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Angels Activate De La Rosa; Option Maronde

April 11th, 2014

The 31-year-old right-hander posted a 2.99 FIP and 1.1 WAR in 2013

The Angels have officially reinstated reliever Dane De La Rosa from the disabled list, the team has announced. In a corresponding move, the club will option 24-year-old southpaw Nick Maronde to Triple-A Salt Lake City.

De La Rosa has been on the DL since late March recovering from forearm inflammation. The 31-year-old was acquired in a trade with the Rays last March and was excellent last season as the team’s primary set-up man once injuries and poor performances struck the rest of the bullpen. He posted a 2.86 ERA and 8.1 K/9 in just over 72 innings pitched, while showing a reverse platoon split, limiting left-handed batters to just a .475 OPS.

Maronde, the Angels’ 3rd round pick in the 2011 draft, has made four appearances this season, striking out five and allowing just one earned run in three innings pitched. He figures to be one of the first names called upon were another injury to crop up. By optioning Maronde, the Angels are now one of just two teams without a left-handed reliever currently on their 25-man active roster.

De La Rosa should prove a huge boost to an Angels’ bullpen that is currently last in baseball with a 5.95 FIP. Most of the bullpen’s early undoing has been at the fault of the home run, as they are allowing a league-worst 2.63 HR/9 and 26.9% HR/FB.

Hamilton splits thumb, Angels split with Mariners

April 10th, 2014

Game 1: Mariners 5, Angels 3 | Game 2: Angels 2, Mariners 0

Runs Scored = 5
Runs Against = 5

YTD Record: 4-5  | 3rd in AL West

Up Next: Friday vs. NYM

MarinersSeries2

On Wednesday the Angels won their first game of the season against Not The Astros, earning a split against the division rival Mariners. The big news of the series, though, was Josh Hamilton losing a thumb war to first base when he slid into the bag rather than run through. You’re not supposed to do that. Hamilton, enjoying maybe his first hot streak as an Angel, will miss 6-8 weeks while recovering from thumb surgery. The Angels are not very deep, so left field will be managed by JB Shuck and Colin Cowgill, which in terms of platoons will likely be as successful as Willem Dafoe.

Don't worry, he comes back and fathers Jame Franco.

Don’t worry, he comes back and fathers Jame Franco.

_______

What follows are my stray thoughts while watching the games:

M’s Embarrass Halos in Opening Series Sweep

April 3rd, 2014

Game 1: Mariners 10, Angels 3 | Game 2: Mariners 8, Angels 3 | Game 3: Mariners 8, Angels 2

Runs Scored = 8
Runs Against = 26

YTD Record: 0-3 | 5th in AL West

Up Next: Friday @ HOU

________

They’ve really outdone themselves this time. After a month-plus of emphasizing over and over the importance of getting off to a good start, the Angels took the field against the Mariners for a three-game set and were absolutely obliterated. Here are three ridiculous factoids to succinctly sum up the week’s annihilation: 1) the team’s run differential is already -18, double the next closest club; 2) the squad ended the series a single run shy of a 9.00 ERA as a team; and 3) the entire NL Central has scored 12 fewer runs in 11 games than the Halos have allowed in three.

Things are so bad our Angels Agony Index™, which calculates the precise amount of dread and anguish wreaked upon fans by each 2014 season series, has gone full Vernon Wells on its very first reading:

MarinersSeries1

The Good

 

Mike Trout

Trout just keeps on trouting. He went 4-for-10 with a homer, triple, double, single, and a walk in the series. He’s the lone Angel with more than one extra-base hit.

Matt Shoemaker & Joe Smith

All six Halos relievers made at least one appearance in the series. Shoemaker and Smith are the only ones who have yet to allow a run. Through three games. They’ve thrown 3 ⅓ scoreless frames, the rest of the ‘pen owns a sparkling 16.19 ERA in 6 ⅔.

 

The Meh

 

Raul Ibañez

Seven strikeouts in 11 plate appearances is undeniably awful, but that one home run recoups at least some goodwill. (I can’t put everyone in the “Bad” section, right?) He also wins points for not playing an inning in the field. May it stay that way as long as humanly possible.

The Rotation

Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson went unexpectedly punch-out happy in their first outings of the season—a combined 14 Ks in 12 IP—but that wasn’t enough to keep runs off the board. Neither of the duo was very efficient—they needed a combined 209 pitches to get 36 outs—but each at least kept the offense within shouting distance for five frames. So there’s that, I guess.

Weaver’s four-seam fastball averaged 86.5 MPH on the gun, which is a half mile an hour off of his average speed from his final start of 2013. Despite yet another velocity drop, though, Weaver somehow still got nine swings-and-misses—right in line with his career norms—meaning that hitters are still up there guessing from time to time. Until his swinging strike rate (~9½ percent) starts to decline, I think we can stop sounding the alarm bells about his Jamie Moyer-esque fastball.

Hector Santiago was his usual wild self in his Halos debut Wednesday night, throwing first-pitch strikes to just five of the 23 batters he faced. He finished with three walks and four strikeouts in five-plus innings of work, which will probably be pretty close to the norm for him this year.

Josh Hamilton’s offense

The Hamster1 got off to a solid start with the bat in the first two games, notching three hits and two walks, while also doubling (to two) his stolen-base total from last April. His performance pales in comparison to, say, Justin Smoak’s torrid start, but it’s still encouraging given the unmitigated disaster that was April-July 2013. It took Hamilton six games to get more than one hit last year, and it wasn’t until game nine that he tallied knocks on consecutive days.

Of course, all that praise ignores the rubber match of the series, when Hamilton finally faced a southpaw and was predictably dreadful. He struck out in all four at-bats Wednesday, making him the AL’s first Golden Sombrero recipient of 2014.

 

The Bad

 

Aybar, Kendrick, and Calhoun

When your auxiliary parts go a combined 3-for-32 with zero walks in a series, it can be difficult to win. Howie Kendrick also treated us with an E4 on Monday that led to an unearned run.

Freese’s Follies

I really hope that at some point in the season I’m able to do a David Freese Feats section, but at the moment the idea seems laughable. The ghost of Troy Glaus was hard at work to make the Angels’ new third baseman look downright terrible in the season’s first series, complete with gaffes on the field

FreeseFlub3

Tagging 101: Never reach for a runner, let him come to you.

FreeseFlub1

Somehow this was scored a hit.

… and on the base paths

FreeseFlub2

Derp.

In the “follies, non-GIF” category he’s had three moderately slow rollers come his way that he’s simply pocketed, only one of which came off the bat of a guy (Robinson Cano) who’s even moderately quick—the others were courtesy of catcher Mike Zunino and Corey “Broken Knees” Hart. I had some worries about Freese’s defense, but I didn’t expect quite this level of incompetence. He did redeem himself a bit with this barehand play Wednesday night, but I’m still worried.

At the plate, Freese has continued perfecting the Brandon Wood impression he had going in Tempe—where he managed just one extra-base hit in 63 plate appearances—tallying a solitary bloop knock and a walk (along with two Ks) in the series.

Are three games and a lousy spring enough to warrant panic? No, of course not. But negative first impressions are incredibly difficult to shake off. Just ask Mr. “I Want To Die” up there.

Josh Hamilton’s defense

I have no doubt that Hamilton is still a good defender—he made a play Tuesday that would’ve 360-ed J.B. Shuck—but it could be a while before he fully acclimates to left field. The Halos had to endure his growing pains on both Monday and Tuesday nights, as his lack of familiarity with the space led to two badly played fly balls:

HamiltonD1

Jersey to jersey

No fault to Hamilton here for not making the catch, but from the replay it seems that he was surprised to hit the warning track when he did. The moment his foot hits the dirt he abandons catching it to brace for impact. If he knew where the track was, he could’ve either used it to time a jump—the ball hits the wall inches from his left hand—or he could’ve established when to pull up and likely held the batter to a double. As it happened, Mike Trout had to sprint over to get the ball in.

HamiltonD2

Runners advanced, but no error for some reason

This is simple case of badly misreading the spin on the ball. Hamilton should’ve known the ball would bounce toward the foul line based on the non-solid contact and loopy flight of the ball, but played it as though it was a squared-up line drive. Perhaps his brain was just locked into right-field mode and assumed it’d bounce the other way.

Mike Scioscia’s bullpen management

And, finally, we have your early clubhouse leader to win the coveted/dreaded “Most Repeated Series Recap Bullet Point Award.” (Previous season winners include “Vernon Wells, still employed” and “Mike Trout?!?! Mike Trout!!!”) It took all of seven innings into the 2014 season for Scioscia to demonstrate yet again that he either willingly disregards or doesn’t know about leverage when it comes to choosing who to go to out of the bullpen. (It’s very probably the former.)

When Weaver gave up the tying run in the seventh on Monday, Scioscia went to his pre-determined “seventh-inning guy,” Fernando Salas, rather than the best option available to him (Joe Smith) because I don’t know why. (A football team doesn’t skip the back-up QB and sub in their third-stringer just because the team isn’t winning and/or it isn’t the final minutes of the fourth quarter. So why do managers do it in baseball?) Salas, of course, gave up the go-ahead run, which for some reason meant to Scioscia that he was now free to use whatever bullpen arms he saw fit for the rest of the game. Never mind, apparently, that the deficit was only one run, and that Smith-Frieri were/are the most likely to keep it that way, the team doesn’t have a (small) lead so the best arms have to ride the bench. “Can’t waste them tonight in case we need them tomorrow! … Unless we don’t!”

Scioscia had the opportunity to bring Smith and/or Frieri into a one-run game Monday night and a two-run game Wednesday night, but instead opted for Salas both times seemingly because it was “too early” in the games for the typically late-inning pair. As a result, he ended up having to pitch Smith and Frieri on Wednesday when the game was already well out of hand. Lot of good that does.

Another questionable bullpen call came Monday night, when Scioscia left Kevin Jepsen in to face a fleet of left-handed bats even though Nick Maronde was warmed up. There’s no knowing what would have transpired had Maronde been called on five or six batters earlier, but the probability definitely swings in his favor. Jepsen’s new lowered arm slot makes him more susceptible to opposite-handed batters–especially when he’s only throwing sinkers–so running the gauntlet of six consecutive lefty batters is bound to go poorly. And whaddaya know? It did.

 


1 Not actually a thing.

Angels Open Against Mariners

March 31st, 2014

oihguhv

The offseason ends tonight. Angels against Mariners. Jered Weaver against Felix Hernandez. First pitch at 7:00 PM PST.

The Angels have had a relatively quiet offseason, in that they didn’t spend ravenously on the free agent market. Instead, the Halos added talent via the trade market, dumping Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo and bringing back David Freese, Hector Santiago, and Tyler Skaggs. The idea is that these additions, in conjunction with bounce back years from Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, should be enough to push the team back into October for the first time since 2009.

Seattle did things differently this offseason. General Manager Jack Zduriencik shelled out $240 million to bring Robinson Cano to town before adding Corey Hart, Logan Morrison, and Fernando Rodney. The Mariners should be much better this season, but it’s unclear whether or not they’ve done enough to challenge for a postseason berth in the increasingly competitive AL West, and their pitching staff has taken some early hits, with both Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker slated to miss time early in the season.

In this three-game series, the Mariners will send Hernandez, Erasmo Ramirez, and James Paxton to the bump against Weaver, C.J. Wilson, and Hector Santiago. Here’s how the Angels’ projected lineup has fared against King Felix in the past:

  1. Kole Calhoun: 0-for-4
  2. Mike Trout: 15-for-38
  3. Albert Pujols 5-for-26
  4. Josh Hamilton: 10-for-61
  5. David Freese: Never faced.
  6. Raul Ibanez: 2-for-11
  7. Howie Kendrick: 20-for-67
  8. Chris Iannetta: 2-for-15
  9. Erick Aybar: 15-for-69

And here’s how the Mariners’ projected lineup has performed against Weaver:

  1. Abe Almonte: Never faced.
  2. Kyle Seager: 3-for-15
  3. Robinson Cano: 12-for-32
  4. Justin Smoak: 7-for-27
  5. Corey Hart: Never faced.
  6. Logan Morrison: 0-for-2
  7. Dustin Ackley: 6-for-19
  8. Mike Zunino: 0-for-2
  9. Brad Miller: 0-for-6

King Felix has remained awesome into his late twenties, posting the best strikeout-to-walk ratio of his career in 2013. The 28-year-old relied much more heavily on his sinker and change-up last season, and that trend appears to be continuing this spring. Felix has both deception and stuff, so he’s usually a good bet to get a lot of people out.

Weaver looks to stay healthy early this season. After going 200+ innings for three straight seasons, the 31-year-old missed a handful of starts in 2012 and failed to reach the plateau. Last season, Weaver fractured his non-throwing elbow when he was struck by a line drive in his second start. When he’s been on the mound, he’s been effective, regardless of his loss in velocity.

It all starts tonight. The grind begins.

Halos Daily

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