Posts Tagged ‘Brian Fuentes’

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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Kerry Wood: What’s His Trade Market?

November 16, 2009

Yesterday, the MLB Network replayed Kerry Wood’s 20-strike out game against the Houston Astros in 1998. I have been watching baseball for almost 25 years and in my opinion, that was most dominating regular season performance I have ever seen.

The Astros didn’t have a chance that day.

Flash forward 11 years later and Wood is still throwing 97 mph in the major leagues. Did he become the pitcher everyone thought he would be after watching him pitch in 1998? No he didn’t.

Kerry Wood

Wood is a trade candidate this winter

But Wood has made a very nice career for himself. Because of injuries, Wood moved into a relief role in 2007 with the Chicago Cubs and became their closer in 2008.

Wood excelled as the closer in Chicago and in the winter of 2008, he signed a two-year, $20.5 million deal with the Cleveland Indians to be their closer.

The Indians signed Wood expecting to compete in 2009. Things really didn’t work out that way and now the Indians are in rebuilding mode yet again.

When a team is rebuilding, they really don’t have any use for a 32-year-old closer who will be making $10.5 million in 2010. We should be hearing Wood’s name in trade rumors this winter.

Let’s look at what a team would be getting with Wood. Here are the pros and cons of trading for Wood and the teams who might be interested in trading for the former Grand Prairie High School star.

Pros

Can you believe Wood is only 32-years-old? It seems like he has been around for 20 years. Even at 32 (not that old mom!!!), Wood can still throw 97 mph.

He can still blow the fastball by hitters when he needs to. Wood still struck out 10.3 hitters per nine innings last year.

Despite getting off to a rough start in April and May (6.08 ERA), Wood had a stellar second half of the year. In the second half, Wood was eight for 10 in save opportunities and had a 2.86 ERA.

And Wood is still better than half the closers in baseball. I would take Wood over a lot of the pitchers who are closing games for contending teams.

Cons

In the last 11 years, Wood’s arm has been through hell and back. He has had Tommy John surgery, a partially torn rotator cuff, a sore elbow, a strained triceps, and blisters on his fingers.

You name the arm injury, Wood has probably had it.

Health is the number one concern for any GM who is willing to trade for Wood. The other concern with Wood, would be his relatively down year in 2010.

His WHIP of 1.382 was his highest since 2000 (1.453), his strike out rate went from 11.4/9 to 10.3/9 in 2009, his walk rate almost doubled from 2.4 in 2008 to 4.6 in 2009 and threw more pitches per inning (17.6) than at any point of his career.

Has age and injuries finally caught up to Wood?

Now that we have looked at the pros and cons of acquiring Wood, let’s look at the teams that might be interested in Wood.

Atlanta Braves: Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano are both free agents and if they leave, the Braves have no internal option to replace them. Wood would be a nice replacement for the Braves.

Chicago Cubs: Could the Cubs possibly bring Wood back? It’s not out of the realm of possibility.

Wood and the Cubs had a pretty clean break and the Cubs don’t have a closer going into 2010. Carlos Marmol is much better suited to be a set-up guy than a closer on a team trying to compete for a pennant.

Houston Astros: Wood would love to follow in his idol’s (Roger Clemens and Nolan Ryan) footsteps by pitching for the Astros. Jose Valverde and Latroy Hawkins are both free agents and Wood would make sense.

With Wood making $10.5 million in 2010, I am not sure the Astros have the ability to take on the salary or the prospects to acquire Wood.

I would never count out Drayton McLane though.

Tampa Bay Rays: For me, the Rays are a match made in heaven for Wood. They have the surplus of mid-level prospects and they have the need to get a deal done.

The Rays can’t go into 2010 with JP Howell and Dan Wheeler as the closers. They caught lightning in a bottle in 2008 and it’s not going to happen again.

This team needs a closer and Wood would be a great fit.

Detroit Tigers: Trading Wood within the division isn’t as crazy as it sounds for the Indians. The Indians aren’t expected to compete this year and by the time the Indians are ready to compete, Wood will be long gone from the Tigers.

I know the Tigers have said they are in cost cutting mode right now, but saying it and doing it are completely two different things. Fernando Rodney and Brandon Lyon are free agents and I don’t think the Tigers feel Ryan Perry is ready to close.

On the surface, Wood makes sense for the Tigers.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: The Angels are known to fix their mistakes rather quickly. Signing Torii Hunter to replace Gary Matthews Jr. is a perfect example of that.

The Angels found out first hand in the postseason Brian Fuentes might be a nice regular season closer, but he is not big time. Acquiring Wood would give Mike Scioscia options at the end of a game.

When acquiring Wood, a GM has to ask himself the tough question of which Wood am I getting? Am I getting the Wood who was rock solid in the second half of 2009 or am I getting the injury-prone closer who struggled for the first half of 2009.

My prediction is that Wood stays with the Indians through the winter and they trade him close to the July 31st trading deadline when teams are making one last playoff push.

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

10 Things We Learned About Baseball In October

November 3, 2009

Not only is October the best month on the baseball calendar, it’s also the busiest. Besides the playoffs, you have general managers being fired and hired, you have managers being fired and hired, and you already start to hear some free agent and trade rumblings.

This October was no different. Let’s take a look at 10 things we learned about baseball in October.

10. Kevin Towers and JP Ricciardi were let go. When a team doesn’t win two things happen. 1. The manager gets fired or 2. The general manager gets fired.

In San Diego and Toronto–the general managers were fired.

Towers spent 14 seasons as the San Diego Padres’ GM and they have won four division titles and made one World Series appearance (1998) under his stewardship.

I wasn’t in favor of this move when it happened. Towers can be the GM of my team any day of the week and twice on Sunday. He knows how to get the job done.

Ricciardi was let go by the Toronto Blue Jays after serving as their GM since 2001. The Blue Jays never won more than 87 games and only finished above third once with Ricciardi as the GM.

If you fire someone, then you need a replacement…

9. Jed Hoyer and Alex Anthopoulos will be making the decisions in San Diego and Toronto. The Padres hired Boston Red Sox assistant GM Jed Hoyer to replace the above mentioned Towers.

Jed Hoyer

Hoyer is the new GM of the Padres

Hoyer joined the Red Sox front office at age 28, where he helped to build Boston’s rosters and assisted in contract negotiations.

In 2005, when Theo Epstein and Larry Lucchino had a lover’s quarrel and Epstein took a ten week hiatus, Hoyer along with Craig Shipley, Bill Lajoie, and Ben Cherington took over the GM duties for the Red Sox.

Anthopoulos takes over for Ricciardi in Toronto on an interim basis.

While Hoyer and Anthopoulos take over as general managers…

8. Manny Acta and Brad Mills were hired as managers. Mills was hired to be the next manager of the Houston Astros. Mills replaces Cecil Cooper who was fired with 13 games left in the season. Former Astros manager Phil Garner and interim manager Dave Clark were finalists for the position.

Mills has spent the last six seasons as the bench coach for Terry Francona and the Boston Red Sox.

Acta was hired by the Cleveland Indians to be their next manager. The Indians signed Acta to a three-year deal with a club option for 2013.

This will be Acta’s second managerial stint. His first one, as we all know was with the Washington Nationals from 2007-2009. Acta was 158-252 with the Nationals and was relieved of his duties in July.

As manager of the Astros, Mills will be squaring off against this guy in St. Louis…

7. Tony LaRussa will be back as St. Louis Cardinals manager. The Cardinals and manager Tony LaRussa have agreed to a one-year deal with a mutual option for 2011. The Cardinals also got good news when pitching coach Dave Duncan agreed to return to the team as well.

But the big shock was the announcement of Mark McGwire as hitting coach. McGwire will replace Hal McRae as the Cardinals’ hitting coach.

While the Cardinals were making news, the team they beat in the 2006 World Series made news of another kind…

6. The Detroit Tigers suffered an epic collapse. The Tigers had everything going for them headed into the last week of the season. They were playing at home, they were playing a Chicago White Sox team whose season was over, and they were three games up on the Minnesota Twins with four games to go.

Despite all that, the Tigers couldn’t hold on the AL Central lead. The Tigers lost two-out-of-three to the White Sox and the Twins swept the Kansas City Royals.

Those results forced this…

5. The Tigers and Twins played an all-time classic. The Twins beat the Tigers 6-5 in 12 innings in a one-game playoff to clinch the American League Central title. For four-hours and thirty-seven minutes in this epic classic there were no salaries, no free agency, no arbitration, and no steroids.

This game was about two teams playing their guts out and leaving everything on field. The Twins and Tigers not only captured the 58,088 screaming fans in the Metrodome, but they captured millions watching at home.

They captured four friends, who weren’t Twins or Tigers fan, but were so into the game that they were texting back and forth on practically every situation that occurred. We all knew we were watching one of the best games we ever saw.

This was just an amazing game. A true classic and a game which reminded us what is great about the game of baseball.

The Twins win allowed them to go to the postseason…

4. The 2009 postseason has given us a lot of memorable moments. Every year the postseason gives us memories that last a lifetime. The 2009 postseason has been no different.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim finally exercised their postseason demons by beating the Boston Red Sox.

Matt Holliday’s dropped flyball against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Two of the NLDS opened the floodgates for the Dodgers.

Alex Rodriguez, doing his best Reggie Jackson imitation leading the New York Yankees to the World Series.

CC Sabathia finally putting his past postseason failures behind him and being worth every penny.

Jimmy Rollins walk-off double off of Jonathan Broxton shattering the dreams of the Dodgers.

Cliff Lee carrying the Philadelphia Phillies pitching staff throughout October.

While on one end there is triumph in the postseason, on the other end there is heartache…

3. It’s been a rough postseason for closers. 10 blown saves (the 11th happened on Sunday night) in the postseason by closers through October 31st.

papelbon

Even Papelbon blew a save in this postseason

Everyone thinks closers aren’t important until they blow a game in a big spot. Huston Street, Jonathan Papelbon, Joe Nathan, Brian Fuentes, Ryan Franklin, and Broxton all imploded at one point this postseason.

Only Brad Lidge and Mariano Rivera didn’t blow a save through the first two rounds of the playoffs. It’s no coincidence that the teams they represent are in the World Series.

While the closers were one story of this postseason, the big story has been…

2. Bad umpiring has plagued the 2009 postseason. Major League Baseball just can’t win. It’s always something.

This postseason, the umpires have come under tremendous fire for missing calls, which has prompted many to call for more instant replay in baseball.

It seems like every game this postseason the umpires were missing calls. And these weren’t bang-bang calls–these were blatantly obvious calls.

But despite all the bad calls by the umpires, this has been a fabulous postseason. And all roads in the postseason lead to this…

1. The Phillies or the Yankees will be world champions. For the first time in maybe 10 years, the two best teams will be playing in the World Series.

The Phillies took Game One behind a complete game, 10 strike out performance from Cliff Lee. Chase Utley provided the offense with two homeruns off of Sabathia.

The Yankees evened the series at one behind a brilliant performance from AJ Burnett. Hideki Matsui’s homerun off of Pedro Martinez in the sixth broke a 1-1 tie.

The Yankees overcame a 3-0 deficit thanks to a two-run HR from Alex Rodriguez and some timely hitting by Johnny Damon to take a 2-1 series lead.

It’s very rare a World Series champion isn’t crowned in October, but this is an unusual year thanks to the World Baseball Classic. We will just have to wait to November to crown a champion.

November will be the final month of the baseball. Come back on December to get a recap of the World Series and all the award winners in baseball.

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

Angels Win Wild Game Five, Force Game Six In The Bronx

October 23, 2009

Mike Scioscia and Joe Girardi played a game of “What ever you can do, I can do worse.”

In one of the worst managed playoff games in quite some time, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim outlasted the New York Yankees 7-6 to take Game Five of their best-of-seven ALCS and force a Game Six in the Bronx Saturday night.

This was a game that really had three parts to it.

The first part was the Angels ambushed Yankees’ starter AJ Burnett for four runs in the first inning. A walk to Chone Figgins, a double to Bobby Abreu, a single by Torii Hunter, a single by Vladimir Guerrero, and a single by Kendry Morales.

Five batters into the game and just like that, the Angels had four runs. I really thought Burnett wouldn’t make it out of the second inning.

Which leads me to the second part of the game.

From the second inning to the sixth, this game was a pitcher’s duel. Burnett and John Lackey were matching each other goose egg for goose egg.

And let me give credit to Burnett. I was really surprised he settled down and pitched into the seventh inning. I didn’t think he had that type of bounce back ability in him.

Then comes the third part of this game and this is when the wheels start to come off for Scioscia and Girardi.

The last three innings of this game were managed so poorly, you would have thought this was never a playoff game. Let’s take a look at the managerial decisions that transpired from the top of the seventh on.

Top of the seventh – Scioscia takes out Lackey

After the Angels had their *Mark Langston moment on a 3-2 count to Jorge Posada, the Yankees had bases loaded and two outs with Mark Teixeira coming to the plate.

Lackey should have never been taken out last night

Lackey should have never been taken out last night

Scioscia decides to take out his ace after only 104 pitches with the Angels’ season on the line to bring in Darren Oliver. Are you kidding me?

As Scioscia was approaching the mound, you can see Lackey saying “This is mine.” I’ll be writing another story on Lackey later, but that moment was pretty cool.

There is no way you can take your ace out in that spot. You just can’t. And for what? To bring in Darren freakin’ Oliver?

It’s not like Scioscia was bringing in Dennis Eckersley. There is a reason why Oliver has been on like 20 teams in his career.

And when did Teixeira become a worse hitter right-handed? Here is Teixeira’s OPS splits from the regular season.

Teixeira’s OPS LH – .951

Teixeira’s OPS RH – .911

Not much difference from left to right.

This was without a shadow of a doubt the single worst managerial decision of the postseason.

Of course, Oliver serves up a double on the first pitch to Teixeira and a single to Hideki Matsui. All of a sudden the game went from 4-0 Angels to 6-4 Yankees in a matter of five minutes.

Bottom of the seventh – Girardi leaves in Burnett too long.

First, I have no problem with Burnett starting the inning. I thought he should have been given every opportunity to go as long as he can, as he was getting people out.

But once he served up a single to Jeff “Mike Piazza” Mathis, he should have been out of the game. I thought it was going to be one of those let him pitch until someone gets on situation.

If anyone has watched the Yankees all year, that is how Girardi manages. But I really think all the overmanaging talk from Game Three really was in Girardi’s head.

He was trying so hard not to overmanage, that he actually undermanaged in this situation. Once Mathis got the hit, Girardi should have gone to Phil Hughes or Damaso Marte.

Instead, Burnett is left out there and he proceeds to walk Erick Aybar. That’s when the wheels came off for the Yankees.

Once the Angels got two on and nobody out, the crowd got back into it and from their Hughes unraveled.

Bottom of the seventh – Hughes pitches around Hunter to get to Guerrero.

Did the Yankees not watch Game Three of the ALDS between the Angels and the Boston Red Sox?

I really didn’t understand this move. And don’t tell me they weren’t pitching around Hunter. When you throw a 3-0 slider–you are pitching around a batter.

When did Hunter become Frank Robinson? He can be pitched to. He doesn’t work the count and we have seen in big spots in this postseason, he will chase balls that aren’t strikes.

This move almost worked until Hughes had mental breakdown on the mound. He threw a Papelbon-esque 0-2 fastball right down the middle and Guerrero singled up the middle.

Bottom of the eighth – Girardi goes to Joba Chamberlain instead of Dave Robertson

Did Robertson sleep with Girardi’s wife or something? This guy is pitching lights out in the postseason (three innings, two hits and zero runs) and he continues to sit on the bench.

At what point is Girardi going to realize that Chamberlain isn’t very good. Mr. Mediocre has given up seven hits in 2.2 innings of work and has a WHIP of 2.63.

A 2.63 WHIP is below replacement level. I really don’t understand the infatuation with this guy. He can’t start and now he can’t relieve.

What exactly does he do well?

Bottom of the ninth – Scioscia takes out Jered Weaver.

I am a firm believer that you should always go to your closer in save situations only if he is a top-flight closer.

If you have a Mariano Rivera, Jonathan Papelbon, Joe Nathan, etc…That guy pitches the ninth no matter what.

However, when you have a closer like Brian Fuentes, I think you have to go with the hot hand. And the hot hand last night was Weaver.

This guy came into the eighth and just steamrolled the Yankees. I would have left him in for the ninth.

Fuentes is unreliable at this point. You have no idea what on earth he is going to do out there.

And I will say this, once Scioscia made the decision to bring Fuentes into the game, I had no problem with walking Alex Rodriguez with two outs and nobody on base. It was the right move.

Fuentes went on to save the game, but not before giving every Angels fan a heart attack. If you are an Angels fan and you don’t get nervous when Fuentes pitches then:

A. You don’t have a pulse.

B. No other closer will make you nervous ever again.

Now we have a Game Six. If you are a Yankees fan, you have to be a little worried. A late-90’s Yankee championship team doesn’t lose that game last night.

Game Six is Saturday at 7:57 ET.

Hero for Game Five – Kendry Morales

Goat for Game Five – Phil Hughes

Series MVP – CC Sabathia

*Mark Langston moment. In Game One of the 1998 World Series, with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Langston was in the game for the San Diego Padres facing Tino Martinez in a tie game.

With two strikes, Langston throws a ball right down the middle, but the pitch was called a ball. It was an awful call.

The next pitch Martinez rips a grand slam and the game was over and the Padres never recovered.

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.

Angels Take Game Two Behind Weaver Gem

October 10, 2009

“It’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall time.”

That was the text my buddy Odie sent me when Erick Aybar tripled home two runs in the seventh inning off of Josh Beckett to make the score 4-1 the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

It’s gotten to that point for Boston Red Sox fans where they have no faith the Red Sox can overcome a three-run deficit. That is how bad the Red Sox offense has been through the first two games of the ALDS.

The Red Sox offense was shutdown again in a 4-1 loss to the Angels last night in Game Two of their American League Division Series. The Angels now have a commanding 2-0 lead in the series.

Weaver tossed a gem last night

Weaver tossed a gem last night

That’s two games and one run for the Red Sox offense.

The story of this game for the Angels was starter Jered Weaver. Weaver gave up just two hits, one run, and struckout seven in seven-and-one-third innings.

Weaver did a great job of mixing up his pitches all night. He kept the Red Sox hitters off balance and then making them swing at his pitches. Outside of  Jaboby Ellsbury’s triple and Victor Martinez’s single to drive him home, the Red Sox didn’t hit a ball hard off Weaver all night.

Darren Oliver, Kevin Jepsen, and Brian Fuentes pitched the final inning-and-two-thirds to close out the game.

As for the Red Sox, I think we are starting to see an alarming trend. The trend being that the Red Sox can’t hit good pitching. We saw it last year in the ALCS against the Tampa Bay Rays and now we are seeing it this year against the Angels.

Theo Epstein has put together a very good lineup, but not a dynamic lineup. From 2003-July of 2008, the Red Sox had a dynamic lineup. Mainly because they had two guys in the middle who could hit good pitching–Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz.

When you have two guys who can hit any type of pitching, it just makes your whole lineup better and makes your lineup very intimidating. Essentially they had what the New York Yankees have now with Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez.

The Red Sox have two games to get their act together. If there is any team that can come back from a 2-0 series deficit in a best-of-five series, it’s the Red Sox. Remember, they did it in 1999 against the Cleveland Indians and again in 2003 against the Oakland A’s.

However, it’s going to be tough. The Angels are flying high right now and most importantly, they believe they can beat the Red Sox.

Game Three is Sunday at 12:07 ET.

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

American League Division Series Predictions

October 7, 2009

It took 163 games, but the American League Division Series matchups are finally set. Yesterday, I gave my NLDS predictions, so today I am going to give my ALDS predictions.

Something of note with the 2009 postseason. Three out of the four postseason matchups in 2009 are the same as they were in 2004. The only series that is different is the Colorado Rockies and Philadelphia Phillies series.

Will history repeat itself in the AL? Let’s take a look…

* means if necessary

Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees

Game 1: Wednesday, October 7 6:07 ET. Brian Duensing vs CC Sabathia

Game 2: Friday, October 9 6:07 ET. Nick Blackburn vs AJ Burnett

Game 3: Sunday, October 11 TBD. Andy Pettitte vs Carl Pavano

Game 4*: Monday, October 12 TBD. TBD vs Scott Baker

Game 5*: TBD

Prediction: Major League Baseball drew 73,418,528 fans this year. Let’s say overall, there are roughly 100 million baseball fans in this world.

Out of that 100 million, 94 million want the Twins to win and six million want the Yankees to win this series. People will always root for the David instead of the Goliath. Out of those six million Yankee fans, three million couldn’t name more than five players on the team, but are fans just to be “cool.”

Sabathia will lead the Yankees to the ALCS

Sabathia will lead the Yankees to the ALCS

Don’t tell me I am wrong about that. I have lived in New York my whole life and I have seen it first-hand. Unfortunately, those six million fans are going to have the last laugh in this series.

I love everything about the Twins. I love their passionate fans, the way they do business, and most importantly–the way they play the game. How could you not?

But I just don’t see it for them in this series. It has nothing to with the fact that the Twins played in a street fight last night against the Detroit Tigers.

And it has nothing to do with the fact that the Yankees were 7-0 versus the Twins in 2009. I put very little into a team’s success in the regular season versus another team.

I think in this series you will finally see them miss Justin Morneau. Morneau is a game changer and in the playoffs you need as many of them as possible.

If the Twins can somehow win this series, it will go down as one of the biggest upsets in postseason history. I would love to put the Twins in the next round, but it’s not going to happen.

Yankees in Four

Boston Red Sox vs. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Game 1: Thursday, October 8 9:37 ET. Jon Lester vs John Lackey

Game 2: Friday, October 9 9:37 ET. Josh Beckett vs Jered Weaver

Game 3: Sunday, October 11 TBD. Scott Kazmir vs Clay Buchholz

Game 4*: Monday, October 12 TBD. Joe Saunders vs TBD

Game 5*: TBD

Prediction: Every year me and my buddy Odie talk about the “feel” of the Red Sox season. 2003 and 2004 had good “feels” to them. As did 2007 and 2008.

2005 and 2006? Not so much. I knew the Red Sox faced impending doom in 2005 when they started Matt Clement in Game One of the ALDS against the best team in baseball–the Chicago White Sox.

So what about 2009? Around August 15th, the Red Sox had a feel of getting bounced in the first round. I didn’t like the way they were playing and something just seemed off about this year.

Bay will be meeting the Yankees in the ALCS

Bay will be meeting the Yankees in the ALCS

Now on October 7th, I feel very good about this team. Lester is pitching lights out and Victor Martinez has given the Red Sox a massive shot in the arm offensively. I’ll also bank on a healthy Beckett in the playoffs.

The Angels, are well, the Angels. They are a solid, fundamentally sound team that is going to try to use their speed game and to run all over the Red Sox. Seems like that is every year with the Angels though.

I have gone back and forth trying to predict a winner in this series. However, there is one scenario that keeps sticking in my mind.

Game Three, Fenway Park, Kazmir throws his usual 110 pitches in six innings, and the Angels are leading 3-2. A scenario that is very likely.

Does anyone on this planet think Jose Arredondo, Darren Oliver, Kevin Jepsen, and Brian Fuentes are going to get nine outs in Fenway without coughing up the lead? Not a chance.

For what ever reason, the Angels turn into pumpkins in October at Fenway.

Red Sox in Four

Looking Back On Some Baseball Bets

October 5, 2009

Before the regular season started, I gave some predictions on some prop bets for the baseball season. Now that the regular season is almost over, I thought it would be a good time today to look back at some of those predictions I made.

All lines were curtesy of Bodoglife.com

Player Bets

Aubrey Huff. Over/Under 23 1/2 Hr’s – I like the Over Huff had 15 Hr’s

Dustin Pedroia. Over/Under 40 1/2 Doubles – I like the Over Pedroia had 48 doubles

Josh Beckett. Over/Under 14 1/2 Wins – I like the Over* Beckett won 17 games

Joba Chamberlain. Over/Under 13 1/2 Wins – I like the Under Chamberlain won 9 games

Derek Jeter. Over/Under .303 average – I like the Over Jeter hit .334

Evan Longoria. Over/Under 107 1/2 RBI – I like the Over Longoria had 113 RBI

BJ Ryan. Over/Under 34 1/2 Saves – I like the Under* Ryan had two saves

Zack Greinke. Over/Under 13 1/2 Wins – I like the Over Greinke had 16 wins

Miguel Cabrera. Over/Under 34 1/2 Hr’s – I like the Over Cabrera has 33 Hr’s

Gary Sheffield. Over/Under 18 1/2 Hr’s – I like the Under Sheffield had 10 Hr’s

Bobby Abreu. Over/Under 99 1/2 RBI – I like the Under Abreu had 103 RBI

Brian Fuentes. Over/Under 32 1/2 Saves – I like the Under Fuentes had 48 saves

Ken Griffey Jr. Over/Under 18 1/2 Hr’s – I like the Under Griffey Jr. had 19 Hr’s

Brett Myers. Over/Under 11 1/2 Wins – I like the Over Myers had four wins

Albert Pujols. Over/Under 117 1/2 RBI – I like the Over Pujols had 135 RBI

Adrian Gonzalez. Over/Under 29 1/2 Hr’s – I like the Over Gonzalez had 40 Hr’s

Randy Johnson. Over/Under 10 1/2 Wins – I like the Under Johnson had eight wins

Team Bets

Tigers. Over/Under 81 1/2 Wins – I like the Under* Tigers will have 86 0r 87 wins

Twins. Over/Under 83 1/2 Wins. I like the Over Twins will have 86 or 87 wins

Braves. Over/Under 84 1/2 Wins. I like the Over Braves won 86

Dodgers. Over/Under 84 1/2 Wins. I like the Over Dodgers won 95

Mets. Over/Under 89 1/2 Wins. I like the Under Mets won 70

Cardinals. Over/Under 82 1/2 Wins. I like the Over* Cards won 91

Giants. Over/Under 80 1/2 Wins. I like the Under Giants won 88

Royals. Over/Under 75 1/2 Wins. I like the Over Royals won 65

* indicates Best Bet

Not bad. I went three out of four on my “best bets.” I was really surprised the Tigers had the year they did. I definitely didn’t see it coming.

Overall, I went 16 for 25. That’s 64 percent for those of you scoring at home. If Cabrera can hit two Hr’s on Tuesday night, I can get up to 68 percent.

I think if you went to Las Vegas and won 64 percent of the time you would take it.

I will revisit the rest of my predictions after the season ends.

The Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim Clinch Playoff Spot

September 29, 2009

With their 11-0 whitewashing of the Texas Rangers last night, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim clinched a spot in the 2009 postseason and their third straight AL West title.

If there was a year the Angels were going to stumble and not make the playoffs, this was it. They had the horrific tragedy of Nick Adenhart in April, it seemed like their entire starting rotation was on the DL in April and May, Brian Fuentes is their closer, their bullpen has been a mess all season, Torii Hunter has spent time on the DL, and Vladimir Guerrero runs like Mark Eaton at this stage of his career.

Abreu has been the Angels MVP in 2009

Abreu has been the Angels MVP in 2009

But under the steady hand of Mike Scioscia, the Angels stayed the course, played great baseball, and proved once again why they are one of the best run organizations in baseball.

The Angels organization has gotten to a point where they can lose Mark Teixeira in the offseason, plug in Kendry Morales, and Morales turns in an MVP season. Next year, when they lose Chone Figgins to free agency, they will probably plug in Brandon Wood and I am guessing Wood comes through with a big year.

My point is that the Angels have become an organization of interchangeable parts. No matter who they plug in, they believe that person will succeed.

That is the mark of a great organization.

Going into the playoffs the Angels biggest concern is their bullpen. It’s usually their offense which is the concern, but not this year. Their offense, led by Bobby Abreu and the before mentioned Figgins is just fine.

But unlike in past years, this year their bullpen is the Angels biggest problem. I have a hard time believing Brian Fuentes is a championship closer. I also have a hard time believing Darren Oliver can get a lefty out in a big spot in the postseason.

However, like past years the Angels will play the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS. Can the Angels finally beat the Red Sox in the first round of the playoffs?

It remains to be seen.