Results tagged ‘ Ryan Ludwick ’

How Angels’ ‘Big 3′ stacks up in 2013 …

Josh Hamilton

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. 

Alden 

Reds 5, Angels 4 …

Recap

Dan Haren battled through lacking command to almost notch a quality start, but the tall Loek Van Mil — called up from Minor League camp — served up a two-run, walk-off homer to Ryan Ludwick for the loss. The Angels had just five hits.

The good

Vernon Wells hit a solo homer to left field off Bronson Arroyo, giving him three home runs and 12 RBIs this spring — after just one homer and six RBIs last spring.

Jason Isringhausen pitched a clean seventh inning, with a strikeout, a groundout and a lineout.

The bad

Bobby Abreu (making his almost-daily appearance on the postgame blog) went 0-for-4 with three groundouts to the right side and a strikeout. The 38-year-old is now 4-for-46 this spring, which equates to a .087 batting average.

Haren gave up just two runs in 5 2/3 innings, and his ERA is still just 2.18 this spring, but he gave up nine hits and he battled through what he called “dead arm” — though he feels it’ll go away by the time he makes his last spring start on Monday.

Kevin Jepsen, vying for an open bullpen spot, gave up a leadoff homer to Paul Janish in the eighth inning, putting his ERA at 5.00 through nine Cactus League frames.

Peter Bourjos went 0-for-3 with a couple of strikeouts as the leadoff hitter.

Daily Albert Pujols update: Did Not Play.

Best quote

Haren, on what “dead arm” means: “The arm feels slow. That’s all it really is. And I think the normal thing to do is to try to add a little bit, then your mechanics can get a little out of sort. So I wasn’t trying to add too much. I knew my arm wasn’t feeling that great. Health-wise, my body feels great, my arm  is healthy, and I’m where I need to be.”

Best play (that I saw)

It would’ve been awfully thrilling if it didn’t come in a Spring Training game in front of a smattering of fans, but with two outs, one on and his team trailing by two in the bottom of the ninth, Ludwick hit a line drive to left that sailed over the left-field fence to give his club the victory and put Van Mil’s Cactus League ERA at 9.53.

Alden

A week of moves — and non-moves

At 2 p.m. ET, as I sat in my seat just before a 2 1/2-hour flight from New York to Chicago (I’ll be covering the Yankees in the South Side this week), I shut off my phone and immediately started thinking about what would await me once I had service again. The non-waiver Trade Deadline was only two hours away. Where would Heath Bell go? What will the Yankees do? Who will land B.J. Upton? Then I touched down at O’Hare Airport, and realized all of that was a non-story.

Bell was the guy that was sure to be pitching elsewhere the rest of this season, the Yankees — as is their custom — were sure to make some sort of splash, and Upton was sure to be dealt after having his name in rumors for so many years. But none of that happened, Hiroki Kuroda didn’t waive his no-trade clause, James Shields stayed put in Tampa Bay, and the White Sox held on to Carlos Quentin.

That’s right, the biggest thing I’m taking away from the Deadline is what actually didn’t occur.

Now, on to the obligatory post-Deadline-winners-and-losers story. I know that in trades there really aren’t supposed to be any “winners” or “losers” (Neither side makes a deal if they don’t feel they’re “winning,” too, right?), but certain teams simply make out better than others.

Here are the three biggest winners and three biggest losers among the contending teams. And as always, we’ll get the bad news out of the way first …

Losers

Yankees: As MLBTradeRumors.com pointed out, this was the first time since 1999 that the Yankees went through an entire July without making a trade. And even though they’re 22 games above .500 and nurse a 6 1/2-game lead in the American League Wild Card race, they needed to add two pieces that they didn’t get: A starter and a lefty reliever.

Perhaps J.C. Romero, currently pitching for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, will work out for them, and veteran relievers can usually be had in August. But I was in the minority in thinking they should’ve dealt their prospects for Ubaldo Jimenez, who they were reportedly in on. I would’ve given up two of either Ivan Nova, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances, and one of either Jesus Montero and Austin Romine. Whether or not that  would’ve been enough to get the deal done, I don’t know, but it doesn’t seem the Yankees were willing to come anywhere close to doing that.

The Yankees’ hope is that just one of those three arms becomes the quality of starter Ubaldo currently is, and if you have a chance to get an arm like that now — when he’s expandable, when he’s under club control for a while and when he’s extremely affordable — you do it. Right now, the Yankees have the great CC Sabathia, and then four guys they don’t know what they’ll get out of on a nightly basis. Not good enough.

Diamondbacks: The D-backs have a real shot at winning the National League West, but they didn’t do enough to get it done. Jason Marquis and Brad Ziegler were nice and necessary additions to their rotation and bullpen, respectively, but they needed to upgrade their offense to somehow shorten the gap separating them from the Giants. Instead, San Francisco added a bat, and Arizona didn’t.

I get that the D-backs didn’t expect to compete this year and they prefer to hold on to their top prospects. But had they gone after a big bat, they would’ve had a good shot at superseding the Giants. Now? I can’t see it happening.

Tigers: I understand their hesitancy to give up a prospect like Jacob Turner, but frankly, I would’ve liked to see the Tigers do more for their rotation than just Doug Fister. Maybe one more mid-level starter like that for a team that ranks 14th in the AL in starting-pitcher ERA.

Winners

Cardinals: Fans didn’t seem too happy that they dealt an asset like Colby Rasmus and didn’t really get any long-term pieces in return. And I get that. But I give general manager John Mozeliak a lot of credit for going all in on this season — a year that could be the final one with Albert Pujols at first base and Tony La Russa as manager.

They got a necessary arm in their rotation in Edwin Jackson, who’s an impending free agent who won’t clog up their payroll and, thus, hurt their chances of resigning Pujols; they got righty Octavio Dotel and lefty Marc Rzepczynski for a needy bullpen; and they were able to pluck away from a position where they have a suitable replacement in Jon Jay.

Perhaps they could’ve waited to deal Rasmus — a guy who definitely needed a change of scenery — when his stock rose again, but then they wouldn’t look this good right now. And right now, they look like the best team in the NL Central. The Rafael Furcal acquisition is fine; I’m just not sure how much he has left.

Phillies: There was no more perfect fit for the Phillies than Hunter Pence. With him, their offense now looks on par with that vaunted rotation because they have that right-handed bat that was so critical to their production in years past. This past offseason, the Phillies added Cliff Lee to give them a ridiculous starting staff, but they lost Jayson Werth to the Nationals and missed that right-handed bat to hit behind lefties Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.

Now, they have that right-handed bat again in Pence, and they have him in the books until 2013. Pence is having a fine season, and he came into Philadelphia with an .865 OPS. He’ll get plenty more chances with runners in scoring position now. And Phillies fans will love his energy. The Phils had to part ways with their two biggest prospects, but Domonic Brown and Vance Worley stayed put. That’s another positive.

Indians: Yeah, they did give up a big chunk of their farm system to get Ubaldo. But I just love the spirit of this trade, especially from a team that has so far only been known for parting with aces — from Lee to CC. This has been a magical season in Cleveland, and somehow they’re still in it despite a shaky rotation. It doesn’t look so shaky anymore.

The others

Braves: Michael Bourn is the perfect fit for that team; gives them their first leadoff hitter since Furcal.

Brewers: Francisco Rodriguez was a big pickup, and they got some insurance at second base. But they’re crossing their fingers that Rickie Weeks returns to full health soon.

Pirates: They got a couple of bats in Ryan Ludwick and Derrek Lee — two guys who know the NL Central well — and didn’t give up much.

Reds: Was surprised they were in on some of the big guys, but they have a rather large deficit, and that may have played a part in them standing pat.

Giants: Zack Wheeler is a good prospect, but Carlos Beltran is a good middle-of-the-order bat that should fit in perfectly in due time.

Red Sox: They got a nice rotation arm in Erik Bedard and a utility man in Mike Aviles; not flashy, but effective.

White Sox: I’m just glad they didn’t sell off all their pieces; they still have a shot.

Angels: Did nothing, which was pretty surprising.

Rangers: Got two big pieces for the back end of their bullpen in Koji Uehara and Mike Adams.

– Alden 

** Filed this week: Pence trade fills Phils’ need for a righty slugger; Cards, Giants take on win-now modes with deals. 

The dust has settled, so let’s take a clearer look

Saturday’s 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline has come to an end, and so has conflicting reports, absurd rumors and Twitter madness. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t think the Trade Deadline is all bad. In fact, it’s quite exciting when you extract the overwhelming rumor fodder. 

Here are some notes from this year … 
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Pitching rules the month: The 2010 season has been deemed by many as “The Year of the Pitcher,” and so it should come as no surprise that the month of July was themed (by me, at least) as “The Movement of the Ace.”
You could make the case (I certainly will) that the three biggest trades leading up to the Deadline involved three frontline starting pitchers: Cliff Lee (pictured left; AP), Dan Haren and Roy Oswalt
Lee is the best of the trio, obviously, and made the first-place Rangers a heavy favorite for an American League West title upon his arrival to Arlington (if he wasn’t already). Oswalt and Haren, meanwhile, are both having rough seasons, but they’re both legitimate aces and should be sparked by joining the contending Phillies and Angels, respectively. Unlike Lee — a free agent at season’s end — both are in the books beyond the 2010 season, too. 
Also, Edwin Jackson joined the White Sox, Jake Westbrook went to the Cardinals, and the Dodgers nabbed the coveted Ted Lilly
The “Evil Empire” strikes again: Did you really think a Trade Deadline was going to go by without the Yankees having a big-time say? They got the most notable position player dealt in Lance Berkman, who will finally give the Bronx Bombers a stabilizing presence at designated hitter. They nabbed Austin Kearns to bolster the outfield. And they got Kearns’ Indians teammate, closer Kerry Wood, to give them yet another bridge to Mariano Rivera
With the Red Sox decimated by injuries and the low-budget Rays standing pat prior to the Deadline (minus the acquisition of a struggling Chad Qualls) the Yanks — owners of the best record in baseball heading into Saturday night — positioned themselves for another World Series run. 
Big names stay put: Although a flurry of moves came down hours before the Deadline, this year sure seemed like one when teams were extremely hesitant to take on salary and part ways with top prospects, even though many described this as a dried-up trade market (especially in terms of reliable bullpen help). 

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Adam Dunn (pictured right; AP) and Prince Fielder were seemingly the two biggest bats available, but because of steep demands, neither moved. The Brewers have Fielder under club control for one more season, so there was no urgency to deal him just yet. But Dunn is a free agent after the season, and there have been no indications that a contract extension is in the works. 
Cody Ross was a highly coveted outfielder the Marlins were reportedly shopping, but he wasn’t dealt. Neither was Blue Jays infielder/outfielder Jose Bautista. Or Astros right-hander Brett Myers, who may work out an extension. But the biggest surprise (minus Dunn) is the fact that neither of the Blue Jays’ seemingly available late-inning relievers — Jason Frasor, Scott Downs and Kevin Gregg — were dealt. 
——-
Among the teams looking to add, here were the biggest winners, in my mind … 
1. Rangers: Hard to argue here. Their only not-great area was starting pitching — until they added Lee. They also got Jorge Cantu and Cristian Guzman to bolster the infield. 
2. Yankees: A great team got much deeper with the acquisitions of Berkman, Kearns and Wood. 
3. Dodgers: They needed to be active, and they were, by adding Lilly, Scott Podsednik, Ryan Theriot and Octavio Dotel.
4. Phillies: A lot of the chatter in Philadelphia still revolves around not being able to keep Lee this past offseason, but general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. almost made up for that, by getting Oswalt in exchange for J.A. Happ — and none of their big-time prospects — and an additional $11 million from the Astros.
5. Angels: The acquisition of Haren gives them an ace through at least the 2012 season. That’s enough to make the top-five. 
… We now return to our regularly scheduled baseball season. 
Alden Gonzalez

Adjusting to the big leagues is tough enough …

JUPITER, Fla. — Meet Cardinals prospect Jon Jay …

DSC01422.jpg… I remember watching him when he manned the outfield for the University of Miami, and let me tell you this: The guy can hit. He’s not a big home-run threat (more like a No. 2-type hitter), but in his four years in the Minor Leagues, he’s batted a pretty solid .298 with a .363 on-base percentage — though his slugging percentage was just .425. Now, he comes into camp in the mix for the job as the Cardinals’ lefty hitter off the bench.
St. Louis’ outfield, of course, is a crowded one, with Matt Holliday, Colby Rasmus and Ryan Ludwick the starters. So Jay’s only shot at finally cracking a big league roster is to make the team as a pinch-hitter.
But is that the right thing to do to a kid who, in a way, is still developing and needs professional at-bats? Jay (pictured above taking live batting practice against Blake Hawksworth on Wednesday) turns 25 in March. He of course just wants to be in the Major Leagues for the first time, but would being a late-inning lefty pinch-hitter — ala veteran Matt Stairs — slow down his development? 
“There’s always room for improvement and seasoning, but that was one of the reasons I went to Venezuela this year,” he told me. “I got some more at-bats, and I was able to kind of work on my game a little bit more in different aspects. I think it was a good experience for me, just playing in front of big crowds and just playing more baseball and just going so deep into the year with that.”
Sure, but even that can’t prepare him for what would face him if he actually broke camp as a member of the 25-man roster. 
It’s hard enough to adjust from Minor League to Major League pitching. And then it’s a whole other thing to adjust from being an everyday player to sitting on the bench for an entire game, then getting up for one at-bat in a tight game and immediately seeing a mid-90s fastball. Imagine adjusting to both at once.
I spoke to veteran corner infielder Wes Helms about pinch-hitting a lot last season, and he says it’s an art — one you never perfect, and one you need to be in the big leagues a while to even get used to.
How will Jay adjust if that’s the role he plays?
“I think my routine just stays the same,” said Jay, who batted .281 with 10 homers, 54 RBIs and 20 stolen bases for Triple-A Memphis in 2009. “But obviously I’ll talk to guys that have been there before and the coaching staff. Mark McGwire has been around for a long time, and just our coaching staff has been. It’s great to have those guys to go to. 
“I pinch-hit a lot last year during Spring Training, so I got a little bit used to that. Just always being ready.”
——-
An interesting side note: Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer, who does TV work for the Orioles, made a brief appearance at Cardinals camp on Wednesday, yukking it up with manager Tony La Russa (top) and pitching coach Dave Duncan (bottom). 
La Russa called him “a legitimate Hall of Famer,” but bragged that he once broke up a no-hitter in the late innings against him — in instructional league.
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