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Wednesday Halolinks: Angels beat Rangers, but Rangers add pitching

It was just a Spring Training game, but the Angels looked good against Yu Darvish and the Rangers. In the meantime, Texas signs Saunders.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Have you noticed the number of games so far this spring that feature the "regulars"?  With the exception of Josh Hamilton, yesterday's lineup could be the same as Opening Day.  Obviously, the purpose of getting the starters more game time is to avoid the 6-14 start of the season.  Hope it works.

  • You know how we've been lamenting about the Angels' lack of starting pitching depth?  Well, Rangers's fans were doing pretty much the same thing once their starters began dropping like panties on prom night.  The big difference between the Ranger and Angels is the Texas front office is actually doing something about it: Rangers sign lefty Joe Saunders to major-league deal -  "The Rangers have signed free agent lefty Joe Saunders to a guaranteed major-league contract.'s Jon Heyman confirms the original report of Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. After a recent injuries to Derek Holland and Matt Harrison, the Rangers are in need of rotation depth, at least to start the season, and Saunders adds another arm to the mix."  Although I don't think Johan Santana is going to contribute, at least positively, to any teams' winning efforts, signing him to a minor-league deal is pretty much a no-lose situation: Baltimore Orioles sign Johan Santana to one-year deal - ESPN.  "Santana would get a one-year, $3 million contract if added to the 40-man roster and would have the chance to earn bonuses based on days on the active 25-man roster and starts. Santana can earn a total of $5.05 million in incentives, a source told's Jerry Crasnick. "  I hope Jerry Dipoto and the other guys in the Angels' brain trust have something up their sleeves.
  • This was nice to see: Angels' Raul Ibanez homered off Rangers' Yu Darvish on Tuesday -  ""I think it was good overall because I was able to try a few things," Darvish said through a translator. "In the home run situation, [catcher Robinson] Chirinos wanted a fastball, and I also wanted a fastball. I threw a four-seam fastball just to see if I could get a pop-up. But it was a huge pop-up."  I wasn't too excited when the Halos signed Ibanez, but heck, if he can do this at points throughout the season, and Scioscia will limit the time he spends in the outfield, this could be a good signing.
  • Good players cause good players to change the way they play the game: Ibanez homers off Darvish, Angels beat Rangers - Yahoo Sports.  "Trout singled and lined out against the Texas ace. Darvish said he threw only fastballs to the Angels star. ''I didn't want to show him anything else. I think the approach toward Trout is going to be a little bit different this year,'' he said."
  • When the minimum wage of the profession you're in is half a million dollars, you know you've picked the right job: Angels reach agreement with pre-arbitration players -  "Teams determine the salaries of unsigned players with between zero and three years of Major League service time, with the only requirement being the Major League minimum ($500,000 in 2014). As a formality, players either "agree" to their salaries or get "renewed." This year, all 25 of the Angels' players "agreed." To determine pre-arbitration salaries, the Angels use a sliding-scale system that gives significantly more weight to service time than performance."
  • Haven't met him, but after reading about him and scanning through his Twitter account, Josh Hamilton seems like a good guy.  Anyway, Ian Kinsler has a big mouth:
    Ian Kinsler intends to become elite second baseman for Detroit Tigers - ESPN The Magazine.  "During that time, it was well-known throughout the game that there was a power struggle going on between Ryan and Daniels, who had acquired the title of president of baseball operations last March in a front office restructuring that ultimately led to Ryan's departure after the season. Kinsler squarely blames the man who traded him. "Daniels is a sleazeball," he says. "He got in good with the owners and straight pushed Ryan out. He thought all the things he should get credit for, Ryan got credit for. It's just ego. Once we went to the World Series, everybody's ego got huge, except for Nolan's." "To be honest with you, I hope they go 0-162. I got friends, and I love my friends, but I hope they lose their ass."  Hey look, we agree on something!
  • Here's a great story over at The Hardball Times:
    The Hustling Russells - The Hardball Times
    .  "Having been a movie and TV actor since the late 1950s, Kurt Russell was no stranger to many Mavericks fans. In fact, he was no stranger to the Northwest League. After he signed with the Angels in 1971, they assigned him to their Northwest League team in Bend, Ore. As a switch-hitting second baseman, he hit .285 for the Bend Rainbows. The next year he hit .325 for the Walla Walla Islanders in the same league (the landlocked franchise was so-called because it was affiliated with the Hawaii Islanders of the Pacific Coast League)."
  • This photo is a couple of month old, but I thought it was pretty awesome:
  • Jeff Sullivan has an interesting post at FanGraphs about bunt doubles.  This is something I thought last season when teams put a shift on Hamilton...when leading off an inning, why not drop one down?
    Reviewing Last Year’s Bunt Doubles - FanGraphs Baseball
    .  "That should give you a sense of how much space there was. From here it’s as if the Red Sox just forgot to play two infielders. Looking at this picture, you might wonder why we don’t see more bunt doubles. The answer is because batters are too afraid to bunt, because batters are too afraid to practice their bunts, because batters want to bat, at least the sorts of batters who cause other infields to shift against them. There are a whole lot of extreme shifts in baseball. This is how you can beat them literally every time, if you’re trained enough. Baseball players are idiots for not bunting more often. Sometimes people complain I don’t have enough strong opinions. This is one of them. Bunt more, idiots. If you don’t know how to bunt well enough, learn, idiots. If you can hit, then you can bunt, and, you can hit."
  • Brian Wilson can throw a wicked knuckleball:
  • Torii being Torii (I like the look of disbelief on Justin Verlander's face):
  • Most Angels' fans don't like Derek Jeter because he plays for the Yankees, but what if he had come up through the Angels' system?  How much would you have loved (or hated) the the guy then?  Joe Namath calls Derek Jeter an 'angel' - Newsday.  ""Knowing the scrutiny that he's had over the years," the Jets Hall of Famer said at Yankees camp, "I can't imagine how the guy could be an angel like this over the years. He's to be respected for every phase of his life, it seems."
  • Do spring training radar readings tell us anything? -  "Overall, though, players who experienced an increase in velocity saw their strikeout rates jump, walk rates decease and ERA and FIP drop as compared to their career stats. In addition, a little more than half of these pitchers also put up a career-high WAR that same season."
  • I've had that same look on my face.  Typically it happens when I see a batting order with Erick Aybar at the top:
    Reporter Talking Sports Has Best Reaction When He Realizes He's Live.  "I'd be happy, man. Rangers, to me, are a sinking ship," Yazwinski said before having that ohhhhh fuuuuck moment, just as the show cut away to the next preview. It was really a fantastic reaction."