nearly a disaster. A mediocrity at worst. I think the ranking’s about right. One terrible trade does not a terrible franchise make.

    Comment by Luke in MN — March 29, 2011 @ 3:04 pm

  28. Just because other teams have high commitment doesn’t mean that the Angels don’t also have really high commitments. I’m really talking more about 2011-2012.

    Anyway, just because they lost Morales for 2/3 of a season, doesn’t make them better. Injuries are not an excuse, they’re an additional worry, because now you have to worry how these players are going to do coming back from injury. And you can’t just assume players are not going to be injured again – every season, there will be injuries. I don’t know why you assume that the regular hitters are going to get better, when all the high quality hitters other than Morales are past their primes.

    The team was lucky by things like beyondtheboxscore’s standings, and baseballprospectus’ third order and second order wins, not in Jered Weaver, who probably IS legit:

    Both have the team pegged at 72-73 win quality in a neutral environment.

    I have no idea why you say the bullpen will be significantly better – they were already good and it doesn’t seem to have changed much.

    Comment by AndyS — March 29, 2011 @ 3:10 pm

  29. It’s absurd for several reasons.

    1) There’s no way ten teams should be tied for 5th. If you’re going to argue that it’s difficult to ordinally rank teams in this fashion, then you shouldn’t be doing these rankings at all.

    2) There doesn’t seem to be much correlation between (Present Talent and Minor League Ranking) and Future Talent. Can anyone explain how the Mariners can be 25th in Present Talent, 16th in the Minor League Ranking, and tied for 5th in Future Talent?

    3) The math doesn’t work. If you’re going to have 10 teams tied for 5th, at least get the math right. How can the Angels get an 85 both for being 4th in financial resources and for being tied with 9 other teams for 5th in Future Talent? You can’t give all 10 teams credit for being 5th.

    Comment by Sam — March 29, 2011 @ 3:49 pm

  30. The Angels have a better current team (according to all projections), a better farm system (according to BA, BP, and Law), and more financial resources than the Mariners.

    Yet you still have the Mariners ahead?

    Comment by Sam — March 29, 2011 @ 3:56 pm

  31. I don’t disagree too much with the ranking, while I think it is slightly low, I can understand 12th. What I have a problem with is the crappy, careless assessment written up here. Originally had the AL West as a five team division, and Wells age being wrong are pretty careless mistakes. Sinkhole Aybar had the 9th best wRC+ of all SS last year. While he likely wont hit that well again, and is by no means a plus hitter, he is not a sinkhole, and has actually averaged a tick over 2.0 WAR over the last 3 years. Maicer Izturis, who apparently is good enough to start for a bunch of teams (, has a career .325 wOBA (number dragged down alot from his first 100 games) is clearly not a sinkhole and right around league average with the bat. Mathis, no defense there, he just plain sucks, but with Conger up and coming, and Wilson to hopefully poach a good number of starts, that damage should be mitigated. Howie Kendrick has a career .328 wOBA as a second baseman, so flawed isnt even close to the right word there. Bourjous is projected to have around a 92 wRC+ as a CF with plus plus defense, which is an asset, not a liability as you made it seem.
    Theres no way Ill defend the Wells trade, but it did mean that Abreu will not see the outfield this year, and if Mathis doesnt see a huge jump in playing time, it should at least make the team slightly better. While the financial flexibility is not at full capacity right now, Wells shorter contract offers more future flexibility than signing Beltre or Crawford would have allowed (again not defending the trade).
    The Angels have enough flaws and problems to justify the position, but this is one of the worse articles I’ve read on fangraphs, and I was frankly expecting much better.

    Comment by Joel — March 29, 2011 @ 5:36 pm

  32. 1. Why not? If it’s hard to rank future talent we perhaps shouldn’t have a series ranking future talent, but that doesn’t mean we can’t use the knowledge we have (ie KC’s huge advantage in minor-league talent over Milwaukee) to inform organizational rankings.

    2. Yeah, this is bad. The numbers plugged into the organizational ranking formula have been all the hell over the place, to the extent that the results have often surprised the people writing the pieces.

    3. That’s not how the math works. The numeric grades are not given based on what place the team finishes in each category, it’s the other way around.

    Comment by Al Dimond — March 29, 2011 @ 8:38 pm

  33. I like how 5-10 spots lower would put them behind the lowly (yes, very lowly) Mariners. Funny how that works out :)

    Comment by Ivdown — March 30, 2011 @ 2:25 am

  34. Seems a bit high to me. Having that much money tied up in aging and/or bad players (Kazmir, Wells, Hunter) seems like it should hinder their finances quite a bit. It doesn’t really make sense to me that the Angels (who opened last season with a payroll of around $121 million) are above the Cubs ($144 million), for example.

    Also, I’m curious to see the standard deviation in the baseball operations ranking.

    Comment by Fat Spiderman — March 30, 2011 @ 4:13 am

  35. One other thing: Take a glance at these two players.

    Player A (2011 ZIPS projections):
    .260/.313/.432, .322 wOBA, 95 wRC+ in 619 PA. The fans project his defense as -5.0 in 149 games.

    Player B:
    .274/.322/.448, .331 wOBA, 101 wRC+ in 425 PA. Fans project his defense as -2.0 in 122 games.

    Player A is Vernon Wells, and player B is Juan Rivera, who the Angels gave up along with one of their best position players to get Wells and take on his contract. Saying that the acquisition is an upgrade in any way is silly. It’s far more likely that Wells provides nothing that Rivera wouldn’t. In essence, the Angels released Mike Napoli and gave Rivera an $80 million extension. There would be absolutely no way to justify that, and there is no way to justify the Wells acquisition, but the article attempts to do so.

    Comment by Fat Spiderman — March 30, 2011 @ 4:36 am

  36. whoa. Did not. Just tried to give another side to the story. And ended the paragraph by saying that Wells is an overpaid outfielder whose wheels and glove are declining. I don’t really know what the Angels were doing with that one.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — March 30, 2011 @ 5:03 am

  37. Aybar avoids the strikeout and has some speed. Maicer has an average walk rate, slightly above-average speed, and avoids the strikeout. I paused before putting them in the sinkhole category, and perhaps you were right that I was harsh on them.

    I also said that those guys had good gloves for the most part, especially with Bourjos – it goes into a whole thing about defense right after that part, even.

    But putting up an averageish wOBA does not mean you can’t be flawed. Last year, Kendrick’s only above-average skill was the ability to avoid the strikeout.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — March 30, 2011 @ 5:08 am

  38. “Can anyone explain how the Mariners can be 25th in Present Talent, 16th in the Minor League Ranking, and tied for 5th in Future Talent?”

    maybe it depends on how you defind “Minor League Ranking” and “Future Talent”. Here’s a hypothetical example. Let’s say you’re comparing these two teams:

    Team A: minor league W-L%: .560, # top-100 prospects: 3
    Team B: minor league W-L%: .490, # top-100 prospects: 7

    I might be more inclined to prefer to be in Team B’s position. Since most of the minor league players will never see a major league roster, a minor league team’s winning % isn’t really significant. If the “Minor League Ranking” is based on that, you can see how future talent can come out much different than minor league ranking. But correct me if I’m way off base here.

    Comment by David K — March 30, 2011 @ 3:49 pm

  39. Well, I interpreted this:

    “the Angels got a player that will improve the outfield defense even from a corner position, will show some power, and just completed his second-best season at 31”

    as saying that Wells was an upgrade, albeit obviously one that they paid way too much for. Comparing him to Rivera, it doesn’t seem like there is any upgrade at all.

    Comment by Fat Spiderman — March 30, 2011 @ 5:49 pm

  40. Actually, “flawed” is a great way to describe Howie. The way he can square-up seemingly every pitch is amazing. But, his career 3.8 BB% can only be described as a flaw.

    Comment by ineedanap — April 1, 2011 @ 3:04 am

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