Chat with Mark Saxon, Tony Jackson
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPNLosAngeles.com's Los Angeles Angels writer Mark Saxon and Los Angeles Dodgers writer Tony Jackson will stop by to chat some baseball.
Saxon, a staff writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com, spent six years at the Orange County Register, and began his career at the Oakland Tribune, where he started an 11-year journey covering Major League Baseball. Jackson covered the Dodgers for the Los Angeles Daily News for more than five seasons. He has covered Major League Baseball on a regular basis for 15 years in Denver, Cincinnati and Los Angeles.
Send your questions now and join the chat Thursday at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT!
Mark Saxon (5:01 PM)
Hey everybody, welcome to our combo Angels/Dodgers chat. Tony Jackson should be along any minute.
tony jackson (5:01 PM)
Good afternoon, everyone, from Camelback Ranch
Mark (Allentown, PA)
Any updates on how the Dodgers plan to use Thames, Gibbons, Gwynn, and Paul in the outfield this year? Is it at all likely that one of them wins a permanent spot during spring training?
Mark, I was a big fan of the trade that brought Scott Kazmir to the Angels since he used to be one of the Beast pitchers in the A.L. East. I also read that the Angels had a close eye on him this offseason. How did he look when he was throwing live BP? How is his Slider looking?
Mark Saxon (5:03 PM)
Hey Chris, Scott Kazmir showed up in Arizona in November and it wasn't entirely his own choice. The team wanted him to drastically alter his off-season workouts after he had reported to camp last year with a strained hamstring. Mike Scioscia thinks he's throwing with better velocity this spring, but the slider remains a work in progress. The proof, as they say, will be in the pudding. If they don't trade him this spring, he'll have to pitch well in April to keep his job.
tony jackson (5:03 PM)
The only one in that group who really has much chance to monopolize the spot is Gwynn, and he'll be given every opportunity this spring. But if he doesn't hit well enough to justify an everyday spot, I think you'll see Gwynn, Gibbons and Thames share time on a roughly equal basis out there. If the Dodgers do keep X Paul -- remember, he is out of minor league options -- he's probably a backup outfielder.
Mark , I read that Dr. Ken Ravizza -- Performance Enhancement Specialist (i.e. sports psychologist) was in camp with Angels Tuesday and Wednesday. Is he going to travel with the Team?
Mark Saxon (5:06 PM)
Scott, Ken Ravizza is back with the Angels after a three-year hiatus working in Tampa Bay with Joe Maddon's club. He won't travel, which is kind of the idea. He got tired of those cross-country flights. Now, he can drive 10 minutes from his office at Cal State Fullerton to meet with the team. He has worked with Angels players, such as Jason Bulger, in the past on an individual basis.
Mark, Which Angels player that struggled last year do you think will have a breakout year?
Mark Saxon (5:07 PM)
Hey Joey, One of my picks to click is Erick Aybar. He's too good an athlete and tough to hit as poorly as he did last year. They don't figure to use him much at leadoff and I think that's a good thing since he prefers to swing at virtually every pitch he sees and try to slap it somewhere. Believe it or not, that's when he's at his best.
Jeremy B. (Irvine, Calif.)
If Hank Conger's offensive performance in spring training is significantly better than Jeff Mathis's, will he at least make the team and have a chance of supplanting Mathis? I'm not sure about having a starting catcher that hits below the Mendoza line.
Mark Saxon (5:08 PM)
Jeremy, I think a lot of Angels fans are rooting for Hank this spring, mostly because Jeff Mathis is a career .199 hitter. I must report, however, that I would be shocked if Mathis didn't break camp as the primary catcher. Mike Scioscia loves his defense, plus he has a little bit of an alibi since he broke his wrist last April.
Hi guys. Can we expect J Broxton to return to the stellar closer he was a couple years ago? Or does he lose his job early? Thanks
tony jackson (5:12 PM)
Hey Rachel. Judging by the way he pitched late last season, I'm not sure he has a closer's makeup, but we'll see. Don Mattingly insists he does have that makeup, and he bases that on the fact that Broxton was never that bad until late last year. But if you look at his career saves percentage, it isn't that great. They're going to give him the job for about a month to prove he can still handle it. But if he struggles out of the gate, I think you'll see a change.
tony jackson (5:13 PM)
Only time will tell, Drew. It's still not a deep division, so there's a chance. But this team doesn't appear to be dramatically better than it was last year, either. A lot will depend, I think, on whether Loney, Ethier, Kemp and return to form.
tony jackson (5:14 PM)
Hey Matt. See my previous answer on that. I think about a month.
Jesse (Santa Paula,CA)
Mark, I read the Article you wrote about Brandon Wood working with Kevin Long this offseason. Since you are in Tempe and have been watching him in practice. Have you notice anything different about Brandon approach at the plate?
Mark Saxon (5:17 PM)
Hey Jesse, Thanks for reading. I must be honest, I haven't seen much of Brandon in batting practice. He swears that Long gave him a couple of simple keys that will be huge pluses for him, but my question is: How will we ever know? The way he hit last year, I doubt the team gives him a major role early in the season.
Matt (Burbank, CA)
Mark, I think Oakland might surprise some people and be more of a threat than Texas this season but still like the Angels' chances if Morales bounces back. How do you think the AL West teams will finish, in order?
Mark Saxon (5:18 PM)
Matt, I agree with you completely about Oakland. To me, they made the most progress this winter. With their pitching, I think they're a serious threat. I will predict this finish: Oakland, Texas, Angels and Seattle. But things could change quickly depending on injuries this spring.
Chris (Los Angeles of Los Angeles)
Tony, Anything new on Belisario? Any truth to him losing his passport and will report to camp end of this week or next? Or should Dodger fans just completely count Belisario out for this season?? Thanks
tony jackson (5:20 PM)
Chris, I think if team officials have written him off, you can pretty safely write him off, too. I don't think you'll ever see him again. As far as that story where he claimed he simply lost his passport, that was kind of strange. His agent seemed bewildered by it when I called him that day. At any rate, the fact that Belisario never showed up and Padilla is out with an injury means there are now three open spots in the bullpen instead of one, so that should add a little more drama to the spring I guess.
Oakley A. (Largo,FL)
Will the absence of Mike Napoli hurt the Angels
Mark Saxon (5:22 PM)
Oakley, If you ask stat-heads, they'll tell you he's going to be a huge loss. I'm not so sure. He really didn't have a position and the Angels have a bunch of hard-swinging right-handed hitters with limited speed. He'll do a lot more damage in Texas than he would have in Anaheim, especially if he plays a lot.
tony jackson (5:24 PM)
tony jackson: Chris, I think if team officials have written him off, you can pretty safely write him off, too. I don't think you'll ever see him again. As far as that story where he claimed he simply lost his passport, that was kind of strange. His agent seemed bewildered by it when I called him that day. At any rate, the fact that Belisario never showed up and Padilla is out with an injury means there are now three open spots in the bullpen instead of one, so that should add a little more drama to the spring I guess.
fred (paramount, ca)
Tony, When will we find out the FINAL result of the McCourt trial? We want to have this behind us as soon as possible.
tony jackson (5:27 PM)
Fred, I think it's going to be about a year on that. Right now, Frank believes this is all going to work out for him in the end, that he can go on as owner of the Dodgers forever once this is behind him. My guess is when the final ruling on the divorce comes down in about a year is when he will realize differently and put the team up for sale
Mark Saxon (5:28 PM)
Hey Alex, He's mostly just taken batting practice off coaches, so we haven't gotten much of a read. But he was hitting some deep home runs this morning. I think Wells will have a good year, but I doubt he'll hit 30 home runs playing at Angel Stadium.
Mark Saxon (5:29 PM)
Good chat. Let's do it again soon!
tony jackson (5:30 PM)
That's about it for today. I'm sure there will be plenty of these chats as the over the next few months. Thanks as always for your participation.