Results tagged ‘ Phillies ’
Barring a drastic, last-minute change in strategy, the Angels will not pursue James Shields, just like they didn’t pursue Max Scherzer and they didn’t pursue Jon Lester. They bowed out of the free-agent market for starting pitchers this winter — the free-agent market in general, actually — because they already have a top-heavy payroll and they didn’t deem another splurge practical.
What about next winter?
The next free-agent crop of starters is a doozy. David Price, Johnny Cueto, Jordan Zimmermann, Jeff Samardzija, Hisashi Iwakuma, Mat Latos and Doug Fister are all slated to headline one of the deepest groups we’ve ever seen. Will the Angels be a player in that market, with David Freese, Chris Iannetta, Matt Joyce and Huston Street all in line to come off the books? (They’d like to extend Street.)
Maybe — but probably not.
“I wouldn’t say no, and at this point I wouldn’t say yes,” Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said when asked about going after the top starters in next year’s market. “One of the things we like a lot about the way the team is currently built is the level of depth we have among starting pitchers. While we do have the potential departure of some free agents, we’re looking at a projected payroll number next year that’s similar to the one we’re operating at now.”
It’s true. Despite the potential departures, Mike Trout‘s salary will go from $6.08 million to $16.08 million; Josh Hamilton‘s will go from $25.4 million to $32.4 million; incremental jumps will come for Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver; and natural arbitration hikes will follow.
The Angels’ projected Opening Day payroll is $145 million for 2015, third-highest in team history but $9 million smaller than last year (which means there’s room for in-season upgrades). For 2016, their Competitive Balance Tax payroll (which takes the average annual value of all 40-man-roster contracts, plus benefits and bonuses, and is used by Major League Baseball to determine which teams exceed the $189 million tax threshold) is already almost $120 million for just seven players
More importantly, the Angels will have every current starter back — Weaver, Wilson, Garrett Richards, Matt Shoemaker, Hector Santiago, Nick Tropeano and Andrew Heaney — plus Tyler Skaggs, who should be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery.
But Weaver and Wilson will be heading into the final year before free agency. And look at what the Nationals just did. They didn’t need starting pitching, but they signed Scherzer because he was available now and because Zimmermann and Fister will be free agents at season’s end. Now they can comfortably trade Zimmermann or Fister (or perhaps Stephen Strasburg), or hold onto all of them and have the ultimate rotation, 2011 Phillies style.
Can the Angels do something similar?
I wouldn’t rule it out, but I also wouldn’t count on it.
“While I won’t say we have expectation that most or any of [the Angels’ starters] are going to be the quality of David Price, understanding that we need to continue to grow the foundation, at some point you have to provide those guys with the innings to grow,” Dipoto said. “Next year, we’re looking at the same group of starting pitchers; we won’t lose control of anyone. We like our group and like their upside.”
It’s no secret. If the Angels — considering a three-man rotation for the American League Division Series — are to go far in the playoffs, they’ll have to rely heavily on their deep bullpen.
The question is: Will it work?
One of baseball’s dogmas says teams that are “built for the playoffs” are the ones that have dominant starting pitching. But in the Wild Card era, that hasn’t proven to be true. Consider: Since 1995, the Major League quality-start percentage has been 48.88 in the regular season, 48.88 in the postseason and 51.96 in the World Series; in terms of innings per start, it’s 5.91 in the regular season, 5.76 in the postseason and 5.88 in the World Series. That’s a very negligible difference, especially when you consider all the bad teams that are lumped into that regular-season category.
Now here’s a case-by-case look at each of the last 19 World Series champions, with the first stat being innings per start and the second being the amount of quality starts throughout the postseason …
2013 Red Sox: 5.81 IP, 8 of 16 QS
2012 Giants: 5.64 IP, 6 of 16 QS
2011 Cardinals: 5.11 IP, 7 of 18 QS
2010 Giants: 6.44 IP, 11 of 15 QS
2009 Yankees: 6.29 IP, 11 of 15 QS
2008 Phillies: 5.9 IP, 10 of 14 QS
2007 Red Sox: 6 IP, 6 of 14 QS
2006 Cardinals: 6.20 IP, 10 of 16 QS
2005 White Sox: 7.66 IP, 9 of 12 QS
2004 Red Sox: 5.61 IP, 9 of 14 QS
2003 Marlins: 5.66 IP, 8 of 17 QS
2002 Angels: 5.02 IP, 2 of 16 QS
2001 D-backs: 7.08 IP, 14 of 17 QS
2000 Yankees: 6.42 IP, 8 of 16 QS
1999 Yankees: 6.58 IP, 10 of 12 QS
1998 Yankees: 6.79 IP, 9 of 13 QS
1997 Marlins: 5.83 IP, 5 of 16 QS
1996 Yankees: 5.42 IP, 5 of 15 QS
1995 Braves: 6.64 IP, 10 of 14 QS
That’s nine of 19 champions that got less than six innings per start during the playoffs, and seven that won the World Series despite receiving a quality start in less than half of their postseason games. Look at the 2002 Angels. Stunning. Managers tend to have quick hooks in the playoffs, because it’s all hands on deck and because the off days tend to keep bullpens relatively fresh.
So, you can win in October with a deep bullpen, a good offense and a rotation that keeps you in the game. And the Angels have the potential for that. Since Garrett Richards went down, Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Matt Shoemaker and Hector Santiago have allowed three earned runs or less in 20 of 23 starts (includes tonight).
Just something to think about.
Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said he’s “open” to adding a starting pitcher this month, basically in the same way that I’m “open” to buying a timeshare at Turks and Caicos. I’d love to, but it’s hard; almost impossible (in my case, truly impossible). For as bad as the Angels need starting pitching in the wake of Garrett Richards‘ debilitating knee injury, the time of year makes it really difficult.
A refresher: The only way a player can be traded in August is if (A) the trading team works out a deal with the team that claimed him off waivers; (B) he clears waivers entirely, and is then able to be dealt anywhere. Waivers go in reverse order of the standings, per league. So, if an American League player is placed on waivers, he’ll have to slip through 13 other teams before the Angels have a chance. If it’s a National League player, 28 teams will have a crack at him before the Angels, who have a two-game cushion on the best record in the Majors heading into this weekend series at O.co Coliseum.
As a general rule, only players who either aren’t very good or have really bad contracts slip all the way through. And then there’s the fact that an AL team could very well claim a player to simply block the Angels from getting him.
“For all intents and purposes, picking up household names, top-of-the-rotation type guys, that’s not going to happen in August,” Dipoto said. “It probably won’t happen in August most years. We’re realistic about what may be out there.”
Take that into account as you peruse this list of guys who could be moved this month …
- A.J. Burnett (PHI): Back in the offseason heading into 2012, the Angels and Yankees had a trade worked out that would send Bobby Abreu to the Yankees in exchange for Burnett. But Burnett invoked his no-trade clause and rejected the deal, because he didn’t want to pitch in the West coast. Will that change now? Well, it could, when you consider that he recently said he probably isn’t going to pitch next season (Burnett has a player option for 2015). The 37-year-old right-hander has struggled this year, with 14 losses, a 4.42 ERA and a 1.91 strikeout-to-walk ratio that’s his lowest since a miserable 2010 season in New York. But he has good stuff, and it’s tough to see him clearing waivers.
- Bartolo Colon (NYM): The Angels stayed away from Colon over the offseason, in part due to his history with performance-enhancing drugs. But desperate times, right? Colon has a 3.85 ERA and an NL-best walk rate of 1.2, while racking up 161 1/3 innings. He’s set to make $11 million next year, his age-42 season. That isn’t necessarily a good thing — unless you consider the fact that it makes him more likely to slip all the way through waivers.
- Colby Lewis (TEX): The 35-year-old Bakersfield, Calif., product has had a tough 2014 season (understandably) after missing nearly two full years recovering from elbow and hip surgeries, with a 5.52 ERA in 122 1/3 innings. He does have a chance of clearing waivers, though, and is a free agent at season’s end. He’d give the Angels depth.
- Brad Peacock (HOU): The 26-year-old right-hander has struggled this season, with a 5.47 ERA and a 1.64 WHIP in 102 innings. He’s controllable for five additional years, though, and Houston might be willing to part ways.
- Reds arms: Mat Latos (free agent at season’s end; 3.10 ERA in 12 starts), Alfredo Simon (controllable thru 2015; 12-8, 3.35 ERA) and Mike Leake (controllable thru 2015; 9-11, 3.65 ERA) could all be dealt as the Reds continue to fall off the race.
- Yankees arms: The further the Bronx Bombers fall in the standings, the more likely they’ll be to part ways with impending free agents like lefty Chris Capuano and righty Brandon McCarthy. McCarthy has been lights out since going from Arizona to the Bronx, posting a 1.90 ERA and a 7.29 strikeout-to-walk ratio in eight starts. Capuano has a 4.15 ERA in five starts. Translation: Capuano is a more likely addition than McCarthy.
The Angels, looking for an offensive spark amid a slow start to the second half, called up left-handed-hitting outfielder Brennan Boesch prior to Tuesday’s game against the Phillies, optioning right-hander Caleb Clay back to Triple-A Salt Lake to create room on the roster.
Boesch, signed to a Minor League contract over the offseason, will bat seventh while serving as the designated hitter in the opener of a two-game set. The 29-year-old played seven games with the Angels earlier this season and sported a .326/.380/.625 slash line with 22 homers and 75 RBIs in the Pacific Coast League.
The Angels went into the All-Star break with the highest-scoring offense in the Major Leagues. Since then, though, they rank 28th in the Majors in OPS and tied for 28th in runs per game. Besides slotting Boesch in at DH, no major changes were made to the lineup against former Angels right-hander Jerome Williams.
Boesch, already on the 40-man roster, puts the Angels back at the traditional four-man bench and seven-man bullpen.
Those are the only two guys in Angels history to record an immaculate inning, which consists of nine pitches and three strikeouts. Ryan did it on June 9, 1972, in the second inning against the Red Sox. Richards did it on Wednesday, in the second inning of a 4-0 win over the Astros.
“That was my guy growing up,” Richards said after eight shutout innings. “It’s cool. It’s cool to be put in a group with a guy like that. I didn’t even realize it until after the game. It was fun. It was a fun game to be a part of.”
Yes, Richards is way too young to grow up idolizing Ryan. He’s 26, which means he was 5 years old during the Hall of Famer’s final season with the Rangers in 1993. But his father was a big fan of Ryan, and that made Richards, raised in Southern California, a fan, too.
“I met him one time in Texas,” Richards said. “It was awesome.”
Here’s how the bottom of the second went (video here) …
Jon Singleton: 96-mph fastball (foul), 88-mph slider (swinging), 79-mph curveball (swinging).
Matt Dominguez: 95-mph cutter (looking), 97-mph fastball (swinging), 97-mph cutter (looking).
Chris Carter: 97-mph cutter (swinging), 79-mph curveball (swinging), 88-mph slider (swinging).
Three others have thrown an immaculate inning this season (Justin Masterson of the Indians on June 2, Cole Hamels of the Phillies on May 17 and Brad Boxberger of the Rays on May 8), and Richards’ is the 55th in Major League history. Thirty-three have come in the National League, twenty-two have come in the American League. Ryan also accomplished it with the Mets in 1968, and Lefty Grove did it twice in one season (1928, with the A’s). Nobody has ever done it more than once in the same game (here’s the full list).
“That’s just the type of stuff you rarely ever see,” catcher Hank Conger said. “But with a guy like Garrett, that’s the type of things that can happen, especially with his type of stuff.”
On Friday and Tuesday, Joe Smith pitched the eighth inning and Ernesto Frieri handled the ninth because the better part of the lineup — 2-3-4 on Friday, 1-2-3 on Tuesday — was batting in the eighth. But on Wednesday afternoon, Mike Scioscia threw a monkey wrench into any theory that Smith would be pitching against the better part of any lineup, when he had Frieri face the top of the order in the eighth and saved Smith for what ended up being 4-5-6 — and could’ve easily been 7-8-9 — in the ninth.
The score — 4-3 on Tuesday, 3-0 on Wednesday — surely played a factor.
“With the game one run yesterday, we liked Joe’s sinker against the bigger guys,” Scioscia explained. “Also, give guys a different look. We had the leeway if Ernie made one mistake it wasn’t going to hurt you as it might have last night.”
This much is clear by this point: There’s no hard-and-fast rule for who will be used in a save situation on a given day, be it Smith or Frieri. It’ll depend on matchups, sure, and it seems like Scioscia still trusts Smith more than Frieri. But the score will play a factor, as will giving the same hitters different looks and, certainly, the state of each reliever.
Scioscia would eventually like to have one closer, and he’d ideally like it to be Frieri so that he can maximize Smith’s versatility, but this is officially a closer-by-committee situation.
“To me, it relates to my early days with Cleveland, when I pitched the fifth, sixth, seventh and never knew when I was gonna pitch,” Smith said. “I was ready to pitch the eighth [on Tuesday]. I thought the phone call was going to be for me.”
“I just want to pitch,” Frieri said. “Especially in a close game.”
Mike Trout landed in Philadelphia at about 2 a.m. late Sunday night, then made the 45-minute drive south to his parents’ house in the outskirts of his hometown of Millville, N.J. He slept in — missing out on an invitation to watch the Philadelphia Eagles practice — caught up with his niece, nephew, brother and sister, then went to Citizens Bank Park, where upwards of 8,000 people from his hometown made a visit to root him on. Below is a partial transcript of what he had to say about it.
On coming back to Philly …
It means a lot to have fans and people that follow me and the team. Growing up as a Phillies fan and Eagles fan and all those Phillies teams, it’s going to be pretty cool to see the reaction. I know when I was growing up as a kid, going to the Eagles games, if I saw someone with a different jersey on, they were getting booed. So it’s going to be interesting. I love it here. People are great. It’s where I was brought up, so it’s always good to be back.
On how life has changed since he left …
It’s going to be a little different, running on the field tonight as opposed to a high school game. Just to look back and be here, and all the memories coming up – and the high school team is going to be on the field for BP, so that’s pretty cool. Life’s definitely changed a lot. It’s gone quick, though. I’ve been having fun. And I’ve been blessed, with great parents and great people that brought me up. I’m just happy to be here and having fun, playing the game I love.
On the interest level …
I love the support. I go back into town and in the offseason, I go into the stores and people are coming up to me, congratulating me, wanting to take a picture. It means a lot, coming from a small town, people and scouts doubted me, doubted the East coast. We’ve got some talent on the East coast, some good kids out there. Just hard work, dedication, a lot of sacrifices. Just to have the support behind you, telling you that 8,000 people are coming from Millville. There’s a lot of fans coming. It means a lot, and I’m very excited about tonight.
On Chase Utley …
It’s always fun to play against guys you watched growing up. It’s going to be special, just to be here, to play, actually play in the games instead of just sit in the stands and watch them. I got to watch a couple games at the Vet, and I got to showcase here before the Draft. That was pretty cool. Now to be up here playing, it’s going to be fun.
On making it out of Millville …
Just for younger kids, playing the game, or getting good grades in school, just knwing that they have a chance, and just hard work and dedication. If you put your mind to something, it’s possible. Millville – I didn’t think they were struggling, but there’s obviously struggles there. Coming from Millville, small town, East coast, it means a lot to me, my family, my friends, it’s definitely something special.
On his first at-bat at CBP …
It’s going to be something special. To think a couple years ago that I would be playing here — not watching, but actually playing — is a special feeling. There’s going to be some boos, there’s going to be some cheers. It’s baseball. It should be like that. I’m just going to go out there and play my game.
On what he wants to tell the people of Millville …
I want to thank them for coming. Their support means a lot. It’s very special for them to come out, take the time to see me play. I wish it was a four-game series, but it’ll be a good two days.
Leading up to Spring Training, I’ll take a look at each of the six divisions in hopes of providing an overview for what to expect this coming season. First up, the NL East.
Last year’s record: 96-66, 1st place (lost to Dodgers in NLDS)
Key additions: UT Ryan Doumit, RP Luis Vasquez, SP Gavin Floyd, 1B Mat Gamel
Key subtractions: C Brian McCann, SP Tim Hudson, SP Paul Maholm, RP Scott Downs
Biggest strength: The ninth inning, where Craig Kimbrel has cemented himself as the best closer in baseball by posting a 1.48 ERA and converting 138 of 153 save chances the last three years.
Biggest question: Filling the gaps. The Braves overcame a lot in 2013 (struggles by B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla, injuries to Tim Hudson and Jason Heyward), but lost a few important pieces over the offseason and will need a lot more to go right.
Most important player: B.J. Upton. He batted a ghastly .184/.268/.289 in the first of a five-year, $75.25 million contract and needs to step up for an offense that is now without McCann (and still with Uggla).
In 25 words or less: The Braves handily won the division despite dealing with a lot of adversity last year, but the Nats are better and their holes are bigger.
Last year’s record: 62-100, 5th place
Key additions: 1B Garrett Jones, 2B Rafael Furcal, C Jarrod Saltalamacchia, 3B Casey McGehee, RP Carter Capps
Key subtractions: 1B Logan Morrison, 3B Placido Polanco, OF Justin Ruggiano, OF Chris Coghlan, RP Chad Qualls
Biggest strength: Pitching, particularly young pitching. Despite losing triple-digit games, the Marlins had the best ERA in franchise history (3.71) and did it with an assortment of pre-arbitration pitchers with upside — Jacob Turner, Nathan Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez, Steve Cishek and, of course, NL Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez.
Biggest question: Offense. The Marlins ranked last in the Majors in runs scored last year. They’ve since added several new bats, but Furcal (coming off Tommy John surgery), McGehee (spent 2013 in Japan), Saltalamacchia (back issues) and Jones (.578 career OPS against lefties) all have questions.
Most important player: Giancarlo Stanton. He was limited to 116 games and an .845 OPS because of a strained right hamstring in 2013 and needs to produce in 2014 — either to help the Marlins’ needy offense, or to maximize a trade.
In 25 words or less: They’re an ownership and financial mess, but somehow the Marlins have done what they’ve always done — accrue young, talented pitching.
Last year’s record: 74-88, 3rd place
Key additions: OF Chris Young, OF Curtis Granderson, SP Bartolo Colon, SP John Lannan
Key subtractions: SP Johan Santana, SP Shaun Marcum, RP LaTroy Hawkins
Biggest strength: Starting pitching, even without Matt Harvey and in the post-Santana era. With Colon, Zack Wheeler, Dillon Gee and Jon Niese, and top prospect Noah Syndergaard likely joining them midseason, it’s their best chance to compete, now and in the future.
Biggest question: Relief pitching. They ranked 22nd in bullpen ERA last year, and they don’t know what they’ll get out of closer Bobby Parnell (2.16 ERA and 22 saves) coming off neck surgery.
Most important player: Harvey, even though he won’t even pitch this year. The 24-year-old right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery 26 starts into a brilliant sophomore season that saw him finish fourth in Cy Young voting and will spend the entire year rehabbing. If he returns to form in 2015, he’ll join a young and dynamic rotation, and then the Mets can really get going.
In 25 words or less: It’s nice to see the Mets finally spend on free agents, but there are still too many holes to compete in a tough division.
Last year’s record: 86-76, 2nd place
Key additions: MGR Matt Williams, SP Doug Fister, RP Jerry Blevins, OF Nate McLouth, INF Jamey Carroll
Key subtractions: MGR Davey Johnson, SP Dan Haren, INF Steve Lombardozzi, RP Ian Krol, 1B/3B Chad Tracy
Biggest strength: Talent across the board. With Fister joining Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann, their rotation is spectacular. With Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman, etc., their offense is dangerous from top to bottom. With Rafael Soriano, Craig Stammen, Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard, their bullpen is solid in the back end.
Biggest question: A rookie manager, and whether or not he can put it together for a veteran team that has World Series aspirations and underachieved last season.
Most important player: Blevins, or Xavier Cedeno, or any other lefty reliever who can consistently get lefty hitters out in a division loaded with dangerous lefty bats. It’s the Nats’ biggest (and, perhaps, only) weakness.
In 25 words or less: Barring injury, there’s no reason why this shouldn’t be a playoff team. Plain and simple.
Last year’s record: 73-89, 4th place
Key additions: OF Marlon Byrd, C Wil Nieves, SP/RP Roberto Hernandez, RP Brad Lincoln, RP Chad Gaudin
Key subtractions: SP Roy Halladay, SP John Lannan
Biggest strength: The top of the rotation. Not many teams can boast a 1-2 punch as lethal as Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.
Biggest question: The health and production of the assortment of high-priced, aging superstars — namely, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Jonathan Papelbon.
Most important player: Howard. He’s owed a guaranteed $75 million over the next three years and needs to revert back to the MVP form he’s now three years removed from.
In 25 words or less: Ruben Amaro Jr. is trying to squeeze out all that’s left from this championship fruit, but it may have already dried up.
Predicted order of finish …
Jerry Dipoto and Mike Scioscia are both coming back, and now they have a coaching staff to round out. Bench coach Rob Picciolo and hitting coach Jim Eppard were let go, Dino Ebel was promoted to bench coach and three spots are now open: third-base coach, hitting coach and a third, unidentified spot (perhaps an assistant hitting coach).
With that in mind, below is a list of potential candidates. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list; there are several others who will be interviewed for the open spots. Some is based on indications I’ve received, some are just my own speculation. Here goes …
Wally Joyner: He’ll definitely draw some strong interest as hitting coach. He just declined to return as the Phillies’ assistant hitting coach and was well-regarded in that clubhouse. And, you know, there’s that whole “Wally World” thing. Scioscia had him on his team in 2001.
Tim Bogar: He was the Red Sox’s third-base coach from 2010 to 2012, before taking a job as manager of the Angels’ Double-A affiliate in Arkansas, and is considered a future managerial candidate throughout the industry.
Troy Percival: Scioscia is a big fan of the former Angels closer. The Angels hired him in 2007 to be a special assignment pitching instructor, but he walked away soon after to make a comeback in the Majors. He’s currently the baseball coach at his alma mater, Moreno Valley High School.
Brett Butler: The former Dodgers center fielder has been managing the D-backs’ Triple-A affiliate since 2008 and had a good relationship with Dipoto dating back to the GM’s time in Arizona.
Leon Durham: He’s spent the last 12 years as hitting coach for Triple-A Toledo, in the Tigers’ organization, and has been drawing interest for the same role in the Majors over the last couple of years.
Eddie Rodriguez: He was just dismissed by the Royals, who brought ex-Cubs skipper Dale Sveum to Ned Yost‘s coaching staff, and was considered a good third-base coach in Kansas City.
Daren Brown: The Mariners will presumably be cleaning house with their coaching staff after manager Eric Wedge left. Brown finished the year as the third-base coach — promoted from Triple-A, where he was manager, after Jeff Datz was diagnosed with cancer midseason — and is considered a good baseball man. Brown was interim manager in Seattle for 50 games towards the end of 2010.
Dave Anderson: He was just dismissed as the Rangers’ first-base coach, and he has a history with assistant GM Scott Servais (from their time together in Texas) and Scioscia (they were teammates on the Dodgers).
Omar Vizquel: The current Angels roving infield instructor figures to be a hot managerial candidate very soon and is very well thought of throughout the organization. He’s never had experience as a third-base coach, he likely won’t fit as a hitting coach, and Alfredo Griffin already handles the infielder. But perhaps he can be looked at for the final coaching spot. He’d definitely bring a lot of energy.
Right-handed reliever Mike Cisco (pictured left) was acquired from the Phillies for “no compensation” on Sunday, even though he posted a 1.80 ERA in 40 appearances in Double-A and Triple-A last year and is said to be healthy.
Well, the Phillies had an excess of pitching in Double-A and Triple-A (talk about a problem). The Angels like him, have a spot for him — in the Double-A ‘pen, most likely — and the Phils wanted to make sure he’d go somewhere he’d have an opportunity to pitch. So he was gift-wrapped to the Angels.
Cisco, who will work out of Minor League camp the rest of spring, “should help upgrade our inventory,” Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said.
“He’s versatile, can start or relieve and throws strikes with three pitches,” Dipoto added via text message. Cisco doesn’t have big stuff and is only listed at 5-foot-11 — meaning he’s probably about 5-8 or 5-9 — but he has solid deception, has performed at basically every level and, according to Dipoto, has good makeup.
And, hey, he’s basically free!