The Angels deviated from their plan to activate Ryan Madson this weekend, opting instead to send the reliever to Triple-A Salt Lake Thursday for what Madson said could be a couple of weeks.
The move is surprising considering Madson punctuated a productive 10-day stretch with his first rehabilitation appearance on Monday since offseason Tommy John surgery, pitching a perfect inning for Single-A Inland Empire.
“I don’t know if it’s going to take a couple weeks,” Scioscia said. “It might. It might not. But I think that we want to make sure that he is ready to go and this rehab sticks when it goes. He’ll let us know how he feels, but he’s been talking about how close he is.”
It was difficult to tell if Mike Scioscia was being polite or revealing when responding to owner Arte Moreno public assurance Wednesday of the Angels manager’s job security. Outside the owners’ meetings in New York, Moreno told FOXSports.com the chances of an in-season managerial change are “right now, zero.”
Asked if he needed that support, Scioscia was measured with his response but not his typical definitive self.
“I don’t know if it changes anything that I would do or anything I need to do on a daily basis,” Scioscia said before stopping himself in mid-sentence. “Obviously it’s… You know, like I said, Arte’s been very, very supportive from day one and continues to be. And it helps give us the best opportunity to get this thing going in the right direction.”
Like you really needed WAR to tell you the Angels’ pitching is awful after Mike Scioscia did so Sunday?
Here it is anyway: FanGraphs recently calculated the WAR (wins above replacement) for every team by position. (For an explanation of the frequently misunderstood statistic, which is calculated differently by FanGraphs.com and Baseball-Reference.com and has gained popularity in recent years, click here.) According to FanGraphs’ WAR, the Angels have the 22nd-best pitching staff in the major leagues.
Broken down further, their starters rank 20th and the relievers 23rd.
The chart has its limits. Add up the Angels’ position-by-position WAR, and they should have the fourth-best team in baseball. In reality the Angels are 10 games under .500. The Baltimore Orioles are tied for first place in the American League East, yet their combined WAR ranks 21st in the majors.
This is why you play the games, why the experts say that you can’t win without pitching.
More bullet points for a Thursday morning:
It had 137 retweets and 57 favorites as of this writing. It was painful, accurate and popular. It was not the first instance of an Angels player speaking from the heart, but it was presented without filter, which is often the best way to present your thoughts:
You’ve got to hand it to Ernesto Frieri. He got our attention. On a day when the Angels hit three home runs, C.J. Wilson struck out 12 batters in 6 ⅓ innings, and the bullpen (which consisted entirely of Mark Lowe on Tuesday), the mood was still the same after a 7-6 loss to the Houston Astros. Frieri took time to write back several tweeters with a more uplifting tone. Even this guy:
Onto some bullet points:
Spot starter Jerome Williams allowed two home runs in the Angels’ 8-4 loss Sunday. (Associated Press photo)
“Terrible” and “absolutely awful” are two ways to describe the Angels’ pitching staff. And those were suggested by their manager yesterday.
I could have cited a few more stats about the Angels’ staff in my game story from yesterday’s 8-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles and where they rank among the 30 teams, namely:
• Opponents’ on-base percentage .344 (29th)
• Opponents’ slugging percentage: .427 (25th)
• Opponents’ OPS: .770 (28th)
• Blown saves: 5 (t-23rd)
• Save percentage: 44.4 (t-29th)
• HR allowed: 39 (t-25th)
• Wild pitches: 17 (27th)
• WHIP: 1.48 (29th)
• Strikeouts per nine innings: 6.80 (24th)
• Strikeout-to-walk ratio: 1.70 (28th)
The Angels are among the worst in the league in nearly every pitching category. It’s almost hard to be this bad. And this is *after* two stellar complete-game efforts by Jason Vargas last week.
That’s why even Mike Scioscia isn’t pulling punches. It’s hard to be optimistic.
Nowhere to go but up, right?
Onto the bullet points:
Sunday marked Mike Trout‘s 23rd game as the Angels’ number-two hitter. Say what you want about the Angels’ record in the meantime — they’re 9-13 with him batting second compared to 2-6 when he led off — but the move seems to have helped the second-year outfielder.
Trout has 20 RBIs in 22 games since the switch. His batting average is down (.267) but his on-base percentage (.340) and slugging percentage (.511) are both up a tick.
The move hasn’t always connected Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, which was one of manager Mike Scioscia‘s goals when he made the move seven games into the season. Hamilton was demoted to fifth in the batting order prior to Sunday, when Pujols got the day off and Hamilton batted third.
But Mark Trumbo has stepped into the cleanup hole and given the Angels the dangerous 2-3-4 combo they were looking for. Trumbo has home runs in five of his last six games and is batting .295/.363/.557.
Here’s what Mike Scioscia had to say when asked if moving Trout to the number-two hole has had its desired effect:
“Primarily, what Mike really needs to be in a position to drive in runs,” Scioscia said. “He’s a guy you want guys on base with. He can draw a walk with guys on base to really set the table for the middle of the lineup. Connecting him, Josh and Albert is one thing we talked about. There’s no doubt he’s getting more opportunities with runners in scoring position.
“I think it’s accomplished some things. It maybe got Mike back to where he needed to be to be more productive driving in some runs. Right now Josh isn’t connected with them the way we envisioned. Mark is. Mark’s a guy that, I think there’s no doubt Mark Trumbo’s gotten more out of being connected with Mike and Albert than anywhere else he’s hit in the lineup. I think it’s going to be tough to evaluate all the components until Albert and Josh hit stride.”
Albert Pujols isn’t in the Angels lineup for the first time this season.
He’ll get a day off as the Angels host the Baltimore Orioles, with Mark Trumbo playing first base and Hank Conger as the designated hitter. Josh Hamilton is batting third, the first person other than Pujols to bat third for the Angels this season.
“Albert’s trying to move forward from where his foot is. He had some treatment yesterday after the game,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Pujols has been receiving treatment consistently on his left foot. Scioscia later clarified the nature of Pujols’ treatment to say “he had some different forms of treatment yesterday. It’s just a good time right now to get him to kick it up a notch and hopefully get him back here on Tuesday.”
The Angels have an off-day Monday before visiting the Houston Astros for three games.
Prying Josh Hamilton out of right field isn’t like pulling teeth, but he’d rather be in the field.
“I just listen to Sosh,” Hamilton said. “I kind of fight him on it, then I’m like ‘OK.’ ”
Physically, Hamilton says he’s fine. Manager Mike Scioscia‘s motivation for using him as the designated hitter Friday against the Baltimore Orioles was pretty clear: The Angels have a 1 p.m. game tomorrow and he decided to give Hamilton an easier time Friday night by keeping him out of the field.
It’s wise to proceed with caution with Hamilton, who is 31 years old and has averaged 123 games a season in his first six major-league seasons. Hamilton hasn’t missed a game for the Angels this season, but his workload isn’t bothering Scioscia yet.
“Injuries are always going to crop up,” Scioscia said. “We monitor our guys, try to keep them above the line for risk all the time. I don’t think we’re at that right now. We’re trying to be proactive with some guys, give them a chance to maybe freshen up int he DH spot.”
When is a one-way ticket to the bullpen a good thing for a starting pitcher?
When it’s the Angels, of course, where sorting out roles on the pitching staff has been a season-long task — an unenviable one, too, for manager Mike Scioscia and pitching coach Mike Butcher.
Their latest solution? Move Garrett Richards, who went 1-2 with a 5.44 earned-run average in four starts this season, back to the bullpen, where he’s allowed just one run in four appearances this season. Richards was scheduled to start Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles but will be replaced by Jerome Williams. He seemed to take the news well.
Kevin Jepsen played catch for the first time since going on the disabled list April 13 with a strained right shoulder. The right-hander said he threw from up to 75 feet for seven minutes and didn’t have to cut the session short.
However, there’s still no timetable for his return.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a very long time,” he said. “The strength is there, as far as shoulder and arm strength. I just have to build it back up.”
As long as he doesn’t experience a setback, Jepsen said he’ll travel with the team to Houston next week.