Haren and Pujols come up big: are the Angels finally turning the corner?

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At some point you have to hit rock bottom. It’s just that, if you can’t hit anything, even rock bottom looks hard.  But maybe last night the Angels finally turned things around, putting together a game that went the way they hoped things would go often this year.

The Pujols signing aside, the team’s strength heading into the season was its rotation, with four guys — Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Ervin Santana — who could lead most teams’ rotations.  It’s been an erratic year for them so far, but last night Haren pitched a four-hitter and struck out 14.  While he’s still only 2-5, he lowered his ERA to 3.76 and, for once, got a couple of runs to work with.

Those runs came from the other piece of the puzzle: Albert Pujols. He hit a homer and singled twice, driving in two of the three Angels runs. It’s a modest turnaround so far, but he has hit in nine of his last ten games and has raised his average and his OBP by nearly 30 points since Mike Scioscia gave him a day off on May 5.

False hope? Reading too much into a performance against a poor Mariners team? Something to grow on?  It could be any or all of those things. But for at least one night, the script was followed for Anaheim.

Giants nearing deal with Cameron Maybin

Cameron Maybin
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The Giants are finalizing a minor league deal for free agent outfielder Cameron Maybin, according to Andrew Baggarly and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The team has not confirmed the signing, but it’s in keeping with their stated goal of adding more veteran presence and outfield options to their roster in advance of the 2019 season.

Maybin, 31, appeared in back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners in 2018. He slashed an underwhelming .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), a .662 OPS, and 0.5 fWAR through 384 plate appearances for the two clubs, a clear improvement over his totals in 2017 but still shy of the career numbers he posted with the Padres all the way back in 2011. It’s not only his offense that has tanked, but his speed and defense in center field, all of which he’ll try to improve as he jockeys for a roster spot in camp this month.

The Giants’ outfield has been largely depleted of any kind of consistent talent lately, especially taking into account the recent departures of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernández. Even with the acquisition of, say, All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper, there’s nothing standing in the way of Maybin and fellow veteran signee Gerardo Parra grabbing hold of full- or part-time roles this year, though they’ll need to outperform candidates like Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, Drew Ferguson, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Craig Gentry, Mike Gerber, and others first.

In a previous report on Friday, Baggarly revealed that a “handshake understanding” had been established with several veteran players already this offseason, all but guaranteeing them regular starting opportunities over the course of the season. How those agreements will be affected by spring training performances remains to be seen, but at least for now, the Giants appear prepared to give their newest players a long leash as they try to get back on top in the NL West.