Wednesday, May 23, 2007


As linked by Halofan, the Halosphere has expanded ... and now includes a 19-year old female college student. Who even references OBP!

Welcome to the Halosphere, Coral!

(I've added Coral to the sidebar, along with Angels Win, which I should have done a long time ago.)


Monday, May 21, 2007


It's been three weeks since I did this.

You should know that BB-Ref has all the organizational stats on one page, which I link in the POSITION and PITCHER headers.

I'll have you know that our system-wide performance has been terrible, at least in terms of top prospects.


Michael Collins, 1B, AA Arkansas, BR/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Now 127 17 7 0 1 2 25 0 1 136 194 216
5/1 75 12 2 0 1 2 16 0 1 160 203 227
This is, um ... this is bad.

Hank Conger, C, A Cedar Rapids, BR/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Now 123 32 6 0 6 8 16 6 0 260 311 455
5/1 68 18 2 0 3 4 8 4 0 265 306 426
Hank is showing some hammer, but not much else. Word is he's struggling behind the plate, too, especially with throwing out runners.

Terry Evans, OF, AAA Salt Lake, BR/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Now 156 50 13 3 6 9 42 11 4 321 355 558
Truth be told, I'm not really sold on Evans, but if I'm gonna keep Nick Gorneault on here, I might as well put in Evans, who is better, younger, and plays better defense.

But at this point he's a .250 hitter at best with no sense of the strike zone. He has some pop when he hits the ball, but he's 25 years old and he's a 250/280/450 hitter, tops, in the majors right now. If he learns the strike zone a bit, he'll be a real prospect.

Nick Gorneault, OF, AAA Salt Lake, BR/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Now 151 36 10 0 3 18 34 8 2 238 327 364
5/1 81 15 4 0 3 9 17 5 2 185 283 346
If you look at his season line, it appears that Gorneault may be stagnating at AAA. He may be, but his last 70 AB have gone fairly well for him, as he's put up a 300/380/386 line. Not much, but more than he was doing before.

Jeff Mathis, C, AAA Salt Lake, BR/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Now 135 35 9 0 2 8 25 2 0 259 301 370
5/1 81 24 6 0 2 5 13 2 0 296 333 444
Sigh. Nothing happening here. Trade bait?

Kendry Morales, 1B/DH, AAA Salt Lake, BB/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Now 94 27 5 0 1 2 11 0 1 287 302 372
5/1 73 21 2 0 1 2 9 0 1 288 307 356
Yeah, he's in the majors now, but I assume he'll be returning to AAA soon, as he's not getting any playing time with the big club, despite looking good in his few games thus far. His line at Salt Lake has been ugly, but I would expect him to turn it on later this summer.

Sean Rodriguez, SS, AA Arkansas, BR/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Now 143 36 9 0 6 19 35 6 3 252 374 441
5/1 81 25 6 0 4 12 21 3 3 309 423 531
Can this organization catch a break? Rodriguez started off great, surpassing Brandon Wood's 2006 performance in the same league. But then: ca-rash. At least Sean's keeping his strikeouts down, somewhat (everything's relative). He's never been or projected to be a high-average guy in the minors, but he'll have to do better than .252 at AA to even project to a reasonable batting average. I'd like to see him bring it back up north of .300; it won't stay there, but if he can sustain a .250 average in the majors, his secondary skills will be more than enough to make him a contributor.

Mark Trumbo, 1B, A Cedar Rapids, BR/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Now 117 27 6 0 3 5 30 1 2 231 266 359
5/1 49 10 1 0 1 2 16 0 2 204 245 286
Trumbo started off slowly last year, built up toward respectability, had a good month and crashed. He's hitting 250/282/412 in May, which is a tiny step in the right direction. But the fact of the matter is he won't go anywhere striking out that often. Will a return to the mound be in order?

Brandon Wood, SS, AAA Salt Lake, BR/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Now 131 31 8 0 5 18 38 3 0 237 331 412
5/1 84 22 6 0 3 11 28 2 0 262 351 440
Yes, that 191/296/362 this month (47 AB) is ugly. But:

1. His walk-to-strikeouts are 7:10, a vast improvement, even though he's still striking out too much.

2. If you add 100 points of average to that, it's 291/396/462.

3. Brandon's BABIP dropped from .358 in April to .200 thus far in May.

There is room for improvement, and signs of improvement. Let's see if he can put it together.

Watch Out:
Who       Lvl  AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Bourjos A 91 25 3 2 1 9 22 12 3 275 346 385
ClyFuller has not played
Mount A 111 24 2 0 1 12 21 8 1 216 288 261
Ortiz has not played
Peel AA 146 32 7 1 3 4 20 0 0 219 255 342
Pettit A 135 46 16 0 4 10 24 11 3 341 407 548
Phillips A 117 26 2 2 3 2 46 6 1 222 248 350
Rivera has not played
Sandoval AA 141 45 8 1 2 23 21 11 4 319 410 433
Statia A+ 168 47 10 2 1 20 22 12 2 280 360 381
Sweeney A 124 34 5 1 3 11 20 0 4 274 343 403
Have you noticed how bad everyone is doing? Some of our teams, such as Rancho, can't do anything. There's not a whole lot to like out of these guys, either, so far. Peter Bourjos is actually on the upswing. Clay Fuller is waiting on his first 2007 appearance. Ryan Mount continues to struggle. Norberto Ortiz has also yet to debut. Aaron Peel is treading water. I've added Christopher Pettit; he's a bit old for the league (22), and could draw some more walks, but leads the team in OPS by quite a bit. He's primarily a left fielder, but has appeared at the other two outfield positions this season. He hit 336/445/566 in Rookie ball last year, so it will be interesting to see if the Angels are more aggressive with him; I would doubt it, but Rancho is almost devoid of prospects. P.J. Phillips is mired. Luis Rivera also hasn't played. Freddy Sandoval has always had nice control of the zone, but his average is a very nice surprise in the early going. Hainley Statia started slow and is getting his average up; a shortstop, 21 years old (quite young for the league), he is only bettered in OPS on the team by 24-year-old Bradley Coon. Third baseman Matthew Sweeney is having a tough, tough month; he was hitting .349 at the end of April.


Nick Adenhart, RHSP, AA Arkansas
When  W  L  SV  G  GS  IP    H  HR  SO  BB   ERA  
Now 3 2 0 8 8 47.3 43 0 35 21 2.68
5/1 3 1 0 5 5 33.7 24 0 27 10 0.80
I guess no one stays perfect, huh? The loss of control is a bad thing, but, remember, this kid is 20; the average Texas League pitcher is 24.4, the average hitter 24.7. Adenhart's the youngest pitcher on the team by roughly two years. This kid is a hero. I expect him to turn it around.

Jose Arredondo, RHSP, AA Arkansas
When  W  L  SV  G  GS  IP    H  HR  SO  BB   ERA
Now 0 1 6 16 0 19.0 12 2 22 10 3.32
5/1 0 1 2 8 0 11.0 8 1 14 5 1.64
Jeez, is this whole organization struggling? Well, not the big team, obviously. But it seems like nearly everyone is on the downswing this month.

Gustavo Espinoza, LHSP

Stephen Marek, RHSP, A Rancho Cucamonga
When  W  L  SV  G  GS  IP    H  HR  SO  BB   ERA
Now 3 2 0 7 7 38.7 34 2 23 15 3.52
5/1 1 0 0 3 3 15.0 12 1 7 6 2.40
Can you survive in the California League with that kind of strikeout-to-walk ratio? At least it's getting better.

Tommy Mendoza, RHSP
Has not played.

Sean O'Sullivan, RHSP, A Cedar Rapids
When  W  L  SV  G  GS  IP    H  HR  SO  BB   ERA
Now 2 3 0 8 8 48.0 56 2 36 13 3.00
5/1 1 2 0 4 4 23.0 26 2 13 6 3.52
He's giving up a lot of hits, but is demonstrating some good control and upping his strikeouts.

Steve Shell, RHSP/RP, AAA Salt Lake and AA Arkansas
When  W  L  SV  G  GS  IP    H  HR  SO  BB   ERA
Now 1 0 0 5 1 12.0 18 3 4 2 3.75 AAA
5/1 0 0 0 2 1 7.0 9 1 3 1 1.29 AAA
Now 0 0 0 5 0 13.3 10 1 19 1 0.69 AA
5/1 0 0 0 4 0 10.3 8 1 14 1 0.87 AA
I still don't know if there's a compelling reason he's not in Salt Lake's rotation, and I think we can close the book on him at AA, his recent struggles in the PCL notwithstanding.

Watch Out:
Who       Lvl  W  L  SV  G  GS  IP    H  HR  SO  BB   ERA
Bell A 0 2 0 3 3 13.0 18 0 8 2 4.85
Bulger AAA 1 1 0 15 0 18.3 17 1 25 12 3.00
Green AA 3 2 0 9 9 54.0 51 4 34 10 4.83
Madrigal A 1 2 2 15 0 16.0 22 2 15 5 4.50
Rodriguez AA 0 4 0 14 0 21.0 30 1 14 13 3.97
Trevor Bell only has one start this month, so we can't really say anything. In addition to not getting arrested for beating up a spouse, Jason Bulger is actually having a nice month. Nick Green has his ERA going in the right direction, down from 5.00 at the end of April. Warner Madrigal pulled the opposite trick. Rafael Rodriguez has had a terrible month, completely losing the strike zone and getting battered all over the place.

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Friday, May 18, 2007


As you know, Reggie Willits is off to a terrific start in 2007. While the high level of his performance may be something of a surprise to many, his style of performance is highly consistent with what he has done throughout his professional career.

Longtime readers will be familiar with Reggie, not only because he was a mainstay of my prospect Watch Lists while in the minors, but also because anyone who cares enough about the Angels to read this blog will be pretty well-informed about the organization and its players.

As such, we all know that Willits isn't really a .366 hitter. He never hit higher than .327 in the minors, which came last year at AAA Salt Lake. At some point his average will come down a bit, unless he's morphed into Ty Cobb. Will the rest of the game pick up that slack and allow him to continue to be a productive player?

One thing that concerned me about Willits as he came up through the majors is that, due to his lack of size and power, his walk rate would diminish. Of course, walk rates go down at every successive level of play, as pitchers become more and more accurate and precise. But I fear that players with no power suffer this more acutely, as pitcher down in the count have no reason to fear them, and are comfortable attacking the strike zone and making them swing the bat.

I often drew a comparison between Willits and David Eckstein, which, to be honest, is a completely obvious comparison. In the minor leagues, Eck walked in 13.7% of his plate appearances (I'm excluding hit-by-pitch and sacrifice bunts here, as well as intentional walks), but in the majors he's only walked 7.0% of the time. Why? Because pitchers challenge him.

Reggie Willits walked in 12.8% of his PA in the minors; in his young major league career, he's walked ... 15.3% of the time!

That looks good, but it's also worth noting that his walk rate has dived from his cup of coffee last season to this season. He had 11 walks in 56 PA last year (once again, with all the exclusions I mentioned above) for a ridiculous 19.6% walk rate; this year he's done to a more normal 14 of 107 (13.1%) -- which is still better than his minor league numbers.

David Eckstein was pretty good at working the count, averaging 3.83 pitches per plate appearances his rookie year and 3.82 over his career (the average is 3.77). Willits, however, has been even better so far, going through 4.33 pitches per PA in his young career.

Can he sustain this? I don't know -- my skepticism is noted above -- but Willits seems very comfortable hitting with two strikes and seeing as many pitches as he can.

He does walk a fine line, though. Right now, Reggie's career line in the majors is 333/436/370 for an OPS+ of 124. If he's really, say, a .275 hitter, his line would be 275/378/312 ... an OPS+ of 92. Now, with the stolen bases and stuff, he could still be a league-average hitter there, but you'd probably want more from your corner outfielder. And if those walks were to drop just a little bit, say to 10% of his PA, that OBP would drop considerably, down to around .330.

I don't think Reggie is ever going to develop any real power; his extra-bases per at-bat in the minors was only .095, so while he can probably improve on his current .037 a bit, there's not a high ceiling there. Just getting it up to .050 or .060 would be nice.

If he were to settle in at 275/350/330, that probably wouldn't be enough. But if he hits around .300, then he'd be just a bit above average.

Obviously, if he crashes down to .275 now (he'd have to hit .190 over his next 100 AB to drop his season average that far), that would be bad, but we could probably live with him hitting .275 for the balance of the season.

Of course, crazy things can happen. Darin Erstad wasn't really a .355 hitter, but he managed to do it for a season. However, Willits this year is hitting .436 on balls in play in the ballpark after having hit .363 on such in the minors (that BABIP this year would put him at 301/384/344). That's not a good bet, even though it would be wonderful.

But you know what? If he just sustains a little, he can still push Shea Hillenbrand out of the lineup once Garret Anderson returns. And that potentiality, which becomes more and more likely every day, is cause for celebration.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007


John Lackey pitched six strong shutout innings last night, on the heels of a superb performance against Texas last week. Over the course of the two games, he only gave up three runs in just over 14 innings, all of which came in his last inning at Rangers Ballpark.

Both starts were typified by something I've been harping on for years: John trusted his fastball, attacked the strike zone, and got outs. Too often in his past, he's started goofing around with his breaking ball, trying to get strikeouts, and throwing hitters too many lifelines.

Though obviously his slider/curve/slurve/bender/sweeper/whatever is a killer pitch, and you need to be able to throw it with confidence even when down in the count, I've often thought that he leans too far in that direction.

But in the last two starts, this has not been the case. He ascribed this, in post-game interview after the Texas game, as a result of the Angels giving him a big lead. I didn't see if he had an interview after last night's game, though I doubt the 2-0 lead he was given really changed his approach. I think he just saw the success he had against Texas and decided to keep going with it. It's almost certainly throwing opposing hitters, especially division foes who have seen him the most, for a bit of a loop.

You can see this strike-zone-pummeling in the statistical record; in the last two games, John has thrown nearly 67% of his pitches for strikes, compared to 64% for his first seven starts. Is that statistically significant? I have no idea, to be honest. But it does comport to subjective evaluation.

This new attack philosophy has had a slight negative impact on his strikeouts. In his last two games, Lackey has struck out one every 4.9 batters, where in his first seven, it was one every 4.4. But his walks have gone down in a big way, to one every 27 batters instead of one every 15.9. As such, his strikeout-to-walk ratio moved from a superb 3.58:1 in his first seven starts to an even better 5.5:1 in the last two.

These are all extraordinary numbers, and as good as he is right now, we shouldn't expect him to keep this up. But, truthfully, I wouldn't be surprised, either. Big John seems at the top of his game, is constantly getting a better and better idea of what he's doing, and has very good stuff and a fiery intensity.

He's got a ways to go before he's the best pitcher in Halo history out of Texas, but he's doing the legacy proud.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007


As you are aware, and Mike DiGiovanna writes about it today in case you aren't, Scot Shields has struggled a bit in the early going, at least by his very high standards.

Scottie's numbers are down almost universally across the board; though he is striking out batters more frequently than in the past, he's issuing more walks and allowing home runs at a far more rapid rate; he's already allowed half as many taters as he did all of last season, despite not pitching a quarter of as many innings.

Is there cause to worry?

Let's see, right now he's pitches just over 20 innings. Let's see if he's had any other stretches like this.

Hmm, here's one. It's not a comforting one, though: it comes from near the end of last season. From August 2 through September 5, Shields pitched in 17 games, throwing 20 innings, striking out 23 and walking 8. He allowed 4 home runs in that span.

What did he do after that? His next ten games saw him pitch 11-and-a-third innings with a 0.79 ERA. So there's an example of a bounce-back from a bad stretch, though obviously not too long-lasting.

How about slumps earlier in the year? Here's a bad stretch in 2005; not quite as bad, but not too hot, either: a 4.84 ERA over 22 1/3, but a good strikeout-to-walk ratio, and only two home runs. Shields bounced back well from that, too.

Looking at his pitch data briefly, on his BB-Ref page ... he's throwing strikes just as much as he always was, but he is only throwing first-pitch strikes to 55% of batters, where the last three years he's been at 59% and his career mark is 60%. That doesn't seem to be a real factor; in opposing plate appearances that pass through a 1-0 count, Shields has only allowed a 111/314/222 AVG/OBP/SLG line.

I think this shall pass. I could be wrong; I guess I've been doing a lot of rosy color lately. It's possible that Shields workload in previous seasons has taken its toll. He is 31, so maybe it's just his decline. But I have to think that he'll start walking less guys, especially given that he's throwing as many strikes as usual, and giving up less home runs. 21.8% of the flyballs he's allowed this year have gone over the fence. He should be closer to 10%, and that high number is unlikely to continue.

Hopefully I'm right, and these blown wins and blown saves will be nothing but a distant memory come September.


Monday, May 14, 2007


Okay gang, just stick with this, at least past the asterisks, okay?

I'm sure you know this, but Ervin Santana for the last two seasons has been two different pitchers; a good one at home and a Bartolo Colon v.2004esque one on the road. Is there any reason we should expect this gap to continue?

After yesterday's sterling perf, Magic has a 2.57 ERA at home this year against a 7.86 on the road. The big difference -- well, hell, I'll just show you:
Home 84 .202 .060 .024 .254
Away 128 .156 .109 .070 .345
It looks like he's had some bad luck defensively on the road (or has given up more screamers) and some good fortune at home. We might expect that to even out a bit (whether the cause is defense or Santana himself) as the season goes on. Of course, this is a pretty small sample. What did he do last year?

Well, last year he had a 3.02 ERA at home and a 5.95 away from the Big A. What do the peripherals tell us about last season?
Home 469 .162 .075 .017 .251
Away 377 .172 .093 .034 .287
Santana was slightly but uniformly better at home last year, too. Of course, there is some degree home field advantage, so that is to be expected. But beyond that, I see no reason to expect Ervin to vastly outperform his road performance at home. I think it's just one of those fluky things that evens out over time.


Okay, there's a punchline to all that.

The above is, nearly word-for-word, something I wrote about John Lackey three years ago. I mean, literally: I copied-and-pasted it, and just changed the names and numbers where appropriate.

Let's look at both guy's career numbers, Santana through now, Lackey in 2003 and 2004 only. What I'm going to show you is a differential; a positive means that the pitcher is better in that category at home. For example Santana's strikeout rate has been .005 points better at home than on the road in his career.
Santana +.005 +.020 +.025 +.058 +3.65
Lackey +.003 +.007 +.017 +.044 +2.30
Now, I'll confess to some cherry-picking here, in that I didn't include John's rookie season; Big John didn't have such a huge disparity in 2002. But I know this: he struggled on the road in a big way in 2003 and 2004, but in 2005 and 2006, was actually better on the road than at home.

Now, as you can see, Santana's road disadvantage has been more extreme than Lackey's was in those two years. Still, I can't think of any legitimate reason that this disparity should continue at such an extreme.

Remember, Santana is a young pitcher -- he's a year younger now than Lackey was at the point we're comparing them. Remember how frustrating Lackey could be in his first two full seasons? Struggling on the road, the "Lackey Inning", all that stuff? Why would we expect Ervin to be any different?

Yes, he will struggle at times. Yes, he will frustrate. But I think we gotta stick with him. He has good stuff, has demonstrated brilliance, and usually keeps a good composure on the mound. I don't know that he's going to make the same jump that Lackey did between 2004 and 2005. But I think he's got a shot, and the Angels owe it to themselves to find out if he can do it.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007


After the shocking events of last night, in which two Angels not named Vlad hit home runs, it may seem churlish to start examining someone's troubles -- especially given that it's someone who lashed a nice double last night. But Kotch was relied on to provide some offense this year, and has only occasionally provided same.

First, let's note that Kotch's line isn't that terrible. His AVG/OBP/SLG 233/304/388 adds up to an OPS+ of 92, which tied for ninth out of the fourteen AL regular first basemen. His defense probably nudges him up a bit, but he has outperformed a few stars (or semi-stars) thus far.

What's more, if he can get that average up to .300 while maintaining everything else, he'd have a line of 300/371/455, which would be an OPS+ of 129, which would be great. Even getting up to .280 would put him at 280/351/435, and an OPS+ of 118, which in the recent history of the Angels would be almost Gehrigesque.

So, right now, it's the singles that aren't getting through. Is there reason to believe that they will?

Here is some batted ball data for Casey's 2007, available from Baseball-Reference.com's Play Index:
Type        Tot   %   Out   1B   2B   3B   HR   SF   AVG   SLG
GB Right 36 31 31 4 0 1 0 0 .139 .194
GB Middle 4 3 2 2 0 0 0 0 .500 .500
GB Left 13 11 11 2 0 0 0 0 .154 .154
LD Right 7 6 2 2 3 0 0 0 .714 1.143
LD Middle 3 3 2 1 0 0 0 0 .333 .333
LD Left 3 3 0 2 1 0 0 0 1.000 1.333
FB Right 7 6 3 0 2 0 1 1 .500 1.143
FB Middle 7 6 5 0 0 1 1 0 .400 1.000
FB Left 13 11 12 1 0 0 0 0 .077 .077
FB Catcher 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000
SO 10 9 10 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000
BB+HBP 11 10 0 0 0 0 0 0 ---- ----
TOTAL 115 80 14 6 2 2 1 .233 .388
Some breakdowns:
       %    AVG   SLG
GB: 45 .170 .208
LD: 13 .692 1.000
FB: 24 .222 .593
Rt: 43 .265 .469
Mi: 9 .357 .714
Lt: 25 .207 .241
What conclusions can we draw?

1. Casey hits a lot of balls on the ground: 45%, far more than he hits anywhere else. And that's 45% of plate appearances, that comes out to 56% of balls in play.

2. Casey does not get hits when he hits the ball on the ground, hitting only .170.

3. Casey has essentially no power to the left side of the field, only scrapping out a "line drive to 3B" for a double there thus far.

4. Casey pulls the ball 50% of the time. He only goes up the middle 14% of the time; as you see, he (as pretty much every batter would) has a lot of success going up the middle. (There is a bit of a scoring bias here, though, as a shortstop ranging up the middle to make the play will be recorded as a ground ball to the left side here.) Again, that's per plate appearance; it's 53% of all balls in play.

Now, let's compare this to Casey's one extended period of success, the 2005 season:
Type        Tot   %   Out   1B   2B   3B   HR   SF   AVG   SLG
GB Right 34 24 32 2 0 0 0 0 .059 .059
GB Middle 13 9 8 5 0 0 0 0 .385 .385
GB Left 12 9 11 1 0 0 0 0 .083 .083
LD Right 8 6 3 4 1 0 0 0 .625 .750
LD Middle 7 5 0 7 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000
LD Left 4 3 1 3 0 0 0 0 .750 .750
FB Right 9 6 2 0 0 0 6 1 .750 3.000
FB Middle 11 8 8 0 2 0 1 0 .273 .727
FB Left 10 7 8 0 2 0 0 0 .200 .400
FB Catcher 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ---- ----
SO 18 13 18 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000
BB+HBP 15 11 0 0 0 0 0 0 ---- ----
TOTAL 141 91 22 5 0 7 1 .272 .492

GB: 42 .136 .136
LD: 14 .789 .842
FB: 21 .379 1.241
Rt: 36 .260 .520
Mi: 22 .484 .645
Lt: 19 .231 .462
(Just in case you look this up, I didn't include Casey's two sacrifice attempts, one of which was a successful sacrifice and one of which was a hit.)

Some observations here:

1. Casey was just as ineffectual, generally speaking, on groundballs in 2005 as he has been this season.

2. Casey was just as effective, generally speaking, on line drives in 2005 as he has been this season.

3. Casey was much better at going up the middle in 2005.

4. Casey got much more value out of his flyballs in 2005.

It's those last two things that are making the difference, I think.

Kotch did phenomenally on balls in the air in 2005. Six of the nine balls he hit to right field in 2005 went over the fence! That's just not sustainable.

But ... he is doing very well this year in his limited flies to right. Three hits out of seven flies (one of which was a sac fly), three of which have gone for extra bases ... I've long bemoaned Casey's top-hand tendencies, rolling over the ball in the manner of Darin Erstad and doling out 4-3 putouts. And here we see that when he puts the ball in the air to right, he gets good results!

I'd like to see Casey drive the ball more and become less pull-conscious. (Of course, I can't say he's intentionally trying to pull the ball, it often seems that he's fooled and out on his front foot, his weight coming forward too quickly on some of his grounders.) He's also done very well on his flyballs to center in these two seasons. His double last night, where he stayed back and drove a vicious liner to right-center, was a great start. I think he's capable of doing these things, and knows how, and he should eventually start doing it consistently.

And if he doesn't, well, maybe I'll join the chorus calling for Mickey Hatcher's head.


Now, I should probably add a sample size caveat here. We don't have a lot of plate appearances to go off here, and I don't know that anyone has ever looked at this sort of thing in a rigorous manner. I'm just looking for patterns. The fact that the numbers seem to back up what I see with my eyes ... it's a nice coincidence. It will be interesting to check back in on this stuff at the end of the year.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007


For two days I've been trying to formulate a post about our "team", what we need, what can afford to give up, etc. Somehow, it isn't working.

Which means, of course, that I can sympathize with our Lads' pathetic efforts right now. Well, that's not quite right, the effort is there ... but you know what I mean.

I can't tell you anything about this that you don't know.

Friday, May 04, 2007


After two fine games in Kansas City, the wheels came off a bit in the last two days. Ervin Santana finally pitched a good game on the road; I was very impressed with his mixture of pitches, both in terms of pitch selection and location. He moved the ball in and out very well and kept out of predictable patterns. Sadly, one fastball too many strayed over the middle of the plate, and he lost the game. It happens.

Most impressive in his outing was that he issued only one walk. He did give up 11 hits, more than you'd like to see, but as we know that's the sort of thing that evens out over time; when you challenge batters to earn their way on base, sometimes they do, but more often they don't. The fact that he was pounding the strike zone was good to see; in his previous losses this year, he had walked 13 batters in 14 innings, which is simply unacceptable.

Jered Weaver still hasn't had an ideal start, by his standards, but let it be known that the first two runs he allowed yesterday were both by baserunners who should never have been on base in the first place. Gary Matthews Jr.'s elliptical paths to flying baseballs sometimes cost us and sometimes don't, and yesterday cost us big when his incompetence led to a Ross Gload triple. Reggie Willits mis-read a ball in the fourth that led to a lead-off double. With a pitcher like Weaver on the mound, the outfield has to be on their game, and they weren't here. Still, his peripheral numbers -- 9 strikeouts against 2 unintentional walks and 7 hits in six innings -- were solid, and in the long run he'll be fine.

The real problem the last two games, as it has been and will be again, was the offense. Players not named Vladimir Guerrero went 3-for-30 yesterday with one walk and no extra-base hits; the day before, they were 6-for-28 with one walk and three doubles. That adds up to a 155/183/207 line for Non-Vlads over the two games, and we're simply not going to win when that happens. And as currently constituted, this is an offense incapable of scoring runs in a hurry; Matthews is the only semi-legitimate power threat in the lineup outside of Vlad (unless you want to count Shea Hillenbrand, who has one extra-base hit in 87 AB this year, or the struggling Mike Napoli), which means the singles have to string together to make the runs happen. Casey Kotchman's season has been fits and starts so far, but hopefully he can step up behind Vlad and make some run production ensue.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007


I don't know how much I have to really introduce this thing, you'll get the idea.

One note; the OPS+ figures here are blank. I use the park adjustments at Minor League Splits (click on any player's name to go to his hub page there), but they haven't posted those as yet.


Michael Collins, 1B, AA Arkansas, BR/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Now 75 12 2 0 1 2 16 0 1 160 203 227
Collins, who played catcher before this season, has demonstrated some good command of the strike zone in the past, but is off to a simply horrific start this season. He doesn't turn 23 until July; hopefully he'll be in the swing of things by then.

Hank Conger, C, A Cedar Rapids, BR/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Now 68 18 2 0 3 4 8 4 0 265 306 426
Conger's holding his own thus far, not doing anything exciting, just surviving. The stolen bases are an odd surprise.

Nick Gorneault, OF, AAA Salt Lake, BR/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Now 81 15 4 0 3 9 17 5 2 185 283 346
Nick Gorneault pretty much stays on this list due to tradition. He has no future with the big club, having been passed by both Reggie Willits and Tommy Murphy (both of whom can play center), and starts like this aren't going to help. Maybe he'll become a six-year minor league free agent one day, and can end up starting in right field for the Pirates or something.

Jeff Mathis, C, AAA Salt Lake, BR/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Now 81 24 6 0 2 5 13 2 0 296 333 444
Nothing here is going to light a fire under Mike Napoli. This still projects as an average in the .220-.230 range, and Mathis just doesn't have the other offensive skills requisite to carry that kind of average.

This performance is better than Napoli's so far, by just a bit. If Mike doesn't turn it on, who knows, maybe we'll see Mathis. But his development may be in danger of stagnating. The good news is that it's early in the season, so there's plenty of time for both guys to get it together.

Kendry Morales, 1B/DH, AAA Salt Lake, BB/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Now 73 21 2 0 1 2 9 0 1 288 307 356
Yet another slow start in Salt Lake. Kendry did have the interruption of coming up to the majors, and we all know he's better than this, but once again, we have a guy who's not hitting well enough to demand immediate attention.

Sean Rodriguez, SS, AA Arkansas, BR/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Now 81 25 6 0 4 12 21 3 3 309 423 531
Hey, look at this! A top prospect actually hitting well. Sraud is still striking out a bit much, but he has a ton of walks to go with it (they vanished for awhile last year), and is off to an all-around good start. By comparison, Brandon Wood hit 276/355/552 at AA last year, and struck out in 29.4% of his plate appearances compared to Rodriguez's 22.6% so far. If Rodriguez can keep this up, he can really force himself into the picture, and maybe even pass up Brandon Wood (despite the fact that Wood is a level higher at the same age). Few see Rodriguez's future at short, and second is blocked, so he could possibly jump ahead of Aybar and move Wood back to short. It's also not hard to see him in the outfield, either as Garret Anderson's successor or as a Kirby Puckett type in center. Moves would have to be made to create room, but if Sean keeps this up, the Angels should be ready to accommodate.

Mark Trumbo, 1B, A Cedar Rapids, BR/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Now 49 10 1 0 1 2 16 0 2 204 245 286
Grabbing Trumbo in the draft, and then saving him from the ignominy of attending U$C, was seen as something of a coup for the Angels, but the guy has had, what, one good month in professional ball? He's now struggling, and struggling big, at the onset of his encore engagement in A ball. With every whiff he's looking more and more like Josh Booty and less and less like a diamond in the rough. He is only 21, but he's gotta turn this around.

Brandon Wood, SS, AAA Salt Lake, BR/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Now 84 22 6 0 3 11 28 2 0 262 351 440
We know he's not ready for the majors yet. Brandon needs to cut down on his strikeouts. At least he's starting to draw more walks, but in this hitting environment, I'd like to see him get his average up above .310 or so. The season is still very early and he has plenty of time. That's time he needs to develop, and poise himself to take over the hot corner next season.

Watch Out:
Who       Lvl  AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Bourjos A 66 15 1 2 1 8 16 8 1 227 325 348
ClyFuller has not played
Mount A 58 13 2 0 0 6 10 3 1 224 288 259
Ortiz has not played
Peel AA 84 16 4 1 1 2 13 0 0 190 239 298
Phillips A 65 13 0 2 0 2 25 3 1 200 235 262
Rivera has not played
Sandoval AA 83 23 5 1 1 13 13 6 2 277 375 398
Statia A+ 99 26 7 0 0 10 14 8 1 263 336 333
Sweeney A 63 22 3 1 1 8 13 0 1 349 431 479
Peter Bourjos is a good defender (reputedly) and fast (evidently), and is doing a good job drawing walks, though we'll need to see that average come up. Clay Fuller is waiting on his first 2007 appearance. Ryan Mount, part of the middle infield monopoly at our lower levels, is struggling in the Midwest League. Norberto Ortiz has also yet to debut. Aaron Peel is repeating at AA, and is going nowhere fast. P.J. Phillips struggled last year and is off to one ugly start this season. Luis Rivera also hasn't played. Freddy Sandoval can at least control the strike zone and run (and defend), but he'll need more pop to stay out of a utility role at the highest levels. Hainley Statia is coming off a strong year, but hasn't gotten anything going thus far in the Cal League, despite a solid walk total and walk-to-strikeout ratio. Third baseman Matthew Sweeney hasn't found his power stroke (weather may be a factor here), but is doing everything else you could hope for.


Nick Adenhart, RHSP, AA Arkansas
When  W  L  SV  G  GS  IP    H  HR  SO  BB   ERA  
Now 3 1 0 5 5 33.7 24 0 27 10 0.80
This is frakkin' awesome. I'm trying to find flaws here, and it just ain't workin'. I'd say that Adenhart is our best prospect, right now, at this moment. This is The Franchise. Stay healthy, kid.

Jose Arredondo, RHSP, AA Arkansas
When  W  L  SV  G  GS  IP    H  HR  SO  BB   ERA
Now 0 1 2 8 0 11.0 8 1 14 5 1.64
Arredondo tore up the California League early last year, earning a call-up to AA, where he got rocked for a few months. His return engagement is going much better, as you can see. I'd like to see less walks, but otherwise is going strong.

Gustavo Espinoza, LHSP
Just to remind you that (1) he exists and (2) I am stubborn.

Stephen Marek, RHSP, A Rancho Cucamonga
When  W  L  SV  G  GS  IP    H  HR  SO  BB   ERA
Now 1 0 0 3 3 15.0 12 1 7 6 2.40
Mediocre peripherals so far, but Marek only has a few starts and has been doing okay. He struck out a reasonable, but not dominant, number of guys at Cedar Rapids, so I'm not too concerned for now.

Tommy Mendoza, RHSP
Has not played.

Sean O'Sullivan, RHSP, A Cedar Rapids
When  W  L  SV  G  GS  IP    H  HR  SO  BB   ERA
Now 1 2 0 4 4 23.0 26 2 13 6 3.52
His peripherals aren't blowing anyone away, but this Kevin Appier-looking type pitched very well in rookie ball last year, and pending some more strikeouts is off to a good start in the Midwest League.

Steve Shell, RHSP/RP, AAA Salt Lake and AA Arkansas
When  W  L  SV  G  GS  IP    H  HR  SO  BB   ERA
Now 0 0 0 2 1 7.0 9 1 3 1 1.29 AAA
Now 0 0 0 4 0 10.3 8 1 14 1 0.87 AA
I've always thought that Shell might end up in the bullpen, and our rotation depth chart is pretty stacked right now. Still, he's 24, and I don't see what the harm would be in having him in Salt Lake's rotation. Sure, he got rocked there last year, but has needed one year to adjust at every single level, and we've got guys like Kasey Olenberger (age 29), Henry Bonilla (28), and Pedro Liriano (26) in the rotation. Do those guys have futures with the team?

Watch Out:
Who       Lvl  W  L  SV  G  GS  IP    H  HR  SO  BB   ERA
Bell A 0 2 0 2 2 11.0 15 0 8 1 5.73
Bulger AAA 1 1 0 10 0 12.3 12 1 15 10 4.38
Green AA 2 1 0 5 5 27.0 22 2 21 7 5.00
Madrigal A 0 1 1 9 0 9.3 10 2 10 1 3.86
Rodriguez AA 0 2 0 8 0 11.3 15 0 10 4 3.97
Trevor Bell only has a couple of games under his belt, so it's too early to say much. Aren't you gald we have Jason Bulger instead of Albert Callaspo? (Callaspo is struggling right now with the D-Backs, actually.) Nick Green has good peripherals, but has given up some runs in the early going. Warner Madrigal is just learning his craft as a pitcher after a rocky career as a toolsy non-hitter; Mark Trumbo, are you paying attention? Rafael Rodriguez is another guy who played well at high-A last year before struggling at AA, though he seems back on track in the early going this season.

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