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:
Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Reddit Tumblr Email

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:
Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Reddit Tumblr Email

One more thought on the Vernon Wells trade to the New York Yankees.

I had the chance to ask a veteran baseball guy — not a team employee, but someone with decades of experience in different facets of the game — about the Vernon Wells trade on Monday. Specifically, is there such a thing as an “unmovable contract” if Wells gets traded twice after signing a seven-year, $126 million deal?

“The economics of the game have changed so much in the last one, two seasons,” he said, “between cable revenue and MLB revenue sharing, unmovable contracts are looking movable to teams that have money.”

Keep that in mind in 2014, when Albert Pujols‘ salary jumps to $23 million, and gradually escalates before expiring in 2021. Or in 2015, when Josh Hamilton‘s salary jumps to $25.4 million, or 2016 when Hamilton becomes a $32.4 million man.

Who knows where the economics of the game will be then, but don’t call either contract unmovable.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Reddit Tumblr Email

What is the Angels’ ‘greatest advantage’ to trading Vernon Wells?

Vernon Wells

Vernon Wells couldn’t be moved easily for a fifth outfielder (Associated Press photo)

 

With six days left before Opening Day, the Angels have 36 players on their 40-man roster. Brad Mills, Bobby Cassevah, Steve Geltz and now Vernon Wells have all left camp one way or another.

That means four players have a way of working their way onto the Angels’ roster, including some who will start the season in the majors. That was by design, general manager Jerry Dipoto said Tuesday.

Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Reddit Tumblr Email

More on the two newest Angels minor leaguers, Exicardo Cayones and Kramer Sneed.

Someone suggested this morning that the two players the Angels acquired for Vernon Wells on Tuesday, Exicardo Cayones and Kramer Sneed, would be good title characters in a Buddy Comedy. Look out Harold and Kumar…here come Exicardo and Kramer!

Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Reddit Tumblr Email

Angels, New York Yankees finalize Vernon Wells trade.

Vernon WellsIt’s official. 

Vernon Wells has passed his physical and Major League Baseball has signed off on a trade sending the outfielder to the New York Yankees.

The Angels received Exicardo Cayones and Kramer Sneed from the Yankees. Cayones, a 21-year-old outfielder, finished last season in the Yankees’ Low-A affiliate in the New York Penn League. Sneed, a 24-year-old pitcher, went 0-7 with a 5.37 ERA with the Yankees’ affiliate in the High-A Florida State League in 2012.

The Yankees will also send approximately $13 million to Anaheim over the next two years to offset some of Wells’ salary.

Wells, who cost the Angels Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera in a January 2011 trade with the Blue Jays, was a major disappointment on the field during his two seasons in Anaheim.

In 2011, one year removed from his third career all-star appearance, Wells batted .218 with a .248 on-base percentage and .412 slugging percentage. His batting average was the lowest among qualifying American League players.

In 2012, Wells was relegated to the bench when Mike Trout emerged as the Angels’ everyday center fielder and eventual American League rookie of the year. Wells played only 77 games, batting .230/.279/.403.

Meanwhile, he continued to earn the team’s highest salary as a result of the seven-year, $126 million contract he signed with Toronto in 2008.

Now that Wells is gone, here’s your chance to chime in:

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Reddit Tumblr Email

A Vernon Wells non-update: Angels-to-Yankees deal still pending physical.

Vernon WellsThe proposed trade that would send Vernon Wells to the New York Yankees still isn’t complete. Multiple sources have confirmed reports that Wells won’t take his physical until Tuesday, at which point the trade can become official.

We still don’t know what the Angels will receive from the Yankees in return for Wells, other than something in the neighborhood of $6-8 million per year over the next two years. That’s a nice chunk of change but it still only partially offsets the approximately $42 million left on Wells’ contract.

For the Angels, trading Wells opens a spot for Kole Calhoun or J.B. Shuck to earn the fourth outfielder job. Shuck doubled Monday to raise his Cactus League batting average to .357; Calhoun is batting .200.

More updates as we get ‘em, but there might not be any until tomorrow.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Reddit Tumblr Email

Reports: Angels, Yankees talking trade for Vernon Wells.

The Angels and Yankees are discussing a trade that would send Vernon Wells to New York, according to multiple reports Sunday.

Wells, 34, is the Angels’ highest paid player at $49.3 million over the next two seasons. He also has a no-trade clause. John Heyman of CBSSports.com wrote on his Twitter account Sunday that Wells would waive the no-trade clause if the trade being discussed is consummated.

Few teams can consider eating Wells’ salary, but the Yankees have a historically big budget and the need for lineup help. Shortstop Derek Jeter isn’t expected to debut until April 6, Mark Teixeira until June and Alex Rodriguez until after the All-Star break.

Wells is not in the Angels’ lineup today against the San Francisco Giants.

Update, 4:17 p.m.: The deal is not official but Wells hinted that he’ll be in a Yankee uniform soon via Twitter:

 

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