The new Angels lineup

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The guess here is that Mike Scioscia is going do a lot of scratching out starting nines on the back of napkins over the next couple of months.

Here’s the Angels’ current top 11, along with their 2011 numbers and all the positions they could see action at.

Chris Iannetta: .238/.370/.414, 14 HR, 55 RBI, 6 SB in 345 AB – C
Albert Pujols: .299/.366/.541, 37 HR, 99 RBI, 9 SB in 579 AB – 1B
Mark Trumbo: .254/.291/.477, 29 HR, 87 RBI, 9 SB in 539 AB – 1B, LF, RF, 3B
Howie Kendrick: .285/.338/.464, 18 HR, 63 RBI, 14 SB in 537 AB – 2B, 1B, LF, RF
Alberto Callaspo: .288/.366/.375, 6 HR, 46 RBI, 8 SB in 475 AB – 3B, 2B
Erick Aybar: .279/.322/.421, 10 HR, 59 RBI, 30 SB in 556 AB – SS
Maicer Izturis: .276/.334/.388, 5 HR, 38 RBI, 9 SB in 449 AB – 3B, SS, 2B
Vernon Wells: .218/.248/.412, 25 HR, 66 RBI, 9 SB in 505 AB – LF, CF
Peter Bourjos: .271/.327/.438, 12 HR, 43 RBI, 22 SB in 502 AB – CF
Torii Hunter: .262/.336/.429, 23 HR, 82 RBI, 5 SB in 580 AB – RF
Bobby Abreu: .253/.353/.365, 8 HR, 60 RBI, 21 SB in 502 AB – LF, RF

I’m excluding Kendrys Morales, who will likely be non-tendered, and Mike Trout, who figures to begin the season in Triple-A. It should shock no one, though, is Trout is the Angels’ second-best hitter come September.

I find the group pretty fascinating, because outside of Pujols hitting third or fourth, pretty much everyone else can be moved around at will. No one in the whole group has to be penciled into the eighth or ninth spot right from the start. Aybar, Bourjos and Izturis are all perfectly reasonable leadoff options. Callaspo, Kendrick and Abreu can hit second. Hunter and Kendrick would seem to be the best options to bat behind Pujols, barring a big turnaround from Wells.

Obviously, it’s still not an ideal lineup. The Angels would be a lot better off if they could take Abreu’s $9 million and give it to a left-handed-hitting power guy like switch-hitter Carlos Beltran, Carlos Pena or Jason Kubel. But it is interesting. If it were my call, I’d probably start the season like this:

1. Bourjos
2. Callaspo
3. Abreu
4. Pujols
5. Kendrick
6. Hunter
7. Iannetta
8. Wells
9. Aybar

Scioscia, though, will probably go with something more like:

1. Aybar
2. Abreu
3. Kendrick
4. Pujols
5. Hunter
6. Wells
7. Callaspo
8. Iannetta
9. Bourjos

The Nats are going to sign Francisco Rodriguez for some reason

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The Nationals bullpen is a tire fire. They’re about to add another tire. Per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Washington is about to sign free agent reliever Francisco Rodriguez.

K-Rod was released by the Tigers last week after posting an ERA of 7.82 over 28 appearances this season. He has a 1.658 WHIP, is allowing 11.9 hits per nine innings and is posting his highest walk rate in five years. Also worth noting: the Detroit Friggin’ Tigers decided that he was not good enough to be in their bullpen.

So, yeah, good luck with that Washington.

The Giants chemistry is suffering because a guy they all hated is gone

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I’ve spent years arguing with people about team chemistry. You know the battle lines on all of that now: people who talk a lot about team chemistry tend to attribute winning or losing to good or bad chemistry, respectively. I tend to think that characterizing chemistry is a retroactive exercise in which teams that win are happy and then cite their happiness as the reason and vice versa. Jim Leyland agrees with me, for what it’s worth, so I’m pretty happy with my take.

Not that I’ll claim a monopoly on wisdom here. I’ve never played on a professional baseball team. I don’t know what it’s like to try to prepare to play baseball while surrounded by jackwagons who don’t get along with anyone. I can’t imagine that makes life easier. Indeed, based on the testimony of players I have spoken to, I will grant that there is at least some intangible yet real benefit if everyone is happy an gelling. I dismiss team chemistry arguments for the most part, but if I ran a team I’d at least try to get rid of bad seeds if their bad seeding was not outweighed by seriously outstanding on-the-field play. You want your workers happy, folks.

All of which makes me wonder what the heck to do about this passage from Ken Rosenthal’s latest column. It’s about the reeling San Francisco Giants. They have all kinds of issues — their offense is putrid, their pitching isn’t much better and they’ve been without their ace most of the year — but today Rosenthal looks at their team chemistry. It’s a quiet and subdued clubhouse, he notes, and it has a lot of people wondering if something is wrong there. What could it be?

Sandoval, who was an often noisy and boisterous presence during his time with the club, departed as a free agent after that season. Pence has suffered a number of injuries in recent years and declined offensively, making it difficult for him to be as vocal as he was in the past. Some with the Giants muse that the team even misses Angel Pagan, who created an odd sort of unity because most of the players disliked him.

Read that last sentence again. And then go on with your talk about how team chemistry is a legitimate explanatory concept regarding what makes teams win or lose as opposed to a post-hoc rationalization of it.

Not that it’s not a good article overall. There’s some interesting stuff about the Giants’ bullpen culture. And, of course, we now know why no one signed Pagan last winter.