And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

39 Comments

Mets 5, Phillies 2: I had been agitating for Jonathan Papelbon to pitch more. Specifically in tie games.  Well, he did here and gave up a game-losing three-run homer to Jordany Valdespin. I suppose we’ll let Cholly run the team from here on out.

Marlins 4, Astros 0: Carlos Zambrano with the three-hit shutout pushes his ERA to 1.98 on the year. Guy can still pitch a little.

Reds 6, Brewers 1: Since when does Brandon Bronson Arroyo strike out nine guys in six and two thirds? I may have written this and the Angels recap before I had any coffee.

Indians 8, White Sox 6; Indians 3, White Sox 2:  I’m beginning to think that, perfecto notwithstanding, Phil Humber is not all that good (2.1 IP, 9 H, 8 ER). The second game ended in a bunch of rain. Which you play through when you’re already making up a rainout in a double header.

Angels 8, Twins 3: Alas, Jeff Jered Weaver did not pull a Johnny Vander Meer. But he could’ve. It’s the Twins we’re talking about here. He settled for one run on three hits in six innings, bringing his records to 5-0. And why I continue to write “Jeff Weaver” instead of Jered after all of these years is beyond me.

Cubs 5, Braves 1:  Bryan LaHair, Ian Stewart and Geovany Soto all homered off Braves pitching. Jeff Samardzija allowed only one homer, to Jason Heyward and was otherwise solid.  BTW: Samardzija hit Heyward with a pitch in the seventh. If that was intentional retaliation for the Heyward homer, it was bad, bad, bad. Then Eric O’Flaherty hit David Dejesus. If that was intentional it was bad, bad, bad too.  There: happy that I don’t simply think that Cole Hamels was in the wrong because he plays for the Phillies?

Red Sox 11, Royals 5: The Sox snap a five game losing streak behind two Will Middlebrooks home runs. Which is exactly how everyone imagined slumps would be busted in Boston this year.

Rangers 14, Orioles 3: Way to make me look bad with all of that “the O’s are getting great pitching” on the HBT Extra that will air later this morning but which was taped yesterday. Brandon Snyder homered and had six RBI.

Dodgers 9, Giants 1: Ted Lilly allowed one run on four hits and struck out six to run his record to 4-0.  L.A. scored five off the Giants pen in the eighth. I’d call the Giants pen a hot mess, but I don’t want to insult hot messes.

Mariners 3, Tigers 2: The wheels done fell off in the ninth for Detroit as Octavio Dotel — filling in for the unavailable Jose Valverde —  blew a 2-0 lead, wasting a great Doug Fister start. Dotel was all over the place, walking the first two hitters he faced, then throwing a wild pitch. Then a passed ball — which could have been ruled a wild pitch — scored a run. Then a double scored another. After Dotel was yanked a bunt and then a sac fly ended it.

Padres 3, Rockies 2: Yonder Alonso drove in two and Edinson Volquez got his first win. Let’s just give Cincinnati this victory, OK?  The Padres can have the Mat Latos win from Sunday.

Cardinals 9, Diamondbacks 6: Lance Lynn wins again after shutting out the Dbacks for five. If the season ended now he’s the NL Cy Young Award winner, right? God, I hope the season doesn’t end now. I like baseball.

Jeurys Familia’s domestic violence suspension to be announced today

Getty Images
2 Comments

Mike Puma of the New York Post reports that the announcement of Jeurys Familia‘s domestic violence suspension is expected some time today.

Familia was arrested in October following an incident at his home. Criminal charges were dropped in December. As we know, however, MLB’s domestic violence policy does not require criminal proceedings to be commenced, let alone completed, before the leveling of league punishment. MLB has been investigating the incident for the past several months.

Billy Witz of the New York Times reported Monday that the suspension is “almost certain” to be lighter than the 30-game suspension Aroldis Chapman received one year ago. However much time Familia misses, the Mets are expecting Addison Reed to fill in at closer until he returns.

2017 Preview: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Getty Images
1 Comment

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. 

Let’s look first at the strengths. There’s Mike Trout, the undisputed best player in the game. That’s always a good start. I could bore you with a bunch of stats and historical comparisons here but we’re friends here and, let’s be honest, we don’t need or even want that. The guy is good, ’nuff said.

Indeed, I had an impulse to simply photoshop Trout’s head on this poster and be done with the entire Angels preview:

 

You could almost stop reading now and know what’s up in Anaheim this year.

But honestly, Trout isn’t the only strength here. The Angels have the best defensive shortstop in the league in Andrelton Simmons and a lot of other good defensive players as well, from Kole Calhoun in right, Cameron Maybin in left, Luis Valbuena at first (or wherever he’s slotted once he comes back from a hamstring injury) and Danny Espinosa at second. Their catching corps — Martin Maldonado and Carlos Perez — are solid too. When you lack team depth and have pitching challenges like the Angels do, not kicking the ball all over the field is a good thing. The Angels have kicked the ball a lot in recent years but they’ll be pretty good with the leather in 2017, and that can make up for a lot of faults.

But I ain’t gonna lie, there are a lot of faults here.

Garrett Richards is back from a UCL injury that sidelined him most of last season. He didn’t get Tommy John surgery — he went with stem cell treatment — so the recovery time is lower. Still, it seems like a lot of guys who go the rehab route end up going under the knife eventually anyway, so everyone will have their eye on the Angels’ ace as the season goes on.

Beyond Richards the rotation is suspect. Matt ShoemakerRicky NolascoTyler Skaggs — also coming back from injury — and Jesse Chavez do not, as a group, strike fear into anyone’s hearts. I guess the hope here is that Nolasco’s pitching after he came over from Minnesota is more indicative of what he can do than what he did earlier in the year. Or, for that matter, for the past three seasons. If Richards is healthy he’s an ace. The rest of these guys are basically average at best.

The pen has issues. Cam Bedrosian had a fantastic 2016, but it was definitely a huge step up for him and may have been an aberration. closer Huston Street did not have a fantastic 2016, is recovering from a strained lat now and it’s fair to ask whether he’s got what it takes to close in the bigs anymore. Even if that’s too pessimistic an assessment, he’s missed a lot of time this spring. Andrew Bailey, like Nolasco, pitched well after coming to Anaheim last summer but poorly before that, with the poorly looking more like his true level than the well. Otherwise Mike Scioscia has a lot of young arms but not a lot of particularly good ones. Look for his bullpen to feature a cast of thousands.

As for the lineup: Trout is Trout. Albert Pujols is recovering from yet another foot issue. He still has old man strength and can hit some dingers, but he’s a shell of his former self and it’s fair to ask how many lower body maladies a guy whose primary value is tied up in power can tolerate. Yunel Escobar, Kole Calhoun and C.J. Cron are useful and predictable, even if they’re not game-changers. The Angels were 10th in offense in the AL last year. It’s hard to see them making a big leap from that level this year, even if they’re not likely to be too much worse either.

Ultimately, there’s not enough pitching here and there’s not a scary enough secondary or tertiary offensive threat behind Trout to make the offense difficult to deal with. If you play the Angels you’ll score some runs and you can pitch to everyone who isn’t wearing the number 27. That’s not gonna cut it in the AL West this year.

Prediction: Fourth place, American League West.