Results tagged ‘ Royals ’
The Angels’ hopes of resigning free-agent starting pitcher Jason Vargas were squashed on Thursday, when the Royals announced they have signed the veteran left-hander to a four-year contract.
The average annual value of Vargas’ new deal, a reported $32 million, is $8 million. The Angels were willing to give him that much, but they weren’t willing to go four years (it would’ve been hard for them to even give him a third year).
And so, the Angels still have at least two holes to fill in their rotation.
Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Garrett Richards are returning, Tommy Hanson is likely to get non-tendered in December and Joe Blanton — if not released this offseason — will not go into the season as a guaranteed member of the rotation. General manager Jerry Dipoto did not tender the $14.1 million qualifying offer to Vargas because he was almost certain Vargas would accept it, and by accepting it the Angels would already be dangerously close to the luxury tax threshold of $189 million.
Vargas was acquired in a one-for-one deal with the Mariners that sent Kendrys Morales to Seattle last December. In his first year in Southern California, where he grew up and briefly attended Long Beach State University, Vargas went 9-8 with a 4.02 ERA in 150 innings in a season that saw him miss two months with a blood clot.
The Angels are expected to use the trade market to bolster a rotation that ranked 11th in the American League in ERA last season, but they may also turn to other free agents to fill Vargas’ void. And while they aren’t expected to go after the likes of Ubaldo Jimenez, Ricky Nolasco or Ervin Santana, names like Phil Hughes, Dan Haren, Bronson Arroyo, etc., etc., could be enticing.
– Alden Gonzalez
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.
SP: RH Wade Davis (2-3, 5.86 ERA)
SP: RH Barry Enright (0-1, 11.37)
- There was thought Ryan Madson could join the Angels before the end of the week, after making his second and final rehab appearance for Class A Inland Empire on Wednesday or Thursday. That is no longer the case. The Angels prefer to slow down his rehab and have him pitch at Triple-A Salt Lake before being activated. This isn’t really a setback, though. Madson continues to feel good, having just the normal soreness pitchers go through, but he’d been going very aggressive in hopes of coming back as soon as possible — throwing off a mound with intensity every other day — and the Angels feel it’d be best if they slowed him down and ease him into the Majors. “I respect that,” Madson said. I’d expect Madson to start pitching in Triple-A by the end of the week. How long will he be there? Mike Scioscia said: “If everything goes the way we anticipate, not very long at all.” Madson threw out “a couple weeks.” Scioscia, when told that, said: “I don’t know if it’s going to take a couple weeks. It might or it might not. We want to make sure that he’s ready to go and his rehab sticks when it goes.”
- Earlier today, Angels owner Arte Moreno publicly backed Scioscia, saying there’s “zero” chance he’ll be dismissed. Sciosica’s reaction: “Arte has always been very supportive. Arte knows how hard I take the non-performance of this team and how we need to get there. It hits me as hard as it hits Arte and it hits Jerry [Dipoto], and I know Arte realizes that. We’re going to take this challenge and hopefully start moving forward and getting the wins that we need to get ourselves in the position we want to. That’s the bottom line is winning, and we’re going to work towards that.”
- Some other injury notes: Jered Weaver (broken left elbow) came out of his Tuesday bullpen session feeling fine and is still scheduled to throw an 80-pitch, up-and-down ‘pen (meaning 20 pitches, sit down, 20 pitches, sit down, and so on) on Friday. The next step after that would be a rehab assignment. … Sean Burnett (left forearm tightness) is expected to throw his first bullpen session on Thursday. … Peter Bourjos (left hamstring strain) has been riding the elliptical, playing catch, doing some aquatic exercises and getting in some lunges, but there’s still no date for when he can run on the field. … Kevin Jepsen (strained lat) was scheduled to throw his third bullpen session today. … Still no timetable for when Tommy Hanson (restricted list) will be back, but he has been throwing.
Joe Blanton perpetually gets hit around and Tommy Hanson continues to be away from the team because of a family issue, but the other rotation newcomer, Jason Vargas, has pretty much provided what the Angels would’ve expected lately.
On Tuesday night, he bounced back from a dud against the Astros, limiting a pretty dangerous Royals lineup to five hits and one walk while striking out seven batters in seven-plus innings of two-run ball. Vargas, acquired in exchange for Kendrys Morales in December, hasn’t allowed a first-inning run in either of his first eight starts, is 2-1 with a 3.14 ERA at home and, most importantly, has pitched seven or more innings in four of his last five outings.
“I try to go out there every time and keep the team in the ballgame, be consistent out there and try to execute,” Vargas said.
His ERA, at 6.75 after his April 16 start, is now at 4.03. He’s responsible for both of the Angels’ complete games (though one was eight innings of a loss on the road). And though he began the season in the fourth spot of the rotation, he’s clearly the Angels’ third-best starter (perhaps even second, depending on how you feel about C.J. Wilson).
“If you look at Jason, you look at his track record, this guy pitches deep into games,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Vargas, who posted a 3.96 ERA and compiled 611 innings his previous three years in Seattle. “It’s one thing saying ‘gives innings,’ but this guy gives you good innings and that’s what’s important to us is these guys getting into the seventh, possibly the eighth, giving those good innings and giving our offense a chance to do what it did tonight.”
On Monday night, the Angels’ high-priced right fielder was pulled after six innings because of what manager Mike Scioscia originally deemed light-headedness. In a sense, that’s true. But Hamilton will simply tell you that he’s sick; dealing with some sort of congestion that makes him prone to dizziness and sensitive to the bright lights of a Major League stadium.
“I’m just off,” he said. “However you want to write it, however you want to describe it – I’m just off.”
Hamilton has been dealing with this issue throughout his career, and his most recent bout began on May 5, a couple days before the Angels left on their six-game road trip through Houston and Chicago. His body continues to “feel great,” but the condition remains.
Hamilton was nonetheless in the starting lineup for Tuesday’s game against the Royals, batting fifth but confined to designated hitter because the illness is manageable in the batter’s box; not so much when constantly running around the outfield.
He’s vehement in saying this won’t keep him out of the lineup, and he’s quick to dismiss it as an excuse for his struggles.
“I’ve felt bad plenty of times and played and done well,” said Hamilton, who has a .212/.261/.344 slash line despite getting two hits in Monday’s loss. “This has nothing to do with that. It’s more of, I’d say probably being out on the field type of thing – run the bases, then go out on the field, combined with lights and all that stuff. It’s not the best thing at this moment.”
Hamilton received a shot before leaving to Houston and felt better. But the cold of Chicago made it worse and, most frightening of all, the issue appears to be sensitive to Southern California’s climate. While with the Rangers last September, Hamilton missed the last two games of a three-game series against the Angels, then another three because of a vision condition called “ocular keratitis,” which impacts the cornea.
But the 31-year-old said that was directly linked to consuming too much caffeine. This, he added, “is an actual sickness.”
Now that Hamilton will be in Southern California long-term, via the five-year, $125 million contract he signed in December, he’ll seek a permanent solution by seeing an allergist soon. For now, he’s between antibiotics, trying to figure out something that will at least temporarily get rid of the problem – or, as he describes it, “put a Band-Aid on it.”
Asked if getting rid of the problem entirely would force him to go on the disabled list, Hamilton said: “No, absolutely not. Because if that’s the case, we’ll just put Band-Aids on it until the offseason comes.”
Here are today’s lineups …
Lorenzo Cain, CF
Alcides Escobar, SS
Alex Gordon, LF
Billy Butler, DH
Eric Hosmer, 1B
Salvador Perez, C
Mike Moustakas, 3B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Miguel Tejada, 2B
SP: RH Jeremy Guthrie (5-0, 2.28 ERA)
Erick Aybar, SS
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Mark Trumbo, RF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Alberto Callaspo, 3B
Chris iannetta, C
J.B. Shuck, LF
SP: LH Jason Vargas (1-3, 4.26 ERA)
The Angels can’t get swept by the Astros, can they? We shall see …
SP: LH Jason Vargas (1-3, 3.72 ERA)
SP: RH Lucas Harrell (3-3, 5.03 ERA)
- Jered Weaver threw his first bullpen today (28 pitches) and felt really good. Mike Scioscia said he’ll need about four more, thrown with one day in between if Weaver continues to feel good, before venturing out on a rehab assignment.
- Ryan Madson threw 20 pitches in an intrasquad game in Arizona today and, as planned, will pitch there again on Saturday.
- If the Angels make the playoffs this year, they’ll become only the fourth team in history to do it despite starting off the season 11-22. Per Elias, the only other teams to start a season 11-22 or worse and play in the postseason were the 1914 Braves, the 1974 Pirates and the 1981 Royals. To be fair, though, there was no second wild card — or even first wild card — back then.
- The last time the Angels were 11 games below .500: May 22, 2006. They haven’t been 9 1/2 games back this early in a season since 2002 — when they were 9 1/2 games back on April 22, 10 1/2 games back on April 23 and (lo and behold!) World Series champs on Oct. 27.
- Eleven of the Angels’ 22 losses have come by two runs or less.
At what point do you expect the Angels to turn their season around? — @keaton_choi
If I knew that, I’d move to Vegas. Who knows. For some reason, nothing seems to be clicking right now. When they hit, like Tuesday, they don’t pitch. When they pitch, like Wednesday, they don’t hit. This is the time to turn it around. Right now. The Angels are two games into a 29-game stretch that will see them play only seven games against a team that’s currently above .500. And that team is the Royals. It’s no excuse — at all — but 22 of the Angels’ first 31 games came against teams that made the playoffs last year. That’s a tough stretch. If they go 19-10 in this 29-game stretch, they’re at .500 with guys like Jered Weaver, Ryan Madson, Sean Burnett and perhaps even Peter Bourjos back — and maybe Josh Hamilton finally swinging the bat. But losing back-to-back games to a bad Astros team is a tough way to start.
The baseball gods are doing the on-field equivalent of trolling the Angels right now. It’s not just that they’re 11-20, with Josh Hamilton slumping and every facet of their team — starting pitching, relief pitching, baserunning, defense, production — in a rut through the first five weeks of the season. It’s that so many of the players they’ve discarded recently are, well, thriving.
See for yourself …
RF Torii Hunter (offered little more than a $5 million base salary, plus incentives, this offseason before he inked a two-year, $26 million deal with the Tigers): .361/.406/.479 slash line through his first 27 games in the No. 2 spot for first-place Detroit.
LF Vernon Wells (dealt to the Yankees for the financial relief of getting under the Competitive Balance Tax payroll, with New York picking up $13.9 million of the $42 million owed to him over the next two seasons): .280/.339/.486 with six homers team while batting mostly third — yes, third — for an injury-riddled Yankees team that’s somehow six games over .500.
SP Ervin Santana (essentially given to the Royals because the Angels weren’t going to exercise his $13 million option for 2013): 3-1, 2.00 ERA with 31 strikeouts and five walks in 36 innings for a Kansas City team that — of course — is 17-11.
SS Jean Segura (traded alongside Ariel Pena and John Hellweg for Zack Greinke last July): .333/.380/.523, with a league-leading three triples and one very interesting sequence on the basepaths.
RP Jordan Walden (dealt straight up to the Braves for Tommy Hanson in November): 2.92 ERA, with 14 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings.
RP LaTroy Hawkins (unsigned as a free agent): 2.77 ERA, 1.23 WHIP in 13 innings for the Mets.
SP Patrick Corbin (dealt — by then-Arizona interim GM Jerry Dipoto — to the Angels along with Tyler Skaggs, Rafael Rodriguez and Joe Saunders in exchange for Dan Haren in July 2010): 4-0, 1.85 ERA in six starts.
What does all this mean to the Angels? Well nothing, of course. In fact, in my mind, almost all of these moves were justified (you could certainly argue in favor of bringing Hunter back and using the additional funds on pitching). The fact anyone would take on that much for Wells was flat-out shocking; it made little sense to pay Santana $13 million for 2013 given how his 2012 season went; I’ll do Walden-for-Hanson any day of the week; the Greinke trade was a good one considering Dipoto didn’t have to give up Peter Bourjos and/or Garrett Richards, and he would’ve been applauded for it had they made the playoffs last year; and, well, there was little reason to give a 40-year-old Hawkins a guaranteed contract, or a likely shot at winning a bullpen spot, given the group the Angels had going into Spring Training.
But still …
Unrelated subject (well, sort of): Here’s a look at who’s shining, and who isn’t, in the Angels’ system so far …
INF Luis Rodriguez (AAA): .314/.344/.496, 4 HR, 24 RBI
RP Jeremy Berg (AAA): 1.65 ERA, 13 SO, 1 BB, 16 1/3 IP
SP Austin Wood (A+): 2.41 ERA, 4 GS, 17 SO, 9 BB, 18 2/3 IP
RP Mitch Stetter (AAA): 5.56 ERA, 11 1/3 IP, 12 SO, 10 BB
SP A.J. Schugel (AAA): 0-1, 6.21 ERA, 6 GS, 30 SO, 14 BB, 29 IP
OF Randal Grichuk (AA): .186/.262/.351, 2 HR, 7 RBI
Jered Weaver gave up eight runs in two innings against the A’s in his last Cactus League start — then threw in an intrasquad game five days later — Tommy Hanson has an 8.25 ERA in 12 innings, Jason Vargas has given up at least four runs on eight hits two of his last three times out, long reliever Jerome Williams was charged with seven runs on 11 hits in 1 1/3 innings against the Rangers on Thursday and, on Friday, C.J. Wilson gave up seven runs in a third inning he didn’t finish. That leaves Joe Blanton (3.86 ERA in seven frames) as the most impressive starter so far.
The Angels’ starting-pitcher ERA this spring: 8.21, dead last in the Majors. The A’s are 29th, at 6.85.
“I sure hope that as we get to the latter stages of our work in Arizona and into the Freeway Series, we’ll see some guys come alive and repeat some pitches,” Mike Scioscia said.
Asked how much more important these last 10 days are for the starters, the Angels’ skipper added: “To be honest with you, if we could get them at least lengthened out and get them deep into games, you’re not going to read as much from your performance as you are getting into their length. … I think just making pitches. That’s how we’re trying to evaluate these guys.”
Some notes from today …
We know the Angels can score runs, at least. One day after notching a four-homer, six-run fourth inning, they pounded out seven runs against James Shields in the first two innings.
Mike Trout hit two doubles to center field, scored two runs and was robbed of a hit. Albert Pujols scored from first base on an opposite-field triple. Josh Hamilton hit an opposite-field triple. Vernon Wells went 2-for-3, putting his spring batting average at .394. Mark Trumbo went 2-for-2 with a couple of RBIs. Alberto Callaspo had two hits and has his average at .317.
Sean Burnett pitched a clean fifth inning, one outing after giving up three runs and recording one out. Kevin Jepsen, out since March 9 with a triceps injury, gave up a run in an inning during a Minor League game.
Wilson gave up eight runs (six earned) on eight hits in 2 2/3 innings in what was his first dud of the spring. One of those runs came on a home run by Jeff Francoeur that’s still orbiting the solar system. First, it cleared the 30-foot-tall batting eye that sits behind the center field fence, which is already 420 feet from home plate.
Fernando Cabrera gave up two runs on two hits and a walk in his first outing since returning from the World Baseball Classic.
Howie Kendrick went 0-for-3, ending his 16-game spring hitting streak — it’s 21 if you go back to last spring — and putting his batting average at .490.
Best play (that I saw)
In the bottom of the fifth, Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas dove full extension to his left to snare a bullet off the bat of Trout.
Wilson, on Frenchy’s home run: “That was the furthest home run I’ve given up in a couple years. … It was wind-aided, though, I will say that.”
Left-hander Brandon Sisk, acquired as a throw-in from the Royals in exchange for Ervin Santana and most of his salary, is expected to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery within the next couple of weeks.
The 27-year-old Sisk, placed on the 40-man roster last December in order to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft, has posted a 2.59 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP in 198 appearances in his five-year Minor League career. The Angels were going to buy out Santana’s 2013 option for $1 million anyway, so instead they had the Royals absorb $12 million of the $13 million owed to him so they’d at least get a player in return.
Sisk, however, came into camp with a bit of a tender elbow, made just two one-inning appearances and was sent down to Minor League camp last Sunday because he’ll be going under the knife soon.
Tommy John surgery is usually a 12-month recovery.
Here’s a story I wrote on Sisk shortly after he was acquired.