Friday, May 13, 2011
Scouting the opponent: Angels
By Richard Durrett
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Mark Saxon, who covers the Angels for ESPNLosAngeles.com, answered some questions about the Rangers' AL West foe in town for a three-game set this weekend. Here goes:
Q: Give us an overall update on the Angels since the Rangers last faced them on April 18-20.
MS: Not a whole lot of radical changes. They learned Wednesday night that Kendrys Morales will be lost to them for the season, as he elected to undergo season-ending surgery to clean up some debris in that left ankle. That's a big blow, baseball-wise and in terms of the team's psyche. You'll notice the Angels' identity is pretty obvious: pitching and defense. When they do those things well, they're tough to beat. The offense is reverting back to their classic small-ball approach lately and only sporadically effective.
Q: It looks like Maicer Izturis is continuing a solid season. What's made him so effective?
MS: He's the best player no one's ever heard of. He's small, but he's a good, smart hitter with sneaky power and the second-best eye on the team after Bobby Abreu. He also plays Gold Glove-caliber defense at three positions, which sounds like a stretch but isn't.
Q: There was a lot of talk in spring training about Mark Trumbo. How has he been? What's he doing well? What does he need to work on?
MS: He's leading all rookies in all the big offensive categories, but it's a pretty thin class of position-player newbies this year. He's got big natural power, but like a lot of young guys with big swings, he's been streaky. He's an average defender with a big arm that's largely wasted at first base, obviously. He's much better than prospect-watchers thought he was.
Q: The last time the Angels were in Texas, Peter Bourjos was running all over the field and on the bases. Is he still doing that? What has been most impressive about him?
MS: Yeah, he is. He had a couple of hiccups in the field last week, but he's also made some flat-out incredible catches. Defensively, he might not have a peer in the league. He's got a long way to go with his hitting. He strikes out an enormous amount for a guy as fast as he is. His bunting is sporadic. He's young.
Q: The Rangers are getting Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana, making scoring runs difficult. Give us a scouting report on those starters.
MS: Weaver and Haren are two of the best in the game and somewhat similar. They both can throw harder than they do. They keep it right at the speed limit. Weaver is deceptive because of his size (6-foot-7) and delivery. He's got a very good slider and changeup and he uses them in unpredictable counts. Haren has a nasty split-finger pitch and a cutter. They both will touch 92 mph, but not much higher than that.
Santana is the Angels' only power pitcher in the rotation. He will work at 94-95 mph and also has a good slider. He's given up 29 runs this year, and been quite mediocre. Personally, I think he needs another pitch. He's toyed with a split-finger and thrown some good ones, but isn't bringing it into games enough and can't throw a good changeup.
Q: Who are some non-frontline players that Rangers fans should keep an eye on?
MS: Alberto Callaspo has come up with some big hits for this team. He never strikes out and has a magic wand for producing base hits. His defense has been better than I thought it was at third base. Reliever Rich Thompson leads AL relievers in strikeouts. He throws pretty hard, has a good curveball and now throws a cutter, the pitch du jour.
Q: Anything else we should know about the Angels?
MS: Did I mention that they're in first place?