Results tagged ‘ Garrett Richards ’

Angels still awaiting word on Josh Hamilton …

The Angels don’t anticipate getting word on a potential Josh Hamilton suspension on Friday, which could mean that the earliest something comes down — potentially — is Monday. Still, a lot of things are up in the air at this point.

“Right now there’s no more information than we had yesterday,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “I don’t know where the process is. … We’ve got a lot of things on our plate that we have to take care of. That’s going to happen on its own time. We can’t let it affect us.”

Hamilton met with Major League Baseball officials at the Commissioner’s Office in New York on Wednesday, the Angels confirmed, and CBSSports.com reported that the meeting was regarding a drug-related relapse Hamilton had during the offseason.

Contrary to what has previously been written, Hamilton likely would not be treated as a first-time offender if he violated the Joint Drug Agreement because he was on the Rays’ 40-man roster when he failed his first drug test in 2003. From February 2004 to November 2005, Hamilton was suspended four separate times by MLB.

First-time offenders get placed in a drug treatment program. A first failure to comply with the program is a suspension from 15-25 games, a second is 25-50 games, a third is 50-75 games and a fourth is at least a full season. As stated in Section 7D of the JDA, “Any subsequent failure to comply by a player shall result in the commissioner imposing further discipline.”

Hamilton’s situation is tricky, though, because he hasn’t had a drug-related relapse for about a decade and, aside from alcohol-related relapses in 2009 and ’12, has complied with MLB since being reinstated in June 2006. FOXSports.com reported Friday that Hamilton’s suspension would likely be at least 25 games but less than a full season. But a lot of variables are at play, with new commissioner Rob Manfred having a say and the MLB Players Association perhaps getting involved.

MLB refused comment on Hamilton’s situation again Friday, and the Angels have yet to provide the reason for Hamilton’s meeting in New York.

  • With John McDonald no longer here, and none of the candidates for the utility-infield job having much experience at third base, there’s a good chance David Freese won’t be subbed out late in games this year. “If David Freese doesn’t have to be subbed out, it helps us a lot in some situations where maybe a game is tied and you’ve taken him out of the game,” Scioscia said. “To say we are or aren’t doing it now, it’s too early.”
  • Among the guys who have stuck out early in camp are Sean Newcomb, Andrew Heaney, Nick Tropeano and Matt Lindstrom (more on his situation here). “When you see a guy like Newcomb up close, you get a real sense of the talent,” Scioscia said. “The ball just explodes out of his hands.”
  • Garrett Richards looked “really good” in his 50-pitch bullpen on Thursday, Scioscia said. Mike Butcher mentioned Thursday that his next bullpen would likely be Sunday, but there’s no certainty yet. Scioscia said “at most he’ll have two days off,” which is a good sign.

Alden

Richards looks ‘outstanding’ in third bullpen …

Garrett Richards completed his third bullpen session on Monday morning, throwing 40 pitches – four-seam fastballs and two-seam fastballs – from the stretch at the Angels’ Spring Training complex.

“Outstanding,” Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher said. “He looked really good.”

Richards is full weight-bearing on his surgically repaired left knee, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he’s still about 10 days away from taking part in pitchers’ fielding practice and won’t be close to pitching in Cactus League games the first time through the rotation.

Before doing that, Richards still needs to throw from the windup, still needs to work on fielding his position, still needs to incorporate his off-speed pitches and still needs to face hitters in a controlled environment.

“There’s a progression that a pitcher needs to do to get ready for a season,” Scioscia said. “He’s not in that progression to get ready for a season. He’s still in rehab mode, so we’ll see how that goes.”

Some additional notes from Monday’s workout …

  • Josh Rutledge, Johnny Giavotella, Taylor Featherston and Grant Green are competing for jobs as the starting second baseman and utility infielder, but the Angels are very open to the possibility of carrying three of them on the Opening Day roster.
  • Drew Butera, in competition for the job as backup catcher, has been doing all of his drills alongside starter Chris Iannetta in the early part of Spring Training. Butera is out of options and has the most experience among the candidates, seemingly making him a favorite for the job.
  • Asked if he’d like to keep Albert Pujols at the same range of games at first base as last year (116), Scioscia said: “It’s just going to be based on how he feels. We’re a better team with him at first base, but realistically, we know how important he is hitting in the middle of our lineup.”
  • Angels first-base coach Alfredo Griffin saw 20-year-old Cuban infielder Roberto Baldoquin train in the Dominican Republic before the club gave him an $8 million signing bonus and compared him to Jose Iglesias. “I think he can stick at second and short,” Griffin said.
  • There’s still no update on Josh Hamilton, who’s in the early stages of his recovery from surgery to his right AC joint. “He’s in Houston doing his physical therapy,” Scioscia said. “Same timetable we had. It’s just open-ended right now.”

Alden

2/18 notes: Richards, Iannetta, pace, visa issues …

Angels starter Garrett Richards is set to throw his second bullpen on Friday morning, a 30-pitch session from the stretch, all fastballs, and his first in five days. He’ll get only two this week, and hopes to throw three next week.

Still, Richards is behind the other starters, all of whom have at least a handful of bullpen sessions under their belt — and, of course, are not recovering from major knee surgery. Richards is still holding out hope that he’ll be ready by Opening Day, but he’s using that mostly as a motivation tool.

Realistically, he sees why the Angels might start him off on the disabled list. They have an off day on April 9, the fourth game of the regular season, and can go the first time through the rotation order without a fifth starter. The first time they’ll need a fifth starter is Jackie Robinson Day, on April 15. And with Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano added over the offseason, the Angels should have the depth to overcome a temporary absence.

Still, Richards continues to make steady progress.

“Everything feels good, agility feels good,” said Richards, who isn’t sure when he’ll work on covering first base. “I don’t notice anything different than before.”

  • Although the new pace-of-play regulations prohibit managers from leaving the dugout to challenge a call, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said teams will be given “a reasonable amount of time” to console with replay before making a decision.
  • Scioscia believes the new regulations are still “a work in progress.” “It’s not like pitch counts have risen over the last 20 years that would warrant taking an extra 15 or 20 minutes to finish a game,” Scioscia said. “It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is the flow of the game, the pace of the game.”
  • The Angels plan to keep Chris Iannetta somewhere between 100 and 115 starts behind the plate this season, Scioscia said. Iannetta started 92 games last year and his career high is 105, but with Hank Conger now with the Astros, he may top that. Iannetta may also get starts at designated hitter against lefties, but the Angels won’t carry three catchers.
  • Lefty Atahualpa Severino (non-roster invite) and catcher Carlos Perez (on the 40-man roster) have yet to report to Spring Training due to visa issues. Both are expected in camp by Saturday.

Alden

Scioscia on Hamilton, Richards, Trout, the team …

Angels manager Mike Scioscia met with the media on Thursday, the day pitchers and catchers reported for their physicals. He admitted “it’s going to be a little bit of a tougher chore” to make up for the loss of Howie Kendrick at second base, but believes the bullpen is “light years” ahead of where it was at this time last year.

“Obviously the personnel has been shifted a little bit,” Sciosica said. “In some areas we’re younger with a lot of upside, and in some areas we’re going to have to work hard to create depth.”

  • Josh Hamilton is currently in Houston rehabbing his right AC joint, which was surgically repaired in early February. Scioscia doesn’t know when he’ll report to Spring Training, and isn’t really sure if he’ll report with the rest of the position players on Tuesday. “Right now he’s just doing rehab there; I don’t know what his schedule is going to be,” Scioscia said. “It’s obviously a lengthy rehab.”
  • Garrett Richards hasn’t thrown off the mound again since Monday, when he threw all fastballs from the stretch. “He’s transitioning to full weight-bearing on the field this week,” Scioscia said. “The last five percent is always the toughest to get back, so I think we’re going to have to watch Garrett closely and just see where he is. But his rehab so far has been remarkable.”
  • Scioscia has “put a lot of time into” where to hit Mike Trout this year, and it looks like right now he’s leaning towards keeping him in the No. 2 spot. “The 2 spot for him, especially with our group of guys, really fits us right now.” Matt Joyce can be a fit at the No. 2 spot, allowing Trout to bat third, but Scioscia doesn’t seem like a fan of stacking two lefties at the top (Kole Calhoun and Joyce).
  • C.J. Cron and David Freese had minor surgeries this offseason. Cron had a cyst removed from his right wrist and Freese had his left ankle cleaned up. Both should be uninhibited in Spring Training.

— Alden

Some Spring Training reading material …

garrett_richards_stills7Pitchers and catchers report for their physicals on Thursday, and with that a new season officially begins. Physicals take place away from the Tempe Diablo Stadium complex, so “report day” isn’t quite as eventful for the Angels as it is for other teams. But some players will trickle in, and Mike Scisocia will speak with the media later in the afternoon, shortly after meeting with his coaching staff.

Before all the madness begins, I thought I’d do my best to help you get caught up. Below is a list of previews, features and blog post from the offseason that you might have missed and are still timely with the start of Spring Training upon us.

You can see an updated 40-man roster here, a depth chart of where those 40 players fit in here, a list of non-roster invitees here, the Top 20 Prospects here and injury updates here. No changes were made to the coaching staff, but Tim Bogar was added to the front office and a variety of changes were made to the Minor League development staffs, with Keith Johnson reassigned and Dave Anderson, Johnny Narron and Pepperdine University product Chad Tracy among those hired.

Spring Training preview series

A look at players on the rebound
Examining the new faces
Prospects to watch
Angels are better for the future, but are they better in the present?
Projecting the lineup, rotation, ‘pen
Three big questions

Around The Horn

Catcher
Middle infield
Corner infield
Outfield
Rotation
Bullpen

Features

Pre-Spring Training Inbox
Story and video on Garrett Richards‘ recovery
On Matt Shoemaker‘s against-all-odds journey to the Rookie of the Year race
Chance to strengthen right leg has Albert Pujols excited
Jered Weaver has bulked up, wants to pitch deeper
Coaches believe Mike Trout can cut down on his strikeouts
Can Josh Hamilton bounce back?
Tyler Skaggs ‘bittersweet’ about start of Spring Training
Depth charts are at the heart of Angels’ strategy
An inside look at the pursuit of Roberto Baldoquin
How Andrew Heaney became the guy the Angels couldn’t pass up
Finally some representation in MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects

Blogs

The Angels finally have some payroll flexibility
A look at how the Angels would look without Josh
Will Jerry Dipoto dabble in next winter’s premier class of FA starters?
Examining a tougher AL West
Talent on the Triple-A affiliate is on the rise
When will the Angels get their first Hall of Famer?
Video highlights of Trout’s best moments from the 2014 season

Alden

Angels, Joyce avoid arbitration …

The Angels avoided arbitration with outfielder Matt Joyce on Monday, settling on a $4.75 million contract for the 2015 season, a source told MLB.com. The club has not confirmed.

With Joyce settled, the Angels finished with all their arbitration-eligible players, avoiding an arbitration hearing for the fourth consecutive year.

Previously, the Angels agreed with David Freese ($6.425 million), Garrett Richards ($3.2 million), Hector Santiago ($2.29 million), Fernando Salas ($1.37 million), Cesar Ramos ($1.312 million), Vinnie Pestano ($1.15 million), Collin Cowgill ($995,000) and Drew Butera ($987,500).

Joyce, heading into his final year before free agency, originally filed for $5.2 million and the Angels countered with $4.2 million.

Acquired from the Rays for reliever Kevin Jepsen on Dec. 16, Joyce has posted a .252/.341/.428 slash line while averaging 136 games the last four years. On the Angels, the 30-year-old left-handed hitter will mostly be used as a designated hitter but will also play the outfield corners.

With Josh Hamilton undergoing surgery to repair his right AC joint last week, a procedure that typically takes six to eight weeks to recover from, Joyce is expected to see extended time in left field.

Alden

Angels, Richards avoid arbitration …

The Angels avoided arbitration with starting pitcher Garrett Richards on Saturday, agreeing to terms on a $3.2 million contract for the 2015 season.

With Richards done, the Angels’ only remaining arbitration-eligible player – from a list that was eight deep earlier in January – is outfielder Matt Joyce, who’s heading into his final season before free agency.

Richards looked like the Angels’ trickiest arbitration case, because he was in his first of four arbitration years after qualifying as a Super Two, was coming off a breakthrough year in the rotation and ended the 2014 season recovering from knee surgery.

Upon suffering a torn patellar tendon in his left knee while covering first base at Fenway Park on Aug. 20, Richards was 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA in 26 starts. The 26-year-old right-hander had 4.33 ERA in 216 innings while shuffling between the rotation and bullpen the previous two years, then emerged as an American League Cy Young Award candidate in his first full season in the rotation.

But the Angels were wary of setting a financial precedent with three arbitration years still left, and both sides exchanged figures on Jan. 17. The Angels submitted $2.4 million and Richards’ side, led by agent Fred Wray of Relativity Sports, countered with $3.8 million. Both sides ultimately agreed to a figure $100,000 above the midway point, 11 days before Richards’ scheduled arbitration hearing.

Richards has spent the offseason working out in Arizona. He’s been playing catch since early December, began running in early January and is expected to run at full intensity this coming week, at which point he can begin throwing off a mound.

Richards is currently on track to be ready by Opening Day, but the Angels will take it slow with him in Spring Training.

The Angels previously avoided arbitration with David Freese ($6.425 million), Hector Santiago ($2.29 million), Fernando Salas ($1.37 million), Cesar Ramos ($1.312 million), Collin Cowgill ($995,000) and Drew Butera ($987,500). Vinnie Pestano also avoided arbitration in November for $1.15 million.

Joyce’s camp submitted a figure of $5.2 million and the Angels countered with $4.2 million.

The Angels haven’t gone to arbitration since Jered Weaver in 2011.

Alden 

The Angels and next winter’s free-agent starters …

David PriceBarring a drastic, last-minute change in strategy, the Angels will not pursue James Shields, just like they didn’t pursue Max Scherzer and they didn’t pursue Jon Lester. They bowed out of the free-agent market for starting pitchers this winter — the free-agent market in general, actually — because they already have a top-heavy payroll and they didn’t deem another splurge practical.

What about next winter?

The next free-agent crop of starters is a doozy. David Price, Johnny Cueto, Jordan Zimmermann, Jeff Samardzija, Hisashi Iwakuma, Mat Latos and Doug Fister are all slated to headline one of the deepest groups we’ve ever seen. Will the Angels be a player in that market, with David Freese, Chris Iannetta, Matt Joyce and Huston Street all in line to come off the books? (They’d like to extend Street.)

Maybe — but probably not.

“I wouldn’t say no, and at this point I wouldn’t say yes,” Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said when asked about going after the top starters in next year’s market. “One of the things we like a lot about the way the team is currently built is the level of depth we have among starting pitchers. While we do have the potential departure of some free agents, we’re looking at a projected payroll number next year that’s similar to the one we’re operating at now.”

It’s true. Despite the potential departures, Mike Trout‘s salary will go from $6.08 million to $16.08 million; Josh Hamilton‘s will go from $25.4 million to $32.4 million; incremental jumps will come for Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver; and natural arbitration hikes will follow.

The Angels’ projected Opening Day payroll is $145 million for 2015, third-highest in team history but $9 million smaller than last year (which means there’s room for in-season upgrades). For 2016, their Competitive Balance Tax payroll (which takes the average annual value of all 40-man-roster contracts, plus benefits and bonuses, and is used by Major League Baseball to determine which teams exceed the $189 million tax threshold) is already almost $120 million for just seven players

More importantly, the Angels will have every current starter back — Weaver, Wilson, Garrett Richards, Matt Shoemaker, Hector Santiago, Nick Tropeano and Andrew Heaney — plus Tyler Skaggs, who should be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery.

But Weaver and Wilson will be heading into the final year before free agency. And look at what the Nationals just did. They didn’t need starting pitching, but they signed Scherzer because he was available now and because Zimmermann and Fister will be free agents at season’s end. Now they can comfortably trade Zimmermann or Fister (or perhaps Stephen Strasburg), or hold onto all of them and have the ultimate rotation, 2011 Phillies style.

Can the Angels do something similar?

I wouldn’t rule it out, but I also wouldn’t count on it.

“While I won’t say we have expectation that most or any of [the Angels’ starters] are going to be the quality of David Price, understanding that we need to continue to grow the foundation, at some point you have to provide those guys with the innings to grow,” Dipoto said. “Next year, we’re looking at the same group of starting pitchers; we won’t lose control of anyone. We like our group and like their upside.”

Alden

No Spring Training for Baldoquin, etc. …

Angels fans who want to get an up-close look at Roberto Baldoquin this spring will probably have to walk over to the Minor League side of the Tempe Diablo Stadium complex.

The Angels have opted against inviting the 20-year-old Cuban middle infielder to Major League Spring Training, mostly because they’ll have a lot of infielders competing for jobs but also because they want to give Baldoquin a chance to develop on his own time, without added pressure.

Since signing Baldoquin to an $8 million signing bonus – a commitment that added up to about $15 million because of the overage tax – the Angels have added Josh Rutledge, Johnny Giavotella and Taylor Featherston, all of whom will compete for the starting second base and utility infield job, along with Grant Green. Baldoquin will likely start the season at Class A Inland Empire, exclusively playing shortstop, and hasn’t really played in organized games since he left Cuba nearly a year ago.

“There’s only so much space to go around, or time that you can provide,” Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said Tuesday. “Roberto being 20 years old, being over a year removed from competitive baseball outside of whatever he’s doing at our facility in the Dominican Republic, we felt like this was probably in his best interest and in the best interest of developing him.”

Baldoquin agreed to terms in early November, signed his first professional contract a few days before Christmas and has spent the month working out at the Angels’ academy in the Dominican, where Dipoto said he’s getting “glowing reviews for his leadership and work ethic.”

Baldoquin will spend the mornings working out on the Major League side during Spring Training and could take part in some Cactus League games as an extra player, but will mostly spend the spring working with fellow Minor Leaguers.

The Angels aren’t expecting him in the big leagues until the start of 2017, the first year shortstop Erick Aybar won’t be in the books.

“In Roberto’s case, the smartest thing we can do is slow the wheels down a little bit,” Dipoto said. “No rush. We need to make sure we’re exercising good judgment.”

Below are some additional Angels-related notes, with 23 days left until pitchers and catchers report for their physicals …

  • The Angels plan to start negotiating an extension with closer Huston Street during Spring Training and have already broached the subject with Street himself, a source said. The Angels exercised their $7 million club option on Street early in the offseason and would like to lock the 31-year-old right-hander up before he hits free agency next winter. They’d also be open to negotiating an extension with catcher Chris Iannetta, also a pending free agent, and Garrett Richards, who’s in the first of four arbitration years. But those talks probably wouldn’t begin until after Opening Day.
  • Before starting extension talks with Richards, they need to agree on his 2015 salary. Richards’ arbitration hearing is set for Feb. 11 and both sides have only made slow progress thus far. Richards is one of three arbitration-eligible players remaining for the Angels, along with pending free agents David Freese and Matt Joyce.
  • Richards, who has spent his offseason training in Arizona, is running on 75 percent of his body weight and is expected to progress to 100 percent next week. He should be throwing off a mound around the time workouts begin.
  • Dipoto wouldn’t comment on extension talks or arbitration negotiations, but did express confidence that he’d avoid an arbitration hearing with all three players. “Right now,” he said, “there’s no expectation that we won’t avoid a hearing, but no fear of going to a hearing if that’s what it comes to. Right now, the conversations have been seamless. Normal rhetoric, and I feel we’re in a good position with all three.”
  • The Angels recently signed veteran right-handers Frank Herrmann and Zach Stewart to Minor League contracts. Herrmann, a 30-year-old reliever who posted a 4.26 ERA in 95 appearances with the Indians from 2010-12, will be invited to Spring Training. Stewart, a 28-year-old swing man who had a 6.82 ERA in 103 innings from 2011-12, will not. The Angels would still like to acquire a Triple-A shortstop on a Minor League deal, and that may be the final move they make this winter.

Alden

The tougher AL West …

canotroutThe American League West was tough last year — by a very reliable measure, it was the toughest by a wide margin — and it should be even more difficult for the Angels to capture a division title in 2015.

In a nutshell, three of their competitors should be better and one of them could be just as good.

The Mariners added Nelson Cruz and Seth Smith to a club with an outstanding rotation and a bullpen that had the fourth-lowest WHIP in baseball last year. The Astros have added Colby Rasmus, Evan Gattis, Hank Conger, Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek to an emerging young core. The Rangers added Carlos Corporan and Yovani Gallardo to a star-studded roster that will be healthier. (I mean, they can’t get any more injured, right?) The A’s have shuffled the deck, and while they parted ways with Josh Donaldson, Jeff Samardzija, Brandon Moss and Derek Norris in prospect-laden deals, they also added Billy Butler, Ben Zobrist and Tyler Clippard, and now — amazingly — figure to be just as much of a threat in 2015.

The Angels’ offseason could best be described by some imagery general manager Jerry Dipoto recently used, while talking about the industry in general: “The beautiful thing about baseball is that it’s kind of like the ocean. It looks the same, but it changes every millisecond.”

On the outside, the Angels’ Major League roster essentially looks the same, minus Howie Kendrick and Kevin Jepsen but with Matt Joyce and Cesar Ramos. Their biggest change came in their farm system, as Dipoto continued to build layers of depth to make the Angels more sustainable moving forward. In other words, they’re definitely better for the future, but they may not be better — and may even be worse — for 2015.

The AL West ranked second in combined win-loss records last year …

AL East: +12
AL West: +10
NL Central: +8
AL Central: +4
NL East: -2
NL West: -32

But was easily No. 1 in run-differential …

AL West: +140
AL East: +29
NL East: +21
AL Central: -62
NL Central: -63
NL West: -65

That was with the Rangers ranking dead last at minus-136 and the Astros 27th at minus-94. It’s a pretty safe bet that both Texas teams will be better than that; probably way better than that.

It’s impossible to predict what will happen in 2015, of course, but we can sure try. I used Steamer’s Wins Above Replacement projections for each AL West team’s starting lineup, top four starters and best three relievers. Below is the projected fWAR for each team’s 16 most important players (for the Angels I included Garrett Richards; for the Rangers I included Jurickson Profar; for the A’s I included A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker) …

Mariners: 33.4
Angels: 32.6
A’s: 29.2
Rangers: 27.7
Astros: 23.4

Steamer can’t account for any freak injuries that may occur, or in-season additions that can be made, or all sorts of other randomness that occurs throughout every baseball season. But I think it’s a pretty good general overview of where teams stand.

It’ll be interesting.

If you’re curious, here’s what Steamer projected for each Angels player, ordered by highest fWAR: Trout (8.7), Aybar (3.1), Calhoun (3.1), Pujols (3), Iannetta (2.7), Richards (2.3), Freese (1.8), Hamilton (1.7), Wilson (1.4), Shoemaker (1.3), Joyce (1.2), Rutledge (1.1), Weaver (0.8), Smith (0.3), Morin (0.1), Street (0).

Alden

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