Diving into the depths: Los Angeles Angels

Leave a comment

This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
1. Jered Weaver
2. Joe Saunders
3. Ervin Santana
4. Scott Kazmir
5. Matt Palmer
6. Sean O’Sullivan
7. Anthony Ortega
8. Trevor Reckling
9. Trevor Bell
10. Tommy Mendoza
The Angels still haven’t announced any non-roster invites, so their depth chart is bare of retreads. It’d make an awful lot of sense for them to add a veteran or two to battle Palmer and O’Sullivan for the fifth spot in the rotation. Palmer did manage an 11-2 record as a starter last year, but his cutter won’t fool as many hitters his second time around the AL.
I really worry about this group. Weaver is the only one of the top four who didn’t battle an arm problem last year, and none of the pitchers after Kazmir seem like decent bets for 2010. Reckling is the most interesting alternative, but he’s probably going to need at least three months in Triple-A. At the very least, the Angels should go sign Jose Contreras. He’ll be dirt cheap, and unlike most of the alternatives, he has a track record of decent results in the AL.
1. Brian Fuentes
2. Fernando Rodney
3. Kevin Jepsen
4. Scot Shields
5. Jason Bulger
6. Matt Palmer
7. Rich Thompson
8. Rafael Rodriguez
9. Sean O’Sullivan
10. Trevor Bell
11. Robert Mosebach
12. Fernando Rodriguez
While there’s no shutdown reliever here unless Fuentes regains his old form, the Angels have plenty of power right-handers and odds are that a couple of them will step up. I prefer Jepsen.
With Palmer penciled into the rotation, Thompson and Rafael Rodriguez would seem to be in line for the last two spots as things currently stand. However, there will be some additional veteran relievers in camp. The way I see it, Thompson would be just fine as a 12th pitcher, but everyone below him belongs in Triple-A.

1. Mike Napoli
2. Jeff Mathis
3. Bobby Wilson
4. Ryan Budde
First base
1. Kendry Morales
2. Brandon Wood
3. Mark Trumbo
Second base
1. Howie Kendrick
2. Maicer Izturis
3. Freddy Sandoval
Third base
1. Brandon Wood
2. Maicer Izturis
3. Freddy Sandoval
1. Erick Aybar
2. Maicer Izturis
3. Brandon Wood
The Angels may have flirted with Adrian Beltre, but all signs point to Wood getting his chance in place of Chone Figgins. Also, Kendrick figures to return to a starting role after being replaced by Izturis against righties down the stretch last season. Izturis should still get plenty of action between three infield spots.
Left field
1. Juan Rivera
2. Gary Matthews Jr.
3. Reggie Willits
4. Chris Pettit
5. Terry Evans
Center field
1. Torii Hunter
2. Gary Matthews Jr.
3. Reggie Willits
4. Peter Bourjos
Right field
1. Bobby Abreu
2. Gary Matthews Jr.
3. Terry Evans
4. Chris Pettit
Designated hitter
1. Hideki Matsui
2. Juan Rivera
3. Mike Napoli
4. Chris Pettit
There’s been no taker for Matthews’ contract, so it looks like he’ll remain the fourth outfielder. He wasn’t all that bad while hitting .250/.336/.361 with 50 RBI in 316 at-bats last season. With Matthews back, the Angels might as well jettison Willits, who just isn’t good enough defensively to justify a spot. Sandoval, Evans and Pettit would be the candidates to join Matthews, Mathis and Izturis on the bench. I think it’s time Evans gets a spot. He offers power, speed and pretty good defense in the outfield corners. Pettit is the superior hitter, but since he wouldn’t have much of a role in the majors, he’d be better off getting regular at-bats in Triple-A for the first few months of the year.

Jessica Mendoza and Chris Archer were great in the booth

Jessica Mendoza
Leave a comment

Not news: Jessica Mendoza, who has been excellent on all of the ESPN broadcasts she has done since taking over for Curt Schilling, was excellent last night too.

She was great on the nuts and bolts, continued to show that she can describe hitting mechanics better than most color commentators — way more of them seem to be more comfortable talking about pitching — and was a seamless presence in the booth in terms of flow, timbre and all of the aesthetic aspects of broadcasting. If she has a fault thus far it’s that she leans on some cliches about hitters’ mindsets and desire to win sometimes. This puts her in with approximately 100% of all other color commentators in baseball now and throughout the history of baseball, of course, so it’s not really a demerit.

Ultimately, the true test of a good commentator is whether they (a) add insight; and (b) do so without distracting or upstaging the game. In this Mendoza is superior to most commentators in baseball and clearly superior to the “stop and listen to me” brand of analysts the major networks have employed on national broadcasts in recent years.

Indeed, the best compliment I think I can give Mendoza is that she was — in the literal sense, not the judgmental sense — unremarkable. Meaning: during the game and after there was nothing she said or did that was worthy of the highly-critical remarks almost every broadcaster gets, going back through Schilling, Kruk, Harold Reynolds Tim McCarver, Joe Morgan and everyone else ESPN and Fox have forced upon us in their history doing playoff baseball. I’m on Twitter during most playoff games and sometimes the broadcaster bashing is more interesting than the game. Mendoza gives the would-be bashers very little material.

At least those who would bash on the actual merits. There remains a group of deadenders who are irked by her very presence in the booth because she is a woman. The New York times rounds up some of the less mouth-breathery types today, but God knows there are many, many worse. Some of them even in professional media. At least for now. Whether you choose to ignore those people or choose to engage them — which, their dead end opinions notwithstanding can be a useful exercise in my view — know that they are out there being miserable and sexist as God and the First Amendment intended them to be.

While there are many who slam Mendoza on the faulty premise that she lacks credentials and experience in the booth, there was one person in the ESPN booth last night, at least for a while, who was a total TV noob. His name was Chris Archer. He pitches a bit for the Tampa Bay Rays. And lo and behold, he was pretty damn good himself.

Archer needs some polish for style — he has a lot of “ummms” and “uhhhs” about him — but his analysis is both sharp and quick. Meaning he was RIGHT ON the points when he needed to be without any of the usual prompting guests in the booth need from the play-by-play guy. At one point he even flowed into play-by-play and did a pretty good job of it.  Chris: if that pitching stuff doesn’t work out, you have a bright, bright future in television.

So, on the first night of the playoffs, there were no complaints about the broadcast. Mostly because the broadcasters weren’t the stars of the show. The game was. And it was complemented nicely by a couple of good voices.

And John Kruk.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.