Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Headline in the LA Times:

Scioscia Says Weight Not a Factor for Colon
Yeah, like Mike Scioscia's gonna talk about someone's weight.

Great quote from Colon on the subject: "Where I'm from, the big mango trees, the ones with the really ripe mangos, are the ones we threw rocks at. They're more ripe than the green ones." Fine, Bartolo, you asked for it: you are now known as The Big Mango ...

... Richard says he's heard rumors that the Angels are looking into trading for The Ugly Unit. I'm not sure the trade works; Arizona would have to get top-notch propsects, meaning one of Ervin Santana and Bobby Jenks and one of Jeff Mathis and Dallas McPherson, and perhaps one major league player (DaVanon? Ortiz? Kennedy, opening a spot for Armageddon at third and The Legs at second?). Even putting aside my ethical problems with putting a Trojan on the team, this is probably too high a price to pay. If we could get him by giving up lesser prospects, it could be a good deal. This assumes, of course, that RJ waives his 10-and-5 rights to come back "home" and pitch ... not necessarily a given.

But if McPherson is traded, I'll scream.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Thanks to Rob for picking up on this interview with Dallas McPherson. D-Mac (are we really gonna let that be his nickname?) says that his favorite movie is Armageddon; I had not known that McPherson has seen only one movie in his life.

And there's a nice article in the Press Telegram on the friendship twixt The Legs and The Vlad.

The Angels are on a pace to allow 758 runs this year. I, in my undying wisdom, had predicted that the Angels would allow 50 runs less than last year. Sadly, 758 is not fifty less than 743.

The source of my prediction was the hope that our starters would pitch at their career norms. Here are our starters, their career ERA+ coming into this season, and their ERA+ to this point in the season (assuming a neutral home park, which is usually an accurate assumption for the Big A):

Player  Career   Season

Lackey 100 87
Washburn 115 95
Ortiz 98 103
Sele 104 115
Escobar 104 127

Oh, wait, I think I'm forgetting someone:

Player  Career   Season

Colon 121 73

Escobar is basically making up for Ace Washburn, and Sele for Lackey. But no one's making up for the Fat Man.

Just one more indication of how he's dragging the team down ...

... while we're on the subject of projections, I spotted the Lads for 795 runs, with 820 within reach. We're on a pace for 812. It's nice to know somebody's living up to expectations ...

Monday, June 28, 2004

Well, BCS reverted to form yesterday, and his R/IP now stands at .729. He had to do something: The Punter's been on fire since his return, and has his OPS all the way up to .696!

As you know, Erstad on Monday night hit the first home run by a Halo first-sacker this season. It's kind of fun to look at ESPN's splits and learn of how powerless our infield is. We do manage to rank 21st in the game in homers from second basemen, but we're 30th at first (only two behind Minnesota!) and short. We are the only team in the majors to have zero home runs from our shortstops ...

Ramon Ortiz wants out again. Because, you know, two good starts in a row shows you belong in the rotation. I mean, even Bartolo Colon has a couple good starts this year!

Except for this: Ortiz is right. Don't look now, but he has his ERA down to 4.39. He's striking out 7.97 men per nine innings, and has a K:BB ratio above 2. He has also allowed a mere 4 home runs in his 55 innings of work, not too shabby and downright stingy by Ortiz's standards. Each of these numbers surpasses John Lackey's, for instance.

If you gave a disinterested observer the statlines of Ortiz, Colon, and Aaron Sele, and informed them that only two of the three men could be starters, who do you think they'd exclude?

I understand why Colon is untouchable in the rotation, and it's not merely because of his substantial salary -- he has a track record of success. It's easy to think he's just around the corner from turning this around. But Colon is stealing innings away (yes, Rob, he's El Ladron) from pitchers who are better right now, and if this continues it could be enough to keep the Lads out of October.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

So the A's have acquired Octavio Dotel. This obviously improves their bullpen, but how much?

Dotel has a 3.12 ERA in 34 2/3 innings of work this year, but he's better than that. He's whiffed 50 men to 15 walks in that time, allowing 27 hits and 4 home runs. The home runs are just a tad high, but nothing to worry about. Behold:


146 .342 .103 .027
140 .207 .114 .050
154 .396 .078 .006

The top line is Dotel. The middle line is Arthur Rhodes, the guy he's replacing at closer, and the bottom line, just for kicks, is K-Rod.

Dotel will be an obvious improvement over Rhodes, but that's not really who he's replacing. He'll be taking innings from the struggling Jim Mecir at the back of the bullpen, and allow Rhodes to reclaim his mojo taking innings from the even more embattled Ricardo Rincon, who will maybe not-so-much punch out Jim Thome.

But most of the Athletic bullpen was already performing worse than their career norms, and we might have expected an improvement regardless of making a move. They may gain a win or two at most, and that's being generous. This division is shaping up to be tight, and that may be enough, but it's not as though Dotel is the magic elixir and the F'in A trade Beane craves. I read this as a relatively panicky move on his part. It helps him, but it doesn't put the A's out of our sights by any stretch.

UPDATE: Overtime ends at five hours. If any of you reading this are still in college, here is my advice to you: stay. Do whatever it takes to avoid joining the working world.



If you have any information about the Angels' bats' whereabouts, please contact the appropriate authorities.

Thank you.

Evil won last night because Good was dumb. Good was dumb on defense, Good was dumb on the basepaths, and as a result we got smacked around.

The Legs got his Melvin Mora on at third, this time in the middle of a run-scoring inning, and Eck's and Vlad's adventures on the basepaths in the sixth were detrimental; if that turns into a big inning, who knows what could happen? It was only 3-1 at the time, as though Escobar didn't have his finest outing, he certainly kept us in the game, which is the least you can ask for.

And then Kevin Gregg did his thing. And yikes to that. Gregg's carrying an ERA over 8 in the month of June; however, his strikeouts and walks still look pretty good, and it's the home runs and hits that are killing him. I don't think is, or should be, in danger of a trip to Salt Lake. Letting him pitch in non-vital situations until he gets out of his slump should be sufficient. The return of Donnelly and the continued excellence of Scot Shields should be sufficient in holding leads for K-Rod.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Who started for the Lads last night? Whoever it was pitched an excellent game, as you well know. Picking up on my silliest feature:

Player -- R/IP, OPS, or SLG
Colon --- .669
Erstad -- .646
Wally --- .440

Wow, Wally's getting creamed now! I might have to switch to his OPS ... but at 802 it's a bit high. Oh, well ...

Rob reports that last night's telecast indicated that Colon has abandoned his four-seam fastball (I was watching the game in a bar sans sound so I didn't hear this for myself). I had noticed that he was using the two-seamer more frequently, but not that the four-seam had been dispatched. The two-seam fastball, of course, has a bit of a downward tail to it, and travels about 4 or 5 mph slower than its "rising" four-seam counterpart. The two-seamer draws more groundballs, the four-seamer more flyballs.

So why the hell did Colon give up 11 flies to 5 grounders? Well, small sample size, obviously, but I went to check out the game on the MLB archive ... I have some results at the end of the post, because I don't want to stick it in the middle and bore the brains out of everyone, but there was infrequent use of the four-seamer, if any (it can be hard to tell which fastball it is from the centerfield camera). The most important thing was his location; Colon kept the ball belt and below for most of the game, and even the hits he allowed were on balls down. He started getting the ball up and giving up hits as he tired, which is to be expected.

Colon's key last night was his command, and if he has better command right now of the two-seamer, so much the better. He's getting the ball down and getting outs, and looking like the guy he's supposed to be.

OK, here's that boring part I warned you about. This is every out Bartolo recorded and on what pitch. The key should be obvious, the number is mph, "2-FB" is the two-seamer, "4-FB" the four-seamer, and "OS" off-speed, the last is the scorekeeping code for the play. It can be hard to tell exactly what the pitch is doing when its hit, so a lot of the guesswork was based on location and speed. But you'll note the consistency of the location as much as anything.

1: Eric Byrnes, 93, 2-FB, knees away, P-4
2: Mark McLemore, 93, 2-FB, knees in, K looking
3. Mark Kotsay, 94, 2-FB, shins in, L-9
4. Jermaine Dye, 93, 2-FB, knees in, F-7
5. Scott Hatteberg, 93, 2-FB, knees away, F-7
6. Erubiel Durzao, 95, 2-FB?, knees away, F-7
7. Bubba Crosby, 95, 2-FB?, knees away, F-9
8. Adam Melhuse, 94, 2-FB, thighs, F-7
9. Marco Scutaro, 93, 2-FB, thighs away, F-9
10. Byrnes, 94, 2-FB, thighs in, K looking*
11. McLemore, 95, 2-FB?, belt away, K swinging
12. Dye, 94, 2-FB?, belt away, FP-3
13. Hatteberg, 85, OS, knees, 3U
14. Durazo, 85, OS, dirt away, K swinging
15. Crosby, 88, OS, dirt away, K swinging
16. Melhuse, the broadcast messed up but a FB belt in, P-5
17. Scutaro, 94, 4-FB?, up and in, K swinging
18. Byrnes, 94, 2-FB, thighs away, 5-3
19. Kotsay, 90, 2-FB, knees away, 3U
20. Dye, 94, 2-FB, knees away, L-8
21. Hatteberg, 94, 2-FB, belt in, 3U
22. Durazo, 93, 2-FB, up and in, P-6
23. Scutaro, 94, 2-FB, knees away, 6-4 FC

*Colon was aiming for the knees away, and the pitch drifted in and hit the inside corner. He basically missed his spot by 17 inches. Physioc called it a "high riser," but I'm not buying it; I think Colon's shoulder flew open just a bit early so the two-seam tail tailed further in than expected.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

So I rented EA Sports' MVP Baseball 2004. Not a bad game, overall ...

... I was in an extra-inning 0-0 game against Seattle when Bengie Molina reached base. With The Legs already in the game (Kennedy got hurt on a nasty takeout slide) I had no choice but to pinch run with Shane Halter. A single got Halter to second.

Where he was promptly picked off.

So that part was realistic.

Dallas McPherson gets the call to AAA. His final line at AA was 325/407/668 in 265 at bats, socking 20 home runs and walking 34 times against 73 walks. By comparison, Casey Kotchman hit 359/427/530 in his 117 AB in Arkansas.

Now both sidle up to the Salt Lake, leaving Jeff Mathis and his 277/356/468 with 9 HR in 235 AB behind; the not-so-mighty-not-yet-anyway Casey has 36 at bats in the PCL, and has hit 361/452/556, so it doesn't look like his cup of coffee singed him too badly.

There is speculation that McPherson may make it to the majors this year. If The Legs continues his pace and Kennedy his, putting Figgins at second and McPherson may be attractive. But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves; let's see how McPherson adjusts to the PCL before making short-term plans.

As has been oft-reported, Tim Salmon is disturbed about losing playing time to Jeff DaVanon. Yes, Timmy's off to his normal slow start and has been hurt, and DaVanon's been hot, but this is a completely understandable reaction.

Is Salmon right?

Here is DaVanon's OPS by month this season:

April -- 1028
May ----- 882
June ---- 704

The truth, of course, lies somewhere in between. DaVanon entered this season with a career 784 OPS, and I think he is better than that, probably in the low-to-mid 800s. A fine player.

Salmon, however, has a career OPS of 891, though he's on the backend of his career, putting up a 838 last year and an 883 the year before. So, as he's banged up and getting older, it seems reasonable to expect an OPS that's at least in ... the low-to-mid 800s.

Scioscia is in an incredibly difficult position. His veteran, practically the face of the team, got hurt at the wrong time and is in danger of being supplanted by the fresh up-and-comer with the hot bat. Salmon has every right to be upset and frustrated, though from media reports it seems that he is endeavoring to handle things in a professional manner.

I think that, for right now, Scioscia is right to split time between them. But I think Salmon will actually surge ahead in performance. DaVanon will still have earned a start or two per week, spelling Salmon and the other oufielders, and he will continue to perform well.

What's more, the presence of both these guys makes the decision not to give up the future of McPherson and Mathis for a Carlos Beltran, as mentioned in today's Times. Beltran's a fine player, but our outfield cup runneth over, and these kids have bright futures.

I'm sure you heard this on the telecast last night, but John Lackey for the last two seasons has been two different pitchers; a good one at home and a Colonesque one on the road. Is there any reason we should expect this gap to continue?

After last night's sterling perf, The Lackey has a 3.10 ERA at home this year against a 7.91 on the road. The big difference is in home runs allowed and -- well, hell, I'll just show you (BFP = Batters Faced, BABIP = Batting Average allowed on Balls in Play):

John Lackey, Home vs. Road, 2004
Home -- 203 -- .113 --- .059 --- .010 --- .247
Away -- 179 -- .117 --- .061 --- .045 --- .317

It looks like he's had some bad luck defensively on the road (or has given up more screamers) and some good fortune at home. We might expect that to even out a bit (whether the cause is defense or Lackey himself) as the season goes on. Of course, this is a pretty small sample. What did Lack do last year?

Well, last year he had a 3.57 ERA at home and a 5.96 away from the Big E Big A. What do the peripherals tell us about last season?

John Lackey, Home vs. Road, 2003
Home -- 483 -- .174 --- .068 --- .029 --- .273
Away -- 418 -- .160 --- .079 --- .041 --- .319

Lackey was slightly but uniformly better at home last year, too. Of course, there is some degree home field advantage, so that is to be expected. But beyond that, I see no reason to expect Lackey to vastly outperform his road performance at home. I think it's just one of those fluky things that evens out over time.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Bartolo Colon actually had a decent start today, though a losing one.

If you think this means I'm gonna stop making fun of him, you're reading the wrong blog.

In fact, I think my neverending search for new ways to illustrate how bad he's been is a reason for his improved performance. As such, I promise to Angel fans everywhere that I will not end my pursuit of finding new ways to demonstrate Colon's suckage.

Unless, you know, he gets his ERA below 3.50 and starts behaving somewhat like the "ace" we're paying for. But we're getting ahead of ourselves with that ...

(And by the way, the Pirates are lousy. There's nothing particularly special about holding them to three runs in seven innings. Just sayin' ...)

So who do the lines belong to?

The bottom line


belongs to Aramis Ramirez, prorated to 307 AB.

The middle line


belongs to Alex Rodigruez, prorated to 307 AB.

The top line


is what has been allowed by Bartolo Colon.

On a per-at bat basis, Colon is giving up runs at the rate at which A-Rod creates them. Sure, it's a bit of an off-year for A-Rod ... but would you have ever imagined this was possible coming into the season?

It's time to straighten up, Bartolo.

UMM ...
John Lackey put the brakes on his little improvement streak with one misplaced pitch to Larry Daryle and Daryle Ward last night, and the Lads went down 5-3.

How in the hell do you only score three runs against Josh Fogg? We left eight runners on base (the Pirates only stranded three) and grounded into two double plays. But this is a game we should have won, and with BCS and his tricks set to go tonight, it's very possible we could lose two of three to the Pirates.

It's time for Colon to step up and pitch like a #### ace for once.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Coming into play on June 16, who owns each of the following three lines (they are all prorated to the same number of at bats):

AB -- R -- H -- 2B -- 3B -- HR -- RBI -- BB -- AVG -- OBP -- SLG
307 - 56 - 92 - 23 --- 1 -- 18 --- 54 -- 27 -- 300 -- 375 -- 557
307 - 55 - 94 - 15 --- 1 -- 18 --- 46 -- 44 -- 304 -- 396 -- 538
307 - 60 - 99 - 20 --- 1 -- 17 --- 59 -- 24 -- 323 -- 375 -- 563

The winner gets nothing. Sorry. I just have nothing to give!

The Lads pulled out a nice one yesterday, winning a game where the Bucs started their best pitcher -- and one that was throwing a good game. Legs giveth and Legs taketh away, but in this case Legs giveth more, with a nice little just-barely double to knock in the winning runs.

John Lackey tries his luck in a few moments. Lackey has put two straight good starts together, allowing 5 runs in 15 innings, striking out 10 and only walking 3 with a mere 1 home run allowed. If he can do it again -- and he should be able to against the Pirate offense -- that would give the club three consecutive good starts, which is unheard of this season ...

... The LA Times reports on the possibility that David Eckstein may have to spend time on the disabled list. I wrote him off on May 13. This makes me, of course, a natural born moron.

On May 13, Eck was hitting 220/281/246. In the last month, he has raised that line to 300/355/360, which reminded me of something someone once said:

David Eckstein will bounce back in 2004.

His career line is a 279/350/360, and I believe he will perform close to this in the coming season, and will make his injury-riddled 2003 a distant memory.

This stab at logic comes from me in my very first post. The lesson? Don't be a reactionary fool six weeks into the season.

Well, that part about making 2003 a distant memory may not come to fruition with Eckstein facing more potential DL time. And his sorry replacement is Alfredo Amezaga, he of the 153/206/153 line. I've learned my lesson, I'm not overreacting this time ... but Amezaga is no solution at all. Okay, he's a better hitter than this, but career line stands at 215/272/299, and I don't think he's much better than that.

Is it any accident then that the Times jumps from Eckstein coverage to McPherson coverage? Dallas McPherson is hitting a robust 333/415/703 at Arkansas. He does strike out a lot -- 65 times in 246 at bats -- but he also draws a fair amount of walks (34).

In nearly 100 games at AA between last year and this, McPherson has put up these numbers:

AB -- H -- 2B -- 3B -- HR -- SO -- BB -- AVG/OBP/SLG
348 - 118 - 26 -- 8 -- 25 -- 90 -- 53 -- 328/421/664

We have recently seen the danger of jumping from AA to the majors ... but, defense and strikeouts aside, does it look like the man has anything else to prove at AA?

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

And the time has come for our pitchers to hit!

Here are our pitchers sorted by career OPS:

Pitcher -- OPS
Washburn -- 697
Sele -- 408
BCS -- 256
Escobar -- 142
Lackey -- 000
Ortiz -- 000

Okay, I know Sele's hurt and Ortiz may not start, but there you go.

What I don't like are the chances of Wash (or anyone else) getting a hit off of Oliver Perez. Perez is still a few months short of his 23rd birthday, but he's managing a 3.74 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP while striking out 9.97 men per nine innings. He does give up a few more homers than you would like (8 in 65 innings), but that's nitpicking an impressive breakout performance. Perez, along with Jason Bay, was part of the Brian Giles booty late last season. Bay's OPS, 2004: 815. Giles: 835 ... but in three times as many at bats. The Perez game is the only one that causes legitimate worry in the three-game series.

Pittsburgh is, of course, the only team in the NL Central not in the race. Perez is the only starter with an ERA under five, and they rank 24th in the majors in runs.

BCS takes on the Bucs on Thursday, and if he can't shut them down, the Angels should sue him for breach of contract.

Someone named Maya has started a Jeff DaVanon fansite blog. I think this is totally sweet ... who'd have thought a player like DaVanon could generate such devotion? What a great game we're fans of ...

Some of you gents may just be excited by the idea of a woman who loves baseball ... well, Maya says she's married. (Of course, Catherine Bell's married too, and that isn't stopping some of my fellow Angel bloggers from hoping ...)

Monday, June 14, 2004

Rob had to go and turn my funny little game into something with actual insight! He lists Angel hitter OPS with Angel pitcher OPS allowed, and it shows how embarrassing some of those hurlers' performances are. Check it out.

-- Here is some nonsense on loan from the LA Times, as reported by Ben Bolch:

"Mike Scioscia, responding to a reporter's question Sunday morning, included seven-game winner Jarrod Washburn and dominant reliever Francisco Rodriguez on a lengthy list of Angel players he thought deserved All-Star consideration."

Um, Jarrod Washburn? Mike, what the hell is wrong with you? Ace Washburn has a 5.63 ERA. Who cares about the flippin' seven wins? Don't you think that has something to do with his run support of 8.63 runs per game, good for second in the majors?

To Ben Bolch's credit, he uses this as a springboard to discuss Kelvim Escobar, who despite an ERA of 3.27 has "only" 4 wins. Is this maybe because his run support, 3.75, ranks 93rd out of 105 amongst qualifying pitchers in the majors? It also ranks last amongst the Angels' top four starters.


Player -- R/IP, OPS, or SLG
BColon -- .747
Erstad -- .627
CKotch -- .563
WallyJ -- .440

(By the way, I erred last time I did this for Colon. It was really .725 at that point. So Colon (aka BCS [standing for Bartolo Colon Sucks]) is getting worse!

-- As expected, Darin Erstad was called up and Casey Kotchman dispatched after Sunday's game. The Punter was in midseason form in his three games at Salt Lake, going 2 for 11 and putting up a 182/250/182 line. The Times also reports that he committed an error that led to three unearned runs. What this means is that Jeff DaVanon and Tim Salmon, either of which can hit, will be losing playing time.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Watching Garret Anderson score a run makes everything seem like it's gonna be okay.

As we get closer to full strength, we see that we do just have to stick around for awhile to stay in this thing. But it sure would be nice if we didn't have to make up a 4-1 deficit every night, wouldn't it?

Thursday, June 10, 2004

So, last night's game was sufficiently revolting. But the silver lining rests in Tim Salmon's return -- and, more importantly, his return to form, going 3 for 3 with a walk.

And though I would never wish harm upon even my worst enemy in baseball, it's hard to argue that Raul Mondesi's injury will hurt the team. About the only thing he had going for him was that he appeared to be our best defensive centerfielder, and that he gave us maybe the three best arms ever assembled in one outfield. But his injury effectively frees Jeff DaVanon, so here's our FREE JEFF DAVANON WATCH (stats since Mondesi joined team:

Player: PA -- SO - AVG/OBP/SLG
Mondesi 36 -- 4 -- 118/189/235
SHalter 11 -- 5 -- 100/182/100
DaVanon 28 -- 2 -- 423/464/462

Despite these signs of encouragement (and the probable soon return of Garret Anderson), there is much reason for concern, and I don't believe that I am being unnecessarily Cassandraesque to say so. First base is still a sinkhole, and as Rob points out, the decision to demote Robb Quinlan (281/378/344) instead of Casey Kotchman (202/250/247) is counterproductive and wrongheaded. Not that Quinlan is any great shakes, of course ... but Quinlan's .344 slugging percentage is the highest among Angel first basemen.

Of course, this is all academic if the non-Escobar participants in the starting rotation can't start getting men out. Kelvim has been a breath of extremely fresh air in the smoggy sprawl that is the other starters. Yes, Aaron Sele has performed well, but his wily right-hander routine feels as though it has been built on a house of stilts.

As you know, everyone else has been a disaster. Jarrod Washburn seems to think he's a batting practice pitcher, John Lackey is the model of modern major inconsistency, and Bartolo Colon's command has devolved to the point where he couldn't hit the broad side of, well, Bartolo Colon.

Yes, these guys have been hurt to some degree by the defense (not many favors were done for Halo hurlers last night, for instance), but a lot of these faults lay with the pitchers themselves. The starters have an ERA of 5.14, ranking 24th in the majors. Unacceptable. The offense and the bullpen can't keep playing catch-up because of the starters' generosity to opposing teams. It sounds simple, but it's true: we can't get back to a stable first place until the rotation gets its act together.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

The Angels used their 22nd round pick on Matt Moore. Here are Moore's stats from last year:

Att -- Com -- Pct -- Yds -- TD -- INT -- Yd/Att -- Rtg*
103 -- 52 -- 50.5 -- 555 -- 2 -- 6 -- 5.39 -- 48.8

Wait, what? That's right; the Angels drafted Matt Moore, former backup quarterback at UCLA. He left the school because, well, he wasn't any good, and he was beat out for the starting job by Drew Olson.

Moore hasn't played baseball in three years, but apparently he called the Angels, and they went and scouted him. He was drafted as a third baseman, but who knows where he'd end up if he signs.

You can read Moore's MLB scouting report here, but I'm offering an exclusive! Despite the fact I've never seen him play baseball, here is my scouting report on Matt Moore!


You gotta admit, it'd be pretty cool if this worked out ...

*I used the NFL QB Rating, not the college one, by the way.

The Angels last scored a run 32 innings ago. In that time, Angel pitchers have whiffed 36 opposing batters.

How long can the staff keep this up?

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

So, here are two items I plan to keep up:

Stats since Raul Mondesi joined team:

Mondesi 30 4 2 148/233/296
S.Halter 7 5 0 000/000/000
DaVanon 17 0 2 533/588/600


Player R/IP, OPS, or SLG
Colon .847
Ersty .627
Kotch .533
Wally .440

On May 9, the Angels finished a nine-game winning streak, and their record stood at 22-10. Though this wasn't the high point of the season (that would have to be the 29-15 record we held on June 23rd, just prior to the Toronto sweep), it was a point of a certain optimism, as our reserves showed they could beat up on the punching bags of the league, too. Remember, Garret Anderson was long gone at that point, Tim Salmon had been out for ten days, and Troy Glaus had played a few games at DH, and had only one game left in his season (apparently).

This past Sunday was the twenty-eighth day since, and their record is, of course, 33-23. We have been less than a .500 team for about a month.

Naturally, dropoff was expected, especially when Glaus went down. But what the reserves have managed to do is not lose ground; they've been treading water, keeping it together, and now both Garret and the Fish are doing rehab and seem close to returning. Whether they can maintain (or in Salmon's case, recover) effectiveness in the wake of their wounds is another matter.

The offense has not fared well over those twenty-eight days, averaging a not-so-good 4.67 runs per game. Of course, we've also allowed 4.88 runs per game over that span. The latter number is clearly not the bullpen's fault; blame falls in two places: the starters and the defense.

Let's look at the defense. Our Defensive Efficiency Record (percentage of balls in play converted into outs) stands at a major league 29th at .677. Anaheim ranks a mediocre 18th in the majors in in flyballs converted to outs at .701, with their Zone Rating at 25th with .842. The Lads do manage to tie with Cleveland for first in the majors at outfield assists, which should come as no surprise.

The Angels are also mediocre at infield defense. Infielders record an assist on .662 of groundballs, "good" for 24th in the majors, and their .804 Zone Rating ranks 23rd.

The end result is that Angel pitchers are not getting a lot of help from the defense. Who are the main culprits?

Without looking at one number, my immediate reaction is that the reserves are to blame. Jeff DaVanon and Legs Figgins have done a fine job on offense, but neither one has really shined in center field, and while Figgins shows flashes at third, he's also raw and makes mistakes. And that doesn't even mention the Shane Halter experience at third. Also, none of the outfielders seem to have too much range.

Do what numbers we have agree with my eyes?

Position-by-position, here are our team ranks by Zone Rating:

1B: 12
2B: 8
3B: 28
SS: 11
LF: 21
CF: 27
RF: 16

Well, as for the numbers agreeing with my eyes (and yours, too, I'd bet) that's a resounding yes. 3B and CF are cover-your-eyes bad, and, as we've all observed, Guillen doesn't really cover to much ground with his legs (especially compared to how much he covers with his arm) in left.

It may or may not surprise you to learn that the lowest ZR posted by a regular 3B this season was by Troy Glaus, whose .652 is pretty ugly. That's artificially low, just a product of a fluky small sample size; he had a .773 in his last full season. Shane Halter, as hard as this is to believe watching him, has also been much better in the past, .780 last season and .800 the year before. It's certainly possible that Halter's just in a slump, or a victim of luck and sample size, but he looks so hopeless out there that I wonder if maybe he just had good luck in the past (or maybe he's just done).

In the meantime, DaVanon's not awful in center with his .868, and Mondesi's looked good so far (his sample-size-way-too-small-to-mention ZR is .895). It was Figgins and Anderson dragging the team down out there.

Looking at the numbers, it seems as though it's not really the reserves killing us on defense, as our regulars are doing even worse. This is a great example of why it's not always a good idea to trust defensive numbers over a short period of time; the numbers are untrustworthy enough, but small sample size can distort defensive numbers at least as much as hitting stats. As disgusting as Glaus' glove numbers were, we know that if he were healthy and playing, he would have lapped the guys who have replaced him.

However, Garret did seem to struggle in centerfield, so I'm not completely willing to say that his injury has hurt us defensively -- the numbers don't strike me as utterly wrong in his case.

I don't know what the hell the Lads will do when both Garret and Salmon are back. Does Mondesi go to the bench, and Garret to center? Can Garret handle center with his ailment? Do you leave Mondesi in center and platoon Garret and Salmon at DH to preserve their health? What happens to DaVanon? Can we give him a first baseman's mitt? Pretty please?

Rob reports that Halofan reports that Luis Rivera (see him whiff on MLB video!) was born on the same day Donnie Moore gave up his infamous home run to Dave Henderson.

This scares the living daylights out of me.

Monday, June 07, 2004

A complete list of who the Lads drafted on Day One, along with the MLB scouting summaries (and in some cases video), can be found here.

I should emphasize that I don't know anything about any of these men, except for Weaver, and that the below reflects statistcs and the opinions of others I have gathered online.

MLB offers video of several draftees, including high school LF Luis Rivera, so you can watch him make offline throws and strike out. Gee, thanks ...

One intriguing draftee is Nicholas Adenhart, a high school pitcher who measures at 6'4'' (or 6'3'', if you believe Baseball America) and can hit as high as 93 on the gun. The MLB scouting report pegs him as a "definite blue chipper" and a "potential frontline [major league] starter," and BA ranked him as the second-best high school pitcher in the country (he actually held the number one spot for much of the season). Why did he go 413th in the draft? Well, he's having the Tommy John surgery. (The video shows that he has very smooth mechanics, but scouts had idenified him as having a "stiff front side" prior to his injury.) Adenhart has a full ride at North Carolina, and his father speaks glowingly of the chance for him to get an education.

So, is he signable? It will be interesting to see. I would suspect that he'll go to college and up his stock, but you can't blame the Angels for trying, and it may work out.

In my entry on Jered Weaver below, I allude to Craig Burley's work with college stats; he's really the first person in the public domain to attempt a lot of the stuff he's doing, so I thought I'd report on what his numbers say, if anything, about our college draftees, and complement it with the MLB scouting info.

Weaver, we know about.

Our 173rd pick went to Joshua LeBlanc, a lefty-swinging 2B out of Southern University A&M. He ranked 247th in Burley's ratings, and hit 376/447/786 last season (not counting HBP). He only had 117 at bats, so his raw totals don't really jump out at you, but those aren't bad numbers, and though you can seemingly question the level of competition Southern faces, Rickie Weeks seemed to fare pretty well emgerging from the same school (though he hit .500 in college, as well). Scouts see potential for average power emerging from his frame (at 6'2'', 185, he's the same size Wally Joyner was when he came up), and they like his hands on defense.

Andrew Toussaint, drafted 383rd, also played at Southern, notching time at 3B and the outfield (though MLB lists him at 2B). Though drafted much lower, he rated higher in Burley's rankings, placing 119th in the country. He hit 384/480/781, demonstrating a nice combo of walks and power (though the level of competition caveat still applies). Scouts like his tools with the bat, as well, though at 6'2'', 175, he may need to fill out more before maintaining the power with a wood bat.

Freddy Sandoval, drafted 233rd, is a switch-hitting third baseman out of the University of San Diego. His 320/393/522 doesn't really jump out at you, and comes out to about 8 runs above average (ranking 698th in Burley's rankings). The scouting report pegs him with a quick bat and good power. Like Benji Gil, Sandoval's from Tijuana, and there's a pretty interesting story on his arrival in the States here.

Clifton Remole is a lefty first baseman out of Georgia Tech, and is compared to J.T. Snow and Will Clark. Hey, a smooth fielding 1B with gap power? The Angels practically patented that ... he hit 345/397/454 last season (689th for Burley), but scouts see room for more physical development, and, presumably and hopefully, power.

Anyway, that's all I've got for today ...

UPDATE: Richard has a similar take on Adenhart (I call "Jinx!") and also provides a breakdown by position and class.

Wow!!! Who is this guy?

The Lads' fourth-round pick is a 6'1'', 185 lb. high school centerfielder. Per MLB:


Um ... okay. I know nothing about him, of course, but he sounds like he's one of those toolsy guys we threatened to draft to play the outfield. This isn't a criticism, for all I know White's gonna steal 1500 bases and win 14 Gold Gloves, I'm just sayin' ...

Holy cow!!! I don't pay much attention to the draft, not being a prospectnik so much, but most of us have heard of this guy, who some have said has unseated the hated Mark Prior as Best College Pitcher of All Time (TM). I'm not sure I really believe that either one of them is, to be honest, but anyway ...

... Weaver's a terrific prospect by all accounts, and I'm shocked, shocked that he was still available at the twelfth pick. (It is apparently due to expected bonus demands.)

Here's MLB's scounting report on Weaver (sorry about the all-caps, it's from the website, which includes video footage):


The video available at MLB.com demonstrates what is written above. He's got (what appears to be a two-seam) fastball that hover around 90, and his off-speed (it was hard to tell, from the angle, if it was his slider or change) would routinely hit 76. If he added a four-seamer, things could get pretty interesting. Check out the video.

Jered Weaver ranks as the #1 college pitcher in the game this season according to Craig Burley's invaluable ratings, and there is speculation he might be ready for the majors as soon as late summer. His ratios are just off the charts: around 10:1 strikeouts-to-walks, about 13 strikeouts-per-nine innings.

I consider this exciting news.

Friday, June 04, 2004

I just saw the best pitcher in the world give up his first home run of the year to a guy who was hitting his first.

And then I saw an Indian pitcher not blow a save.

These are things that sometimes happen.

Everyone in the Halosphere has picked up on the silliness that is Ramon Ortiz's agent. Did you know that, even with Ortiz's recent success and John Lackey's recent meltdown, Lackey still has the better ERA? Not to mention he's much younger, and actually (occasionally) shows glimpses of success ...

... I wouldn't be heartbroken if Ortiz did take Lackey's place in the short-term, if this did help Lackey get his mechanics back in order. We all seem to assume that Ortiz will fill in for Lackey when he serves his five-game one-game suspension, and this will be a big test for Ramon.

Otherwise, Ortiz's agent is just working for his client, which is understandable, though he doesn't have much to work with.

Sean's also on the case, and Rob uses the story to spawn an idea. With any luck, Richard might chime in with another visual aid.

Reader Jim has this to say in the comments section:

"I don't know if you sabremetrics gurus have a stat for what constitutes a "star" yet, but why does DaVanon have to be a "star"? He's a good fielder and if he hits about .280/15/75/good OBP, then he's perfectly fine."

Jim, you're absolutely right. However you define "star," and whether or not DaVanon qualifies as one under your definition, doesn't matter in the least. What matters is he's a damn fine player, and we're happy to have him.

So why doesn't Mike Scioscia realize this?

Shane Halter got a start at DH last night. Though this is less absurd than when Jeff Huson got a couple of games at DH for the Halos, it's still pretty ridiculous. Lifetime numbers vs. LHP:

DaVanon: 88 239/343/420
Halter: 655 267/308/438

Note that DaVanon's numbers are fueled by a Josh Paul-esque 0-8 against lefties this year. From 2001-2003 we get:

DaVanon: 74 284/391/500
Halter: 386 259/304/420

For heaven's sakes, DaVanon (in only 38 at bats) hit 342/457/579 against lefties last year. He has never done anything to make us think he can't hit righthanded, but now he hasn't done it all year. So we can play Shane Halter? Whose numbers the last few years have been dragging his career numbers down?

I'm sorry, but this defies explanation. If you're going to have Halter, use him to rest Kennedy against tough lefties (Kennedy is terrible against lefties, by the way), or to give the Legs a rest against a lefty every now and then at third. He should not get even one start a week, though. It seems as though Scioscia is coming from a place of "How do I get Halter playing time?" instead of "What is the best lineup I can play?"

DaVanon cleans Halter's clock, and there's no reason to believe he couldn't continue to do so with more playing time.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

I'm still speechless from the game last night. You all know what happened ... suffice to say that I'm keeping my videotape of last night's game.

What a triumph. The Lads have shown great resiliency this season: just when you think it's all about to fall apart, that the injuries are going to catch up with and derail them, everything comes together and you pull off two great wins against a fantastic team.

Yes, Ace put up another yikes performance, but that's about the only negative on last night's game -- and it will have to be reckoned with, but we're fans and let's bask for now ...

Hearts are aflutter as Frankie filled in for Percival last night, and there is some suspicion that Percy's arm tightness was a cover story. I for one think that Percival should absolutely stay the closer, but not because of seniority or his intestinal fortitude or anything like that.

Percy should remain the closer because K-Rod is so much better.

Rodriguez is much more valuable coming into games with runners on base, the score tight, and being able to go more than one inning. Though filling in for Percival against the meat of the order is an exception, for the most part K-Rod's skills would be badly wasted on protecting three-run leads.

Take the game two nights ago. Rodriguez enters the game with the Lads up 6-4, but the Sox threatening with a man on base. He does his thing, the Lads score another run, then Percy comes in to make it close. What if Percival had come in and done his thing in the seventh and eighth? The Sox tie the game (or take the lead) and we never even seen Frankie pitch.

Can you imagine Percival coming into a game with men on base? Can you imagine him entering a tie game with the bases loaded? It's preposterous. With our offense, a one-run lead in the seventh could easily be a four-run lead in the ninth. Would you rather have Percy or K-Rod defending the one-run lead? Putting in K-Rod is like using a cheat code in a video game. When do you want to use the cheat code, when you're in trouble or when things are in hand? It's an easy call; leave them both in their roles, and watch the W's rack up.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Here is some mail I recently received from a reader:

Dear Chronicler,

Am I a good pitcher? In four games I am 3-1 with an ERA of 2.33. I've thrown 27 innings (6.75 per start) and struck out 19 men while only walking five. I have allowed 26 hits and five home runs, but three of those homers were solo homers allowed in one game, and were the only runs I allowed (and I lost, 3-0). I'm pretty good, huh?

Well, I guess the next seven games count, too. I did manage one good start against, well, maybe the worst organization ever, but I'm 1-2 with a 7.65 ERA over that time. I've thrown 38 innings in those 7 games -- that's right, down to 5.43 per game, pretty sorry for an alleged workhorse. I've struck out 36 men and walked 17, not that bad, right? Well, yeah, I've allowed 48(!) hits and 9 homers in that time, but really, at least I'm throwing strikes.

Chronicler, people are beginning to say that I'm not worth the money I'm making. I'm only making $11 million this year; that's only a little more than half of what Tom Cruise makes, and I buy a lot more food than he does. Please tell me I'm all right.

Very truly yours,

The Fat Man

Dear Fat Man,

What the hell is wrong with you? You look like a sad, pathetic pitcher. Yes, you're still striking guys out, but that's about all you can do. You're getting bashed all over the place, and you're an absolute embarrassment right now.

Do you know why you get paid $11M? It's so you can clean the clocks of the other team's fifth starter. What are you doing with over 100 pitches in four innings? What are you thinking?

Quite frankly, I don't know what to tell you. Just watching you, it seems like you still have the good stuff, the good velocity; it's your command that seems off. Inconsistent. You can still blow the ball by guys when you hit your spot, but when you miss your spots they can hit you. And since you throw the ball hard, you do most of the power work for them.

I don't know if the problem is mental or mechanical or physical, but it needs to be addressed.

What's worse, you're wearing the number my favorite player ever wore when with the Angels. It would be nice if your Runs Allowed Per Inning (.672) was lower than his career Slugging Percentage (.440). Hell, it would be nice if your RA/IP was lower than anyone's SLG. At this rate, you'll pass up my fave player's career OPS (.802). You're already ahead of the OPS of either of our current first basemen, so you might as well go for the gold.

I wish you well, Fat Man. Because we need you step up and do your damn job.


The Chronicler

Presented, without commentary, the lifetime stats of Jeff DaVanon and Bengie Molina against left-handed pitchers:

Bengie: 516 264/301/440/741
DaVanon: 88 239/343/420/763

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Where are we after two months? Bruised, battered, in first place ... can we keep it up? Will the injuries start to take their toll?

Let's take a tour of the Angel offense, and see how they players we planned to use have and will compare to the players we actually have now. I'll be using the formulation of Base Runs I used in this post way back when. And, by the way, I don't want to ignore defense, but it's pretty impossible to really quantify it at this point in the season. Suffice to say that we have suffered defensive drop-offs due to injuries, and that I plan to look at the defense as a whole later this week.

To the tour:

Catcher: Bengie Molina vs. Los Dos Molinas

Bengie started off the season hurt, which allowed Jose to shine to the tune of .124 BR/PA. Of course, when Bengie finally got to play, he put up a .110. Both of these performances are well above what we might expect (Bengie had posted a .082 for the last two years). But Bengie has been a decent hitter before, when healthy, so it's no real surprise to see him producing. The catching duo have been unsung heroes as the Angels have stayed relatively strong through adversity.

First Base: Darin Erstad vs. Casey Kotchman

Erstad was predictably pathetic before the hamstring yelped: his BR/PA was .095, not far off of the .103 average he had for the last two seasons. Though Casey Kotchman's future is bright, he has yet to produce at the major league level (.063). First base has been an absolute offensive sinkhole for the Lads all season, and there is no reason to expect it to get better. At this point, it seems as though the return of The Punter should be welcomed. Whoda thunk?

Second Base: Adam Kennedy vs. Adam Kennedy

Though Kennedy appears to have maintained superlative defensive value, he has slumped offensively. Where over the last two seasons his BR/PA was .132, he has only managed a .093 for the first two months of this season. Kennedy needs to pick up the pace. Kennedy has not even out-hit Shane Halter.

Third Base: Troy Glaus vs. Chone Figgins

Glaus was having an all-world year with his .203 BR/PA; Figgins is also having a potential career year at a triple-and-stolen-base-powered .131. The trouble, to this point, has been Shane Halter and his .098. Now that Figgins has won the job outright, we should improve. The Legs is raw with the glove at third, but has already made several plays of which Halter hasn't even dreamt.

Shortstop: David Eckstein vs. David Eckstein

Eckstein suffered some injury problems in the first month, and he struggled greatly. He's been crawling back, though, and has his BR/PA "up" to .095, still off his .115 pace of the past two seasons. The Lads really need Eckstein to return to form. His performance the last couple of weeks is a good sign.

Even so, three of the four Angel infielders have a BR/PA under .100. (For reference, the team mark is .129, and the league average normally hovers around .120.) In order to stay competitive, the Angels need Figgins to continue his hot hitting of the first two months, and they need a return to form from Eckstein and Kennedy. Having only one-fourth of your infield produce beyond league average is not a recipe for success -- and the fact that this is that one producer's first such year is not reassuring.

Leftfield: Jose Guillen vs. Jose Guillen

By far the most pleasant surprise of the year, Jose Guillen has been an absolute stud, posting a .165 mark -- and showing that his .160 of a year ago was no fluke. Guillen shows all the signs of being a talented player who has finally put all of his skills together into performance, and he is a big reason that the team stays afloat.

Centerfield: Garret Anderson vs. Raul Mondesi

Garret was hitting well for two weeks, with a .169, slightly but not suprisingly above his two-year average of .155. DaVanon and Figgins have patrolled center in his absence, but now Raul Mondesi has the job. What can we expect from Raul?

With the bat, better than we might think, actually. Boo Mondesi actually had a good year last year, posting a .143 BR/PA for the Yanks and the Snakes. He hadn't been as good the previous year, posting a combined .121 mark with Yanks and Jays. But at worst that makes him a league-average hitter; how much improvement this means for the team depends on who he is taking at bats from. If he takes at bats from DaVanon or Figgins, that could be counter-productive. If he takes them from Halter, that's a good thing, and could be worth a win or two over the balance of the season.

Mondesi's defense is a total mystery to me.

Rightfield: Vlad vs. Vlad

Vlad wins! .180 the last two years and .187 this year, Vlad is exactly the superstar we knew he'd be. The team would be doomed without him.

Designated Hitter: Tim Salmon vs. Jeff DaVanon

Salmon was up to his usualy early-season tricks, posting an ugly .095 mark in 18 games. Jeff DaVanon has finally put together all of his good traits from previous seasons into a sparkling .174 mark; on a per plate appearance basis, Jeff DaVanon is outperforming Jose Guillen! The signing of Mondesi should mean that DaVanon gets to play against left-handers; if Shane Halter gets one more at bat beyond just giving someone an occasional break, it's a crime.

So, if we add it all up, how much damage have the injuries really done? Let's look at center, where Figgins has essentially replaced Anderson in the lineup. If we take an extreme hypothetical and give all of the Legs' plate appearances to Anderson, and assume they perform at the same rate, how many more runs does this give the Angels?

About six.

What if we give all of Kotch's plate appearances to The Punter? How many runs then?


Add it all up, six here, two there, and I bet that the injuries haven't cost the Angels more than two games all year, offensively. Now, Halter's been a disaster with the glove, which I'm not considering here, but the injuries haven't really had time to catch up with the Lads.

The offense is not in as bad a shape as we might think. The Molinas have covered the middle infield dropoff, Guillen has relieved the dropoff from Glaus to his replacements, DaVanon has played even better than Salmon has the last two years.

It won't be easy, but it's certainly doable to stick around in this division with this offense. I'm cautiously optimistic.

Unless Shane Halter keeps starting a few days a week. Then I take it all back.

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