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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Pickoff Moves, Morning Edition

The Wisdom Of Ichiro

Something Vlad could learn from:
"Ichiro has the same thought as [Angels left fielder] Garret Anderson. They can dive for balls or run into walls and could miss a bunch of games as a result. Do you want them for 160 games or so, or maybe only 120 games? You look at it that way and odd as you [think of it at first, but then] it makes sense."
... or maybe in the regular season but not in the postseason. Hat tip: BTF.

House Of Free Agent Horrors

An "I believe in Mary Worth" moment for Angels fans as Mike DiGiovanna speculates upon the upcoming changes in the Angels lineup:
Jarrod Washburn has almost certainly thrown his last pitch as an Angel ... and [Paul] Byrd, the veteran right-hander who solidified the No. 5 spot in the rotation, could leave via free agency as well.

The Angels will attempt to re-sign catcher Bengie Molina, a mainstay for six years, but they could be outbid by catching-hungry teams with deep pockets, such as the New York Mets, possibly forcing the Angels to turn to highly touted but untested prospect Jeff Mathis to handle their veteran pitching staff in 2006.

The Angels could look to trade for a proven run-producer, with Minnesota center fielder Torii Hunter, Boston left fielder Manny Ramirez and Florida first baseman Carlos Delgado possibly in their sights, or they may give Cuban slugger Kendry Morales a shot at a starting job. And they'll need to fill the bullpen void left by Escobar's return to the rotation.


For the first time in Stoneman's six years as GM, the Angels' top winter target will not be a starting pitcher. Bartolo Colon, John Lackey, Escobar and Ervin Santana will return in 2006, and if Byrd isn't back, the Angels have a talented pool of prospects — Joe Saunders, Jered Weaver, Chris Bootcheck — to fill out the rotation.


Stoneman said the payroll — about $97 million now — will "probably be a little higher" in 2006, but unless the Angels shed some salary in trades, there won't be a whole lot of flexibility. "Bill doesn't have endless resources," Scioscia said.


Scioscia and Stoneman said the team will attempt to secure Lackey, Rodriguez, Shields and Figgins to multi-year deals to avoid arbitration, and that could provide some payroll relief next season.

The return of power-hitting third baseman Dallas McPherson, who missed most of 2005 because of injury, could provide a boost to the offense, and Scioscia expects better production from left fielder Garret Anderson and Erstad, who "were banged up a lot more than people realized this year," Scioscia said.

DiGiovanna and Bill Shaikin further report Bengie Molina may be gone thanks to Jeff Mathis.
"Bengie will have a lot of suitors, and we'll be one of them," Scioscia said. "We hope something can be worked out, but free agency is a tricky thing."
Update: More from the Register:
Casey Kotchman, the first baseman who hit .302 in limited starts this season, is another young hitter who seems ready to play every day. But Darin Erstad still has a year left on his contract, and Scioscia said chances were "remote" Erstad will move back to the outfield.

Farmer John Now Sponsoring The Angels

Goodness, what's next? Vin Scully in the Angels' home broadcast booth? Apparently Farmer John has bought advertising on Angels broadcasts (see story above on Bengie Molina).
"We're a California company," said Jim Stockham, Farmer John director of marketing. "We want to be loyal to as many California teams as we can. We hope to be able to support the Angels long-term."

Dodgers Free Agents

Kelly Wunsch and Giovanni Carrara cleared waivers but refused minor league assignments, thus becoming free agents. "'I would absolutely have interest in re-signing each guy,' DePodesta said." The Dodgers are likely to trade or release Milton Bradley, and Jason Phillips, leaving Hee Seop Choi as the team's only arbitration-eligible player.

Most Angels fans don't like how Garrett Anderson dogs it out there. Vlad, if anything, is a little sloppy with reading and predicting the trajectory of the ball. From that, he gets hurt and takes too many chances.

Speaking of outfielders . . . maybe, uhm, Erstad learns to play second base? :( Or Kotchman becomes DH? I can't see how they can justify a .300 hitter on the bench. That's extremely misguided veteran loyalty.
Erstad at second? What about Kennedy?
I know I know. You know Angels have a thing for their place kicker. They just HAVE to start him somewhere. How about Erstad as catcher? :D
If Scioscia is too blinded by misguided loyalty to recognize that Erstad does not play over Kotchman in 2006 if the team is interested in putting its best lineup on the field, then Bill Stoneman MUST NOT allow him to have that opportunity. Even if it means eating most of the contract, Erstad should be thanked for his years of service and sent on his way, with an understanding that he will always be a member of the Angels family and that there will be some place for him in the organization when his playing days are over.

The current Angels administration seems to understand the importance of maintaining a team family (e.g., Troy Percival, an active player on another team, threw out the first pitch for ALDS Game 1). Erstad is a part of that. But the team also must make the tough decisions necessary to field the best team possible.

I have no doubt that Percy would have been the closer this year if he were still around, even if Frankie were the most qualified, but thankfully he wasn't brought back. There's gotta be a taker for Erstad somewhere.
<< There's gotta be a taker for Erstad somewhere. >>

I doubt there will be. Not for the kind of money the Angels are paying him. He's the worst hitting starter at either position.
I have no doubt that Percy would have been the closer this year if he were still around, even if Frankie were the most qualified, but thankfully he wasn't brought back.

Would it have mattered, though? Percival pitched all of 25 innings. K-Rod would have owned the job through injury or competence, take your pick.

There's gotta be a taker for Erstad somewhere.

Sure, but not in major league baseball.
Or to put it another way . .. Erstad is a defensive specialist. Almost every team in baseball would not start a defensive specialist at either center or 1st base unless he already had a decent bat.
But let me add that a healthy Erstad who worked on his swing all winter with a knowledgeable hitting coach, could certainly hit 300 or so.

Angels were a better bullpen this year without a healthy or unhealthy Percy. What really hurt the pen down the stretch was the lack of run production from the offense. Both the starting and bullpen staff pitched out of their minds all year to compensate for the lackluster hitting. Don't expect the same level of quality pitching next year.

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