Results tagged ‘ Chris Iannetta ’
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.
The Angels are hosting the Red Sox for their final home series before the All-Star break. And both teams have won eight of their last nine games. Should be fun.
Red Sox (53-34)
SP: RH Felix Doubront (4-3, 4.22 ERA)
SP: LH C.J. Wilson (8-5, 3.63 ERA)
- Jerome Williams, who threw 55 pitches on Tuesday, will take the ball against the Red Sox on Saturday. He’ll be on two-days’ rest, but Williams doesn’t feel very tired because he basically had half an outing on Wednesday — and he says his arm is never tired. The other option was Michael Roth, but Mike Scioscia chose to go with Williams on short rest, partly because the off-days on Monday and Thursday allow him to buy some time. Angels won’t need a fifth starter by July 23, and perhaps by that time Tommy Hanson and/or Jason Vargas will be back.
- Hamilton is batting sixth, one day after tying the game with a home run. For now, at least, Scioscia likes flip-flopping Trumbo and Hamilton in the order depending on whether it’s a lefty or righty starting.
- Asked Scioscia today about the possibility of moving Trout to the No. 3 spot and temporarily moving Pujols (3-for-31 in his last eight games) down in the order to relieve some pressure off him. Looks like that is not going to happen in the near future. Here’s what Scioscia said: “When Mike goes to the 3-spot, we’re going to re-work a lot of the lineup. I think you’re definitely looking for some table-setters in the 1 and 2 spot if you have Mike in the 3 spot. I’m not sure we have that much depth right now. I think with Albert, it’s just a matter of time before he’s doing some of the things we need. He’s had a rough stretch his last 30 or 40 at-bats, but he’s still a presence in the lineup and we’re still winning games. We definitely need his production. I think that you’re only going to dramatically change a lineup if it’s for the greater good of the whole group. And I’m not sure if there’s any lineups that we’ve looked at that would move Albert out of that hole that are going to move us ahead at this point right now.”
- Hanson played catch for a second time today since landing on the DL with a forearm strain.
- Peter Bourjos will spend next week rehabbing his injured wrist in Arizona.
SP: RH Adam Wainwright (11-5, 2.22 ERA)
SP: RH Joe Blanton (2-10, 5.07 ERA)
- Mike Scioscia still won’t reveal who the Saturday starting pitcher is, but it’s still leaving heavily towards left-hander Michael Roth. Roth, once again, was not listed in the lineup sheet under the bullpen. He threw one inning on Wednesday, which would qualify as his bullpen day, and Scioscia said they won’t be calling someone up from Triple-A to make that start. “We have a couple contingencies we’re looking at,” Scioscia said, “but we’ll have a group of guys we can choose from for Saturday.” Billy Buckner worked 4 1/3 innings in Wednesday’s 12-2 loss, throwing 71 pitches, so no chance he gets the start. Garrett Richards pitched two innings, throwing 40 pitches. He could be a candidate, but Richards hasn’t been stretched out past three innings since moving back to the bullpen. Roth’s last seven appearances in Class A have been starts.
- Conger is starting back-to-back games. He and Chris Iannetta now have the same amount of starts since June 12: 10.
- Ryan Madson threw another bullpen session today. This is his fourth since he began getting off a mound every three days after a long stint of merely playing catch. Asked how many more bullpen sessions he needs before venturing out on a rehab assignment, Scioscia said: “It’s tough to say. We’ve tried to guess along the way and I think we’re past that. We just have to see how he comes out of it and we’ll go from there.”
- Scioscia has been in awe of what Yasiel Puig has done with the Dodgers. He’s in agreement with a lot of others in that Puig many not have as much time in the big leagues to be All-Star worthy, but believes he may get in anyway, saying: “I think he’s got to go a little further to earn it. I don’t think Major League Baseball will discount what he’s done, even though it’s a limited amount of at-bats. There’s a pool now to bring the best talent into that game because of the bearing it has on getting home-field advantage for the World Series. That’s going to give him a deeper look than maybe it would’ve been in any other situation.”
- Trout had 290 plate appearances in the first half last year; Puig has 116 with 11 games left. As for how their situations compare, Scioscia said: “These guys are doing things you very rarely see young players come up and do. He’s played to his potential at a young age. A lot of parallels you can draw in that regard.”
- In case you hadn’t noticed, Trout has been wearing a shinguard on his left foot during plate appearances after fouling a ball off there on Tuesday. He said the shin is fine now, but he’s wearing the guard for extra protection because it doesn’t bother him when he hits.
Yes, the Angels — 10 games below .500, 12 games back in the AL West, 9 1/2 games back of the final Wild Card spot — haven’t had much luck with injuries this season, particularly with their highest-paid player (Albert Pujols) and the two guys they were counting on to turn their bullpen around (Ryan Madson and Sean Burnett). You know who has been hit with more injuries? The Yankees team they’ll now face. I mean, just look at their lineup. And yet, they kept on rolling, while the Angels are in need of an amazing run to get back in the race.
“A lot of the things we see are very tangible, a lot of the things we see are reversible,” Mike Scioscia continues to say. “That has to be our goal, to get these guys out there playing consistent baseball and bringing the talent on the field, because we have the potential to have a terrific team.”
SP: LH Andy Pettitte (5-3, 3.82 ERA)
Pitching: LH C.J. Wilson (4-5, 4.05 ERA)
- Starting rotation-wise, we know Tommy Hanson and Jered Weaver are starting the other two games in this series, respectively. And now, we know Jason Vargas will start Monday, with the order resetting again on Wednesday and Thursday. Who’s starting on Tuesday? That’s a decision that will perceivably come down to Joe Blanton and Jerome Williams, and Scioscia didn’t reveal anything on Friday. “Let’s get through this weekend,” he said. You have to figure, that if Blanton were starting Tuesday, he’d simply be listed as the starter by the team. The fact he isn’t makes me believe it’s going to be Williams, as long as he isn’t needed out of the bullpen in some crazy long game (like the 18-inning game the Yankees played against the A’s last night). Just an educated guess, though.
- Robert Coello, placed on the disabled list with what the team called right shoulder inflammation, will be shut down from throwing for a minimum of four weeks. Coello’s elbow is also hurting.
- The Angels will honor Mariano Rivera on Saturday.
- The Angels have signed 34 of their 39 Draft picks. Among those remaining are their first selection, lefty Hunter Green, who was taken in the second round.
- Sicoscia, on his biggest takeaway from his time with Wells: “He worked very hard at the game. You could tell that his non-performance is something he did not take in stride. I mean he felt it. And whether he had a rough day the night before, he came out with a positive frame of mind and said, ‘I’m going to help us win today.’ Maybe fans don’t see that side of him, but he didn’t take it easy when he was struggling, and he knows that he’s a better player than what he showed when he played with us.”
- Wells, by the way, has cooled off considerably since his hot start. Over his last 40 games, he has a .182/.209/.284 slash line. He comes in batting .229/.274/.386, with 10 homers and 26 RBIs.
What is up with the Angels’ fielding? Seems every time I check, they end up with 2-3 errors a game. — @davidusc708
Just one of the many mysteries of this trying 2013 season. Heading into Monday, the Angels had the most errors in the American League (46) and ranked third in the Majors (the Dodgers and Nationals each have 47, putting the combined payrolls of the top three error teams at about $465 million). Howie Kendrick leads the Angels with eight; Erick Aybar has six; Hank Conger and Josh Hamilton (after misplaying a single on Monday) each have four; Mark Trumbo, Albert Pujols and Brendan Harris have three apiece. Then there’s Chris Iannetta, who — with little help from a slow-to-the-plate pitching staff — has thrown out only 5 of 51 would-be base-stealers. His 46 steals allowed already match last year’s total.
Most troubling lately, though, is Alberto Callaspo, a historically good defensive third baseman who came into Monday with six errors in his last eight games.
“This guy’s played great defense for his 10 years in the league,” said Mike Scioscia, who added that his third baseman is “fully healthy.” “He’s still moving well, his hands are fine. I think you have to look at just the way he’s played his whole career. He’s an outstanding defensive third baseman. It’s just a little glitch right now.”
Intermittent showers continue here in Baltimore. There’s been a flew let-ups, including at the time of this publishing (5:41 p.m. ET), but the tarp was still on the field and dark clouds are hovering over the stadium. If they bag it, look for a split doubleheader tomorrow. Thing is, weather doesn’t look great then, either. …
SP: RH Jered Weaver (1-1, 3.13 ERA)
SP: RH Freddy Garcia (2-3, 4.70 ERA)
- Sean Burnett is not with the team today. He’s in Birmingham, Ala., seeing Dr. James Andrews because his left elbow has yet to heal. When Burnett originally went on the disabled list on May 28, he was expected back in two weeks. Tomorrow, it’ll be two weeks. And he’s made no real progress. Angels manager Mike Scioscia wouldn’t speculate on the chances that Burnett will go under the knife again. He’ll wait for the results.
- Trout estimates to having about 200 friends and family members today in Baltimore, which is about a two-hour drive from his roots in Millville, N.J. This, of course, is the scene of his memorable catch on a would-be J.J. Hardy homer. A picture of it hangs in the basement of his parents’ house.
- Oh, in case you missed it, Trout, as expected, is back in left field now that Bourjos is back. Scioscia was asked specifically what makes Bourjos a better defensive center fielder than Trout (he is, ever-so-slightly). His response: “I think it’s the whole picture. I think you have to look at the whole outfield. Peter gives you a unique dimension in center field and allows you to be stronger on the wings, where they can do more things. We can do things as far as what our spray charts show. Mike does give you that same element in center, but in the big picture, I think it works out better with Peter in center right now and Mike and Josh at his wings. I don’t know if it’s just looking at what Peter does in center, but just the whole defensive outfield.”
- The Angels designated little-used infielder Chris Nelson for assignment in order to make room on the roster for Bourjos.
Just before Thursday’s off-day, and an ensuing six-game road trip through Boston and Baltimore, the Angels — fresh off being swept in a four-game series by the Astros — will host a two-game series against the Cubs, who are making their second ever visit to Angel Stadium and first since 2004.
About a month ago, I identified this as a crucial 29-game stretch, with only seven games (vs. the Royals) coming against teams that were sub-.500 at the time. The Angels are currently 14-13 in that stretch, which ends once they arrive in Boston. Not bad, but certainly not what they needed after the slow start.
“What we need to do is get into our game,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “I think that our guys, as we were talking a week ago, we had a lot of things moving forward that were important to us, and some of them just evaporated for us. We need to get back in our game, and I think that everybody in the clubhouse is on board with that. We know what we have to do on the field, and we know what we have to execute. We just have to do a little better job of it.”
SP: Jered Weaver (1-1, 3.71 ERA)
- Hamilton — who drew a ninth-inning, pinch-hit walk despite falling behind 0-2 last night — came out for early batting practice on Tuesday. He talked yesterday about getting back to his pregame routine from 2010.
- Asked if starting Pujols at first base today was because he felt good or simply becuase he needs to stay acclimated with the position, Scioscia said: “I think it’s both. We’re using the DH with Albert both for preventative measures, and also if it’s needed where you want to keep him swinging in the batter’s box the way he needs to. There’s also that aspect of when he feels good, you definitely want him playing first base.”
- Garrett Richards‘ left ankle is feeling better, and he’s available tonight.
- Angels pitchers haven’t allowed a walk in consecutive games, marking the first time that’s happened since July 2011. Joe Blanton hasn’t issued a walk in his last three starts.
- Peter Bourjos will DH for Class A Inland Empire tonight and is expected to play center field for them on Wednesday. Scioscia wants him to play in Triple-A before returning to the big leagues.
- Right-hander Cam Bedrosian (1.80 ERA, .193 BAA), outfielder Zach Borenstein (1.085 OPS, .356 BA) and outfielder Randal Grichuck (.980 FLG %, 46 PO) were named Minor League Pitcher, Player and Defender of the Month, respectively.
- Weaver is 8-0 with a 1.94 ERA in his last 12 interleague starts.
SP: LH Erik Bedard (0-2, 5.32 ERA)
SP: RH Joe Blanton (1-8, 5.94 ERA)
- Josh Hamilton, in case you hadn’t noticed, has the day off today. He isn’t hurt. Angels manager Mike Scioscia wanted to give him a “a recharge day” (and the fact their facing a lefty made this a good opportunity). Hamilton probably won’t be available to pinch-hit, either. It’s only expected to be for one day. “We need him to get into his game, and I think we’ve been trying to grind it and get him there and it’s just not quite getting far enough where we’d want him to. And so we’re going to take a day, take that half-step back and get him to take two steps forward.”
- Garrett Richards, who left Sunday’s game with a mild left ankle sprain, “feels a little better today,” Scioscia said. They’re not sure if he’ll be available tonight, though.
- Scott Downs will get in a game either today or tomorrow. He hasn’t pitched in a game in eight days, mainly because he’s the only lefty currently in the ‘pen and Scioscia wants to make sure he gets the most out of him.
- Ryan Madson played catch today, but he still has a ways to go before hopping back up on a bullpen. Yep.
- Peter Bourjos will start in center field for Class A Inland Empire on Monday night, as expected.
- A bunch of content on the site already from earlier today, on Trout topping AL outfielders in All-Star votes, Jason Vargas winning AL Pitcher of the Month, a look at the upcoming Draft, and the reason why the Angels haven’t played to their potential.
SP: RH Wade Davis (2-3, 5.86 ERA)
SP: RH Barry Enright (0-1, 11.37)
- There was thought Ryan Madson could join the Angels before the end of the week, after making his second and final rehab appearance for Class A Inland Empire on Wednesday or Thursday. That is no longer the case. The Angels prefer to slow down his rehab and have him pitch at Triple-A Salt Lake before being activated. This isn’t really a setback, though. Madson continues to feel good, having just the normal soreness pitchers go through, but he’d been going very aggressive in hopes of coming back as soon as possible — throwing off a mound with intensity every other day — and the Angels feel it’d be best if they slowed him down and ease him into the Majors. “I respect that,” Madson said. I’d expect Madson to start pitching in Triple-A by the end of the week. How long will he be there? Mike Scioscia said: “If everything goes the way we anticipate, not very long at all.” Madson threw out “a couple weeks.” Scioscia, when told that, said: “I don’t know if it’s going to take a couple weeks. It might or it might not. We want to make sure that he’s ready to go and his rehab sticks when it goes.”
- Earlier today, Angels owner Arte Moreno publicly backed Scioscia, saying there’s “zero” chance he’ll be dismissed. Sciosica’s reaction: “Arte has always been very supportive. Arte knows how hard I take the non-performance of this team and how we need to get there. It hits me as hard as it hits Arte and it hits Jerry [Dipoto], and I know Arte realizes that. We’re going to take this challenge and hopefully start moving forward and getting the wins that we need to get ourselves in the position we want to. That’s the bottom line is winning, and we’re going to work towards that.”
- Some other injury notes: Jered Weaver (broken left elbow) came out of his Tuesday bullpen session feeling fine and is still scheduled to throw an 80-pitch, up-and-down ‘pen (meaning 20 pitches, sit down, 20 pitches, sit down, and so on) on Friday. The next step after that would be a rehab assignment. … Sean Burnett (left forearm tightness) is expected to throw his first bullpen session on Thursday. … Peter Bourjos (left hamstring strain) has been riding the elliptical, playing catch, doing some aquatic exercises and getting in some lunges, but there’s still no date for when he can run on the field. … Kevin Jepsen (strained lat) was scheduled to throw his third bullpen session today. … Still no timetable for when Tommy Hanson (restricted list) will be back, but he has been throwing.