Tag: angels

Hisanori Takahashi Signs with Angels

According to various reports, former Mets lefthander Hisanori Takahashi has signed a two-year deal with the Orange County Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in California (or whatever they’re calling themselves this year).

This shouldn’t come as a shock to Mets fans; by not signing Takahashi by November 5th they had to release him and could not re-sign him until next May. There was no chance that a lefty reliever with 10 wins, 8 saves, and a 3.61 ERA was going to last through the winter and spring without signing elsewhere.

I want to go on a limb and say that Takahashi won’t replicate the success he had in Flushing over in the bastardized league that uses the designated pinch hitter, partially because the lineups tend to be stronger and deeper in the other league and partially because the Angels don’t play their home games in Citi Field. However, I had eerily similar feelings about Darren Oliver and he proved me wrong. Also, I think that Takahashi could be very effective for at least the first few months just because he will be “new” and something of an unknown to most AL hitters. Additionally, he will now be part of a very efficient and intelligent relief system managed by Mike Scioscia — one of the few in MLB who have a clue when it comes to managing bullpens over the course of a 162-game season.

In any case, I wish him good luck on the Left Coast. He was a good soldier and team-first player who did everything that was asked of him — a true ballplayer.

Click here to read the 2010 Analysis of Hisanori Takahashi

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Gary Matthews Jr. Returning to Flushing?

Jon Heyman says the Mets are on the verge of acquiring Gary Matthews, Jr. from the Angels, with the Angels paying the majority of the $23M left on his ridiculous contract.

No official word on who is going the other way, but Heyman mentions that the Angels have shown interest in Brian Stokes.

Let’s wait until the whole story is published before we react. Though, my initial gut reaction is that there’s no way this can turn out well for the Mets.

Some of you may recall Matthews’ two-game tenure with the Mets in 2002. That team was, in some ways, eerily similar to the 2010 version.

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Difference Between Mets and Champions

After 162 Mets games, I forgot how much fun it was to watch good, hard-played, exciting baseball games. Right there, one of the key differences between the Mets of 2007-2009 and championship teams.

Not yet a week into the postseason, and we’ve already seen “championship baseball” at its best. How many times in the past three years have we seen similar passion and tenacity from the Flushing Futiles, as we’ve witnessed from the Twins and Dodgers? Even in losing, the Tigers put out a tremendous effort in what may go down as one of the most exciting one-game playoffs of all-time. Sure, you can say these teams are playing at a notch above because it’s the postseason — but are they “dialing it up” from their usual 9 to 10 or are they usually at 10 and breaking the knob to find 11?

Some other differences noted while watching these championship clubs:

Pitching

john-lackey
John Lackey is the pitcher the Mets keep waiting for John Maine to be — not in terms of style, but in performance / results. In other words, the 7-8 inning pitcher, with occasional spurts of greatness, but otherwise a very solid #2 starter.

The difference between Lackey and Maine: Lackey has very simple, efficient, squared-up mechanics that keep him on a straight line from the rubber toward home plate, which are the foundation to strong command of all pitches. As a result Lackey can hit spots all over the strike zone with all of his pitches. In contrast, Maine’s mechanics cause him to constantly be fighting himself and his “natural”, narrow location of up and in the righthander / up and away from the lefty.

Lackey leads an Angel rotation that has Scott Kazmir and 16-win Joe Saunders rounding out the back end. Compare those two at the end to anyone after Johan Santana on the Mets’ starting staff.

The bullpens of nearly all the postseason teams are equally impressive. Consider that the Red Sox have at least four men in the ‘pen not named Papelbon who would be closing for at least a dozen MLB teams. The Yankees have so much pitching depth that they don’t really need Joba Chamberlain. The Phillies may have an issue with Brad Lidge as a closer but their depth is such that it’s hard to find postseason innings for Pedro Martinez, Joe Blanton, and Brett Myers.

Lineups and Hitting

The Red Sox had JD Drew batting eighth and Alex Gonzalez ninth. The Yankees had Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher in the same spots. The Cardinals had Mark DeRosa 7th and Colby Rasmus 8th. Think about that. Any of those hitters would be batting cleanup for the Mets. That’s the difference between the Mets and a playoff team’s lineup.

Free Agent Signings

Bobby Abreu had some kind of year, huh? A .390 OBP, .293 AVG, 103 RBI, 30 SBs. This is the same guy who was practically begging the Mets for a contract. But the Mets were “set” in the outfield — they had Dan Murphy, Ryan Church, and Fernando Tatis. It was ironic that the Angels had a much deeper surplus of OFs than the Mets (Gary Mathews Jr., Reggie Willits, and Juan Rivera were all presumably fighting for one corner spot), yet they signed Abreu anyway — his bargain price of $5M was too good to pass up (rumor at the time was the Mets could’ve had him for $4M).

Managerial Boldness

Joe Torre has benched All-Star, Gold-Glove second baseman Orlando Hudson in favor of Ronny Belliard — mainly because Belliard is hot and Hudson is not. Can you see a Mets manager pulling a similar move in the playoffs? For example, if Jose Reyes were hitting .200 going into a playoff series, do you think Jerry Manuel would dare sit him in favor of a shortstop who was on a hot streak?

Conclusion

Watching these games a Mets fan, it’s hard not to think about your team and compare / contrast it to the teams still playing. There’s another big difference I’ll detail in a future post.

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Burning the K-Rod at Both Ends

k-rod-mets

Francisco Rodriguez pitched two innings in last night’s loss, but Mets manager Jerry Manuel assured reporters after the game that his high-priced closer would be “ready to go” in the series finale tonight. After all, he’d thrown “less than 30 pitches”. Apparently, had Rodriguez thrown 30 or more, he’d have received a day off.

I’d love to have seen Manuel and Dan Warthen hunched over a calculator banging out that formula for bullpen success.

For those keeping score, K-Rod threw 16 pitches in a meaningless 7-0 victory on Sunday night vs. the Nationals, had a day off, threw 20 pitches on Tuesday, and 21 pitches last night, for a total of 57 pitches over four days. We can’t predict K-Rod’s pitch count if he goes tonight, but we know he’s averaging about 16 pitches per inning. Assuming he gets into the game and throws that many, Frankie will have expended 57 pitches in three straight days, and 73 over five days. We know he doesn’t “let up” on any pitch, so add in the high-stress factor of those tosses.

If indeed K-Rod pitches tonight, it would be the third time this season he threw three days in a row (not games, Jerry, days). Technically, it would be the fifth time, because he threw FOUR days in a row twice this year (May 4-7 & May 12-15 were the previous runs).

But K-Rod can handle it, right? Like fellow countryman Johan Santana, he’s a man, right?

Not sure. During last year’s record-breaking season, K-Rod threw in back-to-back-to-back days five times. April 13-15 (49 pitches); April 23-25 (32 pitches); June 2-4 (33 pitches); June 21-23 (41 pitches); August 28-30 (33 pitches). . He never threw for four days in a row in 2008, but he did do it once in 2007 — which was the only time that year he threw in as many as three consecutive days. That run was bookended by three days of rest prior, and four days’ rest afterward.

Which brings up a key note: whenever Angels manager Mike Scioscia rode K-Rod especially hard, he followed that up with 3-4 days’ rest. Jerry Manuel has thus far followed that pattern, as K-Rod was rested four days after each of his two four-game-straight marathons.

But, on Friday the Mets begin a three-game series with the Yankees. Do you think K-Rod is going to be held out all weekend?

The forecast calls for rain this afternoon, and thunderstorms through the evening, so the point may be moot. Still, the handling of Rodriguez is something that should be monitored, if we expect him to be at full strength later in the season.

For a comparison of how the top teams use their bullpens, Download The Bullpen Blueprint (it’s free!).

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Figueroa Elects Free Agency

Nelson Figueoroa in the Citi Field dugout for the New York MetsAlthough official word has not yet been published, inside sources suggest that Nelson Figueroa has elected free agency rather than accept a demotion to AAA Buffalo. **UPDATE: Adam Rubin has been given similar information. **

Hat tip to loyal MetsToday reader HDarvick for the scoop.

Figueroa was waived by the Mets after pitching six strong innings in a start against the Brewers last weekend, filling in for the ailing Mike Pelfrey. While he wasn’t claimed by another MLB team, I imagine he has some options — the Angels, for one, immediately come to mind as a team in need of starting pitching.

It’s hard to blame Figgy for declining the opportunity to return to balmy Buffalo. First, because it’s Buffalo. Second, it’s hard to imagine what more Figueroa could have done to earn a spot on the big league roster — if his stellar WBC performance and strong start on Saturday weren’t enough, then it’s clear the Mets don’t value his skillset, so why hang around? Third, the Mets have over $3M invested in Tim Redding and Freddy Garcia, both of whom are expected to be ready in the next few weeks — so the chance of Figueroa getting the call the next time a spot start is needed is next to nil.

If indeed Nelson chooses free agency over assignment to the minors, I wish him the best of luck. He’s a good man who gets the most out of his abilities and deserves a fair chance to stick in MLB.

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Angels’ Adenhart Killed in Crash

Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart is dead, killed in a hit-and-run accident that occurred early this morning, only hours after he pitched in a game.

Adenhart was only 22 years old, and a promising piece of the Angels’ starting rotation. He had just pitched six shutout innings of a game against the Athletics that was eventually lost by the Angels.

Eerily enough, this morning his photo was on the Angels official home page, not for the death, but for his impressive performance.

More information is available from the Los Angeles Times.

No official word yet from the Angels nor MLB. I’d assume that tonight’s game between the Angels and A’s will be canceled. In addition, this news will probably reschedule the Angels Hall of Fame induction of Brian Downing and Steve Finley. At this point, those two events are not nearly as important as addressing the needs of Adenhart’s family, friends, and teammates.

Hat tip to Walnutz.

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