Posted on: April 12, 2011 6:12 pm
Edited on: April 12, 2011 6:16 pm
By Matt Snyder
As we get close to the end of two full weeks of baseball in the 2011 regular season, we're already being treated to our fair share of boobirds in many major-league stadiums. It's a long season, but out of the gate every fan base has at least a modicum of hope for the campaign. When things don't go as planned, players get booed. That's nothing new.
It's just that, on a personal level -- and I'm sure I'm not alone -- some of the booing frustrates me. Allow me to use an example to illustrate.
Vernon Wells was traded to the Angels in the offseason and the deal was met with mostly venom from Angels fans. He's gotten off to a poor start and is getting booed. Presently in the OC Register 's Angels Blog , there's a poll to see why fans are booing him. Shockingly (I'm being sarcastic), the No. 1 reason he's getting booed is because of his contract. Not because he's making mental mistakes or isn't playing hard. Nope, because he makes too much money.
It reminds me, in a way, of Alfonso Soriano in Wrigley Field. He leads the Cubs in home runs and RBI while sporting a nice .871 OPS thus far. He's had several clutch hits at home. But when he failed to haul in a fly ball -- on a dead sprint up against the wall in the corner, mind you -- he was booed. It wasn't even ruled an error. Meanwhile, Tyler Colvin is hitting .115 with a horrible .503 OPS and hasn't heard a single negative word. Reverse the stat lines and imagine how much Chicago would be in love with Colvin and despising Soriano. The reason for this is obviously the difference in contract.
My annoyance with things like this exists on several levels.
First of all, every single player in the league is loaded. The league minimum is $414,000. What percentage of fans make even close to that? If you want to just hate all rich people, please stop watching network TV shows, attending movies and definitely don't listen to most music. Those people all make way more than you, too. And if their performances could be measured in such things, they wouldn't be hitting a home run every single time out either.
Secondly, the players I mentioned above are playing hard and aren't bad clubhouse guys. I can't think of a time I ever heard a cross word from teammates of Soriano or Wells. We aren't talking about Milton Bradley and Manny Ramirez here.
Also, let us not forget someone had to offer those contracts. If you're Soriano, are you going to turn down that money, saying you are going to be almost 40 years old before it expires and there's no humanly way you'll be even close to the 40/40 mode by then? If you're Vernon Wells, should you tell the Angels not to make the trade because you aren't nearly as good as the contract you were offered by Toronto brass?
Look, there's definitely a place for booing. If someone pulls a Manny and dogs it because he doesn't feel like running out a grounder, by all means boo loudly. If someone makes a series of mental mistakes, again, bring those boos down. If a player is selfish enough to get suspended for using PEDs and returns, let him hear it. The players are professionals and shouldn't be giving anything less than 100 percent effort or professionalism -- just the same as none of us should in our respective professions.
I also understand that when you purchase a ticket you have every right to boo players for whatever reason you wish, but do you really wanna be that petty, jealous person who just screams and boos based upon salary? I just don't understand how booing a player for physical performance due to a salary he was offered by someone else is productive for anyone.
If he's giving it his all, someone like Wells should at least be allowed time to bust out of his early funk. After all, he's played 10 games. In 157 games last season he hit 31 home runs with an .847 OPS. He'll start hitting sometime soon.
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Posted on: April 7, 2011 1:04 am
By Evan Brunell
Nick Hundley, Padres -- Tim Lincecum had a Freak-type day, and Hundley was the only Padres starter to avoid a strikeout and also poked the beast by whacking a solo home run against Lincecum in the third inning, the only run Lincecum would give up on a day where he walked none and sent 13 by way of the K. Hundley's off to a scorching start, a nice start in his first year where he's been handed the full-time starting job.
Carlos Quentin, White Sox -- It's just another day at work for Carlos Quentin, who had four hits by bashing a solo home run in the eighth to portend the uprising, then seal the four-run outburst the next inning with a double. Q is now batting .500/.522/1.000 in the early going and hauled in the 10th RBI of the season which is tied with Mark Teixeira for tops in baseball and also leads in batting average.
Justin Verlander, Tigers -- Verlander baffled the surging Orioles by going eight long and coughing up just four hits, whiffing nine and giving out two free passes. That kept Orioles hitters plenty busy, but Derrek Lee was able to notch a two-run blast off the righty, who could easily walk away with the Cy Young Award this season.
Mike Minor, Braves -- Minor lost the No. 5 starting job to Brandon Beachy, was demoted to Triple-A and later saw Beachy spin a fine start. Then, Minor got a break in Jair Jurrjen's injury setting him back and drew a spot start Wednesday. Good time to impress, right? Try 4 1/3 innings, seven hits, five earned runs and four walks, with a paltry two whiffs. Minor still has a bright future ahead of him, but it does appear he needs some more Triple-A seasoning.
Vernon Wells, Angels -- Not a great start to the season for Wells, who made headlines for all the wrong reasons in the winter due to having what could be the most overpaid contract in the game and still somehow being dumped on the Angels for a forgivable cost. He whiffed three times in five trips to the plate, going hitless but scoring a run thanks to reaching first on an error.
Joakim Soria, Royals -- The Royals were all set to move to a surprising 5-1 to start the season, but Soria had other plans. Coughing up four runs, Soria allowed the White Sox to take the edge by a run in the top ninth. A well-timed double by Kila Ka'aihue pushed the game to extra innings, but the White Sox pasted three on in the top 13th to win. Soria lost the game in convincing fashion, giving up four hits and walking one while striking out zero.
Posted on: March 18, 2011 9:29 pm
By Evan Brunell
The Angels, for a host of reasons, really, really need Vernon Wells to come through. After proving he still had something left in his bat, Wells was dealt to the Angels in the offseason's most-criticized swap, as Wells has $81 million remaining on his ill-advised contract.
The Angels made the move hoping Wells would add to their offense that struggled in 2010. While losing Kendrys Morales to an injury in May didn't help Los Angeles' cause, the offense needed a shot in the arm to go along with Morales' return. But rather than commit seven years to Carl Crawford, the Angels struck for a worse player whose four years left on the deal are at the same ages as Crawford.
For the offense's sake, for the sake of the ledger books and for the sake of GM Tony Reagins, Vernon Wells must produce.
You can't talk Angels pop culture without mentioning the classic Angels in the Outfield, starring Christopher Lloyd, Danny Glover, Tony Danza and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who you may remember as Arthur in Inception, Tom from (500) Days of Summer or as Tommy Solomon in 3rd Rock from the Sun as one of the main characters. Also making appearances in the film are Adrien Brody, Matthew McConaughey and Neal McDonough.
In Angels in the Outfield, released in 1994, Gordon-Levitt plays a foster child who sneaks into games played by the California Angels, who were among the league's dreck. It is at this time that he asks his father when they can be a family again, to which the father responds that the Angels have to win the pennant first. Gordon-Levitt, as Rogers, then prays for help. Lo and behold, the angels (not the baseball Angels...) respond!
Hey, we didn't say this movie was in the running for Best Picture. Anyways, we won't ruin the ending here, but suffice it to say that hilarity ensues as God's angels help the Calfornia Angels in their run to the pennant with Roger the only one who can see the angels. That draws the attention of the Angels manager (Glover), who uses Roger to help the team.
There's one part of the movie where Glover leaves in a starting pitcher despite 159 pitches up to that point. You'd certainly never see that today.
Posted on: January 26, 2011 11:19 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2011 11:19 pm
There've been no shortage of shots at the Angels this off-season -- and no shortage of ammunition. From the missed free agents (Carl Crawford, Adrian Beltre) to what they did manage to do (take on $81 million of Vernon Wells), the Angels have widely been seen as the big losers of the offseason.
Angels owner Arte Moreno said Wednesday it's too early to judge the team's work this offseason.
"If we win -- if we get to the playoffs and get a shot at [a championship] -- then we managed [the offseason] right," Moreno said (via the Orange County Register ). "If we're sitting home in October again, then we didn't get it done."
Moreno said season-ticket renewals are down, but the team didn't make the Wells deal out of pressure from fans.
"I've been in business a long time, and any time you make decision based on pressure, you make mistakes," Moreno said.
Or, you can make mistakes without them.
Wells is a decent player, no doubt, and he can even be very good -- but he's not $81 million over the next four years good. Most of the criticism toward the deal is directed at the money. With Wells, the Angels will be spending more than $140 million in payroll this year (including $11 million still owed to Gary Matthews Jr.). If Moreno wants to back up his boasts, he'll have to spend even more in the future. He says the team has "plenty of flexibility" in future payrolls. And that's fine if Angels intend to be Yankees West -- spending whatever it takes to win. That's all up to Moreno. He seems to be talking that game now.
"When I got here, I talked about a seven-year plan," Moreno said. "Well, this is my eighth year. It really takes 15, 20 years. To me, if I'm going to do it, I'm going to try to win."
-- C. Trent Rosecrans
Posted on: January 24, 2011 6:54 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2011 6:59 pm
Oh, this should be fun. Tuesday, Angels general manager Tony Reagins will answer fans questions on Twitter as part of the MLB Network's #frontburner series.
Fans can send their questions on Twitter with the hashtag #frontburner and Reagins will answer some tomorrow on MLB Network at 5 p.m.
So far, most of the questions are some sort of variance on the question asked by Ed Price of Fanhouse : "WTF?"
It's pretty much the only question. My response has hardly changed. It's basically:
Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein tweeted he asked six people in MLB front offices to help him understand the deal, and none could. The Orange County Register 's Sam Miller has a couple of theories -- the one that makes the most sense to me is there's an off chance Wells has a greed to opt out of his contract after the season, but I'm not sure how plausible this is.
-- C. Trent Rosecrans
Posted on: January 22, 2011 3:00 pm
Edited on: January 22, 2011 3:09 pm
"If you want to continue to perform at the highest level, you have to keep building the business," Angels owner Arte Moreno told the Los Angeles Times back in October. "And that's what I intend to do."
Moreno, who was very upset about the team's play en route to an 80-82 record, went on to pledge that he would spend what was necessary to return the team to the playoffs.
Well, $70 million is certainly a nice chunk of change, but the Angels continued one of the most baffling offseasons ever by handing all that money to Vernon Wells instead of Carl Crawford or Adrian Beltre. Yes, Wells bounced back from years of struggles to bash 31 home runs en route to a .273/.331/.515 line in 646 plate appearances, but Wells was the proud owner of one of the worst contracts in the game that rendered him all but untradeable and has four years left on it as he enters the decline phase of his career.
Except to the Angels, apparently. In a confounding deal pulled off Friday, the Angels acquired Wells in exchange for catcher Mike Napoli and left-fielder Juan Rivera. It's pretty hard to call this an upgrade for the Angels, but is par for the course in a regime that has made more bizarre decisions than any other team since GM Tony Reagins took over. And that might be on the owner.
"We know where our weaknesses are, we know where we are thin, we know where we have to go to market," Moreno said in October. "It's going to cost money, but our fans need to know what we're committed to winning."
Moreno cited an outfielder who can hit, plus boosting offense at catcher and third base as offseason priorities. Except to hear him later tell it to the Times, the club never made an offer on Carl Crawford, and that's baffling for an owner who came into the game willing to spend and did just that by grabbing Vladimir Guerrero, Bartolo Colon and Kelvim Escobar in the 2003-04 offseason.
"There were rumors out there, but we never made an official offer, and no parameters were discussed," Moreno noted of the talks with Crawford.
"It's crazy. I paid [$183 million] for the team [in 2003], and now we're talking $142 million for one player? Seven years on a player is a huge risk financially. [Crawford's] greatest asset is speed, and he's a very skilled athlete who would have fit perfectly in left field for us. But we didn't look at him as a power hitter in our stadium."
Except that the only times Wells has outproduced Crawford in Wins Above Replacement (Fangraphs version) were in 2003 -- Crawford's first season -- and 2006, where Crawford only finished 1.1 behind Wells. Is Crawford's seven years and $142 million that much worse than Wells' four years and $81 million on the deal (the Jays kicked in $5 million)?
Sure, that total outlay is around $70 million once you delete Napoli and Rivera's contracts, but Crawford would have only been an extra three years and $56 million more than Wells. Still a pricey tag? How about Adrian Beltre, then, who signed a five-year, $80 million deal that can increase to six years and $96 million with Texas? Yep, you read that right: the Angels chose a subpar defensive outfielder with just as checkered an offensive history for four years and $81 million over a premier defender who would have cost one less million for an extra year. And meanwhile, the Angels balked at any offer over $77 million for five years. Even if you have to add on that team option for the sixth year, Beltre is still the better buy.
Oh, and about upgrading offense behind the dish? The Angels traded away their answer there in order to stick with Jeff Mathis, whom is fantastic defensively but hit .195/.219/.278 in 218 PA for the Angels in 2010.
Meanwhile, Napoli had five less home runs than Wells in 136 less trips to the plate in 2010 and Rivera had an eerily similar line to Wells back in 2009 when he hit .287/.332/.478 with 25 homers in 572 PA. And between Rivera and Wells, their OPS' (.771) and OPS+ (105) are exactly the same over the last two years. And yet, the Angels chose to acquire the center fielder.
Except Wells isn't exactly a center fielder. Those three Gold Gloves from 2004-06 are nice, but not worth the metal that was sculpted. Wells has been a lousy center fielder for three years running now and would be better served in a corner. Torii Hunter may have fallen off in his fielding as well, but he's better than Wells. If Peter Bourjos remains in center (or the team signs Scott Podsednik for that role) and Wells shifts to left, that does help the outfield defense but actually would be negligible in boosting Wells' value as he would suddenly be compared to other left fielders, not center fielders. In Fangraphs' adjustments for positional value, center fielders get +2.5 wins credit, but -7.5 for left and right field -- so Wells' bat has to be that much better to make up for it.
Oh, and did we mention how Toronto waived Vernon Wells in August? All the Angels would have had to do was place a claim and he would have been theirs. Instead, they trade for him in the offseason and give up Napoli and Rivera for that right.
Sam Miller of the Orange County Register nailed the trade by saying "It's the rare trade that makes a team older, more expensive and worse."
And that's exactly what the Angels just did.
-- Evan Brunell
Posted on: January 22, 2011 2:59 pm
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Posted on: January 22, 2011 2:57 pm
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