What should be expected from C.J. Cron, moving forward? -- Brad S., Ontario, Canada It's hard to say. While he's shown flashes of his potential as an impact power hitter for the Angels, Cron has also proved to be quite streaky, a tendency he again struggled with in the 2017
What should be expected from C.J. Cron, moving forward? -- Brad S., Ontario, Canada
It's hard to say. While he's shown flashes of his potential as an impact power hitter for the Angels, Cron has also proved to be quite streaky, a tendency he again struggled with in the 2017 season. In his first 34 games, Cron hit .212 with a .562 OPS and two home runs, leading to two demotions to the Minors. When he returned to the Majors in July, Cron looked like a completely different hitter, batting .300 with a .944 OPS and 12 homers over his next 47 games before cooling off again over the final two weeks of September.
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The Angels seemed to show some distrust in Cron last winter, when they signed Luis Valbuena with the intention of using him primarily at first base, though both ended up receiving regular playing time in the second half, after Yunel Escobar got hurt. Right now, it's unclear if the Angels view Cron as an everyday option at first, or if they plan on trying to platoon him again next year. Another potential wrinkle would be if the Angels sign a free-agent infielder such as Mike Moustakas or Eric Hosmer this offseason. If they bring in Moustakas to play third, Cron and Valbuena would likely have to split time at first base; if they try to upgrade their first-base situation with Hosmer, Cron likely becomes expendable.
I think a lot of it will depend on whether the Angels believe that Cron will continue to develop into a more consistent hitter who can be a steady and productive presence in their lineup for a full season.
Despite us having some good arms, why not shop around for a true ace? Some that are not injury-prone. -- Jerry J., Fontana, Calif.
While I agree that it would make sense to bolster the rotation, given the injury history of many of the Angels' starters, the reality is that starting pitching -- particularly on the free-agent market -- is expensive and generally not a risk-free investment. I think general manager Billy Eppler would rather direct his resources toward fixing the offense and rely on the improvements to the rotation to come from within. The Angels are expecting to enter next season with Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney, Tyler Skaggs, Matthew Shoemaker, Nick Tropeano, Parker Bridwell, JC Ramirez and Jaime Barria (the club's No. 8 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com) as rotation options, and they'll likely round out their depth through trades, waiver claims, Minor League deals or second-tier free agents.
If Justin Upton decides to opt out, what is the possibility of the Angels calling up prospects Jo Adell or Jahmai Jones to fill the left-field position? -- Clint M., Menifee, Calif.
Adell and Jones are ranked the Angels' top two prospects by MLBPipeline.com, but neither has played above Class A Advanced, so they're not expected to impact the Major League club anytime soon. The Angels' closest outfield prospect is probably Michael Hermosillo (No. 12), who reached Triple-A Salt Lake this season and batted .267 with a .763 OPS, nine home runs and 35 stolen bases across three Minor League levels.
Any chance the Angels make an attempt to hire Kevin Long as the new hitting coach? -- Ryan H., Murrieta, Calif.
Eppler is certainly familiar with Long -- he served as the Yankees' hitting coach while Eppler was still in New York's front office -- but Long is viewed as a front-runner for the Mets' managerial opening and is reportedly expected to stay with the organization in some capacity, even if he is not hired as the manager. Given the circumstances, a reunion in Anaheim seems unlikely.
[We won] a World Series title in 2002, [but] lately [we've had] nothing but losing seasons. How much longer will the Angels stick with Mike Scioscia? -- Rob E., Sula, Mont.
Scioscia is under contract through 2018, so he will continue to manage the Angels for at least one more season. His future beyond that is unclear.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.