Tag:Los Angeles Angels
Posted on: December 7, 2010 1:02 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2010 12:41 am
 

Slow-footed Angels risk getting left behind

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Paging the Los Angeles Angels, attention Angels.

Anybody there?

Anybody?

Free agent Carl Crawford is still out there. So are free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre and free agent closer Rafael Soriano ... and, yes, free agent ace Cliff Lee.

Are you?

After getting aced out of Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia two years ago and failing to produce a leadoff hitter to replace Chone Figgins last year, the heat is on the Angels to swing and connect this winter. On something.

Crawford has been a high priority, according to sources, though late Tuesday night it was confirmed that the Angels were in contact with Lee's agent, Darek Braunecker, and that that dialog is expected to remain ongoing.

As for Crawford, his price certainly will be sky-high after the Nationals signed Jayson Werth to a seven-year, $126 million deal Sunday.

"I don't have a reaction," Reagins told a small group of reporters Monday night when quizzed on how the stunning Werth contract will affect Crawford's value. "We still have to conduct business with any free agent. Teams are conducting business and this is just part of the process that happens at this time of year. ...

"We're conducting business. What other clubs do doesn't affect how we operate."

Maybe that helps explain why the Angels, who took hard runs at both Teixeira and Sabathia two winters ago, have swung and missed lately. What other clubs do does affect the rest in this game, because market values are set.

Here in Florida, Crawford's market is still taking shape, and you bet the Werth contract will be a barometer.

The Angels are one of the few teams with pockets deep enough to pull up a chair at Crawford's table. One break they may have gotten in the past few days is that in acquiring Adrian Gonzalez, the Red Sox may be out on Crawford -- at least, at seven or eight years.

The Red Sox are said to have agreed with Gonzalez on the parameters of a seven-year deal worth between $161 and $168 million that likely will be finalized sometime around Opening Day. It's hard to see Boston signing two players to contracts that long in one winter.

Other than the Angels' interest, things have been awfully quiet here regarding Crawford.

The Angels always operate with the secrecy of a CIA spy, but until Tuesday night and the Lee revelation, there was little indication that much of anything was happening.

Beltre? The Angels currently are not taking an aggressive path there, according to a source with knowledge of the club's thinking.

Soriano? No indicators there, either.

Lee? Hmmm.

Reagins, scrambling because of a flight delay Monday, was among the last GM's -- and, far as anybody can tell, the last -- to arrive at the Winter Meetings.

Owner Arte Moreno is known for being aggressive. But over the past couple of years, he hasn't been aggressive enough.

The Angels got worse last year. They looked old. They were slow.

The decision to let Figgins walk backfired when Erick Aybar did not develop into a leadoff hitter. The decision to let Guerrero walk blew up when he had a great year and Hideki Matsui was disappointing.

Suddenly, the shift of power in the AL West is becoming evident.

Texas not only won the division, but the Rangers are loaded with good, young talent. They're not going anywhere.

The A's have the kind of good, young pitching that has them poised to recapture some of the glory of old.

Seattle? Well, let's not get carried away here. Not everybody in the division is on the move.

Right now, though, in terms of forward momentum, the Angels are more Seattle than Texas.

Mike Scioscia said Tuesday that the return to health of first baseman Kendry Morales, who slammed 34 home runs and collected 108 RBIs two summers ago before suffering a season-ending broken leg early in 2010, will be a boon in 2011.

As for the rest. ...

"It's kind of like the offseason becomes fantasy baseball for the players, too," Scioscia said. "You look at who's out there and who might be in the lineup and think, 'Man, if we had this guy or that guy, we'd be a better team.'"

So far this winter? The Angels' big move was to fire head trainer Ned Bergert, who had been with the organization for 36 years.

Oh, and they fired a scout, Dale Sutherland, who had been with them for 19 years (and was primarily responsible for the club claiming David Eckstein off of waivers from Boston, and acquiring Figgins from Colorado in a trade). Oh, and scouting director Eddie Bane.

Looks like a whole lot of scapegoats. And so far, not much else.

Posted on: December 2, 2010 2:01 pm
 

Red Sox recruiting Crawford, Werth hard

The Red Sox, looking to add an impact outfielder to their lineup this winter, are taking their cuts: After meeting with free agent Carl Crawford in Houston recently, the traveling road show continued when general manager Theo Epstein and manager Terry Francona met with free agent Jayson Werth and his representatives in Chicago on Wednesday evening, according to sources with knowledge of the talks.

There are no indications that a deal is close with either player, as sources say the discussions are "continuing." Plus, both Crawford and Werth remain highly sought after by other clubs.

Crawford remains the Angels' top target as well, and owner Arte Moreno and Co. continue to put on a full-court press. Though the Angels have been linked to free agent closer Rafael Soriano as well, Crawford remains far and away their top priority. One source with knowledge of the Angels plans says they want Crawford "bad."

Either Werth or Crawford would play well in Fenway Park, which is why Epstein and Francona have made the rounds from Houston to Chicago. It is believed that Scott Boras, Werth's agent, also conducted talks with other clubs while in Chicago on Wednesday and Thursday morning.

Posted on: August 20, 2010 3:53 pm
Edited on: August 20, 2010 3:57 pm
 

Short Hops: QB Locker bypasses Angels this summer

Short hops, quick pops and backhand stops:

 In a summer during which former two-sport star Bo Jackson's signature home run was celebrated when the All-Star Game was played in Anaheim, the Angels' chances for reaping the benefits from another two-sport star have diminished.

Jake Locker, University of Washington quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate this fall, neglected to play baseball this summer as scheduled for one of the Angels' rookie league teams, throwing his baseball future in doubt.

Not that the Angels were banking on him -- they essentially took a flier on his athletic ability, selecting him in the 10th round of last summer's draft and signing him for $250,000.

"We haven't seen him on the baseball field, but I've got nothing but great things to say about him and his family," Eddie Bane, the Angels' director of scouting, says. "He's as talented an athlete as I've seen."

Bane compares Locker's athletic gifts to those of Mike Trout, the 18-year-old outfielder who starred at the Futures Game during All-Star weekend and was listed as the third-best prospect in the Angels' farm system by Baseball America entering 2010.

"Jake never played much baseball, but he's just so loaded with tools that you just dream," Bane says.

Locker hasn’t played baseball since the spring of 2006 at Ferndale (Wash.) High School, other than a brief appearance in 2008 for the Bellingham Bells of the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League. In 10 games there, he hit .273 with one homer while playing center field.

The Angels knew his baseball abilities were crude when they signed him last Aug. 15, and they knew there was a good chance he would wind up playing only football. But they liked his athleticism, liked the idea of positioning themselves as a landing spot if football didn't work out and, by signing him, could control his baseball rights for six years.

"It was a reach by me to see whether something happened [with football], whether he'd play baseball," Bane says. "But the guy is shaping up to be a No. 1 or No. 2 pick in the [NFL] draft if he stays healthy."

When the Angels picked Locker, he was coming off of a freshman season in which a broken thumb sidelined him for a significant time. But last year, Locker threw for 2,800 yards and 21 touchdowns.

Locker spent a couple of days with the Angels during spring training this year, more of a get-acquainted session for both sides than anything else. There were a couple of reporting dates set this summer for Locker, who would have played for the Angels' short-season, rookie-level team in either Orem, Utah, or in Arizona.

Losing more baseball time this summer puts Locker even further behind, though it's pretty clear that another big year on the football field will end any notion of him playing baseball for good.

As for the money -- the Angels are paying his scholarship to Washington in addition to the $250,000 -- Angels general manager Tony Reagins declines to discuss specifics. The Angels could seek to recoup some of the money or simply retain his rights.

"He has an option to play football and an option to play baseball," Reagins says. "At some point in the next calendar year, we'll make a call or he'll make a call. The NFL draft is probably real important."

 Can a team be sparked by a brawl? The Reds are answering in the affirmative: They're 6-0 since getting swept by St. Louis in last week's emotional series and have opened up a 3 1/2-game lead in the NL Central. But a stern test is ahead: The Reds, 0-12 in Dodger Stadium since 2006, will spend the weekend there. Homer Bailey starts the opener Friday night against the Dodgers' Carlos Monasterios.

 Expect to see Aroldis Chapman working out of Cincinnati's bullpen, an inning or two at a clip, after rosters expand Sept. 1.

 Wrong place, wrong time: Boston is third in the AL East, but the Red Sox entering the weekend would be first in the AL West and second in the AL Central, just 1 1/2 games behind Minnesota.

 When Ryan Kalish slugged a grand slam this week against the Angels, he joined Daniel Nava as Red Sox rookies this year who have done it. Last time Boston had two rookies crack grand slams in the same season? John Valentin and Bob Zupcic in 1992. Kalish also became the second-youngest major leaguer to belt a slam this season, after Florida's Mike Stanton.

 One scout's reaction to watching a Kirk Gibson-managed Arizona team: "I was there a couple of weeks ago and I saw Justin Upton for the first time hit behind a runner. That has to be Gibson."

 Lots of industry types think the Brewers already have decided to trade Prince Fielder this winter before the final season of his contract. And more than one scout has mentioned that Fielder's weight combined with his age (26) make a long-term deal a risky proposition. The thinking being, once a guy hits 30, his weight issues will only exacerbate. I'm sure Fielder's agent, Scott Boras, will have plenty of ammunition against that when Prince hits the free agent market two winters from now.

 How about the attendant in the Cubs players' parking lot giving Derrek Lee the business when Lee went to park Friday before his debut for the Braves? Guy told him he couldn't park there, it was only for Cubs players. After Lee was momentarily flustered, the attendant told him he was kidding. What a weird debut, Lee for Atlanta in Wrigley Field. And class move by Cubs' starter Ryan Dempster to go stand behind the mound for several extra seconds before Lee's first at-bat in a Braves' uniform to give the Wrigley Field crowd a chance to cheer him -- and say farewell -- longer.

 Whaaaat, Zagat's 2010 survey ranks Five Guys Burger and Fries ahead of In-N-Out? Hey, I love both, but you've gotta go with In-N-Out, don’t you?

 

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: July 26, 2010 4:35 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2010 2:44 pm
 

Marlins, Rangers continue talking Cantu

Talks between the Marlins and Rangers for slugger Jorge Cantu have reached the point where if a deal happens, it probably will happen in the next day or two, according to two major-league officials with knowledge of the discussions.

The Rangers are in full-throttle, pedal-to-the-metal mode with a seven-game lead in the AL West. One club source says the belief is that now is the time to push because this current Rangers team is showing that it's ready to win now.

The Texas front office believes it too, given the acquisitions so far of ace Cliff Lee and catcher Bengie Molina. If the Rangers can add Cantu to their lineup, as one scout says, they would add "probably the least-known 100 RBI guy in the game."

With the Angels having acquired right-hander Dan Haren from Arizona on Sunday and Seattle having dealt Lee to Texas earlier this month, the AL West is putting on quite a trade-deadline show this summer.

In the deal currently being discussed, Texas would send two minor-leaguers to Florida for Cantu. The Rangers would have to get the OK of the Commissioner's Office before any deal takes place because Cantu is owed about $2 million yet for 2010 and the Rangers, of course, are in bankruptcy court as their sale is pending.

However, Cantu also would be a perfect stretch-run pickup for the Rangers because there are no money issues after this year -- Cantu will become a free agent.

Meantime, while the Marlins have other issues -- such as, at 49-49 and eight games behind Atlanta in the NL East, they're trying to determine whether they're in or out of the race -- trading Cantu somewhere appears close to a fait accompli. The Marlins also are engaging Colorado and San Francisco in discussions.

The Marlins are comfortable with the idea of Chris Coghlan playing third base -- or, while he's on the disabled list with a knee injury, with Wes Helms there -- and they think Logan Morrison is ready for the majors. Morrison has been playing left field in recent games for Triple-A New Orleans and is hitting .306 with six home runs, 44 RBI and a .424 on-base percentage in 67 games.

Their feeling is, if they do trade Cantu and the trickle down effect includes Morrison, Coghlan and Helms, it won't hurt them while they make a run at it this summer.

Posted on: July 12, 2010 10:10 pm
 

Torii Hunter: Babies yes, Rally Monkey not yet

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- As the lone Angels' position player on the American League team, outfielder Torii Hunter has emerged as the unofficial All-Star host.

It's a job he'll handle willingly

"FanFest, a couple of things with TV stations, autograph signings, talking to kids, kissing babies ... it's going to be fun," Hunter said, wide grin crossing his face.

So far, though, no appearances with the Rally Monkey.

"I'm actually scared of the Monkey," Hunter joked. "He's pretty aggressive. When he's in a bad mood, he'll actually scratch you."

Hunter was bitterly disappointed that he had to bow out of last year's game in St. Louis with a groin injury. As a kid growing up in Arkansas, Hunter was a huge Cardinals fan. He loved Ozzie Smith and Vince Coleman. To a degree, last year's game in St. Louis was personal with him, given the ties to his boyhood memories.

So he's determined to enjoy everything about this year's game. Three of his children were trailing around with him Monday, and Hunter said he was showing them the ropes -- up to and including "kissing babies."

Part of it is that Hunter naturally is a friendly, outgoing guy who simply enjoys people.

Part of it is that he learned from another gregarious legend as he was coming up as a kid in the Minnesota Twins' system.

"I used to watch Kirby Puckett all the time," Hunter said. "He was always smiling and talking to people. Whenever people needed him, media, vendors, whoever, he talked to them. I watched that.

"That's why I always talk. That's why, if you come to me and need something, I'll say yes. I don't beg for it, but if you've got a kid coming up. ..."

And if that kid is unsure of himself, or needs a good influence ... Hunter is there.

 

Posted on: May 26, 2010 10:00 pm
 

Can U2 hit the curveball?

Cardinals pitcher Brad Penny and U2 front man Bono each went on the disabled list in the past few days with a bad back.

Guess which one may have the widest-ranging repercussions on the baseball schedule?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the havoc U2's summer tour wreaked on the 2010 baseball schedule.

Well, with U2 now having had to postpone 16 dates on the North American leg of its world tour this summer following Bono's emergency back surgery, tour promoters are talking about rescheduling the dates for 2011.

Which means, as for those postponed concerts in Angel Stadium (June 6-7), the Oakland Coliseum (June 16), Toronto's Rogers Centre (July 3) and Florida's Landshark Stadium (July 9) ... uh-oh.

The 2011 baseball schedule has already marched on with or without U ... 2.

"It's way too late in terms of blocking dates for the 2011 schedule," says Katy Feeney, one of baseball's long-time senior vice-presidents and a point person in the scheduling process. "The first draft should hopefully be in clubs' hands by mid-June.

"People need to tell the promoters to cool their jets. I'm sorry Bono had back surgery, but it's way too late. To block dates right now is nearly impossible."

Because of the sheer magnitude of the stadium stage show, U2 requires roughly 10 days to set up, play the show and then break everything down. With the Angels, Blue Jays, Athletics and Marlins all requesting specific road dates in 2010 so they could host U2 (and make gobs of money in the process), baseball officials had to work overtime on this summer's schedule.

Because of all of the moving parts, the trickle-down affected other clubs as well.

For example: The Dodgers agreed to flip-flop home dates of their interleague series this summer with the Angels, who needed a long road trip to schedule Bono and Co. Consequently, the Dodgers were rewarded with an extra weekend homestand -- they now have 14, where most other clubs have 13. The Angels agreed to lose a home weekend series in the swap, giving them 12 instead of the normal 13.

So the Angels are on the road from May 31-June 13 in Kansas City, Seattle, Oakland and in Dodger Stadium ... to make room for a band that now needs to reschedule.

Because the concert promoters work with the individual clubs, and not directly with baseball, Feeney isn't quite sure of the band's makeup plans. But the Athletics already have checked in with her about rescheduling their U2 show next summer, and it is Feeney's understanding that the concert promoters are hoping to keep the same or similar dates in the baseball parks, only for 2011 instead of 2010.

But the rough draft of the 2011 schedule -- which must be presented to the players' union by July 1, by the way -- is already finished. And it does not include 10-day dark periods in Angel Stadium, the Oakland Coliseum or anywhere else.

"Maybe somebody needs to go and tell them to scale down their stage," Feeney suggested. "We've scheduled around several other bands over the years -- the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and nobody has needed that kind of time.

"If Bono's doctors are telling him to stop jumping around, maybe he could just play sitting down."

Hmmm. ...

Maybe a few day-night doubleheaders would work for U2?

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Through the storm we reach the shore
"You give it all but I want more
"And I'm waiting for you"

-- U2, With or Without You

Posted on: May 13, 2010 8:14 pm
 

Braden set for encore Friday night in Anaheim

When Dallas Braden takes the mound Friday night in Anaheim in the latest attempt to become the only pitcher since Cincinnati's Johnny Vander Meer (1938) to throw no-hitters in consecutive starts, he says he will not feel any different than he did in his last start despite. ...

-- Becoming only the 19th man in baseball history to throw a perfect game last Sunday against Tampa Bay.

-- Reading the Top Ten list on David Letterman's show on Tuesday.

-- Appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week.

-- Appearing with his grandmother on the CBS Early Show on Thursday.

-- Watching his Q rating shoot through the roof.

"I don't get too wrapped up in all that stuff," Braden was saying in a conference call Thursday, his last public words before facing the Angels' Joe Saunders in his next chance for greatness. "I take some of it for what it's worth.

"I almost relinquish to a higher power, my mother having had a hand in what went on. I don't even know that I had a choice."

Braden's mother, Jodie, died of melanoma when he was a senior in high school, and his grandmother who helped him after that -- Peggy Lindsey -- was in the stands in Oakland on Sunday.

She also was at his side for postgame interviews and, now something of a cult figure (especially after her memorable "Stick it, A-Rod" line), Lindsey joined her grandson in Texas this week for a spot on Thursday morning's CBS Early Show.

"Believe you me, she's enjoyed it," Braden said of his grandmother and the limelight. "We did the morning show here in Texas, and the CBS folks were so nice to fly her out and take care of her. And I treated her to a spa day.

"I'm going to have to grease the walls to get her into her house when we get home, because she's loving life right now."

With just 17 career victories before Sunday's perfecto, the key for Braden, 26, is a changeup that tantalizes hitters. His fastball sits between 84 and 88 miles an hour, nothing special. Tampa Bay hitters swung and missed a total of only five times.

Because of that, the self-deprecating Braden doesn't think opponents will view him much differently from here on out, either.

"I don't think so," Braden said. "Because of how rare the feat is. I think everybody understands I'm not going to rattle off four or five in a row. I don't think there will be any fear of that.

"I think there will be fights at the bat rack to get to my fastball."

This will be his second start in Anaheim of the 2010 season. On April 11, he allowed three earned runs and five hits over six innings in a game Oakland won 9-4. Bobby Abreu drilled a first-inning homer against him, then Braden settled down.

"Good changeup," Abreu said this week. "He's got command in and out, and he's not afraid to throw it in, and then throw the fastball away. He comes right at you."

The key to facing Braden?

"Sometimes he gets a little wild," Abreu said. "Make him throw strikes. See how it's going to be in your first at-bat, then after that you decide."

Likes: Ken Griffey snoozing in the clubhouse? Check out the Seattle Times' Larry Stone, whose wildly twisted mind immediately came up with The Boys of Slumber: My All-Sleep Team. Included: Nap Lajoie, Robby Hammock and Andy Sheets, and Stone went deep on Clarence Pillow and James Yawn. Love it. ... And speaking of twisted minds, you know what else is a good read? Former infielder Morgan Ensberg's blog. Check it out here. ... The Detroit Free Press did a very nice job on a three-part series from an extended interview with the late Ernie Harwell last fall, during which the Free Press acceded to Harwell's request that it be held until after his passing. ... Finished Nick Hornby's Juliet, Naked. Very good read. Not as good as About a Boy or High Fidelity, but it would be nearly impossible to hit that bar again -- for anybody.

Dislikes: Lenny Dysktra needs money. So badly that he's selling crap on Craig's List.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

Now close your eyes and imagine new Royals skipper Ned Yost singing:

"I'll be standing on the corner
"On the corner of Twelfth Street and Vine
"I'm gonna be standing on the corner
"On the corner of Twelfth Street and Vine
"With my Kansas City baby
"And a bottle of Kansas City wine
"I'm going to Kansas City, Kansas City here I come
"I'm going to Kansas City, Kansas City here I come
"They got a crazy way of loving there
"And I'm gonna get me some"

-- Fats Domino, Kansas City

 
 
 
 
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