Mike Scioscia, Albert Pujols

Mike Scioscia gets a vote of confidence from Albert Pujols

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Not many players have the stature to be giving out votes of confidence to the longest-tenured manager in baseball, but a future Hall of Famer with a $240 million contract is one of them.

With the Angels really struggling and speculation about Mike Scioscia’s job security starting to swirl Albert Pujols stuck up for his manager, telling Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com:

Sosh, he’s our head, and everybody goes to the head. He’s taking a lot of heat that he shouldn’t take. Us, the players–including myself–we’re not doing what we need to do. He writes the lineup, he makes decisions in the middle of the game, but at the end, he can’t pitch for us, he can’t play defense for us, he can’t hit for us. We need to take care of ourselves and do the things that we need to do to win.

All of which is reasonable, of course, but if in Pujols’ scenario a manager shouldn’t be blamed for players performing poorly then should a manager receive credit for players performing well? Obviously the answer is a resounding yes and in Scioscia’s case he has a pair of Manager of the Year awards to show for it.

Scioscia is signed through 2018, but the Angels haven’t made the playoffs since 2009 and currently only the Astros have a worse record among AL teams.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.