Results tagged ‘ Robinson Cano ’
Lefty C.J. Wilson clearly wasn’t on board with Mike Scioscia‘s decision to intentionally walk lefty Robinson Cano to face the switch-hitting Justin Smoak, who wound up hitting the three-run double that pretty much decided the game. Asked if it felt weird to walk a left-handed hitter to face someone batting from the right side of the plate, Wilson said: “Yes. No more questions on that one.”
So, no more questions were asked.
But we can examine it a little further.
First, the facts …
Situation: 2nd and 3rd, 2 outs, T3, Mariners lead 1-0
Cano vs. Wilson: .389/.450/.611, 40 PA
Cano lifetime: .309/.355/.505, 10 yrs
Smoak vs. Wilson: .207/.281/.517, 32 PA
Smoak as RHH: .223/.294/.362
Smoak as LHH: .230/.324/.401
LHH’s vs. Wilson: .196/.278/.274
RHH’s vs. Wilson: .252/.336/.382
So, not only is Cano one of the most dangerous hitters in the game; he’s one of few left-handed hitters who has actually had success against Wilson. Smoak, meanwhile, has never produced like a first baseman should — and isn’t necessarily a dangerous cleanup hitter. The only circumstances that made this scenario remotely debatable are (1) Smoak was 3-for-5 with a three-run homer heading into that at-bat and (2) the end result wasn’t good for the Angels.
If Scioscia would’ve done the opposite and pitched to Cano, and Cano would’ve brought in the runs, he would’ve been hammered for the decision — and rightfully so.
“Robinson Cano is the guy you want to try to minimize as much as you can,” Scioscia said. “Justin Smoak, give him credit – got some big hits last night, got some big hits tonight. If that continues, then Robinson Cano will get some pitches to hit. But right now, you’re going to want Justin Smoak to swing the bat instead of Robinson.”
Wilson clearly wanted to face Cano, which is fine. He’s a competitor; he should want to face Cano. But that doesn’t make it right. And the end result doesn’t mean the decision to walk Cano was a bad one. I’ll take my chances with Smoak over Cano, every single time.
And Smoak would, too.
“No doubt,” he said. “Why wouldn’t you? I don’t care if it’s lefty-on-lefty or what. There’s a reason why they do that.”
Here’s how it stacked up in combined wins …
AL East: 433
NL Central: 421
AL Central: 400
NL West: 399
NL East: 391
AL West: 387
And here’s where it ranked in run-differential …
AL East: 235
NL Central: 219
AL Central: 0
NL West: -137
AL West: -138
NL East: -179
But AL West teams have been particularly aggressive in the early portion of this offseason — and yes, it’s worth reminding all of you that it is, indeed, still early — which could make for an interesting dynamic in 2014, and should make the Angels’ return to the postseason that much tougher.
The Mariners just reeled in the biggest free agent of the offseason, snatching Robinson Cano from the Yankees via a reported 10-year, $240-million, Albert Pujols-like contract. No, they aren’t an instant contender. And as the Angels themselves have shown, throwing the most dollars at the best free agent in no way guarantees success. But this is an important building block for a Mariners team that has always struggled to land the big names (see: Josh Hamilton and Prince Fielder). At some point, you have to overpay to lay a foundation (the Mets thought the same thing with Curtis Granderson). This reminds me of the Jayson Werth deal the Nationals made three offseasons ago. It was a vast overpay at seven years and $126 million. But at that time, it was the only way the Nats were going to land a premier free agent. Adding Werth — even if he isn’t a star to the magnitude of Cano — changed the expectations in Washington and ultimately helped make it a place where free agents wanted to play. Same can happen in Seattle, where the Mariners are showing a willingness to spend. And if they trade for David Price — they have the prospects to do it — watch out.
In the words of one executive, “The A’s may have one of the best bullpens in history.” It’s not much of an exaggeration when you consider that they added Luke Gregerson to a group that includes Jim Johnson, Ryan Cook, Jerry Blevins, Sean Doolittle, etc. Their rotation — Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin, Scott Kazmir, Dan Straily, Sonny Gray, in whatever order — is darn good, as well. But here’s the most important part about the current A’s: After back-to-back exits in the Division Series, they’re going for it. You don’t trade for one season of Johnson, flip a talented prospect (Michael Choice) for Craig Gentry or give Kazmir a two-year, $22 million contract if you aren’t.
Then there are the Rangers, who you just know have another big more or two in them. I actually liked the Fielder-for-Ian Kinsler deal for them (and loved it for the Tigers). They’re paying Fielder $138 million over the next seven years, which is very reasonable for a guy whose home-run rate will inflate in Texas and who gives them the middle-of-the-order bat they’ve been missing since Hamilton left. Over the last four years, the Rangers have the third-best regular-season winning percentage in the Majors (.570, trailing only the Yankees and Braves) and have been to the World Series twice. They had the 10th-best staff ERA in baseball last year, and they surely aren’t done.
Even the Astros have made some moves. They reached agreement on a three-year, $30 million deal with starter Scott Feldman — a guy the Angels would’ve liked, but not for three years — and previously traded for former Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler. They were easily dead last in 2013 in winning percentage (.315) and run-differential (minus-238), so they’re a ways away. But they have the second-best farm system in the Majors, per Baseball America, and they’re on their way.
What does all this mean for the Angels?
Well, nothing. At least not now.
They have about $15 million and some trade chips — Howie Kendrick still chief among them — to fill two spots in their starting rotation. They still have baseball’s best player in Mike Trout, two premier superstars in Pujols and Hamilton, two legit starters at the top of their rotation in Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, and a bullpen that can be among the deepest in baseball if Sean Burnett returns to full health. If they can sign someone like Matt Garza, they’re no doubt a legit playoff contender, regardless of how bad this past season turned out for them.
But their competition just keeps getting better.
Every article or blog post or tweet regarding the Angels’ offseason strategy — whether it’s the pursuit of starting pitcher or the scenario at third base or the situation regarding Jerry Dipoto and Mike Scioscia — tends to be followed by a response very similar to this:
WHO CARES, JUST LOCK UP MIKE TROUT NOW!!!
It’s understandable, given the fact that Mike Trout is the unquestioned best player on the star-laden Angels and, at 22, may already be the best in all of baseball. The Angels, however, have not begun extension talks with Trout, sources confirmed, and were never expected to with arbitration still a full year away.
It’s all about the Competitive Balance Tax payroll.
Let me try to explain. There are two different types of payroll. There’s the actual team payroll, which is what the active players are making in that season. And then there’s the CBT payroll, which is the payroll Major League Baseball uses to tax teams that go over a certain threshold. For the Angels — and the Yankees, and all of the teams that spend big on their roster — the latter is the most important.
The CBT payroll is calculated as the average annual value of all player contracts on the 40-man roster, plus benefits.
So, for example: Albert Pujols is making $16 million in 2013, which counts towards the Angels’ payroll figure. With regards to the CBT, though, he’s making $24 million — the average annual value of the 10-year, $240 million contract he signed in December 2011.
How does this relate to Trout?
Well, let’s say the Angels sign him to a 10-year, $300 million deal (that’s just a number I’m throwing out, basically because it’s easy to divide — and perhaps because I’m thinking of Robinson Cano). Even if in that contract, Trout is making only $1 million in 2014, the figure for the CBT payroll would be the AAV of that: $30 million.
And by that point, you can forget about adding any pitching to the roster.
The CBT threshold — the number at which first-time offenders are charged a tax of 17.5 percent — is going up from $178 million to $189 million this offseason. That buys the Angels a little extra wiggle room, but they’re still awfully close to that figure. So close, in fact, that it’ll affect whether or not they extend the qualifying offer to Jason Vargas, a figure that’s close to $14 million and would allow the Angels to receive Draft-pick compensation if he signs elsewhere. If Vargas takes it, they’d basically already be over the luxury-tax threshold.
Here’s what’s in the books for the Angels in 2014 (the first number is what the player will make that season and the second is the AAV that counts towards the CBT payroll) …
Albert Pujols: $23M, $24M
Vernon Wells (to the Yankees): $18.6M, $18.6M
Josh Hamilton: $17.4M, $25M
C.J. Wilson: $16.5M, $15.5M
Jered Weaver: $16.2M, $17M
Howie Kendrick: $9.7M, $8.375M
Erick Aybar: $8.75M, $8.75M
Joe Blanton: $7.5M, $7.5M
Chris Iannetta: $4.975M, $5.18M
Sean Burnett: $3.875M, $4M
That adds up to $126.5 million in payroll commitments, and just under $134 million for the CBT. But we’re not done. Not even close. There’s also the pending arbitration cases for eight players: Peter Bourjos, Ernesto Frieri, Juan Gutierrez, Tommy Hanson, Kevin Jepsen, Chris Nelson, Mark Trumbo and Jerome Williams.
A rough — very rough — estimate for what that would amount to: $25M (though Hanson, Williams, Nelson and Gutierrez are all non-tender candidates).
Then there’s the 25 or so other players on the 40-man roster that you have to pay (a little more than $500K each), and then there’s the benefits and bonuses for all of them, which is a rough estimate of $10M. And that puts the Angels pretty close to that $189M figure.
If you add a Trout extension, to a payroll in which Wells will be the second-highest-paid player, then they’ll have to shed payroll.
So, the logical question is: What’s the rush?
* thanks to Cot’s Contracts for providing all the info
Southpaws have given the Angels’ left-handed slugger fits all year. Over his first 60 games, he had a .165/.192/.281 slash line against southpaws. But since Aug. 9, a stretch that has seen him bat .339 with 14 walks to get his batting average up to a season-high .243, he’s been a lot better.
Hamilton has 15 hits in 44 at-bats vs. lefties in that span. Over the last six games, he’s gone 3-for-3 with a homer against Mark Buehrle, 1-for-2 with a walk against Derek Holland and 2-for-3 against David Price.
“Staying square has been the biggest thing,” Hamilton said. “I’ve talked about it all year. And the last few, I would say, couple of weeks, I’ve been better off lefties. If I can stay square on them, then I know I can on righties also.”
Hamilton — at .243/.302/.429, with 20 homers and 67 RBIs on the year — says it’s “the [lefties] that are erratic” that give him the most trouble.
“Guys that are more established and know how to pitch the game, know how to play the game, like Price or Buehrle or [Andy] Pettitte, guys like that [are the ones he's more comfortable against],” Hamilton said. “But once you start seeing them, getting comfortable, that carries over to guys who are erratic.”
Some additional notes from Tuesday’s 12-6 win over the Blue Jays …
- Hamilton is now one of seven players with at least 20 homers and 25 doubles in each of the last four seasons, joining Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Beltre, Alfonso Soriano, David Ortiz, Prince Fielder and Robinson Cano.
- Five hits and four extra-base hits in one game are each career-highs for Mark Trumbo. His three doubles tied a single-game franchise record, and he became the first Angels player ever to notch five hits and five runs scored in one game. Four extra-base hits in one game ties a franchise record, done nine other times and last by Erick Aybar in 2011.
- Mike Trout, who has hit safely in 12 straight games, is now the third Angels player to have 180 hits in back-to-back seasons.
- Kole Calhoun, who hit an RBI double in the fifth, has an RBI in 13 of his last 14 starts and leads all rookies with 22 RBIs since joining the Angels on July 28.
The Angels are 6-17 in their last 23 games at Yankee Stadium (including the playoffs) and Hiroki Kuroda has a 1.13 ERA in his last six starts. But Mariano Rivera has blown three consecutive save opportunities for the first time in his Hall of Fame career, and the Yankees have dropped five of their last seven games (though they took two of three from the first-place Tigers over the weekend) …
Pitching: RH Garrett Richards (3-4, 4.20 ERA)
Pitching: RH Kuroda (10-7, 2.45 ERA)
- It’s official: Jason Vargas, who hasn’t pitched since June 17 because of a blood clot, will start tomorrow, opposite CC Sabathia. As for who comes out of the rotation? Mike Scioscia wouldn’t say just yet, but it’ll probably come down to either Tommy Hanson or Jerome Williams (though Richards could make it even more interesting if he gets roughed up tonight). Hanson has an option to the Minor Leagues, Williams has experience pitching in the bullpen and both have struggled.
- The 22-year-old Trout vouched for severe penalties for those who fail Major League Baseball’s Drug Policy, saying on WFAN in New York on Monday morning that players “should be out of the game if you get caught.” “It takes away from the guys that are working hard every day and doing it all-natural,” Trout added on the radio show. “Some people are just trying to find that extra edge.” … Asked about those comments at Yankee Stadium later on Monday, Trout deferred to the Angels’ union rep, C.J. Wilson.
- Trumbo is batting sixth today, even with Albert Pujols and Howie Kendrick out, with his slash line down to .237/.300/.455 after putting up only nine hits in his last 63 at-bats. “He’s not going to be graded out on his batting average and his on-base percentage as much as what his power production is,” Scioscia said. “Like most hitters who have maybe a little more leverage in their swing, it’s a double-edged sword. When he’s off, he struggles. And it seems like once he finds that timing, he keeps it for a long time.”
- Peter Bourjos (fractured right wrist) is expected to play his fifth game for Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday night and the Yankees have a lefty (Sabathia) starting tomorrow, which seems like as good a time as any to activate Bourjos — though Scioscia wouldn’t say anything definitively. Trout will play left field on the days Bourjos is in the lineup — I feel like I need to state that for the record every time Bourjos comes back — and it probably won’t cut into Shuck’s playing time, since the DH spot is essentially open.
- Earlier today, Trout’s high school field was named in his honor.
Logically, how many Angels could be All-Stars in this bad first half as a team? — @JcHc3in1
Well, I expect Mike Trout to finish among the top three outfielders in fan votes — he was second when the most recent update came out last Saturday — making him the first Angels position player to start the All-Star Game since Vladimir Guerrero in 2007. After that, it’s tough. I think Howie Kendrick (.328/.370/.480) deserves to make it, but it’s tough with Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia in the same league. And Mark Trumbo (.270/.344/.506) certainly can once again. Pitching-wise, the only one I can see with a shot is Jason Vargas (5-4, 3.74 ERA), unless Jered Weaver (only five starts) is picked based on track record. I’d be surprised if anyone else makes it. Albert Pujols (nine-time All-Star) is in danger of missing out for the third straight year, and it doesn’t seem like there’s any chance Josh Hamilton (starter each of the last five seasons) is picked.
Yes, the Angels — 10 games below .500, 12 games back in the AL West, 9 1/2 games back of the final Wild Card spot — haven’t had much luck with injuries this season, particularly with their highest-paid player (Albert Pujols) and the two guys they were counting on to turn their bullpen around (Ryan Madson and Sean Burnett). You know who has been hit with more injuries? The Yankees team they’ll now face. I mean, just look at their lineup. And yet, they kept on rolling, while the Angels are in need of an amazing run to get back in the race.
“A lot of the things we see are very tangible, a lot of the things we see are reversible,” Mike Scioscia continues to say. “That has to be our goal, to get these guys out there playing consistent baseball and bringing the talent on the field, because we have the potential to have a terrific team.”
SP: LH Andy Pettitte (5-3, 3.82 ERA)
Pitching: LH C.J. Wilson (4-5, 4.05 ERA)
- Starting rotation-wise, we know Tommy Hanson and Jered Weaver are starting the other two games in this series, respectively. And now, we know Jason Vargas will start Monday, with the order resetting again on Wednesday and Thursday. Who’s starting on Tuesday? That’s a decision that will perceivably come down to Joe Blanton and Jerome Williams, and Scioscia didn’t reveal anything on Friday. “Let’s get through this weekend,” he said. You have to figure, that if Blanton were starting Tuesday, he’d simply be listed as the starter by the team. The fact he isn’t makes me believe it’s going to be Williams, as long as he isn’t needed out of the bullpen in some crazy long game (like the 18-inning game the Yankees played against the A’s last night). Just an educated guess, though.
- Robert Coello, placed on the disabled list with what the team called right shoulder inflammation, will be shut down from throwing for a minimum of four weeks. Coello’s elbow is also hurting.
- The Angels will honor Mariano Rivera on Saturday.
- The Angels have signed 34 of their 39 Draft picks. Among those remaining are their first selection, lefty Hunter Green, who was taken in the second round.
- Sicoscia, on his biggest takeaway from his time with Wells: “He worked very hard at the game. You could tell that his non-performance is something he did not take in stride. I mean he felt it. And whether he had a rough day the night before, he came out with a positive frame of mind and said, ‘I’m going to help us win today.’ Maybe fans don’t see that side of him, but he didn’t take it easy when he was struggling, and he knows that he’s a better player than what he showed when he played with us.”
- Wells, by the way, has cooled off considerably since his hot start. Over his last 40 games, he has a .182/.209/.284 slash line. He comes in batting .229/.274/.386, with 10 homers and 26 RBIs.
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 Angels have won six straight, 11 of their last 12 and 15 of their last 18, putting them only one game back of the second AL Wild Card spot and in a third-place tie with the Rays in that race. It looked like the Angels dealt the A’s a serious blow when they swept them in a four-game series in Oakland last week, but they came right back and swept the Mariners over the weekend and still have a 2 1/2-game advantage over the Angels in the AL West.
Pitching: RH Jarrod Parker (9-8, 3.67 ERA)
Pitching: RH Dan Haren (10-10, 4.46 ERA)
- The Angels announced their pitching plans for the rest of this series, with Jerome Williams starting Tuesday (first start since late July), Ervin Santana starting Wednesday (on normal rest after starting Friday) and Jered Weaver returning from biceps tendinitis to pitch Thursday’s finale. Weaver could’ve pitched Wednesday, but he would’ve had six days’ rest either going into this week’s start or his Tuesday start, and the Angels felt it would be best to have the six days off on the front end. He’s still lined up to start the regular-season finale, as before. Only difference being that he missed one start.
- Weaver said he felt “great” during his bullpen session today, may have another one tomorrow and feels missing one turn through the rotation has noticeably improved his tendinitis, saying: “It seems like it so far. I don’t feel any bite at all, and felt good in the bullpen, and it’s a step in the right direction.”
- Aybar said he sent Brandon McCarthy a message the other day and got a return call from his wife, who informed him that McCarthy is out of the intensive-care unit and feeling better. Asked how being the guy whose liner hit McCarthy in the head has affected him, Aybar said: “It’s been hard. You never want that to happen. We may be on different teams, but I don’t wish harm upon anybody. I always want things to turn out well.”
- Ernesto Frieri threw 38 pitches in a four-out save against the Tigers yesterday, but he told Scioscia he feels “great.” He may be available today.
- Trout, in case you hadn’t noticed, opened up the day with a WAR of 10.0, which, if you’re not familiar with the lingo, is fantastic. Next-highest in the American League? Robinson Cano, at 6.3. But C.J. Wilson, a pretty big stats guy, doesn’t need to look at WAR to know Trout is the MVP. “He plays Gold Glove defense in center field, which is huge, and he’s leading the league in batting average, and runs, and he hits home runs, and he’s leading the league stolen bases. You take him out of our lineup, it’s a much worse lineup.”
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.)