Friday, August 04, 2006

  • Tuesday, August 1, at the Big A. Top of the sixth inning, Angels lead 1-0, but the A's have runners on second and third with Frank Thomas stepping up to the plate. There is one out.

    Inexplicably, Mike Scioscia pitches to The Big Hurt, and, predictably, he singles to left.

    One runs scores. Speedy runner Mark Kotsay rounds third, almost certain to make it home.

    And comes now Juan Rivera to make maybe the prettiest throw you've ever seen, cascading home on one precise hop, nailing Kotsay for the second out and keeping the game tied.

    The Angels go on to win, 3-2, and Juan Rivera, despite an 0-for-3 day (with one walk) at the plate, might just be the player of the game.

    CUT TO:

    August 3. At the Big A again. This time the Angels are playing Texas, and the game is tied with one run apiece. There is one out.

    Jered Weaver falls behind Hank Blalock 2-0, and gets a swinging strike with a cruel and unusual change-up. They battle to a full count.

    Jered tries the change again, and Blalock this time slaps it down the left field line. But it's elevated, and Garret Anderson, running over, has a shot.

    He gets within a few steps ... and doesn't make the catch. The ball cascades by him, into the corner, and when the dust settles the potential go-ahead run is on third with only one out.

    The run scores, and the Angels end up losing 7-6 -- their last three runs coming on a blast from ... Juan Rivera.

    The question:

    Does Mike Scioscia watch this team play defense? How is the decision to play Garret in left over Rivera even remotely defensible?

    I understand that Garret Anderson doesn't like to DH. I also understand that we're trying to win a division here. Mike needs to sit down with Garret and say, "We're trying to win a division here." Let Garret play left maybe once or twice a week, maybe when Kelvim or Lackey are pitching. But certainly not when Flyball Weaver is on the mound, or young pitchers like Ervin and Saunders.

    And don't be afraid to play Juan in right and DH Vlad from time to time, either.

  • When looking at Howie Kendrick's numbers coming up through the organization, one thing that jumped at you (after his stratospheric batting averages leaped over your head) were his low walk totals. Without seeing him play, it was hard to know why they were so low -- was a freak of nature like Vlad?

    It turns out that, no, he's not -- he appears to be more of a freak of nature like ... like I can't remember seeing. Howie actually has a pretty good eye, and will usually spit on pitches out of the zone (obviously there are occasions where he, like every hitter, will be fooled). But he doesn't work deep counts because -- and this is going off of observation only -- he doesn't foul the ball off. He just squares up every pitch. If it's hittable, he's usually hitting it somewhere.

    Sure, he was only 1-for-5 last night (though the first-base ump might have missed a call where he could have received an infield hit), but he's hitting marvelously overall, and I see no good reason why his success won't continue for many years. The guy just knows what he's doing at the plate, and has a preturnatural ability to smack the baseball with his baseball bat.

  • Not that anyone has noticed, but Adam Kennedy is on a 17-game hitting streak. Well, sure, Steve and Rex are talking about it, but no one else is.

    Adam is hitting 297/324/453 over the course of the streak, which is not terribly thrilling, but he's slowly raising his seasonal line, now at 267/318/374, a modest improvement over where he was when the streak began.

    A lot of people are calling for Adam's head, but I don't really know what the alternative is. The odds are good that he'll be roughly a league-average hitter from this point forward, and if you put him on the bench you make Robb Quinlan the every-day first baseman, which I don't think anyone outside the Q Clan wants. I'm pretty satisfied with a Kennedy/Quinlan platoon, personally, given the personnel we have.

  • By the way, here's Legs Figgins since the All Star Break:
    AB   H   BB   SO   AVG   OBP   SLG
    65 14 8 6 215 301 262
    The one good thing about Chone's offensive performance this year is that he's increased his walk rate for the third straight season, which is nice to see from a leadoff hitter. The problem is that his average has dropped from the .290 range down to .258. But you can see that even over his recent slump, he's been controlling the strike zone. Like Kennedy, I think he will bounce back a bit. But unlike Kennedy, given Figgins' role in the lineup, we pretty much need him to.

  • Of course, the other big slump is Mike Napoli's. The Napster, since hitting a home run in the midst of a 2-for-3 day on July 15, has gone 3-for-40 with no home runs, hitting 075/275/075 in that span, with 12 strikeouts.

    He has bailed himself out somewhat with 10 walks in that span, but that's still an ugly performance.

    Long-time readers of this blog my recall that Napoli went on a similar slump in AA last summer, going 23-for-158 from mid-June through mid-August. So I can't say that this is unexpected, especially as his current line (242/384/484) is pretty much the at the high range of what we should expect from him (maybe we could expect just a bit more power). I don't really have any idea if he's going to turn this around, of course; he's already given us more than anyone would have thought he would have been able to in his rookie season.

    But, there's no alternative. He just needs to make adjustments -- it seems like there have been quite a few balls he's justmissed -- and I think that, over time, he will be able to make them.

  • Comments:
    RE: Kennedy solution - Bench Adam, promote Kendry to play first, superglue Howie to 2B.
    Anderson should be done in left. This move should have been made last year in the playoffs.

    McPherson might be another option at 1b, he's playing there and killing the ball lately in SLC.
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