Saturday, October 11, 2008

What To Do - John Lackey

Another in the series I'm stealing from the Rev.

So, Lackey. As big a no brainer as we'll find. He has an option for 2009. Pick it up and extend him for as long as you can. All pitchers are injury risks. Lackey's injury in 2008 was his first. He's a critical piece of the Angels' future, and he needs a long term deal. I'm thinking five to seven years.

Look, this is Chuck Finley we're talking about. An Angels lifer for this generation. He needs to be wearing the haloed A as long he can be effective. I can't imagine him leaving anytime soon.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

What to Do - Mark Teixeira

Third in the ongoing theft of idea's from the Rev.

So, what to do with Teixeira?

Sign him. Next question.

In all seriousness, I say something around 7-8 years, up to roughly 22 million per, depending on how crazy the market gets. Remember that the idea behind not spending too much is that you can use that money on, say, two good players. But if the market goes nuts and the two guys you could get for $11MM each now cost $15MM each, then you have to go higher for the premium players like Teixeira. If the Yankees just blow everyone out of the water, which seems to be the indication, then there's not much you can do except try to bid them up and make them pay more than the want to.

I can't see him signing in the exclusivity window. There's just too much market uncertainty to sign at a comparable number from last year. I think he's got to test the market and see how it shakes out. I'd put the odds on him coming back to Anaheim around 6-1. I'm not optimistic.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

What To Do - Jon Garland

Part two in the series I'm shamelessly stealing from the Rev.

Another toughie, in that there's no obvious replacement in the organization. There are candidates, but none are particularly trustworthy in a fifth starter role. I'm not Steve Green is ready for a regular rotation spot. I'm more sure that Nick Adenhart isn't ready. I'm not sure Dustin Moseley will ever be ready. All three are potential sixth starters, but none jump out at me as rotation regulars at this point. Escobar looks like a mid-season bullpen guy at this point.

Not having a capable replacement in line presents a problem for a pitcher like Garland. I'm not sure the market knows what he worth, though I suspect it's not the $12MM he earned last year. So let's say they re-sign him at $7MM per, maybe $8MM. That takes them out of the market for C.C. Sabathia, unless they're willing to sign both and deal with it later. But there's no guarantee they end up with C.C. or even a solid middle rotation starter in free agency. If you wait to see what you can get on the market, you may end up waiting too long, at which point even Garland is gone.

I think the prudent thing to do is offer him arbitration (to preserve the compensation). Then they make a run at a front line starter. If they land one, they don't re-sign Garland and hope he doesn't accept arbitration. If they don't, they re-up with Garland for a short term deal. If they fail to land a good starter AND Garland leaves, they go after a Garland comparable, or try to land one via trade.

Key point about arbitration, awards are for one year contracts. Worse case scenario, they sign a guy like Sabathia, and Garland accept arbitration. In that case, the Garland deal is only one year, and the Angels go into spring with six starters. Someone's likely to get hurt (remember when Santana and Saunders were battling for one rotation spot?), or you deal Weaver or Saunders for a big bat. I don't want to see either of those guys traded, but I'd do it for the right return.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

New Feature!!! I'm Stealing the "What To Do" Series From Mat

The Rev's new deal at Halos Heaven, at least for a little while, is "What To Do With..." I love concept, but I don't like the idea of answering in a simple comment, so I'm going to leave my responses, trackbacks if you will, right here on my own blog.

So, Mat starts with.......Garret Anderson!

Can't say he's making it too easy right out of the gate. There's a lot of emotion involved in this one. G.A. is the last link to the 1995 collapse. He's a world champ. He's a lifer. And unfortunately, I think he's done.

So here's the layout. He has an option for 2009 at $14MM. The Angels can also buy him out for $3MM and make him a free agent. I think step 1 is to exercise the buy out. Even if they re-sign him, they save some money.

They need to be straight with Garret. The Angels have a full time DH in Vladimir Guerrero. They have a center fielder in Torii Hunter. And right now, I'm going to say they (ugh) keep Gary Matthews and re-sign Juan Rivera to give them three outfielders. Another thing to keep in mind (but we have yet to cross that bridge...) both Chone Figgins and Sean Rodriguez can play in outfield. Wood at third, and an outfield of Rivera, Hunter, and Figgins would work for me. That requires re-signing Rivera and Figgins, of course.

But ultimately, I think they need to be straight with Garret and let him know that they'd like to have him around, but not at his current salary. Let him test the market. If someone wants to make him an everyday player, then let him go that route. If he can't find a taker, then they go the Salmon route. Invite him to Spring Training. Let him earn a job. If he deserves it, he's back with incentives. If other guys outplay him, release him and let him sign with someone who will give him at bats.

I love G.A. I love everything he did for this franchise. He drove in the runs that provided the Angels with their only World Series. And it won't be easy to see him playing for another team, though it will be easy to root for him. It's a tough decision, and a brutal way to start this series, but I think they need to buy him out and let the chips fall where they may.

Teixeira and the post-season.

Alright, let's deal with this. In a comment to a previous post, Rob writes:
And why the kid gloves with Teixeira, anyway? No extra-base hits from him in the postseason. Sure, he was on base a ton, but so what? He's supposed to be in the hitting-the-ball-hard part of the lineup, and to say he disappointed was an understatement.
Teixeira came to the plate 20 times in the post-season, and made only 9 outs. He finished the series with a line of 467/550/467. It's completely fair to point out that he didn't deliver an extra base hit. But the fact is that he still put up a 1.017 OPS for the series, by far the best on the team. In addition, he played stellar defense at first base.

In short, he was the Angels' best player in the series. Calling him a disappointment is not only inaccurate, it's unfair. It would be like criticizing a starting pitcher for holding the other team scoreless in his starts, but not pitching deep enough into games. Yes, you want the innings, but more importantly you don't want the other team to score. Do I want want doubles and homers from Teixeira? Absolutely, but first and foremost, I want him to not make outs. And if a guy doesn't make many outs in a four game series, I'm not going to get on him for failing to hit homers and doubles.

But what jumps out at me is the "blame the best player" mentality. There are a number of reasons the Angels failed again in this post-season. Blaming it on the guy who was one of your top two position players, if not number one, seems like a poor read of the situation. In close games, you can blame every player who didn't hit a homer every time up if you really want to. If anything, complain about the timing of the singles. None of them came with runners in scoring position (five plate appearances), and his lone RBI was a sac fly. But again, the Angels have highly paid players who failed more often in those situations. His defense, in my opinion, easily made up for his minor offensive shortcomings.

I'm not optimistic about his return the Angels. I haven't been since the trade. I hope he comes back. But based on the way his teammates seem to react to post-season baseball, I can't blame him if he heads for what he sees as greener pastures.

On the Bright Side

The Kings' season starts this weekend, and I KNOW that they won't disappoint me in the playoffs.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Another Failure

It's getting pretty old. Everyone who wears Angels red for these games thinks they can win, with the exception of the 25 guys wearing it on the field. They play afraid. They play like they think they don't deserve to be there. They are truly not ready for prime time. And they've done it for four consecutive post-seasons. It really makes 2002 that much more unbelievable.

Clearly Howie Kendrick will go down as the goat, and it was such an otherwordly awful post-season for him that I really have no idea how he'll react. Almost everything he did hurt the team. John Lackey was as good as he could have possibly been, but the offense just cashed it in. Almost no timely hits in the whole series. No power, with the exception of Mike Napoli in game three. And I'm talking extra base power, not just home runs. They played like they didn't believe they could win, and they deserved to lose.

Right now I don't really care about 2009. This team is absolutely deflating to root for. I really like Mark Teixeira, but I hope for his sake he goes to a team that can compete in October, because he didn't finish the season with one. So long, Frankie. Thanks for all you did you for the Angels, and good luck wherever you land. That goes for you too, Garret. For so many years I lamented the Angels' inability to make the playoffs. I'm finding that repeated failure in which they don't even put forth a professional effort is even worse.

Go Phillies, and Go Rays. I hope they take down the two piece of shit franchises remaining

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Game 3 notes

It's over. For the first time since I was 13, the Angels have beaten the Red Sox in a playoff game. And it just dawned on me while typing this that I was at the game. Game 4 in 1986, my friend and I were sitting in Jim Fregosi's season seats. In his non-baseball life, he owned a food brokerage and did business with my day. My parents were sitting two rows from the top of the enclosed Big A in dead center field. Here's a few thoughts on tonight.
  • The umpiring in this series has been atrocious. I say that objectively, as it's been awful for both teams. Ed Rapuano has had a horrible series, blowing check swings in games 1 and 3, tonight to the Angels brief benefit, and Wednesday to their detriment. He blew the call on the pickoff at second in game two. Kerwin Danley's strike zone tonight was just awful. I'm pretty sure he had no idea where it was. And the Angels caught a huge break when Danley called an inside fastball to Napoli a ball. That same pitch was strike three to left handed hitting Jacoby Ellsbury just minutes before. Napoli followed with a single, and scored the winning run.
  • Speaking of catchers and 1986, the last time the Angels beat the Red Sox in the playoffs, a catcher scored the winning run in extra innings. Jerry Narron scored on Bobby Grich's single to left field to give the Angels a 3-1 series lead.
  • I've been pretty hard on Kendrick and Figgins, but both had good games tonight. They were a combined 4-12, and Kendrick put down a nice sac bunt to set up the winning run. Figgins made some great plays at third base late in the game. He snagged sharply hit balls by Dustin Pedroia and Alex Cora to preserve the win. Speaking of Howie...
  • I don't blame the play in short center entirely on him. He should have caught the ball, but Torii Hunter has to call that ball one way or another. He either has to take charge, or he has to let Howie know that it's Howie's ball. Still, what's done is done, and the play won't matter in the grand scheme of things.
  • Hunter deserves more blame for his ill-advised attempt to go for the double on his leadoff hit in the ninth. Slightly mitigating his decision is that the ball took what looked like a weird bounce off the wall. Fenway regulars may tell me I'm wrong, but it seems like balls over there usually hit that wall where it curves and bouce into short left, or hug that wall down toward the corner. If either of those things happen, Hunter probably makes it. But it took a very friendly bounce for Jason Bay. Still, that play was entirely ahead of Hunter, and he should have seen that he was toast.
  • That play also may have hurt the Angels defense. If Hunter had stayed at first, Reggie Willits would have remained in the game to sacrifice him to second. With no one on and one out, Kendry Morales was called in to hit before Gary Matthews took over in right field. He ended up making a couple of nice plays, but after what happened in game one, it was a risk.
  • Because of the late drama from Frankie Rodriguez and Jered Weaver, it might be forgotten that the middle of the Angels bullpen was lights out. Jose Arrendondo, Darren Oliver, and Scot Shields threw 4.1 innings of hitless ball, walking two and striking out six. Shields looked as dominant as he's ever looked, especially for a guy who works the corners with his two seamer, working to an umpire with an inconsistent strike zone. Arredondo was fantastic as well.
  • I hesitate to write this, but maybe the tide is turning. Everything was lined up for the Angels to lose this game. A bad ump, a closer who walks a lot of guys, Jered Weaver pitching in relief against a team that has hit him pretty hard, a tough task pitching to David Ortiz who has killed him... The list goes on. But they got a big break when Ellsbury overslid second base. They got a break on the strikeout of Ellsbury in the 11th. They broke an 11 game losing streak against the Sox in th playoffs. They broke a nine game post-season losing streaking, going back to 2005.
  • John Lester is a great pitcher, but the Angels have the man they want on the mound. Lackey is their horse, and you might as well go down with your best. They seem to be waking up a bit at the plate. There's certainly no reason to think they can't win tomorrow night. Aybar got a hit. Kendrick started to hit. Now we just need Teixeira to deliver an extra base hit.
  • Napoli looked bad against Lester's breaking ball in game one, but hit a curve ball out tonight. Lester's comes from the other side, but he looks like he's locking in.
  • Which player sees a fastball first tomorrow night, Napoli, or Jason Bay? I wouldn't be surprised if neither saw a fastball all night.
  • If it comes down to it tomorrow, bullpen usuage should interesting. The Red Sox probably have an advantage, as both Okijima and Masterson threw fewer than 20 pitches. Arredondo and Shields both threw 28. Both closers threw over 30, that Papelbon did it over two innings.
  • This game lasted five hours and 19 minutes. Last month I sat through 12 innings of an Angels v. White Sox game that took only three hours. The game lasted 15 innings (I just left after 12) and still only took four hours. One reason people hate the Red Sox? Their games last for goddamn ever.
I'm not going to pick a winner, but needless to say, if it's a repeat of tonight's game, I'll be substantially more nervous. Having essentially given up after game one, I was relatively calm tonight, which is to say I was a nervous wreck who could still watch the game. Should be fun.

Reason #973 that Red Sox fans are the biggest douchebags in sports fandom

They boo a Mike Napoli trip to the mound. Apprently only Jason Varitek is allowed to make 359 trips to the mound per game.

Major Leaguers

165 games, and they don't know how to catch a pop up.