Thursday, January 26, 2006

That hurts!

So the A's signed Frank "Big Hurt" Thomas for just $500.000. This figure might go up to $2.6 million, but that's still pretty cheap for a guy who will most likely put up an OPS of .900+ if he stays healthy. If you look up "low risk, high reward" in wikipedia, I'm sure this deal is already cited there.
I keep asking myself: why couldn't the Angels make this deal? They have the money, they have a DH spot just as comfortable as that one in Oakland and they even have better weather, which is always nice for an oldtimer like Thomas. Why didn't anybody in the organisation seriously think of it when the team so clearly lacks power?
Well, there's always old mafioso Mike Piazza, some might say. While he's probably as cheap as Thomas at this point and a little more likely to stay healthy, the last two years he put up an OPS around .800. While this is still above average for the Angels, it is much less than what Thomas might and, I believe, Juan Rivera or McPherson should provide. So signing Piazza doesn't make much sense for the Angels, but Thomas might have. But, he's with Oakland now and it doesn't take a genius like Billy Beane to know this was a good move for them and it might hurt the Angels in the end, when (better: if) Oakland edges away with the division.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Steve Finley, good hitter

I know, I know, he's gone (thank god!), but the Giants apparently weren't watching last year, or they strongly believe in second third springs. This quote comes from an article from about the Giants thinking about batting Bonds 2nd in the lineup:
The reasoning now is that Bonds will likely be taken out of games in the late innings -- to rest his legs and help keep him healthy -- and Alou would prefer inserting a good hitter, the caliber of Steve Finley, as a replacement rather than an on-the-bench leftover.
Well, if I had just one word to describe the 2005 Steve Finley, "on-the-bench-leftover" would be it. But more and more I get the feeling, that next year, he will have a solid season, Erstad will be injured most of the time and we'll be stuck with El Fonzi on the bench.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Baseball Scrabble

Over at Halos Heaven I found a link to this great site where they tell you how many points baseball player's last names are worth in Scrabble.
Who's name is worth the most? My guesses were *Pierzynski (28)* and *Mientkiewicz (32)*, but *Vazquez* scored *37* Points.
Last name worth the fewest points? There are four different names. One of them is relativly easy, but can you name all four? It's *Lee*, *Orr*, *Loe* and *Seo*.
And yes, I am bored.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

What's WHIP?

Yesterday, Bruce Sutter was elected into the Hall of Fame. His stats are pretty good, but not really that great, he only played in 12 seasons, but considering he invented or popularized the splitfinger-fastball, I'm okay with this decision. The Hall shouldn't be all about stats. I do not think he deserved it more than some other players on the Ballot though, but since he had only three years of eligibility, I understand why he was voted in now.
Tom Verducci from Sports Illustrated also thinks that someone else, Goose Gossage, should have been voted in instead of Sutter. And he gets a little carried away with his argumentation:
Remember, Gossage pitched most of his career in the AL, with the DH, and Sutter never faced a DH.
Well, this point certainly applies to starting pitchers, but Closers usually don't face pitchers, but pinch hitters. Although the average DH might be a little bit better than the average pinch hitter, I don't think the difference is that big that this is a real argument against Sutter.
But it gets better:
And yet look who was the tougher pitcher to hit, as defined by opponents' batting average and walks plus hits per inning pitched (see chart, right).
This sound like a solid argument, at least as long as you don't look at the actual chart:

Pitcher  BAA  WHIP
Gossage .228 1.232
Sutter  .230 1.140

If even Members of the BBWAA like Verducci don't know that a smaller WHIP is actually BETTER, no voting result is going to surprises me anymore.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Erstad back in Centerfield

The Angels announced that Daren Erstad will move back to center, leaving first base in the hands of Casey Kotchman. Chone Figgins will play third, which means that Dallas McPherson will be the DH most of the time (except against lefties, I guess).
While I, like most Angels fans probably, am happy that I don't have to endure any more Steve Finley in Centerfield and that Kotchman gets his shot at first, Erstad playing center again reminds me of why he was moved in the first place: His proneness to injury. I somehow can't image Erstad starting more than 100 games in center next year. But plans for the worst (?) case are already made:
"... if Erstad got hurt and Figgy had to play center, Dallas could play third."
I bet Scioscia had to bite his lip not to say "when" instead of "if" when he gave that interview. However, when the inevitable happens, Dallas' back is hopefully completely healed and he can play the rest of the season in the field. That will free up the DH spot for Juan Rivera (vs RHP) and Robb Quinlan (vs LHP) or even Tim Salmon. As much as I like Daren and his gritty play and all his intangibles and his leadership and his running over catchers, at least offensively, this will probably make the Angels better.

Still, opening day and even spring training are still far, far away and there is a lot of time to spin a deal or sign a free agent. It doesn't have to be Manny or Tejada (although that would be really, really nice). Why not take a shot with a one-year contract on Frank Thomas or Mike Piazza. At least think about it. If the A's do it, so should the Angels.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

It's good that these times are over

I'm still not sure he was the problem down there. It's more like a day-care center than a major league clubhouse. Somebody said to me, "You can't trade 25 guys." I said, "Why not?"
In shifting the blame for a sub .400 last place 1999 from fired Manager Terry Collins to the players.
Tony Tavares

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Wrong Strategy?

Didn't we all wonder why the Angels' offense sputtered so much last year? It certainly wasn't the batting average of .270, 7th best in the majors. It rather was the OBP of .325 (19th) and the SLG of .409 (18th). As far as I know, the Angels offense strategy is to make contact and put the ball in play. This obviously is the reason for the OBP problem, but did you know it might also be responsible for the low slugging percentage? In 2005 Angels batters only struck out 848 times (just behind Oakland for 29th or 2nd place, however you see it) and as the guys from the Hardball Times found out, there is a positive correlation between strikeouts and the value of your outfield flies, i.e. the flyballs are more likely to leave the park. Ok, saying the Angels should strike out more probably oversimplifies things, but isn't it possible that some players don't reach their power potential because they focus too much on putting the ball in play?

Do you remember?

It's easy to stay in the majors for seven and a half years when you hit .300. But when you hit .216, like me, it's really an accomplishment.

Joseph Michael Lahoud (played in the outfield and DH for the Angels from 74-76 and had his career year with them, hitting .271, .367, .458 in 1974. He wound up playing ten years in the major after all, but never more than 38 games a season after he left the Angels. His career average is .223)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Stepping to the plate, hitting *somewhere*, the Third Baseman ...

... Edgardo Alfonzo???
Are you kidding me? ESPN reveals the current AL Rosters and our starting Third Baseman is Alfonso. Absolutely ridiculous!
D-Mac had an .744 OPS last year, EA just .672. Although he is better (that is: less bad) than D-Mac against southpaws (.646 to .474), the Angels won't platoon him because they have Quinlan sitting on the bench (.860 OPS vs lefties).
Let's hope we don't actually have to see a game in which that guy starts.

I've always been little, even back when I was little.

Commenting on his height of 5 feet, 6-1/2 inches
David Eckstein

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, Halosphere! Farewell Sean and all the best! Thanks again for linking to me! :)

So the Angels finally traded away Finley and what did they get? A guy who, if we are lucky, won't play a game at all next year.
Finley was bad last year, really, really bad, but he was good once and he was a centerfielder. I really think we should have gotten a better deal. Not much better, but a little better. Save some money, get a long shot prospect, use him as part of another deal, something like that.
And why are the Angels hardly ever mentioned in Ramirez/Tejada rumors?

By the way, I'm playing a draft-dynasty-game in MVP Baseball with the Angels and after winning the division the first year and losing the ALDS to Toronto in three games, I'm now in the World Series against the Giants in my second year. The Angels have just managed to climb back from a 0-2 hole to make it 2-2. One game left in Anaheim.


Dodgers and Angels highlights at 11. Please watch anyway.
Bill Weir, Cutting a promo during the 1999 season when both teams were having mediocre sub-.500 seasons.