Today, and more specifically this week, continues an annual trend of being one of the slowest news times for baseball. Front office types are more concerned with filling Christmas stocking than filling spring time rosters. Even those who are paid to statify our eed for baseball news have found it hard to bring us anything worthy, as you'll see below in a Jon Heyman tweet, and a couple of goofy posts I've linked to. Slow news time, or not, Halolinks are here:
- This is a must-read article. It's been mentioned many times since the deal that brought Tyler Skaggs back to the Angels that his velocity has dropped. Within this post is an explanation of those concerns: Tyler Skaggs excited to start over again with Halos - angels.com. "Most concerning of all, though, was a drop in fastball velocity. "[Skaggs] went to [Triple-A] Reno and the velocity was of some concern to us; it went down from mid-90s to 88 or 89 at the end of the year," D-backs GM Kevin Towers said at the Winter Meetings. "He did not have the confidence in his fastball command that he had in the past. It may be a mechanical adjustment, who knows?" And if there's anyone who could figure it out, it's probably the current Angels GM. Dipoto isn't just the man who has traded for Skaggs twice in 40 months; he was part of the D-backs' front office that wanted to take Skaggs with the 41st pick in 2009, right after the Halos ultimately took him off the board. Dipoto called Skaggs' Minor League progression "perfectly normal," noted he's been young for every level he's played at and said the Angels "saw roughly the same pitcher" in 2013, except "with a greatly improved changeup." Dipoto admitted there was a "slight drop-off in velocity, but only at the big league level late in the season when ordinarily guys are tired." Skaggs, Dipoto added, "is not built on power." He's at his best when he's sitting somewhere between 88 to 92 with his fastball, using it to play off his plus curveball and changeup. But Dipoto did notice a mechanical flaw, one he believes is very fixable: In an effort to kill velocity and create more dive with his changeup, Skaggs has developed "a little bit shorter stride length," which may have diminished some of his other stuff." Isn't interesting that it was the Angels' GM who noticed the flaw, or rather the possible flaw, in Skaggs' delivery? Hopefully, whoever is in charge of the club's pitching will be able to decide on what the correct action will be needed to get Skaggs into top form.
The photo with the dark, alternate jersey is from July 2013, while the light-colored jersey photo is from September 2012. Although Skaggs is throwing two different pitches (dark jersey is a two-seam fastball, light jersey is a change-up), you can see that his stride is shorter in the later photo. (click on photo to enlarge)
- There's been a ton of talk about the Angels possibly signing Matt Garza as their "big splash" free agent acquisition, but there's another guy out there who might be a better fit: Gambling on Ubaldo - Beyond the Box Score. "I’m not sure what I would do if I was a GM. It’s hard to trust success in a small sample size when you’re also looking at 2+ years of bad data. Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS system projects Jimenez to post the following numbers in 2013: 173 innings, 25.5 K%, 9.8 BB%, 3.64 ERA and a 3.67 FIP. Those numbers coupled with a .83 HR/9 rate would give Ubaldo a 2.5 win season. I can’t argue with too much with those projections, although I was a little shocked that the projection was that high on him. I’m still somewhat skeptical of Jimenez going forward, but after diving into the pieces surrounding his mechanics and approach I’m much more enthused about him. He is a gamble, but he could easily be worth it if he’s able to continue the new found consistency in his mechanics and newly refined approach to pitch selection."
- This post is more about Garza's performance at the plate rather than on the mound, but there is a bit about his pitching ability: Matt Garza: Whiffing Prodigy - Beyond the Box Score. "Beyond durability concerns there is some worry that Matt Garza is a little bit overrated. He has pitched at least 100 innings in six different seasons and only twice has he recorded a FIP below 4. In those 6 seasons he's averaged approximately 175 innings and 2.7 WAR per year. If you remove his excellent 2011 season those numbers change to 170 innings at 2.2 WAR per season. It's not fair to pretend one of his seasons didn't happen, but it does help make it clear that Matt Garza is closer to good than great and far closer to average than elite. His numbers are not to be sneezed at by any means, but they aren't the numbers of a top-shelf starter."
- Within this Rosenthal post is a tidbit about how the Angels could be in a tough spot. Do they wait to see if they have a chance at possibly the best available pitcher (Tanaka), or act now and sign one of the other free agent hurlers (Garza/Jimenez). The least worry is if they'll be able to sign one of the DH-type players still out there: Rosenthal: New 'save' rule: Teams scrimping on big-bucks closers - FOX Sports. "The Angels seem to be delaying the signing of a DH such as Raul Ibanez until they know how much they will spend on a pitcher. That pitcher could be right-hander Matt Garza, in whom they have heavy interest, sources say. That pitcher also could be Tanaka. The risk in waiting is that the Angels could lose their top candidates for DH — Ibanez, Mark Reynolds and others also are drawing interest from other clubs. Signing Garza could enable the Angels to move quickly. But then, presumably, they wouldn’t get a crack at Tanaka."
- Here's a good post about adding players: Gaining a Star-Level Player - FanGraphs Baseball. "The gist: of course, on average, teams who add star-level players tend to improve, at least in year one. They improve, on average, by a handful of wins, but they also tend to increase payroll, sometimes by kind of a lot, and any increase in payroll should lead to greater success on the field because money buys numbers and numbers are wins. I don’t know enough to say whether things are changing, but it’s worth keeping in mind additional recent cautionary examples like the Angels, Marlins, and Blue Jays, who have gone for it and gotten burned."
- This article got me thinking...a lot has been written about the Angels' desire to stay under the luxury tax threshold, but did you know what the actual tax would be if they did exceed the $189M limit? The tax would be 17.5% of the amount over the threshold. In other words, if the team go out and signs a big-name free agent such as Choo, and go over the threshold by $15M, they'd be on the hook for a tax of $2.625M. Of course, that tax would goes up each year they are over the limit, but with Wells' contract, among others, coming off the books next season, what's the big deal? Is the team really going to pass on acquiring a the right player(s) because of a few million dollars? Or rumored "pride"? APNewsBreak: Yankees hit with $28M luxury tax - Yahoo Sports. "Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said he hopes to get under the threshold next year, when it rises to $189 million. That would reset the team's tax rate to 17.5 percent for 2015 and get the Yankees some revenue-sharing refunds."
- This is like that time you wanted to go out on a date with the hot girl, but had to find someone to take out her ugly friend: How Rakuten Can Get Around The $20 Million Posting Cap For Masahiro Tanaka - BaseballAmerica.com. "The Eagles would allow Tanaka to be posted for a $20 million release fee. Rakuten would also take a second player—preferably a low-salary reserve player it won’t miss—and post him, too; we’ll use a $15 million release fee for him, by way of example. The parties involved would all agree that, for an MLB team to sign Tanaka, it also has to sign the second player to a contract worth $1 million."
- Brother can yo spare a dime? Major League Baseball Sees Record Revenues Exceed $8 Billion For 2013 - Forbes. "In 1995, MLB revenues were $1.4 billion, or over $2.2 billion when accounting for inflation. Since that time, gross revenues for the league have grown a staggering 264 percent in 18 years."
- Slow news day?
watching pawn stars while watering plants. #loserville— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 18, 2013
- One of my favorite writers takes a look at this year's Hall of Fame ballot: Five first-timers deserve to make Hall of Fame but only three will - Tom Verducci - SI.com
And now, being a full-service linkage (and since I don't drink beer), here are three links to posts that have nothing to do with the Angels, or baseball, or even sports for that matter...
- Paul McCartney looks like my grandfather (who is dead) if he were to wear my grandmother's (who is also dead) wig: Paul McCartney Wants T-Shirt, Doesn't Get T-Shirt, Becomes Sad. "Alternate headline: Your Aunt Mildred Tries To Catch The Bouquet At Your Sister's Wedding."
- Here's a pro-tip for those of you getting caught receiving a handie over the holidays...if it goes viral, don't act like you're a lawyer. It only makes it worse. A lot worse: Lawyer for Santa Accused of Public Handjob Demands Article Be Yanked. "Following yesterday's post about a SantaCon Santa who was allegedly caught by a filmmaker having his North Pole publicly waxed by a naughty little elf, Gawker received an "urgent" email from a man claiming to be Santa's lawyer."
- No, the reason I moved to Wisconsin (who has no weird sex laws) wasn't because I could not wear women's clothes, but because I couldn't sell my boobie pillows next to the freeway. The Complete List of Weird Sex Laws in the U.S.A.