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Tag:Mike Scioscia
Posted on: July 17, 2011 10:45 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 6:11 am
 

3 to Watch: The streaking Rangers edition

Since 1996, the Yankees have five World Series titles and no 11-game winning streaks.

The Rangers just won 11 in a row for the second straight year.

Since 2003, four teams have had a 12-game winning streak. Three of those four didn't make the playoffs, and the fourth didn't make the World Series.

Winning streaks make you look like you're the best team in baseball. All too often, the long season proves that you're not.

Winning streaks feel like they ought to be important. History shows that all too often, they're not.

So what does all this mean for the Rangers, who have swept the Orioles, A's and Mariners for their 11 straight wins?

Nothing, except that Texas has once again taken command of the American League West race, and has a chance to open up an even bigger gap with three games against the Angels this week in Anaheim.

With the Mariners' collapse -- they've lost nine straight, scoring just 11 runs total -- and with the A's continuing struggles, the Angels are the lone remaining challenger to Texas. And even the Angels have now fallen four games behind.

The Angels are supposed to be the Rangers' opposites. The Rangers are third in the league in runs, while the Angels are fourth from the bottom. The Angels are second in the league in pitching, while the Rangers are . . . moving up.

In fact, if there's anything to take from the 11 straight games they've won, it's that the Rangers' pitching has been outstanding. The team ERA through the 11-game streak is an impressive 2.09 (although maybe the three weak opponents had something to do with that).

Last year, the Rangers' 11-game winning streak came in June, and it was quickly followed by the Cliff Lee trade that turned Texas into a World Series team for the first time. It's hard to know whether this streak will be followed by any kind of impact trade -- or if the Rangers even need that kind of impact deal this year.

All we really know is this: If the Rangers win Tuesday, they'll be the first team since the 2006 Red Sox to win 12 in a row. If they win Tuesday and Wednesday, they'll be the first team since the 2002 A's to win more than 12 in a row (the A's won 20).

And whether the streak ends at 11, 12 or more, we also know that history tells us it's not as important as it seems.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. There's still no game-changer like Lee on the July trade market, but the market did get a lot more interesting with the news that the Rockies would listen on Ubaldo Jimenez. The asking price is admittedly huge -- according to the reliable Jon Heyman of SI.com, the Rockies wanted Manuel Banuelos, Delin Betances, Ivan Nova and Jesus Montero from the Yankees -- but at least there is an asking price. Most likely, Jimenez will make his next scheduled start, in Braves at Rockies, Tuesday night (8:40 ET) at Coors Field, but you never know. It's a safer bet that scouts will congregate in Denver, where Derek Lowe is scheduled to start for the Braves a night before Jimenez is scheduled for the Rockies.

2. Rangers manager Ron Washington chose Jered Weaver to start the All-Star Game, but he also agreed to Angels manager Mike Scioscia's request that Weaver pitch only one inning. That enabled Weaver to start Saturday in Oakland (where he won for the 12th time this year), and it also set up Weaver to start against fellow All-Star C.J. Wilson in Rangers at Angels, Thursday afternoon (3:35 ET) at Angel Stadium.

3. I'm still not sure who baseball's best pitcher is -- Verlander? Halladay? Felix? I do know that CC Sabathia is baseball's winningest pitcher (he's 14-4, with wins in each of his last seven starts), and that he's also baseball's hottest pitcher (5-0, 0.45 in his last five starts, with nine walks and 50 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings, with a .449 OPS against). I also know that Sabathia has an All-Star matchup coming up, in Yankees at Rays, Thursday night (7:10 ET) at Tropicana Field. And I know that this is the last game of what the Rays saw as a critical 10-game stretch against the Yankees and Red Sox. By Thursday, the Rays figure to have a better idea of whether a run at the playoffs is realistic.


Posted on: June 17, 2011 8:35 pm
 

Scioscia calls for 'schedule reform'

NEW YORK -- The Angels would like to think they'll be playing meaningful games in September.

Mike Scioscia wants meaningful games in the division.

Scioscia, who is on commissioner Bud Selig's advisory committee, said Friday that he favors some realignment. But more than realignment, Scioscia said baseball needs what he calls "schedule reform."

"The real beauty of the season is what happens in your division," the Angels manager said. "The head-to-head competition should be there at the beginning of the season, in the middle of the season, and definitely at the end of the season."

The Angels close the season with a six-game homestand against American League West rivals Oakland and Texas, but before that they go on a trip that takes them to Baltimore and Toronto. Earlier in September, they have home series against the Twins and Yankees.

"I think we're out of the division more than we're in the division," Scioscia said.

Scioscia has long been a proponent of tightening up the postseason schedule, to make it more like the regular season. He has no problem with adding a second wild-card team, but worries about a schedule that would force teams to sit around and wait before beginning the playoffs.

"A one-game playoff would be more exciting, more practical," he said.

If baseball realigns into two 15-team leagues, some teams would be playing interleague games down the stretch. But six five-team divisions would also make scheduling simpler, and could actually allow more late-season division matchups than in the current setup.

It could also create a more equitable schedule, because with each division the same size, it would be much easier to have every team in a division play the same interleague schedule.

That doesn't happen now. Scioscia's Angels played three games earlier this year against the Braves, and have series remaining against the Mets, Marlins and Nationals, plus two against the Dodgers.

The Rangers will also play the Braves, Mets and Marlins, but their other interleague series are against the Phillies, and two against the Astros.

Because of the uneven divisions, even the in-league schedules aren't the same. The Rangers will play three more games against the top three teams in the American League East -- the Red Sox, Yankees and Rays -- than the Angels will. The Angels make that up by playing three more games than the Rangers against the last-place Orioles.

"We need schedule reform," Scioscia said.

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 17, 2011 7:48 pm
 

Angels 'painfully' bad -- but not out of it

NEW YORK -- Mike Scioscia always says he doesn't look at the standings.

That's too bad, because right now the standings are the best thing the Angels have going for them.

They're not hitting. They're not scoring. They're not winning.

But they're also not falling out of the American League West race.

Over the last 11 days, heading into Friday night's series opener against the Mets, the Angels went 3-6 -- and gained 1 1/2 games on first-place Texas.

"How about that?" Torii Hunter said. "We've struggled so much, and we're still three [games] back. We're still in it.

"That's giving us faith, giving us that edge again. We're kind of shocked that we're only three games back, but now we can smell blood."

Hunter is hitting just .225. Vernon Wells is hitting .193. And they were batting third and fourth in the order Friday night.

The Angels have been shut out nine times, the most in the American League. They've been shut out only once in the last 14 games, but they've been held to three runs or less in 11 of those 14 games.

"I don't know if we've ever gone through a stretch like this," Scioscia said. "The last three weeks were really painful for us. We need to create more offense."

Scioscia mentioned Kendrys Morales, whose inability to come back from an ankle injury left a big hole in the Angels' batting order. Pitcher Jered Weaver said the team was "deflated" after finding out that Morales would need a second surgery and wouldn't return this season.

But all the Angels need is a look at the standings to re-inflate.

"It's amazing we are still in it," Weaver admitted. "We could have been 10 games out by now."

But they're not.

"We still know we're a playoff contender," Weaver said.

Some people have wondered whether the Angels could turn into sellers, and Ken Rosenthal of Foxsports.com speculated last week that they might even consider trading Weaver, a Cy Young contender with an 8-4 record and 2.06 ERA who will be a free agent at the end of next season.

Angels people suggest that's highly unlikely, and it's hard to imagine the ultra-competitive Scioscia and owner Arte Moreno giving up on a season that easily.

But there's no reason for them to give up on this season, not with the Rangers failing to take a stronger grip on first place.

If the Angels need encouragement, they need only look at the standings -- whether Scioscia wants to or not.
Posted on: May 9, 2011 8:05 pm
 

Black, Roenicke meet in tribute to Scioscia

MILWAUKEE -- Way back when Mike Scioscia was winning his first game as a manager, Bud Black and Ron Roenicke were at his side.

"I sent him a text, and told him, 'I still remember the first one,'" Black said Monday, a day after Scioscia's 1,000th career win.

Black was Scioscia's pitching coach for seven years, until he left to manage the Padres. Roenicke was an Angels coach for 11 years, until he left last winter to manage the Brewers.

Somehow, it seems appropriate that the day after his milestone win, two of his ex-coaches faced off as managers, with Black's Padres visiting Roenicke's Brewers Monday night.

There are three of them now, Black and Roenicke and Joe Maddon, a Scioscia coach for six years before he left for Tampa Bay.

Maddon has won a manager of the year award. Black won one last year.

And Scioscia is still winning games with the Angels.

"I knew [back then] that he was going to be a successful manager," Black said Monday.

Black and Maddon have met twice in interleague series, with the Padres winning two of three games each time. But, as Black pointed out, his record against Scioscia isn't nearly as good.

They met in one interleague series, in 2009. The Angels swept the series, outscoring the Padres, 26-7.

"When you work with someone, you know what they are . . . and you still can't stop him," Black said.

Posted on: April 19, 2011 7:45 pm
Edited on: April 19, 2011 7:49 pm
 

Hold off on judging Brewers, but not the manager

PHILADELPHIA -- It's too early to judge the Brewers.

It may not be too early to judge the Brewers' new manager.

We still haven't seen the Brewer rotation as it was designed, because we still haven't seen Zack Greinke throw a pitch for Milwaukee. We still haven't seen the Brewer lineup as designed, because Corey Hart still hasn't had an at-bat this year. We haven't even seen the Brewer bullpen as designed, because Takashi Saito appeared in just two games before going on the disabled list, and LaTroy Hawkins has yet to make his debut.

Within two weeks, the Brewers could have all those players back.

As infielder Craig Counsell said, "We're getting our team."

So no, we can't judge the Brewers yet, except to say that through all the injuries, they've hung in there so far in what is looking like a balanced (mediocre?) National League Central. Heading into play Tuesday night, the Brewers were 8-8, one game behind the first-place Reds.

So why does it feel like we can already start judging Ron Roenicke?

Simply because all the injuries, and everything else the Brewers have already gone through, makes it feel like he has already managed a lot more than 16 games.

"They haven't been easy," Roenicke said. "But the guys here, they've made it easy."

People around the Brewers say that those guys, the Brewer players, have taken to Roenicke in a way they didn't take to Ken Macha, the manager he replaced. They also say that Roenicke has already proven to have a trait that every good manager needs, the ability to stay consistent through good times and bad.

"Nothing ever festers or lingers with him," said John Shelby, who is on Roenicke's coaching staff as the Brewers' eye-in-the-sky. "You're not going to see him come in and tear up a locker room.

"There's no way you can tell anything different from [Monday] night's game [when the Brewers beat the Phillies in 12 innings] or the first day of the season, when we lost."

On the first day of the season, the Brewers didn't just lose. They blew a three-run lead in the ninth inning in Cincinnati, losing to the division rival Reds on Ramon Hernandez's three-run walkoff home run off closer John Axford.

Of the 29 other active managers in the big leagues, only two lost on a walkoff in their first game. Eric Wedge's 2003 Indians lost in 13 innings in Baltimore, while Ozzie Guillen's 2004 White Sox gave up six in the ninth and lost on a Carlos Beltran walkoff home run in Kansas City.

"I don't know if people think I can manage or not," Guillen told reporters that day.

Roenicke said nothing that colorful. He won't, but he seems as at ease dealing with the media as he does in dealing with his players.

And he's dealt with a lot already.

The difficult opening day loss began a four-game season-opening losing streak. Axford has struggled with his control in nearly every outing, and this week Roenicke had to deal with questions about whether he has a closer problem (he responded by expressing confidence that Axford will get straightened out).

Rival scouts have noticed. They also praise Roenicke for the multiple shifts he has used to help out the Brewers' subpar defense, and for the aggressive style he prefers on the basepaths.

None of that should come as a surprise. Roenicke coached under Mike Scioscia with the Angels, just as Joe Maddon and Bud Black did. And just as Maddon and Black have proven to be successful with the Rays and Padres, Roenicke looks like he could be a success with the Brewers.

The Angels connection is strong.

When a reporter asked Roenicke the other day about Carlos Gomez, Roenicke said that other players in baseball were off to slow starts, too.

The two players he mentioned: Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter, both of the Angels.

"I'm watching them," he admitted with a smile.

You can be sure they're watching him, too.

They'll keep watching, and in a couple of weeks they'll be watching a Brewers team with Greinke, Hart and the others.

They've done all right so far without them.

"I think we've handled it really well," Roenicke said. "Fortunately for us, they weren't year-ending things. [The players] know Zack's coming back. Hopefully, we'll get everyone healthy, and then we'll get on a roll."

Maybe then, we'll know what kind of team the Brewers have.

We already have an idea what kind of manager they have.

Posted on: February 14, 2011 5:45 pm
 

Angels: Winter losers, summer winners?

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels had a bad winter. There's no way they're going to convince me they didn't.

But if they can assure me that Kendry Morales is going to hit the way he did in 2009, I might be ready to say that they're not going to have a bad summer.

Morales hit 34 home runs, drove in 108 runs and had a .924 OPS (best in the American League West) two seasons ago. He had 11 home runs and 39 RBI in a 2010 season that ended on May 29 when he broke a bone in his lower leg.

"If we didn't lose him, I think we make those last four games [of the season] in Texas meaningful," manager Mike Scioscia said Monday.

Morales began spring training Monday with a long scar on the outside of his left ankle, and with some question about whether he'll be ready for opening day.

Scioscia said he's "very comfortable" that Morales will be ready. Morales told reporters that "I do know it's a possibility that I may not be."

The Angels were widely regarded as winter losers, in large part because owner Arte Moreno began the winter by saying he would "spend what it takes" to put his team back on top. The Angels then lost out on top target Carl Crawford, and didn't sign Adrian Beltre, either.

Scioscia said the winter wasn't a disappointment because the Angels eventually traded for Vernon Wells. And it is worth noting that while Wells' contract is a lot higher than his value, he is a useful player who will make the Angels better on defense, and perhaps offensively as well.

"Are we disappointed with our offseason? I'm not," Scioscia said.

His pitchers seem to agree.

"With a few additions that we've made, and with Kendry coming back, we should be fine," Dan Haren said. "A big thing people don't know is how many fly balls our pitchers give up. I'm up there, Jered [Weaver] is up there and Ervin [Santana], too. With Wells, [Peter] Bourjos and [Torii] Hunter out there, not too many fly balls are going to fall in.

"With the staff we have, we shouldn't have to score too many runs. Look at the Giants last year. They didn't score 6-7 runs a game."

The Giants were ninth in the National League in runs last year. The Angels, even without Morales for much of the year, were ninth in the American League.

If Morales is back to being the 2009 Morales, maybe the Angels will be good enough, even without Crawford or Beltre.

But will he be?

"When I'm 100 percent, the results will come," Morales said.

"The long-range prognosis is very good," Scioscia said. "And he's not a guy that's going to need 80 at-bats in spring training. I'm very comfortable with the time frame that he's going to be 100 percent for the start of the season."

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 12, 2010 7:31 pm
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Posted on: July 12, 2010 7:30 pm
 

The All-Star Game of shadows

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Tony Clark remembers his lone All-Star at-bat.

He remembers that it was in Seattle, in 2001, against Jon Lieber. And he remembers that because of the shadows at Safeco Field, he could barely see the ball.

"It was tough," Clark said, thinking ahead to another late-afternoon All-Star start -- and more shadows -- Tuesday at Angel Stadium.

While Clark had trouble with the shadows, Lieber did give up home runs in that same sixth inning to Derek Jeter and Magglio Ordonez. But perhaps in part because of the shadows, the 2001 All-Star Game was low-scoring, a 4-1 AL win.

How bad will the shadows be Tuesday?

Angels manager Mike Scioscia said they may not be that bad.

"With a 5 o'clock start, they're bearable, but not great," Scioscia said. "If it was a 4 o'clock start, they'd really be bad. Starting at 5, it could be an issue early, but not as bad."

The last All-Star Game in Anaheim finished as a 5-3 AL win. But that game was played when the stadium was still double-deck all the way around, so the shadows would have been much different.

 
 
 
 
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