Tag:Los Angeles Angels
Posted on: December 2, 2009 3:09 pm

Weiner: Postseason schedule needs tightening

On his first day as executive director of the Major League Players' Assn., Michael Weiner agreed that the postseason schedule needs to be tightened and, at the same time, said that there is sentiment among the players' executive board to increase the divisional round to best-of-seven series.

Commissioner Bud Selig said last month that he is personally going to take a swing at tightening the postseason schedule for next fall after complaints this year of too many days off.

The Angels, for example, played only eight games in 20 days going into Game 6 of the AL Championship Series against the Yankees. Beginning on Oct. 13, the day after they eliminated St. Louis, the Phillies played only 12 games over 23 days through the end of the World Series.

"I think everyone is in agreement that the postseason schedule is in need of adjusting," Weiner said on a conference call Tuesday formally unveiling him as Don Fehr's replacement. "I'm a hockey fan as well as a baseball fan, and the [postseason] pace is what you would expect in hockey, not baseball."

Weiner said he is happy that Selig said he intends to look into tightening up the postseason schedule.

"We have to be respectful to our television partner, but we have to be concerned with the competitive aspect as well," Weiner said.

That said, Weiner acknowledged that expanding the divisional series from a best-of-five to a best-of-seven format was another issue raised by the executive board of the players' association at its meetings this week in Scottsdale, Ariz.

"There's a lot of sentiment for a seven-game series," Weiner said. "I think, if properly constructed, we could accommodate a seven-game series [in the first round] and still have it end in a shorter period of time."

Weiner said that his feeling is that if there is to be a change in format, that would not be addressed until the next round of collective bargaining with the owners (the current agreement expires following the 2011 season).

The condensing of the postseason schedule, however, could -- and should -- come as early as 2010.

In other assessments during Tuesday's call with reporters, the 47-year-old Weiner:

 Acknowledged that the union is continuing to monitor the free agent market for signs of collusion among the owners. Some agents thinks there were some questionable maneuvers in 2007 and 2008, and Weiner said he's watching the slow pace of free agency this winter.

"Yeah, I’m concerned a little bit. It's been a little slow," Weiner said. "But it was a little late starting by virtue of when the World Series ended [Nov. 4]. That's something we may want to consider in bargaining, given that there are now three rounds of playoffs."

Weiner said with arbitration offers having been extended to players on Monday, the "landscape is a little more clear" now. "It's too early to draw any conclusions on how this will play out," he said.

 Said he and the union are open to a worldwide draft but continue to oppose a salary slotting system that owners want.

"We're willing to have all players without regard to their country of origin be subject to the same rules entering the game," Weiner said, nothing that it would mean an amateur player "from Texas as well as a player from the Dominican Republic" be governed by the same policy.

But as for a slotting system, he noted "we call it a salary cap" and said that's a different issue.

 Said he believes the current performance-enhancing drug testing system is "working great". And as for the continued concern over human growth hormone, he noted that "if a reliable urine test for HGH is developed, it would automatically go into place. It would require no modification in the agreement."

So far, that test has not been developed.

Posted on: October 21, 2009 5:44 pm

Angels on the brink

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Facing a stunningly swift termination of their season, the Angels worked out under sunny skies Wednesday afternoon still attempting to figure out what's hit them in this AL Championship Series.

"They've obviously said they didn't want to let me get on base," said leadoff man Chone Figgins, saddled with a .125 batting average and .263 on-base percentage in this ALCS. "They're doing their damndest to make that happen."

Doing a pretty darn fair job of it, too.

"All year, we've been good," outfielder Bobby Abreu said of the Angels' struggles with runners in scoring position. "We're doing too much, that's what it is. Sometimes we're swinging at bad pitches."

Yeah, but CC Sabathia didn't make them chase in Game 4. If the Angels weren't swinging, they were going to be behind 0 and 2 in each count before they knew what hit them.

"The Yankees ... have been able to dictate terms of how this game unfolds with getting some early runs and getting on the board early," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "They were getting to their power arms in their pen in Games 1 and 2. And obviously, on the mound, they're doing a terrific job against us."

The Angels this season ranked second to the Yankees in runs scored and several other offensive categories in the AL.

But Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, A.J. Burnett and several relievers have taken that away from them.

The Angels are at their best when they run, but it's difficult to do that when few of them are reaching base. And of those who did, some complained that the cold, hard ground made it difficult to run in New York.

Back here in Anaheim, that's not the case. But lefties Pettitte and Sabathia have kept baserunners in check consistently. Pettitte threw to first base 17 times during his time on the mound in Game 3.

"Their pitching," Figgins said. "It's not a surprise, but they're keeping the big innings from happening. We need to make the pitches they're making. And their big guys are coming up with home runs. They're getting the huge hit and we haven't done that on our side."

Bottom line is, the Yankees have swarmed the Angels so thoroughly that the Angels not only have been off their game, but they haven't been able to get anywhere close to retrieving it.

"We've been waiting for that since the first game," Torii Hunter said. "We haven't quite gotten there yet, but it's getting late.

"The bell's about to ring."

The Yankees, meanwhile, mostly had their game-faces on Wednesday -- even though there was no game.

"We didn’t come out here to win three games in a series and be happy about it," outfielder Johnny Damon said. "That's why we're here for practice today.

"And we're going to go out and have a great practice. We're not going to go through the motions."

Likes: That last quote from Damon, delivered so earnestly, was a gem. ... What a bonanza for the Mariners, catcher Kenji Johjima opting out of the final two years of his contract to go play in Japan. Talk about a win-win proposition. And according to Mariners spokesman Tim Hevly, the Mariners owe him nothing. ... Manny Mota to receive the Ray Boone Family award at the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation's annual dinner/gala Jan. 16 in Los Angeles at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel. ... Bruce Springsteen bringing his mother onstage Tuesday night in Philadelphia to dance with him on Dancing in the Dark. Sure wish I could have been there for a three hour-plus show -- on an off night during the NL Championship Series, nonetheless. But I'm glad several baseball writer friends were able to attend. As well as Dodgers manager Joe Torre and GM Ned Colletti.

Dislikes: Balloon Boy.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Well, I can't tell lies, 'cause they're listening to me
"And when I fall asleep, I bet they're spying on me tonight, tonight
"'Cause they're waiting for me
"They're looking for me
"Every single night they're driving me insane
"Those men inside my brain"

-- Cheap Trick, Dream Police


Posted on: October 9, 2009 11:10 pm

Francona good, Angels travel late, Howrie to SD?

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Boston manager Terry Francona appeared over his food poisoning by the time Game 2 started. He said he felt much better following a rough night and was left with only a headache.

"I had a bad night," Francona said. "I just flat-out got food poisoning. Everybody's probably had it.

"Believe me when I tell you, I got rid of it."

 Staying in their comfort zone: In an unusual move, the Angels have decided to work out in Angel Stadium on Saturday before flying to Boston later in the day for Game 3 on Sunday.

Often, clubs leave immediately after the game and fly through the night to reach their destination and work out in the opposing ballpark the next day. In the past, the Angels have left on the morning of their travel day and then worked out in the opposition ballpark upon arrival.

"We did that last year and waited an hour-and-a-half for our [equipment] bags," manager Mike Scioscia said, recalling yet one more unpleasant Boston experience for the Angels. We finished the workout about midnight. So we're going to work out here [Saturday] before our flight. And then we'll get into Boston and get a good night's sleep and get ready to play."

As miserable as Boston has been for the Angels, why not? And maybe they caught a break

 Jed Hoyer, Red Sox senior vice-president and assistant manager, is a strong candidate to succeed Kevin Towers as San Diego GM, according to industry sources. Hoyer is with the Sox here but declined comment on his candidacy for the Padres job, going so far as to refuse to even say whether or not he's interviewed. It's believed that he has.

 Most fascinating story of the weekend might be watching how the Cardinals respond following their gut-wrenching Game 2 loss to the Dodgers. Tony La Russa always is incredibly tightly wound anyway. If he's even worse and it reflects in his team, it could be three and out for the Cards. Here's their best chance: Joel Pineiro, who is underrated and has had a very good year, steps up to the challenge in Game 3. Then, you've got to like ace Chris Carpenter on short rest over the Dodgers' backsliding Chad Billingsley. Then, you could be looking at 2-2 and everyone heading back to Dodger Stadium for Game 5 on Tuesday.

Likes: Watching the Phillies' Charlie Manuel manage and never knowing what to expect next. Do you think he'll use any of his relievers the rest of the way? ... Love the time of year when every single pitch carries far-reaching and dramatic implications. ... Heroic effort from Minnesota starter Nick Blackburn in Game 2, but the Yankees are just too talented and too deep. ... Bobby Abreu's batting eye. The guy walked in each of four plate appearances in Game 1. Not the most exciting stuff, but you've really got to admire his discipline. "I've got my strike zone and I swing whenever I have to swing," Abreu says. "It's not like I'm going to waste my at-bat to make somebody happy." ... Dance the Night Away remains Van Halen's best song (and I like a lot of them). ... KLOS, 95.5 FM, Los Angeles' classic -- in every sense of the word -- rock station. ... Congratulations to the Falcons from Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central High, who won another huge football game Friday night. My Falcons whipped Milan 25-13 in a Huron League game to run their record to 6-0 in the league and 6-1 overall. Another outstanding job of coaching (so far) by my old classmate and buddy Jack Giarmo.

Dislikes: Randy Marsh, CB Bucknor, Phil Cuzzi ... the list of umpires failing to distinguish themselves continues to grow.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"You love her
"But she loves him
"And he loves somebody else
"You just can't win
"And so it goes
"Till the day you die
"This thing they call love
"It's gonna make you cry
"I've had the blues
"The Reds and the pinks
"One thing for sure
"Love stinks"

-- J. Geils Band, Love Stinks

Posted on: September 23, 2009 6:21 pm
Edited on: September 23, 2009 6:22 pm

Scioscia: 'The schedule's a joke'

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Over the past 10 days, the Angels have played the Yankees and Red Sox seven times, with a very good chance that they'll be seeing at least one of those clubs -- and possibly both -- when the playoffs start in less than two weeks.

Advantage or disadvantage for a club to be playing high-powered potential playoff opponents so close to the start of the postseason?

"The schedule's a joke," manager Mike Scioscia says. "You should be playing within your division at the beginning of the season, at the end of the season and in the middle of the season.

"The fact that we were back east [playing Boston] last week and that [the Yankees are] coming out West doesn't make sense."

Perhaps the root of Scioscia's anger is sleep deprivation. The Angels started last week's trip east with one game in New York on Monday, a makeup of an earlier rainout.

Traveling from Southern California following a Sunday game, the Angels arrived in New York around 1:30 a.m. Monday.

Then, after that night's game, they arrived in Boston around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday for the start of a three-game series.

Following the finale in Boston on Thursday, another night game, the Angels arrived at their next stop on the three-city trip, Texas, around 3 a.m.

Wednesday's home finale against the Yankees marked the end of a stretch in which the Angels played 20 games in 20 days and 41 games during a 43-game stretch.

"I don't know if there's ever been an off day more needed for this team than our day [Thursday]," Scioscia says. "The East Coast trip was tough."

Their reward, though, is just around the corner. Entering Wednesday, their magic number was five to clinch a third division title and a fifth in six seasons. While Scioscia says the schedule has been "a grind" lately, he's also learned something about his club.

"I think the depth of our team has surfaced," he says. "It's gotten us through what, looking back, has been a grind."

Likes: Still love the Rally Monkey in Anaheim. He's timeless. ... Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte. The four Yankees who date back to 1996 remain class (and winners) today. ... Texas pitching Kevin Millwood to pitch the other night even though he was so close to it guaranteeing his $12 million option for 2010 was the right thing to do. ... Hey, with Minnesota chasing Detroit, we've got one race. Of course, the Twins have six games left with the red-hot Royals -- and are projected to face Zack Greinke twice. Hey, they wouldn't want to back into the playoffs, would they? ... President Barack Obama on The Late Show with David Letterman this week. Letterman remains the master of the late night. ... James Maddock's disc Sunrise on Avenue C has been a wonderful find. ... Big finish last week as the Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central Falcons held off New Boston Huron 20-19. Next victory for the Falcons: Friday night against Grosse Ile.

Dislikes: Rangers reliever Eddie Guardado, 39, considering retirement? Say it ain't so, Everyday Eddie. One of the game's true good guys.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Now the years are rolling by me
"They are rockin even me
"I am older than I once was
"And younger than I'll be
"That's not unusual
"No it isnt strange
"After changes upon changes
"We are more or less the same"

-- Simon and Garfunkel, The Boxer

Posted on: August 28, 2009 4:52 pm
Edited on: August 28, 2009 11:05 pm

Angels acquire Kazmir from Tampa

The Los Angeles Angels acquired left-handed starter Scott Kazmir from Tampa Bay for two minor leaguers, left-handed pitcher Alex Torres and third baseman Matt Sweeney, and a player to be named later on Friday, immediately strengthening their rotation for the stretch run.

Rarely have the Angels been short of pitching over the past several years, but in a twist, while they ranked second in the majors to the Yankees with 713 runs scored entering the weekend, their 4.87 team ERA ranked 26th in the majors. The Angels' rotation, which has been battered by injuries throughout the year, ranks 11th in the American League with a 4.96 ERA.

The move comes after Kazmir, 25, produced a fine start in Toronto for the Rays on Wednesday, allowing one earned run on four hits in a no-decision. Still, it's been a very disappointing season for Kazmir, who is 8-7 with a 5.92 ERA in 20 starts for the Rays. Opponents are batting .273 against him after hitting only .220 against him last year. His ERA has been over 6.00 all summer until now.

While a somewhat surprising move for Tampa Bay given that the Rays are attempting to hang in there in the AL wild-card race, the move would off-load $22.5 million guaranteed to Kazmir through 2012  and give them some maneuverability in other areas, such as picking up outfielder Carl Crawford's $10 million option.

The Rays are not exactly viewing this as waving the white flag, either. They can replace Kazmir in their rotation with Andy Sonnanstine, who won several big games last fall, or rookie Wade Davis. Both are pitching at Triple-A Durham right now. Davis' ceiling is very high, and some scouts expected him to be recalled to the Rays before even David Price this season.

According to a clause in his contract, Kazmir is owed an extra $800,000 if traded.

Kazmir would join John Lackey, Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders in a rotation that is healthier than it's been all summer. Being that he's signed through 2011 (with a $13.5 million club option for 2012), Kazmir also gives the Angels some insurance against Lackey leaving as a free agent this winter. If he does, the Angels still would have Kazmir, Santana and Saunders, among others, for 2010.

Kazmir, who cleared waivers before the deal, is eligible for postseason play because he was traded before Aug. 31.

Posted on: July 31, 2009 3:40 pm

Twins with Angels, Dodgers in Heath Bell talks

Add the Minnesota Twins to the list of teams frantically phoning San Diego and trying to complete a deal for Padres closer Heath Bell in these final 30 minutes before the trade deadline, sources tell CBSSports.com.

The Twins, who already have acquired shortstop Orlando Cabrera, are working hard to add bullpen help to a beleaguered bullpen as they fight to stay in the AL Central race with Detroit and the Chicago White Sox.

The Padres' asking price for Bell, however, might be prohibitively high for the Twins' taste. And there is plenty of competition, too, as both the Dodgers and the Angels are making strong bids for Bell.

Posted on: July 12, 2009 7:16 pm

All-Stars: No Figgins, no back-flips

ST. LOUIS -- The All-Star replacements are trickling in, Tampa Bay's Carlos Pena subbing for Boston's Dustin Pedroia, Milwaukee's Trevor Hoffman in for the Dodgers' Jonathan Broxton. Last week, Texas' Nelson Cruz was chosen to replace injured Angels' center fielder Torii Hunter.

Still missing is Angels' infielder Chone Figgins, who really, really was hoping to go.

As in, he's spent much time over the past few weeks watching replays of old All-Star Games on MLB Network during the day before leaving for work in the afternoons.

Figgins was hoping that maybe in a National League park, without the designated hitter, there'd be more room for a speedy scrapper like himself. He also was hoping that maybe he'd have an in with American League manager Joe Maddon, a former Angels coach.

No dice.

Figgins certainly is deserving of consideration: He's ranked ninth in the AL in on-base percentage (.392), tied for second in triples (six), fourth in steals (27) and fourth in batting average against right-handers (.342).

Besides, he recently promised that if selected, he'd do a backflip in St. Louis in tribute to Cardinals Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith.

"I heard that," said Smith, 54, who managed the United States team in Sunday's Futures Game at Busch Stadium. "That would have been nice to see, because I darn sure can't do it anymore."

Posted on: July 8, 2009 9:27 pm
Edited on: July 8, 2009 9:30 pm

Hunter hurts groin, All-Star status in jeopardy

The Los Angeles Angels and the American League may each be down an outfielder: Torii Hunter, battling a groin strain in recent days, underwent an MRI exam on Wednesday and is in jeopardy of having to scratch from Tuesday's All-Star Game in St. Louis.

Hunter, whose groin has been bothering him since he ran into a wall in Dodger Stadium in May, felt it grab as he was running to first base in Tuesday night's loss to Texas. He was diagnosed with a strained groin and adductor muscle and was waiting for Dr. Lewis Yocum, the team orthopedist, to read the MRI exam Wednesday evening.

Hunter, who was named an All-Star for the third time in his decorated career Sunday, was downcast when discussing his status for St. Louis.

"It's up in the air," Hunter said. "It's cloudy right now.

"I'll see what the doctor's going to say and we'll go from there. We're going to re-evaluate it on Friday. The main goal is to be healthy for the second half."

Hunter was not in Wednesday's lineup against Texas. The Angels have an off day on Thursday, which means Hunter is in line for two days of rest depending on what the team medical staff says regarding his status for Friday night's series opener against the New York Yankees.

"For Torii to not be able to go, you know it's significant," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Hopefully, it'll change directions."

Hunter was planning to take his wife and two sons to the All-Star Game with him.

"I really want to go," Hunter said. "It's my first one with the Angels. I really want to go represent the Angels organization and fans, and represent them well."

Meantime, Angels outfielder Vladimir Guerrero, who left Tuesday night's game with a strained muscle behind his left knee, also was held out of Wednesday's lineup after undergoing tests.

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