Tag:Mike Scioscia
Posted on: December 8, 2010 12:28 am
 

The Yanks, Rangers, Nats, Angels and Cliff Lee

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Late into the night Tuesday, with the Angels having become the latest team to make a move toward the top starter on the free agent market, there were more Cliff Lee rumors than ornaments on the giant Christmas tree in the lobby of the Dolphin hotel here.

With no end game yet in sight -- executives with multiple teams believe that this thing will drag out beyond the winter meetings and into next week -- four clubs appear to be serious players for the left-hander at the moment (and by Wednesday, that number could be adjusted up or down):

Yankees: Still viewed as the favorites because they intend to put on the full-court press, they've got the deepest pockets and they generally get what they want. Various reports Tuesday insisted that the Yankees would not go beyond a six-year offer for Lee and other clubs might go seven years. But it's instructive to remember that, two winters ago, CC Sabathia clearly wanted to play on the West Coast ... until New York general manager Brian Cashman's stealth, overnight flight to visit Sabathia at his Bay Area home sealed the deal.

In New York, Lee would have a chance to win every year, be reunited with his friend and former Cleveland teammate Sabathia and make a boatload of money -- likely $20 million a year or more. Cashman was scheduled to meet with Darek Braunecker, Lee's agent, again late Tuesday night.

Rangers: Still badly want Lee and are making it their No. 1 goal. Still feel they have an inside track because they got a three-month head start on him when they acquired Lee last summer, the pairing worked well, the geography works (they're close to Lee's Arkansas home), Lee pitched in a World Series and the Rangers are set up to win for the next several years.

"I'd like to think that the longer the process goes, the less news you hear about it, the more encouraged I am," Rangers president Nolan Ryan told colleague Danny Knobler on Tuesday afternoon. "There's not any earthshaking news that has come out that concerns me. We don't have anything definitive by any means, but I think they have targeted one or two places, and I think they have a feel of where it's going."

The Rangers already have met twice with Braunecker.

Nationals: Still the darkhorse, though they have grabbed their share of attention with the wild seven-year, $126 million contract bestowed upon Jayson Werth. Lee wants to play with a winner, and while the Nationals' money will be just as authentic as anybody else's, their wins total may not be for a few years.

One industry source said Tuesday that he thinks Werth is one wild-card in the Nationals' pursuit of Lee: The two played together on the 2009 Phillies team that advanced to the World Series before losing to the Yankees, and the two were said to have developed a pretty good friendship.

Angels: The late entrant, the Angels were said to have made contact with Braunecker on Tuesday and indicated their intention to stay in touch. While an Angels official stopped short of confirming that late Tuesday night, he did say, "We talk with everybody."

If their pursuit of Lee is serious, the Angels are in the midst of a misdirection play because manager Mike Scioscia repeatedly told reporters during a briefing Tuesday that improving an impotent offense is the club's top priority. Within that, the Angels have visited with free agent outfielder Carl Crawford, long said to be the club's top target this winter.

A move toward Lee would be fascinating in that the Angels, who were toppled from their AL West throne by Texas last year, could spirit him away from their biggest division rival -- Texas -- and from one of their long-running October rivals -- the Yankees.

However, their history of bidding against the Yankees is an open wound: New York out-bid them on both Sabathia and Mark Teixeira in recent winters, leaving them scrambling toward their backup plans. And, Anaheim might start with an "A" like Arkansas, but it is thousands of miles from Cliff and Kristen Lee's beloved native state.

However, by bidding on Lee, the Angels could accomplish one of two things: They could either win him in a surprise bid and block Texas from getting him ... or they could at least drive the price up to hurt the Rangers and the Yankees.

Earlier Tuesday, Scioscia said, "We need to add offensive depth. It might not be one impact guy, but it definitely needs to be guys that have an idea of what to do in the batter's box."

But he also talked about Lee.

"A pitcher of Lee's caliber makes you better," Scioscia said. "There is no doubt about that. Whether he's a fit for us or not depends on more than just the talent aspect. Obviously, a free agent, it's complicated. He's obviously commanding a lot of attention.

"But he's certainly a guy that a number of teams would look at and know that they can make you substantially better in that area."

One other thing to remember: In their recent past, the Angels have always gone for pitching: They took a hard run at Sabathia when he was a free agent. They made a serious effort to acquire Jake Peavy from San Diego a couple of years ago. They were in on the Lee and Roy Halladay trade talks before each was shipped elsewhere in the past couple of seasons. And they signed Bartolo Colon as a free agent before the 2004 season.

Stay tuned.

 

Posted on: July 27, 2010 9:21 pm
 

Haren checks out OK, expects to start Saturday

Turns out, it's a bit premature for the Texas Rangers to begin arranging their rotation for the playoffs.

A day after new acquisition Dan Haren was smoked in the pitching arm by a line drive, the Angels are hopeful that he will make his next start as scheduled. Which happens to be Saturday night against the Rangers, who lead the Angels by a tidy 7 1/2 games in the AL West.

It is the largest margin of any of the six divisions.

Haren, wearing a compression wrap on his right forearm, underwent X-rays on Tuesday and said "they didn't show anything. They looked clear."

Then he not only did his usual day-after throwing routine, he added to it. During a long-toss session of throwing baseballs 150-to-200 feet with pitching coach Mike Butcher, Haren said he mixed in some cutters and curveballs just to see how it would feel.

And?

"Pretty good," he said. "No restrictions."

"Right now, we'll see how he progresses in the next day or two, but we're optimistic he'll make his next start," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

Haren said he always plays long toss on the day after he pitches, but after coming out of Monday's game following only 62 pitches, he did more than usual on Tuesday.

It definitely was a hold-your-breath moment for the Angels, who had just acquired Haren from Arizona on Sunday. It was in the fifth inning of Monday's 6-3 loss to Boston that Kevin Youkilis rifled a line drive back through the box. Haren turned reflexively, raised his arms to protect his head and the baseball ricocheted off of his right forearm.

"The doctor said an inch lower and it would have been on the bone, and that wouldn't have been good," said Haren, who has never spent one day on the disabled list in his eight-year career. "I guess I got lucky. I've never come out of a game in my professional career like yesterday.

"I was frustrated, but I guess I'm lucky, too."

 

Posted on: June 6, 2010 8:45 pm
Edited on: June 6, 2010 8:52 pm
 

Hey newspapers, you better listen up

I love newspapers. Love 'em. Even in the Internet age, I couldn't imagine starting my day without breakfast, coffee and the newspaper.

But newspapers are making it harder and harder for me to love them. Because the people who run them are hell-bent on destroying them.

The latest example to slap me in the face came Saturday morning, when I brought the Los Angeles Times in from my driveway and there was absolutely no mention, zero, on the front page of John Wooden's death.

I couldn't believe it.

Among other things, newspapers serve as instant time capsules. There are certain days, for me at least, when I can't wait to get the morning paper. Mostly, these days come after a monumental news story occurs.

This was one of them.

I flipped back to the sports section, and there was a huge photo of Wooden and excellent (as usual) columns by T.J. Simers and Bill Plaschke. Back to the front page, in case I had missed something. No. Nada.

After several minutes, I found six boxes under the Simers and Plaschke columns -- known as "refers", in the biz -- indexing where the various stories in the package could be found. A story on Wooden's Pyramid of Success, for example, on page C-7. Well, the first box read "Obituary for an American Icon" on A-1.

Except, whoops.

No obituary. On John Wooden. In the Los Angeles Frickin' Times.

Obviously, there was some miscommunication in production and somebody didn't replace something that had been planned for the front page with a big Wooden spread.

How could this happen? Hmmm, I know! That's easy!

The corporate owners of the Times have laid off so many copy editors, production folks, writers, etc. over the past several years that the paper is a shell of what it once was. And egregious mistakes occur more and more frequently (though this is off-the-charts egregious. This might have been the worst newspaper screw-up I've ever seen).

Same story at nearly every other newspaper.

Three times so far this baseball season, the Padres' final score has not made it into my San Diego Union-Tribune (another paper that lands in my driveway each day). Again with the new corporate owners. They moved deadline up so far that even Padres games that ended around 11 p.m. weren't making it into the newspaper.

Now, the kicker: Each of those three times the Padres didn't make it into my local paper (I live in northern San Diego County), the final box score was in the Los Angeles Times.

Now how in the hell can the San Diego paper pull that? Has it got death wish?

Wait, don't answer that.

Obviously, it's gotten a lot of complaints because a week or so back there was a note from the sports editor detailing new deadlines and promising that every effort would be made to get the Padres' final in the paper.

So that's the state of newspapers today: By their actions, essentially broadcasting to their readers, hey, there's no need to subscribe to us. Because depending on circumstances, there is a very good chance we won't have what you care about in our slimmed-down paper.

I love newspapers. And I will continue subscribing until they turn out the lights on the very last one.

But, dammit, what's wrong with you people running them?

(Oh, and excuse me for veering off topic on this blog today. If you came here looking for baseball news, here's what I got: Wooden loved baseball, and he especially loved Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, Dodgers manager Joe Torre and Angels manager Mike Scoscia. There. There's the tie-in to baseball.).

Posted on: May 9, 2010 7:33 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2010 11:01 pm
 

The AL Worst

Dallas Braden's exquisite perfect game for Oakland on Sunday notwithstanding, no division in baseball has been as disappointing as this motley crew (though the NL Central should not be overlooked, what with the Cubs, Brewers and Astros).

The AL West this year is Conan O'Brien in his last few days on The Tonight Show. Not nearly as funny, but every bit as beleaguered.

How rough is it out there? They nearly had to delay the first pitch of Friday night's Angels-Mariners game because both clubs held meetings to discuss, they were scuffling so badly.

The weekend started with the Angels dragging a seven-game losing streak to Seattle, where the Mariners greeted them with a six-game losing streak of their own. Seattle skipper Don Wakamatsu closed the doors to address his team before the series started while the Angels held a players-only meeting.

For the Angels, who normally under manager Mike Scioscia only hold team meetings to divide up playoff shares, it was their second meeting in less than 24 hours. Scioscia had briefly closed the doors to address the troops the night before in Boston, where Los Angeles had been swept in a four-game series for the first time since 1967 which, for the Red Sox, goes all the way back to the Impossible Dream and Jim Lonborg pre-skiing injury.

Already, the Angels, who miss Chone Figgins and John Lackey more than they acknowledge, are closing in on a club record for meetings in a season. They don't need another alternate jersey so much as they need an appointment book.

Last time the Angels and Mariners met with each club at least six games under .500? According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was way back in 1994.

By Sunday, that had changed because the Angels, behind Jered Weaver's 7 1/3 shutout innings Friday and Joe Saunders righting himself Saturday, took the first two games of this pillow-fight to climb to within four games of .500 -- and push Seattle's losing streak to eight in a row.

Obvious answer to the light-hitting Mariners' woes, of course, was to fire hitting coach Alan Cockrell, which Seattle did before Sunday's game. It's not Cockrell's fault that a single can of Mountain Dew contains more pop than the Mariners' lineup, which was last in the majors with a hard-to-believe paltry sum of 10 home runs.

The White Sox's Paul Konerko has more than that by himself (13), while five other big leaguers have equaled the M's total by themselves: Toronto's Alex Gonzalez, Baltimore's Ty Wigginton, the Dodgers' Andre Ethier and Arizona's Mark Reynolds and Kelly Johnson.

While the power outage cannot be blamed on Cockrell -- he didn't construct a lineup that has Franklin Gutierrez, Jose Lopez and Casey Kotchman in the middle -- the M's figured they had enough other evidence to sack him: Last in the AL in team batting average (.225), on-base percentage (.302), slugging percentage (.315) and runs scored (94).

Wretched? Eight Mariners in the regular lineup are hitting worse than .220.

Ugh -- and it's no picnic elsewhere in the division.

Texas is in first place, but every day "owner" Tom Hicks fails to pay his bills leaves the creditors barking more savagely, demanding that major-league baseball seize the franchise from Hicks and facilitate a sale. The Rangers franchise was supposed to have been sold by early April, and baseball taking control is a very real possibility. Turns out, whether or not the Rangers can afford a summer's worth of baseballs might be the least of their issues.

Oakland? In the muck of the AL West, the A's have been the most pleasant story going. Their only crime so far is guilt-by-association in this haggard division. That, and having nine players on the disabled list, their most since May, 2008. Which pretty much makes running in place a goal, not a detriment.

Ah well, what the AL West lacks in looks, it should make up for in sheer competitiveness this summer. At one point last week, the four clubs were separated by a mere half-game. And right now, looking through the one-way glass at the perp walk, it doesn't look like anybody here will be running away anytime soon.

Posted on: April 28, 2010 8:15 pm
 

All-Star tweaks purely common sense issues

Baseball's move Wednesday to use the designated hitter in every All-Star Game, be it in an American or National League park, is one of those decisions that is so obvious you just assumed it would have been done several years ago.

Should have been, at least.

Whatever your feelings on the designated hitter -- keep it, throw it back -- the one thing everybody should be able to agree on is this: The All-Star Game is the one time when nobody wants to see a pitcher bat.

Seems obvious, doesn't it?

"I think it does," says Angels manager Mike Scioscia, a member of Commissioner Bud Selig's Special Committee for On-Field Matters.

It won't be an issue this summer in Anaheim -- the DH would have been in use regardless in an AL park -- but it would have been last summer in St. Louis and next summer in Phoenix.

The other All-Star changes mostly are things done "for common sense", as Scioscia put it. And he's right. Especially adding an additional roster spot (bumping each roster from 33 to 34 players) and allowing each manager to pick on position player who will be allowed to re-enter the game in the event the last player used at that position is injured.

Also, by making any pitcher pitching the preceding Sunday ineligible for the All-Star Game, it removes managers (and the pitchers themselves) from the delicate situation of pushing someone into risking injury.

The one hugely controversial aspect of the All-Star Game baseball is leaving alone is the outcome being tied to the World Series, the winning league gaining home-field advantage for the Fall Classic.

Personally, I like it. The All-Star Game once meant something, then it didn't, and even though it's an exhibition, there is absolutely no reason why it should be meaningless. I'm glad they left that part alone.

Posted on: October 23, 2009 4:41 pm
 

ALCS: Juggling the pitching staffs

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- This is the way it works in the postseason:

Despite manager Mike Scioscia's mixed-reaction pulling of starter John Lackey after 6 2/3 innings and 104 pitches in Game 5, the Angels very well could benefit from it if they can extend this AL Championship Series to Game 7.

Currently, the Angels are listing Jered Weaver as their Game 7 starter. But Scioscia said that Lackey will be available out of the bullpen.

"We've got a lot of options for Game 7," Scioscia said. "We're certainly going to have the opportunity to have John Lackey out of the pen if we need it. Believe me, we're going to have everybody available."

With heavy rains forecast for Saturday in New York, if Game 6 is postponed, that could even set up a scenario in which Lackey could start a Monday Game 7 on three days' rest.

"We're going to let this thing unfold a little bit and see how the weekend goes," Scioscia said Friday before his team held a brief workout at Angel Stadium, after which they were scheduled to depart for New York. "If there is an opportunity to look at bringing a guy like John back, it's something we would certainly consider. We've talked about a bunch of different things."

That happens, even though Lackey was angry with Scioscia for removing him from Game 5 when he said he still felt strong, maybe the ace right-hander will benefit by a shortened workload by having more in his tank if he is needed in Game 7 -- in relief on Sunday, or possibly starting on Monday.

Conversely, if rain plays havoc with the ALCS on Saturday, the Yankees would have the choice to start CC Sabathia on regular rest Sunday in Game 6, or continue with their plan with Andy Pettitte in Game 6 and Sabathia in Game 7.

***

Angels left-hander Joe Saunders, who pitched well in Game 2 in New York (two earned runs in seven innings) on his Game 6 start Saturday night: "We've got obviously a lot of confidence, a lot of momentum. We're going to be ready to play. It's going to be the usual Yankee hostile environment. It's going to be a lot of fun. They're going to be all over us. It's going to be a good battle."

Likes: Game 5 of Yankees-Angels was great fun. ... The impending CC Sabathia-Cliff Lee World Series smackdown matchup (unless the Yankees are derailed by the Angels). It's going to make poor Clevelanders sick. ... Belated birthday greetings to longtime Yankees public address announcer Bob Sheppard, who turned 99 on Tuesday. His taped introduction continues to announce Derek Jeter at-bats in the new Yankee Stadium, at Jeter's request. ... The World Series scene in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in which Jack Nicholson rabble-rouses his fellow asylum-mates to change the television channel to watch the game. Classic scene, and I always think about it this time of year. They should show it on the video boards at each stadium hosting the Series.

Dislikes: The mid-game and after-game television interviews with Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis. Either stop walking and stand still long enough to be interviewed, or just cancel the interviews, period. Weis looks incredibly uncomfortable as he talks en route to the locker room and the whole thing is awkward and painful to watch.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Old days
"Good times I remember
"Fun days
"Filled with simple pleasures
"Drive-in movies
"Comic books and blue jeans
"Howdy doody
"Baseball cards and birthdays
"Take me back
"To a world gone away
"Memories
"Seem like yesterday"

-- Chicago, Old Days

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

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