Justin Upton

Angels' moves hurt Phillies' chances of catching Trout

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Angels' moves hurt Phillies' chances of catching Trout

The Eagles made Angel Stadium in Anaheim their home away from home last week. The entire team was greeted with a gift of a Mike Trout bobblehead. Nigel Bradham even used the Millville native and Birds season ticketholder's locker to dress. Trout left a personalized message to his favorite team prior to the Rams game.

Yet another link that it is kismet for the native son, the best player in his sport, to return someday soon to Philadelphia and play for the team he grew up rooting for? After all, the Phillies are flush with spending money should the opportunity arise. They appear to have the makings of a strong nucleus that could lure the 26-year-old back East. His deal runs through 2020 and Trout would be only 29 at the end of that contract. Seems perfect, right?  

Not so fast, my red pinstriped friends.

Hold on, we'll get to that in one minute. If you've been comatose the last seven seasons, all Trout has done since debuting in the big leagues in 2011 is win two MVPs, finish second in MVP voting three times and make six All-Star Games. The marriage here with the Phillies, a team he was a die-hard fan of growing up — even attending the 2008 World Series Championship parade as a senior in high school — would be one made in heaven. 

Adding fodder to the Trout-to-Philly hype is the Angels have reached the postseason only once in his time there. The hope from a fan's perspective would be Anaheim would continue to languish in mediocrity and eventually be forced to move Trout to possibly begin a rebuild, or he would play out his deal and walk. Wishful thinking? Sure. Out of the question? No. Trout has a full no-trade, so he can pick and choose where he ends up if he wishes to leave Southern California for South Philly prior to the end of his deal.

However, there may be a fly in the ointment. Despite it being only December, the Angels have had themselves an offseason. They signed Japanese two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani. The 23-year-old is a three-pitch starter who can touch over 100 mph on the gun with his fastball. He posted a 1.86 ERA in 140 innings for his Nippon-Ham club in Japan's Pacific League, a very high level of baseball. He also batted .322 with a .416 on-base percentage, while slugging .588 last season. In 2016, he hit 22 home runs. This was a major coup for the Angels, who won a bidding war over many other suitors around the league to land the right-handed pitching, left-handed hitting Ohtani.  

The Angels also signed veteran second baseman Ian Kinsler, a four-time All-Star and 2016 Gold Glove winner. Despite being 35, Kinsler is a major upgrade from what they had last year at the position. Anaheim also traded for Justin Upton late last year and re-signed him in the offseason. He'll play next to Trout in left. The Angels still need to upgrade their pitching. But on paper, they have the makings of a potent lineup that, with some pitching help, could land a wild-card spot in the playoffs. That is not music to Phillies fans' ears.

We're a long way away from 2020, so a lot can happen both here and 2,376 miles away in Orange County. The Phillies need to hope their current young nucleus blossoms like the group of Rollins, Utley, Howard and Hamels did in the mid-2000s. They should also keep a close eye on their neighbors to the West and cross their fingers things don't go so well. If both scenarios play out in their favor, the Phillies could reel in the biggest fish in franchise history.

Best of MLB: Astros sweep Rangers for 10th straight win

Best of MLB: Astros sweep Rangers for 10th straight win

ARLINGTON, Texas -- George Springer hit two of Houston's four home runs and the Astros matched their Texas rival for the longest winning streak in the majors this season at 10 games, beating the Rangers 7-2 on Sunday.

The Astros scored in all four innings pitched by Martin Perez (2-6) and tied a club record from 1989 with their 10th straight road win. Houston's first sweep of Texas since July 2014 dropped the Rangers to 3-11 since their 10-game streak.

Defending AL West champion Texas (26-31) is 15 games behind the division-leading Astros, who have a major leagues' best at 41-16 record -- and six wins in seven games against the Rangers.

Brad Peacock (3-0) won a major league start for the first time since Sept. 2, 2014, pitching past the fifth inning for the first time in his third start following 12 relief appearances. He struck out nine in six innings, allowing two runs (see full recap).

Upton walk-off homer gives Tigers win, but Detroit loses Verlander to groin injury
DETROIT -- Justin Upton hit a game-ending, three-run homer, and the Detroit Tigers overcame Justin Verlander's groin injury to beat the Chicago White Sox 7-4 on Sunday for a sweep of their weekend series.

Nicholas Castellanos was hit by a pitch from David Robertson (3-2) leading off the Detroit ninth. Second baseman Yunel Sanchez then misplayed a potential double-play ball and was only able to get Miguel Cabrera at first.

J.D. Martinez was intentionally walked to get to Upton, who drove a 1-2 curveball over the wall in left for his 11th homer.

Martinez also connected for the Tigers, who have won four straight and five of six to move back to .500 at 28-28. Justin Wilson (3-1) picked up the win with a scoreless inning (see full recap).

Zimmerman lifts Nationals past A's, 11-10
OAKLAND,Calif. -- Ryan Zimmerman hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the eighth inning, and the Washington Nationals held off the Oakland Athletics 11-10 on Sunday.

Matt Wieters and Michael Taylor added back-to-back homers off Frankie Montas during Washington's five-run ninth, helping the NL East leaders improve to 5-1 on their nine-game West Coast trip.

But the Nationals nearly blew an 11-4 lead in the ninth, highlighting their continued trouble with closing out games. Koda Glover allowed the first five batters to reach before he was replaced by Shawn Kelley, who surrendered a grand slam by Matt Joyce with one out. Kelley then retired the next two batters to finish Oakland's seventh loss in nine games.