Results tagged ‘ Marlins ’
The Angels have signed starting pitcher Chris Volstad to a Minor League deal with a Spring Training invite.
Volstad, 27, was the 16th overall pick by the Marlins in 2005. The 6-foot-8 righty had a solid rookie season in ’08, posting a 2.88 ERA in 15 games (14 starts), but was never able to duplicate that.
Over the next four years, the last of which was spent with the Cubs, Volstad compiled a 5.14 ERA and averaged 153 innings per season. Last year, he spent the vast majority of the season — minus six relief appearances — pitching for the Rockies’ Triple-A affiliate in the Pacific Coast League, posting a 4.58 ERA, a 1.57 WHIP and a 1.30 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 127 2/3 innings.
Volstad, currently pitching in winter ball at the Dominican Republic, joins relievers Josh Wall and Robert Carson as minor pitching additions in the early portion of the offseason. But unlike the latter two, Volstad is not on the 40-man roster.
In honor of Paul Simon, who told you about the 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover, below are Five Ways To Leave Vernon Wells. Not as catchy, I know. And it’s not as easy as slipping out the back (Jack), or making a new plan (Stan), or hopping off the bus (Gus) — OK, I’ll stop.
The best way to get it done may be a little bad-contract swapping.
Look, it’s no secret the Angels would prefer to part ways with Wells, who’s owed $42 million through the 2014 season. At this point, they can’t expect much salary relief (if any) in the process, but what they can do is create some breathing room in a clogged-up outfield and perhaps get a player back who can help them in an area of need. At the same time, they’d probably be helping Wells, sending him to a place where he can play more regularly. The best way to do it, perhaps, is to try and find a match with a team that has a similarly unfriendly contract. The Cubs did it in 2009, sending the volatile Milton Bradley to the Mariners in exchange for Carlos Silva. The Angels themselves tried to do it last offseason, with Bobby Abreu slated to return to the Yankees before A.J. Burnett evoked his limited no-trade clause.
Is there a similar partner for Wells this offseason? Below are some possibilities. Two things to keep in mind: 1. This is merely speculative — nothing more than my own opinion; 2. The Angels may consider the next two years of Wells’ contract a wash, so perhaps they’ll have little issue with paying the difference in a trade. The benefit for them is creating flexibility in the outfield — perhaps easing a return for Torii Hunter — while getting a player who may help them. If they can save a couple million dollars, too, even better.
BOS SP John Lackey ($30.5M thru ’14)
After winning 102 games, posting a 3.81 ERA and having a few memorable postseason moments in eight seasons with the Angels, Lackey put up a 4.40 ERA in his first year with the Red Sox, followed by a 6.41 ERA in 2011, followed by Tommy John surgery in October that knocked him out for all of this past season. But the soon-to-be 34-year-old progressed towards the end of the year, should have a normal offseason and is expected to be ready to go by the start of Spring Training. Would Boston go for it? They have Jacoby Ellsbury in center and there appears to be strong mutual interest in Cody Ross returning. Other than that, though, they have several uncertainties in Daniel Nava, Ryan Sweeney and Ryan Kalish. Wells, meanwhile, may be a nice fit for the Green Monster, and to them, Lackey may represent part of that toxic clubhouse they’re still trying to fumigate.
NYY 3B Alex Rodriguez ($114M thru ’17)
It’s an easy place to go these days, since A-Rod is getting benched in the playoffs while being booed mercifully by the home crowd and the Angels could use an upgrade at third base. But A-Rod’s deal extends three years longer than Wells’, at $61 million. I’m thinking one $200 million deal (Albert Pujols) is enough in Anaheim.
CWS DH Adam Dunn ($30M thru ’14)
Bringing him on board as a lefty middle-of-the-order hitter could free up a trade for Kendrys Morales, who’s heading into his final year before free agency. But Dunn turned it around in 2012, raising his OPS from .569 to .800, and may claim AL Comeback Player of the Year honors for it (Morales is also in the running). This no longer looks like a salary dump for the White Sox.
SEA UT Chone Figgins ($8M in ’13, $9M vesting option in ’14)
This is one that seems to make sense for both sides. Figgins has said he wants out of Seattle, and he’d probably embrace a return to the place he thrived from 2002-09. The Angels could use a utility man with Maicer Izturis expected to depart via free agency (though Figgins doesn’t help them at shortstop). The Mariners, meanwhile, are in desperate need of power and Wells may be a nice fit now that they’re moving the fences in at Safeco Field. One problem: The money. In case you hadn’t noticed, Figgins’ deal is a lot friendlier than Wells’. But, hey, if the Angels see Wells’ contract as a wash, that may not be an issue. By the way, Figgins’ 2014 option automatically vests with 600 plate appearances in 2013 — meaning it probably won’t automatically vest.
SFG SP Barry Zito ($20M in ’13, $18M club option — and $7M buyout — in ’14)
Another one that may fill needs on both sides. Zito would move into the Angels’ rotation — a rotation that could lose up to three-fifths of the 2012 makeup — and Wells would go to a team that, like the Mariners, is perpetually looking for offense. Plus, Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan will hit free agency this offseason. But do the Giants really benefit from this? Though obviously no longer the same pitcher, Zito had a descent year with a 4.15 ERA in 184 1/3 innings. And in their desire to upgrade the offense, the Giants, three wins away from the World Series, may have higher aspirations than Wells. Zito, by the way, has a full no-trade clause — but he is a SoCal product.
Not mentioned: CHC LF Alfonso Soriano ($36M thru ’14); NYM LF Jason Bay ($16M in ’13, $17M club option in ’14); NYM SP Johan Santana ($25.5M in ’13, $25M club option in ’14); LAD SP Josh Beckett and 3B Hanley Ramirez ($31.5M thru ’14 each); LAD LF Carl Crawford ($102.5M thru ’17); MIA RP Heath Bell ($18M thru ’14).
Hypothetically, what do you think the Angels would have to give to get a Shields/Garza type? — @MattPainter85
Yesterday, Angels GM Jerry Dipoto said pitching will no doubt be available before the Trade Deadline, as it is every July, but added: “You’re going to pay a premium for it.” How much of a premium? Well, if the Tigers-Marlins trade is any indication — with top pitching prospect Jacob Turner going to Miami in exchange for a rental in Anibal Sanchez and second baseman Omar Infante — than a big one. Pitching’s always expensive. But with two new CBA wrinkles (additional Wild Card and no Draft-pick compensation on rentals) it may be more expensive than ever this year.
There’s no doubt the Angels prefer to acquire a starter who’s under contract for more than just the next two months — rather than shelling out top prospects for a guy who may leave in the offseason and leave them with nothing. That’s why guys like James Shields (affordable club options in 2013 and ’14) and Matt Garza (not a free agent until after ’13) are intriguing.
What will it take to get them? That’s what everyone’s still trying to figure out. My guess, from the Angels perspective? I’m thinking one of their top young Major League-ready young players (Peter Bourjos or Garrett Richards) along with at least one highly-regarded low-level guy (John Hellweg? C.J. Cron? Jean Segura?). The Rays may probably want instant offense, too.
But, again, that’s a guess. Nothing more.
Another name to keep in mind: Josh Johnson (signed through 2013), since the Marlins seem to be sellers.
Mike Trout, CF (.343 BA, .399 OBP, 23 SB)
Rookie of the Year? How about MVP? Trout has elevated himself to that level already.
Robinson Cano, 2B (.316 BA, 20 HR, 50 RBI)
Best second baseman in baseball. And it isn’t even close.
Miguel Cabrera, 3B (.323, 18 HR, 68 RBI)
Best hitter in the AL, in my mind, and better at third base than I thought he’d be.
Josh Hamilton, LF (.318 BA, 26 HR, 74 RBI)
Somebody’s going to give this guy an absurd amount of money this offseason.
Jose Bautista, RF (.911 OPS, 27 HR, 64 RBI)
As Mike Scioscia said in Toronto, “How is this guy only batting .240?” He’s as fun to watch hit as anyone.
David Ortiz, DH (.302 BA, 22 HR, 55 RBI)
Remember when we all thought he was finished?
Paul Konerko, 1B (.333 BA, 14 HR, 42 RBI)
Like fine wine, Konerko seems to get better with age.
Joe Mauer, C (.327 BA, .415 OBP, 38 RBI)
He’s only catching about half the time, but he’s healthy and back to being himself offensively. Huge sigh of relief for Twins.
Asdrubal Cabrera, SS (.370 OBP, 11 HR, 42 RBI)
As slick as there is with the glove and a great hitter.
SP: Justin Verlander (9 W, 2.58 ERA, 128 SO)
Weaver’s numbers are better, but the reigning MVP deserves to start one of these.
Andrew McCutchen, CF (.360 BA, 16 HR, 54 RBI)
Oh, and 14 steals. The guy does it all. An absolute freak.
Ryan Braun, LF (.309 BA, 23 HR, 59 RBI)
It was a rough offseason. Good to see him pick up right where he left off from his MVP year.
Joey Votto, 1B (.350 BA, 14 HR, 47 RBI)
Here’s all you need to know about how good a hitter Votto is: He’s hit ONE infield pop-up since ’09.
Giancarlo Stanton, DH (.364 OBP, 19 HR, 50 RBI)
Man, I sure hope he can compete in the Home Run Derby.
Carlos Gonzalez, RF (.340 BA, 17 HR, 58 RBI)
Like McCutchen, this guy does it all on the field.
David Wright, 3B (.350 BA, 10 HR, 55 RBI)
What a travesty that Pablo Sandoval is starting at third base over him.
Aaron Hill, 2B (.300 BA, 11 HR, 39 RBI)
Two cycles in one half? Yeah, he gets the nod.
Carlos Ruiz, C (.357 BA, 13 HR, 46 RBI)
Ruiz was always lost in those deep Phillies lineups. Not anymore. Without him, they have nothing this year.
Starlin Castro, SS (.291 BA, 40 RBI, 16 SB)
Tough year for NL shortstops. I’ll take the one with the most upside.
SP: R.A. Dickey (2.15 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 12 W)
Great story, great person, great season. I don’t care if he’s a knuckleballer. He deserves it.
*** I’ll be taking the Baltimore series off. Follow Joe McIntyre for Angels updates, and look for stuff on the Angels’ first half and the upcoming Trade Deadline very soon. I’ll catch up with y’all from KC.
C.J. Wilson may be a little more amped for his next start than any other this season (maybe even more so than his return to Texas). The Angels are playing in Colorado, to kick off a six-game stretch at National League parks, and that means Wilson will actually get to hit. C.J. loves hitting, more so than most pitchers.
So, I asked …
Was playing on an NL team, where you can hit during starts, a big factor for you during free agency?
So why were the Angels able to sign you?
“Home. If it would’ve been pretty much any other team, then …”
Then you would’ve been a Marlin right now.
Wilson always wanted to be a hitter. He played some outfield and first base at Santa Ana Junior College and Loyola Marymount University, hits when he can during the offseason and takes it very seriously when Angels pitchers go out for pregame batting practice.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “You get a chance to influence the game. As a kid growing up, I always wanted to be a hitter, so I always took hitting seriously when I was a kid and when I was in college and stuff. … And it’s competitive with all the players on the team.”
But Wilson — 1-for-11 in 14 big league plate appearances, if you count the postseason — will admit he isn’t the best hitter on the staff. That title belongs to Dan Haren, who’s a .225 career hitter (59-for-262) with two homers and 27 RBIs.
“Dan’s obviously a great hitter,” Wilson said, with Haren nodding in approval right next to him. “But I don’t think he’s really been challenged here at all.”
Asked when he gave up the dream of being a big league hitter to focus solely on pitching, Wilson said: “I never have. I still think I can hit in the big leagues. … I still think if I got the chance, I can still do it.”
Well, he’ll get his chance Friday.
The Angels (and their $155 million payroll) head into the opener of a seven-game homestand, the first of a three-game series against the Twins and the finale of an ugly April with the fourth-worst record in the Major Leagues and a nine-game deficit of the Rangers in the American League West, where they also trail the Mariners and Athletics each by 5 1/2 games — two teams whose combined payrolls are $137 million.
They went 1-5 in their recent road trip through St. Petersburg, Fla., and Cleveland, have dropped six of their last seven overall, have tied the worst record in franchise history to start a season (also in 1976) and will finish April having won back-to-back games only once. They haven’t done that in any single month since July 1998, and only three other times in their history, according to Stats LLC. They dropped six of their first seven series, with four of those losses coming against teams that finished no better than 15 games out of first place last season (the Royals, Twins, Athletics and Indians).
The rotation, at least, has begun to improve the way we would’ve all expected, posting a 2.62 ERA in the club’s last 13 games while going at least six innings in 12 of those. But the bullpen can’t hold any leads and the offense can’t score any numbers. Yeah, it’s still only April (barely), but the Angels have the look of a team that isn’t taking these early struggles lightly. They’ve released Bobby Abreu, called up Mike Trout, designated Rich Thompson for assignment, called up David Carpenter and replaced (at least temporarily) Jordan Walden with Scott Downs in the ninth inning.
The numbers (warning: some of this material may not be suitable for younger readers) …
- 0: That, of course, is the amount of home runs Albert Pujols has hit through his first 88 at-bats of the season, by far his longest stretch to start any campaign. He averaged 14.2 at-bats per home runs through his 11 seasons in St. Louis, and his career-high at-bat streak in one season is 105, done April 24 to May 22 of last year.
- 0: That’s the amount of multi-hit games Pujols has had since his three-double game of April 19. That’s a stretch of nine games, which saw him post a career-high streak of five consecutive starts without a hit and see his slash line drop from .296/.333/.426 to, now, .216/.266/.295.
- 10: The combined number of walks and RBIs for Pujols through his first 22 games (four RBIs, six walks), which is three less than the amount of strikeouts (13).
- 40.3: The percentage of pitches out of the strike zone that Pujols has swung at so far, which would easily represent a career high, according to FanGraphs.com. Prior to last year (31.8 percent), Pujols had never swung at more than 30 percent of pitches out of the zone in any given season. He’s batting .204 with two strikes and, perhaps more worrisome, 21 of his 94 plate appearances (or, 22.3 percent) have begun with an 0-2 count — perhaps a sign that he’s still feeling out all the new pitchers he’s facing, which brings us to …
- 14: The amount of starting pitchers Pujols faced for the first time this season (out of 22). Not an excuse, but probably part of the reason for his struggles — and those of the offense in general.
- 9: That’s the amount of runs the Angels scored in their just-completed road trip, which saw them average just over five hits per game and go a combined 4-for-30 with runners in scoring position.
- 4: The amount of times the Angels have been shutout.
- 1-12: The Angels’ record when scoring three runs or less.
- 23: The exact number of teams that are ahead of the Angels in terms of: runs per game (3.45), OPS (.642), slugging percentage (.352) and stolen bases (10).
- .230: The Angels’ batting average with runners in scoring position, good for 12th in the AL — ahead of only the division-rival A’s and Mariners.
- 6: The amount of losses the relievers have compiled, which is tied with the last-place Royals for first in the Majors. (What? You thought the bullpen was safe from this?)
- 1: The amount of save chances Walden had (within five appearances) before serving up the two-run, walk-off homer that stripped him of his job on Thursday — game No. 19.
- 1.49: The bullpen’s WHIP, which ranks 23rd in the Majors.
- 1.52: The bullpen’s strikeout-to-walk ratio, which is tied for second-to-last in the Majors (with a Marlins team of similar preseason hype).
Fun, right? …
Some notes from this morning …
- This is a scheduled day off for Kendrys Morales. He’ll probably play all three games in New York.
- Mike Scioscia, on giving some at-bats to Izturis, who’s finally making his first start on Thursday: “At the beginning, the balance that I think is going to be difficult is trying to get guys to play, but also giving guys that you know are going to be your core players time to get chemistry. We’re getting Erick [Aybar] off today, we’ll probably give Howie [Kendrick] a day off in New York. … Some guys obviously haven’t hit stride in the box. But you also can’t let your bench depth evaporate. And that’s why it’s important for Izzy to get in there and it’s important for a lot of guys to stay close to playing. … You’re not going to need the depth in your roster, but you still want to keep in touch with it to keep guys fresh.”
- Scioscia on Pujols, who comes in batting .222 with no homers (more on him later): “He’s been on a lot of pitches. Right now it’s just trying to get comfortable with some new environments of hitting in our ballpark, and then just the stadium here in Minnesota, get used to the hitting backgrounds, get used to the pitchers in our league. But he will find it, that’s for sure.”
- A couple of unsurprising developments: Jerome Williams was officially named the fifth starter, and the roster spot will be created by sending down a position player (his name is Alexi Amarista).
Some links from Wednesday …
- Bourjos’ mad dash gives way to maddening defeat
- Williams one (very small) hurdle away from Sunday start
- Michael Kohn set for Tommy John
- Morales: Ozzie Guillen comments ‘a mistake’
- Prospect Austin Wood hurls five scoreless
- Haren, Liriano eye turnarounds
Some AL West links …
- New Rangers closer Joe Nathan stumbles as Mariners win
- Jason Vargas seeks series split vs. Rangers
- A’s stun Royals in 12
Big game coming up against the Bulls. Heat won’t panic.
Leading up to Opening Day, I’ll roll out an All-Star team for each of the six divisions in baseball — that includes a manager, a starting nine (with a DH also for the National League), three starters and two relievers. One catch: Each team must have at least one representative, and the skipper doesn’t count. Feel free to submit your own lineups below. I’d love to see how yours differ.
Day 1: NL East
Team-wise, perhaps the deepest division in baseball. But there are a lot of players I’m counting on bounceback years from (and that’s not even including Chase Utley)
Manager: Charlie Manuel, PHI
Jose Reyes, SS (MIA)
Hanley Ramirez, DH (MIA)
Ryan Howard, 1B (PHI)
Mike Stanton, LF (MIA)
Brian McCann, C (ATL)
David Wright, 3B (NYM)
Danny Espinosa, 2B (WAS)
Jason Heyward, RF (ATL)
Shane Victorino, CF (PHI)
Roy Halladay, PHI
Cliff Lee, PHI
Stephen Strasburg, WAS
Jonathan Papelbon, PHI
Craig Kimbrel, ATL
That still remains to be seen. But on Wednesday afternoon — after the Red Sox acquired Andrew Bailey from the Athletics in exchange for three young players — it became more possible than ever.
With the Red Sox, a team with money to spend, filling a huge need in the back end of its bullpen by acquiring the young Bailey, the market for Madson has reached a new low. It’s now pretty clear that the 31-year-old right-hander won’t get anything close to what the Phillies reportedly offered him before turning their attention to Jonathan Papelbon (a four-year, $44 million contract).
But just how much of a pay cut he takes is the big question.
It’d have to be a pretty sizeable one for the Angels to be a fit, now that the team has committed more than $330 million to Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. But it’s interesting to note that Wilson turned down a larger contract from the Marlins in order to sign with the Angels and return to Orange County, Calif. — where Madson was also born.
Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said during the Winter Meetings that his mission was to “complement [closer] Jordan Walden, not replace Jordan Walden.” In tune with that, he signed veteran right-hander LaTroy Hawkins to potentially help lefty Scott Downs in a setup role. But getting Madson would be a far bigger step towards improving a bullpen that was tied for first in the American League in blown saves last season.
So far, it appears the Rays and Reds are the two main teams that still need a closer. But the Reds and Francisco Cordero reportedly want a reunion, and the Rays don’t have the financial wherewithal to allocate a lot of money to the ninth inning.
Time for Scott Boras to get creative with Madson.
DALLAS — This wasn’t just an extraordinary day in the history of the Angels’ franchise. This was the day the Angels shaped the entire baseball landscape, not to mention the outlook of the American League West. By signing the greatest player of this era, Albert Pujols, and plucking an ace from the division-rival Rangers, C.J. Wilson, the Angels have set them up to be a World Series contender for years to come and have probably altered the strategy for several other AL clubs in the process.
What happens to Mark Trumbo? Does Albert Callaspo get traded? How do they create space for Pujols? Which number does Wilson wear (Jered Weaver has No. 36)? Those, and many other questions, are still to be answered.
But before that, here’s one more look at the big day, with a collection of what people around baseball were saying about the Angels’ Winter Meetings coup …
Angels owner Arte Moreno on Pujols (statement): “This is a monumental day for Angel fans and I could not be more excited. … Albert’s career performance clearly speaks for itself. He has proven to be the best player of his generation.”
Wilson: ”It’s a big swing in the balance of power in the [American League] West. I thought I was going to make a little bit of a difference, but [Pujols is] obviously going to make a huge one. Nobody saw that coming.”
Angels left fielder Vernon Wells (celebrating his 33rd birthday on Thursday): “You’re adding two of the biggest pieces in the market, two guys still young and in their prime who can dominate. This gives us a legitimate chance to get to the playoffs and farther. … I’m a fan right now. This is exciting for the game and the Angels. I can imagine how our fans are feeling. What a birthday gift this is.”
Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos: ”It’s unbelievable. Kind of surreal. I was getting up, still in bed, when I started getting the texts. I was shocked.”
Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick: ”I know one thing, our locker room’s going to look like New York’s.”
Cubs general manager Theo Epstein on Pujols leaving National League Central: “I’ll just say, if he left, it’d probably be a good thing for us in terms of developing young pitching. You get a young pitcher up there and he’s working on his third pitch and working on his fastball command and you tell him to get ahead strike one and all of a sudden, instead of a Triple-A hitter he’s got Albert Pujols there and it leaves the yard 420 to right-center field and it’s not good for his confidence.”
Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik on Pujols: ”That’s a very special talent that they acquired and just makes it more difficult for everybody in the division.”
Reds GM Walt Jocketty on Pujols leaving NL Central: ”I think it’s a positive. When they lose a guy of that stature, it’s pretty amazing.”
Indians GM Chris Antonetti on Pujols joining the AL: “I would’ve preferred he stayed in the National League.”
Athletics assistant GM David Forst: ”I can’t handicap what this means for the Angels, but certainly when you end up with all the best players in the game in your division, that’s not what you want.”
Reds manager Dusty Baker: ”They talk a lot about the Yankees, and now the Angels, looking at what they’ve done over the last six, seven years, are kind of like the Yankees of the West.”
Royals manager Ned Yost on Pujols: “A player of that caliber is going to make any lineup better. The Angels have always been a quality team, they’ve always been a tough team. With their pitching and now with their added offense in the middle of the lineup that they have, it’s going to be a very, very formidable team in that division and in the American League.”