The Angels will find out soon enough whether Darvish’s stuff is for real. If he pitches on regular rest, he’ll face the Angels (and Jered Weaver) on Sunday in Arlington. The game is scheduled for a 5 p.m. national broadcast on ESPN2.
I started toying with this mental exercise last night: What if the state of California had a team in the World Baseball Classic?
Forget about how many players would decline invitations. Forget about generational eligibility — if you were born in California, you’re eligible (which is fine, since I had a better chance of making Team Wisconsin anyways). What would that team look like? Could it contend?
The reigning American League rookie of the year and new Angels left fielder will get his first chance to call off center fielder Peter Bourjos in a few minutes against the Seattle Mariners. He’s unlikely to play the whole game, but is any player more exciting to watch for just a few innings? Even at 240 pounds?
As for Richards, it’s his first shot to prove that he belongs on the Angels’ Opening Day roster. Definitely more on the line for him today.
Today the manager revealed his starters for Saturday’s split-squad games. Jerome Williams will start at Tempe Diablo Stadium against the Chicago Cubs, while Brad Mills will start against the San Francisco Giants in Scottsdale.
Ryan Madson was seen throwing off flat ground today in Tempe, but manager Mike Scioscia told reporters that the Angels’ presumptive closer still has no timetable to get back on a mound.
That’s essentially the status quo. Madson was dealing with soreness and inflammation in his right elbow last week. An MRI came back negative but his throwing program was put on hold. Opening day looked like a longshot for Madson then and still does now.
The 32-year-old missed all of last season following Tommy John surgery.
At least the Angels don’t have to rebuild their bullpen from scratch. They can just go back to what (sometimes) worked for them last year — Ernesto Frieri in the ninth, Kevin Jepsen in the eighth, Scott Downs in the seventh — plus free-agent newcomer Sean Burnett.
Oh, about Burnett: He left camp today with stiffness in his lower back to undergo an MRI.
Stay tuned. The Angels’ bullpen is officially on watch.
Things are heating up in Arizona, literally and figuratively. These links are tepid at best:
We’re driving to Arizona today in advance of spring training. Perhaps it’s the calm before the storm, but there wasn’t much Angels news over the weekend, though Bill Hall did make an Illuminati joke. In Phoenix, it’s 57 and cloudy. No haboobs lie on the horizon (yet).
If I could sum up the sentiment using emoticons, I’d quote C.J. Wilson. Now, some links to tide you over until Indio:
If you’re thinking that Mark Trumbo might be a candidate to hit second, keep in mind that he was slightly above average against fastballs (relative to all of MLB): .280 BA, .843 OPS, which ranked in the 57th and 64th percentile, respectively, last season. Trumbo increasingly struggled as the season progressed, which coincides with the decreased percentage of fastballs he saw month to month:
For what it’s worth, Aybar, Bourjos and Kendrick were all among the top 25 sacrifice bunters in the American League last year. Iannetta seems an unlikely choice, though his patience and power are above average for a catcher, while Trumbo has the best chance of replicating Hunter’s .313/.365/.451 slash line from a year ago.
Perhaps unwittingly, FanGraphs.com makes a strong endorsement today for Callaspo, who signed a two-year contract yesterday. Callaspo’s best skill at the plate – hitting to contact while avoiding strikeouts – is typically the skill that managers value most in their number-two hitter:
Even in his best years with the bat (2009 and 2011) his BABIP was only around .310. But avoiding strikeouts does a lot for a player’s bat. This is not because strikeouts are all that much different from regular outs. It is because putting the ball in play simply allows other things to happen. Callaspo does not get an exceptional number of hits on balls in play, and the hits he does get on contact usually do not go very far. He simply ends plate appearances with the ball going into play often enough that even given average (and below-average) rates of favorable outcomes, he is able to be close to average overall as a hitter (95 wRC+ career).
It’s something to think about as Spring Training approaches.
Which defunct ballpark, and which former National League MVP’s reputation, are getting blown up? Read on …