Saturday, May 29, 2004

I was updating all through today's game, as you can see below, but I eventually had to stop as there are only so many ways to say "Sele is rolling." He's really starting to make me believer, as he hosed down a hot team today. Today also saw the best lineup we can field right now; tomorrow will (apparently) bring the Mondesi Experiment to the outfield.

Wow, the Sox took one from the Halo playbook there. And we covered home plate!

Teaches me to stop. Sele allows to hits, gets two big outs, then walks a man. Big at bat against Timo Perez here.

With the hit parade on and one starter already chased, I'm gonna give the diary a break ... but I'll keep watching for Sele to get that curve over and get those pretty pretty ground balls. I think as long as he keeps keeping the ball in the ballpark, he can keep winning.

Oh my God, I think the contact play actually kind of worked. We were able to get Slowpoke Kotchman home ... basically because the ball took Konerko to his left.

I still can't believe Konerko got traded for Jeff Shaw. Give me a break. At least trading him for Mike Cameron made sense.

OK, Scioscia, are you watching? Until guys come back, Robb Quinlan is your DH. Thank you.

An extra-base hit for Kotchman! Is it too much to hope that he gets hot with hits, power, and walks over the next week, and wins the first base job?

Yes. Even if he does it, Erstad's coming back in a week or so, and he's the "heart and soul" of the ballclub and all that BS.

But it would be another exhibit in the case against Raul Mondesi.

Two ground-rule doubles for Jeff DaVanon. Mondesi who?

OK. Two leadoff singles. Let's not do something stupid like bunt or run into outs or a triple play or something.

In a year where so much has gone wrong, let us reflect on something that has gone right: Vlad. He's really been as good as advertised, and I have trouble seeing the team fall apart completely with him in the lineup.

Uribe has layed off two tough looking curves. Where has this discipline come from?

Sele gets a fastball up to Olivo, who breaks up the no-hitter with one out in the third.

Once again, Bengie looks bad throwing the baseball, as a throw tails way off the base and allows Miguel Olivo, soon to be a fantasy league superstar (a catcher with decent power and good speed!) to steal second.

Sele draws a weak comebacker by getting his curve over. Good stuff.

Robb Quinlan just showed why he doesn't get more playing time: he avoided being picked off at third.

And then he promptly gets thrown out at home. We have now lost three runners on the bases, though that one was at least somewhat defensible.

Steve Lyons is dead wrong. He claims DaVanon was suckered by Jose Uribe at third base. Um, no. He was running, and then he slipped while trying to change direction. Uribe did not make him slide. Lyons, buy a clue.

Stupid outs run into: 2.

Jeff DaVanon makes the case against Mondesi with a leadoff ground-rule double.

MLB/Fox commercial starring Nomar Garciaparra, and he talks about how he wants to get his team to the World Series. Why run a commercial with a guy who has zero games this year? And, uh, Nomar, my fantasy team could use your return. Thanks.

Figgins just made a play Shane Halter has never seen.

With a 3-2 count and two outs, Sele finally throws his curve for a strike. He was 0-2 or 0-3 before (one pitched missed low, but I wasn't sure if it was supposed to have been a curve), and two missed high. He needs to establish his breaking pitch as a possible strike in order to succeed.

And then he comes back with another one, after the balk. Good sign.

Steve Lyons: "In the games you get beat, those are the games you don't score enough runs to win."

At least he and Brennaman immediately realized how lame that statement was.

Can Aaron Sele keep Father Time away for one more game? The Sox have a tough lineup with some hot hitters, so I keep thinking the ground's gonna fall from under him at any point.

First pitch: weak pop-up to center. Good start.

Why, Legs, why? Of course, I'm not sure you were out, but come on. Not every hit is a double.

Fox begins the advertising blitz on North Shore, aka The O.C. with Petulant Adults Instead of Lame Kids. Please end the madness!

Did Jeanne Zelasko have the worst plastic surgery ever between last season and this?

Four games.

Four runs.

Four losses.


Apparently it is Boo Mondesi.

In center freaking field.

Let me sum up my gut instinct to this:


I was never a fan of Boo (so named because the chant for Mondesi, "Ra-uuuuuuuuuuuul" sounds like "Boo!") or his defense. He always looked clumsy to me in rightfield. He's also on the wrong side of 30, and might be losing a step or so. I could be wrong and have an open mind, but ... Mondesi? In center? Really?

If Shane F. Halter gets one at bat after this acquisition, it will be a travesty. Figgins must and shall start at third, and Guillen-DaVanon-Vlad-Mondesi must and shall start in the outfield and DH slots. If someone needs a break, make Quinlan the DH. Let DaVanon bat against lefthanders!

If this Mondesi thing actually does happen, and isn't some fraudulent joke hatched by Ashton Kutcher, who goes from the roster? Dismiss ye Josh Paul, who doesn't play or do anything ever.

Well, here's a good thing ... an outfield of Guillen, Boo, and Vlad would throw out 60 guys at home -- assuming we had a catcher who could cover home plate.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

I stupidly forgot to set my VCR to record the game tonight, and since it's a Wednesday and MLB goes all Restricted Access on Wednesday, it's possible this game might not end up on MLB.tv immediately. So, I will very possibly never view one play from this game.

Good. That way I can pretend it never happened.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Jose Guillen is angry!

"I don't know how many times I've been hit, and there's no retaliation; I don't know how many times Vladdy has been hit, and nobody … does anything," the Black Knight tells the LA Times.

Um, say what?

Last night, your starting pitcher and manager got ejected for "retaliation" -- even though the pitch missed the batter (big gaffe by the home plate umpire there). What, does Guillen insist we hit the guy square?

And, by the way, brainiac, Vlad has been hit a grand total of twice -- one of which was followed up by Bartolo Colon plunking Tino Martinez in an obvious retaliatory move. This was, in fact, the highlight of Colon's only good start since April 16.

So Guillen is factually wrong, and the other players don't like it. Kudos to Mike Scioscia, who says, "Here's our philosophy — we pitch inside aggressively to get outs. If we think guys are throwing at us [deliberately] I will take it up with the other manager and settle it .... but there is no room in this game for bean balls."

Ace Washburn and Troy Percival also have tempered and sane comments.

Anyway, Guillen is acting like a little baby, and it falls to Scioscia to get him in line. I think that Guillen has proved he can be a tremendous player, if so focused. Could this be the sort of thing that turns him into an unproductive malcontent?

I have confidence in Scioscia making this work. Dealing with players appears his strongest suit as a manager, and, ultimately, getting a guy like Guillen to play to his potential is far more important than running us into stupid outs once a game (and what the hell was that stupid double steal of home thing?).

And once he straightens out Guillen, I hope he teaches Bengie and Amezaga how to run damn rundown.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Well, that was sufficiently disgusting.

Let me explain how it works: at work, I listen along on MLB Audio. I get off work at 6:30. East Coast games tend to end around 7, which is when I get home. I videotape the games, so I don't pay any attention to the last few innings until I review them on tape.

So when I left the office today, at 6:30, the Angels led 5-4. I double-checked when I got home, noted the game was still going on (what, extra innings?), and set the VCR to record a little bit more.

Sadly, I have the whole "game" on tape now.

Not only do we witness some of the worst home-plate umpiring outside of Eric Gregg's orbit, we get subpar Little League fundamentals.

My blame for the calamitous last play falls on Alfredo Amezaga. Back when I was in school and played baseball, it was the responsibility of the guy receiving the ball (i.e. Amezaga) to call "ball." Theoretically, this would happen when the guy with the ball had pretty much run the guy back to the base whence he came.

Presuming the Lads run this play the same way, Amezaga called for the ball way too early, and he gave Gomez ample time to turn around and run toward home. Waiting would have also allowed Weber the time to get home. Baseball Tonight claimed Kotchman should also have been running home, but the video doesn't really reveal that he wasn't; he was a good two yards further away from home than was Weber when the rundown started to go down.*

Ben Weber also deserves blame for walking crappy "hitters" like Chris Gomez.

I'm not going to lay much blame on Frankie, who pitched well. None of the three hits he allowed would have been hits in a real ballpark: one was lost against the roof by Legs (his second defensive screw-up of the day, and both of them led to costly runs scoring), one was a sky-high chopper, and one just got by Eckstein into the hole by thismuch.

I also don't understand why the hell Scot Shields couldn't have pitched two frickin' innings. Why would you put Weber into a close game at this point? He's been awful all season, and if you think he can make it back, only put him in during mop-up situations.

Anyway, this was a sickening, revolting excuse for a ballgame. We're all going to need the day off to erase this from our memories.

*I corrected this sentence, as I had originally thought Kotch had laid down out of Kennedy's way, but reviewing the tape showed I had remembered that detail incorrectly. The original, wrong sentence: I don't blame Kotchman for laying on the ground the whole time, because his getting up would have put him in Adam Kennedy's way, which would have led to a whole host of other problems before the play even developed.

Reader Eyespy pointed me to this article on Halo injuries at FoxSports.com, written by Dayn Perry (formerly[?] of Baseball Prospectus). Perry argues that the Angels are better off for Erstad's injury, as Kotch is the better player.

This may well prove to be true, but I honestly think some may be expecting too much of the kid. BPro, in general, is often too hasty with predicting greatness for prospects. Perry does temper his language on Kotchman, but he still insists that he is an immediate improvement on Erstad. Hey, we still have a month or so, so Perry may be proven right. I certainly wouldn't be surprised; but I also wouldn't be surprised or disappointed if Kotch cannot surprass Erstad on his first taste of the big leagues.

Perry also tries to put Glaus' injury in perspective (sorry for the huge quote):

"As for Glaus, he was off to a tremendous start with the bat ... but it's doubtful he would have been able to maintain that pace even with good health. Glaus, like Erstad, has only one brilliant season in his career. Also like Erstad, that came in 2000. Glaus was a good player in 2001, but otherwise he hasn't been much of a producer given his corner-defender status. In other words, Glaus, based on his history of performance and exceedingly hot start to the season, was likely in for a hefty dose of regression to the mean .... the preponderance of the evidence suggests Glaus was playing comfortably over his head. [emphasis mine]"

Well, 2000 clearly was Glaus' best year, when he put up a scrumptious 150 OPS+. And it is true he had declined since then, falling off to a 127 in 2001 and a 115 in 2002. (He managed a 118 in his injury-shortened 2003). Does this mean he wasn't "much of a producer"?

Let's look at 2001. Do you know how many AL third basemen had a higher OPS+ than Troy Glaus' 127 in 2001? Here's the list.

1. Eric Chavez -- 131

That's it. I guess I should look at the NL, too, huh? Here's that list:

1. Chipper Jones -- 162
2. Phil Nevin -- 158

Scott Rolen and Aramis Ramirez came close that season, with marks of 126 and 125, respectively. In fairness, Perry does concede that 2001 was a "good" year. I guess ranking fourth in the majors at your position only merits a rating of "good" now.

How about 2002? Here are the guys in both leagues who surpassed Glaus' 115:

1. Scott Rolen -- 132
2. Edgardo Alfonzo -- 130
3. Eric Hinske -- 124
4. Eric Chavez -- 122
5. Robin Ventura -- 121
6. Corey Koskie -- 118
7. Mike Lowell -- 116

What a terrible collapse! Eighth out of thirty! Clearly, Glaus was not a sufficient run-producer. Of course, 2002 is the entire "otherwise" to which Perry refers, unless you want to count his getting-his-feet-wet season and his injured year last year.

Glaus' 2000 was so good that people tend to think of him as a disappointment. This is foolish. The man is (was?) a fine hitter and a fine player, and his absence creates a big gap in the Angel offense which the combination of DaVanon and Shane Halter will struggle to fill (though one of these guys is much closer than the other ...).

(I don't want to come down to hard on Perry; I pretty much found two parts of the article to rip on. He's pretty optimistic about the team, and it's an oddly optimistic article, as he argues that the Lads should survive these injuries and still win the division. That's downright heretic from someone associated with BPro ...)

I contrast to DaVanon swings Casey Kotchman, who after 45 plate appearances has yet to draw an unintentional walk. His line sits at a big fat 286/326/310, which compares to The Punter's 264/294/333.

Naturally, "producing" like Erstad brings raves from Angel management. Staff writer Steven Henson even references Kotchman's "plate discipline."

As I'm sure you've heard, Kotchman has yet to strike out. Well, he's averaging only 3.31 pitches per plate appearance, and it's rare to see a strikeout so early in an at-bat. Kotchman hasn't been working the count; he's been swinging early and often.

None of this should be interpreted in any way to mean that I'm down on Kotchman. Hell, he's 21 and he's holding his own in the majors and playing just as "well" as the veteran he's spelling. But it does seem my dream of Kotchman putting the Pipp of Erstad may not come to immediate fruition. No big deal; he's still two years ahead of schedule, anyone who fits in at age 21 has a golden future, and Kotchman's appears as bright as ever.

6-4-2 links to Jay Jaffe on Jeff DaVanon. The article also discusses Jeff's father, Jerry, and is worth your time.

One thing everyone notices about DaVanon -- especially as it makes him unique on the current Angel roster -- is his propensity for walks. He has drawn one base on balls for every 4.87 at-bats, a phenomonal ratio.

Angel broadcasters would have you believe that this is something new, but it's not, really. Coming into this season he had averaged 8.21 at-bats per walk in his major league career, after averaging 5.86 in his minor league career. In fact, in his second cup of coffee, in 2001, DaVanon drew a walk for every 3.64 at-bats -- better than he is this season (though he struggled a bit getting hits in that 40 AB trial).

So he's obviously walking more than usual, but this has always been one of his strengths. He's merely improved on one of his strengths, and he has to be considered one of the best fourth outfielders in the game.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

How will Shane Halter screw up tonight?

A) Fielding error.
B) Throwing error.
C) Getting picked off.
D) Striking out with runner in scoring position.
E) The bat will fly out of his hands, hit Vlad in the head, and put him into a coma for three months.
F) He won't screw up, you incredible jackass; he'll make no errors and have at least one big hit.

Make your choice my writing a comment (at the end of the post) or emailing me. The Winner gets ... well, I have nothing to give. But I'll print your name and you'll have the satisfaction of being right!

... about arthritis. There's a conversation on Garret at the Primer, and readers are making comments over on Richard's entry as well.

It is possible that next we'll have two designated hitters on the roster (Salmon and Anderson), no centerfielder, and a tough decision on Troy Glaus.

I'd love to re-sign Glaus to a cheap, short-term contract, loaded in incentives for performance threshholds and games played. I believe him to be, by far, the most valuable property of the Injured Three, and it would be a real shame to lose him. Of course, perhaps he can come back to play first base ... where he'd just be blocking Kotchman, which would lead to the difficult question of whether or not to keep Glaus and trade Kotchman, or keep Glaus and keep Kotchman around for insurance, or let Glaus go and let the future begin now.

These questions must all be answered soon, but they can't be until we have a more accurate prognosis for Garret Anderson. Until this diagnosis, I was hopeful that the Angels would find a way to keep Glaus around, but these developments raise the specter of doubt.

It's intriguing (yet depressing) to mull various scenarios, but we don't really know where we are yet, pending information to be learned in Glaus' surgery, as well as Garret's reaction to working out. These are uncertain times for a fan -- I can't imagine how difficult they must be for players and management.

Look, I like the Baseball Prospectus. I buy and enjoy their book every year. But the free content (by which I mean the articles, not the free stats) on their website is so weak that I would never consider paying them money.

Today we get an article on the top catcher arms of the year. This information is readily available on the net; the only difference is that the success percentages are converted to runs.

Yesterday, BPro covered the Angels in their "Prospectus Triple Play." Here is the information they covered:

-- Francisco Rodgriguez is dominant.

-- It's a bummer that Troy Glaus is hurt.

-- Casey Kotchman is probably better than Darin Erstad ... right now.

-- The Angels have even more prospects at Arkansas that you should know about.

Um, guys, thanks for the insight. I get that this feature is probably to keep fans of other teams abreast of certain developments, but come on ... couldn't we try to have something new here, guys? Is that too much to ask?

Maybe the premium content is better, I don't know; I know that I don't believe in PECOTA enough to pay for it. And I do appreciate their up-to-the-minute stats.

I'm basically writing about this because I know practically nothing about arthritis. The diagnosis for Garret is good only in that it is a diagnosis. We don't really have a prognosis yet, or a timetable for his return. He can start non-weight-bearing exercises in one week, so who knows how long before he can start swinging a bat or throwing a ball. We may well have to get used to our current lineup ...

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

I have seldom been so enraged by an article as I was (am) by Bill Plaschke's character assassination of Troy Glaus in today's Times.

Here is the summary of the "article," for those of you with understandable allergies to Plaschke's ravings: Many Angels are tough, like Jose Guillen and Ben Weber and Vlad. They play through injuries. Troy Glaus is the exception. He is a spoiled brat who cannot stand pain and is hurting his team, and it's all his fault because he didn't have surgery last year. The 2002 Angels won the World Series because they had a bunch of guys who played hurt last year. The End.

(That penultimate sentence is an accurate representation of Plaschke's comments, by the way. We'll get to that presently.)

First of all: as revealed by Rob yesterday, Glaus was prescribed rehab. Behold the August 20, 2003 article reporting same from the Angel website:

"On Tuesday, Glaus underwent a second examination on the shoulder with Dr. James Andrews at the Alabama Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Alabama. The test confirmed Angels team doctor Lewis Yocum's original diagnosis.

"Both doctors have prescribed six weeks of physical therapy and re-evaluation following that time period, so Glaus will not play again this year. [emphasis mine]"

Of course, this doesn't stop Plaschke from "writing" that "[Glaus] is electing surgery despite refusing recommended surgery on the shoulder in August and committing himself to rehabilitation." Nice fact-checking, Bill.

The worst part of the "article" is Plaschke's know-it-all tone, his sense of knowing that there is no way that Glaus is really feeling the pain that he says he is, or that it's significant or hurts his performance. After all, he's hit four home runs in the last ten games, right?

Yeah, Bill, that's exactly how it works. Injuries never gradually wear on you, or decay, or just become too tough to live with. You're right, Bill; it's binary, you're either too hurt or not, and there's no inbetween or transitory period between those poles.

Maybe Glaus knows that he won't be able to perform with pain, and this is really what this rant is about. Sportwriters love the now. They love players who play with pain now (and don't care if it shortens their careers -- which also hurts the team later). They love for a player to play hurt and play poorly than to get healthy to play well in three months. Note this absurd Plaschke Passage:

"The starting rotation includes a guy, Washburn, who pitched last year in constant collarbone pain.

"The batting order is filled with guys like David Eckstein, who last year routinely grimaced and limped from the clubhouse to the infield.

"This is why they have won. This is why, even with Glaus perhaps never again wearing an Angel uniform, they will continue to compete."

Um, Eckstein sucked last year, and Wash wasn't too hot, either. Why? Because they were playing hurt. I'm not saying they shouldn't have played ... but this idea that what they did is more noble than what Glaus is doing is offensive.

And the idea that they won in 2002 because they have guys who play hurt and suck in 2003 is just stupid.

This article is pure character assassination, and it's disgusting. I have often realized that Plascke has moronic tendencies; this is the first time I remember thinking he was malicious.

Let's look at one more passage drenched in moronia, one where if Plaschke was smart enough to understand what the hell he wrote he'd realize his entire argument holds no water:

"[Glaus] was off to the best start of his career, during the last year of a contract, and those guys always find a way to make it work, no?"

Yes, it is his free agent year. Such major surgery dramatically lowers his market value.



Give me a break. Troy Glaus has ever been an intense competitor. Troy Glaus is a good player, which means he makes an out 60 to 65% of the time. Troy Glaus still gets angry every time he makes an out. Troy Glaus still gets angry every time he makes an error.

Does Bill Plaschke really think Troy Glaus doesn't care about the team? Why should Troy Glaus be expected to mortgage his future for two months of playing with a deteriorating shoulder right now? How will that help the team in September, or next season? There's actually a chance Glaus can come back this season this way; without the surgery, it seems possible he would have to shut down later this summer. What nonsense would Bill Plaschke spew then?

And the idea that Glaus would do this in a contract year if he didn't really have to is an idea from Mars.

Maybe I am wrong and Plaschke is right. Maybe this sportswriter knows more about a player's injury and pain than that player himself does. This is a very important skill for a sportswriter to have. Bill Plaschke is world-renowned for his knowledge of frayed labrums and how they affect baseball swings. The idea that this uppity Troy Glaus and the unqualified Lewis Yocum would know more about Glaus' decaying shoulder than the expert Plaschke is, of course, laughable on its face.

Well, I was enraged when I read the article this morning, I was enraged as I started this post, and I'm enraged now. I, for one, am done with the rantings of Bill Plaschke, and I'm done with sportswriters who think they can gauge a professional athlete's soul and drive by whether or not the elect to have surgery that puts them back together so that they can perform. This is a line of thinking I normally reject, but here goes: Troy Glaus achieves more professionally in one week than Bill Plaschke will over the course of his entire life, and Plaschke questioning Glaus' drive therein is rooted entirely in smugness and jealousy.

Troy, get well soon.

Bill, jump off a cliff.

UPDATE: I seem calm compared to Sean.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

I missed the first nine innings of tonight's victory, so I'm catching up on video now. Aaron Sele is really trying to make me a believer, keeping the ball down, getting weak groundballs. He is walking a lot of guys, though, and isn't a dominating presence. But somehow, it's working. I'm still skeptical, but hey, let's ride this wave as long as we can.

By the way, I, Max is one of the worst shows I have ever seen.

Tonight was a fantastic win, of course, but someone needs to wake these bats up. One run in 20 innings? Egad. But the pitching has stepped up, and we have to only win one out of the next two games to win the series and even up things with the Yanks.

Six plus weeks into the season, the Lads have the best record in the majors, and yet the pervading emotion for me, and I suspect many of you, is a fear of impending doom. The news of Glaus' injury has become so ubiquitous that I will not even link to it here, but I will point out a marvelous job done by Rob in constructing the Glaus Injury Timeline.

The question becomes, of course, What Do We Do Now? In Glaus' absence, Scioscia has implemented a de facto platoon between SHaneI.halTer and Jeff "Play Me" DaVanon, with DaVanon starting against only righthanders. This allows halTer to play against lefties, against whom he has hit 270/312/439 in his career, which is certainly not bad for a utility guy, and shows that he may not be quite as useless as many of us usually think.

However, Jeff DaVanon has hit 244/350/430 in his career against lefties (though in few at bats, only 86). Is there any reason to believe that DaVanon can't hit righthanded? He's 0 for 6 against them this year, so what? Why does he only have six at bats?

I think the sane decision would be to have The Legs play third and DaVanon play center on an everyday basis; this makes the team better offensively and defensively. halTer is still around to fill in against tough lefties and give guys breaks. That leaves the DH spot open, in which I would slot Robb Quinlan until The Fish returns.

The LA Times intimates that this will indeed happen, at least the Figgins-DaVanon angle, so I am pleased.

The Times also mentions three names that could be considered if the Angels elect to go outside the organization: Scott Spiezio, Edgardo Alfonzo, and Aaron F. Boone.

I don't see Seattle giving us Sandfrog back, so let's just strike that one from the list.

Alfonzo has been a good but inconsistent player over his career. After a 130 OPS+ in 2002, he went to the Giants and posted a 90. He's hitting 282/344/368 this year; I know PacBell is a nifty park for moundsmen, but that line doesn't do much for me. Baseball Prospectus sees him as about a league-average hitter to this point in the season; if more injuries befall the club, such a performance could have considerable value.

Boone is rehabbing from injury and is being watched by many teams. He was never all that good in the first place, but is an average hitter and pretty good defender, which could come in handy.

We are getting well ahead of ourselves, of course, but these are the contingencies Bill Stoneman has to be mulling this gloomy morning. This season will prove to be quite a test for Mike Scioscia, as he will have to juggle hungry reserves to maximize their talents and abilities, biding time until the (alleged) return of our stars. It may evolve that last year's struggles were good for the team, in allowing the likes of DaVanon and Figgins to get playing time and develop. I'm not giving up yet, and I know the team isn't, either.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Back in my preseason preview, I wrote the following:

Aaron Sele is done. He wasn't good in 2002, and he wasn't good in 2003 trying to overcome injury, walking more men than he struck out. Another flyball pitcher, he suffered from the outfield attrition, but Sele demonstrated no ability to get anyone out on his own. The Angels hope that he's recovered from injury, but his chances of finishing the season with the club are rather slim.

Let it be noted that as of 12:46 pm, DST, on May 14, 2004, Aaron Sele had the best ERA of any starter on the Angels, with a 3.62.

Can he keep this up?

Sele's peripherals are not encouraging. He strikes out a mere 4.61 men per nine innings, while walking 2.96, for an uninspiring ratio of 1.56. So he's not really getting guys out on his own; he must rely on the Angel defense.

Opposing batters hit .291 when they put the ball in play against Sele; the mark for the club as a whole is .329. So Sele has benefitted from some good defense.

But he has also contributed to his own success; he has allowed only two home runs in his 27 1/3 innings, which is outstanding. He also has his highest groundball-to-flyball ratio since coming to Anaheim, at 1.29; last year, when he allowed a substandard 1.26 home runs per nine innings, his groundball-to-flyball ratio was 0.95.

Impressively, the only home runs he has allowed were in his first appearance, in relief against a hot Texas team in that hitters' park.

Sele is keeping the ball down, keeping it in the ballpark, and letting his defense do the work. As a result, his OPS Against (706) is the lowest it has been since his rookie season.

Can Sele keep this up? Aside from his newfound allergy to the gopher ball, his peripherals are not encouraging. He's not striking out men, and it would make sense for his batting average on balls in play to go up, meaning he would allow more hits. And though he has been successful in this regard to this point, Sele has never been this good at preventing home runs; it would be optimistic to expect this to continue.

Basically, it's too early to tell. I may very well end up having been proved wrong by the end of the season. Sele can regress a little bit and still beat my expectations. Whether he can regress but still contribute to the team is another question. But for now, let's enjoy the ride as this veteran pitcher tries to hang on for just a little while longer.

The Troy Glaus situation is predictably calamitous (grabbed the link via Rob at 6-4-2). Stoneman demurs (for now) from placing Glaus on the crowded DL, but the article says he "did admit, however, that being able to make the throw from third base was something Glaus would have to accomplish through rehabilitation, just like last year."

Um, okay.

"It's a concern going forward, and hopefully it'll improve to the point where he can play third again soon," Stoneman is quoted as saying.

So, last year he had a shoulder injury that kept him out for the season ... this year it's "a similar" injury requiring rehab ... and we think he can get out there soon?

What happens if he come come back to swing, but not to throw? He's stuck at DH ... so what happens when the Kingfish flops back on shore? Salmon plays left and the Black Knight plays center? That sounds just great, thanks ... the other option would be to keep DaVanon in center and have Salmon on the bench; DaVanon has outplayed the Fish early on, but it's just that: early on, and despite his customary slow start there is no reason to believe Salmon is finished.

Either scenario would also mean that The Legs would be starting at third, leaving the short stop to the short rally stopper, David Eckstein, and ruining my dreams of Figgins toppling that throne in the immediate future.

Rob chides me for giving up on Eckstein, pointing out that this is exactly what Boston did, to their rue and our delight. But Eckstein was a prospect then, and young, drawing walks in a (then) unappreciative organization. He peaked in the glorious 2002 -- at age 27, when we would expect. He is now a 29-year old who cannot hit and cannot walk, and seems to have passed off the "pitched ball target" mantle to Sr. Guillen. His defense remains strong, as does his effort, and our memory of his successes in year past. But I doubt his future is as sunny as that past, and I believe my preseason claim of his resurgence came more from heart than head.

I hope I am proven wrong in the weeks to come, and that Eckstein reverses his terrible trend and returns to the effectiveness to which we are accustomed. But the team has to be willing to cut ties with its past to properly realize its future, and if a Glaus injury leads to a permanent job for Eckstein, regardless of the latter's performance, this will constitute a Grade A Obstacle to this season's success.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

I have had enough. Mr. Scioscia, here is your lineup while Glaus is hurt:

1. Figgins, SS
2. DaVanon, CF
3. Guerrero, RF
4. Guillen, LF
5. Kotchman, 1B
6. McPherson, 3B
7. Quinlan, DH
8. Molina(s), C
9. Kennedy, 2B

That's right; bring up McPherson. Playing Halter and Amezaga at third is a fraud, and there ain't no one at AAA, either.

If Glaus comes back, make this your lineup:

1. Figgins, SS
2. DaVanon, CF
3. Guerrero, RF
4. Glaus, 3B/DH
5. Guillen, LF
6. Kotchman, 1B
7. McPherson, DH/3B
8. Molina(s), C
9. Kennedy, 2B

Or DH Quinlan, if you don't believe in McPherson. Or bring up Nick Gorneault and his 341/393/569 at Arkansas to DH; he's 25 and doesn't need to be tearing up AA anyway.

One day, Garret and Salmon may come back, and Erstad may be hurt, and hopefully Kotchman will add some walks to his line drives. Then you can make it:

1. Figgins, SS
2. Kotchman, 1B
3. Guerrero, RF
4. Anderson, CF
5. Glaus, 3B
6. Guillen, LF
7. Salmon, DH
8. Molina(s), C
9. Kennedy, 2B

Is this hard? Basically, Eckstein leading off just ain't working. It's over.

I also have no idea why Blogger isn't letting me post this. Is there a conspiracy against common sense?

We're about fifteen minutes from first pitch, so let's dive in:

-- Richard, Jeff DaVanon ain't never gonna be a star. Scott Podsednik doesn't really hold as a comparison either, as he's a couple years younger, plays better defense, and can steal bases.

-- I also don't agree with Richard that Kotchman has looked skittish afield. Of course, I've been watching the last few games on videotape, so maybe my perceptions are altered. I also have to say that his lack of walks doesn't bother me; he's the rookie and pitchers are challenging him because of that. He hasn't seen a lot of pitches out of the strike zone, and I haven't seen him chase many balls. I thinkt he kid is all right.

-- Just so it doesn't seem like I'm picking on Richard, let me say that he's right about the uselessness of Shane Halter, and in spades. With Mr. Glaus out indefinitely, you have to wonder if Dallas McPherson's time has come, though his performance in Arkansas (320/385/539) doesn't appear to lend itself to an immediate transition to Anaheim.

-- Back to Kotch for a sec: if he and Bengie entered a footrace, it would never end. They both run like getting there is just an option.

-- New nickname attempt: Jose Guillen is the Black Knight.

OK, I'm off to MLB Radio and Game Chatter ...

Wednesday, May 12, 2004


Well, that was sufficiently fun. An 11-2 whomping, beating an excellent pitcher. More comments tomorrow, but let's just say I'm much happier tonight than I was 24 hours ago ...

Aha! Thanks to Rob, I am now taking advantage of Blogger's commenting system. You don't even have to be registered to comment! Very exciting stuff ... Where applicable, I've copied the Haloscan comments over, so they still survive.

Studes over at the Hardball Times takes a look at just how the Angels are winning. He finds that, even though we have an unexceptional OBP, we get guys into scoring position, and are very good and knocking them in once they get there. He also points out that, in stark contrast to the 2002 team, it's the pitching and not the defense that most carries the run-prevention water. A worthwhile article.

Studes credits a blogger named Sky King for inspring the article with this look at how the Angel defense has suffered without Darin Erstad in in center.

There is another defensive trend that disturbs me in the early going. Bengie Molina looks just awful throwing the ball to second base. Last year, he threw out 44.4% of runners; the year before, 44.9%, and these exceptional rates brought him two straight Gold Gloves. Now, it's early, and small sample sizes may well apply, but his rate is a pathetic 22.2% this season. And last night against he Yanks he bounced two throws to the bag. Okay, the mud affected his footwork, and one came with Troy "What, Me Worry About Men on Base?" Percival on the mound, but it was not an atypical sight.

Are the pitchers culpable? Well, Jose Molina is posting a Bengie-esque 42.9%.

This is an alarming trend with Bengie, and something the Angels should monitor as the season progresses.

Haloville. Thinks Legs is a better shortstop option than Shorty. Therefore, my ally.

He also has convenient links to Angel stats! Well done.

Hey, Richard, ElimiDate is maybe the best show on TV.

Okay, not really, but it's lots of fun. I was taping the game while at work, but only watched the first couple of innings last night (after the game ended), so I didn't know I had such a great show on the tape, and now I'm taping over it today. Oh, well.

Also, I notice that the other Blogspotters are able to have each entry linked as a separate HTML. I have no idea how to do this. I have never once been able to successfully link to an individual post I have made.

Well, with that silliness out of the way, let us speak now of Francisco Rodriguez. I've been loathe to write about him and curse his streak, but let me just say that the first 17 innings he threw this year are probably the most dominating innings I have seen by a pitcher. He's had total control of his pitches, he's mixing a curve with his decadent slider (I'm working hard to get "decadent" into the lexicon), and makes major league hitters look like, well, me.

It was inevitable, of course, that he was going to give up a run. Makes you wonder if, at some point, you just start putting him in blowouts, hoping he gives up a run when it doesn't matter so that he'll be sharp when it does ... a completely impractical strategy, of course, suited to APBA and not real life.

Of course, giving up one earned run to the Yankees is no shame, and the second run was completely and totally the fault of Shane Halter.

Much more disturbing are the performances of Troy Percival and Ben Weber. Weber has struggled all season, and struggled with his control, walking seven men in fifteen-and-a-third innings. But Percival now has a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 7:7 in his 11 2/3 innings, which is less than good.

The temptation is to say that Percy should be removed from the closer spot in lieu of Frankie. I disagree. I think Frankie is more valuable coming into closer games earlier, and coming in with men on base. Percy can usually get through one inning. But having Frankie in the set-up position means he can be used with much greater flexibility, maximizing his innings. In fact, though he is clearly being bred for the closer job, I'd like to see Rodriguez handled in such a fashion for his entire career. Not many wins, not many saves for him if that happens ... but more wins for the ballclub, and the thanks of grateful and understanding fans.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

I have nothing to say about that game right now. You all saw it. We should have won it. We didn't. Good players finally faltered. It had ot happen, and it did against a good team. C'est la vie.

Tomorrow brings us Javier Vazquez v. Aaron Sele. Very encouraging.

Monday, May 10, 2004

(Take Two on getting this posted; thank you, Blogger re-design.)

The rest of the Angel blogosphere has the skinny on the weekend's injuries and moves. So let's focus on Casey Kotchman, who's here to make Erstad the next Wally Pipp. The jump from AA to the AL is a big one, and I wouldn't be surprised or disappointed if Kotchman doesn't quite take on his first tour of duty.

However, from one game, he appears to be a slick defender with a smooth swing. He didn't do too badly at the bat, once you consider he was playing on no sleep. He hit one ball hard for a sac fly, though in his other at-bats his timing appeared off. At no point did he seem overmatched or out-of-place. Kudos to the Angels for doing something daring for once.

However, the recent injury plague does cause concern as we start our first East Coast sojourn of the season. Taking on the Yankees short-handed does not seem like it's going to be much fun. But the results of the last few weeks are encouraging. Yes, you're supposed to take care of "teams" like Detroit and Tampa Bay, but "taking care of" is usually winning two of three or three of four, not necessarily laying down the broom. The fact that the club has taken care of business even with injuries is encouraging and impressive; it's also worth noting that the last few weeks have also seen a sweep of Oakland and a series victory in Minnesota.

On a completely random note, how useless is Ramon Ortiz right now? Let's say it's the top of the ninth and you lead by four. Your star reliever has already gone one-and-a-third sterling innings, and you're playing the worst team, well, ever. Do you think about putting in your demoted starter, just to get him acclimated to pitching him in relief, and letting him work in the lowest of low-leverage situations?

If you're Mike Scioscia, of course not. He kept in Frankie K. to make the Devil Ray "hitters" look more pathetic than usual, and Ortiz never even warmed up. Hey, I'm not complaining; Rodriguez has plenty of time to recover before the Yankee series, and it's not like Ortiz is worth pitching, ever.

But it makes you wonder how long his carcass is going to wither away on the roster.

Friday, May 07, 2004

The Punter is on retard juice. To quote Mike DiGiovanna's article:

"When Chone [Legs] Figgins led off Sunday's game in Minnesota with a triple, the last thing on Darin Erstad's mind as he stepped to the plate was getting a hit. With the infield back, all Erstad wanted was to tap a grounder that would score the speedy Figgins and give the Angels an early lead."

Of course, Erstad did ground out and score the run. But I've been watching Erstad for many years, and I know that he's quite capable of grounding out even when he's trying for a hit. So why does he go up to bat giving up, not even trying for a hit? A hit is better than an out; it scores the run and sets up another one. And if you fail, you'll probably still score the run. The man was on third base with no outs. You're telling me Erstad can't even ground out by accident, he has to try? Dios mio. (But it is the mentality of a punter/holder, when you think about it.)

DiGiovanna praises Erstad's strategy ("It is this unselfish approach that has helped Erstad accumulate 20 runs batted in — fourth most on the team ..." ... as though ranking fourth out of nine starters is some kind of accomplishment), and then poses a mindbender "[a]sk[ing] if he'd rather hit .220 with 100 RBIs or .320 with 50 RBIs." Erstad "didn't even need a moment to contemplate the answer."

Quoth The Punter: "There's not even a question. Hitting .220 with 100 RBIs is productive. There are benchmarks, certain statistics you want to get to, but what it comes down to is RBIs and scoring runs."

Where to start? Even though this isn't the most detailed hypothetical in the world, let's just assume that when Erstad hits .220 he draws just as many walks and has just as much power as when he hits .320. .320 Erstad has 50 more hits in 500 at-bats than his .220 version; let's go ahead and make them all singles, which in Darin's case is probably not a bad assumption.

In this context, I'd say .320 is vastly more important than .220, regardless of RBI. Okay, so v.220 knocks in 50 more runs than v.320, but v.320 is setting up runs and not making outs. The assumption behind Erstad's answer is that it is more important to drive in runs than set up runs. From a team perspective, you can agree with that. But individuals need to do both, and if you can do both at once, that's better.

The most idiotic thing isn't Erstad's answer, actually; he's giving the "what's best for the team" cliche. The dumbest thing is DiGiovanna's question. In what world is a guy hitting .320 going to drive in half as many runs as a guy hitting .220? The underlying assumption is that this is the same batter coming up to bat in the same situations. In what situation does making an out drive in a run that a hit would not? The only way v.320 drives in less runs is if he comes up with less men on base ... which isn't his fault.

This dovetails with the "productive" outs discussion swirling around the baseball webosphere, from Buster Olney's absurd ESPN article to Larry Mahnken's defenestration thereof to the resultant discussions on Primer. Baseball Men (TM) like the idea of the "unselfish" player who "gives himself up" to advance a runner or score a run. The implication is that players who -- gasp -- try to get hits in these situations are selfish and not thinking of the team -- as though reaching base and setting up RBI opportunities for others is selfish -- or downright unproductive. (I am trying to set a world record for most hyphens in one sentence, by the way.)

This is the kind of logic that makes people say Barry Bonds and Frank Thomas should swing at balls out of the strike zone to knock in runs, when these distinguished hitters know that you're giving your team a better chance by having runners on first and third with no outs than you would with the bases empty and one out with one run in.

Returning to an earlier aside, DiGiovanna praises the Unselfish Punter for being fourth on the team in RBI. Here are the guys that rank ahead: Troy Glaus, Vlad the Dragon, and Jose Guillen. (And if Garret and Salmon weren't injured, Erstad could easily rank a sterling sixth on the team.) Do you think these guys come up in RBI situations and say, "Oh, all I need to do is ground out. I will not try to get a hit."? No; they come up and say, "I'm going to drive the ball; if I fail, I'll still probably get the run in."

Oh, and each of those guys except for Guillen has scored more runs than Erstad. Glaus has score seven more runs and Vlad five more. Guillen has scored two less, but that makes sense once you realize that he's had Slumping Salmon coming up after him, and Erstad bats in front of superstars. Isn't Erstad supposed to be a tablesetter?

Look, we all know that an out that advances a runner or scores a run is better than an out that does neither of these things. But we also know that getting on base is practically always better than a good out. But it's this silly dedication to the productive out that makes our lineup go Eckstein-Erstad-Figgins-Vlad-Glaus-Guillen instead of the more logical Eckstein-Figgins-Vlad-Glaus-Guillen start. Hopefully, the offense will remain strong and this won't really matter.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

I believe I have added comments to my posts. This gives you an easy way to tell me I'm wrong!

One question bouncing around the Angel blogosphere: is Bartolo Colon really a number one pitcher, an ace? Or is he an overpaid, overregarded number two?

These questions are exacerbated by his recent struggles against Detroit. A month into the season, Bartolo sits at 3-2 with an ERA of 4.38 and a WHIP of 1.43. He strikes out 7.05 men per nine innings, walks 2.43 (a good ratio), and allows 1.46 homers (a little much). He has averaged 6.17 innings per start; his career mark is about 6.51 (he has two career relief appearances with affect the totals).

Aside from the homers, his peripherals look pretty good to this point. But let's compare him to his peers. I don't really want to look at this year, since it's only one month and that's a tiny sample size. Let's look at the last couple of years and determine whether the Angels are reasonable to expect Colon to be (Jarrod, avert your eyes) The Ace.

First of all, we must ask ourselves what a number one pitcher is. What is a staff ace? Well, if there are thirty teams, and each team has a best pitcher, there must be thirty aces, right? Well, not really. We all know that teams like the Yankees and Boston have multiple aces, whereas others (Tampa Bay, Detroit) have a big fat zero. But let's just use 30 as a starting point: the best 30 starters in the game are legitimate number ones, legitimate aces, and could reasonably expect to be the best pitcher on just about any team.

I picked a few different measures to examine starter effectiveness, but will only look at one for now (hopefully, others will be forthcoming). That one is VORP, tracked by Baseball Prospectus. VORP is Value Over Replacement Player, and reflects the amount of runs created (or, in a pitcher's case, saved) over what a replacement player would do.

Last season, Bartolo ranked 12th out of all major league pitchers in VORP with 53.3 (though second on his team to Esteban Loaiza). This is worth about 5 wins.

Bartolo ranked 30th in 2002. This is out of all pitchers; he had one reliever (Octavio Dotel) ahead of him, so he ranked 29th amongst starters. He posted a 38.8 mark.

2001 saw Colon post a 42.9, good for 22nd in the majors.

I think three years is an appropriate time to go back, and Colon, using a broad definition, ranks as an "ace" all three years. The other pitcher who have accomplished this in all three seasons are Tim Hudson, Pedro Martinez, Jamie Moyer (!), Mark Mulder, Curt Schilling, and Barry Zito. Where Colon detractors may not be surprised is that Colon's total mark of 135 ranks last in this group. Schilling has a 198, Pedro a 184.8, Hudson a 179.6, Zito a 157, Moyer a 153.2, and Mulder a 147.1.

So, by VORP, Colon combines performance and durability, though he is not as outstanding as others with those attributes. Does this make him an ace or not? There are a lot of semantics to be played here. But Colon does have an impressive record.

I wanted to look at ERA+, as monitored at baseball-reference.com, but the organization of the site prevents me from sorting the top 30 for any season. Colon, however, ranks 14th amongst current pitchers in career ERA+. I also wanted to look and Support Neutral Won Loss, also monitored at the Prospectus, but they haven't transferred that info over yet on their redesign. I hope to look into SNWL once that info is posted.

I tend to think that Colon is a number one, though he is at the lower end of that spectrum. Again, it's semantics. Colon is a fine pitcher and should be a good addition to the team. Is he overpaid? Sure, by a little. But he was probably the best available pitcher over the offseason, so I can't complain. Ace or no, he's a benefit to the club.

Sean at Purgatory Online has some intriguing suppositions on the Angel lineup. To sum up, he sees the recently recalled Robb Quinlan taking over at first, Erstad moving back to center, Figgins playing at third, and Glaus at DH. This would be, of course, for the period of Glaus' recovery and Salmon's injury. Presumably, when Salmon returns to DH, Glaus would push Figgins would push Erstad would push Quinlan back to the minors. But what I would like to see would be Figgins making Eckstein the utility infielder.

Of course, you would still have some shuffling to do when Garret returns from Mystery Disease, but you could deal with that then. I'm not sure having Quinlan and Figgins in the starting lineup is much of a panacea for anything, but The Legs has outplayed Eckstein with bat (327/403/509 [and even if you think he's really a .270 hitter, his OBP would still around .350] to 258/310/290), glove (that's subjective), and, well, legs to this point, and the chances out Quinlan underhitting The Punter (and his puke green 266/287/339 line) are rather slim.

Will Lad management dare to be this creative? Time will tell.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Worst idea ever.

(Subscription required, so let me sum up. They're making Moneyball into a movie. It has no plot, unless the plot is "Team drafts fat catcher." This is dumb. The end.)

Jarrod Washburn has the most wins in the AL. He also has the highest run support. Coincidence? Of course not.

Still, Jarrod has pitched well of late, inspiring the LA Times to ponder whether or not he has de-ironicized his "Ace" moniker. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. Despite Colon's recent struggles, Bartolo's ERA is still one run lower than Ace's, and it's not as though allowing four runs in 6 2/3 innings against Detroit is a great feat. Still, and more importantly, their peripherals are similar. Neither one is really lighting the world on fire, but if they can both get hot at the same time, watch out.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Has he won the shortstop job yet? I guess it's too early after two games, but he looks good at the bat, he works counts, he's come up with big hits, and he looks solid with the leather. I still like Eckstein, but he hasn't shown the ability to come back from injury or play well when dinged up. Figgins is making a solid case.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

The last few days have been absolute madness for me, hence no blogging. So, in summary:

Aside from Colon (I'll be exploring his status as a true ace in the coming week), the Tiger series was a success. We beat up on a bad team, even though we are at less than 100%. That works for me.

The disgrace that is Ramon Ortiz just doesn't stop. I couldn't see the game on Friday, but following on GameCast made me noxious. The man can't pitch. He is done.

Please, Mike Scioscia, END THE MISERY.

Oh, and why in the world does Aaron Sele get a start over Kevin Gregg? Egad. Someone needs to alert Angel management that this isn't 1997. It's time to start living in the now. Gregg has a legitimate chance to contribute now and in the future; Sele has a legitimate chance to embarrass himself.

Anyway, more on all of this coming soon ...

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