Angels have no choice but to rebuild on the fly — and it might work

It was a form of what is called “rebuilding on the fly,” though the Yankees, true to their nature, executed it on a grander scale.

Eppler — a key assistant to Yankees GM Brian Cashman for the first three of those years — is on the cusp of a similar, albeit more subtle, transition with the Angels, bucking the trend of an industry that is increasingly operating on both ends of the spectrum.

The Angels aren’t “all in,” because they won’t surpass the luxury-tax threshold and won’t trade quality prospects for short-term fixes. But they aren’t “rebuilding,” because they’re still doing whatever they can — within whatever they consider reasonable — to win in 2019. It’s a product of employing Mike Trout, the greatest player of his generation, for at least two more seasons; of being saddled with what remains ($87 million) on Albert Pujols’ contract; and of being run by an owner, Arte Moreno, who has no interest in pushing the proverbial reset button.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Eppler defined the approach this way: “What you’re trying to do is give yourself an opportunity to continue to win every year, and if everything kind of falls right from a projection standpoint, you might push yourself even into the postseason. You might be there. It’s within your band of outcomes. That’s how I determine ‘rebuild on the fly.’ But you’re going to make some short-term decisions. And you’re most likely not going to trade things that have multiple, multiple years of control. Maybe one more year of control, things like that. But you always have to kind of keep yourself in a competitive window to still have, within your band of outcomes, an 86-or-better-win team.”12

Since their run of five division titles from 2004 to 2009, the Angels have won as many as 98 games (2014) and as few as 74 (2016). But the other seven seasons finished somewhere between 78 and 89 wins — good enough to have a chance, bad enough to fade.

The Angels operated aggressively from 2012 to 2014, a stretch that saw them acquire Pujols, Josh Hamilton, C.J. Wilson, Zack Greinke and Huston Street. Since then, they have lived in that awkward middle space widely considered baseball purgatory, going cheap on free agents and staying conservative in the trade market.

In some weird way, it might actually be working. The Angels’ farm system ranked 30th — dead last — as recently as 2017 and jumped all the way to 10th in August 2018, according to Baseball America’s organizational talent rankings. Jo Adell, Jahmai Jones, Brandon Marsh, Griffin Canning and Matt Thaiss — all drafted between 2015 and 2017 — performed well as they matriculated through the system. So did Luis Rengifo, acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays for C.J. Cron in February. With three international signing periods, Eppler also restocked the lower levels.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

“I can see the growth,” Eppler said. “I know people outside can see the growth. I’ve had opposing general managers tell me, ‘Wow, you guys have grown a lot.’ So that makes me feel kind of good. Is it all ready to pop into the big leagues next year? No, not all of it. Is some of it? Probably. Probably some. We have to just keep making decisions that don’t jeopardize our health or put us in a financially unhealthy situation.”