Thursday, September 29, 2005

So, you may have noticed I haven't been posting too much lately, which would seem odd given the huge series we just played and the big and happy news that came out of it.

Basically, there's been a lot of busy-ness at work, so I haven't had the opportunity to blog all that much. At nights, I was watching games, and then going about my life, so there hasn't been much time to blog around then.

Anyway, I should be back in full force as the playoffs dawn, and we actually know who we're going to face in the first round. Like our regulars, I could use a day off or two, anyway.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Well, it was arduous, but we came on hot and earned this thing. Now it's time to smack the rest of whoever makes it to the playoffs all around the place.

Monday, September 26, 2005

As you may or may not be aware, the Angels commence a big important four-game series against the A's tonight.

The Lads have a magic number of four, which means a split of the series secures the division. That would mark two straight years that we've gone into the land of the green and gold and walked out with a division title.

Tonight features John Lackey against Joe Blanton. Big John has struggles in his last two starts, seeing his ERA raise from 3.30 to 3.55, giving up four home runs in twelve-and-two-thirds innings in the process. Historically, Lackey has excelled in September, so one would hope that it's just a hiccup. He's matched up well against the A's this season, going 2-1 with a 2.92 ERA in nearly 25 innings.

Joe Blanton has had a year of ups and downs. After starting off his season with a superb April (a 2.67 ERA), his mediocre strikeout-to-walk ratio caught up to him and he got hammered for a 13.25 ERA in May. He has since settled down, looking magnificent at times.

Still, in 187 1/3 innings, he's only struck out 107 men while walking 66, an unexceptional ratio. He's also allowed 21 home runs, a pretty large number given his home park. He has pitched well against the Angels this year (a 2.05 ERA), and, anecdotally, it seems to me that the Angels often struggle against pitchers that just throw strikes but don't overpower.

Look for the Angels to put the ball in play a lot against Blanton. If their bats are sharp, hopefully that will mean some brutal line drives will be whacked around the stadium. Lackey also needs to bear down and give the team a quality start. With our bullpen finally getting back in stride, keeping the team in the game will be a big step toward victory.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

-- We have a three-game lead in the loss column! After tonight, the Angels and A's will both have ten games left, 40% of which are against each other. Even if the worst happens and our five-game win streak comes to a close this evening, we'll still be in great shape heading into the final stretch.

We don't even need to play particularly well against the A's to make it. Even if we lost tonight and go 2-2 against the A's, they'd have to go 4-2 to our 2-4 over the other six games in order to tie us. Obviously, a lot of things can happen, and it ain't close to over. But the Lads are in the driver's seat, and this is ours to win.

-- Last night was a great come-from-behind win, as you know. Yes the Texas bullpen is lousy, but a good team is supposed to come back and beat them, and that we did. The Angels can't lose focus tonight; a sweep of the Lone Stars would be huge. Every game from here on out is big, and the Angels have the advantage on paper for a number of them. They have to play like it.

-- I've been horribly remiss about two things. One is my nascent Movie Review Blog (see sidebar to the right). It's partially because it's been a somewhat dead time for moviegoing over the last six weeks, as the Industry lays in wait between Summer and Oscar Season. Well, last night's season premiere of Lost, and the fact that I just re-watched all of Season One on DVD over the past two weeks, has inspired me to write a review of ... Lost. What, it's not a movie? Hey, it's a moving image, I'm writing about it.

The other are the seasonal counters to the right, which I haven't updated in weeks. I'll try to reconstruct them, but I might have to erase them if I can't. Oh, well, they were fun (for me, anyway), while they lasted ...

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

It had never really occurred to me that I would see a 20-game winner for the Angels in my lifetime. Now, pitcher wins don't mean a lot to me, as they depend to such a large degree on the team and not the pitcher, but it's still pretty cool to have your ace take the league lead and hit a big milestone.

How many of Bartolo's wins have been undeserved, and how many games should he have won that he did not? To answer this question, I looked at all of his starts in a few categories ... you have your Quality Start, where a pitcher goes at least six innings and gives up no more than three runs. The minimum qualification for that would be a 4.50 ERA, but the typical Quality Start is actually better than that; in a strict sense, pitching six innings and allowing three runs is sufficient to keep your team in the game, so that's something.

I believe Bill James is the one that came up with the following, but if a guy has a QS and gets a loss, that's a Tough Loss, and if he doesn't meet the minimum and gets a win, that's a Cheap Win. I'm going to go ahead and also devise a Tough No Decision and a Cheap No Decision, the meaning of which you can likely figure out.

I'll also take a look at Superlative Starts, which I just made up, where a pitcher goes at least 7 innings and gives up no more than 2 runs.

Here we go:
    GS  QS  TL  CW  TND  CND  SS 
Tot 31 21 3 1 14
W 20 16 4 9
L 7 2 2 2
So, reading that ... Bartolo has started 31 games, going 20-7. 21 of those starts are Quality Starts, and in those he's gone 16-2. Both of those losses obviously qualify as Tough Losses. He has three Quality Starts in which he didn't get a decision, and his other no-decision came on a game where he allowed only two runs in five innings, and he was pulled due to a rain delay.

It's particularly interesting that both of Colon's Tough Losses and all three of his Tough No Decisions came in what I called Superlative Starts. That's a real testament to the Angel offense. Here are those starts:
Date   Opp   IP  ER  Dec
4/15 @Oak 7.0 1 W
4/20 Cle 8.0 0 W
5/01 @Min 7.3 0 W
5/07 Det 9.0 2 L
5/18 @Cle 8.0 1 W
5/24 ChW 7.0 1 -
6/15 Was 9.0 1 L
7/27 @Tor 7.0 2 -
8/02 Bal 7.0 1 W
8/07 Tam 7.0 2 W
8/13 @Sea 8.0 1 W
8/24 @Bal 8.7 1 W
8/30 Oak 9.3 1 -
9/20 Tex 7.0 0 W
Total: 109.3 14 9-2 ERA: 1.15
In addition to his 16 Quality Start wins, he has 4 Cheap Wins; I don't know that any of them are really egregious, maybe two are close. On May 29, against the Royals, Bartolo had only allowed two runs through seven innings, but gave up two runs in the eighth. In his next start, in Fenway, he did struggle, allowing five runs in six innings but still getting the win. On July 21, against the Yankees, he allowed three runs through six, but two in the seventh -- the Angels bailed him out by plating four in the bottom of the inning. And on September 4, against Seattle, Bartolo allowed only two through five, getting pulled due to his back.

Basically, Bartolo is easily deserving of his twenty wins. I'm not going to take a position on him vis-a-vis the Cy Young until the season is over, but after a disastrous start last year, Colon has come a long way to make his contract look pretty damn worthwhile.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Today, Paul Gutierrez of the LA Times explores whether or not Mickey Hatcher is a fit batting coach.

Gutierrez paints a picture of woe for the 2005 Angel offense, especially in comparison to its 2004 counterpart. Behold:
The cause for concern? A year after tying a team record and leading the league with a .282 batting average, the Angels are batting .270, sixth in the AL.

Last year, the Angels tied a team record with 1,603 hits and this season they are on pace for 1,521. And though they pounded out 162 home runs in 2004, they are now on pace for 145. And after scoring 836 runs last year, they are on pace to finish with 751.
Sounds bad. And it is -- the Angels rank a mediocre eighth in the league in runs scored, tied with the ChiSox, another team not known for proficient offense. Obviously, being tied for eighth means the Lads are awfully close to ninth.

The Angels also rank 10th in home runs, 9th in OBP, and and 9th in slugging percentage. That's something important to remember when the Angel brass says things, "it's not about getting guys on base, it's about getting guys in scoring position." You can't get guys in scoring position if you don't get guys on base in the first place.

By the way, though the offense has been worse this season than last, the difference in terms of the league is not large. This year we rank 9th in runs scored; last year we ranked 7th. We have ranked 10th in home runs both years. We did get all the way up to 6th in OBP last year, but were 10th in SLG.

Anyone sense a pattern?

Mickey Hatcher took over as the Angel batting coach in the year 2000. Here is how the Angel offense has ranked in several categories since then:
Year   R   HR  AVG  OBP  SLG
2000 7 3 5 6t 1
2001 12 10 11 9 12
2002 4 10t 1 4 6
2003 11 12 7t 8t 9
2004 7 10 1t 6 10
2005 8 10 8 9 9
2002 is clearly the aberration across the board. Even so, it's an offense bit strictly around batting average -- when the hits aren't dropping in, the team struggles to score runs because of few walks and little power.

And even Mickey admits the hits aren't falling in -- it's part of his defense. Quoth the Hatcher:
You know, what's frustrating is people that watch the game don't understand that these guys are swinging the bats as good as we did in 2002 when we won it all. The hits aren't coming as easy ... you see a lot of line drives being caught, you see a lot of good defensive plays. A lot of the guys are having quality at-bats so I'm fine with that.
I don't know what to make of the claim that there are a lot of line drive outs: according to the Hardball Times, the Angels are exactly league-average at their line drive production, and in terms of getting hits on balls in play are just below the league-average. That's not a stunning disparity, and is hardly worth comment.

But an offense should, hopefully, be designed to work even without singles dropping in. Home runs, walks, stolen bases, good baserunning ... we have the last two covered, but the first two are woefully absent. We have a bunch of guys that hit like Mickey did when he played; this is a guy that hit 280/313/370 over his career.

But you know what? I don't think it's specifically Mickey's fault -- it's an organizational policy. Maybe it starts with Hatcher, but it certainly doesn't end there.

Look at the players this team has, and has acquired. Look at how they were expected to hit this year, and how they have hit. Here are Baseball Prospectus' Equivalent Averages (basically park-adjusted runs created per out scaled to batting average, with .260 being average) for our key players, coming into 2005 and for 2005:
Player   Pre-05    2005
BMolina .231 .262 +31
Erstad .259 .248 - 9
Kennedy .251 .268 +13
Figgins .261 .263 + 2
Cabrera .247 .244 - 3
Anderson .264 .256 - 8
Finley .274 .217 -57
Vlad .314 .325 +11
Rivera .263 .254 - 9
As you see, players like Bengie and Kennedy are out-performing their career norms. And of the players severely underperforming, can those be blamed on Hatcher? Maybe you could make the case for Darin Erstad, who hit a lucky .355 during Mickey's first year with the team, and them commenced sucking, but maybe his injuries are more to blame.

Garret Anderson? He was a free swinger before Hatcher ever showed his face, and had his best years while Mickey has been here, so it seems disingenous to blame the decline of arthritic 33-year-old on the batting coach.

Rivera? Isn't that as much a function of playing time and normal variation, anyway? .254 isn't all that different from .263 in this stat.

Finley? The man's forty, and for all we can say about him, we cannot say his failures are because of a lack of effort and work. I just don't think we can pin this one on Hatcher.

It seems to me that, outside of Finley, overall the team has pretty much hit as expected, and maybe a little bit better. I don't see any real evidence that Hatcher could be doing more with these batters than he is. At some point, we're going to have to finger the parties most responsible for assembling this mediocre offense: the players and the management that put them there. Mickey might be part of the problem, but it ain't all him.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Friday night was a frustrating but much-needed win for the Angels, as the bullpen held on after John Lackey gutted through seven subpar innings. It was nice to see the Lads pull out a game that saw a bad start from a pitcher, as that sort of thing hasn't seemed to have happened very much lately. It was also good to see John Lackey not have a total meltdown while pitching poorly, which used to be his M.O.

Saturday I got to see my Bruins show a bunch of people that they're for real. Yes, Oklahoma is not up to their normal standards, but they still have one of the best running backs in the country and a formidable defense. That defense took Maurice (Jones-)Drew out of the game for about three-and-a-half quarters, putting the game in the hands of Drew Olson and the passing offense.

No problem: Olson had a great day, spreading the ball around like no one's business. Despite losing top receiver Junior Taylor for the season on the second play of the game, UCLA was able to move the ball through the air with relative ease, with standout performances from Marcus Everett and Marcedes Lewis; even Joe Cowan, who struggled in the season opener, made some big catches. On defense, safety Dennis Keyes made two significant and game-turning hits, and the front seven's athleticism kept Adrian Petersen from turning the corner all too often. And when the Bruin o-line finally got things together in the last few minutes of the game, Drew was able to break a run and redeem his stat line for the day, sealing the well-earned 41-24 victory. As someone who has been a big supporter of both Drew Olson and Karl Dorrell from their respective Days One, I was gratified to see the big win.

I was in such a good mood that I couldn't even get upset at the ineptitude of the Angel offense Saturday night. Ervin Santana pitched well, and the offense finally crawled together in the eighth to pick up the winning runs. That momentum carried over to yesterday, where the Lads jumped out to a big enough lead to let The Wyrd just do his thing and notch another Halo victory.

While we didn't look spectacular in beating a bad team, what counts is that we did what we were supposed to do and now have a two-game lead in the standings. This team is finally showing some of that late-inning fight that has characterized some of the better Angel squads, and it's not a moment too soon. I'm a bit worried about Joe Saunders against the Texas lineup, and the Rangers are streaking right now, but the Angels need to step up and extend this lead as much as possible.

UPDATE: I'm a moron. As pointed out in the comments section, we're skipping Saunders to start Bartolo tomorrow.

Friday, September 16, 2005

I've been an Angel fan for awhile -- all my life -- so I have borne witness to a certain number of folds and fades over the courses of seasons. And I don't only mean the big dramatic 1986 and 1995 sort of years. There were also those years in the late 1990s where we'd hang around in the race for awhile before something kooky would happen -- Tony Phillips freebasing cocaine, Chuck Finley falling on his wrist and breaking it, Todd Greene getting injured in the midst of fulfilling his potential -- and we'd just fall apart. (Come to think of it, all three of those wacky things may have been in the same season, but I don't want to look it up.)

Anyway, I don't remember any of the meltdowns looking like this. Most nights, the starting pitching is good and the offense will be nonexistent. Then, randomly, the offense will score runs -- but the starter will get rocked. Or the offense will get just enough runs to support the starter, but then the bullpen blows it.

Last night was an all-new low, where the defense elected to emulate a bunch of t-ballers for the evening. Aside from Vlad's crazy misjudgment and drop (which might cost us the division if that tweak to his shoulder turns out to be bad), Legs Figgins had one of the worst defensive games I've ever seen a centerfielder have -- it was the center field equivalent to the game Ashley Lelie had for the Broncos this past Sunday.

Figgins made an error by overrunning a ball; crashed into the wall five feet away from another ball (and three seconds too early), causing an inside-the-park home run; and allowed a ball to drop in deep left-center where Orlando Cabrera might well have been the closest guy to catching it. Maybe that last one wasn't his fault -- we obviously didn't see the positioning on TV -- but the others were horrible. The home run was particularly vexing, and might have put a crimp in Bartolo Colon's Cy Young chances, as all three runs that scored were earned, despite the fact that just about any real center fielder would have either timed the jump right and jumped where, you know, the ball was ... or at least played it into a double.

The sad thing is that I don't think Finley would have done any better. Aside from one sterling play in Minnesota, he was terrible going up against the wall all year. And as for the ball Figgins overran, there's a decent chance Father Time wouldn't have gotten there in the first place.

Now that it's all said and done, we are tied for first with 16 games left. Obviously, it's doable. We can. But will we?

The hell if I know. We have a slightly more favorable schedule than the Oakland Athletic Club from here on out, but the Angels have demonstrated an ugly ability to play down to the level of their competition. When we play Seattle and Detroit, that means we play pretty damn badly. Add in injury questions about Vlad and Colon (who hasn't seemed 100% in the two starts since his back starting flaring up), our two key players, plus an understandable concern about a bullpen that's had to deal with far too many close games than necessary ... and it's just a mess.

And do we have any reasonable expectation that we wouldn't just get rocked right out of the playoffs, anyway? I would still like our chances against Chicago, or even Cleveland, but the prospect of facing the Yankees or Red Sox is pretty uninviting.

I don't know. I don't want to sound like I'm giving up, because I'm not. But we have a pretty good team that feels thisclose to being a very good team, if they could just get their act together (or maybe put their best possible team on the field every day, which might involve Juan Rivera getting to use his glove [and arm] and a certain shift from first base to center field). They have 16 games to do it, and not a second to lose.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Yesterday should have been a wonderful thing. Finley and Erstad out of the lineup, nine runs, a daring comeback, etc. Of course, our offense chooses the same day to explode as the pitching staff chooses to implode. Typical.

What sick, sadistic son of a bitch came up with this game, anyway?

I'm actually a little bummed that Finley is back out of the lineup. His continued presence would allowed me to strike and stay away from the trainwreck this team has become. I was starting to develop all kinds of snazzy slogans as well, stuff like WHAT DO WE WANT? FINLEY BENCHED! WHEN DO WE WANT IT? JULY! and FINLEY'S JUST ANOTHER WORD FOR NO ONE LEFT TO HIT, but now that's all just academic.

Luckily, this division might just come down to who doesn't want it the least.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Well, one thing about last night's game is that we turned a 4-8-3 double play, which is just about the awesomest thing ever.

Aside from that, the game stunk to high heaven. Well, The Wyrd didn't stink ... well, maybe he did. All Angel starters should realize by now that giving up one run is almost as bad as giving up ten, so maybe Byrd deserves the loss.

The most disturbing thing about the last two days is the proof that our victory over Finley was short-lived. Father Time, like the wizened old tease that he is, got Mike Scioscia all hot and bothered with a 4-8 with a home run in two games at New US Cellular Comiskey Field Park or Whatever. But by the time Mike got Finley home, Steve reverted to the 0-6 weak-hitting supersuck we've grown to know and love all season.

So, Mike, if two games is enough to get Finley back into the lineup, shouldn't two games be enough to remove him? Must the pain continue?

If Finley remains in the lineup this weekend, I will seriously consider going on strike against baseball. Who's with me?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I did this for the batters a few days ago. Again, I present each player's statistics from each time I did a Watch List Update, to give some sense of the arc of each guy's season. No postseason play has been included.

Nick Adenhart
SP, Arizona League and R Orem

When  W   L   SV   G  GS    IP    H   HR   SO   BB   ERA
9/09 1 0 0 1 1 6.0 3 0 7 0 0.00 R Final
2 3 0 13 12 44.0 39 0 52 24 3.68 AZL Final
8/15 1 1 0 10 9 28.0 27 0 32 19 4.82
7/24 0 1 0 7 7 16.0 15 0 16 17 5.63
7/11 0 0 0 4 4 8.7 5 0 9 9 1.04
The Angels took a gamble in drafting Adenhart, who, though a top-flight prospect in terms of tools, was coming off Tommy John surgery and had already committed to college. The draw of the pros overwhelmed him, though, and he signed with the Angels, as you see. Starting slowly -- to be expected coming off the surgery and rehab -- Adenhart really kicked it in from August on, striking out 43 against just 7 walks over his last 34 innings, spread over two levels. In short: he's probably ahead of schedule. The kid's only nineteen, so he won't be rushed, but this is an impressive professional debut.

Steve Andrade
RP, AA New Hampshire (Blue Jays org)

When  W   L   SV   G  GS    IP    H   HR   SO   BB   ERA
9/09 3 2 3 35 0 50.3 23 3 71 16 1.97 AA Final
8/15 3 2 3 28 0 40.7 20 3 58 15 2.43
7/27 1 2 3 22 0 31.7 12 2 43 10 2.27
7/11 1 2 1 16 0 22.7 9 1 28 10 2.78
6/16 1 2 1 13 0 19.0 6 0 22 7 1.89
5/24 0 2 1 12 0 17.0 4 0 20 7 1.59
5/04 0 1 0 6 0 7.7 2 0 11 2 1.17
4/19 0 0 0 3 0 4.7 0 0 7 1 0.00
I hate this. Yes, Andrade's a bit old for his league. But someone who dominates AA to this extent deserves more than 13 and 2/3 decent innings at AAA to prove he can't handle a promotion. Either this guy goes around raping cats or some people in charge are just looking the other way. I'm betting on the latter; if he's not in AAA somewhere next year, heads will roll. Free the man, already. FREE STEVE ANDRADE!

Daniel Davidson
SP, AA Arkansas

When  W   L   SV   G  GS    IP    H   HR   SO   BB   ERA
9/09 13 5 0 28 26 154.3 179 22 110 45 4.72 AA Final
8/15 12 5 0 24 22 136.3 147 13 97 37 4.03
7/27 9 5 0 21 19 113.3 124 11 84 34 4.53
7/11 7 4 0 18 16 97.0 110 11 63 31 4.64
6/16 5 3 0 13 12 71.3 XX 7 51 22 4.54
5/24 4 1 0 8 7 42.3 51 4 28 11 4.04
5/04 3 1 0 5 5 25.3 37 2 18 7 3.91
4/19 2 0 0 2 2 11.7 14 0 8 1 2.31
A season of ups and downs for Davidson, he really came on strong from mid-July to mid-August, but seemed to hit a bit of a wall, completely falling apart from that point onward, including a horrific start in the AA Championship Series that saw him give up five earned runs while recording only one out (as a postseason start, that's not recorded here). As a tall, finesse lefty, Davidson strikes me (and this is without seeing him, just going by numbers and reputation only) as a Jamie Moyer type, and that kind of pitcher has to walk a fine line. I would imagine there will be room for Davidson at AAA next year; he'll have to demonstrate he can hold up for an entire season to appear a viable candidate for Angel Rotations Yet to Come. (Note that I don't know how many hits he had allowed as of June 16, as I had a typo in my original post.)

Gustavo Espinoza
SP, Arizona League, R Orem, and A Cedar Rapids

When  W   L   SV   G  GS    IP    H   HR   SO   BB   ERA
9/09 1 0 0 1 1 5.3 5 1 3 1 1.69 A Final
0 0 0 1 0 2.0 3 0 1 0 9.00 R Final
5 3 0 13 12 70.3 72 3 78 12 3.84 AZL Final
8/15 4 2 0 11 10 58.0 56 2 60 10 3.72
7/27 3 1 0 7 6 38.7 28 0 34 6 1.63
Gustavo came out of the gate annihilating everybody, but the league caught up to him a little bit before he finished off his season with some appearances at higher levels. No worry. It was his first season in the United States, and his K:BB makes me weep. He's still a long way off, but there's a lot of potential here, and health permitting, his name is going to shoot up some prospect lists in the next couple of years. He and Adenhart are a highly intriguing one-two punch.

Steve Shell
SP, AA Arkansas

When  W   L   SV   G  GS    IP    H   HR   SO   BB   ERA
9/09 10 8 0 27 27 159.7 175 18 126 58 4.57 AA Final
8/15 9 7 0 24 24 140.7 153 16 120 53 4.35
7/27 7 7 0 20 20 114.7 122 16 94 45 4.40
7/11 5 6 0 17 17 93.7 105 16 72 39 5.00
6/16 3 4 0 13 13 70.7 81 12 54 30 4.84
5/24 1 4 0 9 9 50.0 55 9 45 21 4.68
5/04 1 2 0 5 5 27.7 29 4 21 10 4.88
4/19 0 1 0 3 3 13.7 17 2 8 8 6.59
Shell struggled in his first season at A before coming on to dominate in his second year, so his struggles through mid-July this year were no surprise or worry. But then he got hot -- and then, like Davidson, finished off the regular season with some mediocre starts. Still, a pretty good effort overall, and Shell may well find himself in Salt Lake next season. Like Davidson, it appears he may have to build up more endurance -- his numbers through 140 2/3 innings are fine, but the next 19 are lackluster in nearly every respect.

Von Stertzbach
RP, AA Arkansas

When  W   L   SV   G  GS    IP    H   HR   SO   BB   ERA
9/09 3 5 10 44 0 51.7 60 8 42 25 5.23 AA Final
8/15 3 5 10 40 0 44.7 51 8 40 21 5.24
7/27 3 5 10 40 0 44.7 51 8 40 21 5.24
7/11 3 4 10 36 0 41.3 45 6 39 21 4.79
6/16 3 3 8 28 0 31.3 36 4 27 16 4.60
5/24 1 2 5 19 0 22.7 26 3 21 10 4.37
5/04 1 0 5 12 0 12.0 13 2 9 7 4.50
4/19 1 0 3 6 0 7.3 8 1 4 3 4.91
Stertzbach struggled, then had an injury. This is a pretty forgettable season, Texas League or no, with Stertzbach posting disappointing numbers across the board. Relievers are prone to a lot of variation, so hopefully he can get back on track in 2006.

Jered Weaver
SP, A Rancho Cucamonga and AA Arkansas

When  W   L   SV   G  GS    IP    H   HR   SO   BB   ERA
9/09 3 3 0 8 8 43.0 43 5 46 19 3.98 AA Final
8/15 1 1 0 4 4 19.0 23 4 20 10 5.68
7/27 0 0 0 1 1 4.0 7 1 2 1 6.75
4 1 0 7 7 33.0 25 3 49 7 3.82 A Final
7/11 2 1 0 5 5 20.0 21 3 28 4 5.85
Jered finally signed, and at both levels got off to rocky starts before settling down. The two main concerns I see from his line are his walks and his home runs. The walks are likely due to an adjustment -- at each level Weaver achieves, his opponents have a better sense of the strike zone, so he can't always rack up strikeouts on pitches out of the zone. This is an adjustment all pitchers have to make, and I think Weaver shall.

The other thing, the home runs, is more troubling. Rich Lederer, president of Jered Weaver is Awesome, has Weaver's groundball-to-flyball ratio this year as .40 -- he allows five flyballs to two groundballs. This is, um, unique, and threatens to make Weaver susceptible to the longball for the duration of his career.

Now, guys like Robin Roberts and Bert Blyleven could make the strikeout/home run thing work because of their great control. So if Weaver does clamp down on the walks, that will go some way toward abating the problem. But it still seems like it might be incumbent upon him to integrate some kind of two-seamer or sinker into his repertoire, just to help alleviate the problem. This is part of the development he will go through in 2006, whether he starts at AA or AAA. His strikeouts are very promising, and his hits are fine for their leagues, so, overall, this was a good professional debut.

Bob Zimmerman
RP, A Rancho Cucamonga

When  W   L   SV   G  GS    IP    H   HR   SO   BB   ERA
9/09 6 8 17 52 0 59.7 50 3 62 27 3.32 A Final
8/15 6 7 13 45 0 51.3 43 3 59 24 3.68
7/27 5 7 10 35 0 40.3 37 2 48 18 3.57
7/11 4 7 7 29 0 33.0 34 2 41 17 4.36
6/16 3 6 6 23 0 26.0 27 2 32 16 4.50
5/24 1 4 6 18 0 18.3 20 1 22 12 4.42
5/04 1 3 3 11 0 10.7 14 1 11 5 6.75
4/19 1 2 1 5 0 4.7 8 1 8 3 11.57
The Lonesome Hobo spent the whole year bringing his ERA down after a disastrous few opening innings. Such is the plight of the relief pitcher, and the job is made even harder having to toil in the California League. If you take out those first 4 2/3 innings, you get a guy with a 2.62 ERA over 55 innings, striking out 54 against 24 walks, allowing only two home runs out of 42 hits. So Zimmerman actually had a pretty decent year. The next test will be at AA.

Monday, September 12, 2005

I had a busy and mostly fruitful sports weekend, followed by a busy day at work, so the Watch List Summary for pitchers will appear tomorrow, hopefully.

Bouncing back to Thursday for a sec ... Larry Young is a cretin. When Mike Scioscia went out to dispute Young's declaration that Cabrera was out at second on appeal, Young's words, clearly readable off his lips, were "He never tagged up." Mike was, understandably incredulous. Young insisted. "He never tagged up." Not "He left early." "He never tagged up."

Young saying The OC never tagged up makes him, as far as I'm concerned, a liar or a fool. Umpires make mistakes, and that's part of the game, but, wow. Just "wow" to that one.

Friday night brought us the adventures of the Incredible Sliding Vlad. He had every right to be out at second after admiring his near-homer, and had he been thrown out, probably should have been subjected to a fine of roughly $5 million.

But he made a hell of a slide and beat the tag. His mad dash to home on Bengie's sac bunt is one of the craziest things I've ever witnessed a human being do, and, somehow, he made it work with a hell of an incredible slide. It was one of the most delirious things I've ever seen.

Saturday morning was just a good old-fashioned ass-whupping by the Lads. Saturday night brought another ass-whupping, this time with UCLA the perpetrators and Rice the receivers. UCLA beat Rice just like Rice is supposed to be beaten when they play a team with a real program; it's bene awhile since UCLA beat up on people like that, so that was very welcome.

Sunday morning brought the Denver Broncos playing one of the worst offensive games I've ever seen an NFL team have. Jake Plummer looked bad, the offensive line opened up maybe two holes all day for their runners, and Ashley Lelie committed mistake after mistake, dropping passes and committing inexcusable offensive pass interference penalties. It was a horrible all-around effort by everyone except placekicker Jason Elam and ... oh, I don't know. Kyle Johnson, Jeb Putzier, and Rod Smith were okay. The defense was fine aside from a few big plays, but with no offensive support were put in difficult positions. They did a good job on the run, but had no pass rush on former Bronco reserve Gus Frerotte.

The pain -- it actually wasn't pain so much as this awe of "Wow, they really are playing this poorly" -- was well abated by the Angels power surge against Orlando Hernandez. Then Brandon McCarthy came in and demonstrated he should have been starting in the first place. If that seems somewhat familiar, it's because Livan Hernandez had no business starting over Kirk Rueter in Game 7 of the World Series. In both cases, the Angels made their opponents pay.

The sweep of the ChiSox was huge; I would have been lucky with splitting the six games we played against the multicolored Sox, but ending up 4-2 is a boon. With three games in Seattle, the Angels are poised to do no worse than 6-3 on the road trip, which would be excellent.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Here's the summary of my prospect Watch List for hitters. I've included each player's line at each point I did a Watch List, so you can see how the progressed (or regressed) over the course of the season.

I'll do the pitchers early next week, as the summary takes a lot of space. None of this includes any postseason games, by the way.

Erick Aybar
SS, AA Arkansas

When   AB   H   2B   3B   HR   BB   SO   AVG  OBP  SLG
9/09 535 162 29 10 9 29 51 303 350 445 AA Final
8/15 450 132 24 7 7 23 45 293 338 424
7/27 383 106 22 7 4 19 41 277 325 402
7/11 325 93 18 6 4 17 34 286 338 415
6/16 247 70 13 4 4 13 27 283 342 417
5/24 158 39 9 1 1 9 18 247 315 335
5/04 82 24 6 1 0 2 8 293 341 390
4/19 43 10 3 1 0 3 2 233 292 349
Not only did he end up with solid numbers, Erick ended the season on a high note, notching 30 hits in his last 85 at-bats. Add in good defense and okay baserunning (49 steals against 23 caught stealings), and this is a very nice performance for a 21-year-old in AA. He's all set to make his AAA debut in 2006, and an injury to Orlando Cabrera might spell a call-up next season.

Alberto Callaspo
2B, AA Arkansas and AAA Salt Lake

When   AB   H   2B   3B   HR   BB   SO   AVG  OBP  SLG
9/09 212 67 21 2 1 10 13 316 345 409 AAA Final
8/15 130 36 12 2 0 6 8 277 307 400
7/27 51 11 2 2 0 4 2 216 268 333
350 104 9 0 10 28 17 297 346 409 AA Final
7/11 333 100 9 0 9 27 16 300 350 408
6/16 252 83 7 0 7 24 13 329 386 440
5/24 172 51 5 0 5 17 10 297 356 413
5/04 97 30 3 0 1 10 6 309 370 371
4/19 45 16 1 0 0 3 2 356 388 378
Callaspo had a solid performance in his second year at AA, but that promotion was more related to making room for Howie Kendrick than it was on strictly merit. He'll start the season in AAA next season, alongside his usual partner in crime, Erick Aybar. He has a good glove, but with Adam Kennedy, Legs Figgins, and Maicer Izturis all available to play second in 2006, it's hard to envision a scenario where he gets more than a cup of coffee next year, even in the case of an injury.

Nick Gorneault
OF, AAA Salt Lake

When   AB   H   2B   3B   HR   BB   SO   AVG  OBP  SLG
9/09 488 143 26 11 26 58 119 293 366 551 AAA Final
8/15 411 116 21 10 19 44 102 282 350 521
7/27 345 99 18 9 18 38 85 287 356 548
7/11 304 88 16 8 15 28 74 289 346 543
6/16 209 64 14 6 9 22 53 306 368 560
5/24 129 40 9 3 6 10 29 310 355 566
5/04 73 23 6 1 1 7 16 315 370 466
4/19 39 11 4 0 0 4 9 282 349 385
Pretty decent year for Gorneault, who was in his second year at AAA. He walked a bit more this season; dunno if that was just teams pitching around him. He's been old for his leagues the whole way, but there's nothing in his record to indicate he shouldn't at least have a shot at being a right-handed bat off the bench. The problem is that he's not going to out-hit or out-defend Juan Rivera, and he can't play center field like Jeff DaVanon. There's only a place for him in the majors in 2006 if there's a significant injury to a corner outfielder.

Howie Kendrick
2B, A Rancho Cucamonga and AA Arkansas

When   AB   H   2B   3B   HR   BB   SO   AVG  OBP  SLG
9/09 190 65 20 2 7 6 20 342 382 579 AA Final
8/15 109 38 12 1 3 3 11 349 368 560
7/27 41 14 5 0 1 0 4 341 341 537
279 107 23 6 12 14 42 384 421 638 A Final
7/11 257 95 21 5 11 14 39 370 409 619
6/16 177 66 11 4 9 9 30 373 406 633
5/24 177 66 11 4 9 9 30 373 406 633
5/04 111 46 7 2 8 7 19 414 459 730
4/19 58 23 2 1 4 1 10 397 407 672
I guess he can't hit .370 forever. Kendrick will likely resume his life at AA next season, waiting for Callaspo to get traded or something before he sniffs AAA. With Callaspo and Kendrick lined up, and Figgins available on the major league level, one has to wonder if Adam Kennedy's days as an Angel are numbered, especially if he could fetch a real center fielder (Mike Cameron?).

Warner Madrigal
OF, A Cedar Rapids

When   AB   H   2B   3B   HR   BB   SO   AVG  OBP  SLG
9/09 405 100 21 2 15 22 90 247 288 420 A Final
8/15 346 84 15 1 12 17 76 243 281 396
7/27 292 68 14 1 12 15 67 233 273 411
7/11 251 57 12 1 11 15 60 227 274 414
6/16 186 41 8 0 9 9 45 220 261 409
5/24 129 28 4 0 6 1 33 217 227 388
5/04 77 17 2 0 4 1 24 221 231 403
4/19 33 6 1 0 1 0 11 182 182 303
There's a lot more here that's good than you think: Madrigal missed practically all of 2004 with an injury, so this is his first year back. He improved steadily in the second half. He cut his strikeouts dramatically as the season wore on. Those are the good things. The bad things are his walk rate, low average, and -- even though he cut them -- he still strikes out too much. The good thing for Warner is that there isn't really a whole gang of knockout outfield prospects blocking him, and he's only 21 years old. He's on queue to go to Rancho next year, but if he doesn't take advantage of the Cal League and impress, he'll be going the way of Norm Hutchins instead of the way of Devon White or Garret Anderson.

Jeff Mathis
C, AAA Salt Lake

When   AB   H   2B   3B   HR   BB   SO   AVG  OBP  SLG
9/09 427 118 26 3 21 42 85 276 340 499 AAA Final
8/15 355 100 23 2 15 34 74 282 343 485
7/27 307 88 21 2 14 32 65 287 354 505
7/11 261 74 19 2 12 27 58 284 351 510
6/16 178 48 13 2 8 19 36 270 340 500
5/24 106 29 8 1 7 11 23 274 342 566
5/04 51 19 7 1 2 5 11 373 421 667
4/19 27 11 6 1 2 5 6 407 500 926
Just like in 2004, Mathis started off hot and gradually cooled down as the season progressed. At least the 2005 fall wasn't anywhere near as dramatic as the year before. Whether or not Mathis starts 2006 in AAA or the AL is one of the big questions in the Angel offseason. He's only 22 this year, so putting him in AAA for another season isn't the end of the world. But Bengie Molina will likely require a long-term contract to stay, and with his health, that's a bad bet. Stoneman should look for a one-year solution via a trade, and just keep Jose around to back up. If Mathis gets the job, Mike Scioscia might be well-served to give him two days off per week, as his constant fades over the course of the season might well be due to fatigue.

Kendry Morales
1B, A Rancho Cucamonga and AA Arkansas

When   AB   H   2B   3B   HR   BB   SO   AVG  OBP  SLG
9/09 281 86 12 0 17 17 43 306 349 530 AA Final
8/15 200 48 8 0 10 13 32 240 290 430
7/27 135 32 5 0 4 8 23 237 280 363
7/11 82 21 5 0 4 5 15 256 299 463
6/16 11 0 0 0 0 1 3 000 083 000
90 31 3 0 5 6 11 344 400 544 A Final
5/24 13 5 1 0 1 1 2 385 429 692
Kendry finally appeared in the flesh, and after ripping up the Cal League for a few weeks was dispatched to Arkansas. He struggled at first, but caught fire in mid-August, hitting 469/494/778 for the balance of the regular season. Normal Angel hitting prospect caveats apply -- i.e., he doesn't walk all that often -- but with Casey Kotchman finally having forced himself into the big league picture, Kendry should start 2006 in AAA. Who knows if there will be room for him to DH in the majors at any point next year, but if his adjustments this year were for real, he could really make a push for a call-up.

Mike Napoli
C, AA Arkansas

When   AB   H   2B   3B   HR   BB   SO   AVG  OBP  SLG
9/09 439 104 22 2 31 88 140 237 372 508 AA Final
8/15 364 84 18 1 25 77 114 231 370 492
7/27 315 76 18 1 19 67 99 241 380 486
7/11 262 69 17 1 16 59 85 263 404 519
6/16 206 61 16 1 11 44 64 296 427 544
5/24 135 37 11 0 4 30 44 274 414 444
5/04 70 20 8 0 1 20 21 286 452 443
4/19 32 9 5 0 1 9 11 281 442 531
From mid-June through mid-August, Napoli went into the mother of all slumps, getting only 23 hits in 158 at-bats. That's a .146 average, and no matter how many walks you draw (33 in that period) or home runs you hit (14), it's tough to really produce when you get a hit less frequently than Steve Finley. And though the walks are nice, the strikeouts are scary, making it look like Napoli will get carved up at higher levels. But he did straighten himself out near the end of the season, halting his precipitous fall. I would guess that his 2006 assignment depends on where Jeff Mathis ends up.

Sean Rodriguez
SS, A Cedar Rapids

When   AB   H   2B   3B   HR   BB   SO   AVG  OBP  SLG
9/09 448 112 29 3 14 78 85 250 371 422 A Final
8/15 372 93 22 3 10 65 69 250 371 406
7/27 310 81 20 3 6 57 58 261 388 403
7/11 268 71 17 3 5 48 48 265 389 407
6/16 213 57 13 3 3 42 35 268 402 399
5/24 150 38 9 2 2 26 22 253 381 380
5/04 86 19 4 1 1 11 14 221 316 326
4/19 36 9 1 0 1 5 6 250 341 361
S-Rod started the season a hair behind Brandon Wood, but after Wood's explosion, he's way back in line. The good news is that his numbers in Cedar Rapids resemble Wood's at that level, and that Rodriguez has terrific plate discipline. He also amped up the power near the end of the season. He'll go to Rancho in 2006 and work to stay in the crowded middle infield picture.

Drew Toussaint
2B/OF, A Cedar Rapids

When   AB   H   2B   3B   HR   BB   SO   AVG  OBP  SLG
9/06 391 102 25 3 21 45 125 261 345 501 A Final
8/15 338 89 23 2 17 40 108 263 346 494
7/27 281 79 20 2 16 31 86 281 356 537
7/11 233 67 17 2 12 28 71 288 368 532
6/16 155 44 13 1 7 21 46 284 376 516
5/24 84 23 7 0 1 16 27 274 404 393
5/04 37 12 4 0 0 5 11 324 409 432
Drew was the bee's knees through July, but slumped to finish off his first full pro season. He turns 23 in October, so as he goes to Rancho next season, we might fear that he gets stuck on the Nick Gorneault College Slugger Career Path. But he played most of this season in left, and there's not a lot of interference in the organzation above him if he can turn it on. He draws a decent amount of walks, and strikes out a bit more than you'd like to see, which may hurt him, but he has demonstrated a capability to put up some good power numbers as well.

Mark Trumbo
1B, R Orem

When   AB   H   2B   3B   HR   BB   SO   AVG  OBP  SLG
9/09 299 82 23 1 10 21 67 274 322 458
8/15 209 57 20 0 4 15 51 273 320 426
7/27 142 39 15 0 3 7 38 275 307 444
7/11 78 23 10 0 2 5 22 295 337 500
Trumbo is clearly a raw talent, but the good thing is that his plate discipline and power both improved as his season wore on. All in all, not a bad start to his professional career.

Reggie Willits
OF, AA Arkansas

When   AB   H   2B   3B   HR   BB   SO   AVG  OBP  SLG
9/06 487 148 23 6 2 54 78 304 377 388 AA Final
8/15 410 122 19 4 2 49 63 298 372 378
7/27 343 102 16 4 0 43 52 297 376 367
7/11 285 88 16 4 0 39 38 309 390 393
6/16 209 66 11 4 0 28 28 316 391 407
5/24 169 56 10 4 0 23 23 331 408 438
5/04 99 38 9 3 0 12 12 384 451 535
The only real center field prospect in the organization to speak of (pending the development of Warner Madrigal), and he's not really all that thrilling. He can draw the occasional walk and steal some bases (40 for 54 this season), but his statistical profile reminds me of David Eckstein: a little guy with no power who draws walks in the minors, but will not so much in the majors as pitchers have no fear of challenging him when down in the count. He's already 24, so how he plays in AAA next year will go a long way toward determining whether or not he ends up a fourth outfielder or a AAAA lifer.

Brandon Wood
SS, A Rancho Cucamonga and AAA Salt Lake

When   AB   H   2B   3B   HR   BB   SO   AVG  OBP  SLG
9/06 19 6 2 1 0 0 6 316 316 526 AAA Final
536 172 51 4 43 48 128 321 383 672 A Final
8/15 464 145 41 4 35 42 112 313 377 644
7/27 391 126 35 3 34 36 83 322 386 688
7/11 338 100 28 3 28 30 74 296 357 645
6/16 261 82 23 2 21 20 59 314 365 659
5/24 171 52 11 2 15 11 43 304 342 655
5/04 106 35 5 2 10 7 27 330 368 698
4/19 51 15 0 0 5 6 12 294 368 588
Wood was, by far, the most improved prospect in the Angel system in 2005. He came in fairly well behind Aybar and just ahead of Sean Rodriguez on the organizational depth chart, and has blown by everybody, and is possibly the best prospect the Angels have today. The only concern in his line are the walks and strikeouts, but Wood took advantage of the hitting-happy Cal League to post huge power numbers and break the single-season Angel minor league home run record. The jump to AA next year will be big, but his cup of coffee at Salt Lake gave him a taste of advanced competition. If he lights up AA like he did A, Erick Aybar's gonna feel some fire below his behind.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The great thing about losing east coast games is that I don't have to waste any of my life watching our pitiful efforts. I get to hear the ignominous ends on the commute home, and then I have five plus hours to do whatever and ignore the frustration. Apparently, says Seitz, the Sox floodgates opened when they were the beneficiary of a bad call on a check swing. I don't know if I have the heart to go back to the MLB.tv archive to find it.

Far more distressing than losing to the Red Sox in Fenway (remember, I went into this week expecting us to give up our divisional lead) is the news that Bartolo Colon's back injury is causing him a great deal of pain, and his status for Saturday is very much up in the air. We hold both Kelvim Escobar and Joe Saunders in reserve, but it seems that Escobar will be the guy if Colon can't go. The result is that our already shaky bullpen is weakened for the next week; Sean ably discusses the matter today, arguing that Saunders should get the start so that Escobar can remain in the bullpen.

Saunders did look good in his one start, apparently -- when I watched the game (on videotape) I was as angry as I've ever been in my life, and couldn't really focus on how he was pitching (one day I'm going to go back to MLB.tv to watch the whole thing with a clear mind) -- but his AAA perf (4.58 ERA, 29:21 K:BB in 59 IP) is unspectacular, PCL or no. Sean does make the good point that even if he has a bad start, all you've lost is one game (at most), and in addition I'll say that maybe you've just made Kevin Gregg and Esteban Yan unavailable for a day or two after (if Saunders' start were to be both brutish and short). The trade-off is that you maybe win a game or two that Escobar can preserve in the bullpen.

All in all, I think Sean makes a good case. Even the one reservation he posits ("Of course, things do change significantly if Escobar simply isn't needed in relief tonight or tomorrow. In that case, it's a much closer call.") doesn't really do anything for me, as it's not just today and tomorrow when Kelvim couldn't pitch -- if he started and threw 75-80 pitches on Saturday, he might not be able to pitch again in relief until Wednesday.

However, there is another long-term consideration. If Colon's injury causes him to miss more than one start, we'll want Escobar, not Saunders, to take that rotation slot. In that case, Escobar needs to be on schedule to take over. I suspect that this is the worst-case scenario the Angels are providing for. Hopefully, Colon will shake off the pain and be able to pitch on Saturday. If he's unable to, we might be in big trouble most ricky-tick.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Mr. Welch observes the anger of Seitz and Halofan about last night's game, and posits that perhaps the rest of the Halosphere is perhaps too busy fuming to post yet. In the case of Sean, perhaps he was right.

I feel too disconnected from this game to really fume about it. Oh, I was very upset to listen to Steve Finley pinch "hit" and to Shields lose his 11th game while on the commute home, but since I only listened to it and never saw it (like I'm going to subject myself to the videotape of that), it is this distant thing that I just sort of heard about and never experienced directly.

I do share the frustration of the aforementioned over the decisions to bat Erstad fifth and to insert Finley for Quinlan. Maybe Scioscia was focusing on Quinlan's 175/214/225 line against right-handed pitchers this season. Of course, that's only 40 at-bats ... Finley only has 252 at-bats against righties this year, wherein he's hit 190/244/313.

If you feel the need to pinch hit for Quinlan, I don't understand how Finley gets in line before Rivera. Rivera has smacked righties to a 280/323/497 this year, and the dirty little secret of our platoon arrangement at DH is that Rivera has hit better against RHP than LHP for the last two seasons and his career as a whole.

In the meantime, Shields just needs to be shut down. He's a terrific pitcher when rested and healthy, but just doesn't have anything after being worked, as I demonstrated yesterday. All year, Angel followers have been pointing out that he is the person on Earth most likely to have his arm fall off of his shoulder, and the team is beginning to pay the price for all the appearances he made earlier this year.

And, sadly, Kelvim Escobar is going to be no help while the health status of Bartolo Colon is up in the air. Kelvim may be needed to start on Saturday, leaving our rare late-inning leads in the hands of a wasted Shields, an inconsistent Donnelly, and a mercurial Frankie. Esteban Yan and Jason Christiansen are not deemed reliable, and with good reason, and it's hard to imagine Joe Saunders being thrown into a crucial situation near the end of a game. Meanwhile, Bret Prinz was released, the Angels apparently losing patience with his performance post-injury.

FYI: Bobby Jenks, Derrick Turnbow, and Matt Wise have combined for a line of:
  IP   K   BB   H   HR   WHIP   ERA
140.7 140 54 96 12 1.07 2.50
I'm being a little bit unfair, and there wasn't really a clamor when Turnbow and, in particular, Wise, were allowed to leave the organization. But eyebrows were raised when Jenks was let go so as to allow the likes of Tim Bittner to stay on the 40-man roster; yes, the Tim Bittner who we just released after he posted a 6.33 ERA at AA Arkansas.

The main point is that, in the last year or so, the Angels have allowed more bullpen talent to leave than they have brought in. As such, the vaunted Angel Middle Relief Factory has, essentially, been shut down. Looking at 2006 and beyond, all we really have are K-Rod and Shields. That's a good start, but more is needed. We have a number of decent minor league pitchers, so hopefully some of them will emerge.

This forward-thinking might lead you to believe I've given up 2005, which is certainly not the case. I might not be as sunny as Matt, but I think our chances of winning the division are pretty good. What worries me is the postseason -- I just don't know if I see this team beating Boston in a best-of-five. I like our chances against New York, Chicago, and Oakland, but I don't think our bullpen has enough left in the tank to take on the Boston offense. And as our offense is incapable of gaining our excellent rotation big leads, a lot of games are going to come down to the performance of our bullpen. Our fate may end up resting on the back of Bartolo Colon and the elbow of Kelvim Escobar.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

I hope everyone had a good weekend. I had a good time in San Diego, visiting some friends and witnessing my Bruins' annual drubbing of San Diego State. It's tough to gauge how your team looks against an opponent of that level (UCLA is 20-0-1 against SDSU all-time), but key players like Maurice Drew, Marcedes Lewis, and Spencer Havner all looked sharp, as did Drew Olson, coming off of an ACL injury.

The rest of the Halosphere seems to have the Seattle series covered. Looks like we got three more good starts, though there is some concern about Bartolo Colon's back. Any debilitating injury to Colon, who's been a real horse all season, would of course be terrible news. Not only would we risk losing him down the stretch, but it would also force Kelvim Escobar back into the rotation at a time when he's badly needed to shore up the bullpen.

The LA Times comments on Scot Shields' workload today; it turns out that he's already surpassed his career high in appearances with 66; last year he had 60, so he's going to blow that out of the water. And though he's on pace for less innings than last season (about 95 compared to 105 1/3 a year ago), that's still going to be around 200 relief innings in two years, which is quite a bit this day and age. There's a good chance that the frequency of his innings is more harmful than the volume of his innings; one would guess that a pitcher pitching 50 games for 100 innings has less of a workload than a guy pitching 100 games for 100 innings.

And though Shields maintains he's not tired, there seems to be no reason to believe him:
          IP   BFP   K/BF  BB/BF  HR/BF  H/BF  W  L  WHIP   ERA
Pre-ASB 53.3 218 .289 .096 .014 .170 6 5 1.09 2.53
Post-ASB 26.3 113 .177 .088 .009 .212 2 5 1.29 3.42
Shields underwent a similar transformation in 2004:
          IP   BFP   K/BF  BB/BF  HR/BF  H/BF  W  L  WHIP   ERA
Pre-ASB 58.7 247 .271 .101 .012 .186 5 2 1.21 3.07
Post-ASB 46.7 206 .204 .073 .015 .248 3 0 1.41 3.66
This is something important for the Angels to monitor in 2006; there is every reason to believe that Shields suffers from the high workload he's taken onto his shoulders in the last two seasons.

The other development the Times covers today is the power outage of Garret Anderson. The article tries to figure out just why the hell Garret has lost his power stroke, with most explanations having to do with his nagging injuries the last couple of seasons. While I don't disagree that that's part of it, I don't know why this outage is such a surprise. The man had no power for most of his career, and only really had it turned on from 2000 through 2003 (ISO is Isolated Power, or Extra Bases per At Bat):
Year   ISO
1995 .184
1996 .120
1997 .106
1998 .161
1999 .166
2000 .233
2001 .189
2002 .233
2003 .236
2004 .145
2005 .138
That seems like a pretty normal progression, though the spike is unusually high given what came before it. But I don't find it odd that an arthritic 33-year-old might lost his power as he ages.

Anyway, the Lads have a pretty tough week, going into both Boston and Seitztown to play other division leaders. It will be tough, so we shouldn't panic if our division lead has evaporated by Sunday. I will personally be happy with a split against these teams, though if our starting pitching keeps up the magic, we might be able to take 'em.

Friday, September 02, 2005

... about being rather quiet the last few days. As I'm sure is true of many of you, most of my time spent not watching baseball has been spent following New Orleans developments.

Of course, we find ourselves back in first place, thanks to our starting rotation. With the offense still funking, we need some good starts, but instead we got three terrific ones. I'm not complaining.

I'll actually be out of town for a few days this weekend, so blogging won't be happening until Sunday evening at the earliest, and likely not then. So everyone have a fun and safe holiday weekend, and hopefully I'll see y'all at the end of a sweep of the Mariners on the other side.

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