March 2012

6 Divisions in 6 Days, Day 3 …

Leading up to Opening Day, I’ll roll out an All-Star team for each of the six divisions in baseball — that includes a manager, a starting nine (with a DH also for the National League), three starters and two relievers. One catch: Each team must have at least one representative, and the skipper doesn’t count. Feel free to submit your own lineups below. I’d love to see how yours differ.

Day 3: NL Central
Probably the most wide-open division in baseball (except you can probably count out the Astros).

Manager: Dusty Baker, CIN


Andrew McCutchen, CF (PIT)
Starlin Castro, SS (CHC)
Ryan Braun, LF (MIL)
Joey Votto, 1B (CIN)
Matt Holliday, RF (STL)
Aramis Ramirez, 3B (MIL)
Carlos Lee, DH (HOU)
Yadier Molina, C (STL)
Brandon Phillips, 2B (CIN)


Chris Carpenter, STL (if healthy)
Yovani Gallardo, MIL
Adam Wainwright, STL


Joel Hanrahan, PIT
John Axford, MIL


Angels 9, D-backs 2 …


Albert Pujols and Howie Kendrick each homered, Bobby Abreu had his first good day of the spring, the Angels continued their trend of scoring early and C.J. Wilson was solid in the victory .

The good

Abreu (making his first appearance of the spring in this category, came in with a 4-for-46 stat line and a nixed deal to the Indians, but went 2-for-3 with a couple of RBIs.

Torii Hunter hit the ball hard, going 3-for-3 with a couple of runs scored to bring his average to .347.

Howie Kendrick homered for the fourth time this spring.

Wilson gave up two runs on five hits and one walk while striking out seven in 6 1/3 innings, putting his Cactus League ERA at 1.33. CJ said he accomplished the two main things he wanted to: He was efficient with his pitches (walking only three guys all spring) and gained confidence in his changeup (he said the only mistake he made on it was the Ryan Roberts homer).

The bad

Kendrys Morales went 0-for-4 with a strikeout — all from the left side.

Best quote

Wilson, on the fantastic rotation he is now a part of: “Dan [Haren] throws 230 innings here, Jered [Weaver] had like the second-lowest ERA in the American League last year, [Ervin] Santana threw a no-hitter. I’m just the lefty. I’m just window dressing at this point. So I gotta get up on their level.”

Pest play (that I saw)

In the top of the fifth, Wilson — who had previously fumbled a couple of softly-hit balls right at him — snared a really hard-hit ground ball off the bat of big slugger Paul Goldschmidt.


Abreu (still here) on potential move to the Indians …

Rumors swirled Thursday night about a potential trade to ship veteran outfielder Bobby Abreu to the Indians. But there he was on Friday morning – listed as the No. 6 hitter and left fielder for their game against the Diamondbacks, and taking his usual seat in the Angels clubhouse. Abreu, communicating the same message his agent relayed, said he hadn’t heard anything about a move to Cleveland.

Here’s what he told us this morning …

On trade talk: Whatever happens, happens. I don’t know. I just get myself, like I said, ready for the season and that’s it.

On hearing anything regarding a move to the Indians: Not really. I was having a day off yesterday, and that’s it. I was at home, watching TV, resting. I didn’t hear anything.

On chances of getting 400 plate appearances: Well, one of the things that I’m doing right now that’s more important is getting myself ready for the season. Whenever I have an opportunity to play, I’m going to play and do my best.

On Spring Training struggles: You know what, I feel good, I feel great. My body’s fine, I’m in shape. My legs are good, my swing is OK. I know it’s not the results, the [batting] average that everybody’s looking for and I’m not really getting many hits right now, but that’s not what really matters to me. What matters to me is how I’m at the plate, and I feel fine. I feel good.

On having name out there in two potential deals: I don’t think too much, man. I really don’t look for what’s going to happen or whatever. Like I said, I’m here, I’m fine, I’m happy, enjoying everything. And I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t control that.


Angels inform Isringhausen he’s on the team

The Angels have decided to trigger the extra money in Jason Isringhausen’s contract and keep him on the team, which is a pretty clear sign that the veteran right-hander will make the Opening Day roster.

Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Angels would’ve had to pay an extra $100,000 to keep Isringhausen – signed to a Minor League contract at the start of camp – on the roster past 9 a.m. PT on Friday.

Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto informed the 39-year-old they would on Thursday night.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity,” Isringhausen said Friday morning. “I’m going to give them everything I’ve got.”

A veteran of 15 years with 300 career saves, Isringhausen had back-to-back clean innings on Wednesday and Thursday, in hopes of showcasing to the Angels that he belonged on the club. If the Angels would’ve cut him, Isringhausen would’ve retired.


6 Divisions in 6 Days, Day 2 …

Leading up to Opening Day, I’ll roll out an All-Star team for each of the six divisions in baseball — that includes a manager, a starting nine (with a DH also for the National League), three starters and two relievers. One catch: Each team must have at least one representative, and the skipper doesn’t count. Feel free to submit your own lineups below. I’d love to see how yours differ.

Day 2: AL East
All you need to know about how stacked this division is: A-Rod is batting eighth.

Manager: Joe Maddon, TBR


Jacoby Ellsbury, CF (BOS)
Yunel Escobar, SS (TOR)
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B (BOS)
Jose Bautista, RF (TOR)
Robinson Cano, 2B (NYY)
Evan Longoria, 3B (TBR)
Curtis Granderson, LF (NYY)
Alex Rodriguez, DH (NYY)
Matt Wieters, C (BAL)


SP: CC Sabathia, NYY
SP: James Shields, TBR
SP: Jon Lester, BOS


Mariano Rivera, NYY
Andrew Bailey, BOS


Angels 11, Royals 8 …


The Angels’ offense went absolutely bonkers on Thursday, putting up 20 hits, hitting back-to-back-to-back homers and totaling nine runs in two innings (the second and fourth) to win a slugfest.

The good

Let’s see, where do I begin. Oh, the offense. Well, basically everybody did well.

Erick Aybar (3-for-4 with two runs scored), Howie Kendrick (2-for-3 with a walk), Albert Pujols (4-for-4 with three RBIs), Vernon Wells (2-for-3 with an RBI), Kendrys Morales (2-for-3 with a homer) and Hank Conger (2-for-5 with a homer) all had multi-hit games from the starting lineup.

Morales, Conger (both from the right side of the plate, which is their weaker sides) and Mark Trumbo (to right-center field, which he’s done a very good job of this spring) went back-to-back-to-back off Royals lefty Everett Teaford.

Morales is now batting .625 (10-for-16) with two homers in Cactus League play and is one of several everyday players off to good starts. Aybar (.411), Kendrick (.404), Pujols (.388) and Trumbo (.341) are also swinging the bat well.

Jordan Walden recorded two strikeouts in a clean ninth inning on Thursday, and has now posted three straight scoreless appearances — giving up one hit, walking none and striking out five.

Jason Isringhausen recorded his second straight clean inning, which is good considering the Angels must decide by 9 a.m. PT if they want to pay an extra $100K to keep him on the roster.

The bad

Not much, besides the fact Eric Hurley gave up seven runs on eight hits and three homers in three innings. But he had already been sent down.

Best quote

Mike Scioscia, on Teaford hitting Peter Bourjos on his first pitch after giving up three straight homers: “I don’t think any of us liked that. Our guy was getting knocked around in the first inning, and we didn’t throw at anybody. You try to make better pitches. It was something that was uncalled for.”


Abreu to the Indians? …

The Angels were in talks with the Indians about a deal to send disgruntled outfielder Bobby Abreu to Cleveland, but as of late Thursday night, nothing had been finalized.

Industry sources told’s Jesse Sanchez the two sides were working on the parameters of a deal earlier in the afternoon, but and reported that the amount of money the Indians would absorb was holding up a trade.

Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto could not be reached for comment, and Abreu’s agent, Peter Greenberg, wrote in a text message that he had not been told about a potential trade for his client. A team spokesman said no announcement was imminent.

The Angels have long been trying to move Abreu, the 38-year-old slugger who has been left without a role now that Albert Pujols is on board, Kendrys Morales looks healthy and Mark Trumbo is an option in the corner outfield.

But Abreu’s $9 million salary has been a major obstacle, and his lackluster spring performance – he’s batting just .087 (4-for-46) and has gone hitless in his last five games – has only made it more difficult.

On Thursday, manager Mike Scioscia gave Abreu a mental day off.

The Angels are willing to – and would have to – absorb the vast majority of Abreu’s remaining $9 million in a potential deal. Major League Baseball’s pending approval of the amount of money the Angels would send to the Indians could be keeping the trade from being finalized.

Switch-hitting Indians outfielder Trevor Crowe was removed from a Minor League game on Thursday, which is usually a sign that a player is part of a potential deal.

If the trade falls through, it would mark at least the second failed attempt to move the veteran slugger. Back in February, the parameters were in place for a deal that would’ve sent Abreu to the Yankees in exchange for starting pitcher A.J. Burnett, but Burnett – who eventually went to the Pirates – used his limited no-trade clause to veto a move to the West coast.

Abreu – 16 homers away from 300, 116 hits away from 2,500, seven steals away from 400 and 81 walks away from 1,500 – recently told he’d like to play three more years, and previously voiced frustrations about his current role to a couple of Spanish-language publications.

“I’m fine,” Abreu, who has had a couple of closed-door meetings with Dipoto and Scioscia this spring, said Thursday morning. “I don’t have any problems. That’s been talked about. There’s no problems. For me, the most important thing is to finish getting ready for the season, so that whenever they need me, I’m ready.”

Abreu was as consistent and well-rounded a player as there was from 1998-2009, batting .301 with a .406 on-base percentage while averaging 21 homers, 28 stolen bases and 156 games during that stretch.

Over the last two years, though, his batting average has dipped to .254. And though he posted the second-highest on-base percentage on the Angels in 2011, Abreu mustered just eight home runs all season and put up a .668 OPS in the final two months.


Game 27: Royals-Angels …

Royals (14-12)

Lorenzo Cain, CF
Alcides Escobar, SS
Eric Hosmer, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Mike Moustakas, 3B
Yuniesky Betancourt, 2B
Mitch Maier, DH
Jason Bourgeois, LF
Humbero Quintero, C
SP: LH Everett Teaford

Angels (15-10-1)

Erick Aybar, SS
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Albert Pujols, 1B
Torii Hunter, RF
Vernon Wells, LF
Kendrys Morales, DH
Mark Trumbo, 3B
Hank Conger, C
Peter Bourjos
SP: RH Eric Hurley

Also pitching: Scott Downs, Jason Isringhausen, Jordan Walden

Some notes from this morning …

  • Francisco Rodriguez was sent down to Minor League camp. Here’s what Mike Scioscia said of the decision: “In some ways, his stuff really plays in the big leagues. He’s got a terrific arm. I think he has a better understanding of what he needs to do, as far as what his stuff is and how he’s going to get hitters out. Hopefully, he’s going to progress with that on the other side and become the consistent Major League pitcher he can because his stuff – if you grade out his stuff, and he’s shown glimpses of it in the big leagues at times, there’s no doubt he can be part of a championship-caliber bullpen.”
  • Bobby Abreu had what Scioscia called a mental day off and is going to go down to Minor League camp to work on some things.
  • Mark Trumbo‘s ceiling at third base may no longer be 40 days. It seems to keep growing. As for what that means for Alberto Callaspo and Maicer Izturis: “They’re going to get their at-bats,” Scioscia stresses. … “I think we’re comfortable we’re going to give them enough to contribute. Maybe not what they’ve gotten in the past … but these guys are going to play enough to contribute, that’s for sure. Nobody’s going to sit on our bench for 10 days.”
  • After today, we’ll find out if Isringhausen is making the team or going home. The Angels have to pay him $100,000 to keep him on the roster tomorrow.

Some links from Wednesday …

Some AL West links …

And the Heat have a big game against the Mavericks tonight. But right now, they’re more worried about themselves.


6 divisions in 6 days, Day 1 …

Leading up to Opening Day, I’ll roll out an All-Star team for each of the six divisions in baseball — that includes a manager, a starting nine (with a DH also for the National League), three starters and two relievers. One catch: Each team must have at least one representative, and the skipper doesn’t count. Feel free to submit your own lineups below. I’d love to see how yours differ.

Day 1: NL East
Team-wise, perhaps the deepest division in baseball. But there are a lot of players I’m counting on bounceback years from (and that’s not even including Chase Utley)

Manager: Charlie Manuel, PHI


Jose Reyes, SS (MIA)
Hanley Ramirez, DH (MIA)
Ryan Howard, 1B (PHI)
Mike Stanton, LF (MIA)
Brian McCann, C (ATL)
David Wright, 3B (NYM)
Danny Espinosa, 2B (WAS)
Jason Heyward, RF (ATL)
Shane Victorino, CF (PHI)


Roy Halladay, PHI
Cliff Lee, PHI
Stephen Strasburg, WAS


Jonathan Papelbon, PHI
Craig Kimbrel, ATL


Reds 5, Angels 4 …


Dan Haren battled through lacking command to almost notch a quality start, but the tall Loek Van Mil — called up from Minor League camp — served up a two-run, walk-off homer to Ryan Ludwick for the loss. The Angels had just five hits.

The good

Vernon Wells hit a solo homer to left field off Bronson Arroyo, giving him three home runs and 12 RBIs this spring — after just one homer and six RBIs last spring.

Jason Isringhausen pitched a clean seventh inning, with a strikeout, a groundout and a lineout.

The bad

Bobby Abreu (making his almost-daily appearance on the postgame blog) went 0-for-4 with three groundouts to the right side and a strikeout. The 38-year-old is now 4-for-46 this spring, which equates to a .087 batting average.

Haren gave up just two runs in 5 2/3 innings, and his ERA is still just 2.18 this spring, but he gave up nine hits and he battled through what he called “dead arm” — though he feels it’ll go away by the time he makes his last spring start on Monday.

Kevin Jepsen, vying for an open bullpen spot, gave up a leadoff homer to Paul Janish in the eighth inning, putting his ERA at 5.00 through nine Cactus League frames.

Peter Bourjos went 0-for-3 with a couple of strikeouts as the leadoff hitter.

Daily Albert Pujols update: Did Not Play.

Best quote

Haren, on what “dead arm” means: “The arm feels slow. That’s all it really is. And I think the normal thing to do is to try to add a little bit, then your mechanics can get a little out of sort. So I wasn’t trying to add too much. I knew my arm wasn’t feeling that great. Health-wise, my body feels great, my arm  is healthy, and I’m where I need to be.”

Best play (that I saw)

It would’ve been awfully thrilling if it didn’t come in a Spring Training game in front of a smattering of fans, but with two outs, one on and his team trailing by two in the bottom of the ninth, Ludwick hit a line drive to left that sailed over the left-field fence to give his club the victory and put Van Mil’s Cactus League ERA at 9.53.


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