Results tagged ‘ Mike Napoli ’
The Draft starts today, and after going heavy-handed on pitching the last two years, the Angels are expected to target position players this time around. They — like any other team — want to set themselves up so that every time there’s a need on the Major League club, there’s a player in their farm system ready to take over. It’s too risky, not to mention expensive, to rely on the free-agent market to fill holes. Look no further than that brutal offseason heading into 2013, which saw the Angels sign Josh Hamilton, Joe Blanton, Tommy Hanson, Ryan Madson and Sean Burnett. Ouch.
The Cardinals are the gold standard when it comes to organizational depth, as evidenced by a Major League-leading plus-70 run-differential without Adam Wanwright or Matt Adams.
The Angels? Well, they’re working on it.
Their farm system was in need of a major replenishment right around the time Jerry Dipoto took over as general manager after the 2011 season, but major free-agent signings stripped the Angels of early-round picks and new CBA regulations limited how much teams can spend on amateur talent. It’s been a slow process. But over time, the Angels have at least done a good job of building some respectable starting-pitching depth. Some notables …
Triple-A: Andrew Heaney, Nick Tropeano
Double-A: Nate Smith, Kyle McGowin
Class A Advanced: Sean Newcomb, Chris Ellis, Victor Alcantara
Class A: Jeremy Rhoades, Jake Jewell
Lower levels: Joe Gatto, Hunter Green
That brings us to the upcoming offseason, and why that starting-pitching depth could be so important. The Angels — losers of five straight games — could have up to five holes in their lineup once this season ends: catcher, second base, third base, left field, designated hitter. In the majority of those spots — perhaps all of them, if you’re being really cynical — the Angels don’t have players in their organization ready to come up and take over. And their big financial flexibility won’t come after the 2016 season, when C.J. Wilson, Jered Weaver and Erick Aybar, among others, come off the books.
Dipoto, with a contract that carries a lingering club option for 2016, knows he’ll eventually have to part ways with some of the precious starting-pitching depth he’s worked so hard to compile. He may have to trade some of it within these next two months, with his club in desperate need of some offense. And he’s almost certain to do so over the winter, given all their upcoming needs.
Here’s a snapshot …
Current option: Chris Iannetta, in the final season of a three-year, $15.55 million extension
In-house replacement(s): Carlos Perez, Jett Bandy
Free-agent options: Iannetta, Alex Avila, John Jaso, Dioner Navarro, Jeff Mathis (!), Matt Wieters
Probable outcome: The rest of this season could play a big part in deciding how the Angels handle this position. They need to find out if Perez, basically a throw-in in the deal that sent Hank Conger to the Astros for Tropeano, is capable of being a semi-regular. Bandy has made some pretty big strides in the last year and is solid defensively, and that free-agent list is pretty compelling. But I’d guess that if the Angels splurge on a free agent, it’s an outfielder, not a catcher.
Current option: David Freese, making $6.425 million in his final arbitration year
In-house replacement(s): Kyle Kubitza
Free-agent options: Freese, Aramis Ramirez, Juan Uribe, Casey McGehee, Alberto Callaspo (!)
Probable outcome: The hope – the initial plan – is that Kubitza is ready to be the everyday third baseman in 2016. The likely scenario is that Kubitza is paired with a right-handed-hitting veteran who doesn’t mind sharing the job and can help Kubitza make the transition to the big leagues. I think it’s unlikely that they make a run at resigning Freese, especially since he’ll probably make good money given the lack of talent in the free-agent pool at third base.
Current option: Johnny Giavotella, controllable through 2019
In-house replacement(s): Giavotella, Josh Rutledge, Grant Green, Taylor Featherston, Alex Yarbrough
Free-agent options: Howie Kendrick (!), Ben Zobrist, Daniel Murphy
Probable outcome: Giavotella has been a revelation of sorts and is out of options. None of the other in-house options are all that appealing, as Spring Training might have shown, but the free-agent market isn’t deep here, either. The Angels don’t really do reunions, but Kendrick was huge for their lineup these last few years and he loves playing in Southern California. This is a position where they may ultimately have to get creative again.
Current option: Matt Joyce, making $4.75 million in his final arbitration year
In-house replacement(s): Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Collin Cowgill, Efren Navarro, Alfredo Marte
Free-agent options: Joyce, Yoenis Cespedes, Jason Heyward, Torii Hunter (!), David Murphy, Justin Upton, Chris Young, Shane Victorino
Probable outcome: As you can see, this is a major, major problem. Outfield is by far the Angels’ biggest organizationally need and they’ll most certainly have to get somebody from the outside. That may happen before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, though. Dipoto has been looking for a left-handed-hitting left fielder for quite a while, and for obvious reasons, he’d like to get someone who’s controllable beyond this season. Upton would be a very appealing option, though.
Current option: C.J. Cron, controllable through 2020
In-house replacement(s): Cron, Marc Krauss
Free-agent options: Chris Davis, Mike Napoli (!), Delmon Young
Probable outcome: This situation is strikingly similar to left field. For the last two years, Angels manager Mike Scioscia has been scrounging for that ninth bat, going from Raul Ibanez to Cron to Navarro to Krauss to Green to Cron again. Most teams have this problem, though. Perhaps the Angels remain patient with Cron, but I see them getting two bats before August.
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.
Red Sox (53-34)
SP: RH Felix Doubront (4-3, 4.22 ERA)
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.
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.
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.
The game hasn’t even started yet, but it feels like the Angels already have the lead. That’s because things aren’t looking very good on the Rangers side this afternoon. Not only are Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre not in the lineup, they’re not even present at the ballpark right now. Hamilton keeps having vision problems, related to the sinus infection that knocked him out of Tuesday’s game, and Beltre has some intestinal problems that have him at home. It’s very likely that neither could play in tomorrow’s series finale, either …
Pitching: LH Derek Holland (10-6, 4.50 ERA)
Pitching: LH C.J. Wilson (12-9, 3.73 ERA)
- Pujols, as you’ve noticed, is back with the team after spending Tuesday in Kansas City to be with his wife and newborn. Everything went well with the pregnancy; it was just hospital policy that his wife stay an extra day, and Pujols wanted to make sure he was there for her. “I think everyone knows that after God, family is the most important thing. I wanted to be with the team, but I put family before anything. Anyone who knows me knows that’s the most important thing. It’s a blessing to play baseball every day, but when it comes to family, I put that first.”
- Jim Leyland recently said he’d be “shocked” if the AL MVP didn’t go to Miguel Cabrera, who’s darn close to a Triple Crown with only two weeks remaining. Mike Scioscia isn’t as committal, saying: “There’s so many things. Miguel Cabrera being so close to a Triple Crown. He has that team in a pennant race. Mike Trout plays a premium defensive position every day and brings presence out there that is incredible. What he’s done as a leadoff hitter and the amount of runs he’s scored, the stolen bases – there’s so many things for each guy. Each guy is having an extraordinary season.
- Ervin Santana, dealing with some soreness tightness, is feeling fine now and is set to start on Friday against the White Sox. He’ll be followed by Dan Haren and Jered Weaver, respectively.
- Speaking of Weaver, who notched his 100th career win on Tuesday — his career winning percentage of .662 (100-51) is tops in Angels history.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia will often tell you that he doesn’t look at the standings. “Our focus is in-house,” is one of his favorite cliches. But with 15 games left, a three-game deficit of the Orioles for the second American League Wild Card spot, and no head-to-head games remaining against the teams in front of them (unless you coutn the Rangers, which they have basically no shot at catching), Scioscia can’t say that anymore. “There’s a time it’s relevant [to look at the standings] and there’s a time it’s not relevant,” he said. “It’s relevant now.” …
Pitching: RH Ryan Dempster (6-1, 4.11 ERA)
Pitching: RH Jered Weaver (17-4, 2.74 ERA)
- If you didn’t notice, Albert Pujols isn’t with the team. He stayed back in Kansas City to be with his wife, who had the couple’s fifth child in the wee hours of Sunday morning. “There’s no doubt Albert is where he needs to be, no doubt,” Scioscia said. “I’m speaking for myself. You can ask other people in our organization, but I’m sure we’re all on the same page with that.”
- Maicer Izturis (left ribs) swung a bat in Kansas City on Sunday, took part in pregame activities and the belief is that he’ll be available off the bench today.
- C.J. Wilson is the Angels’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award.
- Trout will be on the cover of the next issue of ESPN The Magazine, which hits newsstands Friday.
- Weaver enters tonight one wiin shy of matching his career-high for wins in a season (18) and reaching 100 for his career. In 13 career starts against the Rangers at Angel Stadium, he’s 8-0 with a 2.16 ERA.
Pitching: RH Garrett Richards (3-2, 3.91 ERA)
Pitching: RH Yu Darvish (11-7, 4.05 ERA)
Some pregame notes …
- It was about 106 degrees when I got to the ballpark this afternoon (yes, even hotter than yesterday). The Angels hit outside, but their pregame was limited, and Richards will probably do his pregame bullpen session inside, just like Jered Weaver did on Tuesday.
- No further clarity about Scott Downs (strained left shoulder). The medical team will be huddling up today to determine the best course of action, but surgery is not being considered. “I haven’t heard it ruled in,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “That didn’t come up.” “I think Downs feels really good at his prognosis,” Scioscia added.
- Erick Aybar (fractured right toe) took BP on the field for the first time on Wednesday and moved laterally while fielding ground balls. He’s on track to return Monday.
- Jordan Walden (neck and right biceps) backed his throwing up to about 130 feet and said it “went well,” but isn’t sure when he can throw a bullpen session. He’ll probably need to go on a rehab assignment when he’s ready.
- Dan Haren (right side) will throw a bullpen session tomorrow.
Pitching: RH Jered Weaver (13-1, 2.26 ERA)
Pitching: LH Derek Holland (7-5, 4.74 ERA)
Some pregame notes …
- The Trade Deadline came and went, and the Angels didn’t add another relief pitcher, though there’s always August. And that’s relevant because …
- Lefty Scott Downs was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left shoulder strain he suffered during his Friday outing, with lefty Hisanori Takahashi being called up to replace him. Downs hopes to return in two weeks, but it could be at least three or four.
- Dan Haren (stiffness in his right side) won’t start on Wednesday after all. Instead, he’ll start Sunday against the White Sox, with Garrett Richards taking the ball against the Rangers on Wednesday.
- Haren, on the Rangers’ acquisition of Ryan Dempster: “I’m sure it’ll help their club, but I think we still like where we stand, and we like our chances that’s for sure.”
- With an opposing lefty on the mound, Kendrys Morales isn’t in the starting lineup — despite becoming the third player in baseball history to hit two homers from the same side of the plate in the same inning on Monday. Here’s what Mike Scioscia said when I asked him: “I think that Kendrys form the right side is swinging the bat as well as we’ve seen him swing the bat, but I think for an important reason of keeping him fresh still, still getting back and used to playing every day after missing some time, and keeping other guys fresh at times, getting a chance where Trumbo to DH and get Vernon out there, I think that’s a lineup we’re going to continue to consider; getting Peter out there. And there are going to be times when Kendrys will hit against left-handed pitching. But I think right now, we’re certainly going to keep him fresh. It’s almost like a natural break you can get sometimes against lefties.”
Some Angels.com links from Monday …
- Ervin Santana, Morales frame things perfectly in rout of Texas
- Kendrys makes history with two-homer inning
- Lyle: AL West race coming down to pitching
- Notebook, on Haren’s side, Maicer Izturis wanting to return, Erick Aybar‘s status, Trumbo’s injury, etc.
- Preview, on the Weaver-Holland matchup
- Question of the Day, on why Santana remains in the rotation
Some AL West links …
And U.S. gymnastics captured the gold.
As expected, it’s over 100 degrees here in Arlington, which means the ball should be flying tonight. That could especially be the case with the struggling Roy Oswalt and Ervin Santana facing off. But then there’s the fact that the Angels haven’t scored a run in 23 straight innings and the Rangers are 0-for-their-last-29 with runners in scoring position. Something’s gotta give, right? Angels come into this four-game set five games back in the AL West and are 5-4 against the Rangers this season.
Pitching: RH Santana (4-10, 6.00 ERA)
Pitching: RH Oswalt (3-1, 5.22 ERA)
Some pregame notes …
- Back problems continue to plague Dan Haren, to the point where he may not make his next scheduled turn on Wednesday. Haren came out of his Friday start a little stiff, and though Mike Scioscia said the pain is “not connected” to the lower-back stiffness that landed him on the DL in early July (it’s a little higher), he may be pushed back at least a day or two, with Garrett Richards or Jerome Williams (both currently out of the rotation) taking his place. More should be on the site soon.
- Mark Trumbo is out of the lineup with upper back spasms, suffered while taking batting practice on Sunday. He indicated that the move is mostly precautionary and should be available if needed.
- Some good news: Trout is back, and says he feels perfectly fine after being scratched from Sunday’s lineup with a left knee contusion.
- Erick Aybar took some ground balls and hit in the cage pregame. Scioscia says he could be ready to return for the series against the Athletics that begins early next week.
Some Angels.com links from Sunday …
- Zack Greinke as advertised, but offense can’t come through
- Zack every bit as good as Angels expected
- Notebook, on Trout getting scratched, the seven-man rotation, Jordan Walden‘s status, the pursuit of Brandon League and other stuff
- Cory Aldridge blasts three homers for Salt Lake
Some AL West links …
- Moreland coming off the DL to start vs. Angels
- A’s acquire catcher George Kottaras from Brewers
- Mariners sweep Royals
And the Dolphins will look to pass more in the red zone this season.
KANSAS CITY — Mark Trumbo impressed a lot of people with his Home Run Derby showing on Monday night, even though he was eliminated in a tiebreaker swing-off by Jose Bautista. Asked for his favorite of the 13 through the first two rounds, Trumbo narrowed it down to two — the one that landed on the roof of the Hall of Fame building beyond the left-field bleachers (measured at a conservative 428 feet); and the smoking line drive out to straightaway center (420).
“I’d say the one on top of the roof,” Trumbo said, before backtracking — “but the one to center was impressive. I think a lot of the guys really liked the line drive.”
Trumbo’s average distance per home run — 434 feet — was the longest among the competitors, including champion Prince Fielder. He started off slow each round, then got into a little bit of a rhythm towards the middle, but felt he could’ve done better.
“I felt like I never really got into a great rhythm,” Trumbo said. “It seemed like I’d hit one, make an out, and then have to take a few pitches. Ideally, the goal is to get into an extended rhythm, kind of like Prince did, and then rattle off a better total. My biggest thing was just to have fun with it. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. I wanted to get one. That was the advice — don’t get a goose egg.”
Trumbo’s favorite moment?
“[David Ortiz] pulled me aside before I left yesterday and that was really cool,” he said. “He was telling me it took him three or four times of doing it to really feel like he — not had it down, but had a chance. Things move very, very quickly when you’re out there. You can’t really simulate that.”
But C.J. Wilson, at least, can capture it.
As usual, Wilson was out there with his camera and estimated taking roughly 800 photos of the Derby participants. He’ll look over them when he has time in the next few days and print them out for Trumbo to keep.
“I had my brand-new camera out there, taking some cool images that I’ll process while we’re on the road in the next couple days and see if I can come up with some winners,” Wilson said. “It’s just fun. Jered [Weaver] and Mike [Trout] and I were out there just trying to hype him up and keep him motivated and have a good time. It’s a lot of pressure out there, when you’re the only guy batting for a couple minutes at a time in front of the fans.”
Trumbo’s roommate also TiVo’d it. But many of those in attendance won’t need reminders of the show Trumbo put on. Many were impressed.
“I know my Twitter following went way up,” Trumbo said with a smile.
“Any time I’m in something, I want to win. But I’m going to take away some really cool memories from it.”
Some other pre-All Star Game notes
- Asked about their friendship in a pregame presser, Trout joked of Bryce Harper: “We don’t like each other.” Bryce: “It’s like Bird and Magic. He’s Magic, I’m Bird.”
- Maybe more LeBron and Wade? “I hope I play with [Trout] one day,” Harper said. “I think him playing center field, me playing right field, as a one-two punch, I think that’d be fun.”
- Trout was asked who wins in a footrace between him and Peter Bourjos. His response: “I think Peter’s got me around the bases in an inside-the-parker, but home to first, we were talking about it the other day, I think I have him by a couple of steps.”
- Weaver was told he’ll pitch the fifth inning tonight. As for how it affects him for the second half? It’s just like a normal bullpen session.
- Trout and Trumbo are not really sure when they’ll get in. “I have all my gloves, as usual,” Trumbo said. C.J., of course, is sitting out due to a blister he doesn’t expect to impact his second half.
- Weaver on not being named the starter for the All-Star Game a second straight year, despite leading the Majors with a 1.96 ERA: “I told you guys, whatever happens, I’m just excited to be here, be a part of it. Obviously it would’ve been cool to start back-to-back years, but I’m just excited to be able to get out there and throw an inning and just be part of this whole experience. It’s fun. It’s great to hang out with all these guys and just see who they are as a person instead of just battling against him.”
- One guy Weaver was really excited to get to know a little better here: Adam Dunn. “He’s a funny character, man.”
Some Angels All-Star Game links …
- Not surprisingly, Trout the center of attention in KC
- Futures Game story, on Jean Segura and Ariel Pena
- Blister forces Wilson to sit out All-Star Game
Some intriguing All-Star Game stories …
- Richard Justice, on Harper and Trout
- Robinson Cano didn’t have a great HR Derby experience
- R.A. Dickey, David Wright not starting despite great halves
- The Rangers have an entire caravan at the All-Star Game
- All-Stars set for Royal treatment (get it?)
The lineups …
Carlos Gonzalez, DH (COL)
Melky Cabrera, CF (SFG)
Ryan Braun, LF (MIL)
Joey Votto, 1B (CIN)
Carlos Beltran, RF (StL)
Buster Posey, C (SFG)
Pablo Sandoval, 3B (SFG)
Dan Uggla, 2B (ATL)
Rafael Furcal, SS (StL)
SP: RH Matt Cain (SFG)
SP: RH Justin Verlander (DET)