Results tagged ‘ Chris Iannetta ’
Every article or blog post or tweet regarding the Angels’ offseason strategy — whether it’s the pursuit of starting pitcher or the scenario at third base or the situation regarding Jerry Dipoto and Mike Scioscia — tends to be followed by a response very similar to this:
WHO CARES, JUST LOCK UP MIKE TROUT NOW!!!
It’s understandable, given the fact that Mike Trout is the unquestioned best player on the star-laden Angels and, at 22, may already be the best in all of baseball. The Angels, however, have not begun extension talks with Trout, sources confirmed, and were never expected to with arbitration still a full year away.
It’s all about the Competitive Balance Tax payroll.
Let me try to explain. There are two different types of payroll. There’s the actual team payroll, which is what the active players are making in that season. And then there’s the CBT payroll, which is the payroll Major League Baseball uses to tax teams that go over a certain threshold. For the Angels — and the Yankees, and all of the teams that spend big on their roster — the latter is the most important.
The CBT payroll is calculated as the average annual value of all player contracts on the 40-man roster, plus benefits.
So, for example: Albert Pujols is making $16 million in 2013, which counts towards the Angels’ payroll figure. With regards to the CBT, though, he’s making $24 million — the average annual value of the 10-year, $240 million contract he signed in December 2011.
How does this relate to Trout?
Well, let’s say the Angels sign him to a 10-year, $300 million deal (that’s just a number I’m throwing out, basically because it’s easy to divide — and perhaps because I’m thinking of Robinson Cano). Even if in that contract, Trout is making only $1 million in 2014, the figure for the CBT payroll would be the AAV of that: $30 million.
And by that point, you can forget about adding any pitching to the roster.
The CBT threshold — the number at which first-time offenders are charged a tax of 17.5 percent — is going up from $178 million to $189 million this offseason. That buys the Angels a little extra wiggle room, but they’re still awfully close to that figure. So close, in fact, that it’ll affect whether or not they extend the qualifying offer to Jason Vargas, a figure that’s close to $14 million and would allow the Angels to receive Draft-pick compensation if he signs elsewhere. If Vargas takes it, they’d basically already be over the luxury-tax threshold.
Here’s what’s in the books for the Angels in 2014 (the first number is what the player will make that season and the second is the AAV that counts towards the CBT payroll) …
Albert Pujols: $23M, $24M
Vernon Wells (to the Yankees): $18.6M, $18.6M
Josh Hamilton: $17.4M, $25M
C.J. Wilson: $16.5M, $15.5M
Jered Weaver: $16.2M, $17M
Howie Kendrick: $9.7M, $8.375M
Erick Aybar: $8.75M, $8.75M
Joe Blanton: $7.5M, $7.5M
Chris Iannetta: $4.975M, $5.18M
Sean Burnett: $3.875M, $4M
That adds up to $126.5 million in payroll commitments, and just under $134 million for the CBT. But we’re not done. Not even close. There’s also the pending arbitration cases for eight players: Peter Bourjos, Ernesto Frieri, Juan Gutierrez, Tommy Hanson, Kevin Jepsen, Chris Nelson, Mark Trumbo and Jerome Williams.
A rough — very rough — estimate for what that would amount to: $25M (though Hanson, Williams, Nelson and Gutierrez are all non-tender candidates).
Then there’s the 25 or so other players on the 40-man roster that you have to pay (a little more than $500K each), and then there’s the benefits and bonuses for all of them, which is a rough estimate of $10M. And that puts the Angels pretty close to that $189M figure.
If you add a Trout extension, to a payroll in which Wells will be the second-highest-paid player, then they’ll have to shed payroll.
So, the logical question is: What’s the rush?
* thanks to Cot’s Contracts for providing all the info
SP: RH Garrett Richards (7-6, 3.91 ERA)
SP: RH Sonny Gray (3-3, 2.63 ERA)
- Chris Nelson‘s season looked finished when he suffered a strained hamstring on Aug. 28. Today, he was activated off the disabled list. Mike Scioscia said he’ll initially be available as a defensive replacement and pinch-hitter, and may work his way back towards playing third base regularly. “With hamstrings you never know,” Scioscia said. “But when he came off the field, you were thinking man, this is not good on the timing of the season, how long it will take. He’s worked really hard; definitely available to play defense and ran well enough that hopefully he’s day-to-day before he can get out there and start playing and get some at-bats.”
- Luis Jimenez, however, is still “a ways away” from getting back, Scioscia said. His right shoulder remains sore, and he has a ways to go before being able to throw again. So, he’s probably done for the year.
- Trout’s home run was initially thought to be 420 feet. But after coming back up from the clubhouse, ESPN’s Home Run Tracker put it at 452 feet. That distance was still not enough for Scioscia. “At 452, that ball is still in the air past that fence. I’m sorry. That ball is 500 feet.”
- Cool stat from the game notes: Trout is one double and one triple shy of being the first ever member of the 10-20-30-40 club (10 triples, 20 homers, 30 steals, 40 doubles) in Major League history. Trout is at 9-24-33-39.
The Angels are playing good baseball, with 17 wins in their last 23 games and 11 victories in their last 17 road contests. But the first-place A’s are rolling, too. They just swept the Rangers in Texas, expanding their AL West lead to 6 1/2 games, and have won eight of their last nine. Today, they got Yoenis Cespedes and Jarrod Parker back after both were scratched on Sunday. Just the Angels’ luck …
SP: LH C.J. Wilson (16-6, 3.44 ERA)
SP: RH Parker (11-6, 3.55 ERA)
- Now that the Minor League playoffs are over, the Angels were finally able to make their call-ups. Right-handers Tommy Hanson, Matt Shoemaker and Robert Coello have joined the pitching staff, with infielder Tommy Field and first baseman Efren Navarro also coming up. Surprisingly, no lefty relievers. To make room on the 40-man roster for Navarro and Shoemaker, Peter Bourjos (wrist) and Kevin Jepsen (appendicitis) were transferred to the 60-day DL.
- No decision yet on what Hanson’s role will essentially be. I’d think the Angels would like to at least get one more look at him as a starting pitcher, considering the tender decision they face with him in December, but the five starters in their rotation are pitching well and Mike Scioscia said he hasn’t really seen him put it together in Triple-A the way he did when he came off the DL on July 23, when his fastball was reaching the mid-90s. That, however, may be an unrealistic expectation.
- Coello, who hasn’t appeared in a Major League game since June 9, said his shoulder is fine now after battling some inflammation. He got a cortisone shot in the shoulder and a PRP shot in the elbow and is looking to finish strong.
- Ernesto Frieri is “most likely not available” after his six-out save against the Astros on Sunday.
- Chris Iannetta won American League Player of the Week honors, then moved to the bench. Scioscia liked Conger’s lefty bat vs. Parker.
- Jered Weaver was named the Angels nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award.
Pretty fitting that the Angels and Blue Jays — two clubs with bloated payrolls, high expectations and underachieving 2013 seasons — enter a three-game series at Rogers Centre with the exact same record. Angels manager Mike Scioscia, asked of any similarities between the two teams, said …
“I can only speak from our angle. I don’t want to dissect their team. But I can tell you that no matter what a perceived strength is of a club — and you can talk about payrolls all you want — you’re only going to be as good as your pitching staff is going to allow you. And I think it’s proved its point in the last three weeks, as you guys have seen our team on a daily basis. When we get those starters giving us a chance to win, we’ve set up games the way we’ve needed and we’ve held leads. And that was an issue for long stretches of the season and we paid a price for it. I think it still comes down to the depth and the strength of your pitching staff moving forward. And ours just hasn’t held up the way that we needed to.”
Indeed, the Angels entered Tuesday 28th in the Majors in pitching ERA (4.29). The Blue Jays are 26th (4.26).
Pitching: RH Jerome Williams (6-10, 4.60 ERA)
Blue Jays (67-76)
Pitching: LH Mark Buehrle (11-7, 3.88 ERA)
- Howie Kendrick was activated for today’s game, but isn’t expected to start at second base until Friday’s series opener in Houston. The Angels want to avoid bringing him back on the turf. Kendrick did some more running in the early afternoon today and feels the left knee is finally 100 percent.
- Jered Weaver felt some tightness in his right forearm during his start in steamy Minnesota on Monday, but he’s expected to take his next turn through the rotation.
- Luis Jimenez is still not available. More of an issue right now are his shoulders, which got banged up in a home-plate collision with A.J. Pierzynski on Saturday.
- Peter Bourjos had successful surgery on his right wrist today. Recovery time is eight weeks.
- In case you missed it, here’s a story on the Angels’ 2014 schedule.
Mike Trout was out of the lineup for a second straight day on Tuesday because of a tight right hamstring that forced him to exit Sunday’s game in the sixth inning. Trout got treatment on Monday and said then that the hamstring was feeling “a lot better,” though he was still “a little sore.”
This is the third start Trout misses this year, including June 30 in Houston (when he was also nursing a sore right hamstring).
Trout is batting .333/.430/.574 in 122 games. If he doesn’t get a plate appearance in the second of a three-game series against the Indians, his 40-game on-base streak — the longest active streak in the Majors — will remain intact.
Here’s the full lineup …
J.B. Shuck, LF
Erick Aybar, SS
Josh Hamilton, DH
Mark Trumbo, 1B
Kole Calhoun, RF
Chris Nelson, 3B
Chris Iannetta, C
Grant Green, 2B
Peter Bourjos, CF
SP: LH C.. Wilson
UPDATE, 5 PM PT: Trout said the hamstring “feels a lot better than it was,” but said he doesn’t want to be out there thinking about it. Angels manager Mike Scioscia doesn’t want him playing until he can run the bases, and Trout can’t do that yet. He’s hopeful of playing on Wednesday, but that’s also up in the air.
Some other pregame notes …
- Howie Kendrick is running, but hasn’t been able to run yet. Still no timetable of his return. He’s in baseball activities, but still has to be comfortable running before getting activated.
- Bourjos is hitless in 12 at-bats since returning from a fractured right wrist, but Scioscia said he doesn’t have any physical limitations. He’s just working to get his timing back.
- Asked about the rotation order coming out of the Thursday off day, Scioscia said he’s “going to make some adjustments.”
The Angels are 6-17 in their last 23 games at Yankee Stadium (including the playoffs) and Hiroki Kuroda has a 1.13 ERA in his last six starts. But Mariano Rivera has blown three consecutive save opportunities for the first time in his Hall of Fame career, and the Yankees have dropped five of their last seven games (though they took two of three from the first-place Tigers over the weekend) …
Pitching: RH Garrett Richards (3-4, 4.20 ERA)
Pitching: RH Kuroda (10-7, 2.45 ERA)
- It’s official: Jason Vargas, who hasn’t pitched since June 17 because of a blood clot, will start tomorrow, opposite CC Sabathia. As for who comes out of the rotation? Mike Scioscia wouldn’t say just yet, but it’ll probably come down to either Tommy Hanson or Jerome Williams (though Richards could make it even more interesting if he gets roughed up tonight). Hanson has an option to the Minor Leagues, Williams has experience pitching in the bullpen and both have struggled.
- The 22-year-old Trout vouched for severe penalties for those who fail Major League Baseball’s Drug Policy, saying on WFAN in New York on Monday morning that players “should be out of the game if you get caught.” “It takes away from the guys that are working hard every day and doing it all-natural,” Trout added on the radio show. “Some people are just trying to find that extra edge.” … Asked about those comments at Yankee Stadium later on Monday, Trout deferred to the Angels’ union rep, C.J. Wilson.
- Trumbo is batting sixth today, even with Albert Pujols and Howie Kendrick out, with his slash line down to .237/.300/.455 after putting up only nine hits in his last 63 at-bats. “He’s not going to be graded out on his batting average and his on-base percentage as much as what his power production is,” Scioscia said. “Like most hitters who have maybe a little more leverage in their swing, it’s a double-edged sword. When he’s off, he struggles. And it seems like once he finds that timing, he keeps it for a long time.”
- Peter Bourjos (fractured right wrist) is expected to play his fifth game for Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday night and the Yankees have a lefty (Sabathia) starting tomorrow, which seems like as good a time as any to activate Bourjos — though Scioscia wouldn’t say anything definitively. Trout will play left field on the days Bourjos is in the lineup — I feel like I need to state that for the record every time Bourjos comes back — and it probably won’t cut into Shuck’s playing time, since the DH spot is essentially open.
- Earlier today, Trout’s high school field was named in his honor.
The Angels face Scott Kazmir today. Remember him? Well, you might not recognize him because he’s, well, good again. He has a 1.93 ERA in his last nine starts and has been more than the Indians could’ve expected after obtaining him on a Minor League deal this offseason. Kazmir went 9-15 with a 5.94 ERA in 2010, had a rough spring the following season, gave up five runs in 1 2/3 innings of his 2011 regular-season debut, was charged with 30 runs in 15 1/3 innings at Triple-A Salt Lake, got released and spent the summer of 2012 struggling through a stint of independent ball.
“It’s tough to see any player go through what Scott went through,” Mike Scioscia said. “You saw first-hand. It was really rough on him, and obviously disappointing for us. For a pitcher to really just re-discover himself and pitch as well as Scott did is really just a function of a lot of hard work and determination. And he’s found it. He’s throwing the ball really well. Not quite the way he did in Tampa, but better.”
SP: RH Jered Weaver (6-5, 2.90 ERA)
SP: Kazmir (7-4, 3.89 ERA)
- In case you missed it earlier, Albert Pujols‘ ex-trainer vehemently denied on-air allegations from Jack Clark that Pujols used steroids under his watch.
- Jason Vargas felt good in his rehab outing for Triple-A Salt Lake, even though he gave up four runs and surrendered three homers in Round Rock, Texas. The lefty feels like he can start in the big leagues in his next turn, which would come Tuesday at Yankee Stadium, but Scioscia will give it a day or two to see how he responds before making a final determination.
- Howie Kendrick‘s left knee sprain hasn’t progressed the way the Angels would’ve hoped, and it looks like he’ll be placed on the DL.
Pitching: RH Yu Darvish (10-5, 2.66 ERA)
Pitching: RH Garrett Richards (3-4, 4.18 ERA)
- An MRI on Howie Kendrick‘s left knee revealed only a sprain, and no structural damage. The Angels are still unsure if he’ll have to go on the disabled list, but they’ll give it four or five days to see.
- In the meantime, the Angels called up Green, who was acquired from the A’s in exchange for Alberto Callaspo last week. It looks like he’ll get the majority of his playing time at second base, where he’s most comfortable. Right-hander Daniel Stange was optioned to Triple-A, bringing the Angels back to 12 pitchers and 13 position players.
- Peter Bourjos is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Salt Lake on Thursday (the same day Jason Vargas will throw five innings/75-80 pitches). He still has pain in his right wrist, so he just figures he’ll have to play through it and maybe have a minor surgical procedure in the offseason. He can’t make it any worse, so it basically comes down to how much pain he can tolerate.
- Sean Burnett is slated to have the surgical procedure to fix his torn flexor tendon on Wednesday, performed by Dr. James Andrews. He’s expected to be fully healthy and ready to go for the start of Spring Training.
- As you probably noticed, Iannetta is starting again, against a right-hander. That makes just one start for Hank Conger in the last eight games. Here’s what Mike Scioscia said about the catching situation: “Hank’s going to get time. Chris’ defense is starting to play a lot more, and that’s important. At the plate, he’s been pretty consistent with what he’s done. He’s taken his walks, I think he’s starting to feel a little more comfortable in the batter’s box. But I think primarily on the defense side, he’s doing a good job. And if he matches up on the offensive side, he’ll get some playing time. Hank’s going to play. At times, one guy is going to do it more than the other. And right now, Chris is feeling a little more comfortable right now.”
- In case you were wondering about Robert Coello, who’s been nursing right shoulder inflammation since June 9 … he isn’t expected back this year. He’s still rehabbing in Arizona and hasn’t played catch in like two months.
The good news for the Angels is that they expect to get a handful of key players back shortly after the All-Star break, including Peter Bourjos, Tommy Hanson and Jason Vargas; perhaps even Sean Burnett and Ryan Madson.
But, as Mike Scioscia intimated, that’s not really anything they can hang their hat on right now.
“I don’t think our struggles correlate to guys being out,” he said during Thursday’s voluntary workout. “It’s not like saying, ‘Well, we’ve been banged up and now we’re going to be healthy.’ … We need guys to get in their game more than getting back from the DL.”
There’s no sugarcoating where the Angels find themselves right now. They’re 44-49, 11 games back of first place in the AL West and nine games back of the second Wild Card spot. It’s the most games under .500 that the Angels have been at the All-Star break since 1994 and the largest divisional deficit since 2001. They didn’t make the playoffs either of those years, and only one team — the 2003 Twins — has done so after entering the All-Star break five or more games under .500.
To win 93 games — the minimum amount required to make the playoffs in the AL last year — they’ll have to go 49-20. That’s .710 baseball. The best winning percentage in the Majors right now is .613 (by the Cardinals).
But nearly 43 percent of season remains, so hope does, too.
And with the All-Star break finished, here are the main storylines from here ’til the offseason (click here for my first-half story, with video of the Top 5 moments) …
The July 31 crossroads.
As of now, the best bet here is that the Angels don’t do anything major before the non-waiver Trade Deadline. They’re too dangerously close to the threshold at which teams get taxed 17.5 percent by Major League Baseball — something the Angels’ brass doesn’t seem willing to take on — and it’s hard to really be sellers, per se, when Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton are on your payroll. But these next couple of weeks could have a big impact on this topic, which brings me to the next storyline …
The next 20 games.
Thirteen of them are against the A’s and Rangers, two teams that are a combined 30 games over .500 and two teams ahead of the Angels in the AL West. This is a stretch that can have them looking towards 2014 or maybe — just maybe — eyeing a playoff spot this fall. In total, 26 of the Angels’ 69 remaining games will come against Oakland and Texas. That’s a lot. Almost 40 percent.
Pujols and The Foot.
At what point does Pujols finally relent and have surgery on the plantar fasciitis that’s been ailing his left foot — and his entire game — all season? He’s determined to play through it all year, and if the Angels stay somewhat relevant, I have every reason to believe he will. If they fall out of it, though, perhaps he shuts it down. Still, 500 homers is only 10 away. And Pujols is adamant about not missing time.
Hamilton and The Numbers.
He hasn’t hit any better than .237 in any month this season, and he has a .224/.283/.413 line for the season. His OPS (.696) is tied for 122nd in the Majors, with Brian Dozier, and his FanGraphs-calculated WAR (0.8) is fourth among Angels position players. To finish with 30 homers, he needs to average a home run every 4.3 games (assuming he doesn’t miss any time). He was able to do that in 2012 (3.4) and 2010 (4.2). To reach triple-digit RBIs, he needs to drive in a run every 1.13 games. The closest he got to that rate was last year, at 1.16. If Hamilton averages four at-bats per game the rest of the way — it’ll likely be lower than that, given walks and inevitable time off — that totals 276. If he gets 110 hits in that span, that’s a .399 batting average. And that would put his average on the season at .302. Amazing to think he even has a remote chance to get to 300-30-100.
Trout’s MVP chances.
Chris Davis (.315/.392/.717) and Miguel Cabrera (.365/.458/.674) are having absurd seasons, making Mike Trout only a fringe candidate for the AL MVP. But don’t sleep on him. He’s at .322/.399/.565 through 92 games. Through 92 games last year (a year he should’ve been the MVP), he was at .340/.402/.592. Not too far off. And if Davis and Cabrera slip, Trout may find himself in the conversation once again. (Sidenote: Trout’s strikeout and walk rates have actually improved from last year, a sign he’s only improving as a hitter. He struck out 21.8 percent of the time and walked 10.5 percent of the time last year. This year, he’s striking out 16.4 percent of the time and walking 11 percent of the time.)
Jered Weaver’s stock.
Somewhat lost amid the struggles of Pujols and Hamilton is that Weaver hasn’t really been, well, Weaver. He missed more than seven weeks with a broken left elbow, struggled upon coming back, went on a very good three-start stretch — two runs in 20 2/3 innings — and then gave up four runs in 5 2/3 innings to the Mariners to close out the ceremonial first half. He’s now 3-5 with a 3.63 ERA in 11 starts this season, with a fastball velocity that continues to decline (90.1 in 2010, 89.2 in 2011, 88.0 in 2012, 86.8 in 2013). Weaver will make $54 million from 2014-16, and the Angels don’t figure to get a better starting pitcher during that time. A strong second half would ease a lot of concerns.
If the Angels do fall out of it, it’ll be interesting to see how they look ahead to 2014 and beyond. This is not a roster you can really rebuild with. This is a roster you can only continue to add pieces to in hopes of winning a championship. And if the Angels don’t make the playoffs, I expect them to try to contend again in 2014. But come August and September, if they’re far back, how do they start planning for next year? Does Garrett Richards go back to the rotation (perhaps bumping Joe Blanton or Tommy Hanson)? Does Hank Conger become the everyday catcher? (Since June 12, he’s had the exact amount of games — 17 — and at-bats — 47 — as Chris Iannetta.)
And what’s the fallout from owner Arte Moreno for missing the playoffs a fourth consecutive year, and after back-to-back December blockbusters?
We may have to wait until the offseason for that one.
- Trout said today that he was never asked to be part of the Home Run Derby, and later it was announced that Yoenis Cespedes would be the final entrant into the competition. Trout nonetheless hasn’t sounded very excited about taking part. he did it in A ball a couple years ago and had fun, but he hasn’t had too much interest in it. And Mike Scioscia isn’t a very big fan. “It would definitely be for the fans, to see it. I don’t know if I’ll do it this year, but maybe down the road. I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about it.”
- Tommy Hanson (right forearm strain) is slated to throw his first bullpen session tomorrow. Scioscia isn’t sure yet if he’ll require a rehab assignment before rejoining the team, but July 23 — the next time they need a fifth starter — is still a possibility.
- Sean Burnett (left elbow impigement) played catch today and will do that for a couple weeks before he’s off amound.
- Jason Vargas (blood clot in his left armpit area) is seeing the doctor today in hopes of getting cleared to throw.
- Could Pujols play first base in both of these NL games? “We’re going to play tonight and see what happens,” Scioscia said.
- As for why Hamilton is in left and Trumbo is in right? “Mark is more comfortable in right field, and Josh kind of welcomes the adversity of [switching positions]. … Most players really like playing one position, getting settled. Josh is fine bouncing around occasionally.”
- The Angels are still hopeful of coming to an agreement with Blake Goins, the high-school right-hander they took in the 12th round who’s weighing a pro contract or going to the University of Texas. Goins is their only unsigned Draft pick. They have until Friday.
- Shayne Kelley, Hamilton’s accountability partner, is out of the hospital after an emergency appendectomy and resting comfortable. Hamilton’s wife, Katie, is meeting him up in Seattle, where they’ll spend the All-Star break together.