Posts Tagged ‘Bobby Abreu’

Angels Add To Their Rotation, Sign Joel Pineiro

January 21, 2010

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are one of the best run organizations in baseball. From top to bottom, the Angels do things the right way. From the way they develop players to the way they treat their fans, the Angels are a first-class organization.

However, even the best organizations make mistakes.

When it comes to signing free agents, the Angels really haven’t been on top of their game over the last couple of years. Outside of the solid signings of Torii Hunter and Bobby Abreu, the Angels have made suspect signings like Justin Speier, Gary Matthews Jr., Brian Fuentes, and Fernando Rodney.

And now, the Angels have made another suspect signing.

Pineiro got a two-year deal from Anaheim

According to various sources, the Angels have signed RHP Joel Pineiro to a two-year, $16 million contract. Pineiro will undergo a physical today and the deal should be officially announced shortly.

As many of you know, I am not a fan of Pineiro. I believe he is just another Dave Duncan reclamation project. Here is what I wrote about Pineiro back in September:

“Ironically, Pineiro is looking for a contract similar to Lohse’s this offseason. We all know what is going to happen. Some idiotic team is going to give him a three-year, $28 million contract and guess what is going to happen?

In his first year Pineiro is going to go 9-12 with a 4.65 ERA and his contract is going to hamstring that team for the next three years. It’s inevitable.

That’s why if I was a GM, I would stay away from Pineiro in the offseason.

I don’t need to see advanced statistics or any other stats for that matter. I will just use the “eye test” on this one. And the eye test tells me, once a mediocre pitcher, always a mediocre pitcher.”

Now, I can’t completely kill the Angels on this deal because they only signed Pineiro to a two-year deal. A two-year deal is clearly not as bad as the three or four-year deal that I thought he might have gotten. But I just don’t see Pineiro having two successful years in Anaheim.

It’s amazing to me when pitchers and their agents can’t see where their bread is buttered. Pineiro is a National League pitcher and he had success last year pitching in the NL. So why go to the American League West?

It makes no sense.

This reminds me so much of what Jeff Weaver did after the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series in 2006. Weaver got a second life in the National League and with the Cardinals, but signed with the Seattle Mariners the following offseason.

Weaver was a disaster in Seattle and I think Pineiro is headed down that path.

What is amazing is that despite all of the Angels suspect moves and losses this offseason, I still think they have enough to win the AL West. The Angels are proving that no matter who they lose and who they bring in, they can win with what they have.

That’s why they are one of the best run organizations in baseball.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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Starting Nine: American League West

January 13, 2010

The next division up in our Starting Nine series is the American League West. This division has undergone the most change from top to bottom this offseason, so it will be interesting to see which lineup looks the best headed into the season.

Here are the starting lineups as presently constructed for the American League West:

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

1. Erick Aybar, SS

2. Bobby Abreu, RF

3. Torii Hunter, CF

4. Kendry Morales, 1B

5. Hideki Matsui, DH

6. Howie Kendrick, 2B

7. Juan Rivera, LF

8. Brandon Wood, 3B

9. Mike Napoli, C

Quick Take – This lineup will miss Chone Figgins at the top of the lineup to an expect, but despite the Angels’ losses, this lineup is still pretty deep. Any lineup that has Napoli batting ninth should be able to score some runs.

Seattle Mariners

1. Ichiro, RF

2. Chone Figgins, 3B

3. Milton Bradley, LF

4. Jose Lopez, 2B

5. Ken Griffey Jr. DH

6. Franklin Gutierrez, CF

7. Casey Kotchman, 1B

8. Jack Wilson, SS

9. Rob Johnson, C

Quick Take – This lineup after the first four hitters is pretty bad. I don’t care how many runs you prevent in the field, you need to score runs to win. The Mariners need a better DH than Griffey Jr.

Texas Rangers

1. Ian Kinsler, 2B

2. Michael Young, 3B

3. Josh Hamilton, LF

4. Vladimir Guerrero, DH

5. Nelson Cruz, RF

6. Chris Davis, 1B

7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C

8. Elvis Andrus, SS

9. Julio Borbon, CF

Quick Take – I love this lineup. I like Borbon in the nine-hole acting like a second leadoff hitter at the bottom of the lineup. The key to this lineup will be health.

Oakland A’s

1. Coco Crisp, CF

2. Rajai Davis, LF

3. Ryan Sweeney, RF

4. Jack Cust, DH

5. Daric Barton, 1B

6. Kurt Suzuki, C

7. Eric Chavez, 3B

8. Mark Ellis, 2B

9. Cliff Pennington, SS

Quick Take – This is the worst in the American League (yes, worse than the Kansas City Royals) and perhaps the worst in baseball. There isn’t a guy in this lineup that would start on the Baltimore Orioles. Michael Taylor better make it to the A’s soon.

Tomorrow, I will dive into the National League and look at the National League East.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Brandon Phillips: What’s His Trade Market?

November 17, 2009

Yesterday, I talked about one of the Cincinnati Reds trade candidates, Bronson Arroyo. Well today, I’ll talk about another Reds trade candidate, second baseman Brandon Phillips.

Phillips has had a pretty interesting career so far. He has been involved in two extremely lopsided trades.

Phillips could be traded this offseason

In 2002, Phillips was traded from the Montreal Expos to the Cleveland Indians along with Cliff Lee, Lee Stevens, and Grady Sizemore for Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew.

And in 2006, Phillips was traded from the Indians to the Reds for the ever so popular player to be named later. Or PTBNL as all the cool kids say. That player turned out to be Jeff Stevens.

So Phillips has already been involved in two lopsided trades–will he be involved in a third? Let’s take a look at the pros and the cons of Phillips and what teams would be possible suitors for the man who went to high school in Stone Mountain, GA.

I wonder if he knows Jake “The Snake” Roberts, who also hails from Stone Mountain, GA?

Pros

Because Phillips hasn’t played on a national stage since joining the Reds, people don’t realize how good Phillips actually is.

Over the last three years, Phillips ranks third amongst all major league second baseman in home runs with 71, sixth in hits with 494, third in triples with 19, and second in stolen bases with 80.

Not only can Phillips do it with the bat, but he can do it with the glove. Phillips is one of best defensive second baseman in baseball.

Phillips won a Gold Glove in 2008 (not that it means much), but more importantly, Phillips has ranked at the top in second baseman UZR over the last three years.

As a matter of fact, only Chase Utley has a higher UZR over the last three years than Phillips.

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of Phillips is his contract. Phillips has two years remaining on his contract with a club option for 2012.

Phillips is set to make $6.75 million in 2010 and $11 million in 2011. That is very reasonable for a man who is only 28-years-old and has been worth $28 million over the last two years according to Fangraphs.

Cons

In a game where OBP is highly valued, Phillips hasn’t seen a pitch he hasn’t liked. Phillips did set a career high in walks in 2009 with 44, but that is nothing to get excited about.

Phillips ranked 12th in OPS amongst second baseman in 2009 behind guys like Alberto Callaspo and Martin Prado.

Perhaps the only other question a GM could have with Phillips is can he produce on a big stage? It’s one thing to put up big numbers when your team is 20 games out of first in August, but can you do it when your team is battling for a playoff spot?

There is only one way to figure out the answer to that question.

Now that we have looked at the pros and cons of acquiring Phillips, let’s take a look at what teams would be interested in the Reds’ second baseman.

New York Mets: Obviously the Mets would have to find a taker for their current second baseman, Luis Castillo. That is a task all by itself.

However, if they can get rid of Castillo, I think Phillips would be perfect with the Mets, who should be building their team around pitching, defense, and speed.

Los Angeles Dodgers: As I mentioned yesterday with Dan Uggla, the Dodgers need a second baseman. Phillips and Rafael Furcal would be a lethal double play combination in L.A.

Unfortunately, because the McCourts are making a made for TV movie, I am not sure how much salary the Dodgers are willing to take on.

San Diego Padres: The Padres are a lot closer to competing than people think. They have talked about adding payroll in 2010 and if they feel Matt Antonelli isn’t quite ready yet to be their second baseman, Phillips could be a nice player for them.

Minnesota Twins: Nick Punto is a nice little player, but should be a utility on a good team. The Twins are moving into a new stadium, which means new revenues.

They have already added payroll in the form of JJ Hardy and Phillips fits the Twins style of play to a tee.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Are the Angels ready to give up on Howie Kendrick? Every year is supposed to be “Kendrick’s breakout year” and it hasn’t happened yet.

Phillips seems like a perfect fit in Anaheim. He is a great defensive player and can’t you see him being Bobby Abreu’s latest patient pet project?

Believe it or not, the market for second baseman these days isn’t as good as one would think. There are a lot of teams in baseball, who already have quality players at that position.

I am going to say that Phillips does get traded this offseason, with the Twins and Angels being the most likely suitors

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

A Perfect Fit: Bobby Abreu Re-signs With Angels

November 6, 2009

I wrote last week there were three teams whose future would be dramatically affected by what happens this offseason. Those three teams were the New York Mets, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

For the Angels, they are facing an offseason where their core group of players from years past and present were free agents to be. Chone Figgins, John Lackey, Vladimir Guerrero, and Bobby Abreu are all potential free agents.

With that many key free agents, the Angels have to figure out quickly, who is going to be part of their core group in the future.

Bobby Abreu

Abreu will be back with the Angels

Yesterday, the Angels made it clear who they want to be part of their core group for 2010 and for the future.

According to Ed Price at AOL Fanhouse, Bobby Abreu re-signed with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim yesterday. The deal is worth $19 million over two years with vesting option for 2012.

This was such a perfect fit for both Abreu and the Angels, that it was good business to get a deal done.

As we all know, Abreu took a discounted deal at $5 million to come to the Angels last year. For that $5 million all he did was hit .293/.390/.435 with 15 homeruns and 30 SB’s.

According to Fangraphs, Abreu’s value to the Angels last year was around $11 million. Thus making Abreu on of the best free agent bargains in baseball last winter.

But Abreu’s value to the Angels went beyond numbers. Abreu taught the Angels hitters how to be patient at the plate. He taught them how to work the count and how to look for their pitch more often.

Thanks to the Angels new found approach, the Angels led baseball with a .285 team batting average. Their team OBP also increased by 20 points from 2008 to 2009 (.330 to .350) thanks to Abreu.

Now the Angels have to figure out how to replace Figgins, Guerrero, and Lackey. Knowing how the Angels operate, I am confident in saying they will figure it out and make the best decision possible.

And one last note about this signing. Yesterday was a good day for Jason Bay and Matt Holliday. With Abreu now out of the way, Bay and Holliday are by far and away the two best hitters on the market.

Abreu’s signing only increases their leverage to teams who are looking for an offensive player.

Big Offseason Looms For The Angels

October 27, 2009

I was planning on writing my World Series preview and predictions today, but I think I am going to hold off for one more day. I want to wait until the rotations and rosters are set. I want to make sure everything is in place before I give my thoughts on the series.

As for today, I am going to write about the team I have written about the most in the past 10 months.

The New York Yankees? Nope.

The Boston Red Sox? Nope.

Perhaps the Colorado Rockies? Not quite.

Today, I will be talking about the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. I have written more articles that concern the Angels than any other team.

I guess that makes sense. I have been ripping Brian Fuentes all year, they are always active in free agency and trades, and most importantly–they had a great season.

I am guessing the Angels will be around the top talked about teams next year as well. And next year for the Angels began yesterday when they were eliminated by the Yankees in the ALCS.

There are three teams in my opinion, who face massive offseason decisions. The St. Louis Cardinals, the New York Mets, and the Angels.

Listen, every team faces offseason decisions, but these three teams face decisions that could set the course of their franchise for years to come.

Vladimir Guerrero

Vlad could be moving on this Winter

The Angels have a myriad of impending free agents. Vladimir Guerrero ($15 million), John Lackey ($9 million), Kelvim Escobar ($9.5 million), Chone Figgins ($5.8 million), Bobby Abreu ($5 million), and Darren Oliver ($3.7 million) all could be available for other teams this offseason.

For those of you scoring at home the Angels could lose their No. One starter, their leadoff hitter, their No. Two hitter, and their cleanup hitter.That is a lot to replace in one offseason.

The good news is that the Angels are also losing about $48 million in salary. Now what to do with that $48 million is the hard part.

My guess is that Abreu and Oliver come back and the Angels let Figgins, Guerrero, Escobar, and Lackey go. They should then put all of their resources into improving their bullpen and trying to sign an impact bat for the middle of the lineup.

As we saw in the ALCS, the Angels still don’t have that impact bat in the middle of the lineup that scares you. Kendry Morales and Torii Hunter are nice players, but they really don’t scare anyone.

Of course, Matt Holliday and Jason Bay come to mind for the impact bat the Angels need.

Hopefully the Angels will replace Figgins with Brandon Wood. I say hopefully because it seems the Angels are reluctant to give Wood a full-time job at the big league level.

I know he has a long swing, but Wood can hit 25-30 HR’s at the major league level.

Every team hits a “peak” with a certain group of players, then they have to rebuild or retool. The Mets peak was in 2006, the Milwaukee Brewers peak was in 2008, the Chicago White Sox peak was 2005, and the Angels peak was in 2008 as well.

The Angels were the best team in baseball in 2008 and that was their year to win the World Series. Now, they have to retool to get back to that point.

The Angels have more questions than answers going into the offseason. What ever the Angels decide to do, something tells me they will be one of the top teams in baseball yet again next year and I will be writing about them a lot again in 2010.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Joe Girardi Overmanages, Angels Take Game Three

October 20, 2009

If you are going to be uptight, nervous, and overmanage in the postseason, you better win. Time and time again, New York Yankees manager has overmanaged in this postseason and the Yankees’ talent has bailed him out.

Today, there was nobody to bail Girardi out.

Girardi overmanaged yet again

Girardi overmanaged yet again

In the bottom of the 11th this afternoon in Anaheim, with the score tied at four, Girardi took RHP David Robertson out of the game with two outs and nobody on base. Why Girardi took Robertson out is anyone’s guess.

Robertson, who led all American League pitchers in K/9 with12.98 was cruising along. He had thrown only 11 pitches and six of them were for strikes. There was absolutely no reason to take him out–especially since a right-handed batter was coming up in Howie Kendrick.

Girardi took Robertson out to bring in Alfredo Aceves. Aceves proceeds to give up a single to Kendrick and then a double to Jeff Mathis–game over.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim win 5-4 and now they are back in the ALCS.

I guess we can stop called Aceves “Ace.” That might be the worst nickname in sports. Aceves as “Ace?” Come on. Does CC Sabathia say “Hey Ace what’s up? and start laughing?

Here is what has to kill you if you are a Yankee fan. Robertson is just better than Aceves. He is better and it is not even close. There is no way Girardi could possibly think that Aceves gaves the Yankees a better chance to win the game than Robertson does.

I can’t wait to hear Girardi get ripped in the newspaper and on the radio tomorrow in New York. If I was Girardi, I would block out all forms of media tomorrow. It’s going to get ugly.

Here are some other observations from today’s game:

Why did Girardi pinch-hit for Mariano Rivera in the 10th with Francisco Cervelli? There were two outs and nobody on. Let Rivera hit and use him for another inning. Just stupid managing on Girardi’s part.

How great has Jeff Mathis been for the Angels? He is a lifetime .200 hitter and he has been hitting the ball all over the ballpark in the ALCS.

Did Bobby Abreu go to the Nick Punto school of baserunning? It was such an awful baserunning play, that I thought that would have taken all the wind out of the Angels sails.

Girardi just made another pitching change. He just summoned Eric Plunk out of the pen.

On that play, it wasn’t a great play by Derek Jeter. It was a great play by Mark Teixeira backing up second base. Being the cutoff man and turning around and throwing to Teixeira isn’t a great play. Let’s give other people credit when it’s due.

Why do pitchers continue to challenge Alex Rodriguez when they are behind in the count? Just walk him at that point. Hideki Matsui hasn’t done a thing this postseason.

I loved how Jered Weaver begged Mike Scioscia to stay in the game. I thought that was awesome. I wish more pitchers were like Weaver.

Did Jeter’s HR remind anyone else of Game 4 of the 2000 World Series?

Didn’t you just know that the Angels weren’t going to score with first and third with nobody out in the 10th. It was almost inevitable.

If Torii Hunter is up in a big spot–don’t throw him a strike. Hunter is so anxious to be the hero, he will just swing at anything.

If Joba Chamberlain was playing in Pittsburgh, he would be a nobody. Mr. Mediocre nearly gave the game away for the Yankees as he gave up a triple, sac fly, and a double in one third of an inning. Remember, this is the same organization that hyped up Russ Davis as the next Mike Schmidt.

Vladimir Guerrero’s sixth inning, two-run HR saved the series for the Angels. The Angels were 10 outs away from their season essentially being over and Guerrero tied the game and gave the Angels a new life.

Girardi just made another pitching change.

Besides Girardi, the other concern you have if you are a Yankee fan is that they are having a hard time scoring if they don’t hit a HR. Something to watch for in the remainder of the series.

Somebody should tell Kendry Morales and Juan Rivera the ALCS started. These two were a combined 0-for-10 today and have a combined .077 average for the ALCS.

Hero for Game 3 – Jeff Mathis

Goat for Game 3 – Alfredo Aceves

Series MVP – Alex Rodriguez

Game 4 is Tuesday at 7:57 ET.

Yankees Steal Game Two, Take 2-0 Series Lead

October 18, 2009

If you give an average team multiple chances to beat you, they will.

If you give the New York Yankees multiple chances to beat you, they definitely will.

The New York Yankees took advantage of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim leaving a small village (16 to be exact) on base and some more bad defense to beat the Angels 4-3 in 13 innings to take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven series.

Before I get into the finer points of the game, this game was just a perfect example of why the NFL has passed MLB in popularity. This was a really good game that ended at 1:15 AM ET.

Casual fans and more importantly, young kids on the east coast aren’t staying up to watch the end of these games. It’s absolutely absurd that on a Saturday night, you would start a game at 8:00 at night.

This game should have been started at 4:00 ET. Do you ever see an NFL Conference Championship game end at 0ne in the morning? No, you don’t.

The NFL makes sure that in their most important games, everyone can see the end. There is probably a nine-year-old kid living in NYC, who has never seen the end of a Yankees playoff game.

Way to alienate your fan base Bud. Keep up the good work!!!

Now let’s get to the actual game itself. This was a great game. Was it the best game I have ever seen? No, but it was really good.

A lot can happen in 13 innings of play, so here were the most important things I noticed last night:

  • Does Joe Girardi get paid by the pitching change? I have never seen a manager overmanage like Girardi does. He is so high-strung and uptight that the Yankees win despite him.
  • Can we finally stop talking about Bobby Abreu’s patience at the plate? You can be patient all you want, but at some point you have to hit the ball. Abreu went 0-5 last night and is now 0-9 for the series.
  • Robinson Cano didn’t show up last night. If this guy had a heart, he could be Derek Jeter. Instead he will be more like Nomar Garciaparra. And that wasn’t a compliment.
  • The Angels found out that Brian Fuentes isn’t an October closer. You could see that HR to Alex Rodriguez coming a mile away. You can’t throw the ball right over the plate on an 0-2 count. Terrible pitch
  • Thankfully Jerry Layne’s atrocious call didn’t hurt the Angels. Apparently the neighborhood play applies to every neighborhood except the Bronx. I thought that was going to be the Angels Joe Mauer moment.
  • Vladimir Guerrero is toast. Vlad killed the Angels last night. Every big spot he came up in–he failed. We are definitely seeing Vlad’s last AB’s as an Angel.
  • How great is Mariano Rivera? He has moved into the Albert Pujols category of guys that are so good we don’t appreciate them enough. Greg Maddux was in that category as well.
  • I was really impressed with Joe Saunders last night. Two runs, one walk, and five K’s in seven innings. I didn’t think he had that type of game in him.
  • Why was Gary Mattews Jr. hitting for Mike Napoli? Is Matthews really a better hitter at this point than Napoli? I don’t think so.
  • The Angels’ defense has been horrible in two games. Five errors in two games and it should be six. The ball that dropped between Chone Figgins and Erick Aybar wasn’t technically an error, but it was.
  • Mark Teixeira should be thanking god for Rodriguez. If it wasn’t for Rodriguez’s heroics time after time, the New York media would be killing Teixeira. He is 3-for-22 in the postseason.
  • Can Figgins just pick up the ball? If he just picks up the ball, he nails Freddy Guzman at the plate on that final play of the game.

Hero for Game Two – Alex Rodriguez

Goat for Game Two – Vladimir Guerrero

Series MVP – Mariano Rivera

Game Three is Monday at 4:07 ET. At least kids on the east coast will see the end of this game.

CC Sabathia Dominates Angels: Yankees Take Game One

October 17, 2009

Here is what I wrote in my American League Championship Series Preview and Prediction post:

“But things are starting to break for the Yankees like they did in the 90’s. You can’t beat the unexplained. There will be a Joe Mauer foul ball or Nick Punto baserunning moment for the Angels in this series.”

It took all of five batters for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to have their Nick Punto moment.

That coupled with a dominating performance from CC Sabathia made a cold night in the Bronx even colder for the Angels.

Big CC was on his game last night

Big CC was on his game last night

The New York Yankees beat the Angels last night 4-1 behind Sabathia’s eight solid innings and some surprisingly bad Angels defense to take a 1-0 lead in their best-of-seven ALCS.

This game really reminded me of an NCAA tournament game where it’s a No. 13 seed plays a No. 4 seed.

The No. 13 seed plays all nervous through the first five minutes, makes silly mistakes, eventually settles down, gets somewhat back into the game, but at the end of the day the No. 3 seeds imposses their will and wins the game.

That was this game.

For an Angels team that is a veteran playoff team, they played like a bunch of amateurs last night. The bottom of the first inning set the tone for this game.

With Derek Jeter on first base, Johnny Damon hit a flare down the leftfield line. Jeter went to third and Damon made a wide turn but stopped at first base.

Juan Rivera decides to throw the ball to nobody in particular and allows Damon to advance to second. Who was he throwing to? He threw the ball between second and third.

As bad of a play that was, things only got worse for the Angels. Now here comes there Punto bonehead moment of the evening.

After Alex Rodriguez’s sac fly made it 1-0 Yankees, Hideki Matsui came up with a runner on second with two outs.

Matsui hit a little pop up behind third. Chone Figgins and Erick Aybar stare at each other and let the ball drop in. Damon scored and it was 2-0 Yankees.

I really thought John Lackey was going to punch Aybar after the inning. This was such a bonehead play that you would never think it would happen to the Angels.

Unfortunetly for the Angels, this wasn’t the last bonehead play of the evening.

In the bottom of the sixth, Lackey inexplicably walked Melky Cabrera with two outs. I say inexplicably because you can’t walk someone like Cabrera with two outs and no runners on base.

Let him earn his way on. He is a fourth outfielder and Lackey is throwing 3-2 curveballs to Cabrera. Terrible pitch selection.

With Cabrera now on first, Lackey tried to pick him off and throws the ball into rightfield. What was Lackey thinking? Cabrera had a two foot lead at best.

Now with Cabrera on second, Jeter lines a single up the middle. Torii Hunter charges the ball, but the ball hits off the heel of his glove, and rolls behind him. Cabrera scored to make it 4-1.

With Sabathia on top of his game, four runs was more than enough. Sabathia scattered four hits, walked one and struckout seven in eight solid innings of work.

The key for Sabathia in this game was that he was locating his fastball. Up, down, in, and out, Sabathia threw his fastball where ever he wanted to.This was by far and away the best start of Sabathia’s postseason career.

The Angels want to run on the Yankees, but if you don’t get anyone on base, it’s hard to steal. Chone Figgins, Bobby Abreu, and Erick Aybar–the three Angels who can steal a base, went 0-11 with three strikeouts.

And how about Chone Figgins? Can this guy get any worse? He is now 0-16 this postseason. The Angels won’t win this series if he doesn’t get on track.

Game Two is a must win game for the Angels. I don’t think they can go back to Anaheim down 0-2 and win this series.

Game Two is scheduled for today at 7:57 ET. It’s supposed to rain tonight, but right now as of 11:15 am ET in New York, it’s not raining. I went to get bagels this morning and it’s pretty cold however.

Of course, if the game tonight does get rained out, I will keep everyone updated.

Hero for Game One – CC Sabathia

Goat for Game One – Chone Figgins

Series MVP – CC Sabathia

Boston’s Bullpen Implodes, Angels Sweep Red Sox

October 12, 2009

The Boston Red Sox had not one, not two, but three opportunities with two strikes and two outs in the bottom of the ninth with a two run lead to close out the game and couldn’t get the job done.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim stunned Red Sox Nation by scoring three runs with two outs off closer Jonathan Papelbon to win 7-6 and sweep their best-of-five ALDS 3-0.

For 162 games in the regular season, Red Sox manager Terry  “>Francona went to his bullpen and for 162 games, they delivered. In game 165 however, Francona’s reliable bullpen imploded.

The Red Sox went into the eighth inning with a 5-2 lead thanks to some clutch hitting from Dustin Pedroia (two-run double in the third) and JD Drew (two-run HR in the fourth and some solid relief work from Daniel Bard (two innings, no hits, no runs, and two K’s).

It was all set up perfectly for the Red Sox. They would go to Billy Wagner in the eighth and then to Papelbon in the ninth. Wagner and Papelbon would get the final six outs and the Red Sox would live to see another day.

There was no celebrating for Papelbon today

There was no celebrating for Papelbon today

Well, things didn’t work out that way.

Wagner and his 9.28 lifetime postseason ERA entered the game in the eighth. I remember taking my dad to Game One of the 2006 NLDS between the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Billy Wagner came into that game to close out the Dodgers in ninth with a two-run lead. What I remember most about when Wagner came into the game was the uneasyness of the Shea Stadium crowd when he came out of the rightfield bullpen.

I felt the same uneasyness when Wagner came into the game today against the Angels. It’s never easy in the postseason with him. It always seems there are runners on base when he pitches.

Which is odd for a guy who used to throw 99 mph and now still throws 95.

Wagner allowed a double to Bobby Abreu and walked Vladimir Guerrero. To be fair to Wagner, the Abreu double was not really a double. Kevin Youkilis tried to make a do or die play along the first base line and the ball hit off his glove and went into the Sox dugout for ground-rule double.

Wagner left the game with two outs in the eighth with runners on second and third. Francona called on Papelbon to try to get four outs.  

Papelbon came in and on his first pitch gave up a two-run single to Juan Rivera to make the score 5-4. Reggie Willits came on to pinch-run for Rivera and got promptly picked off first.

I have no idea why Mike Scioscia has a man crush on Willits. Everytime I see this guy play he never does anything right. I’ll put him in the Brett Gardner and Carlos Gomez category until I see otherwise.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Red Sox even got an insurance run to make it 6-4 on a Mike Lowell single that scored pinch runner Joey Gathright. At that point, you definitely thought there would be a Game Four tomorrow night at Fenway.

In the ninth, Papelbon got the first two outs rather easily. He got Maicer Izturis to foul out to Victor Martinez and then got Gary Matthews Jr. flew out to Jacoby Ellsbury.

Then the nightmare began.

Papelbon had Erick Aybar 0-2 and with Martinez setting up for a high and inside waste pitch, Papelbon decided to throw a fastball right down the middle. Aybar promptly singled up the middle.

Papelbon had a 3-2 count on Chone Figgins and walked Figgins. That was the killer AB in this inning for the Red Sox. I am sorry, but there is no way on this earth you can walk Figgins in that spot.

He was o-for-600 in the series, can’t hit a HR, and he had looked clueless his last two AB’s. Papelbon can’t walk a guy like that.

Up came Abreu and you just knew Abreu was going to get a hit. I just want to say something about Abreu. He has proved me wrong.

I watched him for the last couple of years with the New York Yankees and what I saw was a guy who produced “empty stats.” He would always have great numbers, but I never thought he was a winning ball player.

However, with the Angels, he has become the leader of the team and their MVP. Just like with Izturis and Figgins, Papelbon had two strikes on Abreu. And just like with the two batters before, Papelbon couldn’t put away Abreu.

Abreu doubled off the monster and now the game was 6-5 Red Sox. Francona decided to intentionally walk Torii Hunter to get to Guerrero.

No complaints there. I would have done the same thing. Hunter is 3-for-5 with a HR lifetime off of Papelbon and Guerrero is a shell of his former self.

The move backfired. On the first pitch, Guerrero ripped a single to center and the Angels took a 7-6 lead.

I could have woken up in the morning with my upper lip stapled to my pillow and I would have been less shocked than I was when I watched what unfolded in the ninth.

Even when the Angels had the bases loaded, I still thought the Red Sox would get out of the inning. After all, if you have watched Papelbon all season, this was par for the course.

I can’t tell you how many times he loaded the bases during the regular season, only to see him get out of the jam. Today, it was not meant to be.

Listen, it was bound to happen with Papelbon. He can into this game with 26 consecutive scoreless innings in the postseason. He was bound to blow a save sooner or later.

Even Mariano Rivera has blown his fair share of saves in the postseason.

The Red Sox went quietly in the ninth and the Angels finally beat their arch nemesis in the playoffs. Going into this series, everyone talked about how the Red Sox had the advantage in the bullpen.

Unfortunately for the Red Sox, today their bullpen became their weakness.

John Lackey Shuts Down Lifeless Red Sox

October 9, 2009

This is why I put very little stock in how teams and players are playing heading into the postseason.

In John Lackey’s last three starts of the regular season, he gave up 21 hits and 12 runs in 12 innings pitched. Last night in Game One of the American League Division Series against the Boston Red Sox, Lackey looked like Ed Walsh reincarnate (it’s an obscure reference, but go look him up on Baseball-Reference.com).

Lackey dominated the Red Sox

Lackey dominated the Red Sox

Lackey completely shut down the Red Sox for seven and a third innings in the Los Angeles of Anaheim’s 5-0 victory. Lackey scattered four hits, struckout four and gave up zero runs in those seven and a third innings of work.

Was Lackey that dominant or were the Red Sox just lifeless last night? I think it was a combination of both. Listen, any great pitching performance will make any offense look lifeless.

However, I thought the Red Sox were a step behind the Angels all night.

For those of you who don’t watch the Red Sox on a regular basis, here is something you should know. With their offense–it’s all or nothing.

If one guy or two guys get shutdown, the whole team is going down with the ship. Which is really odd considering that the Red Sox have Jason Bay hitting sixth and JD Drew hitting eighth. Bay and Drew were one and two amongst AL outfielders in OPS in the regular season.

Last night, the whole team went down with the ship.

Outside of Lackey, there were two other stars of the games for the Angels. The first other star was, of course, Torii Hunter. Hunter delivered the big blow of the game with a three-run homerun in the bottom of the fifth against Jon Lester.

The way the Red Sox were swinging the bats, you kind of got the feeling that the three runs would be all the Angels would need.

The second, other star of the game for the Angels was Bobby Abreu. Both innings in which the Angels scored (the fifth and seventh) involved Abreu walks. He worked the count all night, saw a game high 25 pitches and walked all four times he was up last night.

Game Two is tonight at 9:37 ET. Is this a must win game for the Red Sox? I  think it is. It will be very difficult to win three games in a row versus the Angels, and in two of those games you have uncertainty with Clay Buchholz and Daisuke Matsuzaka on the mound.

One last note on this game. I am not one to blame umpire of referees for losses. It’s silly and just more of an excuse to blame the umps or refs. Well, unless it was the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings back in 2002. We all know what went on there, but that is another story.

Did the umps help the Red Sox in this game? Absolutely not. They were not the reason the Red Sox lost. However, CB Bucknor should not be umpiring a playoff game.

How is this guy umpiring a playoff game? He is universally known as the worst umpire in baseball. As Peter Gammons said on Mike and Mike this morning, Bucknor looked “overmatched.”

Never a good thing for an umpire to be during a playoff series.