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Tuesday, May 18, 2004

THE WINTER OF OUR DISCONTENT
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.

Comments:
I've been a fan since 1974, so it's practically in my DNA to feel doom and gloom but this year.....I don't. This team has *something* about it; OK, superb pitching is a large part of that, but still. But, while the loss of Glaus' bat is huge, he was a poor 3B, I think. I like the Legs/DaVanon solution. Figgins *must* play everyday, no matter what position. DaVanon is doing well in CF and if he sits against the occasional lefty, no biggie. The Fish will be back soon, so that's the DH slot sowed up. I'm worried about Bengie--those hammies seem a bit tender.

How weird is it to have to contemplate bottlenecks at certain positions? I love Kotch and, in my mind, The Punter is not a lock to immediately come back to the 1B position, though I'm sure Scoscia thinks he is. Back to CF for him? And, if, and that's a big "if" in my mind, Garret comes back soon, that's another dilemma.

As long as the pitching continues like it has, the team will be alright. I *like* the fact that they can grind out the 1-0, 2-1 wins.
 
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