The new Angels lineup

35 Comments

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

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

Getty Images
6 Comments

There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).