Results tagged ‘ Jake Arrieta ’

What can the Angels get for Kendrys Morales? …

Kendrys MoralesThe ideal chip for the Angels’ next, seemingly inevitable trade for a starting pitcher is Kendrys Morales.

It’s hard to deny that. Morales is coming into his final season before free agency and — given his representation (Scott Boras) and his desire to be more than a full-time DH — will leave after 2013.

Trading him now would give the Angels an outfield foursome of Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton, Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo (with Vernon Wells‘ contract probably still lingering). Trout, Bourjos and Trumbo are still in their pre-arbitration years and all four are under club control until at least 2016. Trout (probably left field), Bourjos (center) and Hamilton (right) would make up one of the game’s best outfields — offensively and defensively — and would give the Angels somewhat of a revolving door at DH. Trumbo would get the most reps there, but his versatility would allow Hamilton and Albert Pujols, who need to stay on the field to maximize their nine-figure contracts, can start there, too, when needed.

But what kind of starting pitcher can Morales bring back?

The Angels will seemingly be selling pretty high on the 29-year-old switch-hitter. He’s coming off his first healthy season since 2009, batting .273 with 22 homers, 73 RBIs and a .787 OPS. Morales, who missed almost two full seasons with a couple of ankle surgeries, even proved he can still handle first base. Then there’s the belief that he’ll be even better in 2013, with the motivation of an expiring contract and a full season under his belt. That’s a pretty good package for a guy who will make about $4 million next year, and teams desperate for power — particularly from the left side of the plate — would no doubt love to have him.

Still, though, his market is limited, because you’d be hard-pressed to find a National League club willing to gamble on him as their everyday first baseman and because we’re at a point in the offseason when most teams no longer have big holes to fill. Of course, the Angels would love to move Wells, but I can’t imagine them getting back any significant starter for him, even if they eat the vast majority of the $42 million owed to him the next two years. They’ll also keep listening on Bourjos and Trumbo, and may pull the trigger if blown away by a top-tier, cost-controlled starter. But as Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com wrote on Twitter recently, the priority is to deal Morales for an innings-eater.

Who can they get?

Here are three potential (and purely speculative) AL fits …

Rays: I know, it’s the first place everyone goes. But Tampa Bay always seems like an ideal match because they’re (still) rich in starters and could always use offense. Right now the Rays have James Loney at first base, with somewhat of a platoon at DH with the right-handed-hitting Ryan Roberts and the left-handed-hitting Sam Fuld. Morales would give them a big upgrade, and someone who can protect Evan Longoria. But he wouldn’t get the Angels Jeremy Hellickson or Matt Moore, or probably even Alex Cobb. Maybe Jeff Niemann, who’s under club control for two more years and would cost about $3 million in arbitration in 2013? The Rays did pick up some flexibility for the rotation by signing Roberto Hernandez on Tuesday.

Orioles: They still seek a middle-of-the-order bat, have a spot open at DH and seemingly have some pitching they can afford to part ways with. Righties Jake Arrieta and Chris Tillman, and lefties Zach Britton and Brian Matusz are all young with upside, but with the exception of Tillman, they all struggled last year. Would the O’s be willing to part ways with the 24-year-old Tillman, one of few bright spots in an eclectic starting staff that ranked ninth in the AL in ERA last year? And given his past inconsistencies, can the Angels do better?

Indians: They’re trying to woo free-agent outfielder Nick Swisher, but could always use more offense, and Morales could split time at DH and first base with the right-handed-hitting Mark Reynolds. What about Justin Masterson, who had a rough 2012 season but has topped 200 innings the last two years and is signed for two more years? Well, he isn’t an ace, but he’s listed as Cleveland’s No. 1 pitcher, so they’d probably be very hesitant to give him up for K-Mo. Here’s another intriguing name: Ubaldo JimenezHe’s been a shell of himself the last couple years, but he’s been relatively healthy, will make $5.75 million in 2013 and has an $8 million option for 2014. Perhaps working with his old catcher, Chris Iannetta, can get him back on track.

The important thing to ask yourself is whether any of these guys would be an upgrade over the 24-year-old Garrett Richards, who has yet to start a full season in the Majors but has a lot of upside. Adding another starter would likely push Richards to Triple-A, with Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Tommy Hanson and Joe Blanton making up the rest of the staff, and Jerome Williams likely returning to the long-relief role. The Angels’ front office will have some important decisions to make before Spring Training (and perhaps they’ll linger beyond that). Do they hold onto Bourjos and Trumbo, keeping their position-player roster deep but not improving the rotation a whole lot? Or do they trade one of those two — or both, or more — to land the impact starter they could still use?

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

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