Results tagged ‘ Luis Ayala ’
The Blue Jays’ signing of Francisco Cordero on Tuesday pretty much made it official. Barring an unforeseen trade, you can be almost sure that Jordan Walden will go into the season as the Angels’ closer, a sentiment general manager Jerry Dipoto continually sounded in favor of throughout the offseason. Dipoto would still like to upgrade the bullpen, and a source said he has at least tendered a formal offer to Luis Ayala, but there aren’t really any closers left in the free-agent market (unless you consider Brad Lidge one at this point, which you probably shouldn’t).
The Angels, for good reason, see a lot of promise in the 24-year-old, hard-throwing right-hander, who showed flashes of dominance but also experienced his share of ups and downs as a rookie in 2011.
Walden joined Angels Talk on AM 830 KLAA on Wednesday and said he has already begun throwing almost on an everyday basis in his native Texas. Here are the highlights of his conversation with host Terry Smith …
On his rookie season …
“It was just a great experience, and I learned a lot from last year. Early on in my career in that role as a closer, I was a rookie, I hadn’t been on the road trips, I was new to all the stadiums, it was all of those things. So now I’m going into a new year, knowing what it takes to be at that level.”
On being more prepared for the role this year …
“Being more comfortable, you know? Being there, saying, ‘I’ve already pitched here.’ I’m going to be a lot more relaxed, and just knowing mentally what I have to do and physically knowing what I have to do to withstand a long season.”
On pitches he’s integrating to his fastball-slider mix …
“Last year I showed bits and pieces of my changeup, but I think going into spring, getting into the games in spring, I’m really going to try to focus on trying to throw my changeup in games and getting a feel for it in game situations, because you can sit in the bullpen and throw a changeup all day, but once you get in a game and have a hitter up there, it’s a lot different.”
On the Angels having confidence in him as their closer …
“Oh it’s huge. [Manager Mike] Scioscia having that confidence in me and everybody, especially with the great team that we’re going to have this year. It’s a big role, and I’m just looking forward to it. I’m excited.”
On the toughest part of being a big league closer …
“Just being able to pitch three days, making sure you have your good stuff every night. If not, you know, sometimes you’re going to be off, but when you’re off, you have to make sure you get people out. You have to find ways. I’ve still got learning to do, but I think I have a way better understanding of what it takes.”
On the Angels bringing in Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson …
“Oh man, I was blown away. I never thought that would happen this season. I’m just excited for Spring Training, to meet some new people and have a new little team.”
On how he found out about the moves …
“I woke up and my phone had like 15 missed calls, 15 text messages, and I was just like, ‘Why is everybody calling me?’ And everybody was texting me and I was just like, ‘No way.’ Then when I turned the TV on and they signed CJ Wilson, so it was just like, ‘Wow.'”
Other stuff …
* MLB.com will unveil their Top 100 Prospects on MLB Network at 7 p.m. PT Hint: Mike Trout made the list.
* MLB Network will feature an interview with Mike Scioscia, Joe Maddon, Ron Roenicke and Bud Black on Friday at 6 p.m.
* And here’s a blog post with an update on the Luis Ayala situation.
Despite a lack of financial flexibility, the Angels continue to seek ways to address their bullpen situation.
Depending on his price, one option may be veteran closer Francisco Cordero. His agent, Bean Stringfellow, told WEEI.com on Tuesday that the Angels are one of four teams in play for the right-hander, along with the Reds — his former team, which reportedly wants him back — the Red Sox and a fourth, unidentified club.
Cordero is perhaps the best — and most expensive — free-agent reliever remaining after Ryan Madson, making the Angels the least likely fit among the above-mentioned clubs. Stringfellow told WEEI.com Cordero is looking for a multi-year deal and is only interested in going into a situation where he’s the clear-cut closer (which, in Anaheim, would mean the young Jordan Walden is supplanted).
The Angels have also reached out to the representative of former reliever Darren Oliver, a source familiar with his thinking told MLB.com. Oliver’s preference is to return to Texas, but is “not ruling out other contending teams,” the source said, adding that in order to accommodate the Angels, Oliver would be willing to defer most of his salary. Oliver put up a 2.29 ERA in 61 appearances last year, but is 41 and would give the Angels three lefties in the bullpen — along with Scott Downs and Hisanori Takahashi.
Another interesting candidate is Joel Zumaya, the former Tigers flame-thrower who missed all of 2011 after undergoing exploratory surgery on his right (throwing) elbow. Zumaya performed in front of what was believed to be about 50 scouts in Houston last Wednesday, and some of them were members of the Angels, general manager Jerry Dipoto confirmed. Someone in attendance told FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal he threw his fastball from 93-96 mph and had a decent curveball and OK command.
Some other, cheaper, right-handed options in the free-agent bin: Luis Ayala, Juan Cruz, Scott Linebrink, Dan Wheeler and Jamey Wright. Most of them, however, may not sign deals until more materializes later in the offseason. Sources told MLB.com the Angels have yet to reach out to Ayala or Wheeler in particular.
The Angels previously added LaTroy Hawkins — on a one-year, $3 million contract — in hopes of improving a bullpen that was tied for the American League lead in blown saves last season. Dipoto previously said he’s looking for someone to “complement Jordan Walden; not replace Jordan Walden.”
The question is how long they’re willing to wait out the likes of C.J. Wilson and Ryan Madson. As The Los Angeles Times pointed out on Monday — day 1 of the Winter Meetings — new general manager Jerry DiPoto plans to meet with Wilson’s agent here in Dallas. Frankly, why wouldn’t he? The real question is whether it’s possible — or even practical — for the Angels to fork over most of their remaining payroll on one arm, to address the best aspect of the team no less.
If they don’t want to go that route, or commit to Madson — remember, the Phillies reportedly offered four years at $44 million — there are a few low-cost options to be had.
Starting pitcher-wise, Mark Buehrle is the logical fit. Problem: A lot of teams want him, and he’s said to be looking for a no-trade clause as part of at least a three-year deal. Some other lefties to keep in mind: Jeff Francis (4.82 ERA in 31 starts for the Royals last year), Erik Bedard (3.62 ERA in 24 starts for the Red Sox and Mariners) and Paul Maholm (3.66 ERA in 26 starts for the Pirates).
As for the right-handed bullpen arms, there are plenty from which to choose. The most intriguing may be Octavio Dotel, because of how well he pitched down the stretch for the World Series-champion Cardinals and because of his experience as both a setup man and closer. Dotel (38) shifted from a Type A free agent to a Type B under the new CBA, so he won’t cost the team that signs him a Draft pick.
Some others: LaTroy Hawkins, Francisco Cordero, Takahashi Saito, Frank Francisco, Mike MacDougal, Scott Linebrink and Luis Ayala, among a host of others.