Results tagged ‘ Matt Shoemaker ’
Come Monday, Jered Weaver will be making his fourth straight Opening Day start, Josh Hamilton‘s reunion tour will begin and the Angels will (once again) try to cash in on the grand expectations they carry into the season.
Before that happens, here’s a station-to-station look at where they stand heading into what should be a very fun 2013 …
Position players: I don’t see a way this team won’t be among the top three in runs scored in the American League this season. From mid-May to the end of the season last year, when Mike Trout arrived in more ways than one and Albert Pujols remembered he’s Albert Freakin’ Pujols, the Angels led the Majors in runs per game. And that was without Hamilton, mind you. The Angels have three dynamic speed guys (Peter Bourjos-Trout-Erick Aybar) and three lethal power hitters (Pujols-Hamilton-Mark Trumbo) all conveniently lining up together. The rest of the guys (Howie Kendrick, Alberto Callaspo, Chris Iannetta) don’t need to be anything more than themselves for the Angels to be an offensive juggernaut. Defensively, Trout-Bourjos-Hamilton could be the best defensive outfield in baseball (which tailors perfectly to their flyball-heavy pitching staff) and the infield is solid at every position.
Starters: Angels starters got their necessary work this spring, but just barely. Spring Training may not teach us much, but it certainly didn’t quell any apprehensions about this rotation. Everyone except the no-walks Joe Blanton struggled at some point, with Weaver, Jason Vargas and Tommy Hanson all bringing temporary concerns that they wouldn’t have enough stamina heading into the regular season. But they do, and most importantly, they’re all healthy. Are they good enough to match one of the best offenses in baseball? No. Will they be adequate enough to eat innings (so the ‘pen doesn’t get worn out) and keep the Angels in games (with the lineup taking care of the rest)? That’s the plan. The key: C.J. Wilson, the $77.5 million No. 2 starter who should be a lot better than his 2012 second half.
Relievers: The Angels are deeper here, with or without Ryan Madson (who is still on track to return in late April or early May, barring another setback). They’ve added arguably the best free-agent lefty available in Sean Burnett, will have a full season of Ernesto Frieri, are banking on Kevin Jepsen‘s last three months being no fluke and, along with Scott Downs, seemingly have four formidable options to protect leads late in games. There’s also the high-upside Garrett Richards, coming off a great spring, the hard-throwing Mark Lowe, who the Angels have targeted since November, and the veteran Jerome Williams. Many will point to last year’s 22 blown saves as the biggest reason the Angels ultimately missed the playoffs, and this year, they’re better in the ‘pen. But that’s on paper. Relievers are a very unpredictable species.
Reserves: If all their everyday players stay healthy, this won’t be much of a factor, particularly in the AL. Chances are, though, injuries will happen. And given that, the Angels took a step back with regards to their bench (though if you’re going to pick one area to downgrade, this would be it). Without Vernon Wells, they don’t have any real power threat in reserve — besides Hank Conger, but he’s the backup catcher — and are pretty darn young. Andrew Romine takes over for the seasoned Maicer Izturis and Conger, awfully talented but coming off a spring soured by throwing woes, has spent most of the last three years in Triple-A. Contact-hitting lefty outfielder J.B. Shuck is the third player on this bench making his first Opening Day roster. The last reserve, veteran infielder Brendan Harris, hasn’t been in the big leagues since 2010.
Depth: The Angels’ farm system is dead last in all of baseball, according to ESPN and Baseball America. But those in the organization will tell you that mostly has to do with pitching; their position-player talent is just fine. Furthermore, the Angels’ front office is confident they’ve built more depth in the upper levels to serve as insurance in 2013. The Triple-A roster has several players with Major League experience, such as Luis Rodriguez, Tommy Field, Scott Cousins, Trent Oeltjen, Chris Snyder (possibly), John Hester, Luke Carlin, Mitch Stetter and Fernando Cabrera. But with Richards’ length shortened in the ‘pen, and Williams’ workload unpredictable as a swing man, where do the Angels turn if something happens to one of their starters? Barry Enright, Billy Buckner, Matt Shoemaker and the young A.J. Schugel figure to make up the Salt Lake Bees’ rotation.
Financials: The Angels’ payroll sits under $150 million, thanks to the Yankees taking on $11.5 million of Wells’ 2013 salary in the recent trade. The deal also bought them some luxury tax flexibility. Prior to the deal, the Angels’ 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. Now, it’s about $172M, giving them some flexibility to take on salary in an in-season trade. Last year, after acquiring Zack Greinke, their CBT payroll was at $178 million, which affected their pursuit of some necessary relief-pitching help.
Underlying theme: Expectations can do some funny things, and it’ll be interesting to see how the magnitude of it all will play into how the Angels go about — and react to — their second year under the microscope. Will it affect them out of the gate? Will it bring turmoil in the clubhouse, especially now that Torii Hunter is gone? Can it cause more tension between Jerry Dipoto and Mike Scioscia, who have their philosophical differences and were at odds at times last season? And what will it lead Arte Moreno to do if they miss the playoffs for a fourth straight season?
In addition to Trumbo at DH, how much time do you think he will get a first base and right field, giving Pujols and Hamilton a day to rest their legs? (Stephen H., San Luis Obispo)
Plenty. And if I had to pin a number on it, I’d say there’s a very good chance — even if everyone stays healthy — that Trumbo spends about half his time playing the field. If he’s hitting, he’ll be in the lineup for all the Angels’ Interleague games. For a good chunk of April, with Pujols in the early stages of his return from offseason knee surgery, he figures to play plenty of first base. With Wells gone, he’s also the fourth outfielder. And fundamentally, with so much money tied to Hamilton and Pujols long-term, Scioscia will get them off their feet as often as necessary now that he has a revolving door at DH (that wasn’t very feasible with Kendrys Morales there last year).
Do you see the day when the Angels move Trout down in the batting order and put Bourjos, if he can cut it, in the leadoff spot? (Albert H., Los Angeles)
I do. Scioscia continues to say Trout profiles better in the middle of the order, the reason being that you want your best hitter to be in as many RBI situations as possible. The makeup of the Angels’ lineup right now — with Pujols, Hamilton and Trumbo in the middle of the order, and no clear solution in the leadoff spot just yet — means Trout is the best fit to bat first. You can argue that the Angels’ everyday lineup doesn’t figure to change much any time soon, with almost everyone in the books long term. But Trout is the kind of player you construct a lineup around, and his bat figures to eventually become too potent to not put in the 3 spot.
Is this the year the Angels finally get back to the playoffs and make a deep run? (Samuel M., Tempe, Ariz.)
Who knows. I do think that, on paper, they are the best team in the AL West and should win the division. Once you get in the playoffs, it’s a crapshoot. The sample size is too small. But 162 games is not a small sample size, and if the Angels stay healthy, there is no excuse for not taking the division crown. The Rangers’ lineup took a step back, replacing Hamilton with Lance Berkman, and the pitching staff won’t have Neftali Feliz, Colby Lewis or Joakim Soria to start the season. The A’s are deep, but will need a lot of guys to over-perform again. It’s nice to see the Mariners spending money, but they still have holes and concerns all over the place. And the Astros are a last-place team. But who am I kidding — predicting a baseball season is a foolish act.
Now, at last, we can see how it all plays out on the field.
Winter ball, at least the less-celebrated part, will soon come to an end. The schedule in the Dominican Republic ends Dec. 21, with Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela wrapping up on the 30th. Then, in early February, the champion from each nation plays in the ever-popular Caribbean Series, which will take place in Hermosillo, Mexico, in 2013 (and yours truly will attend).
Here’s a look at how some notable Angels players have fared in winter ball …
MLB SS Erick Aybar: .286 BA (14-for-49), 5 RBI
MLB OF Kole Calhoun: .236 BA (17-for-72), 3 HR, 13 RBI — finished 11/17
AAA 1B Efren Navarro: .185 BA (17-for-92), 1 HR, 15 RBI
AAA 3B Luis Jimenez: .248 BA (27-for-109), 1 HR, 12 RBI
OF Trent Oeltjen (signed to Minors deal): .227 BA (10-for-44), 1 HR, 3 RBI — finished 10/27
AAA RP Ryan Brasier: 2.45 ERA, 12 SV, 27 SO, 8 BB, 25 2/3 IP — finished 12/5
INF Luis Rodriguez (signed to Minors deal): .273 BA (42-for-154), 1 HR, 18 RBI
RP Brandon Sisk (acquired for Ervin Santana): 3 ER, 2 2/3 IP, 3 G — finished 10/18
AAA SP Matt Shoemaker: 1-2, 3.21 ERA, 7 GS, 25 SO, 8 BB, 33 2/3 IP — finished 11/17
By 8:59 p.m. PT today, teams must set their 40-man rosters in anticipation for the upcoming Rule 5 Draft. This is when teams choose whether or not to “protect” their eligible players from being taken in that Draft, which takes place at the end of each year’s Winter Meetings (this one being Dec. 6, in Nashville, Tenn.).
For those unfamiliar with the process, here’s a quick primer …
Players who signed after age 18 and have been in the Minors for four years, or players who signed at 18 or younger and have been in the Minors for five years, are eligible to be taken in the Rule 5 Draft if not on the 40-man roster. Now, it’s very rare that teams will find success through the Rule 5 Draft (Josh Hamilton, Johan Santana and Dan Uggla are among very few success stories) because, frankly, there’s a reason players are left exposed despite being in a system so long. Any player taken in the Rule 5 Draft costs $50,000. That player, then, must remain on the drafting team’s active Major League roster during the following season or be offered back to the original club for $25,000.
The Angels’ 40-man roster is currently at 31, so there’s some wiggle room (though the Angels must keep space for all the pitching they want to acquire this offseason). Also, an important side note: Any player who signs a Minor League deal before the Rule 5 Draft can be taken, regardless of his service time. That means each of the players the Angels signed this offseason are eligible if left off. As for guys who have been in their system for a while? Here are some names to watch …
* Travis Witherspoon, a 23-year-old center fielder who hit .268 with a .350 on-base percentage, 13 homers and 34 RBIs in high A and Double-A this season.
* Carlos Ramirez, 24, who posted a .205/.312/.276 slash line in 85 Double-A games. Ramirez, like Witherspoon, played in the Arizona Fall League.
* Orangel Arenas, a 23-year-old right-hander who went 5-11 with a 5.26 ERA in 27 games (24 starts) in Double-A.
* Matt Shoemaker, who’s 26 and went 11-10 with a 5.65 ERA in 29 Triple-A starts.
* Ryan Brasier, a 25-year-old right-handed reliever who posted a 4.37 ERA and 13 saves in 59 2/3 Triple-A innings.
* Efren Navarro, a 26-year-old lefty-hitting first baseman who won a Minor League Gold Glove in 2011 and posted a .294/.336/.403 slash line in Triple-A.
* Matt Long, a 25-year-old lefty-hitting outfielder who posted a .282/.350/.462 slash line with 23 steals in Double-A and Triple-A.
* Jeremy Berg, 26, posted a 3.75 ERA in 74 1/3 innings at Double-A and Triple-A.
For now, center fielder Peter Bourjos will not be playing Winter Ball. He was planning on getting some reps for a Dominican team in December, but that fell through. Below are those in the Angels organization who currently are playing. The league in the Dominican Republic runs until Dec. 21, while the ones in Venezuela and Mexico go until Dec. 30. The Caribbean Series — pinning the league champs in the Dominican, Mexico, Venezuela and Puerto Rico — gets going in early February …
AAA RP Ryan Brasier (Mexico)
AAA OF Kole Calhoun (Dominican Republic)
AAA 1B Efren Navarrro (Dominican Republic)
AAA SP Matt Shoemaker (Venezuela)
A+ RP Baudilio Lopez (Venezuela)
RK SP Jairo Diaz (Venezuela)
DOSL RP Alexis Campos (Venezuela)
DOSL C Gabriel Santana (Venezuela)
DOSL OF Luis Tovar (Venezuela)
For updates on the Arizona Fall League and Caribbean Leagues, click here.
In Phoenix, Dan Haren was solid against the Brewers, Mark Trumbo homered and the Angels scored late for the victory.
In Goodyear, Kendrys Morales homered, Matt Shoemaker gave up just one run through five innings and Maicer Izturis paced the offense from the top of the order for another win.
Morales homered in just his second Spring Training game — and for the first time since that fateful May 29, 2010, walk-off — and also singled to improve to 4-for-6 in Cactus League play.
Trumbo had a couple of hits and made a very nice defensive play at third base.
Izturis went 3-for-4 with a triple as a leadoff hitter.
Haren wasn’t as great as he had been, but gave up just two runs in five innings and — perhaps most important — worked his first game with new catcher Chris Iannetta.
Jordan Walden bounced back from an ugly outing, with a scoreless, two-strikeout inning.
Bobby Abreu went 0-for-4 and is now batting .121 this spring.
Vernon Wells went 0-for-4 and is now at .275 this spring.
Daily Albert Pujols update: 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored in the night cap.
Kendrys, in Spanish on his first homer: “It’s been almost two years since connecting on one. I felt pretty good mentally. I feel like it lifted my spirits a little bit.”
Best play (that I saw)
In the fifth inning against the Brew Crew, Trumbo made a diving stop to his left on a hard-hit ball by Rickie Weeks while playing third base, then recovered and got the force out at second base.
Buckle your seat belts. We’ve got a long ride today …
@ Brewers (1:05 p.m. PT)
Peter Bourjos, CF
Erick Aybar, SS
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Torii Hunter, RF
Vernon Wells, LF
Mark Trumbo, 3B
Chris Iannetta, C
Jorge Cantu, 1B
Dan Haren, SP
Also pitching: Jordan Walden, Rich Thompson, Kevin Jepsen
@ Indians (7:05)
Maicer Izturis, 2B
Bobby Abreu, RF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Kendrys Morales, DH
Alberto Callaspo, 3B
Alexi Amarista, LF
Bobby Wilson, C
Andrew Romine, SS
Ryan Langerhans, CF
SP: RH Matt Shoemaker
Also pitching: Francisco Rodriguez
Some notes from this morning …
- C.J. Wilson, manager Mike Scioscia confirmed, will not pitch against his old team, the Rangers, as he would’ve been scheduled to on Sunday. He’ll instead pitch in a Minor League game — throwing six innings and 90 pitches — like Yu Darvish will that same day. Ervin Santana, however, will pitch against Texas. The two teams play back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday, with the first game coming in Surprise and the second coming in Tempe. Trevor Bell will start Sunday’s game in place of C.J. The chess match begins …
- Reliever Bobby Cassevah still hasn’t appeared in a game and won’t until his shoulder inflammation calms down. He’s been throwing bullpen sessions but is still day-to-day.
- Morales is currently on the travel roster for Surprise, Ariz., on Saturday, so it looks like he’ll get in three in a row. “As long as he’s fine,” Scioscia said, “he’s going to play.” It’s not likely that Morales plays any games in the field during Spring Training.
- If Scoiscia makes a late-game defensive substitution for Trumbo at third base, Callaspo would be that guy, not Izturis. “Alberto’s more advanced at third base, and I think if we can keep Izzy in that middle-infield window, he’s terrific,” Scioscia said.
- With the Angels not needing a fifth starter until April 15, Scioscia is more likely to spend the extra roster spot on an extra bench player instead of an extra bullpen arm. That opens the door for guys like Amarista, Cantu, Romine and Langerhans, though Scioscia wouldn’t rule out going with three catchers.
Some links from Thursday …
- Morales’ return a refreshing sight for Halos
- Jered Weaver off against KC, but bats pick up ace
- Seeking fifth spot, Jerome Williams to start Monday
- Weaver not bothered by rough outing
- Amarista’s determination, patience paying off
Some AL West links …
- Rangers still pondering CF decisions
- Bob Melvin pleased with how A’s camp went
- Mariners arrive in Japan to start their season against the A’s (Opening Day for these two is March 28)
And ** queue Dickie V voice ** my Gators are in the Elite Eight baby!
Mark Trumbo (right foot) finally made his way onto the Angels’ lineup on Wednesday, but he won’t hit because he hasn’t run the bases yet. That’s why he’s in the No. 9 spot. (And the way the Angels’ starting lineup has hit in those first two games, he may only play one inning.)
Here’s the rest of the lineups ..
Erick Aybar, SS
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Bobby Abreu, LF
Torii Hunter, RF
Chris Iannetta, C
Peter Bourjos, CF
Hank Conger, DH
Efren Navarro, 1B
SP: RH Jered Weaver (others: Loek Van Mil, Matt Shoemaker, Jordan Walden, Francisco Rodriguez)
Some notes from the morning …
- Trumbo will run the bases after his game, and manager Mike Scioscia said it shouldn’t take more than three or four more days until he’s in full swing. “I think definitely by the weekend he’s going to be able to hit in games,” Scioscia said.
- Mike Trout caught the bug that’s been floating around the Angels clubhouse, and it could be a week until he makes his Cactus League debut.
- LaTroy Hawkins is scheduled to pitch in a game later this week, and Jason Isringhausen isn’t too far away from that.
- Scioscia on the Angels drawing 14 walks: “Early in camp, I’m really surprised at how well our guys are seeing the ball. And when that meets a guy who’s a little erratic, that forces some walks and I think that’s what we’re seeing.”
- Jeremy Moore came into camp with a little tightness in his hip, but he’s been cleared to start running and should run the bases soon. “Hopefully we’ll see Jeremy here in a short amount of time,” Scioscia said.
And some links from Tuesday …
- Strikeouts are cool. But getting hitters to roll over in the Majors is a lot cooler than striking them out in the Minors. Garrett Richards learned that.
- Angels score early once again.
- Jorge Cantu determined to show what he can do.
- Trumbo’s two major hurdles in his third base transition: slow rollers and balls hit to his left.
- Jordan Walden wants fans to suggest some entrance music.
- After back-to-back losses, Chris Bosh returned and the Heat scorched the Nets. But Dwyane Wade tweaked his ankle.