Monday, March 16, 2009
Spring Training, Day 2: Angels 8, Giants 5
Today's game wasn't much different for Nick, as he gave up four runs in three and a third, against a mostly popgun Giants offense; if Benjie Molina is your cleanup hitter, something is dreadfully wrong. Nick's clearly got some more lessons to learn in AAA, and while he looked effective in the second and third, even Rich "It's Hard To Swing With This Fork In My Back" Aurilia clocked him for a double. In the first, he gave up a leadoff single to Eugenio Velez and compounded his problems by sailing a pickoff throw to second into center field.
Fortunately for the Angels, the Giants were even more inept; while starter Jeremy Affeldt gave up three runs, the problem, as last year, turned out to be the bullpen, which coughed up the winning (for the Angels) runs on reliever Merkin Valdez. The substitutions started in the fifth for both teams, and thanks to the Giants home park announcer, the absence of batting order along with defensive position changes made "now playing for" changes a matter of some cursing.
Reggie Willits looked pretty awful in his two at-bats, despite the fact that he actually pulled out a bunt hit. From being a chanted name a couple years back, he's become a barely-in-the-majors kind of guy; the tenuousness of his situation pulls at the heartstrings not quite as much as the desire to win does, and you pretty soon begin to envision him in a Pirates uniform or some such. This thought got doubled when I saw him badly botch Rich Aurilia's routine liner that should have been an out in the third. You get the impression he knows how short a leash he's on, and he's chafing.
The same, more or less, is true of Adam Pavkovich and Terry Evans, both of whom were late-innings subs. Ben Johnson, who came into the game in that wave of changes, along with Pavkovich took advantage of a series of errors and wild pitches by an unfortunately named Luis Perdomo. Perdomo was basically perdido on the mound and only managed a single out, a strikout of Robb Quinlan; he amplified Valdez' problems, allowing both inherited runners to score and giving up one of his own on Ben Johnson's RBI double.
Jose Arredondo pitched a strong 1-2-3 eighth, though he didn't strike anyone out. Outside of Jason Bulger's routine ninth, it was the only 1-2-3 outing in the game for the Angels.
I have taken virtually no photos in spring so far, and the main reason is the clumsiness of my big 100-400mm lens; it's heavy and long, making it difficult to navigate in crowded situations, which, increasingly, spring training games are. I got a newer, stubbier lens (100-300mm) which should alleviate that. We'll see how this works tomorrow at Camelback Ranch.
In Reggie's short career, he has 101 BBs, 107 runs and 33 SBs against 583 ABs. That still looks like premium leadoff material to me.
The truth is that he's effectively priced out of the outfield this season, but after Abreu's contract is up, and Figgins is on the market in the offseason, Willits could still be a cheap and reasonable leadoff alternative for 2010, playing in LF. At that point, Wood will either have panned out or he won't, and some other slugger will be at 3B.