Monday, April 24, 2006

After a horrific game to open the Minnesota series, our Lads went on to win both that series and the three-game set in Oakland. The pitching and defense seemed to click, with Adam Kennedy's highlight-reel double-play start on an Adam Melhuse grounder with one out and the bases loaded yesterday leading the way.

Of course, just as things are starting to go right, our local media starts searching for what's wrong. Mike DiGiovanna openly wonders how long Casey Kotchman's rope is. I've spoken of Casey and his struggles recently, and I don't really have too much to add to my prognosis that he will eventually turn things around. But there is no avoiding the fact that he looks awful right now, mixing tentativeness and overaggression in a disturbing mix of offensive ineptitude.

He's even drawn a bit of fire on the defensive end, which is generally a strength. To quote DiGiovanna from that link:
This wasn't a veteran taking a youngster under his wing. It was a veteran verbally scolding a young player, trying to nip a potential problem in the bud.

The exchange, witnessed by cameras televising the game in the Bay Area, took place after the third inning Friday night, when Angel second baseman Adam Kennedy aired out first baseman Casey Kotchman in the dugout.

Tensions have been running a little high with the Angels, who are getting frustrated by their defensive lapses and inconsistent play, and Kennedy reached a boiling point.

Catcher Jeff Mathis had raced about 90 feet in an effort to catch a Frank Thomas foul pop fly, the ball squirting out of Mathis' mitt in front of the first base dugout. Kotchman, playing toward the hole, gave chase but yielded to Mathis at the last second.

The play wasn't ruled an error, but it came one batter after Mathis made a similar play toward the third base dugout trying to catch Eric Chavez's pop fly, which fell out of Mathis' glove for an error. Kennedy didn't think Kotchman gave enough effort on Thomas' popup and let him know it.
A couple of things here:

1. Why didn't our local station show this exchange? Why was this reserved only for those serviced by Fox Sports Bay Area (which, by the way, broadcasts A's home games in High Definition, an option embarrassingly absent from Angel telecasts)? Was this just because the local guys don't want to run down the home team?

2. It's good to see Adam Kennedy taking charge about these things. I'm really gonna miss that guy next year.

3. But, getting real, Casey Kotchman is one of the slowest players in the major leagues. He may well have been sprinting after the pop fly in question; it's just that his spring looks like most people's lollygagging.

In terms of Casey and his rope, the fact is that he ain't goin' nowhere for awhile. Who's gonna replace him? Kendry Morales is hitting a wonderful 234/246/297 so far in AAA. He took awhile to adjust to AA last season, so that doesn't worry me, but there's no reason to believe he's ready for the majors yet. And though Robb Quinlan is a good spare part, there's no real reason to think he should be an everyday starter.

And we have to remember that Casey, after an awful start in AAA last season, stopped trying to hit everything over the fence, got back to his game, and hit very well for the rest of the season. That counts as part of our evaluation of him.

Here's what I might do, were I Mike Scioscia: sit Casey down for a couple of games. Let him clear his head. (Detroit sends Kenny Rogers against us tonight, a good opportunity for a lefty batter to rest.) And when those days are over, sit Casey down and tell him he has no at-bats so far this year; he's starting over. Zero for zero. Just relax and hit the ball.

Because right now he's swinging too hard. He's swinging at balls and watching strikes. He's pressing. He looks tense. He needs to chill and remember that the season is a marathon and not a sprint.


With Maicer Izturis about to go on the DL, speculation is that Erick Aybar will be called up to take his place.

Does that make any sense to anyone? Ztu is a utility guy, who can play second, third, and short. Aybar has strictly been a shortstop. You wanna see a guy with no experience fielding a bunt at third or turning a double play at second? And don't we want to see Aybar continue to get at-bats and reps at AAA on a daily basis?

We just need a utility guy to grab a few extra innings here and there, right? Isn't that what organizational soldiers like Brian Specht are for?

I agree that Specht would seem to be the logical choice to promote. But Specht isn't on the major league roster, which means, I think, that they would have to remove someone from the same roster in order to promote Specht.
Others have sensibly suggested that it was HD broadcasts that were the hangup in the recent Fox broadcast deal with the Angels.
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