Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Remember when we were all worried about our DH situation? With Father Time shelved, Jeff DaVanon and Juan Rivera are finally starting to get some semblance of regular playing time, and finally starting to do something with it:
Player       June        Season
DaVanon 303/425/394 254/348/306
Rivera 407/429/815 276/306/474
Jeff really needs to find his power, and a little patience wouldn't hurt Rivera, but that's a combo I can live with. It might not look impressive, but these two guys are up to a combined 264/328/384 on the season and Angel DH's (including contributions from Garret and others) are up to 257/311/333 -- I wish had posted the numbers somewhere, but I'm almost certain this is a step up from where we were not long ago. Continued improvement would be most welcome.

While we're on the subject of bench players and depth, how 'bout that Maicer Izturis? "Stu," as he's called (as Vin Scully repeated ad infinitum during the exhibition Freeway Series before the season, it comes from his last name, and I will hereafter be spelling it "Ztu"), has come back from the DL to get his line up to 318/348/477. That's still only 44 AB, and I have serious doubts that he's actually that good, but I'm not complaining in the least.

It is a universal truth of sports that teams are never as good as they look when they win or as bad as they look when they lose. It's easy to point out that the Angels have been beating up on two realing teams of late in the Rangers and the Chavez Ravine club, but the fact that the Angels have been able to withstand injuries to key players and still dish out punishments is a testament to one of the club's biggest strengths entering the season: its depth.

Look up and down our bench and you see a bunch of guys that could start for many teams. Juan Rivera, of course, was a starter last season, and played very well. DaVanon is a very capable fourth outfielder, but it's not hard to imagine a team for which he could start -- hell, just look at the Other Los Angeles' outfield right now. And Ztu, though young and unproven, would be exactly the kind of young player a noncompetitive team would be well-served to give a starting job to. I don't know what Mike Matheny has that Jose Molina doesn't.

And need we mention the vast irreplaceable skills of The Indispensable Josh Paul?

This is a very valuable set of guys for a team to have in reserve. Sure, none of them are spectacular, or stars-in-the-making. But having competent major league players ready to go at a moment's notice is not always easy for teams to accomplish, as our recent opponents underscore. I am often critical of Bill Stoneman, but this is an aspect of the game in which he has really shone for a couple of years, and we are much better off for it.

Given Cesar's 0-fer month, it is altogether possible that the Angels have the best Izturis in the Los Angeles of Anaheim. Allowance for small sample sizes made, of course.
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