Daily Distractions: Fishing for answers in Salt Lake.

Mark Trumbo

Mark Trumbo’s power is unquestioned. Who can save the Angels’ sinking ship remains to be seen. (Keith Birmingham/Staff Photographer)

Many comparisons have been made between the 2013 Angels and the 2012 Angels, with both teams beginning the season with high expectations and underachieving badly in the first month. Here’s another point to consider: The Angels’ answer a year ago didn’t come from their major-league ranks.

Rather, it came from Triple-A Salt Lake in the form of Mike Trout. Trout was batting .403/.467/1.091 when he bid the Pacific Coast League adieu, likely for a long time. The biggest problem facing the Angels now is health, with Ryan Madson, Kevin Jepsen, Mark Lowe, Sean Burnett and Jered Weaver forming a potent disabled list. If the five are healthy, 2013 is a different story already.

Since they’re not, it’s tempting – but disappointing – to peek at who’s waiting in the wings at Triple-A. There is no Mike Trout.

If you’re looking for pitching help, the Bees’ top five starters are 6-12 with a 6.43 earned-run average. That doesn’t include recent signee Kip Wells, who allowed two runs in seven innings in his debut Sunday. And it’s not as if the Angels aren’t already auditioning arms — they’ve used 18 pitchers already this season with a 19th, Ryan Brasier, on the 25-man roster waiting to make his debut. No major-league team has used more than 19 pitchers this season.

As position players go, Luis Jimenez has been a nice lift in the lineup and on the field since being recalled. But a number-nine hitter can only do so much; his three singles in 11 at-bats with runners in scoring position (.273, two RBIs) are sadly above average for this team (.225).

Bill Hall and Matt Young, two veterans who vied for major-league jobs in spring training, are hitting .206 and .241, respectively. Brad Hawpe is batting .237 with one home run to show for his first 38 at-bats.

So it’s probably not a question of who is ready to step up from Triple-A. It’s who will start pitching, who will start hitting, and who is available on the trade market?

Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Reddit Tumblr Email

Sunday, bloody Sunday: Angels trim camp roster by nine.

In what amounted to a spring training bloodbath, the Angels cut nine players from their major-league camp roster Sunday.

Among the notable names sent out, Chad Cordero was reassigned to the Angels’ minor-league camp and right-hander Brad Mills was claimed off of outright waivers by the Texas Rangers.

Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Reddit Tumblr Email

Angels 16, Dodgers 8: Postgame thoughts.

Josh Hamilton

Angels right fielder Josh Hamilton watches his two-run home run in the first inning of a spring baseball game against the Dodgers at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Friday, March 1, 2013 in Tempe, Arizona. The Angels won 16-8. (Keith Birmingham Pasadena Star-News)

It took three and a half hours, but it happened: The Angels won a game.

They scored in mind-numbing fashion, piling on former Angel Matt Palmer (two-thirds of an inning, seven runs) and former Mariner Sean White (two-thirds of an inning, five runs) for 11 unearned runs on four Dodger errors.

The quality of play didn’t make the game come alive, but a standing-room only crowd of 6,744 did. They got their money’s worth. Jered Weaver made his long-awaited debut and a patient Josh Hamilton belted his first home run. And the Angels won.

The bullet points:

Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Reddit Tumblr Email

A’s 7, Angels 5: Postgame thoughts.

Kole Calhoun catch

Angels outfielder Kole Calhoun (56) crashes into the right field wall while leaping to catch a fly ball hit by Oakland Athletics’ Derek Norris (36) in the fifth inning of their Cactus League game at Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

There’s a pretty sweet photo gallery (albeit a little A’s-centric) from today’s 7-5 loss to the A’s in Tempe live on the website of our brother paper*, the San Jose Mercury News. Check it out here.
Of note from today’s 7-5 loss to the A’s in Tempe:

• Bill Hall played the game’s final five innings at first base. Hall has played seven different positions, including pitcher, in a pro career that began in 1998. He’s never played first base or caught. As a non-roster invitee, playing out of position is simply part of life — even for Hall. He only had two chances in the field Sunday, both routine putouts, but maintained a perfect 1.000 career fielding percentage as a first baseman.

• An educated guess: Assuming Hall can hit the ball, which hasn’t always been a safe assumption in recent years, he might only have to field the position better than Mark Trumbo to make the team.
• Mike Trout will play tomorrow, but you probably retweeted that already.  
• Non-roster invitee Matt Young went 2 for 3 against the A’s with a double. In two games he is batting 5 for 6 with a 1.833 OPS that would put him in contention for Cactus League MVP if voting began today. Fun Matt Young fact: He’s one of 512 men listed at 5 feet, 8 inches to have appeared in a major-league game between 1876 and 2012.
• From the AP: Mike Scioscia said many of his top players, specifically newcomer Josh Hamilton, would begin playing toward the middle of this week. “(Hamilton) doesn’t need 70 or 80 at-bats to be ready,” Scioscia said. “They’ll (all) be on schedule.”
• Good game for Kole Calhoun. In addition to the catch pictured above, he smacked an RBI double for his first Cactus League hit.
• View the box score here.

*I have no problem with the term “sister paper,” “sister city,” “sister company,” etc., but I’d like to submit that “brother paper” works just as well.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Reddit Tumblr Email

Giants 4, Angels (SS) 1: Postgame thoughts.

By Greg Beacham, Associated Press

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Although Pablo Sandoval had pretty much run out of steam by the time he got to third, Kung Fu Panda kept on chugging.

The San Francisco Giants’ hefty slugger scored the go-ahead run and maybe burned off a few ounces of flab along the way, getting the defending champions’ spring off to a rollicking start.

Ryan Vogelsong pitched two scoreless innings, Sandoval lumbered home on Jackson Williams‘ double, and the Giants opened Cactus League play with a 4-1 victory over a Los Angeles Angels split squad Saturday.

The last time Sandoval was in a major league game, he wrapped up the World Series MVP award in San Francisco’s sweep of Detroit last October. Although he played in Venezuela’s professional league this winter and will play in the World Baseball Classic soon, he acknowledges he’s a few weeks and several pounds away from recapturing his postseason form.

“It looked like home plate was running away from me,” Sandoval said.

Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Reddit Tumblr Email

Angels spring training preview: Outfielders

Peter Bourjos

Is there a more talented collection of outfielders than the Angels’ Mike Trout, Peter Bourjos and Josh Hamilton? Maybe in Los Angeles. Maybe in Cleveland.

Regardless, the starting three in Anaheim are rather enviable. The glaring issues: New center fielder Peter Bourjos batted just .220 in a platoon situation last year, fourth outfielder Vernon Wells has hit .222 since coming to Anaheim, and there isn’t much depth after that. The NRIs in this group don’t pose a serious threat to make the opening-day roster, but one or more could move up with an outstanding spring. Otherwise it’s a long dropoff from the starters to the bench.

Here’s what to watch for in spring:

Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Reddit Tumblr Email