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Tag:Angels
Posted on: February 22, 2012 7:41 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 7:51 pm
 

Angels sign Jason Isringhausen

By Matt Snyder

Relief pitcher Jason Isringhausen has signed a minor-league deal with the Angels, the club announced Wednesday evening.

Isringhausen, 39, didn't pitch in the majors in 2010, but had a 4.05 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 46 2/3 innings last season for the Mets. He even gathered seven saves, which put him at exactly 300 in his career -- good for 22nd on the all-time list.

The Angels appear to be moving forward with youngster Jordan Walden as the team's closer, but they did land the veteran depth they seeked this offseason in LaTroy Hawkins and now Isringhausen. The latter two and Scott Downs will be the bridge to Walden, but any of the three could take over if the 24-year-old -- who had 10 blown saves last season -- falters.

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Posted on: February 22, 2012 2:59 pm
 

Pujols still objects to nickname 'El Hombre'

Albert Pujols

By C. Trent Rosecrans


When Albert Pujols was in St. Louis, he made it clear he didn't like being called by the nickname "El Hombre," even asking fans not to call him by the monicker in 2010.

Pujols said he felt it was a disrespect -- not a clever play -- of Stan Musial's nickname, "The Man." That's why it was a surprise, in St. Louis especially, when the Angels put up billboards in Southern California with Pujols' picture next to the words "El Hombre."

On Wednesday, Pujols made it clear he still doesn't like the name and didn't authorize the billboards.

"Like I say, I haven't talked to them, but I prefer not to use [El Hombre]," Pujols told Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com. "I still have the same respect for [Musial] as I had, not just waht he's done in baseball, but for what he did for his country. That's something you have to appreciate."

Musial served in the Navy during World War II and last season was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Obama.

According to the Angels, there are 20 such billboards in Southern California.

Hat-tip: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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Posted on: February 21, 2012 8:51 pm
 

Abreu says play him every day or trade him

Bobby AbreuBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Angels apparently don't have a spot for outfielder Bobby Abreu and he's not real happy about it. Abreau told Enrique Rojas of ESPNdesportesLosAngeles.com that he'd rather be traded than be a platoon player.

"I'm an every-day player. I can still be in the lineup for a Major League team," Abreu, still in his native Venezuela, told Rojas on Tuesday. "I will not be on the bench knowing that I can play.

"If the Angels don't have a position for me, then the best thing is to trade me. It would be the correct [thing] to do. I won't be able to do nothing sitting on the bench."

Abreu is in the final year of his contract with the Angels and will make $9 million this season. He will turn 38 next month.

There seems to be the odd man out in the Angels' outfield, with Vernon Wells, Torii Hunter and Peter Bourjos as the probable lineup. There's also the case of Mike Trout, one of the top prospects in baseball, who also plays the outfielder. The team is also crowded at DH, with Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo having to play somewhere after the team signed Albert Pujols.

Abreu told Rojas that Angels manager Mike Scioscia told him he'd like to play him in both corner outfield spots and DH, still playing most every day. But Abreu said if he's strictly a bench player, he'd prefer a trade.

"I want to play, and I believe I can help this team," he told Rojas. "But if there's no spot for me, then I would prefer to play somewhere different."

Abreu hit .253/.353/.365 last season with eight home runs in 585 plate appearances. His batting average and on-base percentage were similar to his 2010 performance (.253 batting average, .353 on-base), but his power dropped considerably, with his slugging percentage dipping to .365 and failing to reach double-digit home runs for the first time as a full-time player.

Abreu is the only left-handed hitter among the team's outfielders, which could help his case. Trumbo is also a right-hadned hitter, while Morales is a switch-hitter. Last season, Abreu hit all eight of his homers off of right handers, and hit .259/.366/.400 against right-handers and .238/.319/.279 against left-handers and he's always hit right-handers better.

Of course, Abreu can want a trade, he has very little leverage when it comes to forcing it to happen.

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Posted on: February 14, 2012 2:48 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 3:05 pm
 

Indians interested in Hafner-Burnett swap



By C. Trent Rosecrans

While CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman reports the Yankees and Pirates are still hoping to get a deal done that would send A.J. Burnett to Pittsburgh, he also notes the Angels and Indians have tried to get in on the talks for Burnett.

While the Angels are on Burnett's no-trade clause, the Indians deal could make some sense. The two teams are discussing sending Travis Hafner to New York in exchange for the much maligned right-hander.

So does it make sense for the Indians? Perhaps.

Let's not make any mistake, Burnett's not been good as a Yankee and he's certainly not been $82.5 million good. But it's also a mistake to dismiss Burnett as a someone who doesn't belong in the big leagues or in a rotation. The right-hander has enough stuff to tempt a team to give him big money -- in fact before the Yankees splurged on Burnett, the Blue Jays spent a lot of money on him.

Let's get the first part out of the way, Burnett, despite early concerns in his career, has been durable, starting 32 or more games in each of the last four seasons. In 2008, he led the American League with 34 starts and threw 221 1/3 innings. Last season, for all the complaints and even some early hooks, he threw 190 1/3 innings, averaging nearly six innings a start. He still struck out 173 batters -- he can miss bats. He also misses the glove too much, throwing a big-league most 25 wild pitches, hitting nine batters and walking 83.

While Burnett's road ERA was actually worse than his home ERA, he did give up homers at a slightly lower rate away from Yankee Stadium.

Burnett's ERA last season 5.15 -- not exactly a number you want to see in the probables -- but his xFIP (Fielding Independent Pitching -- a measure of things pitchers are directly responsible for, while taking away the ability of his fielders and normalized for his ballpark) was a respectable 3.86. To put that in perspective, that was better than the likes of Mark Buehrle (4.14), Ervin Santana (3.93) and Trevor Cahill (3.90), and not much worse than the likes of Ryan Vogelsong (3.85), Jered Weaver (3.80) and Matt Cain (3.78). His career xFIP is 3.78 -- better than his career ERA of 4.10.

Burnett can add 10 teams to his no-trade list each season, with word that most of those teams are on the West Coast.

It still seems like the Pirates are the team that will get Burnett -- and he should help them -- picking up as little as $13 million of the $33 million owed to Burnett for the final two years of his contract.

The Indians still owe Hafner $13 million for this season and have an option for $13 million next season with a $2.75 million buyout, meaning they owe less than half of what they'd be on the line to pay Burnett. To make the deal, the Indians would likely need some money sent back to Cleveland, if not the $20 million they're willing to eat in a deal with the Pirates.

For the Yankees, Hafner is an upgrade of Russell Branyan or Andruw Jones, the two best candidates currently on the roster. Pronk's not the same hitter the Indians signed to a six-year, $66.1 million deal before the 2007 season, but he's still dangerous when at the plate, despite his injury concerns.

Hafner's home run rate has dropped from one per every 10.8 at-bats in 2006 to one every 25 at-bats last season (and a best of one every 21.1 at-bats in 2009 since 2006). But if he's healthy, his left-handed stroke would work well in new Yankee Stadium. While his power numbers have dropped, he still got on-base at a .361 rate, good for a 126 OPS+.

As for the Indians, a rotation with Ubaldo Jimenez, Justin Masterson, Derek Lowe, Burnett and Josh Tomlin should help in their chase with the Tigers.

In the end, it all comes down to money and just how much the Yankees would take off of Burnett's salary for 2013, but New York may not want to give much if they're taking Hafner's $13 million this season and the buy-out.

The Pirates have some good, young prospects and could offer more future talent while the Yankees could add one of the veteran free agent DHs still left on the market like Vladimir Guerrero or Johnny Damon at little financial hit.

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Posted on: February 14, 2012 10:55 am
 

Kate Upton sells video games -- SOLD!

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Matt may have fallen in love with Justin Verlander because of his commercials for the video game MLB2K12, but me, I'll take his co-star in this commercial -- and I don't mean C.J. Wilson.



I do give Verlander, Wilson, David Price and Jay Bruce some props for their acting. It must take some serious Thespian chops to pretend to be excited by Kate Upton.

H/T: Big League Stew

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Posted on: February 13, 2012 6:23 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2012 6:41 pm
 

AL West will be the new AL East



By Matt Snyder


The AL East has been pretty widely regarded as the best division in baseball for a while. And with good reason, as the numbers don't lie. In the past 15 years, the AL wild card has come from the AL East 11 times. The best record has also come from the AL East 11 times. The American League World Series representative has come from the AL East nine times, while the World Series champion was an AL East team six times. Also note the '96 Yankees won it all, 16 seasons ago. Simply, it's a dominant division.

But with the events of this offseason, we're liable to see a shift in power to the west coast. Monday's Yoenis Cespedes signing for the A's wasn't a seismic shift type deal, but it shows they're focusing on winning within the next four years. Also note that the extensions of general manager Billy Beane and club president Michael Crowley are a true sign the A's will eventually get their new stadium in San Jose. When that happens, they'll start to have some extra revenue. So things should be looking up for the A's in the next few years, right? Well, not so fast.

AL West offseason
In fact, the A's might be looking like the AL West's version of the Baltimore Orioles. Since 2000, the Orioles haven't finished better than third -- which happened only once -- and have come in last the past four seasons. They've also had a payroll of at least $72 million seven of the past 11 seasons. They aren't poor by any means. They just can't keep up in the monster of a division that is the AL East.

Let's see what's in store for the A's in the next decade or so, in terms of their divisional competition.

• The Angels have an owner who just shelled out over $300 million to land Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson in free agency. It probably didn't seem like much of a big deal to Arte Moreno, considering he's looking at a local TV contract of 20 years for $3 billion. Plus, the Angels play in the mega-market that is Los Angeles. They aren't going away.

• The Rangers paid over $50 million just for the right to negotiate with Japanese phenom Yu Darvish and then paid him over $50 million more to sign. The have a front office and ownership group that can compete with anyone in terms of brains and most teams in terms of dollars. The Dallas area is a large market and the fan base is continuing to grow after two straight World Series appearances. They aren't going away, either.

• The Astros are moving to the American League West, and while it's gonna be a few years before they can compete, remember they have a new owner, Jim Crane, who likely didn't pay $680 million to own a doormat of a baseball team. Plus, Houston is one of the largest markets in America -- and the Astros had a nine-figure payroll in 2009. Don't discount how they'll play in this division come 2015 or 2016. They can spend, and will have to in order to keep up.

• The Mariners are in the 12th biggest market in MLB, which isn't bad at all. But they'd be at risk of falling far behind if not for a lucrative TV deal in their near future. Last week, a USA Today report noted the Mariners are among a handful of teams ready to cash in with a mega-TV deal like the Angels just did. Prior to the 2015 season, the Mariners can opt out of their current local TV deal with Root Sports and hit the open market. The Seattle Times also pointed out that the Mariners have trimmed their bottom line to the point that the only long-term investment is the reliable ace Felix Hernandez. So they could be positioning for a major strike within the next few years, after landing the aforementioned lucrative TV deal.

The process is going to be gradual, especially and obviously with the Mariners, Astros and A's.

Just don't be surprised if a decade from now the AL West is viewed as the best division in baseball. The resources are all falling into place for a westward move in the balance of league power.

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Posted on: February 7, 2012 2:43 pm
 

Video: Verlander's new video game commercial

By Matt Snyder

After a season in which he won the AL Cy Young and MVP, it's not a surprise that Justin Verlander landed on the cover of a video game. He's on MLB2K12, and below is what Verlander noted on Twitter was the first promotional video for the game -- along with a cameo from C.J. Wilson in his new Angels garb.

I know there will be plenty of people saying it's lame or stupid, because, you know, it's cool to be all negative and complain on the Internet. Personally, I thought it was kind of funny. You definitely won't confuse Verlander for an Oscar winning actor or anything, but I dig the facial expressions with the voice over.

Check it out:



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Posted on: February 6, 2012 2:09 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 4:00 pm
 

Spring position battles: American League West



By C. Trent Rosecrans

There's nothing like the Super Bowl to remind you that spring training is just around the corner. And with pitchers and catchers packing up their bags for Florida and Arizona, we here at Eye on Baseball will look at some of the key positional battles on tap for this spring, starting with the American League West.

Los Angeles Angels
Designated hitter: Mark Trumbo vs. Kendrys Morales vs. Bobby Abreu vs. Vernon Wells

At the end of the 2011 season, it seemed first base could be a battle for the Angels heading into 2012. That position was settled pretty easily with $240 million. The two previous candidates, Trumbo and Morales are now with BAbreu looking for playing time at DH. Add the wild card of Mike Trout possibly pushing either Torii Hunter or Wells into the DH competition and the team has a lot of players for one spot. Sure, the Angels are saying Trumbo can play third, but he's still not all the way back from an ankle injury and he hasn't proven he can handle the day-in, day-out rigors of third base (look at what it did to Kevin Youkilis last season). There's also the chance that Morales won't be healthy. There are so many variables to the Angles lineup that the only thing that seems certain at this point is that Albert Pujols will be at first base, batting third.

Oakland Athletics
Closer: Grant Balfour vs. Brian Fuentes vs.  Fautino De Los Santos vs. Joey Devine

One of the many players Billy Beane got rid of this offseason was closer Andrew Bailey, who went to the Red Sox for three players, leaving an opening at closer for 2012. Fuentes recorded 12 saves in Bailey's spot last season, while Balfour picked up two as well. Those two veterans should be seen as the favorites, but De Los Santos and Devine could surprise. De Los Santos struck out 43 batters in 33 1/3 innings last season, while Devine impressed in his first action since Tommy John surgery. Even if the two youngsters don't get the call after spring training, either are just one trade away from getting their shot -- and with the A's current situation, nobody in Oakland should be buying, just renting.

Seattle Mariners
No. 3-5 starters: Blake Beavan vs. Charlie Furbush vs. Hector Noesi vs. Kevin Millwood vs. Hisashi Iwakuma

Felix Hernandez, of course, is the Mariners' No. 1 starter and Jason Vargas figures to be the other Mariner to start in the team's two-game series in Japan. After that, it gets interesting. Seattle signed Iwakuma to a $1.5 million contract in the offseason, so he figures to be in the rotation somewhere. Noesi was acquired along with Jesus Montero in the Michael Pineada trade and should be somehwere in the mix, as well. That leaves the youngsters Furbush (25) and Beavan (23), to go against the veteran Millwood (37). Furbush and Beavan showed flashes during 2011, but are hardly proven products. After stints in the minors for the Red Sox and Yankees, Millwood went 4-3 with a 3.98 ERA in Colorado and should benefit from pitching at Safeco Field.

Texas Rangers
5th starter: Matt Harrison vs. Alexi Ogando vs. Scott Feldman

Unless the Rangers do sign Roy Oswalt, it appears the first four spots in the Texas rotation are set with Yu Darvish, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland and Neftali Feliz, leaving three pitchers battling for the final spot. Last season the Rangers moved Ogando from the bullpen to the rotation with some success. They're looking to do the same with Feliz this season and possibly sending Ogando back to the bullpen. Ogando was 13-8 with a 3.51 ERA, but seemed to tire down the stretch. Harrison was 14-9 with a 3.39 ERA last season, but still has to battle for his job. And then there's Feldman, who is a long-shot here, but is used to the yo-yoing from the bullpen to the rotation. If the team does sign Oswalt, the three could be stretched out in spring, but return to the bullpen once the season starts.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com