This weekend saw the White Sox continue their hot streak, four series played among the tightly bunched teams in the two Eastern divisions, and the ascendant Angels take two of three from the first-place Rangers, but the most compelling series was the one still going on in New York between the Mets and Cardinals. That series announced itself when Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in Mets history on Friday night, and has become more compelling with each successive dominant Mets pitching performance. Meanwhile, with their loss on Sunday, the defending world champions saw their record fall to an even .500 and slipped a half-game behind the Pirates into third place in the National League Central.
If it seems as if a star player goes on the DL every day, you're wrong. Sometimes it's two, as happened Thursday when Matt Kemp and Troy Tulowitzki added to the casualty list of a season rocked by injuries to big-time players.
Red Sox-Yankees? That's so 2009.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Upon entering the main gate at Tempe Diablo Stadium, the Angels' spring training ballpark, there's a merchandise stand immediately to the right. The only player apparel sold there bears Albert Pujols' name.
The funniest moment of the baseball Winter Meetings happened when a minor league executive absentmindedly walked into a reflecting pool of the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas. Of course, given the blanket coverage of sports these days, a reflection itself of the game's health, the happenstance was captured by multiple cameras.
DALLAS -- The baseball world's routine of the last day of the winter meetings is typically simple: attend the Rule 5 draft and get out of town. But on this Thursday morning, a scant five minutes before the Rule 5 proceedings began, news broke that the game's best player, former Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, had signed a free-agent contract with the Angels for 10 years and more than $250 million.
DALLAS -- Just 12 months ago, Angels owner Arte Moreno, having whiffed on Carl Crawford the same way he whiffed on Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and Paul Konerko, decried the illogic of high-stakes free agency for a team already carrying a $121 million payroll then.
The Rangers finished 10 games ahead of the Angels in the American League West in 2011. On Thursday morning, the Angels made up that deficit and then some by committing more than $330 million to first baseman Albert Pujols (10 years, $254 million) and left-hander C.J. Wilson (five years, $77.5 million), the top free agent hitter and pitcher available this offseason.
Baseball's Winter Meetings are taking place from Monday through Thursday in Dallas. Follow along here for updates on all the biggest players available.
ST. LOUIS -- The surprise courting of hot young general manager Andrew Friedman by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim has begun even before Theo Epstein is officially signed, sealed and delivered to the Chicago Cubs. Though Friedman's name hadn't been tied to the Angels until someone tipped @DRaysBay that Friedman had been spotted dining in Tampa with Angels honchos Arte Moreno and John Carpino, it makes perfect sense as baseball owners are increasingly understanding how much more crucial the GM is to a team's success than a manager. Besides, as one AL exec put it, "Teams are copycats.'' Once one got Epstein (or is about to), it's no surprise another wanted the other hot available name.
ST. PETERSBURG -- Jon Daniels recalls that when he got the Rangers general manager job in 2005 he heard two questions over and over: 1) When are you going to get some pitching? and 2) How old are you?
On the morning of Sept. 1, baseball confronted the very real possibility that its final month would be devoid of any compelling playoff races. But now, as the season's final full week begins, both wild-card spots and at least one divisional race remain very much undecided. Here are five things to know as the final 10 days of the season gets underway:
This isn't how Bud Selig thought his September was going to go. Two months ago, the National Football League was in danger of losing its season to a lockout, and Major League Baseball was salivating over the thought of its pennant races playing out without competition from its rival league. Instead, the NFL lockout ended in late July and the pennant races largely resolved themselves by the end of August, turning the tables on baseball's dream scenario.
The start of September should be the time of year that the pennant races are heating up, but with an average of just 25 games left on each team's schedule, only one playoff spot is currently being decided by less than 5 ½ games, leaving the pennant races lukewarm at best. For all intents and purposes, the Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Braves and Brewers have their postseason spots locked up, each exceeding a 98 percent chance of a playoff berth per Baseball Prospectus's playoff odds.
Five Cuts on the weekend that was -- and, thanks to Hurricane Irene, often wasn't -- in baseball:
Let's be straight about the decision Jered Weaver made to take a five-year, $85 million extension from the Angels. The righthander didn't pass up another $50 million or so -- he passed on a chance to pull down much more coin by hitting the free agent market after the 2012 season. What he also did was rule out risking the $85 million because of an injury and rule out the possibility of signing somewhere else and not liking it as much as he does pitching for the Los Angeles Angels.
ANAHEIM -- Two massive metal baseball caps, size 649 ½, hang over the home-plate entrance at Angel Stadium, and Jered Weaver stood under one of them Tuesday afternoon. A raucous crowd surrounded him, held off by a thin red rope, and chanted Weaver's name until his voice cracked.
Five Cuts on American League happenings ...
Five thoughts on a mid-August weekend of baseball...
Dan Haren acknowledges that he doesn't throw as hard as he used to, but he can still dial his fastball up to 92 miles per hour. So when the cutter -- the pitch that Haren, the Angels' No. 2 starter, has made the primary weapon in his four-pitch arsenal -- comes in at 85 mph and breaks sharply in on a lefthanded hitter who's expecting a fastball and has the barrel of his bat way out in front, well, there ought to be warning sirens for half the stadium.
Five thoughts recapping a surprising and sometimes wild trade deadline week:
The American League West is the majors' easiest division to win because it has just four teams. In 2011, though, it might as well have three, as the Mariners -- who entered last season with something more than a glimmer of hope -- can this season only be expected to build for the future. While the A's attempt to avoid last season's Mariners' fate, that of a trendy sleeper pick that simply doesn't pan out, the Rangers will attempt to repeat as AL champions without their 2010 playoff ace, Cliff Lee -- and without any ace, for that matter. The Angels, meanwhile, will endeavor to quickly make their fans forget their visions of both Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre in behaloed uniforms by proving that last season was simply an off year for the division's traditional power, and not the beginning of an extended fall.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Loek Van Mil, the 7-foot-1 reliever in Angels camp, readily admits there are both advantages and disadvantages to being a giant. One advantage is that he can ride his bicycle to Tempe Diablo Stadium every morning and never have to worry about locking the bike, which is so big, he figures, that no one else could possibly ride it. So it sits just outside the clubhouse waiting for its owner, the only one who could comfortably use it.
Angels star Kendry Morales, still recovering from the horrific leg injury suffered May 29, is "very unlikely'' to be ready Opening Day, sources said.
FT. MYERS, Fla. -- A lot of folks expected Carl Crawford to be an Angel this spring and at the very least, he surely he expected the Angels to come after him in free agency a lot harder than they did.
This has been the winter of the overpay, not to be confused with Overbay, the new Pirates first baseman who was himself overpaid. These monster deals for very good players and pretty big deals for OK players really shouldn't have shocked anyone. Beyond this being the golden age of baseball, the laws of supply and demand worked in favor of the players. There were relievers aplenty, and designated hitters galore, but beyond that, talent was in scarce supply. Here are the overpays and underpays of the winter:
The baseball stars of this winter include four of the five general managers in the American League East. Yes, that's every one of them except for that poor GM who has four World Series rings but got overruled this winter. Here are the top 21 winners of the winter:
There's still plenty of shopping for several teams to do, and not just for the Angels, who have taken the collar so far this winter and are up to plan D. Or is it plan G or even plan M?
Los Angeles Angels are stunned and saddened over the hit and run car crash death of pitcher Nick Adenhart.
On his way to Orlando earlier this month for baseball's winter meetings, the annual event where a large share of the offseason's trades and free-agent signings occur, the flight Angels general manager Tony Reagins was on was delayed by mechanical troubles. Reagins didn't arrive in Florida until Monday night, nearly 12 hours after the official business had started and at least 24 after most other GMs had arrived.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- It was one wild winter meetings. Only a handful of teams made major moves, but oh, what deals they were.
Would you rather hire a manager who has failed or one who has no experience? Is trying to find the next Terry Francona a less risky bet than trying to find the next Mike Scioscia? This was a busy seven weeks for examining the mysterious issue of what experience means in the dugout. Since the regular season ended, 10 teams -- one-third of the major league clubs -- were forced to make a call on that issue.
While the course of action for some contenders this offseason is simple -- the Rangers and Yankees would both benefit from signing that Cliff Lee fellow, for example -- it's less clear for many of the other elite teams in baseball.
Many of baseball's best young players are locked up early in their career nowadays, limiting free-agent lists to lesser lights in some recent years. But at least this year's free-agent market still contains a trio of players who will be shooting for $100-million deals (two of them should surely get it), at least a half-dozen legitimate difference-makers, a couple of iconic Yankees Hall of Famers-to-be and a number of very solid pieces -- even though it is seen by some big-league executives as only average overall, at best.
Some of the biggest names discussed in potential trades before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline have too much value to clear waivers and be traded now, such as Washington's Adam Dunn and Toronto's Jose Bautista. And some who might have cleared waivers were already traded, possibly including Lance Berkman, Kerry Wood, Cristian Guzman and Jake Westbrook.
ANAHEIM -- When the best hitter on the team broke his leg celebrating a game-winning grand slam, perhaps the Angels should have suspected this was not going to be their year. They lost Kendry Morales for the season due to that ill-fated mosh-pit on May 29, eventually fell seven games behind Texas in the American League West, but still refused to believe what the standings were telling them. On Sunday, they traded for Arizona starting pitcher Dan Haren, one of the gems of the deadline, and sent him to the mound Monday night, after he had been in town fewer than 24 hours.
[Editor's Note: This column, originally published Sunday afternoon, has been updated to reflect Sunday evening's trade of Dan Haren to the Angels.]
Los Angeles Angels first baseman Kendry Morales will have surgery Thursday to repair lower fibula breaks and a serious high-ankle issue. Morales is expected to be able to return in 20111 but there is no guarantee he will be back this season.
None of the biggest of the free agents from last winter -- Matt Holliday, John Lackey and Jason Bay -- has quite lived up to the hype or his big contract yet. All three are terrific players with long track records of success who have performed reasonably well, and it's way too early to judge their deals. But a little over a quarter of a billion dollar ($268.5 million in all) was spent on that trio that comprised easily the top three free agents from last year, and while all of them are playing solid, sound baseball, it's hard to say any of them has produced beyond or even up to expectation (the fourth biggest, Chone Figgins, has struggled far worse.)
One of the greatest underappreciated truths of wild card era baseball is that losers turn into playoff teams every year. In the 15 years since baseball split into six divisions and allowed eight playoff entries, every postseason but one included at least one team that had a losing record the previous season. Thirty teams -- fully one-quarter of all playoff teams from 1995-2009 -- made the immediate turnaround from a losing record to the postseason. Why should this year be any different? Who will it be?
Celebration injuries have happened before, of course. I recall Kansas City's Mike Sweeney wrenching his back when picking up Carlos Beltran during a celebration. I don't know if this story is true, but you can read that the poker player Justin Smith blew out his knee celebrating an ace-high straight at a World Poker Tour Event. In Spain, Real Betis striker Sergio Garcia twisted his left knee while celebrating a goal.
Surgery may be needed for Angels star Kendry Morales after broke his ankle in the celebration following his walkoff grand slam in the Angels' 5-1 victory.
Feel the passion. Experience the pageantry. Live the rivalry. When the Tampa Bay Rays take on the Houston Astros, there's just no telling what will happen.
Interleague play for American League teams typically is what a reachable par 5 is for PGA pros: par is a bad score. It's the perfect opportunity to pad your score. Indeed, AL playoff berths have been won by beating up National League teams. Last year the four AL playoff teams (Yankees, Red Sox, Twins, Angels) played .581 baseball against AL teams but .653 baseball against NL teams.
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on Tuesday, May 11. On Thursday, the Royals fired Hillman as manager and replaced him with Ned Yost.
This past winter, the public noticed something that has been clear for a while: Clever operators think defense is the best value in the game.
Umpire Joe West is nicknamed "Cowboy" because he performs country songs and has sung with Merle Haggard, Johnny Lee and Mickey Gilley when he isn't on a baseball diamond. It might also be because he isn't from the city. But it's not because he has the biggest mouth in the entire United States, as some might now suspect.
The Red Sox are a good team. They won 95 games last year and helped themselves with several free-agent signings this past winter. Theo Epstein, their general manager, surely knows this. But you wouldn't be able to tell from what he said to the Boston Herald this weekend after watching his team get swept by the sad, young Orioles.
This article appears in the April 5, 2010, issue of Sports Illustrated.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- One of the most impressive facets of any team this spring is the depth of the Angels' rotation. For the position of No. 5 starter, which for the vast majority of teams is manned by a journeyman, an unproven kid or worse, the Angels will choose between Scott Kazmir, a former ace with the Rays, and Joel Pineiro, maybe the second best free-agent starter signed this winter.
1. This is a team without an ace
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Brandon Wood is not technically a rookie, but in every meaningful way, he is. For most of the past three seasons, he pogoed between Los Angeles and Triple A-Salt Lake, never locking down a regular role with the Angels and always wondering when he would finally get his chance.
One of the most hopeful sights of the year takes place this week: Pitchers and catchers report to spring training. Those in the northeast, still digging out from more than two feet of snow, are especially looking forward to seeing major leaguers don their caps and gloves and start tossing the ball around. And in a couple weeks they'll even begin playing games. But pretty soon the novelty will wear off. Exhibition games are boring, and of course the results don't have any impact on the regular season. Aside from the odd roster battle, spring training quickly gets old and the season can't come fast enough.
With players beginning to report to spring camps and all pitchers and catchers on their way within days, the wild winter is just about a wrap. Here are some snapshots of an offseason full of surprises.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Unable to find regular playing time for Gary Matthews Jr., the Los Angeles Angels traded the outfielder to the New York Mets on Friday and agreed to pay $21.5 million as part of the deal.
INDIANAPOLIS -- There's something wild happening out West, where the Mariners are establishing themselves a threat to the preeminent Angels -- at least in wintertime. Seattle stole the Angels' igniter Chone Figgins by outbidding its rival to the south by one year and $1 million per year (the Mariners' winning bid was $9 million a year for four years, while the incumbent Angels were at $8 mil per for three) and appears to have its sights on two more players that interest the Angels: star left fielder Jason Bay and star pitcher John Lackey, the Angels' ace over the past few years.
The dominos are starting to fall at the hot corner in what has been the first significant free-agent action on this year's hot stove. First the back-to-back National League champion Phillies inked old friend Placido Polanco to a three-year, $18 million deal to replace outgoing free agent Pedro Feliz at third base. Now the Mariners have swiped the third baseman and leadoff hitter of the dominant team in their division by reaching a preliminary agreement (pending a physical) with former Angel Chone Figgins worth $36 million over four years. Those two deals leave outgoing Seattle third-sacker, Adrian Beltre, as the clear leader among the remaining free-agent third basemen and something of a must-have for the defending American League Central champion Twins, whose third-base hole is the deepest among the remaining contenders.
Breaking down each team in the AL West heading into the offseason. Teams are listed in order of 2009 finish. Check out the other division previews here:
1. Let's be honest: The Angels didn't show well in New York. In three games at Yankee Stadium, Los Angeles went 0-3, committed seven errors, walked 17 batters and looked jittery. I am starting to believe that there really is something to my East Coast Baseball theory. West Coast teams went 1-6 this postseason in New York, Philadelphia and Boston. That makes West Coast teams 3-19 (.136) when they come to the Northeast for postseason baseball since 2003, and 10-38 (.208) in the wild-card era. The advantage may be that Northeast teams play in postseason-type environments all year long, where baseball means so much to the fan base that every 0-for-12 streak is a two-hour talk radio rant.
It was 12:01 a.m. when the clock struck midnight for the Los Angeles Angels. It is, of course, somewhat ridiculous to cast a club with the game's seventh-highest payroll ($116.7M), and one that won the second-most games (97), in a Cinderella role. But there was a sense that if the Angels somehow won two in a row and took the series, it would be a shocking accomplishment. Not the equivalent of the Red Sox' recovery from a 3-0 deficit to win the 2004 ALCS, perhaps, but something close to it.
A despondent Torii Hunter sat in front of his locker at Yankee Stadium with his shoes off and a blank look on his face. His Angels had just lost Game 6 of the American League Championship Series to the Yankees, which in and of itself was not a particularly surprising development. What was surprising was that the Angels had once again bumbled their way to yet another loss in yet another game they could have -- perhaps even should have -- won. After groping through the usual run of clichés to describe the feeling of emptiness that accompanied his seventh title-less trip to the postseason in his career, he finally settled for this: "It sucks, actually. We should've played better defensively. We didn't play Angels-style baseball."
NEW YORK -- The pitching line could have been from nearly any of the past dozen Yankees' postseasons: Win, Andy Pettitte; Save, Mariano Rivera.
In the minutes after the Angels' stunning 7-6 Game 5 victory over the Yankees Thursday night in Anaheim, the Yankees' clubhouse attendants were busy resealing with thick gray duct tape the several large cardboard boxes filled with hats and T-shirts that advertised an ALCS title. The boxes had been cut open, perhaps, after the top of the seventh, in which the Yankees all at once stormed back from a 4-0 deficit to take a 6-4 lead.
ANAHEIM -- It was overshadowed by all the drama that followed: the six runs the Yankees scored in the top of the seventh, all of which came after Angels starter John Lackey had unsuccessfully pleaded with manager Mike Scioscia to leave him in the game ("This is mine! This is mine!" Lackey insisted); the three runs the Angels produced in the bottom of the seventh; and, especially, a ninth inning in which Angels closer Brian Fuentes, inserted with a one-run lead, allowed the Yankees to load the bases and Nick Swisher to work a full count before he induced Swisher to pop out. But the key to the Angels' 7-6 Game 5 victory, and the reason why they'll fly to New York on Friday with a chance to win two in a row to advance to the World Series, came hours before any of those events occurred, way back in the first inning.
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- You could see it in the faces of the Yankees and Angels players and managers in those moments after this game ended: They didn't know. Whatever people had to ask, they didn't know. What were they thinking? Didn't know. What did this mean? Didn't know. What were they feeling out there? Didn't know.
ANAHEIM -- CC Sabathia's 89th pitch on Tuesday night came on an 0-2 count against Angels catcher Mike Napoli, with one out in the top of the seventh inning and Sabathia's Yankees leading 5-1. The pitch was significant not only because of its result -- Sabathia struck out Napoli on a foul tip to Jorge Posada -- but because it put Sabathia's transcendent performance into stark relief against that of the Angels' starter, Scott Kazmir, who threw 89 pitches of his own. Whereas Sabathia's first 89 pitches resulted in 20 Angels outs, Kazmir's 89 pitches produced just 12 Yankees outs, and manager Mike Scioscia pulled him after he allowed a single to the first batter he faced in the top of the fifth.
1. Tonight for Game 3 of the NLCS the Dodgers' Hiroki Kuroda becomes the third pitcher in as many days to start a championship series game after not starting in the division series. The Phillies' Pedro Martinez, of course, was masterful on Friday, throwing seven shutout innings and allowing only two hits and no walks (though Philadelphia's bullpen blew the lead and the game). The Angels' Joe Saunders tossed seven innings of two-run ball last night, exiting in a 2-2 tie, a game that the Yankees won 4-3 in the 13th inning.
NEW YORK -- As clubhouse post mortems go, the Angels' atmosphere after Game 2 here wasn't nearly as deadly as many. Even after they blew a second straight game in the ALCS that left them in the very unenviable position of being two games down to this vaunted Yankees team, the Angels don't seem defeated.
The ball soared high into the misty air, reached its apex and, with two outs in the bottom of the first inning on Friday night, began to fall back to the earth where the infield at Yankee Stadium ends and leftfield begins. Angels third baseman Chone Figgins was certain that shortstop Erick Aybar would catch this routine pop-up off the bat of Hideki Matsui. The ball kept falling. Aybar was certain that Figgins would catch it. The ball kept falling. Figgins looked at Aybar. Aybar looked at Figgins. The ball kept falling. A moment after a look of panic registered on each of their faces, the ball was on the ground and Johnny Damon crossed home plate for the Yankees' second run of the inning, which would prove to be all the runs they would require to win this first game of the ALCS by the ultimate score of 4-1.
1. The Angels didn't show up for Game 1 of the ALCS Friday, looking more like they'd rather be curled up by a fireplace than fighting through the New York autumnal cold for the American League pennant. Both their task and the weather could take a turn for the worse in Game 2.
NEW YORK -- It was cold, but not freezing, and it rained, but only a little and never hard.
The Yankees' on-field celebration after sweeping away the Twins last Sunday night in Minnesota was among the more stilted in recent memory. In the seconds after Brendan Harris' groundout to Derek Jeter ended both the game and the series, most of the Yankees jogged to the area behind the pitchers' mound and more or less stood there, before someone decided that they should probably jump up and down for awhile. So they did that in a huddle for perhaps 30 seconds. Then they stopped and shook hands and gradually retreated into the visitors' clubhouse.
NEW YORK -- Texan John Lackey, the Angels' ace and Game 1 starter on Friday night here, was spotted at the Dallas Cowboys' new stadium for their inaugural game earlier this month and is known to possess a suite there as well as a strong love of his home state, increasing speculation that he might consider jumping to the rival Rangers if given the chance.
The Angels, classy organization that they are, voted to give late pitcher Nick Adenhart a full postseason share, clubhouse sources confirmed. So Adenhart's former teammates are honoring the Adenharts with both their pay and their play.
1. When the Phillies attempt to close out Colorado tonight and put in place a rematch of the 2008 NLCS against Los Angeles, they might feel a little better about the last three outs than they did when the regular season ended. Well, a little better, anyway.
BOSTON -- Those closest to Vladimir Guerrero call him Mula, a nickname that dates back to his childhood tending mules on the family farm in the Dominican Republic, but might as well refer to his legendary stubbornness. Legions of hitting coaches have tried to make him more selective at the plate and he has refused. Hordes of reporters have pestered him for interviews and he has declined. He might be baseball's most mysterious superstar, with the uncanny ability to hit pitches up at his eyes and down at his shoe-tops, but no inclination to explain how or why he does it.
They teach it in Salt Lake City, Little Rock, Cedar Rapids and 40 miles down the road in Rancho Cucamonga, a breakneck brand of baseball known as the Angel Way. It is highly entertaining -- stolen bases, hit-and-runs, speed merchants rushing from first to third in a blur -- but come playoff time it has been highly suspect.
ANAHEIM -- Torii Hunter has one of the most gregarious personalities in baseball, an unstoppable grin that stretches from the start of spring training through the end of September, but even Hunter's upbeat nature has its limits. When he came to the plate in the fifth inning of Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Thursday night, he looked uncharacteristically angry, sick and tired of hearing that the Angels never get past the Red Sox in the playoffs and never will.
The Angels and Red Sox are not traditional rivals, but their playoff meetings are becoming an annual occurrence, with the Red Sox prevailing and the Angels wondering why they can't ever draw someone else. The Angels, traditionally built on speed, pitching and defense, have changed their approach this season, becoming more patient and powerful at the plate. In other words, they have become more like the Red Sox, in the hope of finally outlasting them. The matchup between L.A.'s rejuvenated offense and Boston's stellar starting pitchers -- particularly Jon Lester and Josh Beckett -- will determine if the Angels have caught up to their October rivals or if nothing has really changed.
More than a few Los Angeles Angels were glued to the TV in the visiting clubhouse at Oakland Coliseum on Sunday morning as Minnesota was pummeling Kansas City to force a one-game playoff with Detroit for the American League Central crown. But one was more clearly interested than the others.
I have no idea who's going to win the World Series. To end the year dancing on the field, all a team has to do is win 11 of 19 games, and no team in baseball is so bad that it can't do that. The Kansas City Royals, a miserable club, won 12 of 19 earlier this month during a run that included two series with the Detroit Tigers and one each with the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels, playoff teams all. Enter the Royals in the postseason tournament and their chances of walking off with gaudy jewelry wouldn't be all that worse than those of the mighty Yankees.
By now you are familiar with the popular narrative of the Angels' season: The organization formerly known for pitching, defense and small ball has been wearing down opponents with a deep, relentless offense. The pitching you know as mediocre, but hey, that's OK when everyone in the lineup is hitting around .300.
For most teams, it is time to turn the page on this season. In a few cases, it has been that way for months. But one major advantage to being eliminated early is that there is plenty of extra time to assess one's needs, and several also-ran teams already have begun that process. (Of course on the flip side, more time is likely needed.)
Thank goodness for the wild card.
Bobby Abreu spends part of every offseason in Asia, hop-scotching from China to Japan, Hong Kong to Vietnam, Taiwan to Taipei. The annual trip allows him to check on real estate he owns in the Far East and escape the hot-stove hubbub back in the U.S. But last winter he could not get away from that hubbub, no matter how far he strayed.
The Los Angeles Angels international supervisor of scouting fired on Monday is a subject of an ongoing Major League Baseball Department of Investigations probe into the skimming of signing bonuses given to prospects from Latin America, SI.com has learned.
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Angels returned home Tuesday and found the shrine still sitting at the front of the stadium, the T-shirts still hanging untouched in the locker, all the painful reminders right where they had left them. When starting pitcher Nick Adenhart died in a car accident April 9, centerfielder Torii Hunter said that the field would serve as a sanctuary, the one place where the Angels could put aside their grief. Then the Angels went 1-5 on the road, falling to the bottom of the American League West, and it became clear that there was no easy escape.
The man police say was driving drunk when he ran a red light and struck a car, killing a Major League Baseball pitcher and two others has been charged with murder.
LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Los Angeles Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart was among three people killed in a crash in Fullerton, California, early Thursday, according to the team and a hospital spokesman.
The thing everyone keeps saying about Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart was how far he had come, and how fast.
By now it has been drilled into our heads so many times that baseball is going to feel the brunt of the slow economy that it almost makes you want to shove your Thunderstix and foam tomahawks under your mattress, right next to your beer money.
Los Angeles Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart was among three people killed in a crash in Fullerton, California, early Thursday, according to the team and a hospital spokesman.
Los Angeles Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart was among three people killed in a crash in Fullerton, California, early Thursday, according to media reports.
Like anyone else who writes about baseball, I like to think I know what I'm most accurate about, which makes it a good thing for my self-esteem that I don't spend much time going over old predictions. A quick review shows that over the last two years I've called just six of 16 playoff teams correctly. There are likely circus animals who did better.
1) Their second-string outfield is better than some starting outfields. Seriously. They have Torii Hunter in center, Vladimir Guerrero in right and Bobby Abreu, Juan Rivera, Gary Matthews Jr. and Reggie Willits all scrapping for whatever is left over. Would you rather have the Angels backup outfield (Rivera, Matthews Jr. and Willits) or the Padres starting outfield (Jody Gerut, Chase Headley and Brian Giles)? This is no accident, either. The Angels signed Abreu in February, after re-upping Rivera and picking up the option on Guerrero. To think, the Angels could have had even more depth in their outfield, but let Garret Anderson go after 14 years with the team. In order to find at-bats for all these guys, everyone except Hunter figures to DH. Rivera could see some time at first base. And Willits, a Rookie of the Year candidate two years ago, will likely be relegated to pinch running.
CLICK HERE FOR: Los Angeles | Oakland | Seattle | Texas
For much of the winter, the biggest news out of the free-agent market was how little news there was. As the days passed with enough big names to fill an All-Star team of unsigned free agents, it became increasingly difficult to gauge the impact those stars would have on the 2009 season when it wasn't yet known where they'd be playing. With spring training camps opening this week, there are still some impact players (Manny Ramirez, Orlando Hudson) who remain homeless, but those that have signed have created a domino effect for both their old teams and their new ones. In fact, for all the talk of the difference a newly acquired free agent can have on their new club, the impact on the club that has just lost a marquee player can have just as big an impact on the standings.
When the Angels declined to participate in the K-Rod sweepstakes, they had their reasons. Some of them had to do with Francisco Rodriguez himself. First and foremost, his price tag was expected to be sky-high after breaking the single-season record for saves. And then there were the usual concerns about Rodriguez's awkward mechanics, which make him appear to be one pitch away from a major arm injury. Still, one imagines the Angels might still have made a play for Rodriguez had they not had his replacement on hand in 24-year-old fireballer Jose Arredondo, who posted a 1.62 ERA in 61 relief innings during the regular season last season and added 3 2/3 scoreless innings in the playoffs for good measure. It's thus a bit puzzling that the Halos decided to bring in the second-best free agent closer on the market by signing former Rockies reliver Brian Fuentes to a two-year deal worth $17.5 million with a $9 million option for 2011.
On the night of September 27, as Mark Teixeira stood at home plate in Anaheim, Manny Ramirez stood at home plate in San Francisco. Scott Boras, seated in the second row at Angel Stadium, was watching Teixeira when he noticed out of the corner of his eye that the Dodgers game was being broadcast on the flat screen in his box. "Look," he said. "It's Manny." Boras, the agent to both players, was torn -- to watch Teixeira or Ramirez? For the next several minutes, his head spun as if on a swivel, from Teixeira to Ramirez and back again.
Scott Boras watches every game at Angel Stadium from a subterranean luxury box behind home plate, close enough to the action that when Garret Anderson bats, Boras playfully signals to him what pitch he thinks is coming next, and Anderson signals back. Boras follows all major-league teams, but none more closely than the Angels.