Tag:Los Angeles Angels
Posted on: September 23, 2011 9:15 pm
 

Raindrops not falling on sleepy Angels

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Sometimes, scoreboard watching turns into schedule watching.

That's where the Angels were Friday as they shrugged off not only a crushing loss in Toronto on Thursday night, but an overnight flight that didn't get them back to Southern California until after 3 a.m. Friday morning.

So when word came that one of the key teams the Angels are chasing -- Boston -- was rained out Friday in New York, Angels manager Mike Scioscia grinned.

"Can we not play today and play a double-header Sunday to match up?" Scioscia quipped.

Um, no.

"The last time I remember looking at my clock, it was 4:04 a.m.," Scioscia said.

But as he insisted, "the page was turned."

We'll see. The Angels were one loss and one Texas victory away from elimination in the AL West as they headed out to face Oakland to begin a weekend series on Friday. They were watching both the scoreboard ... and the schedule.
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: September 2, 2011 1:31 pm
 

Love Letters: Hurricanes, Sox & O's all blow

Of hurricanes, Orioles and White Sox ... which really aren't all that different, when you think about it:

FROM: Nick D.
Re.: Last-place Orioles remain stuck in familiar late-season rut

I started to read this article and then I stopped. ... Stop writing articles giving me hope for my woefully bad O's. I read these every year and every year they're the foundation holding up the AL East. Stop. Please. You people keep opening the same wound.

Next time I'll bring the cotton balls and hydrogen peroxide.


FROM: Rob
Re.: Weekend Buzz: Rain postponements taking toll on 2011 - then comes Irene

Scott,

The fact that fans who purchased tickets to Saturday's games at Fenway Park had to wait out those delays is absurd. The greed of the organization is the reason. They did not want to have to cancel the games and reschedule, or God forbid they would have to offer refunds or tickets to an alternate game. To try to play those games through the hurricane was absurd. It is frustrating to read your articles because none of this is mentioned and you show an unreasonable bias to the Yankees. If it was the Yankees organization that did this, you would be the first one criticizing them.

The Red Sox were so greedy they let fans into Fenway for free following the rain delay in Game 2 Saturday.Appalling, wasn't it? It's called trying to make sure the games get played when there is precious little time left in the season to reschedule them, mister.

FROM: Bill

There is no reason to have rainouts anymore. If a small-market team like Seattle can have a retractable roof stadium, why haven't the BIG GUNS protected game revenues with new Stadiums, including retracting covers. Hellloooo Yankees!

Put a retractable roof on Yankee Stadium, the ghost of Babe Ruth will rip his plaque out of Monument Park and install it somewhere in Montana.

FROM: J D

Hey, Miller ... More Yankee bashing, huh? Shocking. And you're not right. Like Joe Girardi said, a lot of other games in baseball and other sports changed their schedules to be amenable to Hurricane Irene. They still could have played an actual DH, not split, and honored Flanagan -- which the Yankees did the night before in very good form, btw, before their game with the A's. Or they could have played a game on Saturday in the early morning before the storm hit. It's all about the fact of the O's not wanting to lose a gate in one of the rare times they would actually make some money with the Yankees in town. Now, the Yankees will have to use up one of their rare September off days to play a game in Baltimore after finishing up a three-game series with the aforementioned O's the very next day, and with a long West Coast road trip looming. ... And way not to mention the Red Sox's unwavering interest in getting both games in no matter what the weather to improve their standings and keep a September off day.

You lost credibility with the sentence "And you're not right." Because, fact is, I'm almost always right. Including on this topic. 

FROM: Jack L.
Re.: Up-and-down White Sox look to final month to save season

Scott:

I'm a lifelong, die-hard White Sox fan who literally follows the team hour by hour, not just day by day. You did a very nice job of summing this season up. The only difference between being a gawker checking out a freeway wreck in the other direction and watching the White Sox play this year is that the freeway wreck is at least somewhat interesting, even if you can't really see much of it. IMHO, Kenny Williams is clearly the guy that needs to go. Trader Kenny completely lost his touch with the first stinker of a Nick Swisher trade and has just made one bad move after another ever since save for unloading Edwin Jackson prior to the trade deadline.

At least don't follow the White Sox minute by minute. Think how miserable you'd be then.

FROM: Richard

Fire Kenny Williams, he sucks as a GM. It's been his signings that brought the White Sox four of the worst contracts in White Sox history. Let's not forget the Manny Ramirez deal last year as well after letting Jim Thome slip away. The Sox paid Ramirez multiple times what Thome was paid all year for one month of services. If not for Zambrano's and Soriano's contracts on the North Side, Williams would really be exposed for the horrible GM he has been. I think the players enjoy playing for Ozzie Guillen, and he has gotten a lot out his players considering the start the Sox have had in the last two years.

According to my Love Letters readers' poll, Williams' approval rating drastically trail those of Guillen.

FROM: Mike M.

Love your work. Love it if you could do a story about the Angels owner (Arte Moreno) vs. Scott Boras and include why Boras has that ground level box behind home plate at Anaheim Stadium. Boras looks like an idiot standing in the TV background of most pitches while he talks on his cell or works his laptop. As a Mariner fan I laugh thinking what Angels fans think about seeing him all the time.

It's a simple, economical issue: Boras' company purchases that ground-level suite with old-fashioned greenbacks. But while you may laugh, think of all the advertising that TV time translates into for hundreds of players who might be watching in other cities and contemplating what Boras could do for them.

FROM: Scott
Re.: Weekend Buzz: Yanks getting stronger down the stretch

Scott, while I respect your opinion, how has the Yankees pitching been woeful? Their ERA is better than Detroit, Boston, and Texas's, their bullpen ERA is the best in baseball, and outside of A.J. Burnett, no one on that staff has been woeful outside of Phil Hughes before his injury. Right now, Ivan Nova and Hughes are pitching as well as anyone, CC Sabathia is an ace, and between Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon, the Yankees have a respectable four starter for the playoffs. It just makes no sense why people are so quick to discredit the Yankees pitching without looking up the numbers.

If you read the column, and not just the headline and sub-head, you'd have your answer: I was EXAGGERATING, teasing Yankees' fans for being so quick to panic.


Likes: LA Marathon founder Bill Burke making a $1.2 billion bid for the Dodgers. It's funded in part by Chinese investors, and wow, think how much fun we all could have with THAT. Great take by Harold Meyerson in Friday's LA Times on the op-ed page: "There's no need to rehash the McCourts' destruction of one of American sports' most fabled and successful franchises. At this point, anyone who takes the team off their hands would be a better owner, right? Could there really be a more problematic proprietor? And then, along comes China." ... Absolutely loved Thursday's A-1 headline in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "Obama jobs speech up against Packers opener." ... Good job, Falcons of Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central High, getting on the board with a 12-6 win over New Boston Huron on Thursday after a tough opening week loss.

Dislikes: Sports Illustrated's rare regional covers. I know, business is business. But I'm old school and I don't like not having a particular cover.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Hey barkeep
"What's keeping you, keep pouring drinks
"For all these palookas, hey you know what I thinks
"That we toast to the old days and DiMaggio too
"And old Drysdale and Mantle, Whitey Ford and to you"

-- Tom Waits, A Sight For Sore Eyes
Posted on: August 21, 2011 9:39 pm
 

Angels, Weaver agree on 5-year, $85 million pact

The Angels suddenly are on a roll: Not only have they won four straight to crawl back to within four games of first-place Texas in the AL West, they also struck a multi-year contract extension Sunday afternoon to keep Cy Young-candidate Jered Weaver in Anaheim through at least through the end of the 2016 season.

The Angels and Weaver have agreed to a five-year, $85 million deal, according to sources with knowledge of the agreement, that also includes a full no-trade clause. The club has scheduled a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

The deal came unexpectedly on Sunday afternoon, unexpected because as a client of agent Scott Boras, Weaver was expected to play through the 2012 season and then jump into the free agent market. But Weaver, a Southern California native (Simi Valley), has made his preference for staying at home clear.

While Boras probably could have scored an even bigger contract on the free agent market assuming Weaver remained healthy, the full no-trade clause is evidence of Weaver's desire to extend his career in Anaheim.

The deal Weaver reached with the Angels is comparable to the contracts Felix Hernandez reached with the Seattle Mariners last year (five years, $78 million) and Justin Verlander signed with the Tigers before the 2010 season (five years, $80 million).

Verlander and Hernandez each had two more years of arbitration available to them when they signed, Weaver would have had just one.

Undoubtedly, the deal will be a load off of Weaver's mind in what already is shaping up as a career year. At 14-6 with a 2.10 ERA, Weaver is on pace for a career-high in wins and a career-low in ERA. Weaver's ERA currently is the best in the AL, and he ranks third in opponents' batting average (.207), fifth in innings pitched (188 1/3) and seventh in strikeouts (158).

The contract is said to also include significant award bonuses for Weaver for winning the Cy Young Award, MVP and earning an All-Star berth, among other things.
Posted on: August 21, 2011 7:36 pm
 

3 to Watch: The Not-So-Golden State edition

Late August, and if you're looking for stretch-run drama, well, you'd better go find a good book. May I recommend David Halberstam's Summer of '49? Great book chronicling an epic Red Sox-Yankees pennant race. Sigh.

There's still time for things to change, of course, but as we sit here today (unless, of course, you're standing), there is less than a four-game difference in only one of eight potential playoff races. (I'm dismissing the half-game separating the Yankees and Red Sox in the AL East because both clubs have all but formally qualified for October: The Red Sox own a 7 1/2-game margin over Tampa Bay in the AL wild-card chase).

No, after Detroit's beat-down of Cleveland, the only real drama heading into this week is in the NL West, where the Giants have pulled back to within 1 1/2 games of Arizona. The Diamondbacks were and are a nice story, but not quite so much after getting swept in Atlanta.

Anyway, for all of this, I blame California.

The Not-So-Golden State right now is playing harball at a level ranging from head-shakingly bad to maddeningly sporadic and is in danger of being shut out of postseason baseball for the first time since 1999:

-- The World Series champion Giants, playing catch-up with Arizona, currently rank 29th in the majors in runs scored and seemingly have more players on the disabled list than on the active roster. Carlos Beltran, hello?

-- The Dodgers' back-to-back NLCS appearances in 2008-2009 currently are tied up in divorce/bankruptcy court.

-- The Padres' 90-win season of a year ago has turned to dust.

-- The only way the Athletics will see October is in Moneyball -- literally. The movie opens Sept. 23.

-- The Angels were nearly extinguished by Texas last week before rising from the ashes with a four-game winning streak that has moved them back to within four games of the Rangers.

Starting in 2000, the Angels have made the playoffs six times, the Athletics five, the Giants and Dodgers four each and the Padres twice.

Now? The Giants are clawing and the Angels have regained a faint pulse. Those two right now are a couple of the last hopes to goose a stretch-run that is threatening to boost football's television ratings even more.

Now, with colleague Danny Knobler hopefully somewhere with his feet up and an ice-cold lemonade nearby ... on to this week's 3 to Watch:

1. Time was, the Red Sox looked loaded and dangerous. Aw, truth be told, they still mostly look that way, but with Clay Buchholz out until mid-September, Daisuke Matsuzaka done for the season and Kevin Youkilis, J.D. Drew, David Ortiz and Jacoby Ellsbury all hurting, they're vulnerable. The pitching situation in particular is why they acquired Erik Bedard at the July 31 deadline, and it is Bedard who takes the ball in the series opener of Red Sox at Rangers, Monday night (8:05 ET) at the Ballpark in Arlington. It's an intriguing four-game series for a few reasons, not the least of which is because, if the season ended today, these two teams would face each other in the first round of the AL playoffs. One thing to watch between now and then, though: The Rangers' schedule down the stretch is more difficult than the Angels, with seven games against the Red Sox, six against Tampa Bay and three against Cleveland (the Angels have two against the White Sox and three against the Yankees, but they also get Baltimore again).

2. Speaking of tough schedules, what Manny Acta's Cleveland Indians are facing is pure torture, and the Indians did not get off to a good start in Detroit over the weekend, where Cleveland was swept. Thanks to early rainouts, the Indians are in the midst of playing 45 games in 44 days. They've got two home doubleheaders -- White Sox and Twins -- the final full week of the season. Before that, though, Seattle pulls into town on Monday, and Cleveland dives into its double-dips with Mariners at Indians, Tuesday afternoon and evening (1:05 and 7:05 ET) at Progressive Field. It doesn't get any easier with rookie second baseman Jason Kipnis (hamstring) on the disabled list and with slugger Travis Hafner nursing a right foot strain (he left Sunday's game in Detroit and the Indians will know more Monday).

3. Two teams struggling mightily to tighten a couple of AL races hook up for a quick two-game series, and by the time Chicago rookie Zach Stewart is finished facing Los Angeles' Jered Weaver in the finale of White Sox at Angels, Wednesday night (10:05 ET) at Angel Stadium, we'll have a better idea of whether Ozzie Guillen's club is in or out in the AL Central, and whether the Angels are serious players in an AL West race that right now is Texas' to lose. The White Sox took two of three from the Rangers and are five games behind the Tigers in the AL Central. Thanks to the Sox, the Angels were able to gain a couple of games back on Texas to pull to within four in the AL West. Considering that Texas pushed the Angels to six back last week and was one out away from seizing an eight-game lead on the Angels last Thursday night, Mike Scioscia's club is living large.
Posted on: August 16, 2011 2:05 am
Edited on: August 16, 2011 1:47 pm
 

Angels pitching in shambles after Richards injury

The repercussions from the Angels' nightmare series-opener Monday against Texas will ripple into Tuesday and beyond.

Rookie starter Garrett Richards was lifted after only 19 pitches with a groin injury -- right adductor strain in the groin area, to be specific -- and is expected to be placed on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday.

Because of that and the fact that the Angels chewed through four relievers in an 8-4 loss to the Rangers while falling five games back in the AL West, you might say the roster situation right now is fluid.

"We'll definitely get some more pitching in here tomorrow," manager Mike Scioscia said late Monday night. "We'll toss a few things around, evaluate things in the morning and get some arms here."

The current favorite to replace Richards in the rotation -- short-term, at least -- is old favorite Joel Pineiro, who followed a serviceable weekend outing in Toronto with three scoreless innings Monday.

Scioscia singled out Monday's highlight as Pineiro's "sharp breaking ball."

There wasn't much else. When your starter blows out just 19 pitches in against a team as loaded as the Rangers, it's fasten-your-seat-belts time.

"Garrett tonight, his stuff looked great," Scioscia said. "It looked crisper than it did in New York. He had a tight slider.

"That's what's disappointing, not seeing that part of it play out."

In his major league debut last week in Yankee Stadium, Richards was clobbered for six hits and six earned runs (and two home runs) in only five innings.

Despite his "tight slider", Richards was on the ropes against the Rangers when he went down. Ian Kinsler drilled a double to lead off the game, moved to third on catcher Bobby Wilson's throwing error and then scored on a ground ball. Michael Young reached base on a two-out single, and then Richards was injured while delivering a 1 and 1 fastball to Nelson Cruz.

"I definitely felt comfortable tonight," Richards said. "I had my good stuff. It's unfortunate and disappointing to have an injury."

Richards said he felt something in his groin on the previous pitch, another fastball to Cruz.

"I told myself I'd give it one more pitch," he said.

He did, and it was his final pitch.

The Angels now have lost five of their past six games, falling from 1 1/2 games behind Texas to five back in the past six days. Tuesday, they'll hand the ball to another rookie starter, Tyler Chatwood, as they attempt to keep Texas from running away with the division.
Posted on: August 12, 2011 1:50 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2011 1:52 pm
 

Love Letters: The Colt (not Indy Colts) edition

Waaaay behind in the mailbag department. The problem? Duh: I haven't been able to get to the Post Office to get stamps. ...

FROM: Rochelle:
Re.: Newest Phillie a perfect fit in Pence-ylvania

Great article. I think it's funny you referred to Hunter as a young colt ... because he was. He went to Arlington High School with me and we were the Colts.

I'll bet you were.

FROM: Ben

Hey Scott, guess the Yanks didn't fleece everyone when they gave up Ian Kennedy, Phil Coke and Austin Jackson for Curtis Granderson in that 3-way trade with Detroit and 'Zona. For all the crap the Yankees take about them not being able to raise pitchers, looks like Kennedy is doing great as the No. 1. of the D'Backs staff. So let me get this straight going forward so we're consistent in our analysis. When it is a young pitcher and he is in NY, he has zero time to grow and improve himself, otherwise he is an overrated NY prospect. But if he comes into his own elsewhere, then it is OK? Plus I'm assuming all the other young pitchers in other systems are allowed to be eased into the big leagues with no stupid scrutiny that the media pays to young NY players? I'm convinced that the media, not the Yankees, ruined Joba's chances at having a normal chance of becoming a frontline starter. Anywhere else, he would've been given the chance, but since it is preposterous in the media's eyes to allow the Yankees to grow their own starters, he failed.

Hey Ben, you play in New York, you pay in New York. Your points are accurate. The problem is inherent in the Yankees' $200 million payroll and in who they are: They themselves will tell you their goal every year is not simply to compete, but to win the World Series. By that self-proclaimed definition, no, the young pitchers do not get fair time to grow and develop in the Bronx. It's true.

FROM: David
Re.: Weekend Buzz: Pirates, Indians on the move, fortified by July

Scott,

Are we jumping the gun here? Cleveland is one game over .500 and Pittsburgh is two. The Sox and Yanks are not going to get worse as we head into the home stretch and the Phillies may have the best rotation ever assembled. I realize you have to keep people from all areas of the US interested in your smack, but I have to give you the NFL version of C'mon Man!!!

Fair enough, my man. You bet I was jumping the gun. When it's July and the Pirates are in first place, you jump! We'll have plenty of time in September, October (and November, December, January and beyond) to dissect the Yankees, Red Sox and everyone else.

FROM: Robert W.
Re.: With slump behind Jimenez, why would Rockies deal him?

Well, I can see you are obviously a Yankees and Red Sox hater. Why, when writing a story about a pitcher getting traded, you have to make a comment like that when the Phillies are the team that is buying the pitching? Way to go with an unbiased opinion, jackass!!!

I'm not quite sure to which comment you're referring. Lots of pithy, witty and intelligent comments leave me open to being called "jackass" by those who wish they were as creative as yours truly. My compliments, by the way, to your read of me being both a Yankees AND Red Sox hater. Most of the time, I get one of those sides accusing me of hating their team.

FROM: Doc

I don't think people give the Rockies pitchers enough credit. It's a miserable place to pitch. Curves don't curve, so you end up screwing around with your pitch selection, always fearful of the long ball. Typically N.L.pitchers coming to the A.L see their ERAs go up anywhere from 0.5 to 1.0 runs. I'll bet Jimenez injected into a pennant race will see his go down. I wish him good luck!! Seems like a good kid.

He is a good kid and Cleveland can really, really use the help.

FROM: Tony D.

Be honest. Have you seen Sabathia pitch even once this season. And I don't mean on Sports Center.

Several times. Next question?

FROM: Chuck

No-no is a stupid expression. Before ESPN had to rename everything to be cute, the universally accepted term was no-hitter. No-no comes from no hits, no runs. Ervin Santana gave up a run. He pitched a no-hitter. Pass that on to your headline writer.

Done. And good take on ESPN and cute.

Likes: Atlanta's Dan Uggla and the streak. Hope it keeps going, in case you hadn't read. ... The Braves retiring legendary manager Bobby Cox's No. 6 tonight. It was terrific seeing him in Cooperstown at the Hall of Fame induction last month. ... What a fun week with the Tigers and Cleveland and the Brewers at Cardinals. Good stuff and a great glimpse of September. ... The turnaround of the Arizona Diamondbacks. ... The Iowa straw poll this weekend. ... My Weber grill. ... Late-summer blueberries. In pancakes, on cereal, in cobbler, topping vanilla ice cream. One of life's greatest treats. ... The new one from Fountains of Wayne, Sky Full of Holes. Good stuff.

Dislikes: Seeing all the back to school sales already. No, no, no! Can't be that time already, can it?

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Every day's so caffeinated
"I wish they were Golden Gated
"Fillmore couldn't feel more miles away
"So, wrap me up 'Return to sender'
"Let's forget this five-year bender
"Take me to my city by the Bay
"I never knew all that I had
"Now Alcatraz don't sound so bad
"At least they'd have a hella fine Merlot
"If I could wish upon a star
"I would hitch a cable car
"To the one place that I'll always call my home"

-- Train, Save Me, San Francisco
Posted on: July 26, 2011 11:49 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2011 12:03 am
 

Upton draws interest, gets advice from brother

You bet the rumors swirling around his Tampa Bay batting helmet have gotten B.J. Upton's attention.

"Thanks for all the support on twitter - I appreciate it," he tweeted from his @BJUPTON2 account Tuesday -- presumably as Atlanta, or Cincinnati, or San Francisco phoned Rays general manager Andrew Friedman yet again.

"Now I know how my brother felt this offseason," came another tweet from Upton. "Anyone hear any good trade rumors this week? Still here!"

Matter of fact, the buzz grew louder Tuesday surrounding Upton. Several industry sources believe that the Rays, at 9 1/2 games out in the AL East, will dump Upton by Sunday's non-waiver trading deadline the same way they dumped Matt Garza and bade farewell to free agents Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and Grant Balfour last winter.

Money -- the lack of it, thanks in no small part to horrible attendance in Tropicana Field -- remains a significant problem for the Rays. And it's not getting any better.

Several clubs are looking for the kind of spark that Upton (.229, 15 homers, 53 RBIs, 23 steals, terrific defense) can provide. He would fit perfectly in San Francisco, especially if the Giants fall short in their quest to obtain the Mets' Carlos Beltran. The Giants, according to sources, have interest. So, too, do the Nationals, Reds, Pirates, Braves, Cardinals and, possibly, the Phillies writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

And B.J. is right -- brother Justin, Arizona's right-fielder -- went through a similar stretch last winter.

"I've talked to him, and we laugh about it," Justin told me Tuesday afternoon. "When it comes down to it, like last winter with me, it's out of your control. You just have to do your thing, see what happens and let it be."

Difference is, Arizona is committed to Justin Upton, 23. Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers made that clear last winter when he traded third baseman Mark Reynolds to Baltimore.

The Rays? Not so much with B.J., 26 -- much to Upton's chagrin.

"Obviously, he's played his whole career there and he lives there," says Justin, who said the brothers probably talk four or five times a week. "He wants to stay. It's always tough in a situation like that."

Ubaldo Jimenez to Yankees?

The Yankees appear to be in the best shape to acquire Ubaldo Jimenez if the Rockies decide to deal him, as colleague Danny Knobler writes. Here are takes from two scouts who have watched Jimenez pitch in recent days:

Scout one: "Quite frankly, he's not the same guy as he was last year. Before, when he needed to go get it, he'd hit 100 m.p.h. When I saw him in Denver, he'd reach back to muscle up and it was 95. [Atlanta's] Scott Proctor threw harder. If Ubaldo at sea level is 91, 92, 93, he's not the same guy."

Scout two: "I can't imagine Jimenez going anywhere. If he's on a real frickin' contender, he's a No. 3 right now. Something's missing."

Short hops, quick pops and backhand stops:

--Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers says he thinks Friday and Saturday will be the key days when the trade market loosens up and the action begins. "There are a lot of clubs out there with scouts looking at minor league clubs right now," Towers says.

-- While you might think they're looking to replace injured shortstop Stephen Drew, Towers says he is looking for pitching, pitching and pitching. Starting and/or relief.

-- The Giants, Rangers and Phillies have scouts in Cincinnati this week watching Mets' outfielder Carlos Beltran as New York GM Sandy Alderson enters the crucial final days before making one of the more significant decisions in recent Mets history. "Beltran looks real good right now," another scout who has been watching in Cincinnati this week says. "He's looking healthy."

-- One club that has spoken with Washington say closer Drew Storen can be obtained in the right deal.

-- Rival clubs say the Angels are diving into the trade market after owner Arte Moreno, hesitant at first, now has approved additional payroll for midseason help. While the Angels are looking for a third baseman, they would send shortstop Erick Aybar to the Mets for Jose Reyes straight up and take the rest of Reyes' $9 million 2011 salary if New York would bite (the Mets won't, they're keeping Reyes). "I'd do that if I'm the Mets," one NL executive says. "They're not going to be able to re-sign him. How can you give Reyes 10 years at $20 million [each] when he's hurt all the time?

-- Minnesota doggedly has insisted it can win a weak AL Central for the past month, and Tuesday night's comeback win in Texas was a big one. If the Twins do decide to become sellers, don't be surprised if they make outfielder Delmon Young available.

-- Well, in a weak market for starting pitchers, look who's coming off of the disabled list to start Friday for Seattle: Erik Bedard. He'll start against Tampa Bay unless something happens between now and Friday, and you can bet the scouts will swarm Safeco Field. Bedard has not thrown more than 100 innings in a season since 2007. He's at 90 now, so look out.

-- Twins right-hander Kevin Slowey continues to draw interest and Minnesota is expected to deal him.

-- The Marlins are looking to add, not subtract, and do not intend to deal closer Leo Nunez unless blown away with an offer. Florida is moving into a new stadium next season and has not gained near the momentum they had hoped this summer.

-- About that odd timing of Milwaukee acquiring closer Francisco Rodriguez and announcing it just after the All-Star Game ended? Rodriguez's former agent Paul Kinzer had failed to submit proper paperwork for K-Rod's 10-team no-trade list -- Milwaukee was on it -- and with K-Rod having hired Scott Boras recently, Mets GM Sandy Alderson was afraid Boras would correct the oversight. That's why, once the Mets and Brewers agreed to the deal, Alderson wanted it finalized as soon as possible, afraid that if they waited even one more day, Boras would get the list in and K-Rod would have power to scotch the deal.

-- Wonder what's taking so long for the trades to happen this week? Wonder why you read some rumors that turn out to be badly off the trail? Some insight from legendary executive Pat Gillick's Hall of Fame speech on Sunday: "As a young scout I, remember hiding up in trees with binoculars so no other scout would know I was interested in a prospect. I remember the assumed names or clever tactics we all used to get an edge and throw others off the scent."

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