Chat with Mark Saxon
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, Los Angeles Angels writer Mark Saxon will stop by to chat some baseball.
Saxon is a staff writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. He 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. He has also covered colleges, including USC football and UCLA basketball.
Send your questions now and join Saxon Thursday at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT!
Mark Saxon (2:01 PM)
As I type this, a left-hander wearing No. 59 is throwing live batting practice to a group that includes Albert Pujols, Howard Kendrick and Erick Aybar. Spring training has begun! Let's get going.
Hi Mark! So, it's almost lunch time as I'm writing this which got me to wondering, what are your expert picks for good eats at the Big A (please include only non-exclusive eateries)?
Mark Saxon (2:03 PM)
Man Neil, That's a good one. They used to have good barbeque out on the right-field pavilion called Beach Pit. Now, I think it's Clyde Wright's place and I can't vouch for it. There are a lot of chains. I'll admit I sometimes get a hankering for salt and visit Panda Express.
J-Rod (Rubidoux, CA) [via mobile]
Great inside I love reading your blogs and columns, when do you think Borjous takes over the lead-off spot? Spring training or two months into the season?
Mark Saxon (2:04 PM)
Weird answers from Mike Scioscia about that, J-Rod. He says he wants Bourjos to hit up there eventually, but won't even commit to him doing it against lefties to start the season. I think the bottom line is we have to see how he's hitting early in the year, but he looks like the best candidate if all goes well. Short answer: mid-May
Mark, what type of numbers do you think Aybar will have this year? I think he is so underrated at SS. Your thoughts?
Mark Saxon (2:05 PM)
Hey LeAnne, I doubt he's underrated since he just won the Gold Glove and, according to the defensive metrics, he wasn't deserving. He looks pretty good to me. I am not real sold on him as a hitter. In a deep lineup, I think he's a very good No. 9 hitter, but not a leadoff guy. If he's asking for Jose Reyes money, he won't be in Anaheim after November.
Jason, cali [via mobile]
What should the angels do with mark trumbo
Mark Saxon (2:06 PM)
Funny you say that, because we have been watching Trumbo take grounders off hitters' bats for the first time and let's just say it's going to be a process. The ball gets on you in a hurry down there. But I think he'll play quite a bit at third early in the season and, if he handles it, can keep going. The range might be 20 to 50 games, I'd say.
What realistically should Angels expect to get if they trade Abreu? Low end prospects? Bullpen help?
Mark Saxon (2:07 PM)
I'd say a tiny bit of salary relief and a very low level prospect. Look for teams that lose fourth outfielders or DH's to injury this spring. Those might be landing spots.
Chris (Studio City, CA)
Hi Mark: Awkward situation between Angels and Bobby Abreu. Scioscia is saying the right things, but the question is: Is he just saying that because it's pretty much impossible to trade Abreu, or does he really think this version of Abreu can still contribute to the team/is a nice guy and wants him to get that elusive WS ring? Ultimate odds that Abreu stays on the team the entire season?
Mark Saxon (2:10 PM)
To the last part, I'd say 2-to-1 against him staying all year. On the other part, I think they're trying to make things as smooth as possible, so they're saying what he wants to hear. It's going to look bad if he's got 100 at-bats or so around the break, though, since they promised him 400. I imagine he'll be moved by the end of spring.
Any chance Trout makes the team out of ST?
Mark Saxon (2:10 PM)
Yep.Three scenarios: Peter Bourjos gets hurt, Torii Hunter gets hurt or Vernon Wells gets hurt. That's about it.
The Angels should buyout Abreau's contract for $3mm and let him sign with any other team? To be honest I think he is older than 37.
Mark Saxon (2:11 PM)
They can't do that, Tom, because the option already vested based on his plate appearances last year. To release him, they'd have to pay him virtually all of the $9 million he has coming. See why it's not so easy?
If Mike Trout has an amazing spring training, and Vernon Wells looks the guy we saw last year, is there any way the Angels start Trout from the outset?
Mark Saxon (2:17 PM)
It sounds like the answer to that is a pretty definitive no. But the answer might change in June or July. Do you doubt the wonders of Rudy Jaramillo, Rick?
What is the likelihood that wells plays out his full contract or will a situation such as with Gary Mathews jr take place.
Mark Saxon (2:18 PM)
That's impossible to say yet, Stuart. If Vernon hits as poorly as he did last year, it's going to be a major, major problem for this team. You can replace him in left field, but if he still can't hit as a bench guy, can you swallow $60 million and just cut him loose? That's a big chunk to bite off.
Mark, I know that it's early but with the Angels being so crowded in the infield which Angels players do you think gets moved?
Mark Saxon (2:23 PM)
Probably nobody, but if I were going to move one guy, I'd trade Alberto Callaspo. Granted he led the team in hitting and OBP last year, but he can't play shortstop, isn't as good defensively as Izturis and probably isn't a better hitter either. If you trade Trumbo, you might regret it and he could play RF next year.
Are you optimistic that Morales will get into Cactus League games and will be ready for the season? Have you seen him hit?
Mark Saxon (2:24 PM)
Chris, I'm pretty sure he will get into games this year. He seems happier and they're not hiding him from the media as they did last year, which tells you things are going better. He's been killing the ball from both sides of the plate, but it won't mean much until he sees real velocity. I'm guessing he's in spring games by March 15 or 16.
Mitchell (Bloomington, IN)
Hey Mark,Do you agree with Trout going to Triple-A instead of going back down to Double-A to start the season where his numbers may be a little more inflated and boost his confidence?
Mark Saxon (2:25 PM)
Definitely. He doesn't have anything left to prove at Double-A after playing almost a full season there. Let's see what he can do against the older pitchers at Triple-A, many of whom have major-league experience.
Mark, has Jerry Dipoto been their since the begging of ST? Does interact with the players a lot?
Mark Saxon (2:26 PM)
Yes and kind of. He interacts more with coaches and owner Arte Moreno from what I've seen, but I have seen him chatting with guys, particularly catcher Chris Iannetta.
Vince (Portland, OR)
Hey Mark! Love the blogs! 2 part question, if Walden struggles early like Rodney did last year who will take his spot? Hawkins? And same thing for Jerome Williams, will it be Garrett Richards waiting?
Mark Saxon (2:27 PM)
I think you probably got both right, but Jason Isringhausen might be a possibility in the bullpen and Brad Mills or even Shoemaker might be a factor in the rotation. Both guys should have relatively long leashes, longer than Rodney had, for sure.
From all the stories I have been hearing about Mark Trumbo and his new role at third base, the general opinion of baseball writers to me is that everyone thinks that Trumbo would struggle at third this year. How do you think trumbo will do this season at third? and how does Callaspo feel about losing out on his position?
Mark Saxon (2:29 PM)
Funny because some of the latin players were making jokes about that the other day around the batting cage, saying Callaspo secretly planned the errant grounder that smacked off Trumbo's nose. I imagine he's not thrilled, but hasn't grumbled about it. Trumbo will be well below average, but he'll start some games, especially when Jered Weaver, a flyball pitcher, is on the mound. They hope he can avoid hurting the team, put it that way.
Besides Abreau, anyone else you see the Angels looking to possibly deal?
Mark Saxon (2:30 PM)
My hot stove rankings right now are: 1. Abreu2. Callaspo3. Trumbo4. Conger
Tori says he wants to play 2-3 more years. What are the chances it is with the Angels?
Mark Saxon (2:31 PM)
I guess you never say never, but it doesn't look good, Jim. Trumbo and Mike Trout are both talented, cheap options and it wouldn't seem to make much sense to keep around an aging player on a multi-million deal while blocking your best young players. Life, of course, is impermanent by nature, though, so you never know.
Which of the new front office / New scouts is a more hands on coach?
Mark Saxon (2:32 PM)
A lot of them walk around the practice fields and talk baseball. Jerry Dipoto, Scott Servais and Hal Morris all played major league baseball, so I imagine they give their two cents' worth.
Mark speaking of Brad Mills.. Should we expect anything good from him? Angels traded him for mathis...
Mark Saxon (2:35 PM)
He's a lefty with a strange motion and really good control, but he would seem to be a longshot to make the roster. He's what they call "depth."
Have you seen any scouts from other teams around stadium?
Mark Saxon (2:36 PM)
Not yet, Rob, but starting Monday they'll be here in droves. They usually lay low until the games start. Then it's like the gang bets back together over high-calorie meals in the press box dining room.
Is the Moreno family really involve with the Angels like Mr. Moreno?
Mark Saxon (2:39 PM)
His wife, Carole, often accompanies him here and yesterday Arte was up here showing his brother around, but I don't know much more than that I'm afraid, Rob.
Where do you see this team's biggest weakness? Is it the bullpen? Is Trumbo at third vying for the title?
Mark Saxon (2:40 PM)
I'd say bullpen depth and starting pitching depth are the two biggest concerns right now. On the other hand, if Kendrys Morales can't play, it will be scoring.
Mark Saxon (2:40 PM)
Next time we do this, we'll have real (kind of) games to talk about. Until then, I'll bid you all a fond farewell.