Purgatory Online

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Ramon Ortiz pitches tonight, in the Angels' first night game of the spring, against Kansas City. This is perhaps a taller order than Sele's start against Milwaukee, but Ortiz will have to at least put on a decent show or risk looking pretty bad in comparison.

Yesterday, the Angels spanked the crap out of the Cubs for a few innings, then coughed it all back up as Troy Percival and Kevin Gregg had horrible relief outings. This Percival thing is starting to bother me a little; last year he pitched eight innings and gave up six runs, though, so who knows what it all portends. Regardless, Escobar had an excellent start, allowing one run (on a ball that should have been caught, according to most accounts) and four hits, while whiffing six and walking three, in 4 2/3 innings. The Angels eventually won it in the ninth, 8-7.

The offense continues to look encouraging, as well. The lineup produced 16 hits, 11 by guys who are expected to be in the everyday lineup. David Eckstein, in particular, is looking terrific - he's hitting .371 in 35 at-bats, and 5 of his 10 hits have gone for extra bases. If Eck can produce at the top of the order, the Angels are going to score a lot of runs. The only worry here is Darin Erstad, hitting in the two slot, who has a pretty high ratio of grounders to fly balls. Even though Erstad runs well, I can see Eckstein being erased on double-plays pretty frequently in 2004. Last year, Erstad grounded into 8 double plays in 284 plate appearances; assuming he stays healthy and gets 700 this year, that translates to about 20 GIDPs for Erstad. That would have ranked tied for sixth in the AL in 2003.

Meanwhile, both the Times and the Register have articles today on how playing winter ball in Venezuela appears to have primed Frankie Rodriguez for spring training. Like I said on Monday, though, pitching in mid-season form in spring training is one thing; keeping that form through the dog days is quite another. Here's hoping his arm doesn't fall off down the stretch.

[UPDATE: In re-reading this post, I noticed that I made an unintentionally disgusting mixed metaphor - "spanked the crap out of the Cubs...then coughed it all back up." I'm disappointed in myself, as normally anything disgusting in my writing is painstakingly polished over the course of seconds, if not minutes, of introspection. I'm leaving it in - indeed, pointing it out - as a reminder to myself to always, always edit with a critical eye. You're welcome.]