Monday, July 30, 2007


And, after a month of horrible play, we suddenly are able to sweep a good team. We've seen this team go through slumps before, what with the reliance on batting average and the lack of power. But when it all clicks, as it did over the weekend, it sure is pretty.

Speaking of average at the expense of power, there is much consternation amongst announcers over Vlad's home run slump. But over those 27 games, he's hitting 312/350/422, "good" for an OPS+ of 108. Yeah, it's far less than we expect from Vlad, but remember that last year he had a month where he hit .243, and in 2005 hit .224 and .208 in two separate months. If this is his "slump" for the year, I'm not complaining, especially one you realize that in those 27 games he's knocked 12 doubles, which over 162 games is a pace for 72. Turn six of those doubles into home runs (giving us a much more reasonable pace of 36 each), and his slugging percentage would go up to .532 over these games, and his OPS+ would be 135. He's going to be fine.

Incidentally (this whole post will be a string of incidental observations), have you noticed that Casey Kotchman got two hits against lefty pitching yesterday? I understand that Mike Scioscia wants to get Robb Quinlan's bat into the lineup against southpaws, but most recent minor league splits (I don't have any from before then) indicate that he doesn't really have a platoon split. Kotch has only 109 plate appearances against lefties in his major league career (less than 100 AB), so I would definitely say the jury's still out on whether or not he can hit them. I suspect that he can.

Anyway, we go into Seattle. I guess these games look big, but in my view this division is the Angel's to lose, and I'm not particularly concerned about the teams behind us. If we play the way we should, we should be okay. If we don't, and continue to be hacktastically inconsistent, it won't matter who is behind us: the fall will be on us.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, July 27, 2007


Mike DiGiovanna and Ben Bolch:
Though there is an outside chance they could acquire Chicago White Sox outfielder Jermaine Dye, it appears to be Mark Teixeira or bust for the Angels ...


Angels first baseman Casey Kotchman would be part of any package to acquire Teixeira, and the Rangers, who had zeroed in on Ervin Santana before the struggling right-hander was demoted to triple-A Salt Lake on July 18, are believed to be comfortable with left-hander Joe Saunders as part of a deal.

But the Rangers want a third player and are scouring the Angels' farm system to determine who to ask for. If Texas wants one of the Angels' elite prospects, such as third baseman Brandon Wood or double-A pitcher Nick Adenhart, trade talks would fizzle. But if Texas would accept a lesser prospect, a deal would be more likely.

The Rangers are also believed to be interested in outfielders Reggie Willits, Nathan Haynes or Terry Evans as the third player in the deal.
Okay, seriously, what is this nonsense?

Now, first of all, Mark Teixeira is an excellent hitter and superb defender. He almost certainly is an upgrade on Casey Kotchman right now (if for no other reason than he's not a platoon player). But how much would he help this team over the balance of the season?

Over his career (four-and-a-half seasons), I estimate Teixeira to be roughly +.035 runs per plate appearance better than the average hitter. The Angels currently use a platoon; in their careers, Kotch is +.005 for his career against RHP and Q is +.037 against LHP.

Now, this isn't entirely fair to Casey, as it includes his disease-plagued 2006 numbers, but, for the moment, let's assume that this represents his true talent level. There are 57 games from August 1 forward, and I think we can safely assume four plate appearances per game. That's 228 plate appearances left to go in the season from the first base spot. With 229 plate appearances, at his career levels, Mark Teixeira would give us around +8 runs above average.

That's right: a whole eight runs.

76% of the Angels' PA this year have come against right-handed pitching, so of the 228 remaining PA at 1B, 173 would go to Kotchman and 55 to Quinlan (Q could of course rack up some appearances at other positions). Based on their career rates, that would give us +1 run from Kotchman and +2 runs from Robb. So three total -- five less than Teixeira: half of a win.

Now, we're almost certainly underselling Kotchman here, possibly overselling Quinlan, and possibly underselling Big Tex. Kotch so far this year is +.045 vs. RHP, Q this year is -.006, and Teixeira overall is +.053. Over 228 PA, that's +12 from Teixeira against +8 from Casey and -1 from Quinlan: that's still a difference of only five runs.

(I know I'm ignoring defense here, but as Kotch and Tex are both Gold Glove contenders, I think that's going to be a wash.)

Now, let's look at some other issues: Teixeira is far pricier than Kotchman. Teixeira is three years older than Kotchman. Teixeira is a free agent after this year 2008, and is considered to be a favorite to bolt for the east coast, from which he hails (a Maryland native, he played college ball at Georgia Tech). Teixeira is represented by Scott Boras, who says stupid crap about Tex being worth $30M per year.

And, oh yeah: this isn't even a straight-up deal, we'd also be asked to give up one of Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders! A team that just lost Bartolo Colon forever and has Santana -- who led the team in wins last year! -- down in AAA to work out his kinks. A team that only has four major league starters at the moment, and if it traded Saunders, might only have three (four once Santana straightens out). How the hell does this seem like a good idea to anybody? We're going to give up one of our few remaining starters and three years of Casey Kotchman to get five extra runs out of Mark Teixeira?! COME ON!

(Now, I know we'd also have Tex next season before he bolted. And maybe Kendry Morales would be ready to step in for him if we didn't re-sign him. I'm just not sure that the difference between Casey and Teixeira next year would be worth the cost, especially given that we'd be down one of our five planned 2008 starting pitchers.)

It doesn't matter, the Braves are gonna top our offer, anyway. I'll be glad to get that monster out of our division.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


It has been nearly a month since the last edition.

The BB-Ref organizational stats are linked in the POSITION and PITCHER headers.


Michael Collins, 1B, AA Arkansas, BR/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Now 296 66 14 1 3 8 52 5 4 223 269 307
6/26 229 44 12 1 2 5 45 4 2 192 241 279
5/21 127 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
It is pretty much impossible for Collins to end this season with good numbers, but at the very least he can continue his recent (relative) resurgence of the last eight weeks. Doing so would demonstrate resilience and at least keep him on the radar, and give him an opportunity to get some attention if he puts up a good season in AA in 2008.

Hank Conger, C, A Cedar Rapids, BR/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Now 213 60 16 0 8 16 41 7 3 282 336 469
6/26 213 60 16 0 8 16 41 7 3 282 336 469
5/21 123 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
Conger has been injured; he's done some rehab of late in the Arizona League, where he's just getting back into the swing of things (4-for-15 with a double and 3 K's so far). Remember the Midwest League is good for pitching -- the league is hitting 254/322/370, and has an average age of 21.5 for hitters -- so Conger's numbers are very strong, especially for a catcher.

Terry Evans, OF, AAA Salt Lake, BR/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Now 341 106 28 3 13 12 87 15 6 311 334 525
6/26 260 86 23 3 11 11 60 13 6 331 358 569
5/21 156 50 13 3 6 9 42 11 4 321 355 558
Looks like Evans' lack of strike zone knowledge is catching up with him. It's hard to have more home runs than walks.

Nick Gorneault, OF, AAA Salt Lake, BR/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Now 341 80 17 0 12 41 83 12 4 235 322 390
6/26 276 60 12 0 9 35 63 11 3 217 310 359
5/21 151 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
Well, Nick finally made the Baseball Encyclopedia, but that's as far as he's likely to get in this organization. I don't even know why I still have him on here; tradition, I guess.

Jeff Mathis, C, AAA Salt Lake, BR/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Now 250 61 14 2 5 17 45 3 1 244 295 379
6/26 234 56 13 1 5 17 42 3 1 239 294 368
5/21 135 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
This is the final appearance on this list for Jeff, who has now taken the mantle of back-up catcher in the majors.

His offensive performance in AAA this year has been awful. There was once a time where I though Mathis would develop into a decent major league regular; it's still possible (it seems like some catchers make an offensive jump around 30 or so: recall Bengie), but unless Mike Napoli is struck with a significant injury, I don't think he can make that development with the Angels.

He could be a worse hitter than Jose Molina, but he could also be better, so I'm not sure if that substitution makes a big difference to the team.

Christopher Pettit, LF, A+ Rancho Cucamonga, BR/TR

When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Now 124 44 8 1 8 16 23 9 2 355 433 629
6/26 22 2 0 0 0 1 6 0 0 091 130 091
Can we start talking about this guy yet? Know that his current line in Cal League -- and despite the environment those numbers still sing -- comes on the heels of a 346/429/579 start at Cedar Rapids and a 336/445/566 line at Orem last season. At 22 years of age (he comes out of Loyola Marymount), he's finally caught up to his league, but he's beating everyone silly. His SB/CS reflects a certain degree of athleticism, and he's played some games in center this year, as well. He does strike out a bit, but not an outrageous amount. And after taking a week or so to get used to his new level, he's hit 412/496/745 for the last month.

Take notice.

Sean Rodriguez, SS, AA Arkansas, BR/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Now 371 93 24 1 11 35 99 11 6 251 338 410
6/26 278 71 17 1 10 28 76 9 4 255 350 432
5/23 143 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
Despite playing his home games in a good hitting park, Sean Rodriguez's OBP and SLG are both within a couple points of the Texas League average. This isn't really a cause for celebration. It's not really a cause for hand-wringing either, not yet, anyway, given his age. But while his good April made it look like he wasn't too far off of Brandon Wood on the organizational depth chart, S-Rod's season thus far falls well short of what Wood accomplished at AA last season. Rodriguez has never projected as a high-average hitter, but his secondary skills could use a boost back to where they were at the lowest levels of the minors.

Mark Trumbo, 1B, A Cedar Rapids, BR/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Now 340 97 20 2 9 23 73 10 5 285 334 435
6/26 242 68 16 1 7 16 53 3 4 281 327 442
5/23 117 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
On the other hand, Trumbo's performance repeating the Midwest League has been a very welcome improvement. He has around 88 less AB than last season, but already has more hits, doubles, triples, and home runs. He is poised to take advantage of the California League next year, and hopefully will.

Brandon Wood, SS, AAA Salt Lake, BR/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Now 313 82 18 1 16 39 80 8 1 262 343 479
6/26 254 68 18 1 13 34 69 8 1 268 355 500
5/23 131 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
I'm keeping him on here despite his being on the 25-man for now, as this is likely not his permanent trip to the majors.

Watch Out:
Who       Lvl  AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Bourjos A 96 25 3 2 1 9 25 12 3 260 330 365
ClyFuller Azl 74 23 3 2 2 12 23 11 5 311 429 486
Mount A 188 52 4 2 2 19 42 8 1 277 343 351
Ortiz Azl 37 15 3 0 0 4 11 3 2 405 463 486
Peel AA 310 79 20 2 7 6 43 2 0 255 284 400
Phillips A 298 75 9 4 9 9 102 27 2 252 290 399
Rivera has not played
Sandoval AA 339 103 24 3 10 53 56 17 9 304 398 481
Statia A+ 403 111 19 7 1 33 57 18 4 275 331 365
Sweeney A 325 87 19 2 14 29 62 5 7 268 333 468
Peter Bourjos just returned to Cedar Rapids after a hat trick and some rehab in the Arizona League. Clay Fuller, like everyone else in this organization, seemingly, needs to strike out less, but the walk rate is promising in the early going. Ryan Mount is just coming back from injury (again, in the Arizona League). Those are Norberto Ortiz's numbers after having a bit of a slump. Aaron Peel is going nowhere fast, despite hitting fairly well in June. P.J. Phillips' plate discipline is so extremely bad, but his athletic abilities so apparent, that you wonder if some adjustment to his approach at the plate could unleash a monster. Luis Rivera has yet to play. Freddy Sandoval is on a home run kick of late, and despite not looking too good in the Futures Game, he's probably having the best season of any position player on the Arkansas Travelers. Thus far, Hainley Statia's season has been a disappointment. Matthew Sweeney's numbers, especially in terms of power, are actually fairly impressive in the context of his league.


Nick Adenhart, RHSP, AA Arkansas
When  W  L  SV  G  GS  IP    H  HR  SO  BB   ERA
Now 7 3 0 18 18 107.0 112 4 78 43 3.36
6/26 6 2 0 14 14 83.7 87 4 61 37 3.46
5/23 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
Really, nothing different from what we saw a month ago.

Jose Arredondo, RHSP, AA Arkansas and A+ Rancho Cucamonga
When  W  L  SV  G  GS  IP    H  HR  SO  BB   ERA
Now 0 2 2 15 0 16.0 24 3 13 6 9.56
6/26 0 0 2 4 0 3.7 7 0 5 4 18.90 A+
6/26 0 1 10 23 0 25.0 16 2 28 12 2.52 AA
5/23 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
This is called making the worst of a bad situation. That is not how you should pitch after being demoted for your attitude.

Gustavo Espinoza, LHSP

Stephen Marek, RHSP, A Rancho Cucamonga
When  W  L  SV  G  GS  IP    H  HR  SO  BB   ERA
Now 5 7 0 17 17 89.0 91 10 70 35 4.75
6/26 5 4 0 13 13 69.7 64 5 56 30 4.02
5/23 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
It's been a rough month for Marek. He seems to be staying around the plate more, at least as reflected by his SO:BB, but also by his HR allowed.

Tommy Mendoza, A Cedar Rapids, RHSP
When  W  L  SV  G  GS  IP    H  HR  SO  BB   ERA
Now 0 3 0 4 3 12.3 18 4 11 6 9.00
Mendoza has been hurt most of the year, and after one rehab appearance in the Arizona League, he's had a rough beginning to his season in the Midwest League.

Darren O'Day, RHRP, AA Arkansas and A+ Rancho Cucamonga
When  W  L  SV  G  GS  IP    H  HR  SO  BB   ERA
Now 1 2 0 3 0 13.0 11 1 10 7 2.77
6/26 0 1 0 2 0 2.0 3 0 0 1 4.50 AA
6/26 4 0 0 24 0 24.0 10 1 26 6 0.75 A+ Final
O'Day thus far is finding AA hitters harder to baffle than those in the California League, but if he gets the control issues figured out, everything else appears to be quite in order.

Sean O'Sullivan, RHSP, A Cedar Rapids
When  W  L  SV  G  GS  IP    H  HR  SO  BB   ERA
Now 6 5 0 17 17 102.7 94 3 86 27 2.37
6/26 4 5 0 12 12 70.3 76 3 53 19 2.96
5/23 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
A good run for Sean; his strikeout rate is approaching the league average, his control is very good, he's continuing to keep the ball from going over the fence, and his ERA is down quite a bit. The Midwest League, as I mentioned above, skews toward pitchers, but O'Sullivan's ERA still comfortably betters the league's 3.79.

Steve Shell, RHSP/RP, AAA Salt Lake
When  W  L  SV  G  GS  IP    H  HR  SO  BB   ERA
Now 4 3 0 21 4 45.0 56 12 35 14 5.60
6/26 4 1 0 14 3 31.0 39 7 23 11 4.94
5/23 1 0 0 5 1 12.0 18 3 4 2 3.75
5/1 0 0 0 2 1 7.0 9 1 3 1 1.29
Time to give up>?

Rich Thompson, RHRP, AAA Salt Lake and AA Arkansas
When  W  L  SV  G  GS  IP    H  HR  SO  BB   ERA
Now 1 0 0 4 0 7.7 6 0 12 2 1.23 AAA
Now 2 3 0 21 3 49.3 34 5 50 14 2.02 AA Final
6/26 1 3 0 19 3 44.3 32 5 46 12 2.25
Could Thompson get a on a fast track to the majors?

Watch Out:
Who       Lvl  W  L  SV  G  GS  IP    H  HR  SO  BB   ERA
Bell A 4 3 0 13 13 66.0 83 2 57 15 4.36
Bulger AAA 4 1 5 36 0 39.3 37 4 64 17 3.92
Green AA 7 6 0 20 20 126.0 126 14 71 20 4.29
Madrigal A 5 3 7 38 0 44.0 35 3 53 20 2.45
Rodriguez AA 0 6 0 31 1 47.0 58 6 26 24 5.55
Walden R 0 0 0 7 7 24.3 20 2 23 15 6.00
Young R 0 1 0 3 3 9.0 10 1 9 6 9.00
Despite strong strikeout and walk rates, Trevor Bell's ERA is not so good; the culprit is his hits allowed -- his batting average allowed on balls in play is .380, where the team mark is .317 and the league .307. He is a groundball pitcher, so how much of that is his fault, and how much could be a faulty infield defense? Stay tuned. Jason Bulger says, "Recall me!" Nick Green has done pretty well over his last five starts. Warner Madrigal continues to do well. Rafael Rodriguez continues to struggle. Jordan Walden is looking good on K's, not so much on walks, but it is quite early. Ditto Young Il-Jung.

A few random notes ... After a good start at AA, Brok Butcher is thisclose to the list ... the Dominican Summer League is about as far away from the majors as you can get in pro ball, but a kid named Raddy Sierra is putting up a nice 326/426/549 there while playing center field ...


As you know, and this comes to no surprise to anyone, there is a good chance that Bartolo Colon is injured and that the Angels will have to figure out what to do with the fifth spot in the rotation. And even if it turns out Bart's injury is minor, the fact remains that he's pitching as though he's hurt; I consider this so self-evident that I won't bother to explain myself further.

Now, what kind of options do the Angels have here?

1. Declare Ervin Santana "cured" by his one good start at AAA and recall him.

2. Move Dustin Moseley or Chris Bootcheck into the rotation, pending Ervin proving he's ready to come back.

3. Bring up some AAA veteran like Kasey Olenberger.

4. Bring up some prospect whether he's ready or not, like Steve Shell or Nick Adenhart.

5. Trade for a starter.

These are, to put it mildly, unexciting options. I think the least unexciting, or, rather, the most manageable, may be the second one. Moseley and Bootcheck aren't inspiring -- hell, Moseley's strikeout rate is downright pathetic -- but we could even tandem them up in a way: Moseley starts, for instance, and we just tell him to make it through the order twice, then Bootcheck comes in and gets us to the real relievers. Something like that.

Such a move may chip at our bullpen depth, but at the moment we have only 37 men on the 40-man roster (plus two on the 60-day DL), giving us plenty of room to purchase the contracts of Jason Bulger and/or Marcus Gwyn, both of whom are doing well for Salt Lake. Room on the 25-man roster is also available, what with the practically unused gallery of Brandon Wood, Kendry Morales, and Nathan Haynes (yeah, Haynes would have to pass through waivers to get sent down).

With any luck at all, Ervin will get it together quickly, and earn a prompt recall from AAA. With the off-day Thursday, the Angels can delay decision on this a bit, even if news on Bartolo comes out today.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Well, as you all know, Ervin was sent down today.

As you can probably guess from my prior posts, I am somewhat skeptical of this, but the fact is I just don't know if this will help or not. I have no reasonable basis by which to make any kind of analysis on this. Maybe it will. Maybe it won't. Maybe Mike Butcher doesn't know how to help him and Charles Nagy will. I don't know. All I know is We all hope it will, of course. And that's all that I know.



Ervin's start in St. Petersburg today did nothing to assuage his critics, and little to encourage his champions. He kept the ball in the park, but no matter what he did, it resulted in a hit. Hard groundballs were hits. Soft groundballs were hits. Line drives were hits. Flyballs were hits. Bloopers were hits.

And so the call resounds to sent Ervin to Salt Lake, as if this will help. After all, he never really pitched there, right?

Well, that part is true, but it hasn't seemed to have hurt him, has it? Do you really think his struggles now are happening because he didn't pitch much at AAA two years ago?

I mean, Ervin did struggle somewhat when he came up at first, at least with his consistency. His ERA stood at 6.20 after his first eight starts, but over his next 15, Ervin put up a more-than-solid 3.97 in 93 innings, striking out 65 against 27 walks.

As you know, Ervin was an above-average pitcher in 2006, as well, posting an ERA+ of 102. He probably was a bit lucky on balls in play, but, well check out this comparison between Ervin '06 and a Mystery Pitcher:
Pitcher          Age  BFP  BF/K  BF/BB  BF/HR  BF/H  ERA+
Ervin Santana 23 846 6.00 12.44 40.29 4.67 102
Lohn Jackey 24 885 5.86 14.27 28.55 3.97 92
Did you guess who the Mystery Pitcher was? I'll give you a hint: it's John Lackey, in 2003.

If you guessed John Lackey in 2003, you were correct. This is a comparison of each guy's first full season. Looking at his peripherals, you see that Ervin wasn't too far off of Lackey; a tad less strikeouts, a few more walks, but much better on hits and home runs -- and a year younger.

Now, did Ervin really get away with a season-and-half of solid major league pitching in a way that tells us he needed to experience AAA? In 48 starts from the middle of 2005 through the end of 2006, Ervin had a 4.18 ERA, striking out 206 against 97 walks in 297 innings. That's a major league pitcher.

Of course, he is pitching terribly this season. But I fail to see that his failures this year are due to his having "missed" development time in AAA. If that were the case, wouldn't we have seen these problems before? In, like, the previous 340 innings he threw?

Now, I'm not discounting the idea that maybe a trip to AAA might help him. But it seems like a rash move. I think that, if Ervin isn't straightened out within the month, it should be a trip to the bullpen, not the minors, for Santana. Let him work against major league hitters, in front of a major league defense.

There's room for him; we can always send Brandon Wood or Kendry Morales (whom Mike Scioscia appears to have little want of using) back to AAA to get regular at-bats. Joe Saunders (who everyone is talking about like he's an established major league starter, despite his bona fides being shakier than Ervin's in many ways, including his unexceptional performance for Salt Lake this year) can enter the rotation, or I guess even Dustin Moseley, though how a guy who strikes out less than one man per two innings is supposed to maintain success is beyond me.

What I know is that we have a talented pitcher who has suddenly become unable to pitch. He skipped AAA, basically, and for a reason. Let's keep him around, let him get it together against real competition in low-leverage situations if need be, and unleash him back into the rotation once he's back to where we know he can be.

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, July 13, 2007


Well, finally, baseball's back. I think this whole de facto four-day All-Star Break that so many teams have enjoyed is a lot of nonsense, frankly, but what'chu gonna do?

I was silent over the break, but this time it wasn't laziness or busy-ness or anything of that sort; I simply failed. I started working on a piece to try to diagnose the problems of Ervin Santana. I took a gander at batted-ball types, at the types of counts he was getting in ... nothing jumped out, in the record of his performance, as explanatory of the problems he's had lately.

Compared to last season, Ervin is allowing more hits on balls in play and allowing many more home runs. He was exceptionally good/lucky/well-supported in connection with the former last year, so some bounce-back should have been expected and, honestly, is not at alarming levels. What's more disturbing is the latter: Santana is allowing home runs at a vastly higher rate than last season -- nearly twice as frequently.

His struggles don't seem to have anything to do with whether he's from the stretch or not, either -- oddly, he's been better with men on (an OPS allowed of 802) than with the bases empty (944) -- this is the opposite of what you normally see. He does struggle with men in scoring position the most (1000), but is actually doing pretty well with a guy on first only (618).

Does he struggle to close out innings? He's worst with zero outs. Does he struggle after guys have already seen him a couple of times in a game? He's worst the second time through the order, not the third.

The simple solution just seems to be: he's making bad pitches. How someone with his talent, and his level of success, falls apart so, I don't know. There were 84 pitchers in the AL last year who qualified for the ERA title; Santana's 102 ERA+ ranks tied for 51st out of that group, which isn't bad (qualifiers tend to be at least okay pitchers, otherwise they wouldn't get that many innings). And yet, he's starting to look nothing like a pitcher.

The temptation to bring up Joe Saunders remains -- especially that he's starting to perform fairly well at AAA -- but I honestly don't know that putting Ervin in the PCL's gonna do anything for him. (Also, it's not like Ervin is the biggest rotation problem we have now.)

What this really is is the first big challenge Mike Butcher has faced as our pitching coach. Can he figure out what's ailing The Magic? Can Ervin respond? Or is this just a bunch of bad luck, where every single bad pitch is getting punished, instead of a few being fouled off or hit right at someone?

I don't know.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


There's been some roster busy-ness the last few days, so let's just jump in:

- Mike Napoli injured, Jeff Mathis called up.

Napoli could, reportedly, be out for as many as six weeks, which is not good. Napoli is having a solid season: I have him as around three runs above an average hitter offensively, and his OPS+ of 111 ranks 7th in the majors out of the 29 catchers who have played at least 50 games. Jose Molina is no kind of substitute for that offensive production; he's been hitting horribly so far this year, nearly 8 runs below average with only 102 plate appearances. He's better than this, but he's still not an offensive force.

Jeff Mathis has been performing poorly at AAA; I don't really know who's going to get more playing time to start with. Either way, we basically have to just hope that one of the two guys catches fire, or that Garret Anderson will be healthy enough to pick up some of the slack.

- Hector Carrasco is DFA'd, Chris Resop called up in his stead.

I think Carrasco is better than this, but, then again, he is 37 years old, so it's not like a sudden bottoming-out is a big shock. Resop is an interesting choice to replace him; his 4.60 ERA at Salt Lake is better than the 4.74 league average, and Salt Lake continues to be a hitters' park. Resop also has a good strikeout and strikeout-to-walk ratios. Jason Bulger is having a better season, but is not currently on the 40-man roster. Marcus Gwyn is in the same boat.

Anyway, there's no real way Resop's going to be worse than Carrasco has been. Hector was fairly effective last year, but Bill Stoneman's record of acquiring relievers (JC Romero, Darren Oliver, Esteban Yan, who sucks) has been a bit shaky the past few seasons. Hopefully the likes of Resop, Bulger (both Stoneman acquisitions), Jose Arredondo, and Darren O'Day will come through and make that moot in the near future.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?