Results tagged ‘ Scott Kazmir ’

And Now We Return to Wednesday’s Originally Scheduled Broadcast

As I mentioned before, my original plan on Wednesday was to discuss some of the topics covered in Tuesday’s Winter Meeting interviews with Angels’ GM Tony Reagins and Angels Manager Mike Scioscia. That was before the Crawford deal, before the Angels signed Scott Downs, before…well, suffice to say a lot has happened in the four and a half days since those interviews, rendering much of what was said irrelevant at this point. However, a few pieces of news remain pertinent and interesting:

Kendry Morales
Since about late August or so, all reports have indicated that Kendry is making great progress at or slightly ahead of schedule and that he should be able to return for the 2011 season as good as new. On the one hand, this is what you would expect the front office to say but, on the other hand, if his progress was cause for concern I tend to think the easier route would just be to avoid giving frequent updates all together. During the Tuesday interviews, Scioscia and Reagins both reiterated that Kendry is making excellent progress and let us know he has been able to resume light baseball activities in addition to the regular rehab and workouts. Scioscia also said that while they will watch Kendry cautiously in the beginning, of course, based on his current progress he should be “full-go for all drills”* by the beginning of Spring Training.

Kendry Morales is one of my favorite players – a guy who can motivate the whole team with a swing of his mighty bat or a great play at first. Honestly, this news makes me happier than a big trade or signing announcement would make me…not that I didn’t want that big announcement too. I’m greedy like that. Having Kendry back in and of itself will be a huge improvement in the Angels offense, but all of the major players involved have promised us repeatedly that they would not be content with just having Kendry back in the line-up and would make one or two additional improvements for 2011. This promise has noticeably not been repeated since Crawford signed with the Red Sox and, while I sincerely hope this is not the case, I am left with one of Ash’s great lines from Army of Darkness stuck in my head. Oh that’s just what we call pillow talk, baby, that’s all.

Catchers’ Tango Turned Broadway Ensemble Dance Routine
Mike Scioscia said that with Kendry on the mend, Mike Napoli would be returning to his role as catcher in 2011 in the typically glowing way we have all come to expect when Scioscia talks about Napoli behind the plate. “I think he’s a catcher, and he thinks he’s a catcher. Now he needs to go out a catch like he’s a catcher.” Clearly by returning to his role a catcher, Scioscia meant returning to the two and occasionally three and even four way bare knuckled, albeit good naturedly so, brawl for a permanent position behind the plate. Of the catching position, Scioscia said, “It’s obviously an important position for us. Jeff is more skilled defensively. Bobby is a combination. Hank Conger is coming. We have some depth there.” Mike Scioscia, King of Understatement. Of course, this could also be so much pillow talk and Napoli could very well be trade bait for the bat we so desperately need. Given the fact that the Angels’ 2010 homerun leader is often, himself, the bat we so desperately need, albeit a very streaky one, unless such a trade brings additional sizable tangible benefits, this doesn’t make nearly as much sense to me as other deals might.

Scott Kazmir
According to Scioscia, Kaz’ new offseason conditioning program seems to be working. He is showing marked improvements in stamina and control and is still expected to be the 5th starter in 2011. This is the kind of news I really hope is true and not just the thing the team is expected to say. It’s hard not to respect and root for a player who is possibly more upset by his poor performance than even the fans and who busts his butt in the offseason to try and make sure it doesn’t happen again. If Kaz could be as good as he was for the Rays, as good as he started out for us in 2009…Wow! The Angels starting rotation would truly be a thing of beauty, wouldn’t it?

* All of the interview quotations were taken from Lyle Spencer’s articles “Scioscia Sees a Bright Future for Trout” and “Lee Joins High-Profile List Linked to Angels.”

Angels Watched Pot Begins to Boil

The Angels first real move of the hot stove season was signing left handed pitcher Hisanori Takahashi, formerly of the Mets. After last year’s trades and free agency losses, we definitely needed a lefty. A quick skim of the roster yields one long string of Rs and Scott Kazmir and Kaz is more of a big question mark than an L we can count on. Which Kaz will take the mound?

I admit I know little to nothing about Takahashi. I know a lot more about American League players these days than National League players, for obvious reasons, and I have not been paying a lot of attention the Mets for the last several years. His stats look okay. Ten years as a successful pitcher on three championship teams with the Yomiuri Giants in Japan, Matsui’s old team followed by a year with the Mets. It looks like he was great against lefties last year for the Mets – no homeruns, a .217 average and a .270 slugging average – with less impressive stats against righties. He was 10-6 last year with the better part of that record (6-2) coming as a reliever. Is this because he’s more effective as a reliever or more indicative of the fact that he was playing for the Mets, the Angels, of course, being in a unique position to understand what an unsuccessful team can do to a good pitcher’s record? I don’t know. Win record is an important but murky stat and I have never seen the guy pitch. But I am intrigued to find out.

He seemed like a much better deal at the $5.5 million for 2 years that was previously, unofficially, announced than the $8 million reported later on Friday. Terry Smith interviewed L.A. Times Sports reporter Mike Digiovanna during Friday’s Angels Tonight broadcast and DiGiovanna predicts that at that salary the Angels actually want Takahashi for the 5th starter position. That brings up all kinds of interesting possibilities, like moving Kaz to the bullpen where he might be able to rebuild his confidence and stamina – and hopefully regain his control in the process. Better for Kaz, better for the Angels. Of course, I did notice that in the press release, the front office kept hyping Takahashi’s stats against lefties over righties and, as previously mentioned, he has a much better record as a reliever. To me, this screams reliever. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Tony Reagins made it clear that he thinks this is good for the Angels first move this offseason. That “first move” line was one of the best parts actually. The fans all know that the Angels front office does not comment on potential trades and signings until they are official and we know they are trying to work some offseason magic for us, but it’s nice of them to throw us a bone and confirm this assumption from time to time.

It was funny to see the Angels name listed among the offers for Mariano Rivera. The front office had to know that was never going to happen. And would it have even worked out if it did happen? Rivera’s considerable prowess vs. the Angels curse with high priced closers – which one would prevail or would they cancel each other out? But I do understand making an offer. It’s like buying a lottery ticket when the jackpot is up to $100 million or so. You don’t actually expect to win but you’d feel awfully foolish if you didn’t at least try. Then again, when you shell out $5 bucks or so for a lottery ticket it doesn’t drive the price of lottery tickets up for everyone else prompting the lottery commission to retaliate. Oy, this could get expensive, more so than originally planned I think.

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While I wait for more news on that front, it’s time for my favorite way to while away the offseason. No Saturday night baseball? No problem, time to have folks over for a game night of the board and build your own board variety. I will defend my Catan title with fierce trade negotiations. Bwa ha ha. All your brick and wood are belong to me.

I Do Not Covet Cliff Lee for the Angels

The coveting of Cliff Lee has been an understandable thing on many blogs so I just thought I’d put that out there. I’m not saying that he’s not an amazing pitcher. Though I will not praise him to the positively silly degree that the post season announcers did, he is definitely one of the best pitchers currently in baseball. He is one of these pitchers, and seemingly one of those teammates, who would be an asset to any team’s starting rotation.

But asset though he may be, unless we all somehow walk through the backstop into a magical baseball wonderland where players are always treated fairly even without a contract, umpires have the perfect angle to make the call on every play and Cliff Lee is willing to come to the Angels and *poof* just take over Scott Kazmir’s contract while Kaz begins an epic Tolkein-esque quest in search of his lost slider, I don’t want him for the Angels. Our starting rotation was one of our strengths this season – once you ignore the aberration that was April and, unfortunately Kaz’ difficulties. If everyone stays healthy in 2011 -and the Angels don’t make any abysmally stupid decisions regarding Weaver’s arbitration – we will have two aces in Weaver and Haren and two additional excellent starters in Pineiro and Santana (Be the good Santana please! You are not a Star Trek movie. We don’t need even and odd number rules about you.). If Kaz is able to work things out in the offseason – and I really hope he is but I’m not holding my breath – then we’ll have a great 5th starter too. If not we do have a few options that keep this from being a catastrophic need.

What the Angels need is Kendry back healthy and ready to play at the level to which we have all become accustomed – and to all reports so far, he’s looking like his old self, yay! We need another outfielder and a third baseman, and we need them both to have big or, barring that, consistent bats. The minor league call ups in the Angels’ bullpen were really something special this year and helped shore up our reliever woes at lot towards the end of the season, but an additional, reliable reliever with some veteran status wouldn’t hurt and then there is the closing situation. Myself, I like Walden for the position. I think he showed some promise there in September. But if those who know far more than I disagree and Rodney isn’t performing any better, then this will need to be addressed as well.

This is the Angels real needs list and it’s long and expensive, so I am glad Tony Reagins hasn’t been making any trips to Arkansas this fall and doesn’t appear to have any planned for the future. Angels fans often joke that Tony is some sort of trade and player acquisition ninja, that you’ll rarely, if ever, see one of his deals coming until it’s negotiated, signed and everyone involved is ready for the press conference. Torii Hunter. Del Taco. Need I say more? So I suppose anything is possible. But I certainly hope this one is as far off the radar as it appears to be. Lee is wonderful, but leave him to the Yankees and Rangers to duke it out over. They have a lot less holes to shore up in the off season than the Angels do.

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