Monday, August 15, 2011
Weekly preview: Desperate times for Angels
By David Schoenfield
A quick preview of the week ... and a little confusion over what the Marlins are trying to accomplish by sending Logan Morrison down to the minors.
SERIES OF THE WEEK
Rangers at Angels, Monday through Thursday
Monday: Alexi Ogando (11-5, 3.22) vs. Garrett Richards (0-1, 10.80)
Tuesday: Derek Holland (10-4, 4.30) vs. Tyler Chatwood (6-8, 4.07)
Wednesday: C.J. Wilson (11-5, 3.28) vs. Ervin Santana (9-8, 3.10)
Thursday: Colby Lewis (11-8, 4.01) vs. Jered Weaver (14-6, 2.13)
The Angels are now four games behind the Rangers after a tough series in Toronto -- Jered Weaver got battered for eight runs, the first game he'd allowed more than four, and then Jordan Walden blew his eighth save on Sunday and the Angels lost in extra innings. It's desperation time and they begin the series with hard-throwing Garrett Richards, making just his second major league start. They follow that up with ... another rookie. As for the Rangers, they lead the AL in road ERA at 3.09. One of their secret weapons has been former Angel Mike Napoli, hitting .288/.386/.583. Think the Angels could have used that production?
PITCHING MATCHUP OF THE WEEK
Ian Kennedy (15-3, 3.12) vs. Vance Worley (8-1, 2.85), Diamondbacks at Phillies (Thursday)
In what could be a playoff preview, Arizona travels to Philly for an interesting series beginning Tuesday. The series finale is the best matchup as Kennedy takes his seven-start win streak (2.44 ERA, .211 average allowed during that stretch) against the Phillies' rookie. Worley got hit hard his previous start but the Phillies are 12-2 in games he's started.
1. After hitting two home runs on Sunday, rookie Brandon Belt might have finally earned a place in the San Francisco lineup. Question is: Did Bruce Bochy waste too many weeks (months?) waiting for his veterans to come around. And if Belt goes 0-for-4, will he back on the bench? The Giants might have the second-best ERA in the majors, but unless Belt hits and Carlos Beltran returns soon from his hand injury, this team won't score enough runs to win the NL West. They have a four-game series in Atlanta to start the week, but then play 12 games against the Astros, Padres and Cubs before meeting Arizona in early September. They need to play well in Atlanta and over those next 12 games to stay close to the Diamondbacks.
2. It would seem the Marlins sent Logan Morrison down to the minors to send a message about his tweeting, more so than for his production. While his .249 batting average is a disappointment, his overall line of .249/.327/.464 with 17 home runs still makes him much more productive than the average National League hitter. His .791 OPS is actually better than All-Star first baseman Gaby Sanchez's .787 mark -- and second-best on the team. The problem: the Marlins didn't say they're sending him down because of his tweeting and other organizational criticisms (Morrison criticized the team when hitting coach John Mallee was fired in June and teammate Hanley Ramirez for missing a photo session), but for his .249 average. But the Marlins are either (A) lying; (B) being disingenuous; or (C) unable to properly evaluate hitters. They certainly have the right to tell Morrison to keep certain topics inside the clubhouse, but their public stance smacks of dishonesty and of a front office that doesn't want to put its best team on the field.
3. One of the most disappointing results of the season has been the results from the Orioles' young rotation. The problems started in spring training with Brian Matusz and his intercostal strain that affected his ribs; he never seemed to recover, was terrible in six starts and is now back in Triple-A. Jake Arrieta was 10-8 but with a 5.05 ERA before he had season-ending surgery to remove a bone spur from his elbow. Zach Britton had a 3.10 ERA through June 17 but gave up 45 hits in 23 innings over his next six starts and was finally put on the DL with a left shoulder strain, although he could return shortly. Chris Tillman just hasn't developed as many projected. While all have been disappointments, some of the blame goes to the Baltimore defense, which various defensive metrics rate as the worst in the majors. The Orioles will undoubtedly count on all four youngsters again next season, but right now they look the same old Orioles, a long way from fielding a winning ballclub.
RANT OF THE WEEK
Dan Uggla's hitting streak was exciting and unexpected and while it helped salvage his wreck of a season, it doesn't completely salvage his season. The streak raised his average from .173 to .232, but his on-base percentage is still below .300 at .297. He's not a good fielder and FanGraphs rates him as the 19th-best second baseman in baseball. The Braves are paying Uggla $9 million this season -- but $13 million a season through 2015. That's a lot of coin for a low-OBP, poor fielding second baseman, even if you do hit 30-plus home runs.
Follow David Schoenfield on Twitter @dschoenfield.