I wondered how long it'd take for the people in the Angels' organization to start turning on each other.
Okay, maybe that's a little much, they're not blaming each other yet for the team's failure, but this could be the first shot fired over the bow of the USS Reagins (Mike Scioscia and the Angels desperately seeking offense - USATODAY.com):
Scioscia, typically bland in his postgame comments, said the offense needs to "get its act together." Torii Hunter and Co. are averaging a paltry 3.2 runs in the last 28 games. "This is totally about on-field chemistry," said Scioscia. "This isn't anything about leadership. This isn't anything about what's going on in the clubhouse. This isn't about talking about guys going through some rough times. This is about on-field chemistry. ... We've been down too long. We need to right that ship. It's going to take on-field chemistry, especially on the offensive side." On Wednesday, Scioscia shuffled the lineup and moved Hunter to the second spot. Hunter, who welcomed the move, has been the cleanup hitter for most of the season.
I could be reading this wrong, but it appears to me Scioscia is pointing the finger at others rather than himself. For example, isn't on-field chemistry his doing? He's the one who fills out the lineup and batting order and this directly affect "chemistry" - whatever that is. Isn't his job to "right the ship"? He's the one who's supposed to analyze what's wrong and make corrections. Also, in the last Halolinks I made the comment that winning creates good chemistry, which I believe is true. When a manager continues to post a weak batting order, how is chemistry going to improve? Do the players not see who on their team shouldn't be playing? Of course they do, but being the professionals they are, those accustom to saying the right things, they will never comment that so-and-so should take a seat. Or be moved down in the order. Or be released. I'm pretty sure they talk among themselves as to what they think is wrong and how the team should be managed. If anything, this has the greatest effect on chemistry.
One other thing. Scioscia mentions "on-field chemistry, especially on the offensive side", but what about the pitching side? Specifically the way he continues to use his bull pen. Scott Downs for four pitches and then an inning later, with the score tied, Fernando Rodney? Talk about creating crappy on-field chemistry.
When does clutch hitting become a stat? What I mean is, the stat guys say there is no such thing as "clutch hitting", but then why do they consistently point to a player's stats with runners on base? Okay, maybe in this post (Divide and Conquer, AL West: Scattershooting, Part II - Baseball Prospectus) they're just pointing out why the Angels aren't scoring many runs:
Given all that, it is interesting to note that while the Angels’ offense has more or less been average on the whole thus far (and certainly nowhere near as bad as the Athletics or Mariners, whose situational splits have mostly equalized in the last six weeks to the extent that they're now hitting roughly the same regardless of the base state), they're still falling well short of the mark when it comes down to producing with runners on versus without:
April 28th (cumulative)
Angels hitters, no runners on: 536 PA, .271/.332/.448, 124 sOPS+
Angels hitters, men on base: 403 PA, .240/.302/.359, 80 sOPS+
Angels hitters, runners in scoring position: 239 PA, .231/.308/.317, 72 sOPS+
June 8th (cumulative)
Angels hitters, no runners on: 1,366 PA, .264/.324/.406, 107 sOPS+
Angels hitters, men on base: 1,064 PA, .243/.311/.355, 86 sOPS+
Angels hitters, runners in scoring position: 648 PA, .228/.319/.328, 80 sOPS+
If a hitter has no control over his "clutch" hitting ability then the only way to change the above stats are to change the players.
I saw this line and it summed up this year's Angel team to me (Northside Dump - baseballmusings.com):
I remember seeing a juggler who used an axe. His line was, "This is the same axe George Washington used to chop down the cherry tree. The handle is new, and the head was replaced, but it occupies the same space."
"These are the same Angels who have been successful in the past. The players have been replaced, and the team doesn't win anymore, but it occupies the same space."
It seems like today is "Dump On Chone Figgins Day". Here are a couple posts (Where Does Figgins’ Decline Rank? - FanGraphs Baseball):
Of the 10,771 three-year spans returned in the query, only 28 involved a player racking up at least 400, 400, and 200 plate appearances, while also losing at least 50 points in wOBA from year one to year two, and 50 more between the second and third seasons. In other words, what Figgins is doing is incredibly rare — 0.26 percent of player spans met that criteria. That isn’t 2.6 percent, but 0.26 percent, as in 0.0026.
And this one (Oh, How The Mighty Have Fallen - Beyond the Box Score):
Chone Figgins was one of the league's better players when he was in LA, largely on the strength of good plate discipline, an above average BABIP, and good defensive numbers at third-base. The Mariners rewarded him with a four-year, $36 M contract, and things... have not gone so well.
Here's a really interesting piece on "scout-speak". You know, the things people who know stuff say to show us they know stuff (Raising Aces: Da Pitching Code : Baseball Daily Digest):
"Deceptive" – adj. This term is paired with several interpretations. A) A pitcher can "hide the ball" from the batter’s view, by obscuring the throwing hand behind moving arms, legs, and torso; B) Pitchers that have deep release points are often said to have deception, as the fastball is "sneaky fast" due to the increase in perceived velocity; C) A talented pitcher with an unorthodox delivery is often tagged as deceptive, which arises more from a lack of any conventional explanation for his success. Example: see Weaver, Jered.
Okay, the Rangers aren't all bad (Nice pick: Rangers select paralyzed Georgia player in 33rd round - Yahoo! Sports):
Heck, the Rangers will be admired across the whole country, really, after they used their 33rd-round selection in MLB's amateur draft to select Bulldogs junior outfielder Johnathan Taylor on Wednesday afternoon. Normally that wouldn't be very newsworthy, but Taylor is paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair after a tragic on-field collision with teammate Zach Cone in early March.
This is an interesting post on trading prospect for proven talent (Win Now > (Maybe) Win Later - FanGraphs Baseball):
I believe three things to be true:
1) Young players develop unpredictably (here’s another interesting article along those lines).
2) Current, elite value is immensely important, for a variety of reasons. Not the least of which is that flags fly forever.
3) We could all be dead tomorrow.
The next Angels GM? (Is Billy Beane tired of the Oakland mess yet? - FOX Sports):
Yes, Beane is devoted to Lew Wolff, the team's managing partner. Yes, he is signed through 2014. Yes, he even holds a small ownership stake in the team. But when will he say "enough"? The Cubs and Astros soon might seek new GMs. The return of the Yankees' Brian Cashman next season hardly is assured. Another job or two might open, as well. Beane, 49, would be a leading candidate for any vacancy, and practically every one of them would offer him greater resources and margin for error.
Sam Miller mentioned the impact of a catcher's ability to frame pitches. Here's a deeper look (Evaluating catchers: Quantifying the framing pitches skill - The Hardball TImes):
According to the analysis presented here, the best catchers at framing pitches can add something like one or two wins per season, which is the equivalent of trading Alex Rodriguez's 2010 bat (.270/.341/.506, 30 HR, 125 RBI, 19 runs above replacement) with Alex Rios' lumber in the same year (.284/.334/.457, 11 HR, 45 RBI, nine runs above replacement). The number could even be a conservative estimate. In fact, as soon as a pitcher realizes his catcher gives him an edge on borderline pitches, he should immediately begin to exploit the advantage. If the magnitude of the framing effect measured in this study is confirmed, major league teams should not neglect this factor when they go hunting for a catcher in the market, especially those with pitching staffs that make their living on the black.
Mark Gubicza's favorite ex-Angel (Card Corner: 1971 Topps, Dean Chance - The Hardball Times):
Chance had financial success with the carnival, but the lifestyle wore him down. He also hated dealing with the many con men who infected the carnival business. Ultimately, Chance found happiness by returning to boxing. In the 1990s, he established the International Boxing Association, eventually becoming the president of the organization. It is a position that he still holds to this day, making him as well-connected in boxing as he was in baseball.
Langdon thought: I’m sitting in the Owner’s Suite for the Yankees-Angels game! And drinking his second El Modelo beside Arte Moreno! And watching baseball with Mark Langston and Clyde Wright! And listening to Reggie Jackson introduce himself as Reggie Jackson!
Matt Scioscia started six times and played in a total of 16 games in his senior season. He went 6-for-30 with no extra-base hits and no walks. It appears as if Scioscia did not play in the field as he had no putouts, assists, or errors. Over his four-year career at Notre Dame, Matt hit .267/.323/.335 in 88 games and 195 plate appearances.
I wonder how many college players with just six hits all season were drafted this year?