Saturday, September 13, 2008

Congratulations Frankie

Let's be honest. The saves record isn't the most impressive record in baseball. It's incredibly team dependent, and as a measure of who is truly a great reliever, single season saves don't show you very much.

But, it's not every day you see records that have stood for more than 10 years get broken. This will not go down as Frankie's best season. This will not go down as the best relief season in history. Frankie has arguably not been the best reliever in baseball this year. But he is a very deserving holder of this record. Probably, when careers are accounted for, more deserving than Roger Maris was when he set the single season home run record.

Maris had three seasons with more than 30 home runs, and the only one with more than 40 was the record breaking year. He was a good hitter, a 127 career OPS+ is nothing to sneeze at. But without those 61 homers in a park that played easy for lefty sluggers, he's an afterthought in MLB history.

Frankie is still early in his career. He's only 26, but he has over 200 saves. He's been one of baseball's best relievers from the day he was called up into the big leagues. He's been one of baseball's best closers since he took over for Troy Percival four seasons ago. It's the type of record where you may pick out three or four guys who are deserving, and he's certainly in the picture.

There will be a lot of talk about Frankie this winter. My thoughts are fairly clear. I think that the closer role is somewhat overrated, but Frankie Rodriguez is unfairly maligned because of his status as a closer. Look around at how many relievers have been dominant over a similar stretch of time. Baseball is littered with reliever who looked great for a year or two at a time. Very few have done it year after year after year. You would be hard pressed to find four or five relievers who have been better than Frankie since he came into the league.

As for next year, you can argue all you want about opportunity costs. What position is the most valuable, and how important is it to go after a reliever when you have a first baseman and possibly another starter to sign. But the market, imperfect as it is, is the market, and Frankie will have a few teams willing to offer him what he wants. Personally, a 15MM per contract is simply a raise over what he's currently making (it's not 15MM over their current payroll), and they're financially successful enough to sign Teixeira and re-sign Frankie. He's on pace for another excellent season. He's added a pitch to his repertoire, and he's even starting to throw that change up against righthanders with success. And I have no doubt that he'll learn a splitter or cutter (or both) over the next five years. On top of that, he's an Angel lifer, and 10 more solid seasons makes him a nearly automatic hall of famer, and he'll go in with an Angels cap, something you currently can't find in the HOF.

So congratulations, Frankie. You've earned it. Now you can rest and get ready for the post-season.A

Friday, September 12, 2008

Mariners 4; Angels 7

Cross-posted at SoCal Sports Hub.

The Angels started the slow march to the post-season by continuing to rest a few regulars, while Jeff Weaver made his first trip to the mound since cutting his fingers in Detroit a couple weeks ago, but the results were the same as they've been all season as the Angels won yet again. The Angels used single runs in the third and fourth innings before breaking it open with a five run sixth, and held on for a 7-4 victory. Francisco Rodriguez earned his 57th save in the process, tying the record set by Bobby Thigpen.

Brandon Wood, Sean Rodriguez, and Kendry Morales each delivered three hits in the victory, and don't look now, but Wood is hitting .288 and slugging .519 since his recall, and is at 333/358/600 with three homers in his last 12 games. If he continues to get comfortable at the plate, he could very well send Erick Aybar to the bench in the playoffs, or at the very least give Mike Scioscia something to think about. Vlad Guerrero added an RBI single in the five run sixth inning, pushing his average to the .300 mark for the season. And just when it looked like the Angels would cruise to victory, Justin Speier and Scot Shields combined for one inning of relief, allowing four runs on six hits, creating a save situation for Rodriguez in the process. He responded by inducing a double play grounder from Ichiro,and eventually got Raul Ibanez to ground out to first to end the game.

Top Three Angels performers:

1) Jered Weaver rebounded from his injury to throw six shutout innings, allowing three hits, and three walks, while striking out three.

2) Garret Anderson pushed his average over .290 with two hits, and drove in three runs in the process.

3) Brandon Wood had an RBI single in the fourth, and a double in the sixth which helped kick start the rally.

Jeff Weaver of the game: Justin Speier has done everything possible to pitch himself off the post-season roster, and last night was no different. He didn't last an inning, and gave up three runs on four hits, including the 15th home run he's allowed this season.

What to look for tonight: I'd imagine that Mark Teixeira will be back on the field, but look for the Angels to continue to get guys ready for October. Joe Saunders, who was solid on Sunday in Chicago, takes the mound against Ryan Rowland-Smith. The Aussie is 2-1 in eight starts with a 3.91 ERA. His numbers look a little better when you include his relief appearances (4-2, 3.61 ERA).

Game time is 7:05 PST on FSN

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Cross posted at Socal Sports Hub.

Forty-two years into their history, the Angels had won the American League's Western Division a grand total of three times. They've since won it another four times in the last five years. This year, they clinched it earlier than anyone since 1971. Better yet, we may finally be getting to the point where we can put 1995 behind us.

Dustin Moseley, making his second start in place of an injured Jered Weaver, withstood a shaky start (he gave up two runs in the first inning) to last five strong innings, and left the game with a 4-2 lead. He was handed that lead courtesy of Robb Quinlan, who really picked up Juan Rivera and Kendry Morales in the fifth inning. The Angels loaded the bases with no one out on three straight single, the third being a shot by Vlad Guerrero that got to right field just fast enough to hold Gary Matthews to one base. Rivera and Morales responded to the opportunity by striking out looking. After fighting off some two strike pitches (amazing what happens when you swing), Quinlan laced a single to left center, scoring two. Xavier Nady's throw to third made it's way past Alex Rodriguez, allowing Vlad to score an insurance run.

From that point, the bullpen took over. Kevin Jepsen tossed a scoreless sixth, and the 7,8,9 combo of Jose Arrendondo, Scot Shields, and Frankie Rodriguez combined for nine outs, six of them via strikeout, allowing only three baserunners to seal the victory. The save, #56, puts Frankie one save away from Bobby Thigpen's record.

Top three Angel performers:

1) Dustin Moseley, filling in for Jered Weaver, gave the Angels five strong innings and stuck around long enough to pick up the win. He allowed six baserunners, and struck just as many out.

2) Robb Quinlan only had one hit, but it was huge, not only coming with the bases loaded, but also after the two previous hitters had gone down with the bat on their shoulder. The Angels needed one run to tie the game, and were about to come away with nothing. Quinlan got them two, and Nady threw in the third run for free.

3) Once again, I've got to give credit to the whole bullpen. Kevin Jepsen threw a solid sixth inning, and Jose Arredondo, Scot Shields, and Frankie Rodriguez showed everyone how a 7, 8, 9 combination is supposed to work. They combined for four innings, three baserunners, and seven strikeouts.

Jeff Weaver of the game: I'm going to go off script and select no one here. Even Juan Rivera, the only Angel without a hit, found a way to drive in a run. It was a solid team effort across the board.
What to look for tonight: Look for a lot of Angels regulars sitting in the dugout when the Mariners are at bat. Don't be surprised to Mike Scioscia starting a very young lineup with probably no more than five normal starters. Jered Weaver returns to the mound after missing a couple of starts with cuts on his fingers courtesy of the bullpen bench in Detroit.

Game Time is 7:05 PST, on FSN.