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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Pickoff Moves

Historian John Thorn On The Angels Naming Fiasco

Baseball historian John Thorn, who was recently asked to testify before the Superior Court in the Angels' naming case, had a bunch to say in today's Times:
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim appeared to be a new species of naming, not inadvertently redundant: the packing of a term with so much information that editors could be counted on to trim, with the cut coming from the end.

I ran through my whole list of rhetorical devices, from alliteration to zeugma, and could find nothing that quite fit the Moreno Stratagem. Oxymoron came close, but a subterranean level of common sense or humor is discernible in "jumbo shrimp" or "adult male" that is not evident in "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim."

And then I found it. Anesis: a figure of addition that occurs when a concluding sentence, clause or phrase is added to a statement that purposely diminishes the effect of what has been previously stated. A neat example of the device is the 1925 Rodgers and Hart lyric, "We'll have Manhattan … the Bronx and Staten Island too."

Does attaching a new city to a ball club that hasn't moved out of its old one confer a new reality upon it? Abraham Lincoln once was asked, "If we called a dog's tail a leg, how many legs would a dog have?" His reply: "Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg."

He may be in the right geographically, but monetarily and in terms of promotion, it's a fifth leg.

A's Sign Mark Ellis To Two Year, $6M Deal

The Oakland A's have signed second baseman Mark Ellis to a two-year, $6M deal. (MLB.com reports it having a third year club option.) Reaction at Athletics Nation seems to be positive.

Ken Rosenthal On Aybar And Callaspo

In his recent column:
A pair of switch-hitting middle-infield prospects — the Angels' Erick Aybar and Mets' Anderson Hernandez — made a strong impression while playing for Licey, champion of the Dominican winter league.

"They're both live-bodied guys," one scout says. "The more you watch them play, the more you see all the things they can do. Both have a chance to be pretty good big-league players."

Aybar, however, could be traded; the Angels are even higher on shortstop Brandon Wood and second baseman Howie Kendrick. ...

Move Aybar to center, trade Callaspo, let Wood/Kendrick be the DP combo in Triple A ... and then come 2007 all three make the big club, O-Cab's traded for whatever he can bring, Figgins is the new full-time CF, and Aybar is the new Figgins. That's no so hard, is it?
Of course, Matt's scenario assumes D-Mac settles in at 3b. If he flops, then Wood becomes the 3b of the future, with Aybar -- the superior defender by all accounts -- our SS of the future. Remember, Scoscia himself said that "the jury was still out" on D-Mac.
True. I just think it would be a waste to prematurely move a guy off SS if he plays at least decent defense and can hit 40 HRs, especially if the proposed SS isn't projected to be that much of a hitter.

Mac was much better on D last year than most people expected, and is going to have to stay in the field post-Erstad if he has any value. I don't doubt that he'll hit, unless his back/hips are chronic; and I take most Scioscia statements with a big grain of salt.
Anybody "could" be traded if the deal is right. It seems rather silly to insist that the Angels can only have one prospect at each position. What if Wood gets injured? If Aybar's been traded then the Angels are suddenly short at short.

Depth is good. Trade 'em if the deal is there to make the team better now and in the future. Otherwise, let nature take its course.
I agree depth is good, but not at the expense of blocking a great prospect's development. Kendrick and Wood, both Grade-A prospects, need to face AAA pitching this year, I believe (especially if Kendrick is going to replace Kennedy in 2007). That means Aybar and Callaspo need to play elsewhere, either a different position, or a different team.

If Wood/Kendrick start at AA, and are raking from the git-go, I'll be pissed if Aybar/Callaspo aren't moved to make room for 'em. And given that the Major League team desperately needs extra OF depth (and will even more once Figgins takes over CF in 2007 or earlier), I think moving Aybar to CF right now makes the most sense.
Matt, could you please explain what you mean by this --

Mac was much better on D last year than most people expected, and is going to have to stay in the field post-Erstad if he has any value.

Huh? I thought he was the 3B of the future. Is that now Brandon Wood's job to lose?
What I mean is, Mac's future is as a third baseman, even though he won't play it much this year, at least until Erstad gets hurt. And that because he belongs there, Wood shouldn't be moved prematurely to third. And that, if somehow he is too horrible defensively to play third base, he is going to have limited value on this team after this season, because we'll be stacked at DH. Three overlapping thoughts.
Nobody is being blocked. Dallas McPherson is the only one who's major-league ready, and he wouldn't even be an issue if it wasn't for last year's bone spur on his hip. (Makes you cringe just thinking about it ...) All the others are great prospects but until they master each level there's no reason to push everyone else out the airlock. Besides, there's something to be said for competition; if Wood wants the Triple-A job in spring training, he'll have to outplay Aybar. And vice-versa.
Lots of guys have monster years and then end up as a flash in the pan. Hopefully Wood will continue to impress, but there's no guarantee... I think that's why the Angels don't like to rush prospects. Assuming Wood can hit 40 HRs in the big leagues is a stretch.

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