Sunday, May 26, 2013
Thanks. Now Get Out.
Yesterday, in his first MLB appearance since May 29, 2010, Billy Buckner pitched five shutout innings and earned the win in the Angels 5-0 victory over the Royals, the team that drafted Buckner in the second round of the 2004 June amateur draft. Buckner allowed just two hits and three walks while striking out two in his Angels debut.
Today, the Angels designated Buckner for assignment to make room on the team’s 40-man roster for reliever Kevin Jepsen’s return from the disabled list. The Angels now have ten days to waive, trade or release Buckner. If Buckner clears waivers, he could accept assignment back to the Angels AAA affiliate in Salt Lake or elect to become a free agent. The Angels can also re-add Bucker to the 40-man roster within the 10-day period, but that would necessitate the removal of another player from the roster.
Sometimes baseball can be a cruel game.
Photo by Ed Zurga, Getty Images

Thanks. Now Get Out.

Yesterday, in his first MLB appearance since May 29, 2010, Billy Buckner pitched five shutout innings and earned the win in the Angels 5-0 victory over the Royals, the team that drafted Buckner in the second round of the 2004 June amateur draft. Buckner allowed just two hits and three walks while striking out two in his Angels debut.

Today, the Angels designated Buckner for assignment to make room on the team’s 40-man roster for reliever Kevin Jepsen’s return from the disabled list. The Angels now have ten days to waive, trade or release Buckner. If Buckner clears waivers, he could accept assignment back to the Angels AAA affiliate in Salt Lake or elect to become a free agent. The Angels can also re-add Bucker to the 40-man roster within the 10-day period, but that would necessitate the removal of another player from the roster.

Sometimes baseball can be a cruel game.

Photo by Ed Zurga, Getty Images

Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Ouch
Angels ace Jared Weaver will be out the next 4-6 weeks with a broken left elbow (his non-pitching arm) after dodging a line drive off the bat of Mitch Moreland in the sixth inning of his April 7 start against the Rangers in Arlington.
The Angels do not have a deep pitching staff. Look for them to call the Rockies about recently acquired (and immediately designated for assignment) starter Aaron Harang, who was 10-10 with a 3.61 ERA in 31 starts over 179.2 innings last year for the Dodgers.
Photo by L.M. Otero, Associated Press

Ouch

Angels ace Jared Weaver will be out the next 4-6 weeks with a broken left elbow (his non-pitching arm) after dodging a line drive off the bat of Mitch Moreland in the sixth inning of his April 7 start against the Rangers in Arlington.

The Angels do not have a deep pitching staff. Look for them to call the Rockies about recently acquired (and immediately designated for assignment) starter Aaron Harang, who was 10-10 with a 3.61 ERA in 31 starts over 179.2 innings last year for the Dodgers.

Photo by L.M. Otero, Associated Press

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 Monday, November 12, 2012

If I Had a Vote (Part One)

The Baseball Writers Association of America announces its annual awards winners this week, starting the the Rookie of the Year awards. If I was a card carrying member of the BBWAA, this would be my ballot.

AL Rookie of the Year: Mike Trout (Angels)

This is the easiest call to make. The 21-year old Trout had one of the greatest offensive season in the history of the game, easily overshadowing the other finalists - Yoenis Cespedes and Yu Darvish. The only question is whether or not Trout also wins the AL MVP award.

NL Rookie of the Year: Bryce Harper (Nationals)

This is a close race. Neither Frazier nor Miley were touted very much coming into this season. Frazier only came up to the Reds from AAA (where he wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire with a pedestrian .231/.268/.359 slash line with one home run and eleven strikeouts in 10 games with Louisville) after an injury to Scott Rolen. Miley was the 13th ranked prospect according to MinorLeagueBall.com in the Diamondbacks system. Other pitchers (Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs, Archie Bradley and Patrick Corbin, to name a few) were the top jewels. Though his role increased after injuries to Daniel Hudson and Ian Kennedy, Miley was holding down the fifth spot in the rotation out of Spring Training. To their credit, both Frazier and Miley capitalized on their opportunities. But when you come in to the league as hyped as Harper was, with the expectations that were piled upon him, and then you live up to that hype and those expectations, that becomes the difference maker.

Photo Credits:
Mike Trout, by Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Bryce Harper, by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Fan Club
The Seattle Mariners tied their own major league record last night by striking out twenty times in their 5-4 loss to the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim). Zack Greinke led four other Angels pitchers with 13 strikeouts in just five innings of work. Now you might ask yourself why did Angels manager Mike Scioscia remove Greinke from the game so early and thusly take away any chance of Greinke tying or breaking the record of 20 strikeouts in a nine-inning game held jointly by Roger Clemens (who did it twice!) and Kerry Wood.
Well despite recording 13 of 15 outs by strikeout, Greinke labored through those five innings, throwing 110 pitches. Though he allowed just one run on a home run by Justin Smoak in the 4th inning, he also walked two and surrendered another six hits. So with a seemingly comfortable 4-1 lead over the weak-hitting Mariners, Scioscia turned the game over to the bullpen. This time the bullpen held, albeit after almost blowing a third consecutive Greinke start. Greinke’s record improved to 15-5 overall and 6-2 with the Angels. However, the Athletics also won last night though to maintain their two game lead over the Angels for the second and final wild card spot with just eight regular season games remaining.
Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Fan Club

The Seattle Mariners tied their own major league record last night by striking out twenty times in their 5-4 loss to the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim). Zack Greinke led four other Angels pitchers with 13 strikeouts in just five innings of work. Now you might ask yourself why did Angels manager Mike Scioscia remove Greinke from the game so early and thusly take away any chance of Greinke tying or breaking the record of 20 strikeouts in a nine-inning game held jointly by Roger Clemens (who did it twice!) and Kerry Wood.

Well despite recording 13 of 15 outs by strikeout, Greinke labored through those five innings, throwing 110 pitches. Though he allowed just one run on a home run by Justin Smoak in the 4th inning, he also walked two and surrendered another six hits. So with a seemingly comfortable 4-1 lead over the weak-hitting Mariners, Scioscia turned the game over to the bullpen. This time the bullpen held, albeit after almost blowing a third consecutive Greinke start. Greinke’s record improved to 15-5 overall and 6-2 with the Angels. However, the Athletics also won last night though to maintain their two game lead over the Angels for the second and final wild card spot with just eight regular season games remaining.

Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Division Races Tighten Up

In tonight’s action, three second place teams each picked up wins over the respective leaders in their divisions. Angels ace Jared Weaver spotted the Rangers a run on a homer by shortstop Elvis Andrus in the top of the first inning. The Angels though evened the score in the bottom of the first and then gradually pulled away to a 6-1 victory as Weaver shut down the visting Rangers over the next six innings to pick up his twelfth win of the season against just one loss. The Angels now trail the Rangers by six games in the loss column.

In Detroit, the Tigers ace Justin Verlander allowed just two runs and four hits while striking out six over eight innings to pick up his eleventh win of the season in the Tigers 4-2 victory over the White Sox. The Tigers can tie the ChiSox in the loss column with a win tomorrow, but they’ll have to beat ace Chris Sale (11-2) to do so.

The wildest game of the night though belonged to the Braves and Nationals in DC. The Nationals and their ace Stephen Strasburg, who was celebrating his 24th birthday, stormed out of the gate behind three-run home runs by Michael Morse in the first and Ryan Zimmerman in the fourth to lead 9-0 after five full innings. The Braves though chased Strasburg in the top of the sixth with four hits including catcher Brian McCann’s two-run home run, which extended his hitting streak to ten games. Later in the inning, left-fielder Martin Prado added a two-run double off reliever Michael Gonzalez to cut the lead to 9-4. After adding four more runs in the top of the eighth inning, the Braves then took the lead on All-Star centerfielder Michael Bourn’s two-run triple in the top of the ninth. In came Braves closer Craig Kimbrel with his NL leading 28 saves including the last twenty in a row to seal the deal in the bottom of the ninth. Game over, right?

Nope.

After second baseman Ian Desmond struck out on three pitches to start the inning, shortstop Danny Espinosa lined Kimbrel’s second offering over the left-center wall to tie the game at nine apiece and give Kimbrel his first blown save since May 2.

On to extra innings.

Neither team threatened to score in the tenth, but Braves second baseman Dan Uggla led off the top of the eleventh with a single and then advanced to second on a throwing error by Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He then moved up to third on the next pitch which catcher Sandy Leon failed to handle for an error on a passed ball. Recently acquired Atlanta shortstop Paul Janish then popped a single over a drawn-in infield to drive in Uggla with the go-ahead run. It was just Janish’s third hit and first RBI in five games since joining the Braves in a trade from the Reds last Sunday.

Chad Durbin pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the eleventh to seal the 4:21 marathon victory and give the Braves their first comeback win from a 9-run deficit since June 7, 1987. The Nationals now lead the Braves by just three games in the loss column. The teams play a doubleheader tomorrow. The Braves bullpen will be shorthanded with both Kimbrel and Eric O’Flaherty presumably unavailable after pitching in four consecutive games.

Photo Credits:
Jared Weaver, by Jayne Kamin-Oncea, US PRESSWIRE
Dan Uggla and Chipper Jones, by Evan Habeeb, US PRESSWIRE
Jhonny Peralta and Quintin Berry, by Rick Osentoski, US PRESSWIRE 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

70s Flashback

Love the throwback uniforms on both the @Angels and @Rangers yesterday!

Where are the stirrups though?

Photo Credits:
CJ Wilson, by Layne Murdoch/Getty Images
Josh Hamilton, by Tony Gutierrez/AP 

Friday, April 27, 2012
No Pressure, Kid
Earlier today the Washington Nationals called up their 19-year old phenom Bryce Harper after placing third baseman Ryan Zimmerman on the 15-day Disabled List. This evening, after dropping their fifth game in a row, the Los Angeles Angels called up outfielder Mike Trout, who was ranked as the third top prospect in the minors entering this season by MLB.com, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus.
Harper and Trout are coming up into completely different situations though. Harper’s Nationals lead the NL East and are tied with the Dodgers for the best record in the National League. The Angels on the other hand sit at the bottom of the AL West with a record of 6-14, already nine games behind the division leading Texas Rangers. The Angels, who also released former All-Star Bobby Abreu to make room for Trout, need Trout to help jump start an anemic offense that is ranked next-to-last in the American League in runs, slugging percentage, OPS and RBI, and last in home runs.
Trout is thought to have the makeup to handle the expectations, and he has 40 games in the majors already under his belt. He was also off to a hot start in 20 games at AAA Salt Lake (.403/.467./623). The Angels are dropping a lot of pressure on a 20-year old kid though.

No Pressure, Kid

Earlier today the Washington Nationals called up their 19-year old phenom Bryce Harper after placing third baseman Ryan Zimmerman on the 15-day Disabled List. This evening, after dropping their fifth game in a row, the Los Angeles Angels called up outfielder Mike Trout, who was ranked as the third top prospect in the minors entering this season by MLB.com, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus.

Harper and Trout are coming up into completely different situations though. Harper’s Nationals lead the NL East and are tied with the Dodgers for the best record in the National League. The Angels on the other hand sit at the bottom of the AL West with a record of 6-14, already nine games behind the division leading Texas Rangers. The Angels, who also released former All-Star Bobby Abreu to make room for Trout, need Trout to help jump start an anemic offense that is ranked next-to-last in the American League in runs, slugging percentage, OPS and RBI, and last in home runs.

Trout is thought to have the makeup to handle the expectations, and he has 40 games in the majors already under his belt. He was also off to a hot start in 20 games at AAA Salt Lake (.403/.467./623). The Angels are dropping a lot of pressure on a 20-year old kid though.

Thursday, April 19, 2012
Four More Years
The Angels and their shortstop Erick Aybar have agreed on a four-year, $35M contract extension, which will carry Aybar through the 2016 season. The 28-year old Aybar’s is in the final year of his previous contract, which will pay him $5.075 for this season.
Aybar has won one Gold Glove award, and many consider him to be the key to the Angels infield defense. His Fangraphs WAR (Wins Above Replacement) for the past three seasons was 3.8 in 2009, 1.4 in 2010 and 4.0 last year. Most of that value is due to his plus defense and baserunning ability. He is a lifetime .274./317/.377 hitter, and those numbers are not expected to improve significantly.
If Aybar had hit the free agent market after this season though, I’m not sure who else would have offered him $8.5M per year. As MLB Trade Rumors notes, Troy Tulowitzky and Alexei Ramirez are the only other shortstops to be given extensions worth more than $30M in recent years. A defensive shortstop with little power is not hard to find. The Angels also have a much less expensive option in Jean Segura coming up through the minors. Baseball Prospectus’ latest prospect rankings list Segura as the Angels second top prospect (behind only Mike Trout) and the 67th overall. Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com ranks Segura as the 7th top shortstop prospect and the 54th overall in his 2012 rankings. Here are a few excerpts from Jonathan Mayo’s scouting report of Segura:

He can hit for average, understands how to get on base and has good extra-base pop, especially for a middle infielder.
…has excellent speed that allowed him to steal 50 bases in 2010.
…has the range and the above-average arm strength to play shortstop…

Segura projects as a two-hitter. He has yet to see action above AA though, and he may not be ready until the 2014 season. That may explain why the Angels were so afraid to risk losing Aybar to free agency. With the signing of Albert Pujols, the Angels are in a win now mode for the foreseeable future. They don’t have as much time or latitude to experiment with unknowns.
With second baseman Howie Kendrick also recently signed through the 2015 season (his deal also includes a partial no-trade clause), the Angels now have to decide what to do with Segura. He doesn’t have the prototypical build and power of a third basemen, but the Angels could try him there as well. That would free them to move Mark Trumbo, who is clearly miscast at third base. Power is a commodity though, and it is tough to give up on Trumbo. Segura’s future may now be more as a valuable trading chip for much needed help in the Angels bullpen.
Photo by Reuters

Four More Years

The Angels and their shortstop Erick Aybar have agreed on a four-year, $35M contract extension, which will carry Aybar through the 2016 season. The 28-year old Aybar’s is in the final year of his previous contract, which will pay him $5.075 for this season.

Aybar has won one Gold Glove award, and many consider him to be the key to the Angels infield defense. His Fangraphs WAR (Wins Above Replacement) for the past three seasons was 3.8 in 2009, 1.4 in 2010 and 4.0 last year. Most of that value is due to his plus defense and baserunning ability. He is a lifetime .274./317/.377 hitter, and those numbers are not expected to improve significantly.

If Aybar had hit the free agent market after this season though, I’m not sure who else would have offered him $8.5M per year. As MLB Trade Rumors notes, Troy Tulowitzky and Alexei Ramirez are the only other shortstops to be given extensions worth more than $30M in recent years. A defensive shortstop with little power is not hard to find. The Angels also have a much less expensive option in Jean Segura coming up through the minors. Baseball Prospectus’ latest prospect rankings list Segura as the Angels second top prospect (behind only Mike Trout) and the 67th overall. Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com ranks Segura as the 7th top shortstop prospect and the 54th overall in his 2012 rankings. Here are a few excerpts from Jonathan Mayo’s scouting report of Segura:

He can hit for average, understands how to get on base and has good extra-base pop, especially for a middle infielder.

…has excellent speed that allowed him to steal 50 bases in 2010.

…has the range and the above-average arm strength to play shortstop…

Segura projects as a two-hitter. He has yet to see action above AA though, and he may not be ready until the 2014 season. That may explain why the Angels were so afraid to risk losing Aybar to free agency. With the signing of Albert Pujols, the Angels are in a win now mode for the foreseeable future. They don’t have as much time or latitude to experiment with unknowns.

With second baseman Howie Kendrick also recently signed through the 2015 season (his deal also includes a partial no-trade clause), the Angels now have to decide what to do with Segura. He doesn’t have the prototypical build and power of a third basemen, but the Angels could try him there as well. That would free them to move Mark Trumbo, who is clearly miscast at third base. Power is a commodity though, and it is tough to give up on Trumbo. Segura’s future may now be more as a valuable trading chip for much needed help in the Angels bullpen.

Photo by Reuters

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Good Starts for Several Top Prospects

Dylan Bundy makes professional debut throwing all strikes in three perfect innings for Orioles A-ball affiliate, the Delmarva Shorebirds.

Nolan Arenado goes 4-for-5 with 3 RBI in Double A debut with Tulsa Drillers, the Colorado Rockies farm team.

Trevor Bauer took a no-hitter into the 5th inning in his professional debut for the Diamondbacks AA club, the Mobile BayBears, in a 5-2 win over the Mississippi Braves.

Brett Jackson had two hits, a walk and a stolen base in the AAA Iowa Cubs victory over the Round Rock Express.

Mike Trout, who has lost 10 pounds while battling the flu, went 3-for-5 with three runs scored as the DH in the AAA Salt Lake Bees 3-2 win over the Tacoma Rainiers.

Archie Bradley gave up just one run and four hits while striking out seven in five innings of work, but took the hard luck loss in his professional debut for the South Bend Silver Hawks, the A-ball affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.