Results tagged ‘ Jerome Williams ’

How much is left for starting pitching? …

The Angels’ budget got a little clearer on Monday, upon announcing they were non-tendering Jerome Williams, Tommy Hanson, Chris Nelson and Juan Gutierrez. That clears about $10 million in projected salary, crucial to an Angels team that needs to add at least two starting pitchers while staying below the luxury-tax threshold of $189 million.

So, how much room do they have left on the budget?

Let’s have a look …

The Collective Balance Tax Payroll is the average annual value of all 40-man-roster contracts, plus benefits, pensions, bonuses, etc. First, let’s add up the AAV of the 10 players on the budget …

Josh Hamilton: $25M
Albert Pujols: $24M
Jered Weaver: $17M
C.J. Wilson: $15.5M
Erick Aybar: $8.75M
Howie Kendrick: $8.375M
Joe Blanton: $7.5M
Joe Smith: $5.25M
Chris Iannetta: $5.18M
Sean Burnett: $4M

That equals $120.56 million. Then you have to add the $18.6 million the Angels owe the Yankees for the final season of Vernon Wells’ contract, which puts the total at $139.16. Then you have to project ahead for arbitration. Below are the Angels’ five remaining arbitration-eligible players, with the projections provided by MLBTradeRumors.com …

Mark Trumbo: $4.7M
David Freese: $4.4M
Ernesto Frieri: $3.4M
Kevin Jepsen: $1.4M
Fernando Salas: $700K

That’s $14.6 million, and it puts the CBT payroll at $153.76 million.

The last part is when it gets really uncertain with more than four months left before Opening Day (keep in mind: a team’s final CBT payroll isn’t calculated until after the season). To that figure, you have to tack on all the contracts for players with zero to three years of service time (the Major League minimum in 2014 is $500,000) plus benefits. I’m told the best way to go about it is to just allocate $20 million for all of this.

That puts the Angels’ CBT payroll at roughly $174 million, which gives them about $15 million of wiggle-room before hitting the luxury tax.

That figure is nowhere near exact, but as close as you can get at this point.

Alden

Mike Trout, the CBT and why the link matters …

Every article or blog post or tweet regarding the Angels’ offseason strategy — whether it’s the pursuit of starting pitcher or the scenario at third base or the situation regarding Jerry Dipoto and Mike Scioscia — tends to be followed by a response very similar to this:

WHO CARES, JUST LOCK UP MIKE TROUT NOW!!!

It’s understandable, given the fact that Mike Trout is the unquestioned best player on the star-laden Angels and, at 22, may already be the best in all of baseball. The Angels, however, have not begun extension talks with Trout, sources confirmed, and were never expected to with arbitration still a full year away.

Why?

It’s all about the Competitive Balance Tax payroll.

Let me try to explain. There are two different types of payroll. There’s the actual team payroll, which is what the active players are making in that season. And then there’s the CBT payroll, which is the payroll Major League Baseball uses to tax teams that go over a certain threshold. For the Angels — and the Yankees, and all of the teams that spend big on their roster — the latter is the most important.

The CBT payroll is calculated as the average annual value of all player contracts on the 40-man roster, plus benefits.

So, for example: Albert Pujols is making $16 million in 2013, which counts towards the Angels’ payroll figure. With regards to the CBT, though, he’s making $24 million — the average annual value of the 10-year, $240 million contract he signed in December 2011.

How does this relate to Trout?

Well, let’s say the Angels sign him to a 10-year, $300 million deal (that’s just a number I’m throwing out, basically because it’s easy to divide — and perhaps because I’m thinking of Robinson Cano). Even if in that contract, Trout is making only $1 million in 2014, the figure for the CBT payroll would be the AAV of that: $30 million.

And by that point, you can forget about adding any pitching to the roster.

The CBT threshold — the number at which first-time offenders are charged a tax of 17.5 percent — is going up from $178 million to $189 million this offseason. That buys the Angels a little extra wiggle room, but they’re still awfully close to that figure. So close, in fact, that it’ll affect whether or not they extend the qualifying offer to Jason Vargas, a figure that’s close to $14 million and would allow the Angels to receive Draft-pick compensation if he signs elsewhere. If Vargas takes it, they’d basically already be over the luxury-tax threshold.

Here’s what’s in the books for the Angels in 2014 (the first number is what the player will make that season and the second is the AAV that counts towards the CBT payroll) …

Albert Pujols: $23M, $24M
Vernon Wells (to the Yankees): $18.6M, $18.6M
Josh Hamilton: $17.4M, $25M
C.J. Wilson: $16.5M, $15.5M
Jered Weaver: $16.2M, $17M
Howie Kendrick: $9.7M, $8.375M
Erick Aybar: $8.75M, $8.75M
Joe Blanton: $7.5M, $7.5M
Chris Iannetta: $4.975M, $5.18M
Sean Burnett: $3.875M, $4M

That adds up to $126.5 million in payroll commitments, and just under $134 million for the CBT. But we’re not done. Not even close. There’s also the pending arbitration cases for eight players: Peter Bourjos, Ernesto Frieri, Juan Gutierrez, Tommy Hanson, Kevin Jepsen, Chris Nelson, Mark Trumbo and Jerome Williams.

A rough — very rough — estimate for what that would amount to: $25M (though Hanson, Williams, Nelson and Gutierrez are all non-tender candidates).

Then there’s the 25 or so other players on the 40-man roster that you have to pay (a little more than $500K each), and then there’s the benefits and bonuses for all of them, which is a rough estimate of $10M. And that puts the Angels pretty close to that $189M figure.

If you add a Trout extension, to a payroll in which Wells will be the second-highest-paid player, then they’ll have to shed payroll.

So, the logical question is: What’s the rush?

Alden

* thanks to Cot’s Contracts for providing all the info

Weaver scratched for Friday start vs. M’s …

Angels starter Jered Weaver has been scratched from his Friday start, with Matt Shoemaker taking his place in the rotation.

The move was announced Thursday, during the Angels’ off-day, and no reason was given as to why the ace right-hander won’t be starting the series opener against the Mariners.

Weaver did experience some tightness in his right forearm during a start in Minnesota on Sept. 9, but he took his next turn against the Astros on Saturday and pitched six innings of two-run ball. The Angels could be opting to simply give Weaver some extra rest with the season winding down and the team out of the playoff race, as manager Mike Scioscia has hinted at in the past.

Jerome Williams and C.J. Wilson will start Saturday and Sunday, as previously scheduled, but the starters for the early part of next week have not yet been announced. Interestingly, the Angels opted to start Shoemaker instead of Tommy Hanson, who was recalled from Triple-A early this week, or Joe Blanton, who has been in the bullpen since late July.

Shoemaker’s start will mark his Major League debut. The 26-year-old right-hander went 11-13 with a 4.64 ERA in 29 starts for Triple-A Salt Lake this year. Weaver is 10.8 with a 3.36 ERA in 23 starts. The 30-year-old has a 3.23 ERA since returning from a broken left elbow on May 29.

Alden

Game 144: Angels-Blue Jays …

Pretty fitting that the Angels and Blue Jays — two clubs with bloated payrolls, high expectations and underachieving 2013 seasons — enter a three-game series at Rogers Centre with the exact same record. Angels manager Mike Scioscia, asked of any similarities between the two teams, said …

“I can only speak from our angle. I don’t want to dissect their team. But I can tell you that no matter what a perceived strength is of a club — and you can talk about payrolls all you want — you’re only going to be as good as your pitching staff is going to allow you. And I think it’s proved its point in the last three weeks, as you guys have seen our team on a daily basis. When we get those starters giving us a chance to win, we’ve set up games the way we’ve needed and we’ve held leads. And that was an issue for long stretches of the season and we paid a price for it. I think it still comes down to the depth and the strength of your pitching staff moving forward. And ours just hasn’t held up the way that we needed to.”

Indeed, the Angels entered Tuesday 28th in the Majors in pitching ERA (4.29). The Blue Jays are 26th (4.26).

Lineups …

Angels (67-76)

ANACollin Cowgill, CF
Erick Aybar, SS
Mike Trout, DH
Mark Trumbo, 1B
Josh Hamilton, LF
Chris Iannetta, C
Kole Calhoun, RF
Grant Green, 2B
Andrew Romine, 3B

Pitching: RH Jerome Williams (6-10, 4.60 ERA)

Blue Jays (67-76)

TORJose Reyes, SS
Ryan Goins, 2B
Brett Lawrie, 3B
Adam Lind, 1B
Rajai Davis, LF
J.P. Arencibia, C
Moises Sierra, RF
Anthony Gose, CF
Kevin Pillar, DH

Pitching: LH Mark Buehrle (11-7, 3.88 ERA)

  • Howie Kendrick was activated for today’s game, but isn’t expected to start at second base until Friday’s series opener in Houston. The Angels want to avoid bringing him back on the turf. Kendrick did some more running in the early afternoon today and feels the left knee is finally 100 percent.
  • Jered Weaver felt some tightness in his right forearm during his start in steamy Minnesota on Monday, but he’s expected to take his next turn through the rotation.
  • Luis Jimenez is still not available. More of an issue right now are his shoulders, which got banged up in a home-plate collision with A.J. Pierzynski on Saturday.
  • Peter Bourjos had successful surgery on his right wrist today. Recovery time is eight weeks.
  • In case you missed it, here’s a story on the Angels’ 2014 schedule.

Alden

Is Weaver/Wilson/Richards/Vargas enough? …

Jered WeaverIt’s an impossible question to answer because so many factors surround it, like what bullpen additions are made, or what’s done about third base, or how the bench is upgraded, or who the fifth starter becomes, or even how Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton fare.

But it’s pretty simple in a vacuum: Do you feel good about the Angels’ rotation if Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Garrett Richards and Jason Vargas are the four best members of it?

For the vast majority of you on Twitter, the answer was a pretty resounding yes.

Recent memory no doubt played a big factor in that, because we’re finally starting to see some consistency out of the Angels’ rotation now that Weaver and Vargas are a part of it at the same time. Since Aug. 15, Angels starters have posted the fourth-best ERA in the Majors at 3.35 — and that was before Jerome Williams pitched 6 1/3 innings of two-run ball against the Rays. Vargas (8-6, 3.80 ERA) has a 3.57 ERA in his last four starts despite giving up five runs in four innings to the Rays on Tuesday; Weaver (9-8, 3.33 ERA) has given up four runs in his last 21 innings; Wilson (14-6, 3.35 ERA) is 7-1 with a 2.67 ERA since the 30th of June; and Richards (5-6, 4.06 ERA) has a 3.21 ERA in eight starts since taking Joe Blanton‘s spot in the rotation.

Kind of makes you wonder how things would’ve gone if Vargas (blood clot) and Weaver (broken non-pitching elbow) hadn’t missed a combined 18 or so starts due to fluky injuries. How different is the dynamic of this season? Heck, how different is the narrative regarding Mike Scioscia and Jerry Dipoto?

Regardless of what happens this offseason, the Angels will no doubt have non-tender decisions regarding Williams (slated to make about $3 million) and Tommy Hanson (roughly $4.5 million), and they may ponder whether or not to release Blanton (with $8.5 million remaining on his contract). But it’s one thing to try and acquire a fifth starter and additional depth, and it’s a whole other thing to try to acquire a mid-rotation starter that you truly feel comfortable sliding between Wilson and Vargas. Given the state of the Angels’ farm system, the dearth of starting pitching talent in free agency and the lack of payroll flexibility available for 2014 to begin with, it’s probably the difference between giving up a major offensive piece (Mark Trumbo, Peter Bourjos, Howie Kendrick, what have you) and not having to do so.

Having said all that, my opinion — while borrowing a line from George Clooney in Ocean’s Eleven – is they need one more.

Weaver, Wilson, Vargas and Richards can be as good as anyone in the league if right, but …

  1. Weaver loses a bit off his fastball every year.
  2. Wilson flirts with danger a lot.
  3. Vargas’ 3.94 ERA since the start of 2010 ranks 61st.
  4. Richards is 25 and has been inconsistent in the past.
  5. Here are the top five starting-pitcher ERA teams in baseball, respectively: Dodgers, Reds, Pirates, Tigers, Cardinals. What do they all have in common? Yep, they’re probably all going to the playoffs.

The Angels tried this year to counter a patchwork rotation with what they thought would be a deeper bullpen and a crazy-good offense. Perhaps if everyone stays healthy and Hamilton hits like himself, it works out. But it’s a risky proposition; a lot riskier than making starting pitching priority 1, 2 and 3. I think they need to get back to that this winter, and I think they need to do whatever it takes to beef up their rotation, even if it means sacrificing a little offense.

(Oh, and it’s probably a good idea to point out that resigning Vargas is no slam dunk. Both sides are interesting in a return, but the Angels will have competition and don’t have the means — or desire, really — to overpay.)

Jason VargasHere are some of your Twitter responses to whether you’d be satisfied with a front four of Weaver/Wilson/Richards/Vargas. My apologies if I didn’t get yours in …

@LAANGELSINSIDER: I think they would. Those 4 can got 7 solid most games. If the bullpen improves #Angels will be better overall.

@TurbosLady9493: Yes, if Richards can show a bit more consistency and less walks.

@memphiscds: Could live with it if we had young #5 and decent bullpen

@GareGare84: yes. At least they can hold the other team. Give our offense a chance to score.

@AJTheDon_: would’ve liked it alot more if that’s what it would’ve looked like at the start of the year

@Tanner_Shurtz: so much inconsistency for Richards, torn between 5th starter and RP… See what works out in ST

@SportsChicken: If they’re trying to compete for a championship, [heck] no. Otherwise, meh.

@JcHc3in1: I’d like to see them land a #2/#3 besides Vargas, or in addition to Vargas

@CJWoodling: Richards has Weaver-like elements in him. I could see him being as high as number 3 with a little work.

@DickMarshall: think Richards needs to start as #5. Need a solid (little risk- re: anti Hanson/Blanton) #3 or #4.

@OSBIEL: very satisfied. If they fix up the bullpen they should be fine w/ those four.

@anthony_mateos: yes. They give you a chance to win, that’s all you want.

@kwelch31: yes very. Plus a solid pitcher in a howie trade. That would work. Maybe hellikson or phil hughes.

@CDHartnett: he needs to be a 5th starter so he doesn’t have any pressure and can have a FULL season as a starter. No short leash.

@Brush_Ryan: perfectly happy with those 4 provided the add a legit #3 starter.

@pippin38: sign Garza or Kuroda and have Weaver Wilson Varges Garza/Kuroda Richards

@natetrop: In my opinion they need a solid #3 or top of the rotation arm to contend. Can’t have Richards as anything other than #5

@chrispower82: A decent 5th is still needed, but those 4 are a good start (and should’ve been our top 4 to start this year)

@CalderonEder: I’d say go after Kuroda or maybe find a trade partner for Trumbo for another legit starter

@AlexPVegas: If the Angels had the current rotation that they have now all year. We aren’t talking about the future.

Alden

 

Game 101: Angels-Athletics …

Angels (48-52)

LAA2J.B. Shuck, LF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, DH
Josh Hamilton, RF
Mark Trumbo, 1B
Alberto Callaspo, 3B
Erick Aybar, SS
Hank Conger, C
Tommy Field, 2B

SP: RH Jerome Williams (5-6, 4.73 ERA)

Athletics (59-43)

Athletics logoCoco Crisp, CF
Jed Lowrie, SS
Josh Donaldson, 3B
Brendan Moss, 1B
Yoenis Cespedes, LF
Josh Reddick, RF
Seth Smith, DH
Stephen Vogt, C
Eric Sogard, 2B

SP: RH Bartolo Colon (13-3, 2.52 ERA)

  • Howie Kendrick had a day off, but the Angels’ second baseman said he’s fine and Mike Scioscia said he’s just giving him a break. “He’s been playing a lot,” Scioscia said. “He’ll be back in there tomorrow.”
  • Dane De La Rosa has become an overnight sensation after saving a pigeon. He gained about 300 more Twitter followers and was mentioned on SportsCenter, Sports Nation and Deadspin. Initially, he thought it was a rat. “It just was not trying to fly at all. I didn’t want to cause a pitching delay in the outfield, so I just grabbed it. It was obviously trying to get somewhere.” So he walked out to the player’s parking lot and dropped it off. He said goodbye. And he named it Randy. But not after Randy Johnson, who famously did this. “He just looked like a Randy,” De La Rosa said.
  • The Bay Bridge was closed this afternoon because a suspicious package was found, and those who didn’t take the early bus were forced to ride B.A.R.T., the public transportation from San Francisco to Oakland. That included Josh Hamilton, who rode with his accountability partner Shayne Kelley but went the entire ride without being recognized. “It’s the little things,” he said.
  • Infielder Brendan Harris, recently DFA’s by the Angels, signed a Minor League deal with the Yankees and will report to Triple-A. Clearly he saw a better chance to get playing time on an injury-riddled team.

Alden

Blanton’s rotation spot on the bubble …

Joe BlantonJoe Blanton‘s next turn through the rotation will come on Saturday. Will he take the ball that day? Angels manager Mike Scioscia wouldn’t say on Monday night, after Blanton gave up four runs in a 3 2/3-inning outing to move to 2-13 with a 5.66 ERA — but he also didn’t say Blanton would make that start.

Here’s what we do know about that turn through the rotation …

1. Somebody has to take the ball. The Angels are four games into a stretch of 20 games in 20 days, so they need a fifth starter.

2. It won’t be Jason Vargas, who’s still recovering from surgery to remove a blood clot. He hopes to start throwing bullpens Tuesday or Wednesday and return two weeks later. And obviously, Jerome Williams is already in the rotation.

It’s easy to say Blanton is having a bad season — easily the worst of his career — and that he should be at least temporarily removed from the rotation. It’s a whole other thing to replace him. First off, I don’t think Blanton would be much help out of the bullpen. The best bet would be to get him to agree to go to the Minor Leagues to iron out some things and hopefully come back in mid- to late-August. And no, you don’t release him. He’s owed $7.5 million in 2014 (plus a team option for 2015), so it’d be senseless to just eat it and give up on him for next season.

But, of course, here’s the most important part: The options to replace Blanton are slim, at best.

Here they are, perceivably …

Garrett Richards: He hasn’t started a game since April 30. Heck, he hasn’t thrown more than 3 2/3 innings in that span. And he has a 4.92 ERA in 16 career starts.

Michael Roth: He was starting in the Minor Leagues, but that was a month ago — and, you know, this is his first full season of pro baseball. Roth was optioned after Monday’s game.

Billy Buckner: He’s probably the likeliest candidate, if there is one at all at this point. But since pitching 4 1/3 innings against the Cardinals on July 3, he’s pitched one inning. And he has a 6.41 ERA in 23 career Major League starts.

Someone in Triple-A: Matt Shoemaker (5.10 ERA), A.J. Schugel (7.05) and Barry Enright (7.13), Jarrett Grube (4.24) and Dustin Richardson (eight earned runs last time out) have all struggled.

Brandon Hynick: Never heard of him? Well, he’s a 28-year-old Minor League journeyman who’s having a nice season in Double-A — 2.68 ERA in 16 starts — so that’s good.

Mark Sappington: He’s probably the Angels’ best pitching prospect right now and he’s 10-4 with a 3.47 ERA in 20 starts this season. But, um, that’s in A ball.

See what I mean?

Alden

Question of the Day, 7/9 …

Why is Joe Blanton STILL in the rotation? — @pattimelt95

I’ll spin this question back at you: Who would you like in the rotation instead of Blanton? … Still waiting. … In short, the Angels don’t have many options at this point. Not with Jason Vargas and Tommy Hanson on the DL. Not with Jerome Williams struggling of late (and he’s already in the rotation). And not with their farm system barren, particularly in the way of pitching. Blanton is who he is. He’s going to get hit around. Problem is, he’s been hit around a lot more than the Angels would’ve expected. He went into his Tuesday outing with six quality starts in his previous eight turns, but then he gave up four home runs in five-plus innings, and his numbers are still unseemly: 2-11, 5.40 ERA and a Major League-leading 143 hits allowed (in 108 1/3 innings).

This prompts the obvious question: Could the Angels have signed someone better for what they gave Blanton (two years and $15 million?

Everything’s a lot easier in hindsight, obviously, but here’s a look at the notable free-agent pitchers who signed for a similar or lower AAV …

Brandon McCarthy (2 years, $15.5M): 2-4, 5.00 ERA, 11 GS, on the DL for D-backs
Shaun Marcum (1 year, $4M): 1-10, 5.29 ERA, 14 G (12 GS), having season-ending surgery with Mets
Jeff Francis (1 year, $1.5M): 2-5, 6.58 ERA, 11 GS, currently in AAA for Rockies*
Jeremy Guthrie (3 years, $25M): 8-6, 4.12 ERA, 18 GS for Royals*
Bartolo Colon (1 year, $3M): 12-3, 2.69 ERA, 18 GS — and an All-Star! — for the A’s*
Scott Feldman (1 year, $6M): 7-7, 3.87 ERA, 17 GS for the Cubs and O’s
Hisashi Iwakuma (2 years, $14M): 7-4, 2.60 ERA, 18 GS and an All-Star for the Mariners*
Scott Baker (1 year, $5.5M): Has yet to pitch for the Cubs
Joe Saunders (1 year, $7M): 7-8, 4.51 ERA, 18 GS for the Mariners
Francisco Liriano (2 years, $13M): 8-3, 2.20 ERA, 11 GS for the Pirates

* = resigned with 2012 club 

Alden 

Game 86: Red Sox-Angels …

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.

Lineups …

Red Sox (53-34)

BOSTONJacoby Ellsbury, CF
Shane Victorino, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Mike Napoli, DH
Jonny Gomes, LF
Daniel Nava, 1B
Brandon Snyder, 3B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Jose Iglesias, SS

SP: RH Felix Doubront (4-3, 4.22 ERA)

Angels (41-44)

angelslogo2J.B. Shuck, LF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, DH
Mark Trumbo, 1B
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Josh Hamilton, RF
Alberto Callaspo, 3B
Chris Iannetta, C
Erick Aybar, SS

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.

Alden

Game 84: Cardinals-Angels …

Cardinals (49-33)

STLMatt Carpenter, 2B
Jon Jay, CF
Carlos Beltran, RF
Allen Craig, LF
Yadier Molina, C
Matt Adams, 1B
David Freese, DH
Daniel Descalso, 3B
Pete Kozma, SS

Pitching: RH Shelby Miller (8-6, 2.79 ERA)

Angels (40-43)

laaJ.B. Shuck, LF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, DH
Josh Hamilton, RF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Mark Trumbo, 1B
Alberto Callaspo, 3B
Hank Conger, C
Erick Aybar, SS

Pitching: RH Jerome Williams (5-3, 3.21 ERA)

  • Is Hamilton dipping again, after quitting in the second half of last season? Video has shown what appears to be smokeless tobacco coming out of his mouth in a few at-bats, which might have been a route Hamilton took towards getting right at the plate again. Approached by reporters before Wednesday’s game, though, Hamilton wouldn’t comment. “I just don’t have any comments on it. It’s one of those things where if I give you guys any kind of story, your story’s going to be different from his story, your story’s going to be different from his story. And then other people who aren’t in this clubhouse, with you guys, are going to take your story and it’s going to be an absolute mess. No, nothing is coming from these lips [in terms of confirmation or denial over smokeless tobacco use]. … Until you actually see me reach in a bag of chewing tobacco, and pull it out, and put it in my mouth, then what’s in there?”
  • Asked about how much quitting smokeless tobacco might have affected him in a rough second half with the Rangers last year, Hamilton said: “I don’t know if you know this, but before I quit, I started sucking. That has absolutely nothing to do with it.”
  • Conger is back behind the plate, with Chris Iannetta sitting. Since June 12 (including today), Conger has started nine games. Iannetta has started 10. Asked if this was a platoon, Mike Scioscia said: “I think when you’re talking about a platoon, you’re talking more about offensive matchups, lefty-righty, things like that. There’s a bit of a time-sharing that’s been going on here in the last month and I think it’s been beneficial to both players. Both players want to be out there as much as they can, and it’s taken a little pressure off of Chris and given Hank a chance to contribute.”
  • Scioscia on the Rangers signing Manny Ramirez to a Minor League deal: “Manny still loves to play baseball. I don’t think you can argue that he’s gone to great lengths to show that he can still play. … We just saw some video on him, and that swing looks the same as it did when he was 30. He’s going to get another opportunity at some point, I’m sure.”
  • Scioscia wouldn’t say who’s starting on Saturday. He knows who he is, but he isn’t saying. “We have a plan,” is all he said. Michael Roth was not listed on the bullpen sheet today, so it could be him.
  • The Angels signed 16-year-old left-hander Ricardo Sanchez to kick off their international signings.

Alden

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