Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Well, almost on queue from my post yesterday, Mike DiGiovanna's headline today proclaims "McPherson Might Open Season in Minors."

"I don't have anything else to prove at triple A," McPherson claims, and he's absolutely right. He's hit 307/366/684 at AAA, and yes, the PCL is big on hitters, but there isn't really anything else for him to do there. What, you won't be happy until he hits 350/450/800? He's ready to move on.

DiGiovanna reports that McPherson "does not appear to be in the designated hitter mix," which is pretty nonsensical. He's hit 262/317/524 against right-handed pitchers so far in the majors, so at the very least you'd think he should be in the picture in a platoon situation. (Not to mention, in his 126 AB from May onward last season, i.e. after his de facto Spring Training in his April at-bats, he hit 262/326/540 against RHP. I think he's legit.)

The problem is the roster crunch, of course, and as I just went through it, I don't want ot re-hash it again. But it looks like the Angels will having three pretty redundant reserves on the 25-man roster: Alfonzo, Quinlan, and Salmon -- all of which hit right-handed. There is not one left-handed batter on the bench (Ztu, of course, is a switch-hitter).

But you can't really argue that Juan Rivera and Legs Figgins don't deserve their shots. Dallas is just ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time, getting injured when he had his best shot, thus allowing someone else to take his rightful place.

This man can help a major-league team, even if he never learns to hit lefties. Hopefully, that team will be us.


Am I the only one who gets a little annoyed when people who don't know the Angels start making proclamations based on little evidence?

For instance, Rob links to this Bryan Smith article that says:
Let's start with the only other player I saw from the week that could have underlying injury troubles: Vladimir Guerrero. The former MVP looked really bad in this game, reaching base once in three at-bats via a hit by pitch off his foot. Guerrero, a guess hitter prone to looking bad, looked really bad thanks to a few Rich Hill curves. However, this was not retro Vlad as he failed to ever have great timing, and he also looked hurt running around the bases.
Um, Vlad always looks hurt, and though he may have had a bad game, he very often looks bad. He's hitting 478/500/783 this spring, so I don't see cause for alarm quite yet.

And then there's this analytic wonder:
In the field however, Rivera is awful. He reminded me of vintage Carlos Lee in left, taking disastrous routes to a Todd Walker double. Rivera then dropped the ball when going to throw out Matt Murton later. Rivera has the potential to be a good player at the Major League level, but to do so he will have to make up for being in the red defensively.
So the guy misplays two balls in a high Arizona sky, and he's suddenly a bad defensive player? The Fielding Bible indicates he was +5 runs defensively in left last season, converting zone rating estimates +4, and I thought he looked pretty damn good out there for a corner outfielder. I guess it's possible that his defensive skill has eroded this fall, but I'm gonna need more than two plays to convince me of that.

On another front, Halofan links to Marc Normandin's Angel position player preview:
Adam Kennedy remains an above average second basemen, and is very useful to the Angels. That said, they lack offense, and an opportunity to dramatically upgrade in that capacity should not be turned down. PECOTA slyly suggests an alternative to Kennedy in Kendrick, to the tune of an additional +14.57 pNRAA [Normandin's position-adjusted runs above average, inclusive of offense and defense]. ...
[H]is low end projection [again, by Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA system] is still a tad better than Kennedy's weighted mean [+4.50 for Howie against +3.99 for AK]; if he can latch on somewhere in between his 25th and weighted mean projections, the Angels would be quite happy with what they received. Kendrick is also a plus defender by the way, with a projected Rate or 105 after a 2005 season with 7 FRAA in the minors. [emphasis mine]
Okay, seriously, is there anyone who thinks Kendrick is ready to play second base in the majors yet? Anyone? Bueller? I'm going to trust the expertise of all the scouts and player development people who have seen him over Clay Davenport's mysterious magic tricks with traditional defensive stats.

And though I suspect that Kendrick probably could hold his own with the bat in the AL this year, it's probably a good idea to let him develop more at AAA, and get that glove to where it can be.

(There also seems to be this notion out there that the Angels can improve their offense by removing a guy who's had an above-average OBP for each of the last four seasons, and I just don't get it.)

Anyway, I don't want to diss these guys, as they have other good observations. I just don't want people to have the impression that Kendrick's a major-league defensive player while Juan Rivera is not.

McPherson may have nothing left to prove at AAA, but if he is on the Big Club, he won't get to play everyday. It is almost a certainty that the first position-player injury will lead to Dallas being called up, and then he will be able to prove he belongs on the team. I like what the team is doing here.
At first base, Erstad blocked Kotchman for a year or two, and now Ersty, who's presence in center pushes Figgie to third, is blocking D-Mac. Thank god the punter and his sorry bat will be gonzo after this year.
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