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Angels general manager Perry Minasian played both sides of the coin when asked Saturday to evaluate his club’s performance the first half of the season.
On one hand, the team entered Saturday 44-43 and in fourth place in the American League West, nine games back of the Houston Astros for the division lead. In the wild-card race, they were 4½ games out of a playoff spot but trailed four other teams.
“I don’t think anybody is happy where we’re at,” Minasian said.
But then, the first-year GM offered the glass-half-full version too, noting the club’s competitive record despite injuries to Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon and Justin Upton, and their recent improvements even amid a harder portion of their schedule.
“Dealing with what we’ve dealt with … I’d say we’re in a pretty good spot with the injuries we’ve faced,” Minasian said. “Over the last three weeks, we’ve played extremely well.”
It was through that prism, envisioning the Angels entering the second half with momentum and a healthier roster, that Minasian called it “very realistic” for the team to potentially approach the July 30 trade deadline seeking to bolster the roster.
“We’re definitely looking for ways to improve the team,” Minasian said, adding that such efforts could even include pursuing potential rental players on expiring contracts.
“The player has to make sense obviously,” he said. “But I don’t think anybody is against adding a rental.”
Minasian’s optimism is rooted in multiple places.
He has watched the Angels survive injuries to Trout, who has missed 47 games with a calf strain and has been increasing his workouts, though it’s still unclear when he might be ready to go on a rehabilitation assignment or eventually return to the major league roster; Rendon, who has missed 24 games over three separate stints on the injured list but is expected back once the All-Star break ends; and Upton, who has missed the last 14 games with a back strain and could need a rehab assignment.
Despite all that, the Angels still rank eighth in the majors in scoring.
Minasian also believes there will be second-half improvements from the underperforming pitching staff, both by veterans who were inconsistent early on and potentially from other “young guys on the cusp of being here and affecting this club” (already, the team has put prospects such as Patrick Sandoval and José Suarez into the starting rotation).
And, he’s been encouraged by the team’s continued turnaround over recent weeks. After once being as many as eight games under .500 in mid-May, the Angels have gotten over .500 by beating up on struggling opponents (they are 20-7 this year against teams with losing records) and more recently producing series wins over the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
“We’ve beat some pretty good teams, we’ve played some good baseball,” Minasian said. “I think it’s a reminder that, if you catch the ball, throw the ball over the plate, have good at-bats and play team baseball, do the little things, we can compete. We’ve got talent with what we currently have.”
The results are still far from perfect, evidenced most recently by Friday’s loss to the Seattle Mariners in which poor defense and ineffective relief pitching contributed to the Angels blowing a three-run lead. Overall, the Angels are 24-36 against teams above them in the standings.
But in Minasian’s view, the signs of promise remain strong too, giving him enough confidence to maintain the potential of making aggressive moves with the trade deadline less than three weeks away.
“Day in, day out, we’re looking to improve this club,” he said, adding: “We’ve been very pleased with the effort and productivity we’ve gotten out of the guys that are out there now.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.