Tag:Angels
Posted on: January 20, 2012 10:05 am
 

Failed imports may replace Darvish in Japan

Kei Igawa Kenshin Kawakami

By C. Trent Rosecrans


If you're a Japanese team and you lose your best player to the big leagues, what do you do to replace him? Well, besides cashing a check for more than $51.7 million, you turn to former big-league pitchers.

The Nippon Ham Fighters (and once again, let me stress that it's the Nippon Ham… Fighters, not the Ham Fighters) are looking at former Japanese big leaguers Kei Igawa and Kenshin Kawakami, according to Daily Sports in Japan (via YakyuBaka.com). The Rangers hope it's not an even trade, as neither Igawa nor Kawakami lived up to expectations in the United States.

Igawa, 32, was posted after the 2006 season and the Yankees paid a posting fee of more than $26 million before signing to a five-year, $20 million contract with New York. For all that money, the Yankees got 13 starts and three relief appearances out of the left-hander, and he hasn't appeared in a big-league game since 2008. In MLB, he went 2-4 with a 6.66 ERA. Last year he was 3-2 with a 3.86 ERA at Double-A and Triple-A. With the Hanshin Tigers of Japan's Central League, he led the league in strikeouts three times and won the 2003 Eiji Sawamura Award, Japan's Cy Young equivalent.

Kawakami, 36, signed with the Braves as an international free agent in 2009, meaning the Braves didn't have to pay a posting fee. He won the Sawamura Award and Central League MVP in 2004. With the Braves, Kawakami was 8-22 with a 4.32 ERA in 41 starts and nine relief appearances in 2009 and 2010 before being outrighted to Double-A after the 2010 season. He struggled in Double-A in 2011, going 2-4 with an 8.41 ERA in 16 appearances (six starts) for Double-A Mississippi.

As Matt Snyder already pointed out, the fact that other Japanese pitchers have failed, doesn't mean Darvish will. Of course, that didn't stop our Taiwanese friends to make the comparison in one of their infamous videos, where Walker "Tex-xas" Ranger is handing over the checks to Darvish to face off Albert Pujols.



The Rangers will have a press conference with Darvish to make the signing official Friday night at 7 p.m. Texas time at Rangers Ballpark.

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Posted on: January 18, 2012 9:06 am
Edited on: January 18, 2012 5:18 pm
 

Would You Rather Have: Yu Darvish or C.J. Wilson



By Matt Snyder


We now know that the Rangers have signed Yu Darvish to a 6-year, $60 million contract, which is more than they were reportedly willing to pay C.J. Wilson. Plus, the Rangers now owe the NPB's Fighters a $51.7 posting fee on top of the contract. So they were willing to shell out $111.7 million for Darvish, but not half of that for Wilson.

So this marks the perfect opportunity to continue our offseason series and see if our answers equal the answer of the Rangers organization ...

Would you rather have C.J. Wilson or Yu Darvish?

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels and company would rather have Darvish. Do we agree with that decision?

The case for Darvish

I've already made the case that Darvish is unlike any pitcher we've ever seen come from Japan. Seriously, if you haven't seen the stats, please click on that link. He's head and shoulders above the likes of Dice-K and Hideo Nomo at this point in his career, so it's unfair to lump him in with past imports just because they came from the same league. Darvish is a different kind of talent.

Would You Rather Have
Also, there's the fact that Daniels personally flew to Japan to watch Darvish pitch and the Rangers scouting department was watching him very closely as well. Considering the quick turnaround the organization has made into an American League powerhouse under Daniels and his scouting department, are we seriously going to question what they think they see in Darvish? I'm sure not.

Additionally, Darvish is only 25 while Wilson is 31.

The case for Wilson

The left-hander has only been a starter for the past two seasons, but he's been damn good. In 2011, he was good enough to finish sixth in Cy Young voting, as he went 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 206 strikeouts in 223 1/3 innings. Keep in mind, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington was the top hitters' park in all of baseball in 2011, too, so Wilson was throwing roughly half his games in a pitchers' worst nightmare. He wasn't bad at home (3.69 ERA, 1.23 WHIP), but the difference showed when he took the ball on an opposing mound. He sported a 2.31 ERA and 1.15 WHIP on the road in 2011. And now he's headed to the Angels, who play in what rated as a pitchers' park in 2011.

But much of the case for Wilson is that he's a known entity in Major League Baseball. More to the point: Darvish is not. So this part is actually a case against Darvish.

Pitchers in Japan throw once a week while pitchers in the majors are expected to pitch once every five days. Darvish did cut down his schedule to once every six days last season, in advance of knowing he was probably going to post, but that's still one day longer than in America. Also, many scouts liken Nippon Professional Baseball to be either Triple-A level or between Triple-A and the majors. So we don't have any large samples upon which to judge Darvish adjusting to real big-league hitters over the course of a long season or dealing with real adversity when, say, Albert Pujols crushes a grand slam off of him. Then you have the travel issue -- in Japan, all the games are played within one time zone. And how will Darvish handle the wilting heat of Texas in the middle of the summer?

There are many fair questions to be asked. 

Our call

It's incredibly tough, considering the only bits and pieces I've seen of Darvish came in the 2009 World Baseball Classic -- where he was dominant, but I just don't trust numbers in March. On the other hand, I very much trust Daniels and his operation. With Darvish being six years younger and an imposing 6-foot-5 power pitcher, the possible upside is intriguing. Ultimately that, the age difference and my trust in Daniels has me begrudgingly picking Darvish here. I wish I had at least one major-league start to judge, but no MLB teams were afforded that luxury.

Fan Vote:



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Posted on: January 13, 2012 4:58 pm
Edited on: January 13, 2012 5:44 pm
 

Fielder in Texas meeting with Rangers

Prince Fielder

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Rangers are meeting Friday with Prince Fielder at a Dallas-area hotel, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeted and CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman confirms. Heyman, though, notes not to read too much into the meeting, that the Rangers the first stop on the Princeapalooza Tour 2012 -- with future stops left in as many as three more cities.

Prince Fielder

Fielder's the last big free-agent name on the market, and the Rangers could use a first baseman, making them a perfect match. O course, there could be the matter of the money and length of contract, but on the field, it would be hard not to see a match made in heaven between Fielder and Texas. Not that this meeting means anything is happening right now, but the Rangers are thinking about the possibility, it seems.

The Rangers currently have Mitch Moreland playing first right now, and saying Fielder would be an upgrade is an understatement. Moreland's a decent player. The 26-year-old hit .259/.320/.414 with 16 homers in 512 plate appearances, which is hardly middle-of-the-order stuff, but the Rangers didn't need a middle-of-the-order guy at first base. Fielder at first base, though, would make the potent Rangers lineup that much more potent.

The Angels' signings of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson has made Los Angeles a favorite in some quarters. If the Rangers could sign Fielder and Yu Darvish, it would be tough to pick even the improved Angels over the Rangers as a pre-season favorite in the AL West.

However, the meeting could be a mirage of some sort. If the Rangers don't want to spend the money for Fielder, they could be posturing as a negotiation tactic as the deadline for signing Darvish nears. Many have seen Fielder as a backup plan for Darvish for Texas. Without spending for Darvish, Texas could afford to shell out the big bucks for Fielder. Rangers officials have told people they can't afford both Darvish and Fielder, but there have been bigger surprises before.

It could also be posturing on the part of Fielder and agent Scott Boras to show the Nationals that Fielder has other suitors other than Washington.

Whatever happens, someone will have Fielder come spring training and that team will be better than they were before inking the first baseman.

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Posted on: January 8, 2012 1:19 pm
 

Report: Disney family to bid on Dodgers

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Walt Disney Company used to own the Angels, now the Disney family wants to own the Dodgers.

The family of the late Walt Disney has partnered with Stanley Gold in an attempt to buy the Dodgers, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports.

Roy Disney, nephew of Walt Disney, would own the team as a private investment, not connected to the Walt Disney Co. Gold is the chairman of Burbank-based Shamrock Holdings. Gold and Roy Disney made a public push to out Michael Eisner as the chief executive of the Walt Disney Co.  in 2004.

The Walt Disney Company sold the Angels to Arte Moreno for $180 million in 2003.

While Frank McCourt made a mess out of the Dodgers, the number of groups lining up to bid on the team seems to assure McCourt will make a tidy profit out of his 2004 purchase of the Dodgers. McCourt bought the team for $430 million from NewsCorp and the sale price will likely top $1 billion -- with some estimates reaching $1.6 billion. Other groups of bidders include Magic Johnson, Joe Torre and Peter O'Malley, while Mark Cuban could also get involved.

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Posted on: January 7, 2012 9:26 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2012 10:22 pm
 

Howie Kendrick signs four-year extension

By Matt Snyder

All-Star second baseman Howie Kendrick has signed a four-year contract extension to stay put with the Angels, confirms CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman. The news was first reported by Fox Sports. The deal is pending a physical.

The four-year contract eats up the final year of arbitration for Kendrick while also covering three years of would-be free agency. So he's now off the market until after the 2015 season.

Kendrick, 28, is coming off a breakthrough season in terms of power, as he hit .285/.338/.464 with 18 home runs, 63 RBI and 86 runs scored. He set career highs in runs, triples, homers, slugging percentage and OPS. He also made his first All-Star Game.

Kendrick had been an asset for the Angels with his versatility, having played first base, second base, third base, left field and center field thus far in his career. With Albert Pujols now manning first base and highly-touted prospect Mike Trout on the way in the outfield -- along with Peter Bourjos, Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter -- it appears Kendrick will be used pretty exclusively at second base now. He made 105 of his 136 starts at second last season, but expect the percentage of starts there to increase. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they just stopped moving him around.

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Posted on: January 7, 2012 11:22 am
 

Kendrys Morales cleared to 'ramp up' activities

By Matt Snyder

More than 18 months since breaking his ankle while celebrating a walk-off home run, Kendrys Morales' long and winding road to a hopeful return continues. The latest news, via LATimes.com, is that Morales has been cleared to "ramp up" baseball activities, as he's been running "on his own body weight" recently. He's also been hitting off a tee.

“The news has been consistently positive, and we’re hopeful of a healthy return,” general manager Jerry Dipoto said earlier this week (LATimes.com). “With the depth we have at the corners, we’re not contingent on his return by opening day, but we’re optimistic that could happen.”

Ah, yes, the depth at the corners. Specifically first base. The Angels have the runner-up for 2011 AL Rookie of the Year in Mark Trumbo ... and you may have heard of this dude they just signed in early December? His name is Albert Pujols.

In all seriousness, the Pujols signing actually should help Morales. He doesn't have to worry about playing the field any time soon. If Morales can get close to full health with that ankle and swing the bat the way he's capable --  he hit .306/.355/.569 with 34 homers and 108 RBI in 2009 -- he can be the designated hitter and bat cleanup as protection for Pujols. Should that happen, the Angels have a logjam with people like Trumbo and Bobby Abreu, but it would sure be a nice problem to have.

Still, there have been so many setbacks with Morales' rehab, there's very little reason to be more than cautiously optimistic for his chances of a healthy return.

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Posted on: January 7, 2012 12:10 am
 

Under-30 players building Hall of Fame foundation



By Matt Snyder


T-minus two days until the Hall of Fame vote for the 2012 induction is unveiled, so we'll continue talking about the Hall of Fame in this relatively slow time of the year. This time around, we'll take a look at active players younger than 30 who have laid a foundation that makes a run to Cooperstown possible.

Now, make no mistake about it, none of these players are close to having completed their big-league careers nor are they currently close to being locks to the Hall of Fame. Still, some are well on their way and others have started a journey that may push them into the discussion in a decade or so.

Obviously things could change in just one season -- just take a look below at a certain catcher from Minnesota. Or think about how good it looked for Grady Sizemore three years ago at this time before injuries completely derailed him. And we have to understand that just a few seasons of being an elite player doesn't necessarily mean the longevity will be there -- take the cases of Fernando Valenzuela and Dwight Gooden, for example. For various reasons, careers can get off track. Still, it's fun to take a look at which young players have built a possible Hall-of-Fame foundation.

By no means is this an exhaustive list, but here are 20 under-30 guys who could be on the right track, in alphabetical order (age in parentheses):

Hall of Fame coverage
Miguel Cabrera (28) - The first name we list might well be the most impressive case on here. In eight full seasons (he appeared in 87 games as a rookie) Cabrera has been an All-Star six times and finished in the top five of MVP voting five times. He's hit .317/.395/.555, which is good for a 149 OPS-plus. Saying Cabrera is just about halfway through his career is probably reasonable and he already has 277 homers and 984 RBI.

Robinson Cano (29) - He wouldn't have appeared on this list until the past two seasons, but Cano has grown into one of the more dangerous hitters in baseball. He'd need to continue this pace for another six to eight years at least before being a Hall candidate, though.

Prince Fielder (27) - Six full seasons -- with 39 games in '05 -- have yielded 230 homers and 656 RBI. Fielder also has an impressive .390 on-base percentage and a whopping .929 OPS (143 OPS-plus). He's already finished in the top four of MVP voting three times. Can his robust body hold up long-term? If it does, he's probably headed to Cooperstown. Baseball-Reference.com's top similar statistical player through age 27 is Hall of Famer Eddie Murray.

Adrian Gonzalez (29) - Did he get started too late? Gonzalez didn't become a full-timer until '06 and wasn't a dominant force until '09. Still, four All-Star Games, three Gold Gloves and two Top 10 finishes in MVP voting. He also has a career .889 OPS (140 OPS-plus) and over 1,100 hits already.

Felix Hernandez (25) - We've seen so many pitchers flame out over the years after huge starts -- I mentioned two in the intro -- but King Felix basically only needs to stay healthy and keep his head on straight. He's already 85-67 with a 3.24 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 1,264 strikeouts. He has one Cy Young and also finished second once. And he could conceivably pitch 15 more seasons. Even conservatively -- assuming health -- you have to say he has 12 more in him.

Matt Kemp (27) - After a runner-up finish in MVP voting this past season, Kemp inked a huge contract with the Dodgers. He could be the face of the franchise for a decade. The power-speed combo (128 HR, 144 steals) along with a Gold Glove shows he can do it all.

Clayton Kershaw (23) - He went 21-5 with a 2.28 ERA, 248 strikeouts, an All-Star appearance and a Cy Young award last season. At 23. Enough said.

Tim Lincecum (27) - Two Cy Youngs, four All-Star appearances and a World Series ring so far. Not too shabby. Like Hernandez, Kershaw and all other great young pitchers, health and avoiding major off-field trouble are the biggest roadblocks. But there is serious foundation and talent here. I wouldn't bet against Lincecum. 

Evan Longoria (26) - He's going to be the face of the Rays for a long time and his arrival coincided with them shedding the laughingstock label. The 2008 AL Rookie of the Year has three All-Star appearances, two Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger. His 136 OPS-plus bodes well. But his average dropped 50 points last season. Harbinger or aberration? I'd guess the latter.

Joe Mauer (28) - Would've seemed a lot more firm here last year at this time. The disaster of a season doesn't erase the amazing good Mauer did through the first six-plus seasons in his career, but it raises health questions moving forward. His bat means a whole lot less if he's playing first base instead of catching.

Andrew McCutchen (25) - He already has 95 doubles, 19 triples, 51 homers and 78 stolen bases. He has an .822 OPS (123 OPS-plus). What if he gets even better and is the driving force behind a complete Pirates turnaround?

Dustin Pedroia (28) - The 2007 Rookie of the Year followed up that act with a 2008 MVP. He's hitting .305/.373/.463 in his six-year career, while he's also won a World Series ring, two Gold Gloves and been to the All-Star Game three times.

Hanley Ramirez (28) - He would've been one of the best bets two years ago, but he's now mired in a two-year decline. Goes to show how quickly things can change. Of course, there's plenty of time to get back to 2007-09 form.

Jose Reyes (28) - In six "full" seasons (we'll say at least 125 games played), Reyes has been among the best players in baseball. There's no questioning that. Can he stay on the diamond enough to make himself a viable Hall candidate? It doesn't look great, but the talent is there.

Troy Tulowitzki (27) - Tulowitzki brings in three straight top-eight finishes in MVP voting and is the premier defensive shortstop in the National League. He really only has four seasons worth counting toward a possible Hall induction so far, though, so he's gonna need about eight to 10 more.

Justin Upton (24) - The potential here is insane. He came in fourth in MVP voting last season and should only get better. Again, there are many ways for younger players to derail, but Upton has all the tools to one day hit Cooperstown. Consider me a believer.

Justin Verlander (28) - Yes, he's only 28. Verlander already has 107 wins, 1,215 strikeouts, four All-Star appearances (that is, he made the team, not pitched in the game), a Cy Young and, yes, an AL MVP. He was already one of the better aces in baseball, but then went into a new stratosphere last season. If that continues, he's a cinch to make the Hall. We'll see.

Joey Votto (28) - In just four full seasons, Votto has made a name for himself as a marquee slugger. He won the 2010 MVP and followed it up with a stellar 2011 campaign as well. His career .955 OPS (151 OPS-plus) is incredible and he added a Gold Glove last season, too.

Jered Weaver (29) - Weaver was quietly really good until last season, and you can now drop the "quietly." He was the All-Star Game starter and could have easily won the Cy Young Award, if Verlander didn't happen to be putting up a historic season in the same league. In six seasons, Weaver is 82-47 with a 3.31 ERA and 977 strikeouts. Considering his age, though, this is a pretty tall order. He'll need another eight years of dominance, I'd guess.

David Wright (29) - I think I would have felt pretty good about him after 2008, but he's fallen off a slight bit since then. Perhaps the change in the ballpark dimensions helps, in addition to some health -- for himself and teammates. Wright does already have five All-Star appearances and a .300/.380/.508 line with 183 homers and 151 steals.



I think my four best bets right now would be, in no particular order: Verlander, Cabrera, Hernandez and Upton. Could be a lot more, could be a lot less. All 20 of these guys have plenty of time to either build a resume or screw it up. History tells us there's no chance all 20 make the cut, and even guessing half of these guys getting to Cooperstown is a big stretch.

Feel free to add more names in the comments, as there definitely isn't a wrong answer in this department.

Coming Sunday: "Asterisk" guys with Hall-type resumes
Monday: 2012 Hall of Fame inductee(s) announced
Monday: Looking ahead at the 2013 first-year eligibles
Monday: Looking at the '14, '15 and '16 first-year eligibles

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Posted on: January 5, 2012 1:11 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2012 1:12 pm
 

Angels GM says team 'unlikely' to sign Madson

Ryan Madson

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Where will Ryan Madson end up? Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto says it's probably not going to be Anaheim.

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Dipoto, the first-year Angels GM told the Los Angeles Times that it's "very, very unlikely" the Angels would add Madson or any closer.

"What I'll say with some degree of certainty is that our most dignificant acquisitions have already been made," Dipoto said.

"We're trying to add depth, and in a perfect world, we'd like to find another guy to join Jordan Walden, Scott Downs and LaTroy Hawkins to help with those last nine outs. But closer has never been a real priority."

Of course, this could also be posturing by Dipoto.  

Walden, 24, recorded 32 saves with a 2.98 ERA as a rookie in 2012. Walden made the All-Star team after starting the season with 20 saves and a 2.84 ERA in the first half. In the second half of the season, he had 12 saves and a 3.22 ERA. Walden struck out 10 batters per nine innings and 3.9 walks per nine. It had been rumored the team wanted to upgrade at the back of the bullpen.

And then there's Madson, who had 32 saves and a 2.37 ERA in his first season as the Phillies closer. Early in the offseason there was a report Madson had agreed to a deal with Philadelphia for four years and $44 million, but then the team signed Jonathan Papelbon instead.

There are few teams still looking for a closer, with the Reds being the team with the most glaring need. However, the Reds don't have the type of money to sign Madson to a huge deal. Cincinnati is currently in talks with incumbent reliever Francisco Cordero to bring him back on a one-year deal.

Madson could try to find a deal like the Yankees gave Rafael Soriano a year ago to be a high-priced set-up man -- even though that didn't exactly work out for the Yankees. Madson and Soriano are both represented by Scott Boras.

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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