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First Base Claims its Second Victim

April 16th, 2014
Watch your step...

Watch your step…

I’m not sure who did what, but it’s becoming increasingly evident that someone on the Angels did something to seriously piss off the baseball gods. Kole Calhoun is the latest player to feel their wrath, twisting his ankle while running out a ground ball in the 11th inning of the club’s second straight heart-wrenching loss to the A’s.

Calhoun was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a ligament strain immediately after the game, joining Josh Hamilton and Don Baylor among the bizarre ranks of Halos who have suffered major injuries at or around bases in the last two weeks. I have no idea what the hell is going on there, but the Angels might want to just take a page out of David Freese’s book and avoid going near bases of any kind until this mystery is cleared up. On a related note, are there rules against Mike Trout playing while covered in bubble wrap?

Calhoun’s injury, which will reportedly keep him on the shelf for 4-6 weeks, puts the outfield in some pretty dire straits1. With J.B. Shuck and Collin Cowgill already platooning in left field to hold the Hamilton fort, the Angels are going to need to add another outfielder to the roster to man right field in the short term. This either means that Matt Long will be making his long-awaited debut, that Brennan Boesch will get another opportunity to demonstrate his poor defense and inability to hit lefties take a walk, or that a recently DFA’d outfielder like Sam Fuld will get another chance to find lightning in a bottle. (I also hear Vernon Wells is available…)

Long, who pushed his way onto the radar with a stellar spring, seems to have the best shot of taking Calhoun’s place, as he provides the most versatility on defense—in addition to the three outfield spots, he also plays second base—has some base-running chops, and still has minor-league options left, meaning the Angels can send him back to Salt Lake without passing him through waivers. He doesn’t do any one thing exceptionally well, but he also doesn’t have any real glaring weaknesses in his game either. As friend of blog Garrett Wilson points out over at MWAH, Long is essentially “Calhoun Lite,” so he should be able to fill Kole’s shoes at the top of the order for at least a brief time.

Long, 26, is batting .244/.354/.463 with two home runs and seven walks in 41 plate appearances for Salt Lake through 12 games this year. In 210 games with the Bees over the last three seasons, he’s amassed a .283/.358/.464 line and stolen 35 bases in 44 attempts.

UPDATE: The call to #FreeMattLong has yet again fallen on deaf ears. The Angels have decided to go the *experience* route and call up former Tigers left fielder Brennan Boesch to take Kole Calhoun’s spot on the roster. Boesch, 29, was at point in time viewed as an adequate corner power bat, but that time has long past.

After a miserable year (-1.2 WAR) manning right field for Detroit in 2012, the left-handed hitting Boesch was released and subsequently picked up by the injury-plagued Yankees. Most of his time in New York—which ended in mid-July—was spent sitting in favor of Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay, which tells you just about everything you need to know.

It’d be one thing if Boesch was simply a platoon player, flailing around against lefties while thriving on righties. But he’s not. Instead, he’s decidedly mediocre against pitchers of both persuasions, with a 723 OPS vs. RHPs and a ripe-for-regression 763 OPS vs. LHPs. His walk rate is also well below league average and he’s limited to the corner outfield spots, where is defense still rates as pretty abysmal. Given all that, it’s difficult to parse how the Angels came to the conclusion that he’s a better option in right than Long, but here we are.

Obviously, I hope that Boesch is able to find success in his time with the Halos, I’m just not very optimistic. Prior to his call-up, he was hitting .250/.308/.479 with two homers and two triples through 52 plate appearances (13 games) for the Salt Lake Bees.

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1 Not as dire as those facing the bullpen, but that’s a story for another day.

Angels restock bullpen, demote De La Rosa and Shoemaker

April 13th, 2014
Even Dane is unsure where his velocity went

Even Dane is unsure where his velocity went

Needing fresh arms after two consecutive extra-inning games, the Angels replenished their bullpen Sunday morning. The club demoted Dane De La Rosa and Matt “The Cobbler” Shoemaker to Triple-A Salt Lake, replacing them with young southpaw José Álvarez and journeyman right-hander Yoslan Herrera.

It seems unlikely that either pitcher will stay with the club for long1, but with the bullpen tallying 10⅓ innings over the last two nights and the next off day still five days away, reinforcements were necessary. Both Álvarez and Herrera have been on the shelf since Wednesday night, so they should be more than able to take the brunt of the relief work if needed.

Álvarez, 24, was the Angels’ bounty in the deal that sent Andrew Romine to the Detroit Tigers last month. The left-hander is a starter by trade, meaning he’ll probably step into Shoemaker’s… uhh… shoes as the de facto long man for the time being. His introduction to the Pacific Coast League has not been pretty — nine runs and seven walks in 9⅔ innings for the Bees — but no one pitches well in Salt Lake, so he’ll probably be fine in Anaheim for at least a short while. (If you’re worried, maybe his 2.80 ERA in 128⅔ Triple-A innings last year will reassure you.)

Herrera, 32, is the early clubhouse leader for most surprising call-up of the year. Not only has the Cuban right-hander not pitched in the big leagues since 2008 — when he logged 18⅓ innings for the Pirates — he hadn’t even been affiliated with an MLB club for three years before the Angels picked him up this spring. His addition to the 40-man roster comes at the expense of lefty Brian Moran, who was transferred to the 60-day DL.

Josh Hamilton Sidelined Until June

April 9th, 2014
HamiltonDumb

This is what stupid looks like.

Josh Hamilton dove headfirst into first base like an idiot Tuesday night (see: above), and as a result will spend the next 6-8 weeks paying for it on the disabled list. Why? Because the slide not only caused a full tear of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his left thumb–an injury he may have been able to play through; Dustin Pedroia did all of last year–but also tore the joint capsule underneath the ligament. Hamilton will undergo surgery to repair the tears “in the coming days,” per Alden Gonzalez, then will sit on the sidelines until at least early June.

The injury is incredibly frustrating for the Angels on several levels. Losing Hamilton for any amount of time will hurt, of course, as will relying on J.B. Shuck in left, but first and foremost among the frustrations is the fact that the whole situation was immensely avoidable. For ages now, everyone on the planet has known that sliding Superman-style into first base is both unnecessarily dangerous and NOT IN ANY WAY ADVANTAGEOUS. Hell, both broadcast teams talked about how reckless the slide was while Hamilton was doing it. Why the Angels and every other team don’t have a policy forbidding1 it is beyond me.

The only reasoning I’ve ever heard someone make for diving into first base that made something close to resembling sense was as a means to trick the umpire into thinking the runner got to the base sooner. The idea being that while the ump can listen out for a foot hitting the bag, he has a harder time pinpointing when the hand/fingers touch the base. Which is good and all, except that THEY HAVE REPLAY NOW. The argument is now completely invalid, meaning there is absolutely no reason to ever dive into first base.

And, yet, here we are.

I realize that baseball players generally aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed, but is it really too much to ask for them to not do this one thing? I mean, it’s not as though Hamilton had to reach into the far recesses of his mind to come up with an example of that ending badly. For chrissakes, Yasiel Puig did the same thing just down the street A WEEK AGO.

The proverbial icing on the cake: After hurting himself–costing the Halos their best chance at a ninth-inning comeback Tuesday night–Hamilton frankly stated that he’d do it again.

F*cking genius.

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1 Nick Punto gets a special exemption because who cares, he’s Nick Punto.

Brian Moran to have Tommy John Surgery

April 8th, 2014
Moran

Another LOOGY goes down

For the second consecutive year, the Angels have acquired a lefty reliever over the winter only to have him undergo Tommy John surgery before ever taking the mound in the regular season. Last season it was Brandon Sisk — acquired in the Ervin Santana debacle — and this time around it’s Rule 5 pick Brian Moran.

Moran, 25, was the odds on favorite to take over the lefty specialist role in the Angels bullpen when he arrived at camp this spring — at least until Sean Burnett returned, which, let’s be honest, may never happen — but made it through only four Tempe appearances before being sidelined with “elbow inflammation.” The team evidently tried to see if simple rest would alleviate the issue, giving him two weeks off then limiting him to throwing off of flat ground when he started a throwing program April 1, but apparently it didn’t help. If anything, the inflammation subsiding probably just gave the doctor a clearer view of the UCL tear, which will invariably sideline him for at least a calendar year.

Back on Track: Angels Win Series Against Astros

April 8th, 2014

Game 1: Angels 11 – Astros 1 | Game 2: Angels 5 – Astros 1
Game 3: Angels 4 – Astros 7 | Game 4: Angels 9 – Astros 1

Runs Scored = 29
Runs Against = 10

YTD Record: 3-4 | 3rd in AL West

Up Next: Two Games @ Seattle Mariners

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One of the key objectives for the Angels last season was to take advantage of the Houston Astros and win as many games as they could against them, as the AL West title could have very well gone to the team who beat up the most on the divisional newcomers.  Suffice it to say, the Angels were not successful in achieving this goal as they sported a 9-10 losing record against the Astros last year.  The Halos may sing a different tune this year, as they took the first series against the ‘stros three games to one on the strength of their starting pitching and the hot bats of Josh Hamilton and Howie Kendrick.

 AstrosSeries1

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