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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

BACK IN THE SADDLE
I've been silent of late; sorry about that. Here are the reasons:

1. I've been busy at work.
2. The work internet connection has been up and down.
3. I've been busy at work dealing with the internet connection going up and down, despite the fact that I am not any kind of tech support personnel.

(Because of the sketchy online situation, I won't be linking like I normally do in my posts. C'est la vie.)

So, let's catch up, shall we?

- Listened to the second and third innings of Jered Weaver's minor league debut last night. He sounded a bit wild, if that makes any sense, and the annoying Lake Elsinore Storm announcer (no Quakes broadcast was available for streaming through minorleaguebaseball.com) complained a bit of Weaver getting a wide strike zone.

Regardless, he threw 53 pitches, of which 32 were strikes. He was 10 strikes and 10 balls in the first, so he was better than two-to-one strikes-to-balls in his second two innings. He did allow two walks and three hits -- all of the hits were in the second -- one of which was a broken-bat blooper to Fernando Valenzuela, Jr.

Weaver seemed to improve as his outing progressed, which would be expected from someone pitching for the first time in a year. In his last inning of work he K'd two guys and retired the other on a broken-bat comebacker.

So, basically, so far, so good.

- It was nice to take the series from the Marlins, especially because our team did not seem at its best, leaving runners all over the place and leaving it all to Vlad to score the runs. Sunday was particularly vexing, not because Ervin Santana had such a bad outing (it's bound to happen once in awhile), but because of some sloppy defense and questionable basestealing tactics.

Bengie Molina completely ole'd a low fastball into a wild pitch, allowing Juan Pierre to score in the first. Since Pierre would have scored at some point, anyway, it's hard to say that Molina cost the team a run, but it was bad defense nonetheless. The day before, Jose Molina was behind the plate for two John Lackey wild pitches, each of which was the direct opposite of Santana's: they were breaking pitches that bounced, and Jose's perfect execution was not enough to prevent the balls from bounding the wrong way off his body.

Dallas McPherson also made a bad defensive play, sending an errant throw to first, with Santana on the mound. McPherson's range seems good, but his throwing still suffers lapses. I'm still up on his defense, overall, and it's important to remember that he's still a very raw player.

As for the basestealing, Mike Scioscia has grown inexplicably enamored with sending runners from first while Vlad is at bat. On Sunday, down 7-5 with two outs in the eighth, Darin Erstad was on first, Adam Kennedy was on third, and Vlad was up. Erstad stole second, leaving first base open for Vlad to be walked and for the Marlins to take their chances with Garret Anderson. Yes, Garret's been hitting well, but Vlad is Vlad, and taking the bat out of his hands is never a good idea.

It's also a bad idea with two outs, since an extra-base hit can likely score Erstad from first, anyway, and the cost of Erstad being thrown out is huge. I see what the Angels were thinking, though: get the tying run in scoring position, whether or not Vlad or Garret is the one at the bat. But I'm not a big fan of the strategy.

I also disapproved of a similar instance last night. Up 5-1 in the eighth with 1st-and-3rd with one out, Figgins on first, Vlad up, Figgins went for second. He was thrown out, but the only thing a successful steal does there is take away the double play. The Rangers could have counteracted that by walking Vlad, which we don't want. What's more, with a four-run lead, it's not like getting Figgins from first to second has a big impact. He's fast enough where he might be able to score from first on a double, even with one out, and, once again, you want to keep the bat in Vlad's hands. As it was, he flew out to the track to end the inning -- an out that would have been a sac fly had Figgins not been thrown out in his attempt to gain a very marginal advantage.

Anyway, it looks like our connection is getting kooky again, so I better post this while I have the chance.

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