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Monday, May 24, 2004

I'm Not A Pitcher, But I Play One On TV -- Blue Jays 6, Angels 5

I'm generally not too hard on Ben Weber because guys like him don't get strikeouts; he lives on the kindesses of strangers, or, um, the reliability of his getting GIDPs. Weber's presence on the team -- in the presence of obvious and superior alternatives (Shields, Frankie, Gregg) -- is pretty much a function of things I can't control.

But that doesn't mean I have to like it.

Weber, for a few games, at least, looked like he might have turned things around, but tonight wasn't one of those times. Tonight's game was full of needless errors. For instance, Chone Figgins' bobble that cost us an out and at least one run. Scioscia yelling at the umpires after the warning. (That was just dumb, Mike.) Weber's "Plate? Wazzat?" fielding. Frankie and Gregg again showing signs of craptitude -- and possibly overwork -- on the mound. Figgins running himself out of the sixth. Or heck, installing Weber on the mound in the first place in an Astroturf park. Groundball pitchers in a Turf park are a sure way to generate runs for the other team.

The homers were nice and all, but we just weren't getting anybody on base ahead of those guys; Kotch GIDP'd out of an inning. Let's face facts, kids, we lost this one more than they won it.

As a footnote: at one point one of Terry or Rory declared that it's not possible for a player's OBP to be lower than their batting average. As Tyler pointed out, this is indeed possible because sacrifice flies appear in the denominator of OBP but not in average. The more often you sacrifice, the worse your OBP.


Update: yes, of course HBP appears in the numerator and denominator. Duh.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

DaVanon: Better Than Your Average Replacement Player

Futility Infielder has a great article on Jeff DaVanon, everyone's favorite fourth outfielder, including a rundown on Jeffy's dad Jerry, a true futility infielder with the Cards, Astros, Padres, and Orioles. Unlike Jerry, Jeff seems to be having a relatively solid major league career. An article worth reading about the Human Walk Machine.

The Wild, Wild... Central?

The three division winners plus Wild Card format has been in effect since the 1995 postseason. In general, it's been extremely kind to the teams on the coasts. Since its inception, only two Central Division teams have ever won the Wild Card: the 2001 St. Louis Cardinals, and the 1998 Chicago Cubs. In both the years that the Cubs and Cards won, the Central had three teams over .500. That situation obtains now, with Cincy and Chicago in a tie for first, and all other teams in the Central -- except for the Pirates -- having a winning record. If this continues, the Central will be the toughest division in baseball, displacing either coastal division. More than likely, the Wild Card will come from that division also.

If the Dodgers wish to get to the postseason, they'd better win the division. For the first time in a long time, second place will be the first loser.

The Other Perfect Game This Week

Chuck Tiffany, for Dodgers' high A affiliate Columbus Catfish, 10-0, over seven innings, against the Greensboro Bats (Florida Marlins). Tiffany has 39 strikeouts in 28.2 innings, for a 12.24 K/9, walking only 7. Congratulations, Chuck.

Update: corrected for score and Carvajal's non-participation.

Angels Bench Makes Gammons' Most Surprising List

Peter Gammons published his "Better Than Advertised" list, and not surprisingly, Chone Figgins is on it:
[Figgins has] played short, third, center. He's a good leadoff hitter. "He's on base when he hits the ball on the ground, but he hits pitches you don't think he'll hit because he's got surprising bat speed." Going into Sunday's game, Figgins, Robb Quinlan, Jeff DaVanon, Jose Molina and Casey Kotchman were hitting between .286 and .375.


Figgins has been a surprise, as has been the entire Angels bench. So has Kevin Gregg, who they think has starter stuff but right now is replacing Brendan Donnelly setting up for Francisco Rodriguez and Troy Percival. Rodriguez and Gregg allowed 33 hits, six earned runs and struck out 61 in their first 48 2/3 innings. Everyone thought the Angels would be good, but to have the best record in the league with Garret Anderson, Troy Glaus, Tim Salmon, Darin Erstad and Donnelly all hurt?

Good stuff, and no kidding. I just keep wondering when the magic will wear off. We're playing the Blue Jays and Chisox this week, while the A's plays Boston and Cleveland, and the Rangers play the Chisox and Jays in the reverse order. There's no cakewalks and no hope of getting Anderson back soon, so we've gotta keep the kids hot. Good luck, guys.

Angels 8, Orioles 3

Somewhere, O's fans are fuming. Not only have they been sold a bill of goods about their young pitching, but they've watched Vladimir Guerrerro pound out homers in two consecutive games against them in this Angels homestand. Cabrera never really got any breathing room, and tried -- unsuccessfully -- to get himself out of jams in a couple innings. But the pitching today was in general bad on both sides. Both Frankie and Shields wobbled through their outs, and Sele was hardly recognizeable as the Yankee-killer of last week, giving up three runs. Frankie didn't collect a single strikeout and got himself into deep counts on nearly every batter. (Of course, he only faced the meat of their order, but still...) On the other hand, all three O's pitchers gave up one or more earned runs. Ouch.

I'll say it now: Eckstein's coming back. I know, I know, maybe I'll jinx it, but 2-4 with a walk -- a walk! -- is a revelation for him lately. And that hurl-your-bat-and-save-the-runner maneuver -- I've never seen anything like that. And his sudden conversion to a 5'9" shortstop on that line drive? Fantastic.

Really, the story was all about Vlad and Guillen, and of the two, I'm far more impressed with Guillen just because he's never put it together consistently before this year. Was he being mismanaged? I don't know, but I do get the impression that Scioscia's a manager who knows how best to squeeze good performances out of this guy.

Kotchman: okay, we all know about the no-strikeout record. It's all good, but the J. T. Snow impression's getting tired. Hitting a little less with some walks, or better, some power would be nice. Okay, he's a rookie: back off, I know. But somehow... first base should be a power slot, and .289/.333/.316 isn't that impressive. Erstad's .333 SLG is starting to look that much better, crazy as I think that might be.

Gregg: the only pitcher tonight who looked like his old self. I can't tell you how grateful I was that the Halos weren't ahead by three runs or less. From a winning-the-game point of view, it's probably crucial that Percy not get the ball in late innings.


Gilligan's Island of the Damned: Braves 5, Dodgers 1

Just sit right back
And you'll hear a tale
A tale of a team in first
Their hitting started very hot
But now it's gotten worse

The starters coughed up runs like phlegm
The bullpen blew up too
If not for the weakness of the NL West
The Padres they'd pursue

The team hit into double plays
And only got one run
They stranded eight and left the Braves
Feeling like they were done

Okay, so Wilson had another bad outing, but we got spoiled by his performances last year. Maybe they should bench Green every day -- another day, another GIDP. I turned this one off in the seventh -- no point in watching further. Hopefully they turn it around soon, but I'm not all that optimistic.


Saturday, May 22, 2004

Glaus, Game Shows, And GEICO

This is like a bad GEICO ad:
The doctor who performed surgery on Glaus' right shoulder found "significant damage," according to Manager Mike Scioscia, and the odds of Glaus returning to play this year appear slim. He'll wear a sling for the next 10-14 days before being re-examined and planning out a physical therapy plan.

"There's a lot of work ahead of Troy before he considers even thinking about playing this year," Scioscia said.

Yocum: Troy ... there's bad news and good news. The bad news is, you'll never play again.
Glaus (groggily): Uh... the good news?
Yocum: I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance...

(Props to Stephen Smith for that idea.) But if this is an ad, it means somewhere there's gotta be a reality TV show where the team has to find a replacement player either at center or third base. Thus, we cut to the unwarranted return of the third base version of ... Elimidate! And here's the contestants:

Okay, it's time to change the channel. Is there a game on TV somewhere?

A Life? What's That?

Terry at The Bench Coach hangs 'em up, and I must say he'll be missed. Drop by and say your respects. Is it a coincidence that the Dodgers were just on an eight-game losing streak? Well... seeing as how Mariner Optimist is on strike until the team goes on a five-game win streak, it's easy to understand how such thoughts might enter my noggin. Anyway, good night, Terry. It's been a fun ride while it lasted, and we hope to hear back from you soon.

Dodgers 7, Braves 4

Whew -- did that ever feel better. Cora popping one into the stands, Grabby as well, and a veritable hit parade at the bottom of the order, with Grabby, Ross, Izzy, Cora and Bradley all getting two hits on the day. The rain probably helped the team some this time, though I had my fingers crossed when I saw Bradley making an incredible sliding catch I thought sure would re-injure his ankles. Jeffy had his best outing of the year, striking out nine, made bad only when Tracy failed to observe the signs of a struggling pitcher in the 8th. DeWayne Wise came in to pinch-hit a three-run gopherball. And, hey, we even got to see Gagné pitch, even though he did give up a solo homer to one of the Joneses. I'll take that any day so long as we win.

About the only bad news on the day was the announcer saying that Encarnacion had shoulder problems last year that -- stop me if you've heard this one before -- he elected not to have surgery on. I'm figuring on career-ending shoulder surgery round about August. They're dropping like flies here...


Anderson's Reward

Arthritis is an autoimmune disease; one way to shut down or reduce to the body's immune reaction is to administer steroids.

Doctor's orders, ya know.

I'm not saying it will happen. But.

Pickoff Moves

Anaheim Stingers 6, Orioles 3

You've just gotta wonder what's gonna happen today when Angels-killer Sir Sidney Ponson (j/k about the knighthood) takes the mound against a lately inoffensive Angels offense. I'm predicting an Orioles win, but the glass is half-empty for me a lot of the time, and it's easy to do, too, when so many of your big boppers are out of the lineup. The all-reserves team took the field yesterday, none of them hitting well against Baltimore starter Eric Du Bose, prompting me to wonder whether Mike shouldn't have contacted my friend Debi about filling out the lineup card. But once ex-Brewer closer Mike DeJean got to the mound, it was partay time for the Angels. Wash had a quality start -- not a great one, but acceptable -- but the boys didn't put it together in time to give him a win.

Robb Quinlan 3-3 with a walk on the night, Guillen 2-4, and the rest of the crew putting together no better than a 1-3 game? Rickety, rickety is the offense.


Eight Is Enough! Braves 2, Dodgers 0

Okay, we get that they're not really a contending team. But did they have to lose in such an obvious fashion? I mean, it's pretty clear by now that Beltre needs surgery, Green's was a flop, and neither of Cora and Izturis, over the long haul, amount to anything like a complete major leaguer. And Bradley -- well, let's just say he's not the solution to the middle of the lineup. I predicted a bad clubhouse funk before the season, but I guess now I was only off on the timing. They say teams aren't as bad as they appear when they're on a losing streak, nor as good as they appear when they're on a tear, but I have long suspected this team will be a middle-of-the-pack performer. We're headed that way now. And if the Pads win tonight and the Dodgers don't, how long will it be before the team turns it back around?


At The Padres' Beck and Call

The Padres' 2003 fill-in for closer Trevor Hoffman Rod Beck has returned, from still undisclosed personal problems. I'm not sure how effective he'll be having missed almost two months of play (and Spring Training as well?), but if he returns to last year's form, he'll provide solid middle relief for them. I still think, in this weak division, the Padres are the team to beat.

Dayn Perry: Erstad's Injury A Boon

As if we didn't know.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Hey, Jim -- It's the Kid On Line 1!

The Angels being stuck in a slump -- well, were stuck in a slump until the eighth of tonight's game -- got me remembering a story my friend Debi passed on just before game seven of the World Series two years ago. How many times have you read the lineup and gone positively nuts because Scioscia insists on putting a slumping Eck at the top of the order? Or ditto for Tracy with his man-love obsession installing Green in the cleanup spot when he's hitting .236? Most of us, of course, are not brave enough -- or liable, in any event -- to contact the front office and deliver our pearls of wisdom. (God knows they probably don't read our blogs, anyway.) And even if you did, would they listen? Well...
When I grew up, we had season tickets to [Angel Stadium] -- incredible seats...we gave them up during the Rams debacle, but that's another story...

So one year, I can't remember which, I might have been 10-11, the Angels actually could possibly make it to the play offs...I went to 2 games in a row, and 3rd baseman, Carney Lansford made something like 7-8 errors in two games. I was appalled.

I called then manager Jim Fregosi - not really expecting to get in - not knowing if they were going to randomly ask a caller's age. I get his secretary, she wants my name, number and will have Mr. Fregosi return my call...


OK - and I give it to her (at this point, I'm figuring the SWAT team was going to descend on my house with paratroopers for doing this. Hey - I was a Kid!)

So Jim calls me back. I ask about Lansford, and Jim (we're now on a first name basis) says that Carney has been having a lot of personal problems. I explain to him that I completely understand that (after all, I was almost 11 ;) but I went on to explain that we really had a shot at the playoffs this year and Carney should keep his personal problems off the field or not be on it.

Jim said he didn't have any other 3rd baseman.

He was sooooo wrong...

I told him he could take Bobby Grich off of short stop - throw him on third, bring Dan Ford in from left field to cover short, and on and on I went - completely rearranging his out and in field.

Jim tells me that he'd "think about it" and thanks me for my call.

The next night, the game is televised, the Angels are in New York, there's been a line up change - Carney Lansford is out of the game, Bobby Grich is playing 3rd base, Dan Ford is covering short stop.....and on it went. Fregosi used my entire line up.

They beat the Yankees that night.

Jim Fregosi wasn't signed to manage the team the next year. I'm sure the fact that he was taking advice from some random 10 year old kid probably had nothing to do with that. ;)

Sadly, Debi never again managed a major league team, but at times I think she'd do better than some guys I've seen in the dugout.

Postscript: Baseball Almanac shows Fregosi's last year was a half season before being fired in 1981, when he managed the team to a just under .500 record of 22-26. Maybe she was thinking of '79?

Doug Pappas Dies

all-baseball.com reports the sad and unexpected death of Doug Pappas, author of the Business of Baseball blog, due to heat prostration while on vacation. His blog was a wonderful source of information. Doug, you will be missed. Next time you hurl a curse at Bud Selig -- remember Doug as the guy who helped expose him for the jerk he so often was.

Yankees 6, Angels 2

Colón is an overpaid ...

... number six. Demote him, and do it now. Is it embarrassing for Bart to watch Ramon Ortiz pitch three innings of scoreless, 2-hit relief, with six strikeouts? Good. If he keeps that up, I have no problem putting Ramon back in the rotation. Bart needs to give some serious thought to pitching, because the thirty extra pounds he carried into spring training is starting to look like a log around his neck. Angel bats went silent, as we knew they eventually would, but Bartolo threw batting practice for the Yankees. Embarrassing, embarrassing, embarrassing. Washburn is closer to being an ace, and that comes from somebody who doesn't think he earned -- even in 2002 -- the title.

The 3-5 hitters went a collective 2-12 with no walks. It's nice that Eckstein's hitting again, but can we please get some middle lineup production going?


Glaussing Over The Facts

More from Ken Rosenthal on Glaus' shoulder, including the now-standard line that Glaus refused surgery. I sometimes wonder where these guys get their info, or whether they even bother checking facts.
The suspicion both inside and outside the Angels' organization is that Glaus feared that his numbers might suffer, hurting his free-agent value at the end of the season.


Glaus' agent, Michael Nicotera, says the player's red-hot performance was deceptive, because he was unable to turn on inside pitches. At one point he told Nicotera, "I'm just waiting for it to blow out." He asked Dr. Lewis Yocum, the Angels' team orthopedist, if his recovery from surgery would be more difficult if the injury worsened. According to Nicotera, Yocum said, "That is a calculated risk."

Well, duh, and it's altogether possible that's what caused Green to have his current woes. But here, kids, is the kicker:
"He had another MRI done. The labrum was worse. The tear in his rotator cuff is now completely through. You can literally hold Troy's wrist, pull down and create two fingers of space in his shoulder."
Multiply this times yesterday's Slate article on shoulder reconstruction, and you've got an ex-third baseman, and very possibly, an ex-player. (By the way, who the hell is doing this that they know? Man, that sounds painful.)

Today's the day Troy goes under the knife. Turn your thoughts and prayers his way.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

It's Only A Game, People

Chill out, already. One wonders whether the Marine in question -- the stab victim -- might also happen to be sporting Yankee colors, but be that as it may, violence at the park is hardly necessary. Fortunately, it appears the transgressor is in custody and the injury slight.

The Ugly News About Labrum Reconstruction

Thanks to Jon for this Will Carroll story about labrum repairs.
If pitchers with torn labrums were horses, they’d be destroyed. Of the 36 major-league hurlers diagnosed with labrum tears in the last five years, only midlevel reliever Rocky Biddle has returned to his previous level.
Of course, that doesn't go into third basemen, but you've got to believe that Glaus is a huge risk going forward, at least at third, and possibly with the bat.

Let's hope that the other Angels have better prognoses than Troy.

Providing Trade And Comfort

So Andrew Brown is the PTNBL in the Bradley trade? Given the alternatives between him and Joel Hanrahan, I suppose I can live with it, but it seems, on its surface, very expensive, especially given Bradley's .252/.323/.432 line, not to mention his time spent on the DL. Does "cheap" make up for "ineffective"? And how good will this trade be if Gutierrez becomes the hitter Logan White's scouts projected him to be?

At Mariners Wheelhouse, Jeff speculates the M's will pick up Paulie next year based on his status as an aging vet with a quality if low-powered bat, and an unrepeatable career year behind him in 2001. The vitriol being hurled right now at Bavasi in the Mariners' blogosphere is intense and constant; the fear now has become that the team will bite at even more of the same toolsy-but-poor-hitting rookies at the trade deadline and even after the season's end. After the Looper/Ketchner for Cabrera deal, Bavasi's skills as a barterer of human flesh have legitimate reason to be called into question.

What I wonder about is DePodesta's.

Have we, as Dodger fans, been too willing to give him the benefit of a doubt because of the team's early success? I've said his moves looked good before. But how good do they look now that the PTNBL is Andrew Brown? DePo rooked Bavasi, it seems, on the Ketchner trade, but you never know until the kid makes it all the way up. Still, early returns are encouraging, with a 1.69 ERA, 7.98 K/9 and a 3.05 BB/9. So that's a big drop from his single-A numbers, but not unexpected. And what of Grabowski? His two-homer game aside, he's been mostly ineffective at the plate, spending more time at or below the Mendoza line than above it. Olmedo Saenz and José Hernandez have been good in limited action, but neither is the answer to any question aside from "Who should be in reserve?"

The jury's still out. But the fact is, the team needs help, and, apparently, sooner rather than later. We're waiting, DePo.

Becalmed: Phillies 9, Dodgers 4

There's a reason this web site exists. Unfortunately, a lot of people had begun to forget that reason. There's no forgetting anymore, however. The Dodgers lost their sixth in a row Wednesday, and it's increasingly clear that the team is finally living up to expectations—low expectations. The Dodgers have lost sole possession of first place, and along with that, have lost the confidence (or cockiness) they had just a couple weeks ago. It's only mid-May, but this streak has the potential to really screw them up... as well as scare off the bandwagon fans who were suddenly believers in the team (which, actually, would be a welcome occurence).
  -- Dodger Blues

I have made mention of the problems the team might have in the past. Bradley isn't really a true heart-of-the-order masher. Neither is Encarnacion. The pitching has regressed a lot from last year, especially with Nomo. Alvarez is a lot of things, but another way to spell Brown he is not.

And now the Padres are tied with us for first place. This team will have losing streaks for sure, but we haven't faced a genuinely contending team with their pitchers in full working order until the Phillies. Kerry Wood, you will recall, had back stiffness when we beat the Cubs. I'm predicting a sweep in Philly, with one win but a series loss in Atlanta.


Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Nuke The Bronx From Orbit...

... it's the only way to be sure.

I hate the Yankees. I hate Gary Sheffield -- I hated him even when he was a Dodger. His psycho player act wore thin then and it's even thinner now. And what the F is with that bat-waggling? Hit the ball or don't, buster. I hate Jeter and his flashy-ass spin-and-throw move that loses the ball about one time in eight. I hate Giambi and his beady little eyes. Every minute he spends on the DL or riding the pine is like a vacation for everyone else. And, God help me, I hate A-Rod and his simpering, passive-aggressive doe eyes one minute, and Mafia-inspired backstabbing the next.

And I hate their fans. Their fans have been an absolute plague on the Angels' boards this week. It's not enough that they win the game -- noooo. They have to gloat about it. At the Big A, they're loud, obnoxious, frequently drunk, and ugly. Yeah, I said it, ugly. We got this one enormous fat guy with a belly hanging well over his shorts waving a Yankee banner between sections trying to get the multitudinous Yankee fans to whoop it up some more. And, sorry Alex, the ump did not hand us the game yesterday. Every third game they don't win is because of bad umpiring, not because they didn't play well. No, nothing like that.

Anyway -- Lackey -- another less-than-optimal night for John, though you have to give him some credit for having faced a really killer lineup (albeit in somewhat of a slump). But he needs to find his control and fast. This game really gives you a feel now for just how much this lineup misses Glaus.


Something About The Air? Schmidt One-Hits The Cubs

Jason Schmidt was on last night, tossing a thirteen-K, one-hit blanking of the Cubs. Good news for the rest of the NL West, though: Felipe Alou let the Giants' duct-taped ace roll to 144 pitches last night. Baseball Prospectus has yet to publish their Pitcher Abuse Points leaderboard, but you've got to believe that Schmidt, who's averaged 129 pitches in his last three starts, is going to end up near the top of that list when it finally makes it out.

It's What You Know That Isn't So

Tyler at Athletics Nation says "And now the news that Lip Glaus could be out for the season. ... We all knew Glaus couldn't stay healthy for a season." Why did we know that, Tyler? Judging by at-bats, he's never been out before 2003 for more than a few days. Granted, his (re-)injury comes during a particularly bad time for the Angels, but that doesn't mean he's injury prone.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Amezega: He's A Floor Wax And A Dessert Topping! Angels 1, Yankees 0

Oh. My. God.

That thought permeated my mind like a mustard gas attack the second I saw Alfredo Amezega warming up in the Angels dugout. Why was this oh-so-horribly wrong?

  1. Because he takes out the one of only two credible power threats at the top of the lineup.
  2. Did I say "power threats"? I meant, "threats to get a hit".
  3. Because he can't run the basepaths to save his life.
And sure enough, he got erased making the kind of mental mistake that should have been fixed in the minors. Yet somehow, he made up for it in the 11th, when he successfully sacrificed, and Adam "Angees" Riggs singled in the winning run.

Dammit, I want some blowouts of the Yankees. These guys are the Evil Empire. I just can't help myself: when I saw Sheffield take a hit on that corner wall shagging a flyball in right, I cheered. Base of me, I know, but I can't stand the Yankees. Gotta give props to Posada for what he did for Kotch last week, but in general, Yankees suck, as the boys from Boston always say.

I'm beginning to agree with Richard that the team is winning in spite of Mike.

I realized this morning I'm not being charitable, or complete, about this game. Sele, Frankie, Percy, and Shields-ey (alliteration must be preserved here) pitched another wonder against the Bronx Bombers; if this keeps up, the staff ace may well prove to have been a guy we already had on staff. Sele's 2.79 ERA is now the lowest of any starter. And Riggs -- wow. To get called up and drive in the winning run after waking up every day for so many years and finding your picture next to the definition of "journeyman" in the dictionary -- well, that's a good day at the ballpark. And can I cheer -- just a little bit? -- for Eckstein going 2-5 on the day? He probably won't hit anything like .300 on the year, but he's at least headed in the right direction. I won't feel comfortable about it until he has a couple weeks of 2-4 and 2-5 days under his tiny belt, but seeing as how Mike isn't going to demote him from leadoff, we're obliged to applaud and nervously hope he can keep it up.

And everyone else in the division did us a favor by losing. We're atop the division by 3.5 games. The worst that can happen after this Yankees series is for us to be up by only a half a game.


Schoeny Update

Now they're saying Schoeneweis is "pitching like a staff ace". That tells you something about the Chisox rotation, but still, I'm always glad to see guys do well... so long as they're not up against us.

Randy Johnson's Perfect Game

Randy Johnson has pitched a perfect game, 2-0 versus Atlanta. The last perfect game was Yankee David Cone's against the Expos in 1999. Johnson is the oldest pitcher ever to throw one. Congratulations, Big Unit.


Troy Glaus Injury Timeline

The Scott Miller article forwarded by reader mattkew in CBS SportsLine speculates that Glaus and the Angels will part ways this year. A timeline of the injury history starting from last year when it all began: In his article, Miller asks "Why didn't he have surgery on his shoulder last fall, after two different highly respected doctors all but gave him directions to the operating room?" Well, Scott, maybe it was because at the time both told him to go to rehab.

Monday, May 17, 2004

A Shoulder Made of Glaus, Part 2

Sixty days my rear end. See Jon's commentary on Shawn Green for where this is going.

Well, at least we have Dallas McPherson to look forward to. Troy, you were a great MVP in 2002 and it was a fantastic career while it lasted. I guess it's a good thing that they didn't re-sign Glaus in the offseason, huh?

Update: ESPN reports he may be out for the rest of the year. No duh, and add it's "stick a fork in him" time, but I include this for the sake of completeness; IMO his career is over, but at least he's got D-Mac behind him. Who knows, he might make a nice backup infielder. Well, he's not so good at short, and hasn't played the position since the minors. Heh, never mind.

Score Bard's New Periodic Table Of The Blogs

The Score Bard has updated his periodic table of the blogs, and I ranked "sulphur". Jon, it seems, has been merged into all-baseball.com's new listing as "Al", aluminum. Thanks, Score Bard. Always happy to get a link, especially from a quality blogger.

Update: And please, if you need something to cheer you up after Sunday's losses, know that metropolitan LA's teams aren't the only ones to lose. Read Batgirl, especially this Legovision reenactment of Troy Glaus, pre-shoulder-trauma, tagging out Henry Blanco.

A Good Man On A Bad Team

Today I was reminiscing about Benji Gil, the Rangers' first-round draft pick in 1991. He barely was able to play in the majors: he came up in 1993, skipped 1994, played -- poorly -- in 1995 through 1997, missed 1998 and 1999, and then the Angels signed him. He gave them two very good years (2001: .296/.330/.477, and 2002: .285/.307/.431), and two really bad ones. Last year, the Angels released him. He has subsequently bounced around the Indians minor leagues, and now the Rockies were the last team to kick him out after a wretched spring training.

Which brought me to the team stats page. If you scroll your eyes down, you'll see a fellow named Joe Kennedy, carrying an unexpectedly good 2.85 ERA. Looking at his peripheral stats, he's got respectable-but-not-great numbers:


What's more, his strikeout rate, never especially good with Tampa Bay, has actually improved over his 2003 spent there. Those kind of numbers -- especially H/9 -- have got to get worse in Colorado, but who'd've believed you could get that from a journeyman pitcher at Coors Field, when the starting rotation's ERA presently stands at 7.67? Baseball Prospectus gives him a 15.0 VORP (subscription required), putting him in the neighborhood of such luminaries as Roy Halliday, Wilson Alvarez, and Ben Sheets. Given the Rocks' proclivities, I have to believe his acquisition was an accident, but however it occurred, at least the Rockies' fans have one guy they can look forward to, not unlike Barry Bonds and the Giants.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Sheets Kickers

2004 stats to date:

Barry Zito, Moneyball stud: 5.63
Ben Sheets, Moneyball laughingstock: 2.90

This commercial message is brought to you by Mr. Small Sample Size, the king of big ERAs.

Broomsville: Reds 6, Dodgers 3

The feeling that Tinkerbell has left the room settles in hard around here, especially with the Angels' depleted lineup finally going thump in Baltimore. But settle in it has, as the Dodgers choked hard against the Reds, 6-3. In fact, the only redeeming thing to happen in baseball for me was the Cubs 4-2 win today versus the Padres, effecting a three-game sweep. (Hint to the Dodgers: based on the last two games I saw there, you might try to hit hard down the left field line. All the homers were in the general vicinity of the Western Metals building, including José Macias' fluke two-run shot today.) Have the Angels had bad luck recently? Well, how about Sammy Sosa being scratched because of a bad sneeze? Older players -- you'd think they could ask politely for a few days off!

At the very least, in today's game, Green and Beltre should have flip-flopped. And perhaps Cora could have been used in leadoff, I don't know. And now, the trip to Philly after a losing homestand. This could get ugly. Minus the hitting, the pitching isn't good enough to keep the team in close games.

The thing that bugs me is Gagné's lain fallow for so long I can't even remember the last time I saw him pitch.


Postscriptum: Is it still too early to remind people that Baseball Prospectus projected the Dodgers to finish fourth?

Orioles 4, Angels 0

As I mentioned earlier, the Mariners' blogosphere has taken a sudden culling along with the team's fortunes. It's not surprising; losses will do that to you. That's why I don't have too much to say today, especially since I left the game at about the sixth, when it became plain that the problems besetting the Angels wouldn't go away, namely Larry (Halter), Moe (Kennedy), and Curly in the infield. Okay, subtract one Stooge, but after two errors in one game and no redeeming bat activity to make up for it, I'm starting to agree a little more with Richard's call to put Amezega in at third and let Halter check his glove for holes. But, hey, at least it was a .500 road trip. That's what everyone should shoot for.


Angels 7, Orioles 4

Every team in the NL West lost yesterday, while every team in the AL West won. I'm not sure how often this happens, but it must be damn frustrating if you're a Mariners' fan: just as your team finally catches a break, beating the Yanks 13-7 in the 13th inning, everyone else does, too, as the Rangers beat the Tigers 6-1, and Oakland beat Kansas City 3-1. U.S.S. Mariner has, predictably, had trenchant commentary on the unexpectedly bleak situation in Seattle. The number of M's bloggers has collapsed faster than Saddam Hussein's army, prompting U.S.S. Mariner to trim their sidebar. And while I don't think anyone will take them up on their new fan jersey combination, the comment they passed on from one of their readers strikes me as apropos to both the Angels and Dodgers situations:
Underperformance by one person is poor performance. Underperformance by a whole team is poor management.
Well, yes, and that's why you have to wonder about how the Angels are doing. Richard has started blasting Mike for his in-game moves. Yes, I'll give you his running game is an absolute puzzler sometimes, but what about the successful double-steal the other day? Without comprehensive data to hand, I'm not going to go far with this one quantitatively. While this game was going on, we were at Petco watching the Cubs beat -- beat? No, pound -- the Padres. (We're going to a second game tonight at Petco, so neither have I got the time -- wish me luck on the traffic. Expect a mess of photo essays up in the next few days, including, hopefully, our Spring Training adventures.)

Back to the Halos. I'm starting to think I might like Wash, just a little. For one thing, I hate flyball pitchers, and for another, I hate extreme flyball pitchers. With sufficient run support, any hack on the mound can be made to look good, although to take it to the extremes the boys in St. Louis do is just crazy. Yet, eight innings and two earned runs? And now he's sporting a sub-5.00 ERA? Wowzers. If he gets below 4.00 I'll do handstands. And no, Richard, I'm not taking back anything I said about Halter. I'll agree that his rotten glovework has cost the team dearly from time to time, but he does -- sometimes -- do things that redeem him. Hey, at least he's not Eric Owens, or worse yet, Scott Spiezio -- who is now 1-42 in the clutch for the M's. So much for "clutch hitting" as an ability.


Congrats, Lakers

Congratulations to the Lakers for pulling one off. I normally couldn't give the gluteus maximus of a Rattus rattus about basketball, but Dodgerkid -- who was a little down on the team earlier -- will be happy to be proven wrong, I'm sure.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Big Unit At The Big A?

pussinboots on the Angel Fan Forums reports a Phoenix rumor that Randy Johnson wants to be traded to a contender if the team isn't in it by June, and he has a no-trade clause including the Yanks. The Angels were mentioned.

Yes, folks, Elvis has left the building.

Update: The Arizona Republic adds this coda. As usual, one misheard comment becomes a trade rumor. Sheesh.

Diamondbacks ace Randy Johnson stressed Friday that the frustration he expressed one day after losing a 1-0 decision to the New York Mets' Tom Glavine shouldn't be interpreted as anything else.

"Don't read into any more about that than what it really is," Johnson said before Friday's game against Montreal.

Johnson wasn't available for comment after losing Wednesday on a home run allowed to the Mets' Kazuo Matsui for the only run of the game. He remained baffled about a question pertaining to any disappointment that only 27,750 fans - the third-smallest home crowd of the season at the time - paid to see him face Glavine.

Yet Another Injury? Colón Left Game With Back Stiffness

Maybe this was why Colón did so poorly yesterday. He had back trouble:
Colon gave up Javy Lopez's solo home run in the fourth, four more runs in the fifth, then left because of lower-back stiffness...

Pickoff Moves

Salmon, Damned

Two at bats. Two freakin' at bats. That's all it took before Salmon's knee blew out again.
"It felt fine during warm-ups and pregame, but when I actually got out there and played at game speed it hurt," Salmon said. "You can do all the practice you want, but you can't simulate a game situation. That's why they have these rehab games. I needed to see how it would react at being a little out of control on a swing and running the bases hard."

. . .

"I have very mixed emotions right now. From a player's perspective its great to get back on the field, but the injury just isn't where it is supposed to be," Salmon said. "We've got a lot of good things going on with the big club. It's a long season and I don't want to force this and drag this thing out. I'm still trying to figure things out. We'll have to see how it feels tomorrow. Right now it is tender and sore."

Salmon was supposed to play this weekend with the Quakes and possibly rejoin the Angels Tuesday, but that time table is now up in the air.

Grand. Simply grand.

Glaus At 1B?

The Angels website picked up on the possibility mentioned in yesterday's broadcast that Glaus might play first base to keep his bat in the lineup rather than have a fixed DH. The way the team's been injured this year, we'll need every break we can get.

Reds 2, Dodgers 1

The ride's over.

You'll have games like this in the course of a season, but the question is, was it avoidable? Is Ishii reverting to form? I don't know, but the number of walks points that way. But the bats, the bats... my first thought, after reading the box score, was Grabby batting leadoff? Another Tracy's-lost-his-mind moment, I thought, but 1-3 with a walk isn't too bad. The problem is the gaping hole that has become Shawn Green's bat -- .236? Enough, already -- to the bottom of the lineup with you. But -- unlike Eckstein, Mendozadom is highly unlikely for Green. Even if he continues at his current .192 pace (over the last week), it would still take him 138 four at bat games to get there. His descent has been imperceptable after his early good start; as of April 15th, he was hitting .333. On the other hand, the Reds' pitching staff is 13th in the league by ERA, so if there were ever a team he could recover his swing against, it should be Cincinnati. I'll hold off on advice to move him down the order, but if he doesn't start producing this weekend, it's time.


No Epic Battles For Us, Thanks -- We're Waving

Jon dutifully recorded Cora's epic at bat Thursday, with this hoping-to-counteract-the-stereotype close:
To anyone who might be reading this from the outside, who has bought into the stereotype of the Dodger fan, who has mocked us, please try to understand. Just try.

Dodger fans are real.

Of course they are, Jon, but that doesn't mean they actually give a damn about good baseball. I had completely forgotten about this, but letter writer Paul Haddad in today's Times reminds us that the crowd assembled was "busy doing the wave throughout most of Cora's 14-minute battle for the ages." Arrive in the third, and do the wave through the exciting bits. <expletive>

Friday, May 14, 2004

Step On Their Necks, Already: Angels 10, Orioles 9

Colón is an overpaid number two.

Here we go again. Five earned runs, five innings, four walks, five strikeouts. 4.59 ERA. Gregg didn't look so hot, either, but, hey, you gotta tip your caps. But this is pathetic.

In the ninth: Rory Markus:

Good thing he put that caveat in there, because it really is believable. Percy can't get it done anymore. If I see one more blown save where K-Rod gets pulled because of Percy's title as "closer", I'm going to punch a hole in the wall. When you're ahead, you step on their necks. Percival's ERA is now 4.26. When are they going to pull this guy? He doesn't have it.

What's wrong with this pitching staff is the GM's inability to recognize and acquire quality pitching. We should have had Javier Vazquez. Instead, we have an overpaid number two. Step on their necks, already. This should have never gone to extra innings. Christ, do I miss Donnelly.

And what was up with Figgins not getting credit for hitting for the cycle? Maybe I'm ignorant of the rules on how scoring works, but he got two bases in the tenth when the throw to the plate was wide. Isn't that a double?


A Shoulder Made Of Glaus

Again, same shoulder, and this time his knee, too. This same injury kept him out of the lineup for two months last year.
Angels general manager Bill Stoneman had no roster move to announce and said the club did not think the 15-day disabled list was immediately necessary.
Yeah. Well, whatever games he sits out are just more DL time as far as I'm concerned.

The Curse is back.

Update: This could be really bad. Even though it's his throwing shoulder, Shawn Green is the poster child for what happens after a shoulder reconstruction, and if Troy has to undergo that, chances are his labrum's done for good -- as is his ability as a power hitter.

Pickoff Moves

Yankees 7, Angels 3

David, you have three 0-4 games until Mendozahood.

José Guillen wasn't enough. In its presently depleted state, the Angels' lineup isn't enough. That was obvious yesterday, when the Yankees smacked around Angels "pitching". Lackey has never really returned to his 2002 form, and I suspect his early success may well be due to the league having not seen him. About the only good thing to come of this was his five strikeouts, but his demotion from 2002 World Series Game 7 hero (and ALDS Game 4 winner) to back-of-the-rotation scaremonger has been absolutely brutal. Lack needs to settle down and learn to pitch. And there's no place in the bullpen for him.

Note to whoever's writing the headlines over at mlb.com: Lackey was many things, but unlucky wasn't one of them.


Cubs 7, Dodgers 3

The Dodgers scoring in this game was almost like a gift, and yes, we got to see the promised Borowski/Grabowski matchup, which our rookie won. But Nomo lost the game, and after this outing, you have to wonder whether he can be effective ever again in any role. Update: I have to agree with Terry: Hideo needs DL time.

Helen complained that JoBo has looked awful this year; for whatever reason, he can't find his rhythm and has drifted into anticloserdom, giving up a mess of hits and walks. I thought at first maybe she's getting spoiled watching Gagné, but in fact Borowski seems to be undergoing an Ortizian transformation, with his H/9 nearly doubling and BB/9 tripling over last year. JoBo, you'd better stop handing out free passes. Closers can't afford to do that.


Cold Comfort

A deal's a deal, but I'd be creeped out, too, if my siblings decided to freeze my father, regardless of whether he's Ted Williams. The temptation to speak out about it publically would be pretty intense. The lawsuit brought against Bobby Jo and Mark Ferrell -- Williams' eldest daughter and son-in-law -- by Williams' estate (read: siblings) sounds too much like the kind of thing the Scientology creepos might try to pull off.

Mariners 3-way Deal?

Blecch, whether it's the PI's imagination or not:
Bavasi said no deals are near, but rumors are circulating the Red Sox and Royals are trying to entice the Mariners into a three-way trade. Boston would trade pitcher Byung Hyun Kim and, possibly, outfielder Johnny Damon to the Mariners in exchange for pitcher Freddy Garcia and minor league starter Cha Seung Baek.

If the Red Sox could get the Mariners to bite, Garcia would then be shipped to Kansas City, with outfielder Carlos Beltran going to Boston.

And this helps Seattle how, exactly? You know things are bad when the local papers start talking up rumors of trades that erode a team's value.

So, Billy, What Does Work In The Playoffs?

A good article in Hardball Times about what works in the playoffs. Two things: teams that strike out a lot don't make it, but teams that successfully steal a lot do. Bad news for the 2004 Angels, as they seem to be whiffing at a record pace.

Timmy At Rancho For Rehab

Tim Salmon will appear starting tonight at Rancho Cucamonga for a rehab assignment. Come on down, Timmy, we could sure use the help.


Every now and then I like to taunt the jackasses of the sporting press, such as they may be, about their obvious idiocy and failure to pay attention, dammit. One such came across the transom from one column by "JT the Brick":
McCourt was accused of only being interested in the real estate value of Dodger Stadium in L.A. and Dodger Town in Florida. He got ripped for hiring a young general manager in Paul De Podesta, who had experience in finding undervalued and unwanted talent that other teams were willing to dump. Sports talk radio hosts would base their shows around making fun of McCourt and the future of the 2004 Dodgers.
Well, we can't help guys like Plaschke who go off half-cocked. So far, hiring DePodesta has looked like an eminently sensible move, a rarity for Frank-n-Jamie, but fair's fair, and we here at 6-4-2 have to grudgingly accept the good with the bad, even if it comes from an veteran knucklehead. That is, it's hard to be anything less than grateful when he takes the advice of we lowly bloggers seriously (i.e., shut up, Frank).
And surprise, surprise, the Dodgers began Thursday with the best record in baseball (22-10) and won six games in a row.
Well, gee, after playing 33 games, I guess we can all go home now and declare the Dodgers world champeens, can't we? I mean, really now. Let's see just how much money Frank has in the 2004/2005 offseason, and whether they sign Gagné and Beltre. Jon might not think so, but it's still a real possibility that Beltre is a goner after this season. Debt service is a bitch, yanowaddimean?
Once washed-up pitcher Wilson Alvarez looks like he has found his old form. [Gee, he was that way last year, too, remember?] Adrian Beltre is batting .377 and will make the all-star team along with Paul Lo Duca, who is batting .386 while compiling 42 hits. Kazuhisa Ishii has already won five games and Eric Gagne has 10 saves and looks more dominant than last season.
Wilson was that way last year. Paulie's a well-known first-half performer. And which Gagné have you been watching? The one who had a strikeout rate lower than OP's two weeks into the season?
I applaud Frank McCourt for buying the Dodgers while other local real estate developers and movie stars held on to their money and criticized him behind closed doors. The sports media in L.A. doesn't have enough money combined to buy season tickets to the Dodgers let alone pick up the tab while the apologizing to Mr. and Mrs. McCourt in public.
Look, Jack, Eli Broad made a good faith bid long before Frank even was able to spell "Dodgers", but Fox turned him down -- remember? And the jury's still out -- in fact, they're taking an extended lunch break -- on the question of whether McCourt is anything like a good owner. Skepticism is the name of the game around here. A winning start doesn't mean he -- or the team -- can keep this up indefinitely. What happens if they swoon in September -- again?

We'll have to wait and see.

But none of that makes Frank a good owner.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Mr. Small Sample Size Presents: Angels vs Yankees!

And now, Mr. Small Sample Size presents the Angels' stats against the Yankees:
C FigginsOF31425300080000.357.571.357
C Kotchman1B31315100460000.385.462.385
V GuerreroOF31265101392310.500.750.417
J DaVanonOF31144200163310.500.545.364
A Kennedy2B31123101170210.273.636.273
D EcksteinSS2900000000200.000.000.000
S Halter3B3902000120400.222.222.222
J GuillenOF28441025111000.5561.375.500
B MolinaC3811001341100.200.500.125
A AmezagaSS3710000000100.000.000.000
T Glaus3B1511001240201.200.800.200
J MolinaC1400000000300.000.000.000
We lost the series, kids, but face it: these are some damn respectable offensive numbers. If anything, this series showed just how much we missed Donnelly in the bullpen. With the big D in there, we would be walking out of this series with a win, by virtue of cleaning up on the first game. How many times did the bullpen choke in that game, three times? Sheesh.

OT: My Favorite Teacher

First off, I should say that, as I've aged, I've waxed increasingly skeptical of education's machinery. Too much of it is cant, duckspeak designed to fool a blinkered audience. When you see "My Child Is An Excellent Student At Nosebleed Elementary" bumperstickers on the back of every third car, you begin to suspect that the paeans aren't all that meaningful, and the mind inexorably begins to extrapolate that through high school and thence to college, the rubber stamp of academia. For years, I've suspected that the value of a college education in practical terms is in steep decline. When I was in college, back in the middle 80's, the problems were already apparent to anyone pursuing a liberal arts degree. Those of us in the hard sciences, and especially, engineering programs at the time were pretty smug, because the leap up in salary was enormous. Now, it's brother-can-you-spare-a-dime time for even Eta Kappa Nu types in the US, as literally hundreds of thousands of tech jobs have moved offshore. It seems there's little practical reason anymore to get into any of the technical or hard science degree programs. The market has spoken, and it wants Americans to be greeters at Wal-Mart.

Once upon a time when I wasn't so bitter about my future employment prospects should my present situation collapse, I was contemplating pursuing a straight computer science degree, simply because of the math requirements in the engineering programs. (You shouldn't read too much into this: the degree program really consists of four years of programming tricks, while navigating the tedious seas of Turing machines.) But something happened along the way that changed my mind. That something, or someone, was Kevin Shannon, then -- as now, apparently -- of Orange Coast College. I had him for precalculus, a subject I never got to in high school, victim of a series of horrible instructors there. He's the first and only math prof I have ever had who could make that light come on in my head. And now, he's received a $15,000 award for being so good.

Shannon is going to use his $15,000 to help his son go to college.

"He's 10, and he wants to be a pediatrician, so I think that will pay for about a year," said Shannon, a math teacher at Orange Coast College.

Shannon thought he was being interviewed as a finalist for teacher of the year. But when he showed up at the County Department of Education offices, he found out he had been tricked.

He was the winner.

Shannon said it must have been his students who got him over the top. "My students appreciate what I do, and they wrote letters of recommendation," he said.

Shannon's own essay helped as well.

"The value of a diamond is determined by the four Cs - cut, clarity, color and carat," he wrote. "A college education is more valuable than diamonds. In my educational philosophy, the four Cs of college teaching are connection, content, clarity and conduct. When any of these elements is missing, education loses its value."

OCC President Gene Farrell showed up to support Shannon.

"He's fun to watch teach," Farrell said. "He's so passionate about teaching. And he looks way too young to be at our school for 27 years."

Over my career, I got more out of his instruction than that pleasant but relatively small amount: I changed majors (to an Engineering program, despite the math, no longer deathly afeared of it). When I was at OCC, he was still the surfer dude fresh from UCSB, full of tales of days spent at the beach while "rotating right circular cylinders about the axis of the thumb" -- i.e., hoisting a few cans of Tecate. I wish him well, and hope he continues to help others the way he helped me. Thanks, Mr. Shannon.

Kevin Shannon, A Good Guy And A Great Teacher

Eat This! Angels 11, Yankees 2

I'm getting this out of the way now so I don't lose some vital organ later tonight: Glaus won't play for days and might end up on the DL. At this rate, it won't be the Anaheim Angels, it'll be the Anaheim Travelers. I had a feeling there was something bad happening if Glaus had to stay in the DL role for days and days. I hope Arte's enjoying the wins, 'cause Guillen's an injury magnet, man, and once he stops hitting, the rest of this team is awfully shaky.

I can't agree with Richard that Jeff could be a star, but he's a solid fourth OF for any team. The problem is when you have to rely on such guys. Between him and Figgins, neither of them take particularly good routes to the ball, and while Cinderella doesn't need to know such stuff, they do. It was especially evident last night. Nor can I go in with him on the Halter-bashing just yet, though you have to wonder just how long the team can go on with all these sub-.250 players. Hey, at least Mike benched Eckstein. It was way overdue.

Anyway, Kotch's base-clearing double was fantastic. He went 2-5 on the day, and is now hitting .250 against the fargin' Yanks. The Yankees, man. Weber, my on-again, off-again bête noir, managed a scoreless inning. Ortiz kinda redeemed himself in a teensy tiny way by closing the game out with a goose egg.


Update: Strike that about Kotch. Most of his AB's have come against the Yanks, but in fact, Mr. Small Sample Size says he's batting .333 against them so far. Hi!

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Cora's Groundhog Day At Bat: Dodgers 4, Cubs 0

Free: One win, to a National League team. Recipient must have enough hitting to get on base. Donor to provide poor fielding by pitcher, listless hitting with multiple strikeouts. Free delivery.

Man, the Cubs are givin' 'em away. Helen thought Chicago seemed lifeless on the field, possibly in reaction to the news that Kerry Wood will miss at least one start. Their bats certainly didn't have any pop, as they never advanced a runner beyond second base the whole night, and ended the night with nine strikeouts. Clement had good stuff, but -- in the most bizarre inning I've seen recently -- gave up every kind of weirdo infield hit imagineable. Alvarez singled to center, then --

Five consecutive singles. That'll wear you out just watching it, so imagine how tired it must have made Clement. He threw 25 pitches and gave up five singles. Whew.

And in the seventh, Cora's phenominal Groundhog Day at bat. Every pitch, for fourteen pitches, fouled off. I don't think I've ever seen anything like it. Spiezio's in the World Series seemed long, but nothing like this. New Dodger blogger On the DL (and hello to you, too, Dan!) breaks down the at bat. Helen told me at pitch 17, "He's fouled that one off to left. He's made an adjustment. He's ahead of him. He'll get a hit on the next pitch."

See ya.

A. Martinez in the postgame show said that baseball doesn't keep records on most pitches in a single at bat, but maybe they should. That was for the ages, man. And, as Helen reminds me, we have now seen both of Alex Cora's 2004 home runs, live.

Oh, yeah, and we finally got to meet Jon. And yes, we must do this again soon.


Beltre hopped around as usual after each at bat. Now we know why: he needs surgery to correct bone chips in his ankle he acquired last year. Great.

New Blog: "Haloville"

Welcome to fellow Angels blogger Jim Scully (now there's a name -- no relation to Vin, I imagine) and his new blog, Haloville.

Ishii's Gift To Me

Who would you rather have on the mound, Ishii or Wilson Alvarez? Dodger fans will rejoice -- and Cub fans grimace -- to learn that Ishii has been moved in the rotation due to a minor injury.
Manager Jim Tracy said Ishii experienced soreness where the cartilage attaches to the sternum after his last start Thursday night in Miami. The injury affected his between-starts throwing.

"He's feeling terrific now," said Tracy. "Rather than run him out there, we'll give him extra days and still have two left-handed starting pitchers against the Reds."

Ishii's really come into his own this year, albeit via the nervewracking conversion to an extreme flyball pitcher. His flyball/groundout rate is now .75, the lowest it's been in his career. If you're headed that direction, Dodger Stadium is one of the few places you can get away with it.

We'll be at the game tonight, so it should be a real treat to see Wilson in action. I make no secret that I love his comeback from the career grave of Tampa Bay and chronic injuries. He's a tough guy and a real trouper. But it's no knock on Ishii: I was lucky enough to attend Ishii's best game in the majors, me and my magic tickets. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

The Race To The Bottom

Eckstein is now four 0-4 games away from crossing the Mendoza line. That is to say, he could easily get there before this road trip is over. He's had three consecutive 0-fer games, two of them against weak teams. If he continues to hit at the rate he has over the last week (.120), he'll cross the Mendoza line in ten more 4-at-bat games, which would mean the Saturday May 22nd game against Baltimore, or earlier if he gets more at bats, later if he has a two-fer game somewhere. Regardless, Eckstein is in a profound slump. We can't afford for him to be an automatic out at the top of the order, not against the Yankees and O's. Changes are needed, now.

Dodgers 7, Cubs 3

Some games you win because the opposing team hands them to you. That was yesterday's game, which I watched, for a change, via WGN, because of the wife, doncha know. Weaver hung a mess of breaking stuff, but the Cubs failed to take advantage. Moreover, Weaver struck out a mess of Cubs in his best performance in that important ability thus far this year. His K/9 has returned to a very respectable and almost dangerous 7.25. It's also his best single-game strikeout performance to date. The long-predicted return of Jeff Weaver might just be here. It's fragile, and like spring flowers, brief, but I'll take it while it lasts.

Meantime, Dodger hitting didn't slow down, getting 15 hits on the night. Even Jason Grabowski's bat came to life, going 2-4 with a two-run homer -- yes, you read that right -- off a shaky and apparently injured Kerry Wood. Cora went 3-4 on the night and now seems to be challenging Izturis' hold on the leadoff spot in Roberts' absence. Of course, all this is against a Cubs relief corps badly ravaged by injury: Remlinger is still on the DL, and clearly Glendon Rusch is not the kind of guy you want to throw in the game for three innings. We didn't go down the Duaner and need to call in Gagné, but it's obvious to those who might have thought this would be "the first real test" of the team versus good opposition that this was not the case; the Dodgers had already taken a series from the Marlins on the road. Is that good enough, with a weak Central Division, no clear winner in the West, and a weakened NL East? Tinkerbell sightings grow increasingly common in Chavez Ravine, I'm told.

Finally, one item of extreme concern: nearly every at bat, Beltre hopped out of the batter's box after each swing. His ankle is killing him, and he needs to sit some. He absolutely did not need to be hitting in such a lopsided game; they could have and should have pulled him out by the fifth, when the score was 7-1.


Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Yankees 8, Angels 7

Top 3rd

Came into this one late -- sue me.

Is there any acceptable excuse for two consecutive stupid baserunning errors? First, Figgins is sent home on a grounder to second, and then Glaus decides he can steal a base with the Human Walk Machine at the plate? Troy, you are paid for many things, but stealing bases is not one of them.

Bottom 3rd

What is up with the Yanks that the stands aren't filled? Oh, yeah, forgot, different coast thing. The Angels aren't a good team, or at least, not the Red Sox. Whatever.

Escobar gives up two consecutive walks, which Jeter and Payrod translate into runs. Damn, they're hitting him hard. Finally Escobar gets out of the inning, Angels 3, Yankees 2.

Top 4th

I'm wiping my eyes -- Jeffy actually hit something? On a 1-0 count? And a double? You've gotta be kidding me. Kotch, you don't have to drive everything into the bullpen to be effective. Ease up a bit, pal. I mean, it's not like I don't want to see something like...
Fizz: 3-2 count, Figgins on second... Brown throws from the stretch, and Kotchman rips it to deep left field! Matsui goes back, way back, and it's gone! And the Angels take the lead, 6-3!

Hud: Wow! That's his first major league hit! And how great is it to get it at Yankee Stadium? And now the Yanks have a taste of what a real prospect looks like!

In short, something like that moment in Aliens where Cpl. Hicks fires a shotgun blast into the mouth of one of the bitey guys ("Here! Eat this!"). But no. There'll be plenty of time for that. For now, all you have to be is better than Erstad.

But thank God Guillen's not in the lineup. With that slick grass in the outfield, one of his legs would fall off, but knowing José, he'd tell the Times he'd be ready to go next Tuesday. ("Merely a flesh wound!")

Freaking stupid rain delay. ... Must ... kill ... Elimidate producers ...

Okay, we're that desperate... time to tune in the Braves/Cards game. My God, the Braves have horrible announcers.

Bottom 5th

Gregg. We knew it had to end some time, and the Yankees were probably the team it had to end against, wasn't it? And now stupid Gameday Audio decides it's not going to work anymore. Jerks. Handing a K to Jason Giambi doesn't make up for the subsequent walk of Sheffield, nor for the two runs before that. Sheesh.

Thank God for Hideki Matsui. Angels 4, Yankees 4.

Top 6th

Vlad -- singles hitter no more. Dude, you rock.

Top 7th

Raise your hand: does the Brown-Quantrill slide seem vaguely familiar? Anyone? Anyone?

Bottom 8th

I can't bear it. Frankie has his B stuff on the mound today. He's not putting away the Yanks. The bench is exhausted, and the starters are mostly on the DL. Great timing. Frankie's coughed up the go-ahead runs, Angels 6, Yankees 5. Pthppt.

Top 9th

Rivera. Gagné he ain't, but he'll do, against DaVanon, Kotchman, and Molina. At least Jeffy has a nice at bat against him.

"In a year that has been so improbable..." Well, Guillen doesn't get to do his Gibson impression just yet. But Benjie does something very like it. And Kotch gets his first big-league hit, against Rivera, no less.

Bottom 9th

Ye gods, it's late over there -- nearly 1:00 AM. And Percy can't do it. Somebody sit him down, he can't handle the closer's job anymore, at least, not in tight situations. Was that not predictable? God, this game is painful to watch. You just know the Yanks are gonna win it.

Bottom 10th

And they do. Scioscia, please take a memo: The end.


Followup: The Yanks gave away tickets to September games to the remaining 3,000 or so in the stands who saw the last out. Say what you want about Steinbrenner, that was a classy move.

Angels Injury Notes

Some notes on Angels injury status: Frell, frell, frell, frelling frell.

Bucs Activate Daryle "Krispy Kreme" Ward To Replace Mondesi

Okay, I'm getting a giggle out of this: the Pirates have activated OF Daryle Ward to replace Raul Mondesi, who has abandoned his contract. Yet, he seems to be doing okay in the Pirates' minor leagues, hitting .306 with 6 HRs. Good for him, and here's hoping he resurrects his career having taken a long stare at it ending.

And You Kids Better Pay For That Window!

Abner Doubleday almost certainly did not invent -- or even codify -- a primitive version of baseball's rules in 1839, as is commonly told, but he probably did manage to popularize it. The latest incarnation of the game's origins comes to us via the AP wire, and now Pittsfield, MA lays claim to the venerable game:
PITTSFIELD, Mass. - City officials and historians released a document Tuesday that they say shows baseball was being played in Pittsfield in the late 1700s, long before legend credits Abner Doubleday with drawing up the rules of the game.

The evidence comes in a 1791 by-law to protect the windows in Pittsfield's new meeting house by banning anyone from playing baseball within 80 yards of the building.

"It's clear that not only was baseball played here in 1791, but it was rampant," said historian John Thorn, who was researching the origins of baseball when he found a reference to the law in an 1869 book on Pittsfield's history. "It was rampant enough to have an ordinance against it."

"Pittsfield is baseball's Garden of Eden," Mayor James Ruberto said.

Now, the only question is, did the snake enter the Garden before or after the designated hitter rule? And is it true that Scott Boras tempted Jered Weaver with a $12 million apple?

Monday, May 10, 2004

Buh Bye, Haloscan

6-4-2 is now live with Blogger comments. Eventually I may do something about resurrecting the old comments, but this will be better for a couple reasons: Enjoy, all.

Guillen Update

Thanks to Stephen Smith for this one, given here by the AP:
Anaheim Angels outfielder Jose Guillen's sprained right knee and ankle was re-examined by team trainers Monday, and remained listed as day to day.

The team didn't order any further diagnostic tests, possibly indicating that the injury wasn't as serious as originally feared.

Not a bullet dodged yet, but a positive sign. He could be out for a while.

The Ugliness of Youth

My father-in-law says baby birds are the ugliest thing on earth. No feathers and all skin, they can't really fly, and they're completely at the mercy of anything coming into the nest to crush them. Here in Arkansas, all it takes to get a decent picture of something like that is a camera, a ladder, and sufficient patience:

So, yeah, Casey Kotchman, who yesterday went 0-3 with a sacrifice fly RBI gets to go through the gristmill of the Yanks and Orioles this week.

I'm not even sure this is remotely fair. On the other hand, you asked for it, kid. I sure hope he does better than 2-24 or something equally horrible. But I'm preparing for the worst.

Ken You Dig This?

A couple tidbits from Ken Rosenthal's blog:
The Angels began the week 14-3 when their super utilityman Chone Figgins started at shortstop or center field. Figgins is only 5-7 and 160 pounds, but he had batted third seven times and even started three times at third base, forming a diminutive left side of the infield with David Eckstein, who is 5-7, 165. By contrast, Cardinals 3B Scott Rolen is 6-4, 240, and St. Louis SS Edgar Renteria is 6-1, 200. . . .

The June draft might be the weakest ever, according to a veteran scout. Two potential top-five draft picks, Long Beach State RHP Jered Weaver and Florida State SS Stephen Drew, will be represented by agent Scott Boras, and talk already is circulating that Weaver, the younger brother of Dodgers RHP Jeff Weaver, will demand a bonus between $10 million and $12 million if the Padres make him the No. 1 pick. The Padres also will consider Drew (the younger brother of J.D.) and Rice RHP Jeff Niemann. But Drew wouldn't be a fit unless he moved to the outfield. Padres SS Khalil Greene is a Rookie of the Year candidate and Class AAA 2B Josh Barfield is the organization's top prospect. . . .

Weaver might fall a couple positions if he's asking for that kind of money. The Dodgers could pick him up, and Arte's got some cash, I understand...

Scioscia: Kotchman To Get "Significant ... Playing Time"

Quoth the Times:
Although the Angels also have Robb Quinlan and Shane Halter available at first base, Scioscia said Kotchman would get "a significant amount of playing time." Stoneman said he did not rule out the possibility that Kotchman could play well enough to stay in the major leagues once the Angels' injury wave abates.

"We don't have a timetable on him being here," Stoneman said. "When people get opportunities, we want them to make the most of them."

Looks like they're going to let Casey show them why he shouldn't be in the lineup rather than the other way around. Welcome to the Bronx, rook. And going against the Yankees: Kelvim Escobar, a pitcher the Yanks have good experience with, versus their new ace, ex-Dodger Kevin "Captain Happy" Brown.

(Aside: I remember reading in the Post when the Brown-for-Weaver deal went down that "Brown has functioned as an ace for the Dodgers", as if he were somehow fire-damaged goods. When healthy, he's a fine starter. How do you like your pitching staff now, Yankees?)

"Casey Kotchman is well beyond what his experience might indicate. "
   -- Mike Scioscia, on his new first baseman, called up from Double-A Arkansas Saturday night.
Let's hope so.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Donnelly Quits Rehab After Throwing Eight Pitches

From the Angels Fan Forum, Stephen Smith says Donnelly walked away from his rehab assignment after throwing eight pitches, with no reason given. The box score from that game indicates Donnelly threw 1/3 inning with no earned runs.

Does it ever end?

Update: Reader Anthony forwards this story from the Tacoma News-Tribune:

On the mound: Salt Lake's Chris Bootcheck was a hard-luck loser in the early game, giving up one run on three hits over six innings. In the second game, Brendan Donnelly appeared on rehabilitation assignment from Anaheim. He threw one pitch before being visited by the Salt Lake trainer and coaches. He remained in the game, walked Jamal Strong, threw a couple of pitches to Mickey Lopez, and then walked off the mound and to the clubhouse. Donnelly was on rehab after complications from a nose injury this spring, but he explained later that he removed himself after feeling discomfort in his elbow [emphasis mine].
Elbow. Oh, Lord.

Die, Devil Rays, Die: Part 2, The Revenge

Richard from Pearly Gates kindly delivered the link to the St. Petersburg Times story on the Romano fumble. Since I'm not sure I'll have Haloscan comments around here much longer, it behooves me to include this:
CHICAGO - The Devil Rays have made some good acquisitions, picking up Julio Lugo when the Astros didn't want him, grabbing Paul Abbott before a market developed, trading for Tino Martinez at a huge discount.

But the Jason Romano transaction was a bad deal.

The trade was made on the recommendation of a Rays senior scout, major-league consultant Syd Thrift, a former GM, expecting the former Hillsborough High star to provide depth at second base and shortstop.

The problem was Romano hadn't played the infield since the 2003 season and was no longer comfortable doing so. Rays officials knew something was wrong when they saw Romano's quotes in the local papers about not having taken ground balls in a year.

Whether Thrift thought he saw Romano play infield this spring, as he told Rays officials, or whether he just thought Romano could play the infield, as he claimed the other day, it was bad information.

Romano said as much Friday when he joined the Reds, who made it a total loss for the Rays by claiming him on waivers.

"They were looking for a middle infielder," Romano told Cincinnati writers. "They thought they saw me play infield in spring training, but I didn't play any in spring training. When I got there they saw I was more of an outfielder, and they've got a pretty good young outfield out there, so it wasn't really a good fit."

And they only found that out after they traded a promising infield prospect for him? I'm sorry, but an organization so badly run that their sole reason for being is to guarantee the rest of the teams in their division a dozen wins annually -- each -- is just wrong. They need to be contracted. This isn't just a mercy killing, it's about evening the odds for everyone in the AL West. Dammit, if we don't get any slack, neither should the Yankees.

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