Results tagged ‘ Nick Swisher ’
The Angels face Scott Kazmir today. Remember him? Well, you might not recognize him because he’s, well, good again. He has a 1.93 ERA in his last nine starts and has been more than the Indians could’ve expected after obtaining him on a Minor League deal this offseason. Kazmir went 9-15 with a 5.94 ERA in 2010, had a rough spring the following season, gave up five runs in 1 2/3 innings of his 2011 regular-season debut, was charged with 30 runs in 15 1/3 innings at Triple-A Salt Lake, got released and spent the summer of 2012 struggling through a stint of independent ball.
“It’s tough to see any player go through what Scott went through,” Mike Scioscia said. “You saw first-hand. It was really rough on him, and obviously disappointing for us. For a pitcher to really just re-discover himself and pitch as well as Scott did is really just a function of a lot of hard work and determination. And he’s found it. He’s throwing the ball really well. Not quite the way he did in Tampa, but better.”
SP: RH Jered Weaver (6-5, 2.90 ERA)
SP: Kazmir (7-4, 3.89 ERA)
- In case you missed it earlier, Albert Pujols‘ ex-trainer vehemently denied on-air allegations from Jack Clark that Pujols used steroids under his watch.
- Jason Vargas felt good in his rehab outing for Triple-A Salt Lake, even though he gave up four runs and surrendered three homers in Round Rock, Texas. The lefty feels like he can start in the big leagues in his next turn, which would come Tuesday at Yankee Stadium, but Scioscia will give it a day or two to see how he responds before making a final determination.
- Howie Kendrick‘s left knee sprain hasn’t progressed the way the Angels would’ve hoped, and it looks like he’ll be placed on the DL.
The ideal chip for the Angels’ next, seemingly inevitable trade for a starting pitcher is Kendrys Morales.
It’s hard to deny that. Morales is coming into his final season before free agency and — given his representation (Scott Boras) and his desire to be more than a full-time DH — will leave after 2013.
Trading him now would give the Angels an outfield foursome of Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton, Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo (with Vernon Wells‘ contract probably still lingering). Trout, Bourjos and Trumbo are still in their pre-arbitration years and all four are under club control until at least 2016. Trout (probably left field), Bourjos (center) and Hamilton (right) would make up one of the game’s best outfields — offensively and defensively — and would give the Angels somewhat of a revolving door at DH. Trumbo would get the most reps there, but his versatility would allow Hamilton and Albert Pujols, who need to stay on the field to maximize their nine-figure contracts, can start there, too, when needed.
But what kind of starting pitcher can Morales bring back?
The Angels will seemingly be selling pretty high on the 29-year-old switch-hitter. He’s coming off his first healthy season since 2009, batting .273 with 22 homers, 73 RBIs and a .787 OPS. Morales, who missed almost two full seasons with a couple of ankle surgeries, even proved he can still handle first base. Then there’s the belief that he’ll be even better in 2013, with the motivation of an expiring contract and a full season under his belt. That’s a pretty good package for a guy who will make about $4 million next year, and teams desperate for power — particularly from the left side of the plate — would no doubt love to have him.
Still, though, his market is limited, because you’d be hard-pressed to find a National League club willing to gamble on him as their everyday first baseman and because we’re at a point in the offseason when most teams no longer have big holes to fill. Of course, the Angels would love to move Wells, but I can’t imagine them getting back any significant starter for him, even if they eat the vast majority of the $42 million owed to him the next two years. They’ll also keep listening on Bourjos and Trumbo, and may pull the trigger if blown away by a top-tier, cost-controlled starter. But as Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com wrote on Twitter recently, the priority is to deal Morales for an innings-eater.
Who can they get?
Here are three potential (and purely speculative) AL fits …
Rays: I know, it’s the first place everyone goes. But Tampa Bay always seems like an ideal match because they’re (still) rich in starters and could always use offense. Right now the Rays have James Loney at first base, with somewhat of a platoon at DH with the right-handed-hitting Ryan Roberts and the left-handed-hitting Sam Fuld. Morales would give them a big upgrade, and someone who can protect Evan Longoria. But he wouldn’t get the Angels Jeremy Hellickson or Matt Moore, or probably even Alex Cobb. Maybe Jeff Niemann, who’s under club control for two more years and would cost about $3 million in arbitration in 2013? The Rays did pick up some flexibility for the rotation by signing Roberto Hernandez on Tuesday.
Orioles: They still seek a middle-of-the-order bat, have a spot open at DH and seemingly have some pitching they can afford to part ways with. Righties Jake Arrieta and Chris Tillman, and lefties Zach Britton and Brian Matusz are all young with upside, but with the exception of Tillman, they all struggled last year. Would the O’s be willing to part ways with the 24-year-old Tillman, one of few bright spots in an eclectic starting staff that ranked ninth in the AL in ERA last year? And given his past inconsistencies, can the Angels do better?
Indians: They’re trying to woo free-agent outfielder Nick Swisher, but could always use more offense, and Morales could split time at DH and first base with the right-handed-hitting Mark Reynolds. What about Justin Masterson, who had a rough 2012 season but has topped 200 innings the last two years and is signed for two more years? Well, he isn’t an ace, but he’s listed as Cleveland’s No. 1 pitcher, so they’d probably be very hesitant to give him up for K-Mo. Here’s another intriguing name: Ubaldo Jimenez. He’s been a shell of himself the last couple years, but he’s been relatively healthy, will make $5.75 million in 2013 and has an $8 million option for 2014. Perhaps working with his old catcher, Chris Iannetta, can get him back on track.
The important thing to ask yourself is whether any of these guys would be an upgrade over the 24-year-old Garrett Richards, who has yet to start a full season in the Majors but has a lot of upside. Adding another starter would likely push Richards to Triple-A, with Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Tommy Hanson and Joe Blanton making up the rest of the staff, and Jerome Williams likely returning to the long-relief role. The Angels’ front office will have some important decisions to make before Spring Training (and perhaps they’ll linger beyond that). Do they hold onto Bourjos and Trumbo, keeping their position-player roster deep but not improving the rotation a whole lot? Or do they trade one of those two — or both, or more — to land the impact starter they could still use?
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: 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.
Carl Crawford, LF
Evan Longoria, 3B
Carlos Pena, 1B
B.J. Upton, CF
Willy Aybar, DH
Jason Bartlett, SS
Sean Rodriguez, 2B
David Price, LH
Wade Davis, RH
Rafael Soriano, RH (CL)
Joaquin Benoit, RH
Randy Choate, LH
Grant Balfour, RH
Kelly Shoppach, C
Dan Johnson, 1B
Reid Brignac, INF
Matt Joyce, OF
Why they’ll win: The Rays have a potential (or favorite?) Cy Young winner in Price, they have a back end of the bullpen that makes the late innings a nightmare — with Benoit in the eighth and Soriano in the ninth — and their speed element — led by Crawford and Upton — is as unique as it is excruciating to defend. Tampa Bay finished 2010 first in the AL in relief pitcher ERA, third in fielding percentage and, despite an inconsistent offense, third in runs. All big keys to success in my book.
Why they won’t: As threatening as they are on the basepaths, the Rays’ offense has been rather inconsistent this season, because those surrounding Longoria (fully recovered) and Crawford have been very streaky. The big key will be Pena, the power-hitting first baseman who hit just .122 since the start of September. The importance of Pena to the offense is matched by the importance of Shields to the rotation. Joe Maddon surprised me by naming him the No. 2 starter behind Price, despite his 7.59 ERA in his last six starts. He’ll need to be “Big Game James” and give this up-and-down rotation another solid option if the Rays are to make a return trip to the World Series.
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Lance Berkman, DH
Jorge Posada, C
Curtis Granderson, CF
Brett Gardner, LF
CC Sabathia, LH
Andy Pettitte, LH
Phil Hughes, RH
A.J. Burnett, RH
Mariano Rivera, RH (CL)
Kerry Wood, RH
Joba Chamberlain, RH
Boone Logan, LH
Francisco Cervelli, C
Ramiro Pena, INF
Marcus Thames, OF
Austin Kearns, OF
Why they’ll win: Because they’re the Yankees. They’re the defending champions, the payroll monsters and the ones with all the mystique. Their lineup is loaded with dangerous hitters from top to bottom and sprinkled throughout with gritty postseason performers who know what it takes to win this month. So does their ace, Sabathia, and their closer, Rivera. With names like those, along with A-Rod, Jeter, Teixeira, Posada and Cano, the potential MVP, it’s hard to ever bet against the Yankees. Wood has also been a key addition and makes the Bombers yet another team in these playoffs with the eighth and ninth pretty much locked down.
Why they won’t: Because the starting rotation won’t let them. That’s the only glaring weakness I see for the Yankees in this postseason (though, granted, it’s a big one). Joe Giradi has been mum on who follows CC in the rotation — and maybe he doesn’t even want to think about it. Seriously, who do you go with? Burnett has been awful this season, especially lately. Hughes has been up-and-down and has far-exceeded his previous career-high innings mark. Pettitte isn’t far removed from a long stint on the shelf (and he’s 38). And Vazquez’s struggles have pretty much exiled him from the postseason rotation.