Monday, March 07, 2005

Angels "B" Squad Dismantles former Halo Etherton & A's

In a 17-4 thrashing of divisional rival Oakland, the Angels notched 17 hits from a team of players comprised entirely of minor leaguers or back-up players. With rainy weather canceling most early workouts in Arizona, manager Mike Scioscia presumably elected to give his starters the afternoon off rather than risk injury on a slick field or due to not being properly warmed-up. In fact, the only projected regulars on the field for the Angels Sunday were starting pitcher Bartolo Colon (2 IP, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K) and relievers Esteban Yan and Brendan Donnelly.

Staff ace Bartolo Colon was effective in his first start of the spring, a sharp contrast to his 2004 spring debut, also against Oakland, when Colon needed 41 pitches to record the first two outs. Taking the brunt of the abuse from the Halo JV team was former Angel first-round pick Seth Etherton (himself a cautionary tale as to why the Angels refused to capitulate to Jared Weaver & Scott Boras' ridiculous contract demands). But Etherton was not helped out too much by his defense as second baseman Keith Ginter committed a two-out error leading to four unearned runs. Etherton did not help himself out with a wild pitch on his way to giving up a total of five runs on four hits.

Players to Watch: OF Juan Rivera, acquired in the Jose Guillen trade, has been raking at the plate, hitting a blistering .444 over the past three games including another double Sunday and a HR on Saturday. First baseman Casey Kotchman had a single, double and drove in five runs Sunday. Kotchman is hitting .400 so far this spring. Of course, Alberto Calaspo is hitting .600 so you can not read too much into statistics at this point.

Notable Spring Trend: The Angels are 2-2 in Cactus League play but both losses came as a result of ninth inning rallies off of pitchers with almost no chance of making the club. The Angels in contrast are scoring well against pitchers who, if not already assured a spot on their respective clubs, are in the thick of a fight for one. Early prognosis, take-off around the 7th inning if you want leave the park happy.

Power Outage

One negative trend to keep an eye on are the Angels lack of HR's. Two HR's in four games (Juan Rivera and Michael Napoli each have one). Nothing to panic about as I suspect over the next week we will see the normal long-ballers (Guerrero, Finley, Anderson) start airing them out. Once fully recovered from his back spasms, Dallas McPherson is another guy that should distribute some souvenirs to the fans on the lawn. Again, statistics are misleading this early but something worth keeping an eye on.

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