Results tagged ‘ Seth Smith ’
The American League West was tough last year — by a very reliable measure, it was the toughest by a wide margin — and it should be even more difficult for the Angels to capture a division title in 2015.
In a nutshell, three of their competitors should be better and one of them could be just as good.
The Mariners added Nelson Cruz and Seth Smith to a club with an outstanding rotation and a bullpen that had the fourth-lowest WHIP in baseball last year. The Astros have added Colby Rasmus, Evan Gattis, Hank Conger, Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek to an emerging young core. The Rangers added Carlos Corporan and Yovani Gallardo to a star-studded roster that will be healthier. (I mean, they can’t get any more injured, right?) The A’s have shuffled the deck, and while they parted ways with Josh Donaldson, Jeff Samardzija, Brandon Moss and Derek Norris in prospect-laden deals, they also added Billy Butler, Ben Zobrist and Tyler Clippard, and now — amazingly — figure to be just as much of a threat in 2015.
The Angels’ offseason could best be described by some imagery general manager Jerry Dipoto recently used, while talking about the industry in general: “The beautiful thing about baseball is that it’s kind of like the ocean. It looks the same, but it changes every millisecond.”
On the outside, the Angels’ Major League roster essentially looks the same, minus Howie Kendrick and Kevin Jepsen but with Matt Joyce and Cesar Ramos. Their biggest change came in their farm system, as Dipoto continued to build layers of depth to make the Angels more sustainable moving forward. In other words, they’re definitely better for the future, but they may not be better — and may even be worse — for 2015.
The AL West ranked second in combined win-loss records last year …
AL East: +12
AL West: +10
NL Central: +8
AL Central: +4
NL East: -2
NL West: -32
But was easily No. 1 in run-differential …
AL West: +140
AL East: +29
NL East: +21
AL Central: -62
NL Central: -63
NL West: -65
That was with the Rangers ranking dead last at minus-136 and the Astros 27th at minus-94. It’s a pretty safe bet that both Texas teams will be better than that; probably way better than that.
It’s impossible to predict what will happen in 2015, of course, but we can sure try. I used Steamer’s Wins Above Replacement projections for each AL West team’s starting lineup, top four starters and best three relievers. Below is the projected fWAR for each team’s 16 most important players (for the Angels I included Garrett Richards; for the Rangers I included Jurickson Profar; for the A’s I included A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker) …
Steamer can’t account for any freak injuries that may occur, or in-season additions that can be made, or all sorts of other randomness that occurs throughout every baseball season. But I think it’s a pretty good general overview of where teams stand.
It’ll be interesting.
If you’re curious, here’s what Steamer projected for each Angels player, ordered by highest fWAR: Trout (8.7), Aybar (3.1), Calhoun (3.1), Pujols (3), Iannetta (2.7), Richards (2.3), Freese (1.8), Hamilton (1.7), Wilson (1.4), Shoemaker (1.3), Joyce (1.2), Rutledge (1.1), Weaver (0.8), Smith (0.3), Morin (0.1), Street (0).
SP: RH Jerome Williams (5-6, 4.73 ERA)
SP: RH Bartolo Colon (13-3, 2.52 ERA)
- Howie Kendrick had a day off, but the Angels’ second baseman said he’s fine and Mike Scioscia said he’s just giving him a break. “He’s been playing a lot,” Scioscia said. “He’ll be back in there tomorrow.”
- Dane De La Rosa has become an overnight sensation after saving a pigeon. He gained about 300 more Twitter followers and was mentioned on SportsCenter, Sports Nation and Deadspin. Initially, he thought it was a rat. “It just was not trying to fly at all. I didn’t want to cause a pitching delay in the outfield, so I just grabbed it. It was obviously trying to get somewhere.” So he walked out to the player’s parking lot and dropped it off. He said goodbye. And he named it Randy. But not after Randy Johnson, who famously did this. “He just looked like a Randy,” De La Rosa said.
- The Bay Bridge was closed this afternoon because a suspicious package was found, and those who didn’t take the early bus were forced to ride B.A.R.T., the public transportation from San Francisco to Oakland. That included Josh Hamilton, who rode with his accountability partner Shayne Kelley but went the entire ride without being recognized. “It’s the little things,” he said.
- Infielder Brendan Harris, recently DFA’s by the Angels, signed a Minor League deal with the Yankees and will report to Triple-A. Clearly he saw a better chance to get playing time on an injury-riddled team.
The Angels’ 19-inning loss last night was a devastating one, but it was also quite memorable. It was the longest game in Angels history — A’s, too — and it witnessed several encouraging performances. Tommy Hanson pitched six innings of two-run ball with a heavy heart, Chris Iannetta squatted for 19 innings behind the plate, Mark Trumbo hit a 475-foot homer that was tied for the longest in the Majors this season, Albert Pujols had four hits, went deep twice and played the field despite having plantar fasciitis on his left foot, and Jerome Williams hurled six innings of one-run ball in relief.
Still, though, the Angels were in no mood to reminisce on Tuesday.
“I don’t feel any nostalgia towards it,” Trumbo said. “It’s all about winning, and we didn’t do it.”
SP: RH Garrett Richards (1-1, 3.65 ERA)
SP: RH Jarrod Parker (0-4, 8.10 ERA)
- The Angels officially placed Peter Bourjos on the disabled list today with a strained left hamstring, activating Aybar. Also, outfielder Scott Cousins had his contract purchased from Triple-A Salt Lake and Michael Roth was sent down. The Angels’ 40-man roster is back at 40, and the Angels are back to the traditional seven relievers and four-man bench — despite the fact seven relievers accounted for 12 2/3 innings the night before. “Really, we’re as banged up on the lineup side,” Mike Scioscia said.
- It looks like only Jerome Williams and Michael Kohn will be unavailable tonight. Ernesto Frieri is good to go, as are Barry Enright, Dane De La Rosa, Nick Maronde and Scott Downs.
- Luis Jimenez‘s bruised left shin is “a little tight,” Scioscia said, but he may be available to play defense. If the Angels get a lead late, don’t be surprised to see him sub in for Harris at third.
- Still no time frame on how long Bourjos’ hamstring will keep him out. Obviously, as a speed guy, he needs that to be 100 percent before returning.
- Ryan Madson is still not throwing.
- Jimenez has some experience in the outfield from winter ball, so that may be an option for him once Alberto Callaspo returns.
Tommy Hanson takes the mound today, in the opener of a three-game series, with a heavy heart, after spending six days on the bereavement list while dealing with the sudden death of his 24-year-old step-brother. The 26-year-old right-hander is happy to be back, joining his teammates and in some ways distracting himself from the sorrow that a loss in the family can cause.
“I think any time you’re doing something you have a passion for and you love, it’s therapeautic for all of us,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “Hopefully it’ll help Tommy get through some of the things he’s dealing with in his personal life and come out here and move forward.”
SP: Hanson (2-1, 4.24 ERA)
SP: RH Dan Straily (1-0, 2.70 ERA)
- Erick Aybar (bruised left heel) is slated to play for Triple-A Salt Lake today, while Alberto Callaspo (right calf strain) and Mark Lowe (left neck strain) will begin a rehab assignment with Class A Inland Empire on Tuesday. If all goes well, I’d expect Aybar and Callaspo to both be back for the weekend home series against the Orioles.
- Scioscia said he’d probably hit Aybar lower in the lineup initially, and was non-committal about whether he’d replace Bourjos in the leadoff spot.
- The Angels’ skipper has thought about putting Trumbo in the cleanup spot on a more frequent basis, instead of just against left-handed starters, but prefers to stay with that platoon for now — even though Hamilton continues to struggle and the Angels have seen seven straight right-handed starters (lefty Tommy Milone will start tomorrow).
- The 7 o’clock Angels games on Tuesday and Friday will be broadcast on KCOP.
Perhaps it’s too early for urgency. We are, in fact, just seven games into a 162-game season. But these are the Angels — the much-hyped Angels, with a $150-plus million payroll, tons of stars and the desire (necessity?) to get off to a much better start this year. As one player told me pregame, “We need an easy win today.”
SP: Tommy Milone (1-0, 2.57 ERA)
SP: Joe Blanton (0-1, 7.20 ERA)
- It doesn’t look good for Erick Aybar, who’s out of the lineup one day after exiting the game in the third inning with a left heel contusion. He’s in even more pain today than he was yesterday, and given his overall toughness, that isn’t a good sign. The Angels still haven’t received results of his examinations earlier today, so they’re still treating it as a day to day situation. But he appears headed for the DL.
- Mike Scioscia was asked about last night’s confusion, when he said Sean Burnett couldn’t go more than one inning because of a blister and Burnett said he could and the blister was already gone. The Angels’ skipper got pretty defensive, saying: “We’re totally on the same page. We are absolutely on the same page. I think he was talking about his performance and his pitching … Sean Burnett, part of what came up was he was used a lot in the first week of the season, he pitched a lot of baseball and not wanting to really repeat that I think there are some things you have to really be mindful of.”
- Ryan Madson felt good after his 30-pitch bullpen on Tuesday and will play catch with a softball, because it helps him get on top of the ball.
- Jered Weaver is off the sling and could be playing catch pretty soon. The timeline hasn’t changed, and he’ll still have to build back his length before returning, but it’s good for him to trigger the arm.
- Here’s what Scioscia said about using Harris over Andrew Romine: “Brendan, with his experience, is probably a little stronger in the batter’s box and he played good shortstop in the spring. [Andrew’s] a terrific defender. With Milone actually he has that change-up so he is tough on righties, too. We feel good about Brendan, where he is, and he had a good game last night for us.”
- Pujols is at DH to give him a chance to regroup. It’s his third time in four games there.
- The Angels signed first baseman/outfielder Brad Hawpe to a Minor League deal. He’ll report to extended Spring Training in Tempe, Ariz., for four or five days, then head to Triple-A Salt Lake, providing coverage for Kole Calhoun (broken hamate bone).
- Bill Hall, resigned by the club, has already reported to extended spring. He’ll be there a little longer because he barely had a Spring Training while recovering from a quad and calf injury.
Well, here we are. That 15-3 run the Angels went on beginning on Aug. 20 — essentially wasted over the last three nights, with the offense struggling against the young, supremely talented pitching staff of the upstart A’s. Now, with 19 left, they’re 3 1/2 games back of the second Wild Card spot, which is amazingly further back than the Brewers and Phillies are in the National League at this point. Here are the lineups, with a different look against a left-handed starter …
Pitching: LH Brett Anderson (4-0, 0.69 ERA)
Pitching: RH Jered Weaver (16-4, 2.86 ERA)
- Trumbo, as expected, is in the starting lineup, with Kendrys Morales getting that “natural” day off against a left-handed starter. But Trumbo’s struggles don’t warrant placement in the cleanup spot these days, so that means Hunter slides out of the No. 2 spot — a spot that has treated him so well all year — so that Pujols can have some protection. “This is just a fact of, the right-handed bats that you’d want to hit behind Albert right now, the one that matches up against Anderson and is really swinging well, it would be either Trout or Torii,” Mike Scioscia said. “We want to keep Trout in the leadoff spot, and we’ll just flip Torii down there short term and see where it leads today.” It’s a look you can expect to see more of against left-handed starters.
- Maicer Izturis (left ribs) will start to swing today. Scioscia said he should be available tomorrow.
- Scioscia, on limitations for Weaver: “There won’t be a hard pitch count on him, but I don’t think we’re going to let him go out there and throw 115, 120 pitches today. We’re not going to cap him at 80 or 90. It’s supposed to be warm today, we’ll be watching a lot of things about how the ball’s coming out of his hand and how he’s holding up. I don’t think we need to artificially limit him to anything right now. We’ll see how the game flow goes.”
- Scoiscia, on where the Angels stand right now: “We’re disappointed in the fact that if you look at just our record, it’s not where we want to be. I think what’s happened is very tangible. It’s not like any of this is some enigma. You can see where some of these things have set up back, and how adjustments are being made that are getting those areas back to where they need to be. So, there’s time for us to reach our goal. Discounting these last three games, if you look at where we are the last three weeks, we’re playing at an extraordinary level, and hopefully it’s going to translate into us reaching our goal.”
- Pujols went a month without hitting his first home run of the season, and still, with three weeks left in the season, he reached 30 for the 12th straight season. Scioscia isn’t surprised, though, given how he turned his season around last year, too. “Although it was a little bit more prolonged, there was no doubt that he had enough time to do what we can do on the offensive end, and we’re starting to see that. It remains to be seen where he finishes with his batting average [currently.287], but you look at his home runs and his RBIs, he’s going to be 30 and 100 easily.”
Game 2 of this critical four-game set, on the 11th anniversary of the devastating Sept. 11 attacks …
Pitching: RH Dan Straily (1-0, 3.18 ERA)
Pitching: RH Jerome Williams (6-7, 4.59 ERA)
- Jered Weaver threw a “touch-and-feel” bullpen today, and pitching coach Mike Butcher said he came out of it just fine.
- X-rays on Maicer Izturis‘ strained rib cage came up negative, but he’s still not back to baseball activities. He’s hoping he’ll get there in a couple days.
- In case you hadn’t noticed, Mark Trumbo (2-for-24 with 12 strikeouts this month) is once again out of the lineup, in favor of Wells. It’s not really about giving Trumbo a mental day off at this point. Mike Scioscia just needs to put his best lineup on the field. And right now, it doesn’t include Trumbo. “He’s trying to balance finding that feel in the batter’s box again with the right amount of work on some fundamentals and mechanics to getting away from that and just clearing his mind. He’s feeling a little bit better. It’s obviously been a little bit of a downturn, but he’s working hard to find himself.”
- Williams said yesterday he feels he can “easily” throw 100 pitches tonight. Scioscia? “100 pitches might be a stretch, but I think he’ll have enough pitches to pitch to a certain point in the game if he’s effective. And you really worry about the bounceback more than you worry about tonight.”
- Scioscia was asked today how much of an impact new hitting coach Jim Eppard has had on the offense, compared to the previously dismissed Mickey Hatcher. In 37 games under Hatcher, the Angels posted a .250/.301/.379 slash line. In 104 games since, it’s .282/.341/.455. Here’s what Scioscia said: “Jim’s philosophies and Mickey’s are really very closely aligned. There’s no doubt that when Mickey was working with some hitters, he brought guys along in a big way. Eppy, I think, certainly has his finger prints on some guys and what they’re doing. If you’re looking at a lot of guys in our lineup, the thing that got them going wasn’t anything a hitting coach did or didn’t do. It was just getting into the flow of a season. I think that probably was the biggest turnaround.”
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.”
The Angels head into tonight having won 10 of their last 13 games, but making up only a half-game in the Wild Card standings despite their recent surge. That’s what happens when you have so many teams in front of you. A win today moves them back to a season-best 10 games over .500 and makes them an even 25-25 since the All-Star break. Most importantly, it allows them to make up some ground on the Wild Card-leading A’s …
Pitching: RH Zack Greinke (3-2, 4.82 ERA)
Pitching: RH Jarrod Parker (9-7, 3.72 ERA)
- Still no further clarity on Jered Weaver and his right shoulder, according to Mike Scioscia. Friday hasn’t been ruled out, but Weaver was getting treatment most of the afternoon and declined a request to talk. “Nothing’s changed [from Tuesday],” Scioscia said. “We’re just seeing how he’s moving forward, how he’s feeling, and we’ll see where he is.”
- As expected, Mark Trumbo (.181 BA last 32 games) was given the day off to clear his head. “Only a player knows how he feels in the box — what his balance is, how he’s seeing the ball. Sometimes your stance, your approach is the same, but there’s balance issues of when you’re loading, timing, all the stuff that goes into hitting. Right now, it’s obvious that Mark is a little out of sync. He’s a mentally tough kid, but even being mentally tough, there’s a level of frustration that’s going to creep into anybody’s game when you’re not performing to your capabilities, and Mark’s obviously working through that.”
- Right-hander Barry Enright and catcher Hank Conger were both called up from Triple-A Salt Lake, putting the Angels’ roster at 33. Enright will provide further depth in the bullpen — perhaps necessary if Weaver has to be skipped in any way — and Scioscia said those will be the last of the September callups.
- Minor League left-handed pitcher Yancarlos Santiago has been suspended for 25 games without pay following a violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The suspension of Santiago, who is currently on the roster of the rookie-level Orem Owls of the Pioneer League, is effective immediately.
- Hunter’s .357 batting average since the All-Star break ranks second in the AL.
- Iannetta’s hitting .386 with 12 RBIs over his last 16 games.
Pitching: LH C.J. Wilson (4-4, 3.35 ERA)
Pitching: RH Graham Godfrey (0-3, 5.06 ERA)
Some pregame notes …
- The left side is the best side. That’s not me sucking up to my new region of the country, it’s in reference to Morales, who’s just 3-for-20 as a right-handed hitter this season (where he hit yesterday) and has a .309 batting average from the left side (where he’s hitting today). But Mike Scioscia says that has more to do with the sample size than actuality, saying: “I think Kendrys showed a couple years ago that right-handed, there’s no doubt he’s a threat and can hit the ball out of every park. This year, he hasn’t had that many at-bats from that side because of just trying to keep him fresh and active from the left side. There’s no doubt he can swing it from that side, though.”
- Pujols comes into this game with a .212/.256/.318 slash line, having gone 5-for-24 with a couple of homers since a three-hit game on May 15. “You have to keep it simple,” he said. “As much as you know it’s hard, you have to really keep it simple and go out there and put good swings. Sometimes, you’re going to feel good, and most of the time you won’t. The times you don’t feel good is when you have to survive until you get that streak going.”
- Scioscia, on Bobby Cassevah‘s role in the bullpen: “He’s depth, and we’ll see when Bobby can pitch. Probably use him in the middle somewhere until he gets his feet on the ground. But last year, he had a terrific season for us. Nothing that says that kind of arm won’t move to the back of the bullpen as depth and be able to pitch, whether it’s the seventh, eighth or ninth inning, whatever. We’ll just see how it evolves.”
- Chris Iannetta had his wrist protector off in the clubhouse — but only temporarily. He has to keep it on in case he re-aggravates it and is still about three weeks away from throwing.
Angels links from Monday …
- Angels lose, offense struggles, for third straight game
- Notebook, on Vernon Wells‘ surgery, roster moves, Kole Calhoun‘s ascension and the bullpen’s improvement
- Dick Schofield, Nick Gorneault to represent Angels at Draft
- Preview on Wilson vs. Godfrey
- Question of the Day, on Trumbo and third base
Some AL West links …
- Manny Ramirez‘s focus on the here and now
- Pudge (Ivan Rodriguez) representing Rangers in Draft
- Felix Hernandez outduels Yu Darvish in Seattle
And the Heat will need support from their front line to beat the Pacers in Game 5 today.