Craig Calcaterra

josh hamilton angels getty

Mike Scioscia is concerned that Josh Hamilton is not “getting the help he needs”

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Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports that Angels manager Mike Scioscia met with Josh Hamilton when the Angels arrived in Houston for this weekend’s series. Scioscia said the meeting “went well,” but voiced concern over Hamilton’s limbo state:

[Scioscia] said there’s still “no clarity that he’s getting the help he needs.”

“That’s a major concern,” Scioscia told MLBNetwork Radio on Friday morning, roughly nine hours before the series opener against the Astros from Minute Maid Park.

Perhaps one of the problems is that the Angels have taken away a good sense of Hamilton’s structure of late. He is eligible to be with the team but the team has informally cut ties with him, giving his locker away and scrubbing Angels Stadium of his existence as if he were the target of a Stalin-era political purge. “Josh Hamilton? Who’s Josh Hamilton?” the Angels seem to be saying. “Is he that guy who owes us money?”

Whatever support Josh Hamilton needs is best decided by Hamilton, his doctors, substance abuse counselors, his family and his faith. But if what Hamilton needs is baseball structure and the support of his employer, he’s sure as hell not getting it from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

As I said this morning: they need to reinstate him or they need to let him go play for another team who is willing to have him around.

BUST! Kris Bryant has struck out in his first three at bats in his big league debut

Kris Bryant
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Sorry. Been a lot of hyperbole today, so I figured I could add to it to.

But do know that Kris Bryant has finally played in a major league game. It’s not an official game yet — we’re only in the second inning — but he’s seen pitches thrown in anger in the big leagues.

In the top of the first Bryant got his first defensive chance, turning a 5-4-3 double play and lookin’ pretty good doing it. Then, in the bottom of the first, he came to bat with two outs and Anthony Rizzo on first. The cameras panned to Scott Boras and Bryant’s dad in the crowd and several thousand cameras took several thousand pictures. The Future of the Franchise stepped in against Big Game James Shields.

Bryant saw three pitches from Shields. He swung at all three of them, tipping the first one into the catcher’s glove and whiffing on the next two. Watch the at bat here.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

UPDATE: Second step: his second at bat, this in the fourth. First pitch: watched a called strike. Second: hard foul into the dugout. Third: foul to the same place, again, way ahead of the pitch. Fourth: the first ball he ever took as a major leaguer, in the dirt. Another ball low to make it 2-2. He worked the count full on a fastball outside, then  . . .  struck out swinging on a James Shields changeup, which has been fooling everyone today.

You know, for a guy who can hack a bit and who is likely filled with adrenaline today, going up against James Shields and that changeup is pretty unfair.

UPDATE: The top of the fifth just ended when Bryant made a pretty spiffy diving stab of a liner off the bat of Derek Norris for out number three. The bat is still quiet, but the leather is looking good. Thank goodness Bryant had those extra two weeks in the minors to work on that defense.

UPDATE: Bryant came up again with one out in the bottom of the fifth and runners on second and third, Cubs up 4-2. Swing and a miss on the first pitch. A ball nowhere near the zone. He then laid off a fastball super inside. Then he fouled one back to make it 1-2. Then he struck out on a ball low and away. James Shields is toying with the kid in his debut.

UPDATE: Four his fourth at bat, Bryant came up with two on and two out and grounded into fielder’s choice to third. Hey, contact!

Another argument in favor of making the DH universal

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As I’ve said many times in the past, I have an irrational, subjective preference for pitchers batting because I was an NL fan as a kid and that’s just how that crap works.

But when I’m not being irrational and subjective, I believe it to be both inevitable and appropriate for baseball to go to a universal DH rule. MLB should do this because of the increased amount of interleague play, fairness considerations and that fact that pitchers can’t bat worth a spit anymore, and teams should not waste development time on pitchers teaching them to bat. An added concern — although one that is likely only temporary — is that offense is way down so let’s try to boost it a tad.

Over at Baseball America, Matt Eddy makes the latest and one of the most coherent and comprehensive arguments to this effect. He concludes that specialization is every bit as prevalent on defense and run-prevention as it is with DHs on offense, so why not allow that specialization to extend to both leagues:

Even if a hard-hitting DH such as David Ortiz supplies no value with his glove and next to nothing with his baserunning, how much different are his contributions to the offense than the run-prevention contributions supplied to the defense by the myriad matchup specialists and gerrymandered defensive alignments?

I would argue that the DH and the pitcher in today’s game are two sides of the same, hyper-specialized coin, one supplying value only to the offense and the other functioning as the key constituent of the defense.

It may take some time to get the DH in the NL given that team owners have to approve it and team owners are perceived to be strongly against it. But that’s no better a reason not to take the bats out of pitchers’ hands than some baseball fan’s or baseball writer’s nostalgia for the pre-DH days is.

Bryan Stow threw out the first pitch for the San Jose Giants home opener

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From CSNBayArea.com, Bryan Stow — who was brutally beaten outside of Dodger Stadium four years ago — was on hand in San Jose to throw out the first pitch at the homer opener for the San Jose Giants. Story here.

Video here:

 

 

 

The Dodgers love that Yasiel Puig flips his bat

Puig Bat Flip
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The other day we (meaning I) were emotionally shattered to learn that Yasiel Puig is going to try not to flip his bat anymore. It’s been a struggle just to get out of bed in the morning since then and it’s hard to know if life will ever be the same.

But, let it be known that, to the extent anyone claims that the Dodgers would prefer that Puig stop flipping his bats, put his head down and just be one of the guys, it’s not a uniform sentiment within the organization.

I received a copy of the Dodgers team yearbook this morning (remember: my kids are fans now, for whatever reason). It’s great. The cover story is a big feature on Fernando Valenzuela and it has all of the fun stuff you can expect from a yearbook. But it also has this full-page pic in the section introducing the Dodgers’ outfielders:

source:

Maybe the baseball ops people would love Puig to lower his profile, but his bat-flipping, Mach 2-with-his-hair-on-fire ways are FANTASTIC for the marketing folks.

Just another datapoint illustrating the tension present between’s baseball’s culture and baseball’s efforts to market itself and its players.