Tag:Vernon Wells
Posted on: December 8, 2011 6:45 pm
 

Angels' lineup will change "100%" with Pujols

Shortly after the Angels won a bidding war against the Miami Marlins and secured free agent left-hander C.J. Wilson in the early morning hours Thursday, the pitcher spoke with the general manager of his old team, the Texas Rangers, in a farewell conversation.

"Is there any way," Texas GM Jon Daniels joked, "that I can convince you to go to the Marlins?"

And that was before Albert Pujols committed to the Angels.

Yes, the landscape changed rapidly in the AL West this week and, as things go on paper in the winter-time, the Angels positioned themselves as the potential division favorites heading into 2012.

That's as of today, and who knows what happens tomorrow. The ultra-aggressive Rangers surely will answer the Angels moves -- Prince Fielder? -- and the earth could yet shift again before spring training.

"It's crazy," Wilson said. "With Albert going, there's a big swing on the balance of power in the West.

"I thought I would make a difference, but he makes a huge difference. Nobody saw that coming."

Indeed.

"I'm shocked about Anaheim swooping into it," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said.

As if it wasn't stunning enough that the Angels hauled in Pujols (10 years, $254 million), Wilson (five years, $77.5 million) and reliever LaTroy Hawkins (one year, $3 million) during the final 12 hours of the winter meetings, the suits in the organization say they will not look to trade anyone.

Mark Trumbo, who played first last year and will be replaced by Pujols? He's taking ground balls at third base, a position of weakness.

Kendrys Morales, who played first two years ago? Unlike last year, the Angels are proceeding with caution after a second ankle surgery caused him to miss all of 2011.

Veterans outfielders Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu and Vernon Wells and young speedsters Peter Bourjos and Mike Trout also will fit in, somewhere, somehow.

"You have the opportunity from an offensive perspective to plug one of the great hitters of all time into the middle of your lineup," Angels GM Jerry Dipoto said. "And we feel like you can never have too much depth.

"As it pertains to Mark Trumbo and Kendrys Morales, we still have the benefit of playing in the American League, where we have first base at-bats, we have DH at-bats, corner outfielders at-bats.

"And we've discussed as we've gone through and into this season to date, Mark Trumbo is particularly athletic for his size. The power leads you to believe first base, but he's got a little bit of history at third base and in the outfield. We know those DH bats are there.

"We are still unaware of exactly the timetable for Kendrys Morales. But if we have all three healthy and clicking on all cylinders, we're going to be in a really good position."

One of Dipoto's most important early goals is to improve an Angels' lineup that was 11th in the American League in on-base percentage last year. Pujols' career .420 OBP ranks second in the majors among active players.

"One-hundred percent he'll change our lineup," Hunter said. "The way pitchers approach us, he's one guy who can change the whole lineup. You put Pujols in any lineup, any lineup, and it will be better."

The Angels could not have stunned the baseball industry more. Word of Pujols' signing broke just before 9 a.m. local time, just as executives from every club were gathering for the annual Rule V draft.

Even inside their organization, there was a sense of disbelief.

"This is crazy," Hunter said. "I'm so excited right now it's unbelievable. I'm just happy we have this chance. We've got a legitimate chance."

Hunter was working out at the Dallas branch of the Athletes' Performance Institute with pitchers LaTroy Hawkins (who signed with the Angels on Wednesday night, less than 24 hours ahead of Pujols and C.J. Wilson), Joel Hanrahan (Pirates closer), Jamey Wright (Mariners) and several young prospects when he learned the news.

"Everyone went crazy when it came up on the phone," Hunter said. "I am trippin' right now."
Posted on: September 9, 2011 11:17 pm
Edited on: September 10, 2011 12:05 am
 

Something fishy in Anaheim

Fact: The Angels are 19-4 when rookie outfielder Mike Trout starts.

Fact: The Angels started their series with the Yankees on Friday trailing Texas by 2 1/2 games ... and with Trout on the bench.

So ... is Mike Scioscia working on throwing the AL West race?

The quick answer, obviously, is no. He's playing the angles he thinks are best for the Angels. Trout, who recently turned 20, starts against left-handers. Scioscia says Trout will be in Saturday's lineup when CC Sabathia starts for the Yankees.

Still, even with righty Bartolo Colon on the mound, it's difficult to believe Trout would be a worse option than Vernon Wells (.252 on-base percentage, starting in left field) or even Bobby Abreu (.253 batting average, designated hitter).

Scioscia says Trout took some "good swings" in the Seattle series. He also says the Mariners pitched him differently than they did a month ago.

"Now Mike understands what the pitchers are trying to do and is making some adjustments," Scioscia said.

Trout, named as Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year this week, is hitting .230 with a .299 on-base percentage and a .448 slugging percentage in 29 games with the Angels. He has five homers in 97 plate appearances.

Asked about Maicer Izturis sitting in favor of Alberto Callaspo at third base Friday night, Scioscia said, in a statement that extends to Trout as well: "We're looking for production right now. We're not thinking a month or two down the road. Guys are going to play where they match up."

In Trout's case, he understands that.

"You learn [with] every pitch every inning," Trout said. "If I need anything, I go to Torii Hunter or Vernon. They've played my position. Petey Bourjos, as well. He knows how I'm feeling. He's been through it."

Trout's highlight so far was smashing his first big league homer, a three-run job, in front of 15-20 family members and dozens of friends in Baltimore on July 24. The most difficult thing, he said, is "calming yourself down. The first couple of games, I was jittery."

The Angels are happy with the way he's handling himself. But they're still not going to play him every day.

In 63 plate appearances against right-handers, Trout is hitting .214/.302/.357.

In 34 plate appearances against lefties, Trout is hitting ..258/.294/.613.

"He's still our secret weapon on the sidelines," hitting coach Mickey Hatcher said. "It's great to have a combination [Trout and Bourjos] to give the veterans a rest, and having a guy you know is going to bring something to the team ... I think all of our young kids have brought something."

Referring to their speed, Hatcher said: "Sometimes you don't even care if they hit it hard. They still might get a double."

"There's no doubt we have more speed on our club than we've had in the last 12 years," Scioscia said. "But we haven't had the on-base percentage to where we take advantage of it."

Meantime, Trout waits.

Likes: Ivan Nova, the Yankees' rookie starter. Good stuff, good kid. ... Atlanta's bullpen is unbelievable. It will be fascinating to see if Jonny Venters, Craig Kimbrel and Eric O'Flaherty have enough gas in the tank to go all the way through October like this. ... Michigan-Notre Dame on Saturday with my wife ready to make pizza for kickoff. ... Still little better in life than a good ballgame at home with pizza. ... Speaking of which, the trendy Pizzeria Mozza (celebrity chefs Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich) just opened in Newport Beach, Calif., and is highly recommended by Scioscia.

Dislikes: What a blackout in the west on Thursday night. The entire city of San Diego lost power, as did parts of Orange County, Arizona and northern Mexico. They blamed it on one guy doing maintenance at an important switching station in Arizona. I don't know much about electricity, but how can there be no checks and balances in place? One guy can wipe out power for five million people? Mama mia. ... Aw, Grosse Ile 20, Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central High 14 in Friday night football. The good guys lost.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Spirits above and behind me
"Faces gone, black eyes burnin' bright
"May their precious blood forever bind me
"Lord as I stand before your fiery light
"Li,li, li,li,li,li, li,li,li
"I see you Mary in the garden
"In the garden of a thousand sighs
"There's holy pictures of our children
"Dancin' in a sky filled with light
"May I feel your arms around me
"May I feel your blood mix with mine
"A dream of life comes to me
"Like a catfish dancin' on the end of the line"

-- Bruce Springsteen, The Rising 
Posted on: July 26, 2011 1:00 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2011 1:07 pm
 

Angels looking for bat, target third baseman

Even after rookie closer Jordan Walden blew his major-league leading seventh save Monday night, the Angels' top priority is to add a bat this week before the trade deadline, according to CBSSports.com sources, preferably a third baseman.

The Cubs' Aramis Ramirez and the Twins' Michael Cuddyer are two of the players the Angels have discussed internally, according to sources, but neither seems likely at this point early in the week.

Ramirez so far has indicated an unwillingness to waive his blanket no-trade clause.

As for the versatile Cuddyer -- whose limited no-trade clause involves only three clubs, none of them Los Angeles -- the Angels have considered taking a run at him and plugging him in at third base. But Minnesota so far refuses to concede in a tepid AL Central.

Sources with knowledge of the Twins' maneuverings say they remain in go-for-it mode and are casting a wide net for available relief pitchers to add to Joe Nathan and Matt Capps at the back end of their bullpen.

The Twins, after getting blown out 20-6 in Texas on Monday in a game in which Cuddyer became the first position player to pitch for them since 1990, are fourth in the division behind Detroit, Cleveland and Chicago -- but only seven games out.

Without Kendrys Morales this summer, and with age appearing to chip away at Vernon Wells, Torii Hunter and Bobby Abreu, the Angels rank 11th in the American League in runs scored, and 10th in both slugging and on-base percentage. They're second in the AL West, four games behind Texas heading into Tuesday night's games.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: May 13, 2011 1:03 pm
 

Without Kendrys, Angels lean on Kendrick

Well, that sure went pffft in a hurry at the Big A.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia last Dec. 7: "We fully anticipate Kendrys Morales back doing what he wants to, or what he can do."

Angels orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yocum on May 11: "Kendrys worked as hard as any athlete I've ever worked with in coming back from a devastating injury, and he hasn't been able to do it."

So, to review how this week has gone for the Angels: Morales to the surgeon's table (again), and Vernon Wells to the disabled list (groin). Groan, and grin. What are you going to do? Especially with a big weekend series coming up in Texas.

For now, in a move reminiscent of Chone Figgins' versatility, Howard Kendrick is grabbing his outfield glove.

After Wells left in the fourth inning Monday, Kendrick started each of the next two games in left field.

Total major-league time in the outfield for Kendrick since 2006 until now: Two-thirds of an inning, in center field, last year. Mostly, Kendrick has played second base for the Angels, with some first base mixed in.

"There's no question he can move around," Scioscia says. "Howie's a terrific athlete. He has the speed to play center field. Outfield is a great option for a guy with his athleticism."

The overriding factor is that the Angels want to make sure Kendrick's bat stays in the lineup. He's hitting .320 through the first 38 games, with a .381 on-base percentage. Torii Hunter has been predicting for years that Kendrick one day will win a batting title. Until now, nobody ever figured it could be as an outfielder.

But while Morales is out for the season, the Angels do not expect Wells to be out much more than a couple of weeks. So don't get any ideas about Kendrick permanently moving to the outfield.

"We're doing this purely on a need basis," Scioscia says. "He shags balls, he's fine tracking the ball, he runs good routes ... I don't think it's too far removed to ask a player to do what he's doing."

-- Kendrick's move is a little like that of the Twins' Michael Cuddyer in reverse. When Orlando Hudson went down last year, manager Ron Gardenhire for a time moved Cuddyer, a former high school shortstop, from right field to second base.

-- Three key young players playing unexpected pivotal roles for the Angels each was drafted under Eddie Bane, who was fired as the Angels' director of scouting last fall: Pitcher Tyler Chatwood (second round, 2008), first baseman/outfielder Mark Trumbo (18th round, 2004) and catcher Hank Conger (first round, 2006). Also chosen under Bane: Mike Trout, currently at Double-A Arkansas and listed by Baseball America as the game's second-best prospect. Just sayin'.

-- Talk to me about that Giants' pitching: Look who's back in first place in the NL West following a picture-perfect homestand in which they swept division rivals Colorado (three games) and Arizona (three more). And as is always the case with San Francisco, the prime reasons for the surge are cats named Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Jonathan Sanchez, etc. In making their move this week, the Giants, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, became the first team in major league history to sweep a homestand of six-or-more games without scoring more than four runs in any game.

-- Most stunning statistic of the year: Tampa Bay through midweek had the best bullpen in the American League based on its league-leading 2.71 ERA (fourth-best in the majors). For a team that was forced to replace seven of its top eighth relievers from 2010 over the winter (based on innings pitched), you sure couldn't tell.

-- The flip side of that preceding Rays' bullpen statistic, though, is this: As it so often is with good bullpens, no small part of the Rays' success can be attributed to a knockout rotation that works deep into games and does not overtax the relievers. While the Rays' bullpen ERA is the AL's best, their 93 innings pitched are the fewest of any big league bullpen.

-- A few more things on this crazy White Sox six-man rotation: Pitching coach Don Cooper and manager Ozzie Guillen have instructed the four starters not named Mark Buehrle or Jake Peavy -- that would be John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Edwin Jackson and Phil Humber -- to be prepared to work out of the bullpen, if needed, on the second and third days after their starts. "We don't want to use them, and we'll try not to use them," Cooper says.

-- Another benefit, from the Sox's view, of the six-man rotation: "If one of them is at seven innings and 95 pitches, he can go back out there because he'll have an extra day [before his next start]," Cooper says. The pitching coach also has delivered a pre-emptive strike against any moaning by someone claiming to be thrown off rhythm after a loss: He's told each of his starters that "the only people who have a right to be thrown out of whack by this are the opposing hitters, not us."

-- One side benefit of Jake Peavy's last minor-league rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte, at Toledo, last week: He was able to share a beer and catch up with ex-teammate Phil Nevin following the game. Nevin is managing the Mud Hens.

-- Cool promotion of the year: Farmer John, which makes Dodger Dogs, is donating 30,000 pounds of food to local food banks on the heels of Andre Ethier's 30-game hitting streak. Farmer John already is donating 1,000 pounds of food for every Ethier homer this year.

-- News that Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew has entered hospice care and is in the final days of his treatment for cancer is a blow. Killebrew is one of the game's true gentlemen, just a prince of a man who means so much to the Twins family. Prayers for him and family on this incredibly sad weekend.

Likes: The Orioles continue to show grit under manager Buck Showalter. Thursday night's win over Seattle was a terrific game, scoreless into the 12th, and it was one the old Orioles would have lost when the Mariners scored in the top of the 12th. ... Who is this Carlos Beltran man who slugged three homers the other day? ... SiriusXM radio and the MLB package. So cool to be able to listen to every game and each team's broadcasting crew. ... Steve Earle on Treme last week. ... The Cars on tour beginning Thursday night in Los Angeles. What the heck, as long as Ric Ocasek is along for the ride. ...

Dislikes: Ernie Harwell, Sparky Anderson, and now Harmon Killebrew says he is in his final days. We've lost some really special people over the past year, some all-time nice guys.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"As time wore on you proved
"A debt-ridden drunken mess
"Leaving my mother
"A poor consumptive wretch
"And then you disappeared
"Your gambling arrears
"The only thing you left behind
"And then the magistrate
"Reclaimed our small estate
"And my poor mother lost her mind"

-- The Decemberists, The Mariner's Revenge Song

Posted on: April 23, 2011 9:12 pm
Edited on: April 24, 2011 12:00 am
 

Hamilton, Feliz injuries open AL West door

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- First Josh Hamilton, now closer Neftali Feliz.

Guess life isn't going to be a tire swing all summer for the Texas Rangers, after all.

Not that the Rangers themselves ever expected to run away with the AL West, but when they were 9-1 and owned a four-game AL West lead on April 11, you sure heard some chatter in other quarters about the possibility.

Now, Hamilton is out for up to two months with a broken bone in his arm, and Saturday the Rangers disabled their closer with soreness in his shoulder before Saturday's game with Kansas City. Maybe Texas doesn't miss a beat, but if ever there was a time for an AL West rival to make an early-season move, this is it.

Question is, is anybody in a position to do so?

The Angels actually left Texas in first place on Wednesday night after taking two of three from the Rangers. But Boston devours Los Angeles like kids gobble Easter candy and, in winning the first three of a four-game weekend series -- the latest a 5-0 cakewalk on Saturday -- helped dump the Angels back into second place. The Red Sox have won 12 of their past 13 against the Angels, including nine of 10 in 2010.

Oakland ranks 13th in the AL in runs scored. Only Minnesota (57) had scored fewer than the Athletics (66), and Bob Geren's team needs to hit .500 (they were 9-11 before Saturday's game with Seattle) before worrying about passing the Angels and Texas.

The Angels had stabilized some after losing three of their first four, though Vernon Wells was still hitting just .183 with one homer and four RBI into Saturday night's game and the club's bullpen had walked an AL-high 41 batters -- five more than next-most Kansas City.

"Wells and Torii Hunter [.212, four homers, 12 RBI] have to start hitting," one veteran scout says. "Mark Trumbo and Hank Conger and their young kids aren't going to carry them all season."

This isn't exactly how Wells would prefer to introduce himself to Southern California fans, though the nine-year veteran isn't panicking.

"It's not my first time," Wells says of a slow start. "I've hit .180 for the month of April before."

Not quite, but close: .191 in April, 2005.

Meantime, the Angels still are not sure when slugger Kendrys Morales, out since surgery to repair a fractured leg last May, will return.

The All-Star combination of Jered Weaver and Dan Haren (9-1 combined with a 1.34 ERA) has kept the Angels moving forward even as the bullpen was so rough early that Mike Scioscia's club already has had to make some serious adjustments. The Angels have removed Fernando Rodney from the closer's spot in favor of Jordan Walden, and they dispatched Kevin Jepsen and Michael Kohn to Triple-A Salt Lake on April 10.

"Early, it was really hurting us, especially with Rodney, Kohn and Jepsen," Scioscia says. "Obviously, they've got to work on command issues to get where they need to be. It's not a good trend.

Angels pitchers have walked 17 batters in the first two of the four games against Boston, 10 by the bullpen.

"We have some power arms down there [in the bullpen], but power arms that should be able to command counts better than we've seen," Scioscia says. "It will work its way out as the season goes on."

The Rangers, no doubt, figure the same thing about their current spate of injuries. And the run-challenged Athletics, about crossing the plate. And Seattle ... well, let's not get carried away here.

Posted on: March 4, 2011 4:38 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2011 6:05 pm
 

Peavy passes first big test of the spring

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Friday was a very good day for Jake Peavy. And if he continues to progress like this, it could be a very good spring for the Chicago White Sox.

Working two of the most important innings he's ever pitched, Peavy passed a significant test here in his first time back on a major-league mound since tearing his latissimus dorsi muscle completely from the bone under his right shoulder last July 6.

"I'm relieved, pleased," Peavy said after the two-inning outing against the Angels. "It was a good day, a big step in the right direction. To get in a game, I did what I expected, what I hoped I'd do. I was able to turn it up a level.

"I did what I was hoping to do. I got big league hitters out and felt normal doing it."

Peavy faced the minimum of six hitters over the two innings. He threw his fastball, cut fastball and breaking ball, but no change-ups. With his fastball, he pitched in the 90-91 m.p.h. range, with a couple at 92.

Before the injury, his fastball averaged between 92-94 m.p.h.

"I think maybe he's got tiger blood," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen quipped. "Not Tiger Woods. Tiger blood."

Peavy reached back a couple of times, one of which was on the 92 m.p.h. fastball that struck out Vernon Wells to start the second inning.

"I wasn't airing it out," he said, noting that he's "slowly tried to climb" to higher levels this spring and that "by the end of spring training, there will be some grunts in there and we'll see what's in the tank before the regular season starts."

Peavy threw 16 strikes and 10 balls in his 26 pitches. He obtained only three swings-and-misses, but, as he noted, he wasn't airing it out, either.

Meantime, on the other side of the field, the Angels were suitably impressed. Manager Mike Scioscia, acknowledging how far back Peavy has come, said he thought Peavy threw "great."

"We were looking forward to today, and he passed everything," White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said. "We weren't going to grade him on velocity or even on location. What we were going to grade him on today was, 'How do you feel before, and after?'"

To that degree, Peavy came through his Cactus League debut so clean that the Sox intend to put him on a normal rotation. Assuming he feels OK when he wakes up Saturday morning -- the day after an outing always being a big test -- he'll next start Wednesday, with the goal of him working three innings.

Peavy's biggest test Friday was to keep a lid on his adrenalin and not over-throw to the first big league hitters he's faced in game-conditions in eight months.

The mental hurdles he's facing in battling back from an unprecedented injury?

"Today was one of those," he said. "It was big to get out on the mound and make big league hitters swing and miss and throw fastballs around 90.

"The last time I threw a fastball, to Mike Napoli [last July 6], it wasn't pretty."

Peavy is the only known pitcher to completely tear the lat muscle from the bone. He told me in this column from last month that doctors said Kerry Wood and Tom Gordon each suffered tears in the lat muscle, but those were only 30 or 40 percent tears.

Initially, Peavy was projected for a June return this year. But his rehabilitation has gone so well, and he's so far ahead of schedule, that he believes he can be in the opening day rotation. Guillen is beginning to think that way, too -- even though the Sox still intend to be very cautious.

"In our mind, he's in as the fifth starter," Guillen said. "And we've got a Plan B."

But if Peavy is healthy enough to open as the fifth starter, and even work five or six innings his first few times out, it would be one more significant boost to a White Sox team that believes it has the ammunition to win the AL Central this summer.  

Posted on: February 8, 2011 2:43 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2011 2:44 pm
 

Love Letters: The Spring is Almost Here edition

Last mail call before spring training. Now, doesn't THAT sound nice? ...

FROM: Bert L.
Re.: Red Sox, Brewers, Phillies reign over winter carnival

Your column with trades and teams making them was an absolute riot. Very funny and very factual. Being in South Florida, I loved the Hanley Ramirez bit about hustling and the A.J. Burnett bit about salt and snow trucks. Thanks for the well written and well thought out entertainment.

May need some sand to dump on Burnett as well as salt to make sure he's good and thawed for spring camp and beyond.

FROM: Alan

You'd really put A-1 on filet mignon? You're about as smart as a bag of hair.

Depends on who's cooking the filet mignon. If I'm grilling it, no need for A-1.

FROM: Alex B.
Re.: Contrite Joyce seeks new beginning after haunted winter

Mr. Joyce is an inspiration to me. He has taken the wave of anger head on, stoically endured it, preserving what I believe is the most beautiful thing about baseball: That it is about the controlling of chance, and ultimately about the human element of judgment. I may be alone in this, but I believe what happened in that game is the best argument against replay-officiating in baseball. The controversy of judgment and the finality of the moment has been the spice of our nation pastime since its beginnings. But honestly, I had stopped thinking about that game, and I assumed everyone else did too. I hope that's the case soon, but I will remain his fan. Thanks for writing the piece.

I think he made a lot of fans and, as I wrote, he put a human face on the umpiring profession. And some of those guys really need it.

FROM: Kurt K.

Hi Scott,

Very well written article on Joyce. It was really interesting to see what he has been up to recently. What a class act Joyce is. I am sorry that it had to happen to Armando Galarraga but I am actually glad it did happen. It just shows what true sportsmanship is all about and why baseball is so much classier than all other professional sports.

Another thing: When baseball sells seats to a World Series, the seats are actually there for the ticketholders.

FROM: John B.
Re.: Rangers can't let demand get old before dealing Young

How about this for a deal? Michael Young to the Mets for Carlos Beltran. Works for both teams, fills needs and clears problems. Could work!!!

I like your thinking but here's why it won't work: The Mets are not on Young's list of eight clubs to whom he will accept a trade. I don't see Young being interested in playing for the Mets. And Beltran has a full no-trade clause.

FROM: Frank D
Re.: Needing youth, quickness, Angels instead opt for Wells

Love your passion, but I think too many are underselling Vernon Wells. If you look at his numbers in 2008 and 2009, though they were down, they were, in fact, superior to Adrian Beltre -- who got a huge deal and a lot of positives. Wells brings grit, power and pride to the Angels. Coupled with Torii Hunter, you have two pros who will play hard, produce and lead a team fighting for the AL West. They also have the best manager in MLB and he'll know how to get the most out of Wells. Napoli already has been dealt to Texas, and Rivera is an oft-injured 4th OF who jakes it. The Angels gave up nothing, but money to get a quality player with character.

You're right about Rivera, and Napoli wasn't ever a Mike Scioscia favorite. And you're right that Wells is a pro, just like Hunter. But that's a lot of dough for a player where there are other, more significant needs.

FROM: Scott D.

Nice hatchet job on the Angels Scott. It will be interesting to see what you have to say if Wells brings a big bat to go with his contract. Three center fielders in the outfield adds up to a great defensive unit, and Mike Trout is waiting in the wings. If the underachievers from last year play up to potential, we could see the Angels winning the division and more, again. Enjoy your vacation, moron.

If Wells plays a key role in the Angels winning this year, here's what I will say: I was wrong. But I'm not counting on it. I still think Angels need infusion of youth and speed.

FROM: Travis B.

Dear Mr. Miller,

I respect your words but I disagree. The Angels don't need a lead-off man -- Peter Bourjos can do the job. Vernon Wells is the power we needed just in case Kendry Morales can't answer the call. To drive in runs.

Come on, Bourjos batted .204 with a .237 on-base percentage over his 51 games in Anaheim last summer! Unless he grows into his offensive shoes in a hurry, I don't put him anywhere near the leadoff slot.

Likes: On deck in just a few days: The daily spring training Bull Pennings with news, notes, quips, likes, dislikes, the whole package. And, of course, the rock and roll lyrics. A Florida (and then Arizona) travelogue. Stay tuned. ... Could go from a Green Bay Super Bowl title to a Milwaukee Brewers' playoff appearance later this summer. The Brewers have made some great offseason moves. Wisconsin is a fabulous sports state. Could be fun. ... The Eminem/Chrysler/Detroit Super Bowl commercial. If you missed it, it's here. ... Jane Leavy's biography of Mickey Mantle is a terrific read. ... Go see The Fighter. You will not be disappointed. Christian Bale is everything you've heard, Mark Wahlberg is good and Melissa Leo -- one of the most underrated actresses around -- is as great as she usually is. ... Hey, the groundhog saw his shadow! Spring is right around the corner. Right?

Dislikes: The waiting for spring training to begin. Seems like it takes forever, doesn't it?

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Well it's 9th and Hennepin
"And all the donuts have
"Names that sound like prostitutes
"And the moon's teeth marks are
"On the sky like a tarp thrown over all this
"And the broken umbrellas like
"Dead birds and the steam
"Comes out of the grill like
"The whole damned town is ready to blow"

-- Tom Waits, 9th and Hennepin

 

 

Posted on: May 10, 2008 8:31 pm
 

Cheeseburgers in paradise

DETROIT -- Eric Mack does a terrific job writing our major league Power Rankings each week, but I've got to admit something:  While I read them each week, I don't wind up carrying any single one of them around with me in my work bag (sorry, E-Mack).

I do, however, carry around a different sort of Power Rankings everywhere I go. A little less than three years ago, GQ magazine ranked the "20 hamburgers you must eat before you die." Being that a good cheeseburger is still one of this life's great joys, I tore out the list long ago and filed it in my computer bag.

Which is why I was sitting in Miller's Bar (no relation) in Dearborn, Mich., at lunchtime the other day munching on two cheeseburgers before driving downtown to Comerica Park. GQ had Miller's ranked No. 8 in its burger list, I was staying in Dearborn so ... it was a no-brainer. And what a lunch. The burgers were big and juicy, and the cheese and bun both stuck onto the meat as if the trio was meant for each other. It's Velveeta cheese which, isn't necessarily gourmet, but you want a cheese that melts well on the burger, and it was delicious.

There are no windows in Miller's -- it's like blocky and solid, like a fort. And there are no plates -- the burgers arrive on wax paper. It's a beautiful sight.

No. 1 on the list is the Sirloin Burger from Le Tub in Hollywood, Fla. Been there several times, eaten several burgers (outstanding) and it's my favorite place in Florida. It's right on the Intracoastal waterway and the view is outstanding.

So far, I've only hit those two of the 20 on the list. Pretty much an average as paltry as that of the Tigers right now, I know. But part of it is this: There are a few burgers in the rankings that I just don't have much of an interest in.

The California Burger at Houston's in Santa Monica, Calif. (No. 6)? Maybe it's great. But sorry, I don't have an interest in avocado and arugula on my burger.

The Buckhorn Burger at Buckhorn in San Antonio, N.M.? I'm sure it's grand, but green chilis on a burger don't do it for me.

Besides, there's no major-league team in New Mexico, so I don't know when I'd be there anyway. But there is a major-league club in Seattle (well, it isn't playing like one right now), so the Double Bacon Deluxe with Cheese at Red Mill Burgers (No. 17) might be a go sometime soon.

And the Phillies will be worth checking out, so perhaps the Rouge Burger at Rouge in Philadelphia, or the Kobe Sliders at Barclay Prime (No. 5), also in Philly, might make it onto my lineup card.

Hey, this list is one reason I hold onto my computer bag so tightly. My notebooks filled with various interviews for upcoming columns? Heck, I can replace those.

Likes: The Florida Marlins spending $70 million on Hanley Ramirez? Be still, my heart. And the word is, if the Marlins are still contending near the July 31 trade deadline, they may spend some dough to get some help. ... Steve Lopez's terrific book The Soloist. Lopez is a metro columnist for the Los Angeles Times, and the book follows a homeless man who plays the violin and cello on the street. The man, Nathanial Ayers, once was a music prodigy at Juilliard in New York and was the subject of several Lopez columns. It is one terrific read. ... The prospect of getting to my local CD store in the very near future and picking up several things on my list, including Mudcrutch, the new Rolling Stones Shine a Light disc and a few other things.

Dislikes: Don't tell me Toronto's Vernon Wells is going to miss several more weeks again this year. He is? Damn.

Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"We weren't in love, oh no, far from it
"We weren't searchin' for some pie in the sky summit
"We were just young and restless and bored
"Livin by the sword"

-- Bob Seger, Night Moves

 
 
 
 
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