Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Angels Win with 'B' Team

What the hell happened to the Angels roster? Here is the starting line-up from last night's 7-6, 11 inning victory over Toronto:

1. Chone Figgins CF
2. Orlando Cabrera SS
3. Darin Erstad 1B
4. Vlad Guerrero RF
5. Bengie Molina DH
6. Juan Rivera LF
7. Jose Molina C
8. Maicer Izturis 3B
9. Adam Kennedy 2B

Suddenly we are a bunch of slap hitters plus Guerrero. In addition we had Jeff DeVanon, Casey Kotchman and Jeff Mathis all enter the game at some point (going a combined 0 for 3). So out of 12 players involved last night there were five players projected to be full-time starters. Six if you count Figgins, which I don't. While he has been a super bench player I would not start him ahead of any of the regulars except maybe Finley who still can't seem to hit but is much better defensively.

This power-packed roster managed 13 hits, 10 of them singles. The other three were doubles by Guerrero, Rivera and Cabrera.

Scioscia snuck one by the Jays with this line-up and he will try and one-up himself tonight by starting Joe Saunders in his major league debut. The left-hander was 3-3 with a 3.46 ERA at Triple A. Saunders was promoted earlier this season after posting an 8-4 record with a 3.49 ERA at Double A. Scioscia decided to give Paul Byrd a few days of rest after he suffered some stiffness in his back while the team was in Seattle. But Byrd claims to "feel good now". The Angel skipper said "we wanted to give Paul a couple extra days to get rid of some stiffness, if it's September, in the middle of a pennant race, Paul probably makes his start (Tuesday)." Saunders draws a break though as he will be opposing Scott Downs who is 1-2 with a 5.02 ERA. Downs has been in the Jays pen all season but in his first start last week he gave up just 2 hits over 7 innings against Detroit and posted his first win of the season. Should be a different story tonight though as Downs makes his road start debut against a tough hitting Angels team that has won four straight.

Sounds like Scioscia is using Byrd's tight back to get a glimpse of Saunders and perhaps audition him for a post-season roster spot. The way the Angel bullpen has underperformed of late he might just want to have some options on the table come October.

Injury Update

Speaking of options, Kelvim Escobar had a sideline session yesterday and was "effective" throwing all of his pitches. On the Southern California Sports Report Escobar stated last night that he just needed to work on locating his fastball and he would be ready to return. Now Escobar will throw a simulated game on Thursday or Friday and if all goes well will begin a rehab assignment next week.

Escobar is no stranger to working out of a bullpen. He was the closer for awhile in Toronto and spent much of his time north of the border working from the Jays pen. So long as young Ervin Santana is effective it is starting to sound like the Angels would be happy to continue the season with Colon, Lackey, Washburn, Byrd & Santana as the starters. However, having a healthy Kelvim Escobar available in case of injury would be a nice luxury for the Angels. From the pen he could be valuable in long-relief or even in a set-up role should Shields or Donnelly continue to falter. The Angels likely want to treat Escobar gently as he has never been on the DL this long (since June 10th) and no one is quite sure how he will respond.

Dallas McPherson 'tweaked' his back during his rehab assignment with Salt Lake. Per Scioscia they will "shut down" D-Mac for "a little bit" and wait for results from tests done on Monday. So the Izturis/Figgins mini-me third base rotation will continue for the foreseeable future.

The most troubling injury is to Garrett Anderson who has twin ailments: a sore back and patellar tendinitis in his left knee. He was held out Monday and according to Scioscia was "much better" on Monday thought still not good enough to get the nod at DH. He could start tonight at DH for the Angels. The Halos need Anderson in the line-up to protect Guerrero who was pitched around twice and had no rbi's (though he did manage a couple of hits and scored once). Bengie Molina, hitting behind Vlad last night, left four runners on base and finished the night 1-4 with no rbi's. Juan Rivera was in the number 6 hole and left 3 on base though he did manage to hit one runner in. In total the Angels left 18 on the bases last night and will need to improve their batting average with runners in scoring position if they want to pull away from the struggling A's.


Blogger Bjoern said...

Who was your starting DH?
And Finley is much better defensivly than Figgins? His zone rating is the third lowest in the majors among CF. He is so slow and he has no arm. What Figgins lacks in experience, he makes up with speed. Have you seen some of the play he made recently? Finley wouldn't even be close to the ball. And have you seen him dive for a ball once this year?

12:00 PM  
Blogger Rich said...

You know, I started regretting writing that right after I hit 'Publish'. I did see Figgins catch last night on a ball that was hit over his head and he backtracked on it, reached up and made a pretty impressive play.

I think I am still recovering from Figgins' brutal play last year at third. But I would still go out and get a 'prototypical' centerfielder to replace Finley before I would start Figgins there everyday.

I like Finley but perhaps age is finally catching up to him. I have wondered if he might be so nicked up at this point that he has just had it.

12:38 PM  
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