Results tagged ‘ Jay Bruce ’
I wrote earlier today about first-year GM Billy Eppler keeping his options open and why he’ll probably rely heavily on a loaded free-agent class.
The Angels enter the offseason with up to six needs for their Major League club: catcher, second base, third base, utility infield, left field and a back-end reliever, ideally a lefty. They could also opt to sign a front-line starter, but that’s more of a luxury than an actual need. They have starting pitching depth. But signing an attractive free-agent starter (David Price, Zack Greinke, Jordan Zimmermann, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, etc.) could free Eppler up to trade from that starting-pitching depth and fill other needs.
Below is a look at some of the more attractive free-agent and (potential) trade options at each of the Angels’ positions of need. You’ll probably notice right away that I didn’t include Matt Wieters among catchers. I just don’t expect them to bid so high for him.
(* indicates they were given a qualifying offer)
Free agents: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Brayan Pena, Dioner Navarro, Alex Avila, Geovany Soto
Trades: Stephen Vogt (OAK), Jonathan Lucroy (MIL), Wilson Ramos (WAS), Gary Sanchez (NYY)
Free agents: Howie Kendrick*, Daniel Murphy*, Ben Zobrist, Chase Utley
Trades: Neil Walker (PIT), Brandon Phillips (CIN), Aaron Hill (ARI), Hanser Alberto (TEX)
Free agents: David Freese, Juan Uribe, Mark Reynolds,Casey McGehee
Trades: Trevor Plouffe (MIN), Yunel Escobar (WAS), Todd Frazier (CIN), Martin Prado (MIA)
Free agents: Sean Rodriguez, Mike Aviles, Asdrubal Cabrera, Cliff Pennington, Kelly Johnson, Stephen Drew
Trades: Jed Lowrie (HOU)
Free agents: Yoenis Cespedes, Justin Upton*, Jason Heyward*, Alex Gordon*, Gerardo Parra, Colby Rasmus*, Nori Aoki
Trades: Preston Tucker (HOU), Brett Gardner (NYY), Josh Reddick (OAK), Jay Bruce (CIN), Yasiel Puig (LAD), Carl Crawford (LAD), Andre Ethier (LAD), David Peralta (ARI)
Free agents: Tony Sipp, Antonio Bastardo, Matt Thornton, Oliver Perez, Neal Cotts, Rich Hill
Trades: Mike Dunn (MIA)
Wilson, he said, assumes hitters are going to make adjustments on him the second time through the order and sometimes winds up complicating matters, trying to be too fine rather than going with what worked early in the game. It’s just one man’s theory, of course. But it did seem to play out that way against the Reds in the bottom of the fourth, walking Chris Heisey and Joey Votto on nine pitches before serving up a three-run homer to Brandon Phillips and a near-homer to Jay Bruce.
Last year, as Wilson struggled through the second half, the left-hander’s biggest problems seemed to come the second time through a lineup. Wilson gave up 65 runs (56 earned) in 91 innings in the second half last year, resulting in a 5.54 ERA. Thirty-five of those runs came in the second and third inning, which is when a lineup would turn over once guys start reaching base (Wilson was perfect through three on Wednesday, so it wasn’t until the fourth that he faced guys a second time).
Per Baseball-Reference.com, here’s how opposing hitters fared against Wilson the first, second and third time through last year …
Wilson (6 IP, 4 R, 3 ER, 5 H, 4 BB, 4 SO) was asked Wednesday night about his hiccup in the fourth and basically broke it down batter by batter …
“The pitch I really just whiffed on was a couple pitches to Heisey. Those were just kind of out of the zone. Just trying to make adjustments and couldn’t, and I got a little bit closer to being dialed in with Votto but still missed. And then the pitch Phillips hit was a cutter that just cut too much. It was supposed to be outside and then cut all the way across the plate and he hammered it. The at-bat with Bruce was really pivotal, though, because I had him with two strikes and couldn’t put him away. That was 100 percent on me; it didn’t have anything to do with anybody else. There was no bad hops or anything like that. I just made a bad pitch instead of making a good pitch and he hit it off the wall. So that’s kind of what turned the game around. That and me popping up the bunt [in the third] were two of the things that I’m going to be extremely upset about for a long part of the season.”
- Ryan Madson, experiencing some elbow tightness from his last session, threw 15 pitches off the mound on Wednesday afternoon, which is a step down from where he was last Wednesday — throwing 40 pitches, including changeups and letting it go on his last few throws. Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher doesn’t believe Madson is back to where he was when he first returned from missing nearly 40 days, though. “Way further along than that,” Butcher said. “This is more precautionary than anything else.”
- Everyone is available out of the bullpen for the Angels today, two days after six of their seven relievers appeared in Monday’s win (with Mark Lowe throwing two innings). The off day was big.
- Garrett Richards, 24, is the youngest member of the bullpen. And since they don’t have the pink, little-girls’ bookbag yet, Richards is carrying a WWF championship belt to the ‘pen. It’s pink.
Welcome to Great American Ball Park, home of the first ever interleague matchup on Opening Day and the scene where the Angels will kick off another highly anticipated season …
Some pregame notes …
- Chris Snyder could’ve opted out of his Minor League deal with the Angels, but the veteran catcher instead accepted his assignment to Triple-A Salt Lake, increasing the Angels’ depth behind the plate. Snyder will be on a Salt Lake Bees roster that also includes John Hester and Luke Carlin, with the three of them rotation between catcher, DH and bench duty. Snyder will also play some first base.
- Mike Scioscia, on where Garrett Richards‘ role in the bullpen is: He’s much more than just an innings-eater in the ‘pen. His power arm is something we can take a look at at any point in the game.” Ernesto Frieri, Scott Downs and Sean Burnett are ahead of him in the depth chart, but it could change if he pitches well.
- Scioscia said he “would anticipate” that Pujols would play all three games at first base in this series. The day off certainly helps.
- Ryan Madson is away from throwing, still experiencing some tightness in his elbow, but Scioscia expects him to get back on the mound in a couple days.
- Trout has about 10 family and friends at Great American Ball Park for his first Major League Opening Day. “It a feeling you really can’t explain,” he said.
Some Opening Day numbers …
- The Angels have won eight of their last nine Opening Day games, including four straight, which ties a franchise record.
- This is Weaver’s fourth straight Opening Day start and fifth overall, joining Mike Witt as the only pitcher to start five Opening Days for the Angels. Weaver is 3-1 with a 2.03 ERA on Day 1.
- Hamilton made his debut in this stadium almost exactly six years ago (April 2, 2007, in Cincy).
- The Angels are the only team in the Majors to open the 2013 season with three straight series against playoff teams (Reds, Rangers, A’s). That actually hasn’t been done since ’07 (Giants and Orioles).
- This is the third series all-time played between the Angels and Reds, and first since 2007. The Angels have won four of six.
- Angels’ 74-34 record in Interleague Play since 2007 leads the Majors.
- Aybar and Kendrick are making their fifth straight Opening Day start together up the middle, the longest active active Opening Day start streak by a middle-infield tandem in the Majors. Today, Kendrick passed Bobby Knoop for most consecutive Opening Day starts by an Angels second baseman.
- The Angels’ first road trip has six different times (all local): 4:10, 7:10, 12:35, 1:05, 3:05, 7:05.
- Pujols’ career 143 RBIs and 46 homers against the Reds rank second among active players.
To his mom, Debbie, this is the favorite.
It’s hanging in a frame downstairs, in the basement Mike has turned into his own personal “man cave,” and autographed with silver Sharpie by the two of them.
This is a snapshot of Mike’s first Major League game on July 8, 2011, taken just after Mike raced to the wall to make this running catch.
But the significance of this photo lies in the man standing to Mike’s right, Torii Hunter, who took Mike under his wing basically since the moment he was drafted and is now gone, signing with the Tigers to a two-year, $26 million contract over the offseason.
“I’m going to miss Torii,” Debbie said. “I really am going to miss Torii. He was just absolutely wonderful to Mike.”
“Not only did he help him with his approach to the game, but all the little things that people don’t realize when you get up there as a 20-year-old kid — how to behave in the clubhouse, what time to get there,” Mike’s father, Jeff, said. “He’s counseled Mike on nutrition, how to take care of his legs, how to take care of your body, how to handle fans, how to handle the autograph thing. He really has been a really, really positive influence on Mike.”
Hunter was one of the first players Mike met after being the Angels’ 25th overall pick in 2009. The Angels invited him to take batting practice at Angel Stadium, Hunter introduced himself and the veteran outfielder stayed in touch with Mike as he was coming up through the system. Hunter bought Mike a suit shortly after he came up to the big leagues, tipped clubbies for him and even paid for his parents’ dinner when he spotted them at a restaurant one night. The two still stay in touch.
Shortly after Hunter signed with the Tigers, Mike’s mom sent him a tweet (her handle: @DebbieTrout27) …
Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!! Mike has learned from the Best!!!We will miss you but see you in Detroit!!!
Hunter’s response (via @toriihunter48) …
no mama! Thanks to u for raising such a great kid. He was easy to work with and talk to. @Trouty20 is a special kid
“He was a great mentor, and we appreciate everything he did,” Jeff said. “Hopefully some day Mike can do the same for a young player coming up.”
“That’s right,” Debbie added, “because that’s what it’s all about. But I’m really going to miss Torii.”
We ran a story today on Mike’s hometown of Millville — the impact it’s had on his life, the way it has rallied around him these last nine months and how, in some ways, things can never be the same again there. Here are some additional notes …
* The Angels have not begun talks with Mike and his representatives with regards to a long-term extension, sources have said. The club is past the point where it can get him to agree on an Evan Longoria-type deal — six years, $17.5 million, agreed on when he first arrived in the big leagues.
Big-market clubs, as a general rule, can opt to wait a little longer to sign controlled players to a long extension because they aren’t scared by looming arbitration. And by waiting, they minimize the risk for nine figures at such a young age. Normally it’s the small- to mid-market teams that do it in the pre-arbitration years (think Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, Jay Bruce, Justin Upton and Hanley Ramirez) because it’s one of few ways to assure a star player doesn’t leave via fre agency.
Also, the competitive balance tax accounts for the average annual value of a contract, not the year-to-year price point. So, for example, if Mike signs a 10-year, $200 million contract that’s typically backloaded into his free-agent years, the $25M AAV is factored into the “now payroll” for the CBT. So, even if that contracts pays him only $1M in 2013, the Angels are paying taxes as if that were a $25M deal. That gets to be very pricey when you have other massive deals (Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, etc.).
In short, the Angels’ thinking is: What’s the rush? They’ll get there at some point. They’d sure like to.
* Mike isn’t too thrilled about being relegated to left field next season, several people close to him say. No surprise. (How would you feel if you were told to switch positions after being the MVP runner-up?) But Mike has made no mention of his displeasure to Angels management, simply telling them he believes he’s a center fielder but will do what it takes to help the team win.
The Angels remain committed to putting Peter Bourjos in center and Trout in left for a vast majority of the 2013 season – unless Bourjos struggles offensively again. They like the alignment because Bourjos is also an elite-level defensive center fielder – some would say he covers more ground than Mike – and Mike has more experience in left field. Also, staying away from center will only limit the wear and tear on Mike’s legs long-term. Being a left fielder, however, could cost Mike some money, especially in arbitration. It’s highly unlikely that Mike attains Super Two status, so he probably won’t reach arbitration until after the 2014 season.
* Here’s a running joke around Millville: The city doesn’t have any maternity hospitals, so every woman in this city gives birth in Vineland, which just so happens to be their heated, neighboring rival. That was no different for Debbie Trout on Aug. 7, 1991, when Mike was born. And because of that technicality, every Mike Trout baseball card and bio page lists his birthplace as Vineland, N.J. (The grainy picture below is from his freshman year of high school.)
“Yeah, but he never spent no time there,” Millville Mayor Tim Shannon bellowed. “Soon as he was born, we brought him back!”
* Jeff and Debbie point to the July 10 All-Star Game in Kansas City as the moment they realized their lives, and especially Mike’s, would never be the same again.
At about 2 a.m., while the Trouts were celebrating Debbie’s 50th birthday at one of The Capital Grille’s private rooms, fans were still parked outside waiting to hound Mike for autographs as soon as he stepped out. At that point, he and his family were led out the back – where Charlie Sheen was coming in, and sparked a short conversation with Mike.
“That’s when we realized things had changed forever, for us and for Michael,” Jeff said.
Added Debbie: “We no longer were coming in through the front door.”
I wrote recently about the Angels’ own prestigious “Big Three” of Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton — how they could potentially hold up historically and in this era.
But how do they hold up in 2013? There’s little debate that the Angels now have the most talented and celebrated lineup trio in baseball, giving them arguably the game’s most potent offense. But I was a little stunned that their 2012 stats didn’t show it.
In fact, when combining each of their OPS from 2012, the Angels’ trio ranked third, behind those of the Tigers and Reds. Below is the top 15, based on combined OPS of the top three current players in each lineup (minimum is 400 plate appearances) …
- Tigers (Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Austin Jackson): 2.795
- Reds (Joey Votto, Ryan Ludwick, Jay Bruce): 2.759
- Angels (Trout, Pujols, Hamilton): 2.752
- Brewers (Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez, Corey Hart): 2.729
- Red Sox (David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli*): 2.635
- Blue Jays (Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera): 2.627
- Cardinals (Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, Yadier Molina): 2.627
- Rangers (Adrian Beltre, David Murphy, A.J. Pierzynski): 2.607
- Rockies (Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler, Tyler Colvin): 2.602
- Pirates (Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, Pedro Alvarez): 2.569
- D-backs (Aaron Hill, Paul Goldschmidt, Jason Kubel): 2.565
- Yankees (Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira): 2.547
- Twins (Josh Willingham, Joe Mauer, Ryan Doumit): 2.532
- Giants (Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Brandon Belt): 2.527
- Dodgers (Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez): 2.524
* Napoli’s deal still hasn’t been finalized.
** A special thanks to all of you for making this blog the 10th-most popular among MLB.com beat writers in 2012. You’re the whipped cream on my sundae.
The Reds aren’t going with the DH, as originally planned, so Kendrys Morales will instead have the day off. He said he’s feeling a bit fatigued and expects to be in the lineup on Thursday, at home against the Royals …
Others pitching: Kevin Jepsen, Jason Isringhausen
Some notes from this morning …
- These are two really big days for Isringhausen. “Pitch well or go home.”
- It’s pretty much a sure thing by now that Michael Kohn (forearm strain) and Bobby Cassevah (labrum tear) will be starting the season on the disabled list. Kohn won’t start throwing again for another week. Cassevah threw all his pitches in a 25-pitch bullpen on Tuesday and said he “felt normal,” so he hopes to be activated as early as possible — which would be April 11.
- Ervin Santana will pitch in a Minor League game on Thursday, instead of throwing against the Royals in Tempe.
- Mike Scioscia on Magic Johnson, who he would run into periodically during his playing days and is part of the group that won the bidding for the Dodgers: “He’s always been a huge baseball fan, and I’m sure it’s going to be a positive.”
- Jered Weaver felt good while hurling six shutout innings in a Triple-A game at Talking Stick on Wednesday. Felt it was his best outing yet.
- Scoiscia on Yu Darvish, who he’s seen video of: “Obviously he has a variety of pitches, has good angle and looks like his command is good. That’s why he’s had success in Japan, that’s why he was coveted to come over here.”
- The plan for Morales is to play on Thursday and Friday, then Sunday and Monday. He’ll then pinch-hit on Tuesday and Wednesday at Dodger Stadium (where there’s no DH), and Scioscia feels that will be enough to have him ready for Opening Day.
Some links from Tuesday …
- Howie Kendrick to benefit from Albert Pujols‘ presence
- Brad Mills encouraged by his spring with new team
- Injuries create opportunities in Halos’ bullpen
- Trumbo makes good on first slow roller
- Amarista drives in the winning run
Some AL West links …
- Rangers set to name starting rotation
- Dustin Ackley, Ichiro Suzuki unstoppable in Mariners’ Opening Day win in Japan (yes, Opening Day)
- Brandon McCarthy pitches well, but gets no-decision in loss
And the Heat are in need of an energy boost. Yeah, tell me about it.
MINNESOTA — While the American League was pretty much decided by the time the final week of the 2010 regular season began, the National League came down to the final Sunday.