Posts Tagged ‘Erick Aybar’

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

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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.

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.

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

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Accomplish Something That Hasn’t Been Done in 75 Years

August 20, 2009

This was the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s lineup on August 18th against the Cleveland Indians.

1. Chone Figgins , 3B  .308

2. Bobby Abreu, RF .310

3. Juan Rivera, LF .310

4. Vladimir Guerrero, DH .313

5. Kendry Morales, 1B .303

6. Torii Hunter, CF .307

7. Maicer Izturis, 2B .300

8. Mike Napoli, C .300

9. Erick Aybar, SS .313

Why is this lineup so significant?

Abreu has paced the Angels offense this year

Abreu has paced the Angels offense this year

Our friends at the Elias Sports Bureau tell us it’s the first time since 1934 that any major league team has finished a game-at least 100 games into a season-with each player in its starting batting order hitting .300 or better.

The last team do accomplish this feat was the 1934 Detroit Tigers on September 9th against the Boston Red Sox. That Tiger team was led by some guys named Mickey Cochrane, Hank Greenberg, Goose Goslin, and Charlie Gehringer.

What a bunch of scrubs on that team huh?

I am not going to compare the two teams and tell you who is better because I don’t think it is fair for me to compare someone to somebody I have never seen play. But what I will tell you is that this Angels offense is on one serious roll right now.

Usually it’s the offense that is the weak link for the Angels. It seems like the Angels have been searching for offense for the past six years – not this year. This year, the Angels offense is the strength of the team.

If Mike Scioscia man-crush Erick Aybar is hitting .300 and so is Macier Izturis – you know things are going well. To have all nine guys in your lineup to finish the game hitting .300 or better is almost video game good.

The Angels offense right now is like when you powered up your team in Baseball Stars for Nintendo back in the day. It got to the point where everyone on your team was batting .375 and you were just crushing the Lovely Ladies 20-0 in the second inning.

Man, I loved that game.

The Angels have the second best record in the American League at 73-45. If they don’t win the World Series this year, for the first time in a long time – it shouldn’t be the offense’s fault.

What Are The Angels Thinking?….

April 24, 2009

I always believed the Angels were one of the 2 or 3 best run organizations in baseball. They are right up there with the Red Sox and Twins. They have a solid owner in Arte Moreno, they have one of the best minor league systems in the game which has produced John Lackey, Joe Saunders, Francisco Rodriguez, Mike Napoli and Howie Kendrick, they have who I consider the best manager in the game in Mike Scioscia and they have been consistently one of the best teams in baseball over the last 6 years. Have they made their share of mistakes? Sure, every team in baseball makes mistakes. You give me a GM and I will name 5 bonehead moves they have made.

However, it’s a move the Angels are making now that has me beyond confused and has me seriously questioning the Angels. Earlier in the week the Angels called up 3B/SS Brandon Wood. With Vladimir Guerrero on the DL, Wood is exactly what the Angels need – A guy who can hit the ball out of the ballpark. So it makes perfect sense that the Angels, who are desperate for offense called up Wood to put him in the lineup and to let him rake right?  Wrong.

What are you thinking??

What are you thinking??

I turned on the Angels game Wed. night and Wood is on the bench. I turned on the Angels game last night and Wood again is on the bench. What? Why would the Angels call up Wood just to have him sit on the bench? It literally makes no sense. Even my sister who knows less about baseball than any other human being on the face of the earth thinks this makes no sense. This is the equivalent of the Rays calling up Longoria and putting him on the bench, the Brewers putting Braun on the bench when he was called up and if and when the Orioles call up Wieters and putting him on the bench.

Here’s the worst part. He is not playing because of Erick Aybar (.262/4/65/.297 in 4 seasons) and Maicer Izturis (.272/16/154/.336 in 6 seasons). So a team that is struggling to score runs has a guy sitting on the bench who has legit 30 HR power because he is being blocked by 2 guys who have a combined 20 HR’s and a .317 OBP? The only explanation I have is that Aybar has some incriminating pictures of Scioscia with the Rally Monkey.

In all seriousness I think this is Scioscia and the whole organization falling too much in love with small ball. The Angels won the World Series back in 2002 playing small ball and that has been their philosophy ever since. However, sooner or later common sense has to prevail and even the master of small ball, Whitey Herzog would realize that Brandon Wood has to be in the lineup everyday. As good as the Angels have been, you really just have to wonder what the Angels are thinking on this one.

Looking At Fantasy Shortstops In 2009….

March 28, 2009

Let’s take a look at fantasy Shortstops headed into 2009. This group is very top heavy. My strategy is, if you don’t get one of the top three, then wait. There is a Cecil Fielder sized drop off after you get past the big three. So in honor of the of some of the best (and worst) Shortstops of all-time, let’s see who are the best fantasy Shortstops in 2009.

Honus Wagner Division

The best of the best, Wagner is the greatest SS of all-time (Arod doesn’t count because he is a cheater) and these three Shortstops are by far and away the best Shortstops in this fantasy draft.

Ramirez is the #1 SS

Ramirez is the #1 SS

1. Hanley Ramirez, Marlins. One of the top 5 players in the game, Ramirez will go top 3 in most fantasy drafts. He can do it all. Hit for avg (.301 in 08), hit hr’s (33 in 08), get on base (.400 obp in 08) and steal a base (35 in 08). The only thing you can say he doesn’t do well is drive in runs. That will change in 2009 because Ramirez will be moved down to the 3 spot in the order.

2. Jimmy Rollins, Phillies. After winning the MVP in 2007, Rollins had a very disappointing 2008. I think he bounces back in 2009 and will have a better fantasy season than Jose Reyes. Look for Rollins to put up a .285/20/80 with 40+ sb’s and over 110 runs scored

3. Jose Reyes, Mets. While I question Reyes as a player (I don’t think he is a winner), there is no questioning his fantasy value. Reyes is a look for 110+ runs scored, 15+ hr’s and 50+ rbi

Alan Trammell Division

It’s not that Alan Trammell was a bad player. A matter of fact, Trammell was one of the better Shortstops in the game from 1983-1990. The point is that there is a major drop off from Honus Wagner to Alan Trammell. These next 10 guys are the last 10 guys you want to draft before you have to scramble.

4. Stephen Drew, Diamondbacks. I have Drew ranked higher than Jeter and Furcal because 1. He can stay healthy and 2. In Keeper Leagues he is a much better option due to his age (26). Drew seems to be getting better with age and it’s not out of the question that he approaches a 30 hr season.

5. Derek Jeter, Yankees. Jeter’s runs, hits, hr’s, rbi’s, avg and obp have declined in each of the last 3 years. But in the weak category of SS, Jeter still provides value. Expect Jeter to put up a .305/10/65 with 10 sb’s.

6. Rafael Furcal, Dodgers. Furcal was off to a rip roaring start in 2008 before his back gave out. Furcal hit double digit hr’s from 2003-2006 but with a bad back I am not sure he can reach double figures again. The Dodgers should have a very good offense, so 100+ runs and a .300 avg should be expected from Furcal in 2009.

7. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies.I had asked in a post, “Can Tulo Bounce Back?” My answer back then was yes and my answer no is yes. Will Tulowitzki be as good as his rookie year? Probably not but he can certainly put up a .285/20/80.

Don't sleep on Hardy

Don't sleep on Hardy

8. JJ Hardy, Brewers. Hardy has really come on with the power slugging 50 hr’s in the last 2 years. Hardy seems to be underrated in most drafts but he is good for a .280/28/80 in 2009.

9. Michael Young, Rangers. Young will qualify as a 3B and a SS but has move value as a SS. Last year was the first year since 2003 that Young didn’t have 200 hits. Will his switch from SS to 3B hurt his offense? I don’t think it will but his days of 200+ hits and 100 rbi are gone.

10. Jhonny Peralta, Indians. Peralta had a career year in 2008 putting up a .276/23/89 with 104 runs scored. Peralta is tearing up Spring Training hitting .435/3/11 in 46 ab’s. The Indians lineup looks to be improved in 2009 with the returns of Martinez and Hafner, so it’s possible Peralta could improve on his 2008 performance. If only he stole bases he would be much higher up on the food chain.

11. Alexei Ramirez, White Sox. Alfonso Soriano part 2. A tall, lanky 2B who has all the potential in the world? Sounds like Alfonso Soriano part 2 to me. Ramirez had a solid rookie year putting up a .290/21/77 in just 480 ab’s. Now moving over to SS, Ramirez still will qualify at 2B for fantasy purposes which raises his stock even more. The only stat Ramirez hurts you in is obp(.317 last season) but a .300/25/90 with 10+ sb’s is not out of the question for Ramirez.

12. Mike Aviles, Royals. Aviles qualifies at SS and at 2B but has more value at the 2B position. The New York native burst on to the scene last year and hit .325 with 10 hr and 51 rbi in just 102 games for the Royals. I like Aviles to hit .300 again but not .325. Look for a .310 avg with 15 hr and 60 rbi from Aviles in 2009.

13. Miguel Tejada, Astros. Tejada looks to be on the downside of his career as his avg, hr’s and rbi’s have declined each of the last 3 seasons. Tejada is going to bat 5th this year so a rebirth in rbi’s is possible. A .280/14/80 should be expected from Tejada this season.

Kevin Elster Division

Elster was mostly a good glove, no hit SS with the Mets, Yankees, Phillies, Rangers, Pirates and Dodgers. Elster did have one magical year by his standards in 1996, when he hit 24 hr’s and knocked in 99 runs for the Rangers. Most of these next 19 guys are either good glove, no hit or can marginally help your fantasy team in 2009.

14. Jed Lowrie, Red Sox. Now the starting SS will get you runs scored and a solid obp. Might lose ab’s when Lugo returns from the DL.

15. Orlando Cabrera, A’s. A very consistent player, you know what you are going to get. .280 batting average with 8 or 9 hr’s, 60-70 rbi and 20 sb’s.

16. Yunel Escobar, Braves. Don’t give up on him just yet. He is still only 26 and has has shown good patience at the plate in his short time in the majors.

17. Ryan Theriot, Cubs. Good average, solid obp and will get you 20+ sb’s.

18. Elvis Andrus, Rangers. The new starting SS in Texas, Andrus has good value in Keeper Leagues. He will probably go threw some typical rookie struggles but he can run (54 sb’s in Double A). Expect 25-30 sb’s in 2009.

19. Edgar Renteria, Giants. Clearly on the downside of his career but he is back in the NL where he belongs. Still capable of hitting 10 hr’s and driving in 55.

20. Jason Bartlett, Rays. Zero power what so ever but he will get you stolen bases (53 in the last 3 years).

21. Khalil Greene, Cardinals. An obp killer (.276 combined last 2 years) but leaving Petco should help him get back to the 20 hr mark in 2009.

22. Christian Guzman, Nationals. Will get you a .300 avg and maybe 50 rbi’s and that is about it.

23. Erick Aybar, Angels. 15+ sb potential but will have to hold off Izturis and perhaps Brandon Wood for playing time.

24. Yuniesky Betancourt, Mariners. See Khalil Greene but without the 20 hr potential.

25. Cesar Izturis, Orioles. Very much like Jason Bartlett and will get you 20 + sb’s.

26. Jeff Keppinger, Reds. Will replace Gonzalez at some point during the season. Is a better offensive option than Gonzalez

27. Alex Gonzalez, Reds. After missed all of 2008 with a fractured knee (ouch!!) he will be competing for playing time with Keppinger. Gonzalez could hit 10 hr’s but is an obp killer.

28. Nick Punto, Twins. One of the dubbed “Piranhas,” Punto is a typical good glove, not hit SS. He will get your team 15 – 20 sb’s

29. Jack Wilson, Pirates.At 31, Wilson is headed towards the end of his career. Not that he was any better when he was 26. Wilson might move into a platoon role to make room for Brian Bixler.

30. Adam Everett, Tigers. The only reason he is still in the league is because of his defense. The Tigers version of Jason Bartlett?

31. Marco Scutaro, Blue Jays. A better offensive option than John McDonald and that is not saying much.

32. Luis Rodriguez/David Eckstein, Padres. Uglier and ugliest. Neither of these players add any value to your team.

Keep An Eye On

Brandon Wood, Angels. I didn’t rank Wood because I have no idea what the Angels plan on doing with this guy. He is killing the ball this spring to the tune of .347/4/13 in 49 ab’s but the Angels have Figgins at 3B, Aybar at SS and Rivera at DH. Keep an eye on this situation. If he is able to get playing time over any of the above names, then Wood is a pick up you should make.