Tag:Erick Aybar
Posted on: May 16, 2011 10:26 am
Edited on: May 16, 2011 10:08 pm
 

Pepper: Red Sox sweep Yanks; Varitek on Posada



By Evan Brunell


WALK A MILE IN THESE SHOES: Jason Varitek has been the Red Sox's answer to Jorge Posada for over a decade and has already undergone his own transition from starting catcher to backup. While Posada remains in the lineup as DH, Varitek wonders if his transition was easier to undertake.

“Jorge’s really had to go from focusing and doing the things that you have to do behind the plate -- the constant reminders, this and that, the maintenance, what’s going on -- and now you’re almost like, ‘Well what do I do with my time?’ ” Varitek said.

'Tek says the fact that he still starts games or has to stay mentally engaged in case he is needed in the middle of the game has allowed his transition to be easier and forces him not to worry about his slow bat. While Varitek's bat is waking up, he's still at a poor .164/.258/.218 in 63 plate appearances. Posada doesn't have that luxury, as his lousy line is as starting DH. But the Red Sox captian isn't ready to anoint Posada's career dead in the water.

"[Saturday] he had one of the few hits against Buchholz, and Buchholz had his top notch stuff,” he said. “You go through the Xs and Os and you don’t look at the batting average.” (New York Times)

RETURN OF THE TEHERAN:
Looks like Julio Teheran will get another spot start Wednesday. The Braves only need a fifth starter Wednesday and May 31, so can go with a four-man rotation for the time being. Obviously, Atlanta would have preferred Brandon Beachy not get hurt, but he kind of had decent timing. Beachy will take about a month to return, so Minor could still grab a few starts in June. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution via Twitter)

PRICE MOTIVATED AGAINST YANKS:
The first-place Rays have yet to do battle against the Yankees, but that changes Monday as both teams begin a two-game set in Tampa. David Price will draw the ball to start and admits he is always just a bit more motivated against the Bronx Bombers. "That just happens," Price said. "Whenever you're pitching against the pinstripes, you have a little more. That's how it is, that's just from their success forever in baseball." (St. Petersburg Times)

ACTA PART OF Indians SUCCESS:
Manny Acta, by all appearances, has been everything the Indians want in a manager. He's driven closer community-player relations, encouraging players to take part in Twitter. (Dusty Baker, take note.) But he's also made an impact on the field by setting expecations in spring training of contending and using all his tools at his disposal to make decisions. That's put him in the early bid for manager of the year. (New York Times)

LA RUSSA STILL WAYS AWAY:
Tony La Russa remains away from the Cardinals with a bout of shingles, missing six games to date. La Russa is unclear when he can return to the team and will hold a meeting with GM John Mozeliak Monday to try to answer that very question. (FoxSportsMidwest.com)

INCHING CLOSER:
Chase Utley played in his first full minor-league game on Sunday and is getting ever-closer to returning to the majors. GM Ruben Amaro indicated that Utley needs to get more at-bats, but would not rule out a return during the upcoming week-long homestand starting Wednesday. Sounds a bit optimistic, but it looks like Utley will give fantasy owners a jolt by returning before the calendar flips to June. (Philadelphia News)

WALKING ON 3-1:
A few eyes widened Sunday when Daniel Murphy of the Mets walked on what was thought to be a 3-1 count -- except umpire Angel Hernandez had called Houston's Aneury Rodriguez for a balk prior to what ended up being the fourth ball.  "I don't know. I wasn't paying attention," Murphy said. "I heard, 'Balk.' And then, '3-1.' I guess that's what Angel said -- ['ball']. It went from 2-1 to 3-1. It was a four-ball walk." (ESPN New York)

STAY WITH US:
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen wants fans to know that the team will turn things around. “Hopefully, we go home and play better for our fans,’’ Guillen said. “They deserve that. We owe them one after that last homestand. Hopefully, we continue to play the way we’re playing now.’’ The White Sox are 6-3 in their last nine games, but are still a discouraging nine games out of first place. (Chicago Tribune)

ALVAREZ STAYING:
There are no plans to demote third baseman Pedro Alvarez to the minors, Pirates GM Neal Huntington revealed on the radio. "He's a slow starter," Huntington said. "We're seeing signs he's getting to where he needs to be. He's squaring up some balls. He's not getting himself out or getting into pitcher's counts." Alvarez is hitting .210/.277/.286 in 130 plate appearances. Even rebuilding teams give up on prospects with that stat line at this point. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

AYBAR RAKING: Erick Aybar is less patient at the plate, which is allowing him to go after good pitches more and has a .351 batting average to show for it. Sure, he's playing a bit over his head, but he seems to turned a corner offensively at age 27 and is looking like 2009 is the norm, not exception. Aybar struggled to a .255 batting average last season, which he says was in part due to being too patient at the plate. (Los Angeles Times)

GREAT ESCAPE: Those who play SplinterCell for X-Box will notice a move taken right out of the game. An Astros fan ran on the field and evaded security guards by leaping over the center field wall and scaling a berm in a way that would make Sam Fisher proud, then vaulting yet another wall and escaping... until Houston's forces caught up with him outside the park. (Youtube)

PEACOCK ON FIRE: No, not the animal. Nationals' right-handed prospect Brad Peacock has taken his game to another level and currently has a 2.13 ERA in six starts for Double-A. Credited for his success is his curveball, which is being thrown near fastball velocity which is causing hitters to miss the adjustment needed to hit a breaking ball. (MLB.com)

ATTENDANCE ISSUES: Yeah, the weather hasn't been great and it's hard to get excited about a perennial loser no matter the state of the rich farm, but the Royals have noticed their poor attendance this year. The play on the field is surprisingly strong so far, plus the constant influx of young players over the next couple of years should fix the issue. For now, though, K.C. has to worry a little bit about lack of fan turnout. (Kansas City Star)

HEYWARD RETURNING: Jason Heyward is hoping his return to the lineup will happen Tuesday. Sidelined with a sore shoulder, Heyward has reported progress and will be available to pinch-hit in Monday's game. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

SCOUT PASSES: Dick Wiencek, one of baseball's most successful scouts, passed away due to complications from a heart attack. Wiencek signed a record 72 players, including Bert Blyleven, Alan Trammell, Mark McGwire, Jim Kaat and Graig Nettles. Thoughts and condolences to friends and family. (MLB.com)

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Posted on: May 4, 2011 12:44 pm
Edited on: May 4, 2011 1:09 pm
 

Who could Giants go after for shortstop?

Reyes

By Evan Brunell

The Giants' shortstop crisis has taken another turn toward utter disaster.

With the injuries to Mark DeRosa and Pablo Sandoval, S.F. has thankfully moved a slumping Miguel Tejada to third base, which improves the defense at shortstop even if his bat remains a complete zero. In lieu of Tejada, Mike Fontenot has stepped into the breach, but Fontenot remains a bench infielder with 20 career games experience at short -- seven this year.

Even when DeRosa and Sandoval return, allowing Tejada to slide back to short, the Giants need to find a better replacement, which will have to come via trade. But who?

Jose Reyes: The Mets' Reyes has been a popular link given the shortstop's perceived availability. An impending free agent, Reyes is showing how he can impact a game when healthy, but can the Giants afford both what it would cost in a deal for Reyes, plus what it will cost to retain him? CSNBayArea.com reports that while Reyes' name has been kicked around internally, that's as far as it's gotten so far. Helping matters is that the Mets wouldn't ask for any of the Giants' current starting pitchers, which has constantly eroded trade talks elsewhere. New York would focus on San Francisco's better prospects, like pitcher Zack Wheeler, outfielder Gary Brown or shortstop Ehire Adrianza. 

Problem: The Giants already have a franchise-record payroll in the $120 million range, and Reyes' pro-rated $11 million salary would have to be absorbed with no guarantee of retention after the year. And retention could be a problem, as reports surface that Reyes will ask for a deal similar to Carl Crawford's seven-year, $142 million pact. Without Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand on the team, maybe S.F. could foot the bill, but a deal of that magnitude is likely not feasible. Compounding matters is that GM Brian Sabean will not trade top prospects for a "loaner," as CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler reports. Makes sense, and is the right idea.

ESPN's Buster Olney counters this, saying Reyes could be convinced to stay with a solid multi-year offer. If Reyes agrees to a deal that pays him $15 million, the Giants could find the funds for 2012 by the expiring deals of Tejada, De Rosa and Cody Ross. The team could then start Brandon Belt in right or left-field, with Pat Burrell returning for another year in the outfield or a similar low-cost solution found. Both Aaron Rowand and Aubrey Huff's deals expire after 2012, which would then really free up cash for San Fran, so it's still entirely possible the Giants go after Reyes. Still, it's a big enough stretch financially and what type of talent would have to be surrendered that one has to question if it's the right call.

Marco Scutaro: That could cause the Giants to explore alternatives, and Scutaro is one known to have come up in Giants circles. Scoot is making just $5 million on the year and the Giants would hold a $6 million club option if it wished to keep the infielder around another year. With Jed Lowrie's emergence in Boston, Scutaro is certainly available despite his ability to function as utility infielder. The Red Sox have depth down in Triple-A for that role, so if they can find a fit, would not hesitate to move their 2010 starting shortstop.

The Red Sox wouldn't require a top prospect in return for Scutaro, so a fit could be easier reached. The Red Sox could pursue bullpen options or settle for acquiring a blue-chip prospect. This is the most likely outcome: Scutaro fits the Giants' budget, holds potential 2012 value and has a motivated seller.

Maicer Izturis / Erick Aybar / Alberto Callaspo: The Angels love their infield depth, and it's been a major help so far. Still, if and when Kendrys Morales returns to first base, someone has to hit the bench. That won't be Howie Kendrick, who is currently batting No. 3 in the order and in the process of breaking out. That leaves one of the three mentioned as bench candidates. At that point, the Giants would be interested in one of the three. Aybar is the one whose job appears most secure, although he's the worst hitter to date. Callaspo is in the midst of a hot streak but is falling back to earth and has only 32 games played at short in his career. That leaves Izturis, who is in the middle of his own hot streak and the one who has consistently been the bench player of the group, although it could be Callaspo this season.

But a fit is less clear. The club can't justify asking for one of San Francisco's best starting pitchers and there's no obvious fit on offense. It's tough to imagine the Angels agreeing to trade for a prospect to sacrifice that quality infield depth.

Jack Wilson / Brendan Ryan: When the Mariners finally promote Dustin Ackley to man second, it will relegate a good fielding, no-hit shortstop to the bench. Take your pick in Jack Wilson or Brendan Ryan. Either can easily go, and Seattle wouldn't put up too much of a fuss in the return price. While Marco Scutaro would represent the best investment both from a financial and production perspective, acquiring one of Wilson or Ryan remains the most likely outcome simply because the price would be lower for one of the two. Plus we need the humor of the sad-sack Pirates' double-play combo in Wilson and Sanchez being reunited on the World Series-defending club.

There are other options too, but they're hardly anything to get excited about. Ronny Cedeno, Cesar Izturis, Angel Sanchez, or even a return engagement by Edgar Renteria would fill a gap, but nothing more.

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Posted on: March 7, 2011 12:45 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2011 5:10 pm
 

Yankees' Gardner working on bunting

Brett Gardner

By C. Trent Rosecrans

In today's Pepper, we talked about Brett Gardner maybe getting a shot at supplanting Derek Jeter as the Yankees leadoff man. It makes perfect sense, Gardner is crazy fast and gets on base at a good clip.

The one thing he may have to improve upon is bunting. In 995 plate appearances in the big leagues, he has just 10 bunt hits. You'd think with his speed, which is truly elite, he'd try to lay down more bunts. 

"The last few years, I just kinda got away from it, it's something I didn't really try to do, I guess it's something I didn't use as much as I should have," Gardner told CBSNewYork.com. "It's not something I've completely lost, it's something I'm going to continue to work at, something that will make more of a complete player and give me another weapon to use to get on base, get guys over and put the ball in the defense's hands and make them make mistakes."

Gardner had 18 bunt hits in 251 plate appearances at Double-A Trenton in 2009 in 2006, so it's not like he can't do it.

I'm not normally a big fan of the bunt as an offensive weapon, but for someone with superior speed such as Gardner, it can be a game-changer. At the very least, just the danger of him laying down a bunt could benefit the Yankees.

Gardner said he's been good at sacrifice bunts, but needs to work on bunting for hits.

"The thing for me is, I could sit out here all day and practice and do it right and do it right and do it right, but in game situation, your adrenaline is pumping and I'm always try to put the ball on the ground and run," Gardner said. "So it's a matter of staying in there a split-second longer and making sure I get the bunt down and a good bunt and then run as opposed to running out of the box and losing my angle and letting the bat head drop and fouling the ball off, which is a bad habit I've gotten in the last couple of years. I'm much better on a  regular sacrifice bunt because I take my time and I don't rush and I make sure I put the ball on the ground where I want to and for the most part I've been able to do that when I slow things down."

Gardner had seven bunt hits last season, so he is working on it. Still, he was successful on just 36.8 percent of his attempts for a base bunt hit, it's something with work he could improve upon.

The Angels' Erick Aybar and Julio Borbon of the Rangers led the big leagues last season with 18 bunt hits, while only seven more players had as many as 10 bunt hits. Texas' Elvis Andrus had 13, while Angel Pagan, Gregor Blanco, Juan Pierre and Nyjer Morgan each had 12 bunts hits and Michael Bourn had 10. In that group, Blanco had the best percentage at 57.1 percent, while Pierre was the lowest at 21.8 percent.


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Posted on: August 17, 2010 1:27 am
Edited on: August 17, 2010 1:29 am
 

Year has not been kind to Angels' bats

Torii Hunter
The Orange County Register points out that Wednesday is the one-year anniversary of a historic feat, and provides a reminder of how much things have changed for the Angels.

After a 5-4 victory over the Indians last August 18, all nine batters in the Angels lineup had a batting average of .300 or better (you can see the box score here ). It was the first time a team had been in that situation since the 1934 Tigers.

A year later, not one of those nine players is batting .300. Here's the lineup, with last year's August 18 average and their current average:

Chone Figgins (now with Seattle) .308/.251
Bobby Abreu .310/.266
Juan Rivera .310/.257
Vladimir Guerrero (now with Texas) .313/.297
Kendry Morales .303/.290
Torii Hunter (pictured) .307/.290
Maicer Izturis .300/.249
Mike Napoli .300/.254
Erick Aybar .313/.271

Explains a lot about how the Angels were 5 1/5 games up in the American League West then and 8 1/2 back now.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: June 26, 2010 1:30 pm
 

Angels' Wood 'at his absolute worst'

Brandon Wood On one hand, it can't be pleasant for Brandon Wood to hear his manager frankly telling reporters how much Wood stinks.

On the other hand, the context of the remarks matters. What Angels manager Mike Scioscia was saying was that the Wood who stinks is not the real Wood.

"We're seeing Brandon at his absolute worst," Scioscia told reporters Friday. "We're seeing a kid whose confidence is very low right now. I don't know if you could have scripted a tougher start for a youngster trying to get his feet on the ground in the major leagues than what we've seen with Brandon."

The infielder, a former first-round pick, has been among the Angels' top prospects for several years and this season finally is getting a chance to play regularly at the major-league level.

It's not going well. He's batting .184/.209/.275 in 48 games, with 45 strikeouts and three extra-base hits. He also has look bad in the field. With Erick Aybar returning at shortstop and Kevin Frandsen playing well at third, it's going to get tougher for Scioscia to keep running Wood out there as the Angels try to keep up with the Rangers.

But Scioscia says the team is not ready to write Wood off just yet.

"After 148 major-league at-bats? No," Scioscia said. "When a player gets significant playing time — it's going to take more than 148 at-bats to make that determination."

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: June 25, 2010 6:54 pm
Edited on: June 25, 2010 10:34 pm
 

Reagins: Angels will be active

Tony Reagins Sirius/XM host and former major-league general manager Jim Bowden had Angels GM Tony Reagins on his show Friday, and reported via Twitter that Reagins said the Angels are considering multiple options and are unrestricted financially in improving the team to compete this year.

The Rangers, winners of 11 straight, are threatening to run away with the American League West, but the Angels are hanging in there at 4 1/2 back.

The Angels have a shortstop problem with injuries to Maicer Izturis and Erick Aybar, though Aybar is progressing faster than expected and could be back this weekend. Previously in this space we looked at some options if the Angels go after a shortstop.

The team also lost first baseman Kendry Morales for the year thanks to a broken leg, and could certainly upgrade there with Lance Berkman, Derrek Lee or Ty Wigginton. The Angels haven't gotten much production at third and could look for help there, as well as looking to improve the bullpen.
Sounds like Reagins is going to busy for the next month, but it's not a bad problem to have if he's been given some money to spend.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: June 18, 2010 10:04 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 11:53 am
 

Aybar may skip DL


Erick Aybar may be back for the Angels quicker than expected. Although an MRI revealed "meniscal damage" in his left knee, Aybar was doing agility drills before Friday's game with the Cubs, the Los Angeles Times ' Mike DiGiovanna writes .

"Until he runs the bases 100%, it's tough to know where he is, but he's feeling a lot better," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We're feeling very optimistic he won't go on the DL, but he still has some hurdles to clear."

That would be a huge boon to the Angels, who lost Maicer Izturis earlier this week and currently have Brandon Wood playing shortstop.

Aybar was injured on a slide by Milwaukee's Erick Aybar in Monday's game against the Brewers. Although it was a scary collision, Aybar said he thought the play was clean.

"I had no problem with it," Aybar said. "He was trying to take me out and slid hard. I was trying to catch the ball."

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: June 17, 2010 6:09 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2010 2:28 pm
 

Angels may need outside help for SS

Erick Aybar The Angels are now without their two main shortstops as Macier Izturis hit the disabled list on Wednesday because of a strained left forearm.

The other shortstop, Erick Aybar, has avoided the disabled list thus far after seeing meniscal damage to his left knee, injured on a Casey McGehee takeout slide Monday. But if Aybar does hit the disabled list, the Angels are suddenly looking at being without a major-league caliber shortstop for a long period of time.

Right now, the Angels are asking former top prospect Brandon Wood, handed the third base job out of spring training, to shift back to shortstop, the position he played for years in the minor leagues. However, questions remain with Wood's bat as he is hitting a paltry .156 in 128 at-bats.

The team's other option is a 31-year-old journeyman in Triple-A, so general manager Tony Reagins admitted to the Los Angeles Times that the team may have to look outside the organization for shortstop help. Of course, a lot depends on how long Izturis and Aybar are out for. If it's just the minimum 15 days, the Angels may opt to scrape by or acquire a capable fill-in that can head to the bench. If it's much longer than 15 days, then clearly the Halos will have to pursue a higher-caliber player.

Who could the team pursue? Here's a list.
  • Ronny Cedeno: .235/.276/.333 in 204 at-bats. The Pirates are mired in laughable levels of losing even as the team graduates its best prospects to the majors. While Cedeno would be far from a solution, he could fit short-term and then head to the bench. Despite Cedeno's inability to hit, he boasts a slick glove and could play all around the diamond for the Angels once the team gets its shortstops back.
  • Craig Counsell: .277/.330/.366 in 101 AB. Yes, the 39-year-old is still around -- and producing. He's a bench player for the Milwaukee Brewers, but that's another NL Central team that has to be thinking of giving up on 2010 shortly. Counsell is in his fourth year with Milwaukee and is signed to an affordable deal.
  • Stephen Drew: .275/.344/.445 in 229 AB. If the Angels acquired Drew, it would be to install him at shortstop permanently. It's tough to imagine the Angels giving up what would be required for the 27-year-old, but the Diamondbacks intend to make just Ian Kennedy and Justin Upton untouchable in trade talks this summer, so the possibility is there.
  • Adam Everett: .185/.221/.247 in 81 AB. Everett is an older version of Cedeno, but would be easier to get considering the Tigers just realized him. No, he hasn't wielded a bat in quite some time but his vacuum on defense will give him a job. It wouldn't be surprising if the Angels signed Everett to a minor league deal even if Aybar can return to the lineup immediately.
  • Cristian Guzman: .297/.323/.369 in 222 AB. Guzman has an empty batting average, is a liability on shortstop and is owed $8 million. Other than that, hey, he's perfect.
  • Cesar Izturis: .222/.277/.269 in 108 AB. The Orioles have their hands full with a meager 18 victories on the season, and Izturis isn't important to the team's future. Izturis is also defensively inclined. There's not much separation between Izturis, Cedeno and Everett, so the smart money, again, rests on Everett simply by virtue of Everett being a free agent, allowing the Angels not to surrender anything in trade.
  • Edgar Renteria: .326/.372/.395 in 86 AB: Renteria has gotten his season off to a strong start, but most of his defensive value is gone. While he's been a bit underrated lately, it's clear he's on the tail end of his career. Renteria may be the best option of anyone on this list to fill in for a few months if needed, but one thing that might scare the Angels away is Renteria's numbers in the AL. In two seasons in the AL, one year apiece with the Red Sox and Tigers, he had a .711 OPS. In 13 NL seasons, he has a .753 mark.
  • Ryan Theriot. With the arrival of Starlin Castro, Theriot has been pushed out of shortstop. What may may him unavailable to the Angels is the fact Theroit is now the Cubs' second baseman. While he's currently being benched in a timeshare with Mike Fontenot and Jeff Baker, the team hasn't indicated they don't still see Theriot as a long-term 2B.
  • Omar Vizquel: .241/.301/.325 in 95 AB. The White Sox may be about to wave the white flag, and Vizquez would certainly prefer to play for a contender in what may be his swan song. Like many on the list, his value is in defense. That said, his bat isn't an embarassment like it was in his final year with the Giants in 2008 and at least has some life in it. Vizquez would also bring some notoriety to the club and the 43-year-old is known as a strong mentor. Given that Vizquel would come at a low price, he's looking like an appealing short-term solution at short and long-term backup.
  • Jack Wilson: .253/.275/.347 in 83 AB. A move for Wilson would be rather unlikely as he's tied up through 2011 for $5 million, but the Mariners may make him available in trade. He's lost playing time to the hot-hitting Jack Wilson and has developed a reputation for being injury-prone.
-- Evan Brunell

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com