Results tagged ‘ Mark Teixeira ’
The All-Star Game and Albert Pujols were as much a summer tradition as beach balls and sunburns. Through his first 10 years, he went to nine of them, starting seven times for the National League while competing in the Home Run Derby on three separate occasions.
It’s now been five years since Pujols’ last invite to the Midsummer Classic, though. He’s been denied each of his first three years with the Angels, while starting 2012 on a miserable slump, battling injuries throughout 2013 and falling off the radar by 2014.
Now, he’s making his push.
Pujols’ sixth-inning two-run homer in Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the D-backs gave him sole possession of the American League lead with 19. Eleven of them have come over his last 18 games, a stretch that has seen Pujols bat .368 with three strikeouts in 75 plate appearances. His slash line is up to .273/.326/.550. His OPS, .876, now ranks third among AL first basemen.
“If I get the call, great,” Pujols said of the All-Star Game. “If I don’t, then I guess I don’t. There are so many people in the past that deserve to be there. You can only have so many guys on the roster. It’s not like you get a hundred players on the roster. But I don’t think about that, to tell you the truth.”
It won’t be easy.
The Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera (1.043) and the Yankees’ Mark Teixeira (.942) lead in OPS among first basemen, but they aren’t even in line to start. That distinction belongs to Eric Hosmer, one of eight Royals players currently being voted in to make up the AL lineup. Pujols ranked fifth in fan votes at his position when the latest results were revealed, nearly five million shy of Hosmer.
His only real hope is to get voted in by his peers, who select a backup at each position, or the managers, who select eight additional players.
“I think first base is one of the toughest positions to grab a spot in the All-Star Game,” Pujols’ longtime teammate, David Freese, said. “It’s a position where guys are expected to bang. You can have 15, 20 at the break with a lot of damage and not make it. … But the guy is just unbelievable. I get front-row seats on deck a good portion of the time, just watching him hit. He looks healthy, man. His legs are powerful. He’s getting down on his stance and he’s ready to go every pitch.”
Pujols was batting .228 with eight homers and 17 RBIs through the Angels’ first 45 games, but he remained confident, because he was batting an unseemly .210 on balls in play and he was hardly striking out. He’s now on pace for 47 home runs, a number he hasn’t reached since 2009.
The year after that, he made his last All-Star Game.
“Would I like to be there? Of course,” Pujols said. “Everybody wants to be at the All-Star Game. But I can’t control that. All I can control is doing the best I can, hopefully helping this ballclub be in first place before the All-Star break.”
Ernesto Frieri pitched in a save situation against the Yankees on Monday night, his first since being demoted from the closer’s role after a nightmarish ninth inning in the nation’s capital on April 23.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s the closer again.
Joe Smith was warming up in the bullpen to pitch the ninth, but then he started feeling sick, and then he, well, disgorged his lunch. So Frieri, who started to warm up as Jered Weaver got in trouble in the eighth, got up again, checked into the ninth with a three-run lead and notched a 1-2-3 inning — striking out Jacoby Ellsbury and Mark Teixeira, then getting Brian McCann to line out to end the game.
Asked about the ninth after the 4-1 win, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said: “Ernie’s got to be part of it. Joe Smith’s throwing the ball very well, and Ernie’s going to be a big part of it, for sure.”
The important thing is that Frieri is throwing better. He’s twirled 4 2/3 hit-less innings since his demotion, giving up only one hit by pitch and striking out four batters. On Monday, he used his trademark fastball to record both of his punchouts.
“It’s coming back,” Frieri said. “I’m just letting it go, stop thinking about painting the strike zone and let the movement of my fastball take care of itself. I felt pretty good today. My fastball had a lot of life, and I’m getting more control with my breaking pitches. I threw a pretty good changeup today, too; elevated my fastball whenever I wanted to. If I can do that, I’m going to be fine.”
Yes, the Angels — 10 games below .500, 12 games back in the AL West, 9 1/2 games back of the final Wild Card spot — haven’t had much luck with injuries this season, particularly with their highest-paid player (Albert Pujols) and the two guys they were counting on to turn their bullpen around (Ryan Madson and Sean Burnett). You know who has been hit with more injuries? The Yankees team they’ll now face. I mean, just look at their lineup. And yet, they kept on rolling, while the Angels are in need of an amazing run to get back in the race.
“A lot of the things we see are very tangible, a lot of the things we see are reversible,” Mike Scioscia continues to say. “That has to be our goal, to get these guys out there playing consistent baseball and bringing the talent on the field, because we have the potential to have a terrific team.”
SP: LH Andy Pettitte (5-3, 3.82 ERA)
Pitching: LH C.J. Wilson (4-5, 4.05 ERA)
- Starting rotation-wise, we know Tommy Hanson and Jered Weaver are starting the other two games in this series, respectively. And now, we know Jason Vargas will start Monday, with the order resetting again on Wednesday and Thursday. Who’s starting on Tuesday? That’s a decision that will perceivably come down to Joe Blanton and Jerome Williams, and Scioscia didn’t reveal anything on Friday. “Let’s get through this weekend,” he said. You have to figure, that if Blanton were starting Tuesday, he’d simply be listed as the starter by the team. The fact he isn’t makes me believe it’s going to be Williams, as long as he isn’t needed out of the bullpen in some crazy long game (like the 18-inning game the Yankees played against the A’s last night). Just an educated guess, though.
- Robert Coello, placed on the disabled list with what the team called right shoulder inflammation, will be shut down from throwing for a minimum of four weeks. Coello’s elbow is also hurting.
- The Angels will honor Mariano Rivera on Saturday.
- The Angels have signed 34 of their 39 Draft picks. Among those remaining are their first selection, lefty Hunter Green, who was taken in the second round.
- Sicoscia, on his biggest takeaway from his time with Wells: “He worked very hard at the game. You could tell that his non-performance is something he did not take in stride. I mean he felt it. And whether he had a rough day the night before, he came out with a positive frame of mind and said, ‘I’m going to help us win today.’ Maybe fans don’t see that side of him, but he didn’t take it easy when he was struggling, and he knows that he’s a better player than what he showed when he played with us.”
- Wells, by the way, has cooled off considerably since his hot start. Over his last 40 games, he has a .182/.209/.284 slash line. He comes in batting .229/.274/.386, with 10 homers and 26 RBIs.
In exchange, the Angels received two low-level prospects in outfielder Exicardo Cayones and lefty Kramer Sneed – but that was little more than a formality.
The real prize is the money they’ll save.
The Yankees are picking up $13.9 million of the $42 million owed to Wells over the final two seasons of his contract. It’s more than expected for a guy who has posted a .222/.258/.409 slash line in 208 games the last two seasons and was the fifth outfielder in the Angels’ depth chart – behind Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton, Peter Bourjos and designated hitter Mark Trumbo.
But there’s a caveat for both teams.
Prior to the trade, the Angels’ payroll was at about $160 million, but their Competitive Balance Tax payroll – which takes into account the average annual value of all 40-man roster salaries, plus benefits and performance bonuses at the end of the season – was $178 million, the threshold at which first-time offenders are taxed 17.5 percent by Major League Baseball.
For Wells, the Yankees will pay $11.5 million of the $21 million owed to Wells in 2013 and $2.4 million of the $21 million he’s owed in 2014. New York is paying more on the front end because World Baseball Classic officials are paying for Mark Teixeira’s contract while he’s on the disabled list – about $6 million if he returns by mid-May – and because their goal is to get under the CBT threshold in 2014, not 2013.
Wells suited up for the Yankees for their Tuesday night game against the Astros in Tampa, Fla, batting sixth, playing left field and wearing No. 56 (his customary No. 10 belongs to Phil Rizzuto and has already been retired).
“I got goosebumps driving down the road a couple hours after they told me about the trade,” Wells said. “I started thinking about the roll call. I won’t be the guy that gets picked on by the bleachers this time, even though I enjoyed it. Now it’s going to be a little bit different hearing my name and being in pinstripes. It gives me chills now.”
Wells figures to get plenty of playing time in New York, at least early on. Curtis Granderson is not expected to play until early May because of a fractured right forearm and Juan Rivera, considered a leading candidate for the right-handed outfield job, might be the regular first baseman with Teixeira out with a strained right forearm.
The Angels, meanwhile, are left with a thinner bench. But also some much-needed wiggle room.
Asked if he received any advice from former manager Mike Scioscia, Wells responded: “He said, ‘You’re in a good place right now from a baseball standpoint.’ I think he noticed the changes that I made. He said, ‘Just keep doing the things you’ve been doing the past three weeks and have fun with it.’ I told him, ‘That’s fine, I’m just going to try to [Mike] Napoli you guys when I play you.’ I don’t know if you all saw Napoli’s numbers against the Angels, but they were pretty ugly. I’ll just try to do the same thing.”
Thanks to Bryan Hoch for passing along the Wells quotes.
The Angels and Yankees are in talks regarding a deal that would send Vernon Wells to the Bronx, an industry source confirmed to MLB.com on Sunday.
How much money is exchanged in the deal and who the Angels get back — if anyone — is still unknown. The Angels have not made any official announcements. Deals like this, with money changing hands and approval needed by MLB, usually have several hurdles to overcome. Last spring, the Angels and Indians talked extensively about a deal for Bobby Abreu that ultimately fell through.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reported that the deal “could be done today.”
Wells has a full no trade clause and is owed $42 million over the next two seasons, but he comes into the season as the fifth outfielder in the depth chart — behind Mike Trout, Peter Bourjos, Josh Hamilton and designated hitter Mark Trumbo.
The 34-year-old outfielder, who has the day off on Sunday, has enjoyed a nice spring, batting .361 (13-for-36) with four homers and 11 RBIs. The Yankees have Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson slated to start the season on the disabled list.
If the deal does go through, it would relieve some of the pressure off Bourjos, who came in as the everyday center fielder but had some pressure to succeed early with Wells on the bench.
The Angels dangled Wells in the offseason, but weren’t able to find anyone willing to take on much of any of his contract in a trade.
Wells, who plans to retire after the 2014 season, has been very accepting of his role all spring, saying he understands he comes in as a reserve and just wants to fight for playing time.
“I put myself in this position,” Wells said early in spring. “Obviously, some guys played well last year. You have the most exciting player in the game in Mike Trout; Trumbo, who’s one of the most powerful guys in this league when it comes to hitting a baseball; you sign Josh Hamilton; and you have Peter. Peter deserves a chance. What he had to go through last year was far more difficult than what anybody had to go through, sitting and watching that entire time. There’s a lot of things at play. I understand that.”
With the Blue Jays from 2002-10, Wells posted a .279/.330/.478 slash line, won two Gold Gloves and made three All-Star teams. But he hasn’t been able to duplicate that success since coming to Anaheim, in a January 2011 deal that saw the Angels send Juan Rivera, Mike Napoli and $81 million of the $86 million owed to Wells.
Wells hit 25 homers in 2011, but posted the lowest batting average (.218) and on-base percentage (.248) in the Majors. He batted .244 with six homers in the first two months of 2012, then missed the next two months with thumb surgery and, with Trout producing, hardly played the rest of the way.
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.
Pitching: LH C.J. Wilson (9-5, 2.43 ERA)
Pitching: RH Hiroki Kuroda (8-7, 3.50 ERA)
Some pregame notes …
- Dan Haren (lower back stiffness) had an encouraging bullpen session back in Anaheim on Thursday. Mike Scioscia said he “came out of it well.” He’ll throw another one in Inland Empire on Saturday and then they’ll see if he’s ready for a rehab appearance. As for whether he can come back around the time he’s eligible to, on Thursday, Scioscia said: “We’re going to take it one step at a time, but we’re very encouraged with the way he threw his ‘pen, and we’re just going to evaluate him one step at a time. We’ll have more information as he gets through his bullpen tomorrow, to see when he’s ready for a rehab and when he comes out of that, how close he is.”
- The Angels signed 38 of their 40 Draft choices and spent way below their spending pool — to be expected, since they didn’t have a pick in the first two rounds.
- Trout (surprise!) won the Heart & Hustle Award for the Angels.
- Chris Iannetta (right forearm strain) has been throwing to about 150 feet and is scheduled to throw to bases early next week in Detroit. Shortly after that, he can progress towards a rehab assignment — if all goes well.
- Jerome Williams, who will start on Saturday, feels good and was encouraged by completing six innings in his recent rehab start for Triple-A Salt Lake on July 6.
- Vernon Wells (thumb surgery) has been taking batting practice on the field. Scioscia said he’ll need about a week of that and then should be ready for a rehab assignment shortly thereafter.
Some Angels.com links …
- Angels not counting on major moves at Deadline
- With Trout on board, sky’s the limit
- Angels set rotation schedule
- Preview, on the series opener against the Yankees
Some AL West links …
- Healthy staff key for Texas as Deadline nears
- Ryan Cook fans two during ‘dream’ All-Star Game
- Lineup stability key for Mariners
Ray Allen ‘excited’ to join Heat. (Me too.)
Pitching: RH Blake Beavan (3-4, 4.72 ERA)
Pitching: RH Garrett Richards (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Some pregame notes …
- Bobby Wilson was placed on the 7-day concussion DL today, after getting hit by a foul tip there on Monday night, and Conger was called up. Wilson was still feeling a bit woozy and felt the club was just being cautious because he suffered a concussion earlier in the year in Minnesota, and during a home-plate collision with Mark Teixeira in 2010. Wilson expects to be back after the seven days are up, but you never know with these things.
- The Angels drafted 13 players on Day 2, with 12 of them being collegiate guys. Here’s a look at all of them.
- Iconic Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda suffered a mild heart attack today, but is said to be resting comfortably and could be released Wednesday. Here’s what Mike Scioscia said: “Naturally we’re concerned any time you get news like that, but I think all the reports are that he’s resting comfortably and hopefully this will be a little blip in the radar, and he’ll get back out here, relax, and get out to ballgames.”
- Conger was called up and inserted right into the lineup. Some of it had to do with a familiarity with Richards, but mostly because of his left-handed bat. “Hank, he feels good, he caught enough down there to get back where he needs to be,” Scioscia said. “With Bobby out, we’re going to need someone to share the load with John and Hank’s ready for it.”
- The Angels limited Richards’ repertoire to just the fastball, changeup and slider when he came up to the big leagues down the stretch last year. But Scioscia feels he’s come far enough with his curveball to be able to use all four pitches tonight.
- LaTroy Hawkins (pinkie) has been transferred from Class A to Triple-A. Plan is for him to pitch today and Thursday and join the Angels in Colorado on Friday.
- Jered Weaver (lower back), who continues to long toss, probably won’t need to go on a rehab assignment. Chris Iannetta (wrist) will, though.
- Howie Kendrick (.251/.280/.367) is out of the lineup today. Pretty much a mental day. “Obviously he’s not swinging the bat to his potential,” Scioscia said. “I think he’s caught in between a little bit. At times he’s out in front, at times he’s missing some fastballs he should hit. Howie’s just a terrific hitter in the box, and right now he’s searching for some things and we need him.”
Pitching: LH Andy Pettitte (2-1, 2.53 ERA)
Pitching: RH Dan Haren (2-5, 3.76 ERA)
Some postgame notes …
- So, Jered Weaver will be going on the disabled list with a lower back strain. My guess is he misses a little less than a month, but just a guess at this point. Garrett Richards is up. He’ll be available out of the bullpen these last couple of games. With the off day, the earliest he’ll pitch is Sunday (though Haren may be available for that) and the latest he’ll pitch is Tuesday (since Jerome Williams would be required to go on three days’ rest by that point).
- Hunter, as evidenced by the starting lineup, was activated from the restricted list, with infielder Andrew Romine being sent back down to Triple-A Salt Lake. Mike Scioscia obviously feels comfortable that Hunter is ready to go.
- As for how the outfield situation will play out moving forward? Scioscia said it’ll fluctuate, but I’m thinking the most common lineup you’ll see will have Hunter in right, Trout in center and Trumbo in left, with Bourjos and Kole Calhoun backing up.
- Kendrys Morales (5-for-9 with a homer and five RBIs the last couple games) is fine; just sitting because there’s a lefty starting. Scioscia said he’ll be back out there on Wednesday.
Some Angels links from Memorial Day …
- Trumbo, Angels walk off for seventh straight win
- Notebook, on Weaver leaving his start early, Hunter returning, Memorial Day festivities and some injury updates
- Halos, Haren try to make it eight straight
Some AL West links …
- The Rangers have signed Roy Oswalt (might he have been an option for the Angels if they hadn’t?)
- The A’s are taking their time with Manny Ramirez
- The Mariners are weighing their options with Ichiro Suzuki
And the Heat pulled out Game 1 of the ECF’s against the Celtics, in a game they really had control of for most of the night.
Oh, and don’t forget to follow Penn State grad and new MLB.com associate reporter Joe McIntyre on Twitter. He’ll be helping me out this summer.
SP: RH Ervin Santana (0-1, 7.94 ERA)
SP: RH Hiroki Kuroda (0-1, 6.35 ERA)
Some notes from this morning …
- Scott Downs (right ankle) will be avoiding a trip to the DL — at least for now. No structural or ligament damage in the ankle, but he’s day to day and my guess is he won’t pitch this weekend. He definitely won’t pitch today.
- RHP David Carpenter was called up in order to add some depth to the bullpen, with utility man Alexi Amarista being sent down. LHP Brad Mills was here in case Downs had to go on the DL, and he’ll stick around for the weekend just in case he has a setback.
- Jerry Dipoto said he’ll continue to search “under every rock” for bullpen help, but added: “There’s not a surplus of available, high-quality Major League relievers. We have a variety of arms in our ‘pens that we feel comfortable in. We have find the right roles for those guys.”
- Mike Scioscia, on Trumbo’s confidence at third base: “He’s a pretty tough kid, but there’s always confidence levels in every player that you have to monitor. I think on the defensive side, Mark is confident he can make the plays, but to translate into him relaxing and using his athleticism, I think it’s going to take a couple of plays on the field that he makes and says, ‘Hey, I’m here.'”
- Pujols addressed the NY media via a morning press conference. Asked about whether he’s thinking too much at the plate, Pujols said: ” “We’re human. I’m human. Sometimes that’s going to happen no matter how good you prepare yourself. Sometimes, we want to press a little bit and try to do too much.
Some Angels links from Thursday …
- Angels let six-run lead vs. Twins slip away
- X-rays negative on Downs’ ankle
- Pujols “all business” about his trip to NY
- Early struggles not a concern for Pujols
- Jerome Williams officially named fifth starter
- Santana set to take ball in Yanks home opener
Some AL West links …
- Rangers manager Ron Washington not worried about Joe Nathan
- Mariners can’t pull off comeback vs. Texas
- Thriving Josh Reddick buying into new way of hitting
And the Heat suffered another heart-breaking road loss — this one to the Bulls in OT.