Results tagged ‘ David Price ’

Angels’ competition getting tougher …

Robinson CanoThe American League West didn’t necessarily, well, impress last year.

Here’s how it stacked up in combined wins …

AL East: 433
NL Central: 421
AL Central: 400
NL West: 399
NL East: 391
AL West: 387

And here’s where it ranked in run-differential …

AL East: 235
NL Central: 219
AL Central: 0
NL West: -137
AL West: -138
NL East: -179

But AL West teams have been particularly aggressive in the early portion of this offseason — and yes, it’s worth reminding all of you that it is, indeed, still early — which could make for an interesting dynamic in 2014, and should make the Angels’ return to the postseason that much tougher.

The Mariners just reeled in the biggest free agent of the offseason, snatching Robinson Cano from the Yankees via a reported 10-year, $240-million, Albert Pujols-like contract. No, they aren’t an instant contender. And as the Angels themselves have shown, throwing the most dollars at the best free agent in no way guarantees success. But this is an important building block for a Mariners team that has always struggled to land the big names (see: Josh Hamilton and Prince Fielder). At some point, you have to overpay to lay a foundation (the Mets thought the same thing with Curtis Granderson). This reminds me of the Jayson Werth deal the Nationals made three offseasons ago. It was a vast overpay at seven years and $126 million. But at that time, it was the only way the Nats were going to land a premier free agent. Adding Werth — even if he isn’t a star to the magnitude of Cano —  changed the expectations in Washington and ultimately helped make it a place where free agents wanted to play. Same can happen in Seattle, where the Mariners are showing a willingness to spend. And if they trade for David Price — they have the prospects to do it — watch out.

In the words of one executive, “The A’s may have one of the best bullpens in history.” It’s not much of an exaggeration when you consider that they added Luke Gregerson to a group that includes Jim Johnson, Ryan Cook, Jerry Blevins, Sean Doolittle, etc. Their rotation — Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin, Scott Kazmir, Dan Straily, Sonny Gray, in whatever order — is darn good, as well. But here’s the most important part about the current A’s: After back-to-back exits in the Division Series, they’re going for it. You don’t trade for one season of Johnson, flip a talented prospect (Michael Choice) for Craig Gentry or give  Kazmir a two-year, $22 million contract if you aren’t.

Then there are the Rangers, who you just know have another big more or two in them. I actually liked the Fielder-for-Ian Kinsler deal for them (and loved it for the Tigers). They’re  paying Fielder $138 million over the next seven years, which is very reasonable for a guy whose home-run rate will inflate in Texas and who gives them the middle-of-the-order bat they’ve been missing since Hamilton left. Over the last four years, the Rangers have the third-best regular-season winning percentage in the Majors (.570, trailing only the Yankees and Braves) and have been to the World Series twice. They had the 10th-best staff ERA in baseball last year, and they surely aren’t done.

Even the Astros have made some moves. They reached agreement on a three-year, $30 million deal with starter Scott Feldman — a guy the Angels would’ve liked, but not for three years — and previously traded for former Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler. They were easily dead last in 2013 in winning percentage (.315) and run-differential (minus-238), so they’re a ways away. But they have the second-best farm system in the Majors, per Baseball America, and they’re on their way.

What does all this mean for the Angels?

Well, nothing. At least not now.

They have about $15 million and some trade chips — Howie Kendrick still chief among them — to fill two spots in their starting rotation. They still have baseball’s best player in Mike Trout, two premier superstars in Pujols and Hamilton, two legit starters at the top of their rotation in Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, and a bullpen that can be among the deepest in baseball if Sean Burnett returns to full health. If they can sign someone like Matt Garza, they’re no doubt a legit playoff contender, regardless of how bad this past season turned out for them.

But their competition just keeps getting better.

Alden

Price Is Right? …

David Price

In August 2009, the Angels acquired Scott Kazmir from the Rays in a four-player trade.

In July 2012, Peter Bourjos was so close to being dealt to the Rays — presumably for James Shields, but that part is unconfirmed — that they basically had his uniform ready in St. Petersburg.

This offseason, perhaps the two can come together again — this time for ace pitcher David Price.

The two haven’t been linked heavily in trade talks — yet — but it’s a pairing that would seem to make sense for both sides. The Rays are believed throughout the industry to be shopping Price this winter. It’s the kind of thing they’d do. The starting-pitching market is thin, which would maximize Price’s value; the 28-year-old left-hander is projected to make about $13 million in his second year of arbitration; and Tampa Bay has a gluttony of young, cost-controlled starting pitching, which could free the front office up to trade Price for the offense that may finally balance out their roster.

Meet the Angels. They’ll spend all offseason looking for pitching via the trade market and are more than willing to dangle offensive pieces to get it. Price only comes with two years of control, which doesn’t exactly meet the profile of cost-controlled arms that Jerry Dipoto specifically targets. But here’s the thing: The Angels don’t just have to improve the rotation. They have to get a lot better. Their staff ranked 11th in the American League in ERA last year, Jered Weaver basically loses a tick or two off his fastball every season, C.J. Wilson can drive you nuts every five days, Garrett Richards is still developing and Jason Vargas (if resigned) is 64th in ERA over the last four years.

This rotation looks a whole lot better if you slide Price at the top and move everyone down a spot.

Heck, it may rival some of the best in the league.

Will it happen? Maybe; most likely not, given how difficult it is to pull off trades this big. But it’s an interesting one to think about at this point. (Even a little fun, no?) Who would the Angels have to give up to get Price, you ask? One guy the Rays may really want — perhaps even demand — is Richards, and I can see that being the difference between real dialogue taking place or this being nothing more than a pipe dream. Besides Richards, Mark Trumbo – who you’d hate to lose, but would probably be willing to give up if it means getting someone this good — is probably a guy who would go to Tampa Bay, since he’d be a perfect fit in the middle of their lineup and first baseman James Loney is now a free agent. Maybe Bourjos gets thrown in there again, perhaps second baseman Howie Kendrick — born and raised in nearby Jacksonville — gets added to the mix, maybe some prospects, maybe all of them.

Two things are certain …

  1. The Angels would face a whole lot of competition, especially if Japanese sensation Masahiro Tanaka isn’t posted. And the Rays will seek a significant return since they don’t really have to trade Price this offseason.
  2. The Angels may have to take on money, since a big reason the Rays would do it in the first place is to free up some payroll flexibility. (I estimate that the Angels have something in the neighborhood of $15 million of wiggle room for 2014. Parting ways with Trumbo saves about $6 million for next season, while Kendrick saves about $9 million and Bourjos saves about $1.5 million.)

***

Vargas — without the $14.1 million qualifying offer – officially joined the free-agent pool of starting pitchers at 9:01 p.m. PT on Monday, when teams were given the green light to start negotiating with all eligible free agents. The Angels would be interested in bringing him back. And though their best bet to bolster their starting rotation will come via the trade market, the free-agent list is worth looking at nonetheless.

So, with that in mind, below is a categorical look at the unimpressive-but-perhaps-useful pool. Off the bat, I eliminated Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez and Hiroki Kuroda, the three starters who were tendered the qualifying offer and figure to be out of the Angels’ price range. Also not mentioned are Far East stars Tanaka and Suk-Min Yoon (Korea), who have yet to be posted.

Have a look. (Warning: It ain’t pretty.)

Bartolo ColonProbably Too Steep

Matt Garza
Ricky Nolasco

The Next Tier

Bronson Arroyo
A.J. Burnett
Tim Hudson

Big Names, Big Reclamations

Roy Halladay
Josh Johnson
Johan Santana
Ryan Vogelsong

Reunion Candidates

Bartolo Colon
Dan Haren
Kazmir
Joe Saunders

Phil HughesSteady, Albeit-Uninspiring Veterans

Erik Bedard
Bruce Chen
Jason Hammel
Paul Maholm
Jake Westbrook

Coming Back From Injury 

Chris Capuano
Jeff Karstens
John Lannan
Colby Lewis
James McDonald
Clayton Richard

Potential Minor League Options

Freddy Garcia
Aaron Harang
Ted Lilly
Shaun Marcum
Daisuke Matsuzaka
Roy Oswalt
Barry ZitoTsuyoshi Wada
Chien-Ming Wang

Some Upside Left?

Scott Baker
Scott Feldman
Phil Hughes
Sean O’Sullivan
Mike Pelfrey
Greg Reynolds
Edinson Volquez

Anything Left? 

Jeff Francis
Jon Garland
Roberto Hernandez
Barry Zito

Alden

Josh Hamilton is even hitting lefties …

Josh HamiltonOne of the biggest indicators that Josh Hamilton is finally right at the plate is his recent success against left-handed pitchers.

Southpaws have given the Angels’ left-handed slugger fits all year. Over his first 60 games, he had a .165/.192/.281 slash line against southpaws. But since Aug. 9, a stretch that has seen him bat .339 with 14 walks to get his batting average up to a season-high .243, he’s been a lot better.

Hamilton has 15 hits in 44 at-bats vs. lefties in that span. Over the last six games, he’s gone 3-for-3 with a homer against Mark Buehrle, 1-for-2 with a walk against Derek Holland and 2-for-3 against David Price.

“Staying square has been the biggest thing,” Hamilton said. “I’ve talked about it all year. And the last few, I would say, couple of weeks, I’ve been better off lefties. If I can stay square on them, then I know I can on righties also.”

Hamilton — at .243/.302/.429, with 20 homers and 67 RBIs on the year — says it’s “the [lefties] that are erratic” that give him the most trouble.

“Guys that are more established and know how to pitch the game, know how to play the game, like Price or Buehrle or [Andy] Pettitte, guys like that [are the ones he's more comfortable against],” Hamilton said. “But once you start seeing them, getting comfortable, that carries over to guys who are erratic.”

Some additional notes from Tuesday’s 12-6 win over the Blue Jays

  • Hamilton is now one of seven players with at least 20 homers and 25 doubles in each of the last four seasons, joining Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Beltre, Alfonso Soriano, David Ortiz, Prince Fielder and Robinson Cano.
  • Five hits and four extra-base hits in one game are each career-highs for Mark Trumbo. His three doubles tied a single-game franchise record, and he became the first Angels player ever to notch five hits and five runs scored in one game. Four extra-base hits in one game ties a franchise record, done nine other times and last by Erick Aybar in 2011.
  • Mike Trout, who has hit safely in 12 straight games, is now the third Angels player to have 180 hits in back-to-back seasons.
  • Kole Calhoun, who hit an RBI double in the fifth, has an RBI in 13 of his last 14 starts and leads all rookies with 22 RBIs since joining the Angels on July 28.

Alden

Report Card: Starting rotation …

Jered Weaver, RH

2012: 20-5, 2.81 ERA, 188 2/3 IP, 142 SO, 45 BB
2007-11: 14-9, 3.40 ERA, 202 IP, 174 SO, 55 BB

In the end, Weaver’s 2012 may have paled in comparison to 2011, when he posted a career-low 2.41 ERA in a career-high 235 2/3 innings. But despite a short stint on the DL with lower back tightness, and some biceps tendinitis down the stretch, the 30-year-old right-hander put together another Cy Young-caliber performance in a year decorated with personal milestones. He threw his first no-hitter (against the Twins on May 2), notched his first 20-win season and surpassed 100 career victories. Most importantly, when the rotation struggled early in the second half, Weaver kept the Angels afloat by continuing to be the one constant. Mike Scioscia will point to that as the biggest reason why he should beat out the likes of Justin Verlander, David Price and Felix Hernandez for the Cy Young. We’ll see.

Grade: A

Zack Greinke, RH

2012 (overall): 15-5, 3.48 ERA, 212 1/3 IP, 200 SO, 54 BB
2008-11: 14-10, 3.37 ERA, 206 IP, 202 SO, 52 BB

Greinke ran into a little funk early in his tenure with the Angels, giving up 20 runs in his first 25 innings of August. But he got it together down the stretch, with a 2.04 ERA in his final eight starts of the season, and showed why he’ll be so highly coveted as a free agent this offseason. The Angels are hopeful that being with the organization for a couple months will give them an upper-hand this winter. It certainly won’t hurt, but they’ll have plenty of competition, most notably from the Rangers. He’s got great stuff, he fields his position well, and he’ll probably be worth a five-year deal around $120 million.

Grade: B

C.J. Wilson, LH

2012: 13-10, 3.83 ERA, 202 1/3 IP, 173 SO, 91 BB
2010-11: 16-8, 3.14 ERA, 214 IP, 188 SO, 84 BB

Wilson was as advertised in the first half, posting a 2.43 ERA en route to a second straight All-Star Game invite. But while pitching with bone spurs in his left elbow, which he recently fixed with arthroscopic surgery, the 31-year-old struggled through a 5.54 ERA in the second half. The most frustrating thing about Wilson is his walks, especially when handed a lead. Wilson walked 91 batters this year, fourth-most in the Majors and two off his career high in 2010. He also came up small in several important starts down the stretch. But he gets somewhat of a pass, considering the elbow discomfort he was nursing over the last couple of months.

Grade: C

Dan Haren, RH

2012: 12-13, 4.33 ERA, 176 2/3 IP, 142 SO, 38 BB
2005-11: 14-11, 3.49 ERA, 226 IP, 195 SO, 45 BB

Pretty stunning when you put Haren’s career averages right next to his 2012 season. This really was his only bad year, but with a $15.5 million club option for 2013, it couldn’t have come at a worse time. Haren had a fantastic spring, with a 2.05 ER, 25 strikeouts and two walks. Then, right before things got real, his lower back started barking, and he was never really the same since. Haren went on the DL for the first time in his career, lost another tick or two off his fastball, was getting pulled out of games before even hitting 90 pitches — a clear sign that Scioscia had lost trust in him — and most of the time took the mound with very little. But Haren did turn it around a bit towards the end, finishing the season with a 2.81 ERA in his last eight starts after he stopped trying to add velocity and focused on location. Was that an indication that Haren learned how to pitch with his limited repertoire and can be effective again? Perhaps. But he’s definitely not a $15 million pitcher anymore.

Grade: D+

Ervin Santana, RH

2012: 9-13, 5.16 ERA, 178 IP, 133 SO, 61 BB
2006-11: 12-10, 4.17 ERA, 194 IP, 156 SO, 61 BB

Like Haren, Santana pitched better towards the end of the year, with a 3.76 ERA in his last 11 starts. But by that point, the damage had been done. Santana had a 6.00 ERA when that stretch began, finished giving up a Major League-high 39 homers and had three starts in which he lasted less than three innings and gave up at least six runs. Two of them came in the same month (July) and the other was his final start of the season, when he gave up six runs in 2 2/3 innings in the second of a doubleheader in Texas on Sept. 30, all but mathematically eliminating the Angels from postseason contention. Considering his $13 million club option, that could very well have been the final start of his Angels career.

Grade: D-

Week 1: Infield.
Week 2: Outfield.

Alden

Game 120: Rays-Angels …

OK, the Angels are going to score against the Rays at some point, right? I mean, they can’t be shutout again, can they? The Angels have been shutout three straight games against Tampa Bay — the latest being Thursday night, courtesy of David Price and Co. — and you can stretch it back to 32 innings if you go that route. Active hitters on the Angels’ roster are hitting .192 this season against Rays pitchers, which rank second in the Majors in ERA (3.29). Thanks to that, the Angels have lost nine of their last 10 against Joe Maddon’s crew …

Rays (64-54)

Desmond Jennings, LF
B.J. Upton, CF
Matt Joyce, RF
Evan Longoria, DH
Ben Zobrist, SS
Jeff Keppinger, 1B
Sean Rodriguez, 3B
Ryan Roberts, 2B
Jose Molina, C

Pitching: RH James Shields (10-7, 4.02 ERA)

Angels (62-57)

Mike Trout, CF
Torii Hunter, RF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Kendrys Morales, DH
Mark Trumbo, LF
Alberto Callaspo, 3B
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Erick Aybar, SS
Chris Iannetta, C

Pitching: RH Jered Weaver (15-2, 2.22 ERA)

  • Dan Haren (12 runs in seven innings during his last two starts) won’t necessarily be skipped; he’ll be pushed back.With the off day on Monday, manager Mike Scioscia has decided to move Haren back to Saturday, against the Tigers in Comerica Park. That would mean Ervin Santana goes on extended rest, but everyone else is on normal rest leading in and Haren gets eight days in between to work on his release point. “I think he is past the physical ailment,” Scioscia said. “This is a mechanical thing and it could’ve arisen from trying to make some adjustments in his delivery to get pitches in places when his back was bothering him.”
  • Scioscia said it’s too early to go to a four-man rotation, but that it is possible for September. “There’s no doubt that as we get into September, we’re going to have the option. I don’t think it’s going to happen the first of September, but definitely as we start to get into where that end point is … we’ll have the ability to adjust for matchups.”
  • Jordan Walden (neck, right biceps) is back with the team after hurling back-to-back 1-2-3 innings for Triple-A Salt Lake. He’ll throw a bullpen today in anticipation of getting activated shortly thereafter. My guess is he’ll be back Sunday. Scott Downs is looking very likely for Saturday.
  • Three shutouts against one team has happened only three other times in Angels history. This is the first time all three of those games took place at home.

Alden

Game 119: Rays-Angels …

And if the Angels win tonight, they’ll accomplish what Lou Brown calls a “winning streak” for the first time since taking four in a row way back on June 28. To do that, they’ll have to beat David Price (15-4, 2.50 ERA), and Dan Haren will have to bounce back from giving up seven runs (five earned) in 3 1/3 innings his last time out against an offense that just got a perfect game thrown against it. The Rays enter this four-game series 1 1/2 games ahead of the Angels for that final Wild Card spot.

Rays (63-54)

Desmond Jennings, LF
B.J. Upton, CF
Matt Joyce, RF
Evan Longoria, DH
Ben Zobrist, SS
Jeff Keppinger, 3B
Carlos Pena, 1B
Ryan Roberts, 2B
Jose Molina, C

Pitching: LH Price

Angels (62-56)

Mike Trout, CF
Torii Hunter, RF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Mark Trumbo, DH
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Alberto Callaspo, 3B
Vernon Wells, LF
Erick Aybar, SS
Chris Iannetta, C

Pitching: RH Haren (8-9, 4.68 ERA)

  • Scott Downs (strained left shoulder) threw close to 20 pitches in a sim game today, with Jerry Dipoto and Mike Scioscia watching intently, and if all goes well in the next couple of days, he could be activated Saturday. “Scott did very well,” Scioscia said. “The stuff he showed out there in the sim game is definitely what he needs to pitch with in the Major Leagues. We’re going to see what he comes out with today and tomorrow, and hopefully activate him on Saturday.”
  • Jordan Walden is set to pitch in what could be his final rehab assignment for Triple-A Salt Lake tonight. “We’re going to see,” Scioscia said. “I think with Jordan, it definitely is going to be contingent on the evaluation of his outing and where he is. He struggled a little bit in his first outing. Last outing was much more along the lines of what we need. We’ll see how tonight goes.”
  • Umpire Greg Gibson, hit by Hunter’s cleat in the side of the face last night, told TMZ he suffered a broken nose in addition to the gash in his eye, but no head trauma. He holds no grudge against the Angels’ outfielder, calling him “one of the princes of the game.” Gibson required five stitches to close the wound near his eye, TMZ reported.

Alden

Game 18: Angels-Rays …

Angels (6-11)

Bobby Abreu, LF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Albert Pujols, 1B
Kendrys Morales, DH
Torii Hunter, RF
Vernon Wells, CF
Maicer Izturis, 3B
Erick Aybar, SS
Chris Iannetta, C

Pitching: LH C.J. Wilson (2-1, 2.37 ERA)

Rays (10-7)

Desmond Jennings, LF
Ben Zobrist, RF
Carlos Pena, 1B
Evan Longoria, 3B
Jeff Keppinger, 2B
B.J. Upton, CF
Luke Scott, DH
Sean Rodriguez, SS
Chris Gimenez, C

Pitching: RH Jeremy Hellickson (2-0, 3.26 ERA)

Some pregame notes …

  • Angels manager Mike Scioscia called talk of Mike Trout coming up “premature,” but added: “Obviously when you’re playing that well, you tend to push a door open for yourself.” Here’s more from the skipper (with more on the site later): “Obviously if stuff continues to be stagnant, you’re going to put more on weight on some of those decisions. But right now, I think we’re trying to find an identity to this team, and we’re just not quite there yet.”
  • Catching prospect Hank Conger is on the 10-day Minor League disabled list with what the club believes is a non-serious elbow injury. An MRI revealed no structural damage, so for now he’ll just rest it. John Hayes, who the Angels just signed to a Minor League deal, will split the Triple-A Salt Lake catching duties with Robinzon Diaz until Conger returns.
  • Izturis’ stolen base on Tuesday was the Angels’ first since April 15, and the Angels have just nine on the year (tied for 22nd in the Majors). “Sometimes the matchups aren’t there,” Scioscia said. “It’s nothing you can really force. But if the matchups are there, you’re going to try to take advantage of them. I think we have team speed, which we can try to create in some situations. … I think we’re going to steal our share of bases.”
  • Can Pujols’ struggles just be a matter of not being used to the guys he’s facing? Here’s a look.

Some links from Tuesday …

Some AL West links …

And the Heat lost to the Celtics, but everyone’s just resting for the playoffs right now.

Alden

Can unfamiliarity be (at least part of) the problem? …

Many have tried to scrutinize, analyze and make some sense for why Albert Pujols is batting only .232, is homerless in his first 69 bats of a $240 million contract and is now hitless in four consecutive starts. Some have talked about the thick marine layer of Angel Stadium (guilty as charged), others have pointed to Pujols expanding his zone as part of his ever-diminishing walk rate (David Schoenfield did a nice job of that on ESPN.com), some have talked about frustrations and trying to do too much on a new team (hitting coach Mickey Hatcher indicated that to me yesterday) and many others (a lot of them residing in the Angels’ clubhouse) have simply pointed to the randomness of small sample sizes.

Most of that is fair — but none of it offers up a full explanation. Nothing can, really, because nobody — Pujols included — can really put their finger on exactly what is going on right now. All we can do is try to provide as much reasoning as possible.

In tune with that, here’s something else to consider: The inexperience Pujols has had against those he has faced.

Below is a list of the starters Pujols has gone up against through his first 17 games and the amount of plate appearances he had against each of them heading into the year (listed in no particular order) …

  • Brandon McCarthy: 0
  • David Price: 0
  • Jake Arrieta: 0
  • Nick Blackburn: 0
  • Wei-Yin Chen: 0
  • Bartolo Colon: 2
  • Luke Hochevar: 3
  • Hiroki Kuroda: 15
  • Francisco Liriano: 3
  • Brian Matusz: 0
  • Tommy Milone: 0
  • Ivan Nova: 0
  • Carl Pavano: 10
  • Tyson Ross: 0
  • Jonathan Sanchez: 11
  • Bruce Chen: 11
  • Phil Hughes: 0

So, 10 of the 17 starters he has faced so far have been first-time encounters, and only four — all former National Leaguers — were guys he came in with double-digit plate appearances against.

“I’m a guy that I don’t like to look for an excuse,” Pujols said of facing all the new blood on Tuesday night. “I don’t want to blame the league, that I’m new on the league, or that that I’m struggling. I don’t play like that, and I don’t put excuses. It’s the same game. You come here and do the same homework. Does it help if you’ve faced the guy before? Yeah, of course, but you still have to get the same preparation.

“Yes, it is a new league, but I don’t like to get caught up into that. I don’t like to look at that for an excuse the way I’m swinging or the way I feel at the plate, because to tell you the truth, I feel descent. I mean, I feel good. I’m just not that far away from breaking this thing off.”

OK, so Pujols doesn’t want to make excuses, and he shouldn’t. He’s getting paid a lot of money to produce, and he simply isn’t. That’s the bottom line. But iPad videos and scouting reports can only tell you so much about an opposing pitcher. It’s hard to duplicate the experience of actually seeing what a guy has.

And so far, Pujols hasn’t really had that in his back pocket.

“There’s a slight advantage a pitcher has when there’s no match-ups, just because a hitter hasn’t seen his release point, hasn’t seen maybe the action from a batter’s box,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “But a guy of Albert’s talent usually makes a quick study of these things, and we know he will. We know he will.”

Alden

Game 17: Angels-Rays …

If the Angels are looking for their power, this may not be the place to find it. The Angels came in tied for last in the American League in homers (11 — and zero by their Nos. 3 and 4 hitters today). David Price, Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore — the three starters they’ll face in this series — have combined to give up seven in nine starts.

On to the lineups (No. 15 in 17 games), with Kendrys Morales getting the day off against a southpaw starter (one of two in this series), Torii Hunter getting in his first game at DH (he got 81 plate appearances there last year), Maicer Izturis getting his third start at the hot corner and Mark Trumbo getting the nod in right field (the second of his career) …

Angels (6-10)

Erick Aybar, SS
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Albert Pujols, 1B
Hunter, DH
Trumbo, RF
Vernon Wells, LF
Izturis, 3B
Chris Iannetta, C
Peter Bourjos, CF
Pitching: RH Ervin Santana (0-3, 6.75 ERA)

Rays (9-7)

Desmond Jennings, LF
Ben Zobrist, 2B
Carlos Pena, 1B
Evan Longoria, 3B
Luke Scott, DH
Matt Joyce, RF
B.J. Upton, CF
Jose Molina, C
Sean Rodriguez, SS
Pitching: LH Price (2-1, 4.20 ERA)

Some notes from pregame …

  • Mike Scioscia, on Hunter’s DH days this year compared to last year: “He’s going to definitely DH today because of the turf, and we’ll see how the rest of this series goes. I don’t know if it’s going to be greater, but we’re going to pick our spots. At times, he’s going to get a chance to just rest, and he’ll get days off, too.”
  • If you’re scoring at home (and I know a lot of you are), Trumbo has now made starts at five different positions — first base, third base, left field, right field and DH — and has made just one at the hot corner since April 13. “It’s a work in progress,” Scioscia said of where Trumbo stands at third. “I think in spring he showed the skill set to do what we feel a third baseman needs to do. It’s just that he had a couple of bumps in the road early, but we’re still working on it. He played third the other night, and we’re going to still mix it in there.”
  • You want some good news? OK, here goes: The Rangers have lost two of their last three, and the Angels have won their first game in four of their first five series. They’ve also won five of their last six games in St. Pete. (Sorry, best I can do on short notice.)
  • Wait, here’s something better: The rotation has looked more like what we would’ve expected these last seven games, posting a 2.92 ERA with six quality starts, a 0.91 WHIP and a 41/8 strikeout-to-walk ratio (credit: Stats LLC).

Some links from the last couple days …

Some AL West links …

And Mike Miller‘s minutes with the Heat are rising.

Alden

Too many All-Star no-shows? …

PHOENIX – All-Star Game managers Ron Washington and Bruce Bochy took on a tall order leading up to the Midsummer Classic, and it didn’t end when they submitted their roster selections more than a week ago.

The need for a wide array of substitutions has provided quite the juggling act.

In the week since Major League Baseball announced the players who would make up the National League and American League squads for Tuesday’s 82nd All-Star Game at Chase Field, 17 replacements have been named – 10 in the AL and seven in the NL – including five for the starting lineups.

A lot of those who bowed out of the All-Star Game did so because they pitched on Sunday and were thus ineligible (like Justin Verlander, James Shields, Felix Hernandez, Matt Cain and Cole Hamels); and others are either on the disabled list or sporting serious injuries that have kept them out (like Jose Reyes, Ryan BraunShane Victorino, Chipper Jones, Alex Rodriguez and Placido Polanco).

Then there are others like David Price, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter – nursing current or past ailments, but not the type that have necessarily put them on the shelf in recent days.

“It’s kind of sad, especially since over the last couple of years it’s been known that this game is going to dictate home-field advantage in the World Series,” said Indians manager Manny Acta, who was selected by Washington to be one of the AL’s coaches. “I can’t speak for people, only they know their own situations, but the fan voting and the player voting, I think it’s very important, and it’s kind of, in a way, disappointing not to see some of those guys. But, again, I can’t speak for those guys that are hurt.”

One of Acta’s players benefited from an absence, as Asdrubal Cabrera was able to get the start at shortstop with Jeter out. With the left side of both teams’ infield dropping out, Adrian Beltre, Scott Rolen and Troy Tulowitzki also got starting nods in place of players the fans voted in.

For the most part, players feel fans just need to accept the fact that last-minute things happen.

“The biggest responsibility for the player is to the teammate he’s playing for,” Rangers DH Michael Young said. “Obviously they have a great responsibility to the fans, but I’m sure they’re taking their fans and their cities under consideration when they make decisions.”

“There are factors right at the end that force them to not come,” White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko added. “People just have to understand that.”

Few players seem to soak in the spotlight of the All-Star Game more than David Ortiz, who will captain the AL squad in the State Farm Home Run Derby and is usually in a playful mood at this time of year. No matter how many times he takes part in this event, the All-Star Game never seems to get old for “Big Papi.”

With black sunglasses, a sharp-looking suit and what seemed like a permanent smile, Ortiz said he believes all his peers share those sentiments.

“Everybody likes to come to the All-Star Game,” he proclaimed. “There’s not one player who wouldn’t like to be here. This is something that every player is looking forward to do. So I’m pretty sure that those guys who have dropped out, they have a reason. It could be injuries, or personal problems. This is like a family thing right now. Everybody wants to bring their family around here, their kids to hang around the players, to put a good show for the fans because the fans spend tons of time voting for you.”

– Alden 

* Filed this week: A look at who could be next to 3,000 hits; Thornburg aims to make impact on Brewers; Astros prospect Altuve not short on talent

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 99 other followers

%d bloggers like this: