Daily Distractions: Miguel Cabrera 2, Mike Trout 0.

American League All-Star vote totals were released today. While not unkind to Mike Trout, he was staring up at a familiar face in the balloting.

Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera was the leading vote-getter with 1,500,165 votes. New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano is second with 1,235,230 votes and Trout leads all outfielders with 1,190,676.

Cabrera won the Triple Crown and the American League MVP award last year in a hotly contested race that saw Trout place second.

There’s still plenty of time for Trout to win this popularity contest; balloting concludes on July 11.

For the complete balloting results, click here.

Some more Monday bullet points:

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Daily Distractions: No international draft as MLB chooses to preserve the status quo.

Major League Baseball has decided against holding an international draft in 2014.

The league issued a statement earlier today:

“The Office of the Commissioner and the Players Association have discussed various issues regarding international amateur players, including the possibility of an international draft. While both parties discussed an international draft, an agreement was not reached on some of the mechanics and procedures related to such a draft. Thus, an international draft will not be implemented in 2014. The parties intend to continue to discuss international amateur talent issues, and the current system of international talent acquisition as described in the Collective Bargaining Agreement will remain in place at this time.”

MLBPA Executive Director Michael Weiner issued the following statement: “At this time, the players are not prepared to accept an international draft. The MLBPA will continue to discuss with players and the Commissioner’s Office the many issues facing its international members.”

The Sports Business Journal reported as recently as 12 days ago that a single draft for eligible baseball players at home and abroad, as well as separate drafts for domestic and international players, were being considered by the league and the Players’ Association.

It’s unclear how or if the lawsuit reportedly brought by Adrian Gonzalez’s father, David, against MLB complicated negotiations.

What does it all mean?

The amateur draft will proceed as planned June 6-8. Teams can sign international players freely but face penalties for exceeding annual spending limits, between $1.15 and $4.25 million, that are tied to their winning percentage last season. Baseball essentially chose to preserve the status quo, warts and all (among them, the “circus”-like tryouts across Central and Latin America come to mind.)

Some bullet points to tide you through the weekend:
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Daily Distractions: Jered Weaver was better than even he expected.

Jered Weaver

Jered Weaver threw harder Wednesday than he did in either of his two starts in April (Will Lester/ Staff Photographer)

Of all the positives the Angels could take from Jered Weaver‘s performance last night — just having him back on the mound stands out as the first — maybe the best is that he’s throwing faster.

According to FanGraphs.com, Weaver topped out at 92 mph on his fastball and threw it for an average speed of 87.3 mph, compared to 85.8 and 85.1 mph in his first two starts, respectively. All his pitches were faster across the board. He also got a lot more horizontal movement on his two-seam fastball and changeup, and the results followed: Weaver allowed five hits (four singles) and one run in six innings while striking out seven.

“When you haven’t been out there for a while,” Weaver told colleague Clay Fowler, “you kind of ask yourself `Can I still do this?’”

Yes. You can do it better.

Some bullet points for a Canary Islands Day:
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Daily Distractions: Apparent blown call revisited; Angels’ initial budget was $5 million.

Did the blown call at first base in yesterday’s game matter?

It’s a valid enough question to be debating it today. Albert Pujols, who had three hits in the game, was on deck. He’s batted four times in his career against Dodgers pitcher Kenley Jansen and has one hit, a home run.

If the Angels indeed go on another winning streak today, and this stands as the only defeat in a stretch of wins, the play will loom large. A one-run loss decided by a blown call in the eighth inning? Not too much to hang your head about there.

Some more bullet points for a Tuesday morning:

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Daily Distractions: Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols juxtaposed; rekindling Mike Trout vs. Miguel Cabrera.

Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols’ running can be painful to watch; lately his batting average has been suffering too. (Associated Press photo)

A visiting beat writer at Sunday’s game watched one of Albert Pujols‘ three strikeouts and marveled at what he saw. The swing-and-miss at strike three, down and away, simply wasn’t the same Pujols. In fact, it looked a little like Josh Hamilton did earlier this month.

Hamilton seems to be coming around, as I wrote in my game story yesterday. Pujols, who is batting .198 since April 21, does not.

Writes Joe Posnanski: “After years of being the best player in baseball, Pujols is now sort of beside the point.”

Mike Scioscia said something interesting after the game. I asked him if the Angels’ patience at the plate (they walked twice with the bases loaded and Hamilton averaged five pitches per at-bat) was evidence of a team that isn’t pressing as much, something Scioscia reprimanded his team for a couple nights earlier. His answer:

“I think we’re seeing some guys maybe use the whole field. As you try to get simpler, get more comfortable in the game, the things you talk about show up — you see the guys get in deeper counts, get a pitch, take a walk, hit the ball the other way, get better pitches to hit. Those things start to go in a positive direction. Hopefully he’ll keep taking strides toward it.”

Wait, who’s “he”?

I didn’t ask that because I didn’t catch Scioscia’s choice of pronouns until I listened to my tape after the game. But it isn’t hard to figure out — it’s Hamilton, who was hitting line drives to the opposite field, taking a walk, and going deeper into counts as if he was Mike Trout. Pujols was not.

For Pujols’ legacy, sure, we’re witnessing a turning point. As a key to the Angels’ success, it remains to be seen how long they can survive Pujols’ slump.

Some bullet points for a Monday morning:

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Daily Distractions: More on Billy Buckner, Jose Guillen, Ian Kinsler, replay options.

Billy Buckner is a good story, beyond his name.

Billy BucknerWhen the Angels added him to their 40-man roster and flew him in from Triple-A Salt Lake on Thursday, it was Buckner’s first major-league opportunity in three years. The last go-around didn’t end well – he pitched four innings and allowed seven runs in each of his final two games with the Kansas City Royals in May 2010 – and it’s been a long road back. The Angels are his fourth organization since then.

Just a year ago, he was a free agent coming off surgery to remove bone spurs in his right (pitching elbow). He signed a minor-league deal with the Boston Red Sox and began the season with Double-A Portland (Maine) of the Eastern League.

“They gave me a chance to come back and pitch,” Buckner said.

The Angels’ unfortunate reality — a pitcher who just last year was in Double-A is being counted on to stabilize the pitching staff — is Buckner’s great fortune. As is his collection of Bill Buckner swag.
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Daily Distractions: A tale of two cities; quarter-by-quarter records; is Mike Scioscia tradeable?

Angel Stadium

Angel Stadium has seen declining attendance in May. (photo by J.P. Hoornstra)

Both the Angels and Dodgers are off to poor starts this season, but the Dodgers have something important that the Angels do not: The best attendance of any team in Major League Baseball.

In case you missed it, the Dodgers are 17-22 and feature a list of injured stars including Hanley Ramirez and Zack Greinke (prior to Wednesday). Most tickets aren’t getting cheaper and it’s no easier to get in and out of Dodger Stadium than it was two years ago, when the Dodgers averaged 36,236 at every home game.

Yet the Dodgers’ average attendance of 42,706 through 24 home games is the best in the business. They became the first team to surpass 1,000,000 tickets sold on Wednesday. Their season-ticket base of approximately 31,000 is a major boost. So is Clayton Kershaw, whose six home starts attracted an average of 47,905 fans. The Dodgers’ average attendance in their other 18 home dates: 40,974.

We mention this only because fan loyalty in Southern California can’t be taken for granted.

The Angels’ average attendance of 37,232 represents 82 percent of capacity at the smaller Angel Stadium (the Dodgers are at 76.3 percent capacity), but these numbers are shrinking. A season-low 31,917 fans attended Wednesday’s loss to Kansas City. The Angels are averaging about 4,000 fewer fans per game in May than April (34,656 compared to 38,735).

Having been to most home games at both stadiums, I feel confident in writing that fans in Anaheim are leaving games early this season at a Chavez Ravine-like rate — with less traffic to beat. I also feel confident in writing that Angels players and coaches notice this.

The lesson for the Dodgers: Southern Californians will only tolerate losing to a point.

The lesson for the Angels: Trade for Clayton Kershaw.

Some bullet points for a Thursday morning:
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Daily Distractions: Going to WAR over the Angels’ pitching woes.

<strong>Jered  Weaver</strong>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:
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Daily Distractions: Ernesto Frieri’s tweet heard ’round the world.

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:
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Daily Distractions: How bad is the Angels’ pitching?

Jerome Williams

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:
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