Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I only got to watch the first seven innings or so, then the bar I was in switched over to basketball pre-game coverage. Under normal circumstances, I would have just waited until I got home to watch the balance of the game on tape, but as it was Opening Day (and the basketball game was such that I was looking for any good news I could find), when I got daily text message alerting me to the Angel game results, I went ahead and read it.

As such, there wasn't too much drama as I watched the game when I got home. Still, overall, it was fun to watch, a good showing, and it's always great when baseball resumes. Bartolo looked great for four innings before he hit a wall (despite the WBC, he's likely still stretching out his endurance), and JC Romero had one of the better Halo debuts we've seen.

Orlando Cabrera was the offensive hero, but, his heroics notwithstanding, the notion that The OC should bat second while Casey Kotchman bats seventh will likely prove unsustainable over the course of the season. Orlando has never had an OBP above the league-average, and reaching base should be Casey's main offensive strongpoint. If Kotch continues to hit and draw walks, he may force the issue.

I don't trust that Scioscia will make a switch that moves the OC out of the 2 hole. And I really doubt that Scioscia will move the "war-tested veteran" - Cabrera - down in the lineup to move the "green rookie with lots to prove" - Kotchman - up in the order. I don't think that he knows or cares enough about OBP to realize that he is seriously retarted when it comes to lineup construction.

Anyway, that's how I feel about it...
Well, let's at least give Scioscia credit for the lineup being constructed properly enough to get a win for one night. Kotchman's walk was the baserunner that broke the tie and allowed OC knock in two with his game winning single. If Kotchman is batting 2nd and OC 7th, that doesn't happen (but then of course, the whole game is different). Until Kotchman proves himself properly (of which he took a step forward yesterday), he shouldn't bat 2nd.

If there is anything to gripe about, it would be GA batting 3rd over Vlad. I understand that Rivera is better protection for Vlad than GA right now, but they should probably have Vlad 3rd, Rivera 4th, and GA 5th. Of course, I think that actually puts 3 lefties in a row in the current set up (GA, Erstad, Kotch).
I think Kotch is to slow to hit second. A lot of productive outs will become double plays w/ him on first. I like him hitting 5th, driving in runs and hurting teams that try to pitch around Vlad
I've spent alot of time pondering this very subject today, and here's what I've come up with:

-Cabrerra should stay batting second. For whatever reason he seems to put together better at bats in that spot. Its not ideal, but realistically the Angels don't have a better option to bat second. People clamor for Kennedy in that spot, but his OBP last year seemed flukey to me and I don't expect him to be much more than a singles hitter again with too big an uppercut in his swing.

-Kotchman should bat third. I think hes paid his dues, shown he can hit big league pitching, and has the best combination of approach and talent on the team.

-Bounce Garret Anderson to the 5 spot, behind Vlad. He'll get his share of hits when he is in the lineup, and even hit one over the fence once in a while if hes healthy. But the time for the Angels to count on this guy for big production has passed. Injuries have caught up to him, his power left almost as quickly as it came, and his refusal to take a walk hurts the team even more now that he doesn't rake anymore. It was a nice run for him from 2000-03, but its time he drops lower in the order.

- Salmon/Rivera bat behind him, with the Erstad/Rivera platoon in the 7 hole. Erstad has no business in the line up in the first place, but its especially ridiculous to place him in front of Kotchman. That would leave the line up looking like this:

1. Figgins
2. Cabrerra
3. Kotchman
4. Vlad
5. Anderson
6. Rivera/Salmon
7. Erstad/Rivera
8. Molina/Mathis
9. Kennedy

I do have to admit that having Rivera behind Vlad bothers me a bit, as it will likely lead to Rivera hitting into three double plays a week. But I think it makes sense to bat Vlad in the 4th spot vis-a-vis the 3rd spot, as it means he either comes up with men on base in the 1st or to lead off the 2nd, both of which work out well for us.

It's a limited sample, but Cabrera has been better in the #8 spot since joining the Angels than in the #2 spot, and I don't really know if there's a connection between his spot in the order and his performance.

As for AK, he has had an above-average OBP for each of the last four seasons, though 2005 was his best in that regard.

Overall, it's not a big deal. But if Kotch has the kind of year we think he can, that performance will demand he get more plate appearances and he'll move up in the order.
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