Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bart is back

I didn't get to see the game thanks to having a job, but the Angels just abused the Devil Rays today. I still haven't watched the video on MLB, but at least I could check out the gameday.

According to gameday, Bartolo threw plenty of pitches 95 MPH+, and as high as 97. He struck out 11 in 7 innings. All I can say is wow.

Brandon Wood played his first game, and its one he'd probably like to forget. 0-4, 2 strikeouts, 2 groundouts, the only Angel starter not to get a hit. In the field he caught a popup, but didn't see much action at the hot corner, as Bart didn't feel like letting the Devil Rays put much in play. He only allowed 2 groundouts, neither to Wood.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Some good baseball

Thankfully, the road trip from hell is over and the Angels don't look quite so sorry at home. Maybe its just playing against the Kingless Mariners.

Bartolo looked absolutely outstanding in the first inning. Ichiro doubled off his second fastball, but Bart stranded him at third. Bart has the velocity he had back in his Cy Young season. Sample fastball readings from inning #1:

91 94 94 96 93 93 95. Sweet.

We had a scare when he turned his ankle covering first, but did not have to leave the game. Good Gary Matthews JR showed up today, making a great running catch at the CF wall. Vlad homered again. Please stay healthy, Vlad, because we've seen what the offense looks like without you, and its not pretty.

Joe Saunders gets sent to the minors after winning last night's game for the Virginia Tech Angels. He deserves to be in the majors. I guess it means Escobar is coming off the DL soon as well, which is good. Joe will get his chance when the Angels swing a deal for a bat. Its nice to have extra pitching to insure against injuries, but Dustin Mosely looks like a capable swingman/spot starter, and Nick Adenhart is pitching very well in AA. He's pretty much right where Ervin was at the start of 2005, so if needed he should be able to pitch in the bigs soon.

Time to get a hitter. Would the Reds take Escobar for Adam Dunn? Maybe Santana? They might be able to part with the big guy due to the emergence of Josh Hamilton.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


6th loss in a row. This team flat out sucks. Losing is one thing, but lately I've been rooting for them to just salvage a shred of dignity on the field. Give the other team something to worry about.

Down 3-0 in the 9th, I know there's no hope of this sorry ass pathetic excuse of an offense to actually win, but can they just put together a threat? Get somebody on base, make the pitcher break a sweat?

Is this too much to ask of a team that is taking more than 100 million of Arte Moreno's money?

If this team doesn't start hitting soon, its time to reshape the ballclub. Sunk costs (Hillenbrand, Matthews) can not be considered. Longevity and career records (Anderson) can not be considered. Potential (Kotchman, Napoli) is not enough. If they can't get the job done, we need to bring in people who can.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Forty Two

Jackie Robinson's number.

The answer to the great question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.

Coincidence? Or something more?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

How to Sabotage an Offense

The American league uses a stupid rule, known as the designated hitter. While this should be an easy position to fill since you can choose a player without regard to his fielding ability, an American League team can sabotage their offense by choosing poorly and getting below average production from this spot.

The Angels have shown a remarkable ability to choose poorly here over their history. To do this, follow one of these suggestions:

1) Sign a formerly great player, but one who is at the very end of his career.
Examples: Dave Parker, 1991. Eddie Murray, 1997

2) Sign a mediocre player in his early to mid 30's. For a mediocre player, this time is likely near the very end of his career, very few mediocre players last to their late 30's or to 40.

Examples: Hubie Brooks, 1992. Glenallen Hill, 2001. Shea Hillenbrand, 2006

How to avoid having a DH hole in the middle of your order:

1) Great player in his late 30's -Frank Robinson, Reggie Jackson

Perhaps Vlad will be the next.

2) Very good hitter in the prime of his career - Chili Davis, Don Baylor

Juan Rivera if his leg heals properly.

3) Young guy who can't do anything but hit - Willie Aikens, Jason Thompson, Brad Fullmer

This may be the future of Kendry Morales, he's actually a pretty good defensive 1B, but probably not as good as Kotchman.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Put a rope around Aybar's waist

Now we've lost 3 games, and 2 of them ended on Erick Aybar getting thrown out at second. He took the bat right out of Howie Kendrick's hands. The same Howie who was 4-4 in the game.

Aybar is clearly fast, but he must have some serious problem getting a jump because he has specialized in getting thrown out all through the minors. 18 CS last year. 23 in AA, and 36! the year before that in Rancho Cucamonga.


1. Have Figgins teach him how to read pitchers and get jumps
2. Let him run in some non-crucial situations. Until he proves he can make it at a high percentage, no more running with the game on the line.
3. If we need to steal a base in the late innings, Reggie Willits and Tommy Murphy are also sitting on the bench, and seem to know what they are doing more than Aybar on the bases.

Can't wait until Figgins gets back, but Maicer Izturis is putting in a claim to keep that 3rd base job to himself. We can still get Figgy some at bats, just bench Hillenbrand, play Figgins all over the field, and DH whoever he rests that day.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Angels win 2-1

The first epic battle of the season is 3/4 done, and we can do no worse than a split. Once again, the Angels and A's play a 1 run ballgame. After the game I checked out the win probability charts on fangraphs. Looks like our odds were 85-90% going into the 9th, but the Piazza leadoff single brought us down to about 70%. Then, one pitch later the DP ball brings us back up to 95% or greater, before Shields K's Swisher to end it. I think the Fangraphs site has live updates you can follow, but when its that close, I'm too busy watching every single pitch in the game to visit any site.

I was a little nervous with Carrasco pitching the 8th. Hector has done an outstanding job ever since Stoneman traded high school outfielder Stephen Englund to the Nationals for him. Englund hit .183 in rookie ball so that's a pretty good trade. These draft compensation deals don't always work out like Oakland getting Nick Swisher and Mark Teahen for Johnny Damon. Hector has pitched extremely well for a little over 2 years now. Last year, he did most of it in mop-up roles, he wasn't quite trusted. There are good reasons why he wasn't completely trusted, in that he was 36 years old and coming off the only good season in his career. I watched him pitch with Baltimore in 2003 (didn't even pitch in the majors in 2004) and he was as marginal a reliever as you could imagine. His biggest problem was lack of command, but he's got it now.

Shannon Stewart made a few nice catches tonight. Last night the Angels got a bunch of hits in his general direction. In any case he's a major step down from the outfield Oakland had last year. He's not that old at 33, but its been 3 years since he hit like a corner outfielder. Marginal bat, marginal glove, and he's unlikley to hold up to everyday play to boot.

Mike Piazza, freed from the tools of ignorance, looks really good. Seems healthy, and stinging the ball. He's taking well to the DH role and is going to continue to be a problem for us.

Travis Buck is a rookie who deserves some respect. Very little experience, none above AA, but he can hit. He's the classic example of what a hitter looks like who doesn't have power but will develop it - big guy, line drive swing, hits an obscene amont of doubles. The only question is if he develops the power later this year, next year, or in 2010. He'll be like Garret Anderson with less average and more walks.

Eric Chavez doesn't scare me any more. I shouldn't say this because I don't want to do a reverse jinx and have him hit 2 HR and 5 RBI off Escobar tomorrow, but he just doesn't seem the player he once was. Swisher and Bradley scare me a lot more.

Finally, a big thank you to the A's for not throwing Rich Harden in this series.

Top players (Panthers if you will):

Bat - The OC - didn't have a run or rbi, but reached base 3 times with 2 2b and a walk. He was smokin the ball

arm - Lackey. Great game.

glove - No big plays really stand out, but Maicer had a really good game.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The great rivalry resumes

We're starting the first series against our arch-enemies with two pitchers who wouldn't even be in the rotation if everyone was healthy. That's OK though, as they aren't going up against Hudson and Zito. We just have to beat Chad Gaudin and Joe Kennedy.

Now that we've all had a chance to watch our major offseason addition play for us, I have to say Bill Stoneman did good. He's shown good patience at the plate, a very welcome addition to this offense, and if he keeps playing like we've seen so far he'll easily score 100 runs.

But his defense is what really makes him stand out. Gary Matthews Jr. is an outfielder with wall presence. Its a combination of instincts, athleticism, and willingness to give up your body to make catches. He makes the big plays to save lots of runs that recent Angel centerfielders just could not make. Figgins made great plays occasionally, but he just wasn't a natural center fielder, which is no knock on him, its just that for the vast majority of his baseball career, he's been an infielder. Steve Finley could not make those plays. Garret Anderson couldn't get back to the wall fast enough to even try for those plays.

Casey Kotchman has been the hitter we all hoped he could be.

There were a few stories this spring about Garret Anderson being healthy for the first time in years and ready for a big season. Usually you take stories like that with a grain of salt. Even if he's healthy now, what are the odds he avoids hurting himself later in the year? Not to mention 35 year olds do not usually play as well as they did at age 30 regardless of health.

So far though, Garret has looked like the real deal. He ran well scoring on a Hillenbrand single, and he hustled to beat out a DP grounder, on a play that I'm positive the 2006 Anderson would not have made close. He's not going to match his 2002-03 seasons, but if he can keep his legs healthy all year, I think he may have one more .300-25-100 season in him.

Monday, April 02, 2007

I'm sorry

Its great to be back watching baseball. I'm on the west coast in spirit, the back of my house in Maryland becomes California during the late nights when the Angels are on.

John Lackey looked a little shaky in inning #1. He walks the first 2 and gives up a long line drive to Mark Teixiera. But the gloves bail him out, as Howie, OC, and Kotch turn a DP on Michael Young, and our new CF makes his first highlight catch.

Gary, I'm sorry for anything negative written this offseason. From now on, nothing but positive. Take all the HGH you want, just so long as you keep making catches like that.

As I typed all that, he takes a leadoff walk. Good start.