Purgatory Online

Saturday, May 29, 2004

The Angels' Rory Markas just announced in today's post-game show that the club has confirmed the Raul Mondesi signing, which the Register says was delayed because the Angels couldn't make the announcement without sending someone down to the minors. According to Markas, Mondesi may or may not play tomorrow.

Update: here's the official release. Adam Riggs has been designated for assignment to make room for Mondesi.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Raul Mondesi says he's an Angel, and that he's starting in center field on Sunday. The deal, according to Mondesi's statement to the AP, is worth 1.75 million and runs through the end of the season.

Oh, goody gumdrops.

I've never particularly liked Mondesi as a player, but beyond that, he's still supposedly dealing with the same issues that caused him to miss all those games with the Pirates, precipitating his eviction from Pittsburgh. And then to go shooting his mouth off about when Scioscia will play him and where...well, that's a little much, considering there still hasn't been an official announcement from the team.

I suppose the bright side to this is that having center field resolved means that Scioscia will have to play Figgins at third if he wants to keep him in the lineup, putting Shane "The Second Coming of Jose Offerman, Shortstop Edition" Halter back on the bench, with occasional appearances at DH. Halter has made a jaw-dropping nine errors in 25 games at third, for a preposterous .873 fielding percentage over 168 innings. Halter's never been an especially good fielder, but his work at third had improved enough by last year that he made just two errors in 368 innings. I suspect the problem right now is underconfidence and overthinking, but the Angels just can't afford to give away extra outs in their current predicament.

Monday, May 24, 2004

The Pirates are expressing an interest in Aaron Boone, whom the Angels might also pursue. Boone is supposedly not going to be physically able to come back until August, by which time I'd imagine there would be some stability at third base - and, who knows, maybe Glaus's optimistic September/October return date might prove true.

As for rumors of a possible Raul Mondesi signing...well, these seem a little farfetched. Mondesi was released by the Pirates because he had missed several games to deal with a lawsuit in the Dominican Republic, and that situation remains in place today (his next hearing is in mid-June; the suit centers on whether he promised to pay former major leaguer Mario Guerrero 1% of his future income in exchange for coaching). Obviously, signing a guy who's not going to show up isn't going to do much good. Additionally, Mondesi does nothing to address the situation at third base, instead providing the Angels with another OF/1B/DH type when they're already pretty set in that department, and may even have a logjam when Darin Erstad and Tim Salmon return.

With Oakland's win over Kansas City yesterday, and Texas's loss to New York, the A's are now tied with the Rangers for second place, 3 1/2 games behind the Angels. Texas's efforts thus far have been gallant, and they're certainly nothing to sneeze at, but I think we'll probably see them start to fade fairly soon. With Gerald Laird, Kevin Mench, and Brian Jordan all landing on the DL recently (yeah, I know: cry me a river), R.A. Dickey struggling, and Chan Ho Park continuing to be Chan Ho Park, I just don't think the Rangers are going to have the depth to keep themselves in a three-way race.

The A's, meanwhile, are back into the thick of things, riding their usual excellent starting pitching. They're headed into a series with Boston, however, the one team in the American League that's given up fewer runs than Oakland. And Boston's offense is much, much better than Oakland's. While the A's will miss both Pedro Martinez and Tim Wakefield on this trip, they'll have some hard-fought games on their hands, methinks.

The Angels, on the other hand, get the comparatively easier task of taking on the Blue Jays in an odd, three-games-in-four-days series. The Angels haven't seen the Jays yet this year, but so far the term that comes to mind to describe Toronto's season thus far is "disappointing." They're 10 games under .500, hitting poorly, have bad relief pitching and mediocre starting pitching, and their best hitter, Frank Catalanotto, is day-to-day with a groin pull.

Tonight, however, the Blue Jays will feature starting pitcher Justin "Death or Glory" Miller, who's been a model of consistency for them and has the words "love" and "hate" tattooed on the knuckles of his hands (along with a great deal of other stuff tattooed elsewhere, which will surely be a topic of conversation in the broadcast booth). He's had four straight quality starts, against Kansas City, Chicago, Boston, and Minnesota. He's striking out 7.2 hitters per 9 innings pitched, and has given up only one home run in 30 innings pitched. Miller's got a sinking two-seam fastball that gets hit on the ground a lot, so I'd expect to see Jose Molina get the start over Bengie, Chone Figgins at third or center, and Jeff DaVanon in center or right (depending on whether Scioscia wants to DH Guerrero again to save his knees on the artificial turf).

Since the Angels should win any battle of the bullpens with Toronto, the key to tonight's game should be for John Lackey to hold the Jays for the first few innings. Toronto's most effective reliever this year, Jason Frasor, threw an inning yesterday (albeit on just 10 pitches) and may not be Carlos Tosca's first option out of the pen. Beyond Fraser, Toronto's relief options range from mediocre to grim. If Lackey can pitch effecively - and there's no reason to think he can't, given the Jays' struggles at the plate - the Angels will have a good shot at winning this one. Lackey's coming off a pair of subpar outings against the Yankees, one marked by 10 hits surrendered in 6.2 innings pitched, the other by six walks in 5.1 innings pitched, but hopefully we'll see a John Lackey closer to the one that pitched a three-hit shutout against Tampa Bay.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Slate has an article up explaining labrum injuries, the type of owie that's done for Troy Glaus. Although the article focuses on pitchers, it doesn't paint an especially pretty picture:
Leading baseball surgeon Dr. James Andrews estimates that 85 percent of pitchers make a full recovery after an ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, aka the once risky Tommy John surgery. (USA Today has even called the surgery the "pitcher's best friend.") But if pitchers with torn labrums were horses, they'd be destroyed. Of the 36 major-league hurlers diagnosed with labrum tears in the last five years, only midlevel reliever Rocky Biddle has returned to his previous level. Think about that when your favorite pitcher comes down with labrum trouble: He has a 3 percent chance of becoming Rocky Biddle. More likely, he'll turn into Mike Harkey, Robert Person, or Jim Parque, pitchers who lost stamina and velocity—and a major-league career—when their labrums began to fray.

If and when Glaus returns, then, it'll have to be as a full-time DH or DH / first baseman.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

I'm going to make a bold prediction and say that, after the All-Star break, one of the big topics of conversation about the Angels will be which Molina brother to trade. And, to be honest, I'm starting to lean towards keeping Jose.

Jose's younger, slimmer (and thus less injury prone), and, in 2004 at least, is producing better offensively and defensively (albeit they're actually pretty close on offense). It's getting to the point where I think the smartest thing to do right now is to play Jose as the everyday catcher and Bengie as the DH. Or at third. Hey, maybe that would work!

Or maybe I just need more sleep.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

I realize I haven't been posting much recently, either in terms of quantity or quality. Mostly, this is a function of (a) increased business in my work life and (b) impending nuptials. In fact, I'll be away from the blog altogether for a couple of weeks in the middle of June, so I guess you can consider this a sneak preview of Purgatory Online's impending hiatus.

But there's just no way I'm going to let Bill Plaschke's latest column pass without comment.

Essentially, this is a recitation of Angels who've "played through pain" this year, contrasting the suck-it-up ethos of the clubhouse with Glaus's decision to undergo surgery and effectively end his season.
Which is why it was so odd Tuesday to see another corner of the Angel clubhouse empty.

It was the one belonging to Troy Glaus, who has decided he can no longer do the one thing that has marked this team like a bright red "A."

He could no longer play in pain.

Glaus has decided to essentially forgo the season and undergo right shoulder surgery requiring at least four months of recovery, a move that has flattened hopes and raised eyebrows.

Is the shoulder suddenly that bad? And does it have to be fixed now?

Hey, Plaschke? Screw you. If Troy Glaus says he's having crippling pain, who the hell are you to bitch about it? Considering that the closest sportswriters come to "playing through pain" is when the press box spread doesn't include chicken wings, you're the absolute last person with any standing to cast these kinds of chickenshit aspersions. I like how you've equated several players' conditions, by the way. Tell me, are these highly scientific medical opinions your gift to the team, or will you be billing Arte?
Finally, he is electing surgery despite refusing recommended surgery on the shoulder in August and committing himself to rehabilitation. By ending that commitment early, he may be contributing to the eventual end of what could be a championship season.

This is just wilfully stupid. "Ending that commitment early?" Christ, it's not like he woke up one morning and suddenly decided, "hey, I think I'll screw the team!" In case you didn't notice, Bill, Glaus actually re-injured himself. Do you suppose that might change things? Maybe that's a sign that rehab wasn't the way to go, you think? Or do you believe that, having been injured at the start of the season after months of therapy, further rehab would somehow ward off the exact same thing?
Without Glaus, there is nobody to hit behind Vladimir Guerrero and in front of Jose Guillen, a spot that worked wonders in the season's first six weeks.

Imagining the Angels without Glaus is like imagining the Yankees without Derek Jeter, the Florida Marlins without Josh Beckett, other world champions without their World Series MVPs.

"Can we survive?" asked Jarrod Washburn grimly. "It's our job to survive."

You don't have to imagine the Yankees without Derek Jeter. They don't have Jeter - at least not the Jeter Plaschke is talking about. Jeter's currently hitting .190 with a .516 OPS and two home runs. And - stunning! - they're still doing pretty well. Yet, in Plaschke's world, if the Angels don't win a world championship, it will all be Troy Glaus's fault. I'm beginning to suspect Glaus backed over Plaschke's dog at some point.

Oh, and sweet job with the adverbs. "Grimly" - I like that. Jarrod Washburn, the noble warrior, standing his ground proudly while the coward Glaus retreats in fear. Plaschke, you're a hack.
The Angels understand the pain. Just watching Guerrero walking into the dugout, they understand pain.

But they hoped that, having refused surgery last year, Glaus would continue to play this season until it became so bad he was hurting the team, or at least hitting something less than .375, which he batted in his final 10 days.

They hoped that perhaps he could continue rehabilitating the shoulder while moving to designated hitter or first base.

They hoped that he would look around a clubhouse and listen.

Indeed, it's just not humanly possible that Glaus could perform well and be seriously hurt, is it? I mean, surely that would contradict some sort of physical law, right? Hey, are there still any of those curly fries left?

This is a hack piece, pure and simple. There's nothing in there approximating evidence that Glaus is dogging it, and plenty of reasons why he wouldn't want to - headed into his free agency, leading the league in home runs, looking primed for the best year of his life, why the hell would anyone forego that without some pretty tremendous reasons? This is a small-minded whine, and I feel cheaper for having read it.

Monday, May 17, 2004

ESPN reports that Troy Glaus will undergo shoulder surgery on Friday, and be out at least two months. There is a significant possibility he'll be out for the rest of the year.

So much for those "Glaus to first base" rumors, not that such a thing made much sense to begin with. At the moment, I'm looking down a long, dark tunnel, at the end of which stands Shane Halter. Be afraid, Angels fans. Be very afraid.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Well, that was interesting.

Normally, when you score nine unanswered runs in the first two innings, and you've got your top-of-the-rotation guy pitching, and you've got the best bullpen in the league, you've pretty much wrapped it up. Stick a fork in it, call it a ballgame, turn out the lights 'cause the party's over, and send it out to be framed.

Apparently not.

That's two straight saves Percival's blown, and Frankie Rodriguez is starting to make him look really bad. I know that a lot of people - including me - thought that there was hope the Angels could squeeze one more year out of Percy, and two games ain't the end of the world, but at this point he's going to be under the microscope in a way he never has been before. I'm not going to make any radical suggestions about Percival based on a couple of outings, but I hope and pray that, if the time ever comes, he'll do what's right for the team.

In the meantime, he owes Chone Figgins a steak. He can get in line behind everybody else. When Eckstein lead off with a triple, I wondered if he was taking some satisfaction from the fact that discussions of his tenuous status as the lead-off hitter have made the Times two days in a row now. If so, it must have been short-lived; Figgins's triple, grand slam, and three singles made up an "anything you can do, I can do better" moment for the ages. Not that Figgins himself would see it that way, of course, but it sure was convenient to have as a point of comparison.

In any event, Texas was smacked around by the Tigers tonight, so the Angels' lead is back up to 2 1/2 games. For all the drama and black omens, tonight did the club some good, and maybe taught them that even nine-run leads need to be protected. Considering what happened the last time the Angels went to Baltimore, I'll take it.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

The Angels top ESPN's Power 10 this week, even though it was compiled before last night's win. Nice to see.

The lede in this here story in the Times is incorrect:
An Angel team already decimated by injuries added another key member to the triage unit Wednesday when Troy Glaus was scratched from the starting lineup because of a sprained right knee.

You see, "decimated" means that one out of every ten has gone down, not one out of every five.

Given that the Angels lineup is depopulating at roughly the same rate as a bag of marshmallow peeps in Mo Vaughn's locker, Jose Guillen's return to the lineup was especially noteworthy. You'll recall that Guillen, the American League player of the week last week, had to be hauled off the field in a cart after injuring his leg sliding into second on Sunday against Tampa Bay. The leg was immobilized with an air cast, and even after we learned that he hadn't broken anything, expectations were that he'd be out for at least ten days to two weeks. But no: Guillen, who played through a broken bone in his hand much of last year, sat out exactly one game (and actually made an appearance in the on-deck circle as a potential pinch-hitter), then picked up exactly where he left off. Against Javier Vaszquez, no less. Guillen was 2 for 4 with a double, a home run, and three runs scored, and he's starting to look like a phenomenal off-season pickup for Bill Stoneman. As long as he's matured to the point where he can ride out the occasional slump without self-destructing emotionally, he may be turning into the kind of player the Angels will want to think about keeping on even after his contract expires next year.

I was frankly astonished to see Anaheim/B whip New York last night. And what astonished me most was the pitching of Aaron Sele, who held the Yankees to two runs on six hits in six innings. His curveball was terrific at times, and, most importantly, he pitched through trouble. The third inning in particular had potential for severe damage by the Yankees; they had runners on second and third with one out and the heart of the linup due to bat. But Sele got Alex Rodriguez to fly out to left (scoring a run on the sacrifice), and struck out Jason Giambi. You hate to make comparisons, but the Ramon Ortiz I've seen recently couldn't have done that. In contrast, it was also gratifying to see the Yankees fall apart mentally a little bit as the game got away from them, Giambi in particular failing to come home with the ball after making an error at first base, allowing Guillen to score from second on a little squibber in front of the plate.

A couple of additional notes:

(1) Chone Figgins lead off last night, while Eckstein rode the pine and Amezaga played short. Scoscia is quoted in the Orange County Register as saying that this is a "mental break" for Eckstein, and that Eck will return to the leadoff spot. I've no doubt that's true, but I'm encouraged to hear that the possibility of installing Figgins at the top of the order is at least on his mind. By way of illustration, I've just computed Figgins's and Eckstein's effectiveness using the formula (TB + BB + SB) / (AB + BB), which should give us a rough estimate of how effectively they obtain bases (I'd guess there's a more sophisticated version of this equation out there somewhere, but this should do as a rough estimate). Figgins scores 58/89, or .652 bases obtained via hit, walk, or steal per plate appearance in which he has an at-bat or a walk. Eckstein is 40/121, or .331. Since neither of them has any real home run power, this would seem to be an apples-to-apples comparison of leadoff types, and there's really no question which would be better to have in front of the guys who are apt to drive in runs.

(2) Casey Kotchman put a great swing on a pitch in the eighth inning, driving a ball into the opposite gap for a bases-clearing double. Kotch is clearly still learning the ropes a little bit, but his mistakes on the bases have been the kind that experience will cure. Chone Figgins used to do the same kinds of thing (like slowing down rounding first, then trying for second anyway), but almost never does any more. If the Angels can actually get some of their walking wounded healthy again, I suspect that we'll be talking a lot more about potential deadline deals that would keep Figgins and Kotchman up. At the very least, Josh Paul's status as a third catcher has to be pretty tenuous.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Here's an article on the Angels' site comparing Chone Figgins to his friend, Marlins CF Juan Pierre. They are similar...except the Marlins have figured out where to put Pierre in the batting order...

Speaking of Figgins, anyone care to wager whether he'll end up with the league lead in triples this year? He's got five in 71 at-bats so far, and, if he stays in the lineup, could easily be the first guy in sixty years to hit more than 21 in a season (Lance Johnson hit 21 in 1996 and Willie Wilson hit 21 in 1985). And no one's hit more than 23 in eighty years, nor more than 26 in ninety-two years. The single-season leader in triples, Chief Wilson, had a mind-boggling 36 in 1912 (I know, ballparks were bigger, people hit fewer home runs). Aside from Wilson, no one hit more than 26 in the entire 20th century. Figgins doesn't play in the best triples park around - I'd guess that would be Detroit - but he surely does like to round second without slowing down.

Heading into a road series with New York, here's the lowdown on the Angels' injury situation:

Darin Erstad - On the disabled list, awaiting results of an MRI. Will not play this series, roadtrip, or month.

Garret Anderson - Continues to suffer from mystery ailment causing pain in his upper back. Eligible to come off the DL, but won't anytime in the next few days. Realistic return date - impossible to tell; expect better data within the next few days.

Tim Salmon - Beginning rehab process for right knee. Expected back in about a week; will not play at New York or Baltimore.

Brendan Donnelly - Removed himself from a Triple-A rehab start two nights ago complaining of pain in the same elbow on which he had surgery in the fall. Scioscia reports that it was just "stiffness," but Donnelly will miss his scheduled rehab appearance today. Donnelly was expected to rejoin the team in a couple of days; this pushes that back to at least a week from today and possibly longer.

Troy Glaus - Should return to third-base duties during this roadtrip, "but not tonight." Will continue to DH until then.

Jose Guillen - Made the trip to New York with the team; is day-to-day and has not been diagnosed with any serious injury beyond knee and ankle sprains. Realistically will probably not start tonight, but I suspect he'll DH for most of the road trip, then return to left once Salmon rejoins the team.

Monday, May 10, 2004

I don't think there's an Angels fan on the planet who knows quite what to think right now. I sure don't.

Jose Guillen became the latest Angel to fall in battle yesterday, spraining his knee and ankle while sliding into second base. Meanwhile, Brendan Donnelly pulled himself out of a rehab appearance after experiencing elbow pain. These injuries, of course, come the day after Darin Erstad wrecked his hamstring - again - which has put him on the DL with an expected return date of "later rather than sooner." And Garret Anderson remains sidelined with some kind of mystery ailment to his back, while Tim Salmon, also on the DL, is working his way towards returning to the lineup sometime after the team returns from their impending New York - Baltimore swing. In the history of this snakebit franchise, 2004 is shaping up as one of the most star-crossed, in terms of injuries; already nearly every starter has been on the DL, limited to part-time status, or otherwise significantly whopped with the injury stick.

All of which, of course, Angels fans are used to. But the weird thing is that they keep on winning. The Angels finished their first 7-0 homestand ever yesterday, which, coming on the heels of a 7-2 road trip, makes them 14 for their last 16 and still proud owners of the best record in baseball.

The Angels called up their best prospect, Casey Kotchman, to replace Erstad yesterday, and he looked relatively good at the plate. No hits, but a sacrifice fly and some hard-hit balls; I was frankly somewhat surprised that he was called up, but now that he's with the big club he should get a chance to play nearly every day. It will, of course, present an interesting dilemma for the Angels if Erstad nears readiness in a couple of months only to find Kotchman putting up better numbers than Erstad has.

In fact, up until Jose Guillen went down, it seemed as if the Angels were adding by subtraction to some extent. Salmon's absence spares the team from his usual early-season funk, and Erstad, so long as he's not going to play center, is fairly easily replacable in the lineup. Garret Anderson is missed, surely, but considering the number of great hitters in the lineup, doing without GA has been more of an inconvenience than a crippling blow.

Take Guillen out of the mix, however, and things start to get a bit wobbly. Guillen had been otherworldly at the plate over the last couple of weeks, hitting six home runs since April 23 and hitting .484/.556/.903 in May. The word is that Guillen was limping but upbeat as he left the clubhouse, and thought he might not even miss a game, since today is an off day. That seems unlikely, but at this point even keeping him off the DL at all would be a victory.

Ultimately, I think the Angels actually have a chance to emerge from this a stronger team. Just as Eckstein's injury opened the way for Chone Figgins to become a productive member of the lineup, even after Eckstein's return (and who knew that Figgins was a terrific defensive third baseman? Anyone?), Erstad and Guillen's injuries should allow Scioscia to evaluate Kotchman and Quinlan.

On a related note, I'm beginning to worry a bit about Troy Glaus; his DH role seems to be taking on something of a permanent cast to it, or at least a "until Tim Salmon returns" cast. I guess I can understand that, but I also think it would be interesting to put Glaus back at third, move Figgins to center, and let Jose Molina take the DH spot for a few games. Hopefully Glaus's continued DH'ing is more from an overabundance of caution than anything else, but with this team...

Friday, May 07, 2004

I love living in the early 21st century; as I've mentioned several times, I subscribe to the "Extra Innings" package on digital cable so I can follow the Angels despite living in Dallas (or a suburb thereof). Very occasionally, however, I wish the broadcast didn't have to end with the final out of the game, and I could tune into the Southern California Sports Report, or the SoCal Sportz Nutz, or whatever the hell Orange Countians get to see after the last out is made.

Tonight, of course, is such a night. Ye Gods and li'l fishies, what a game John Lackey pitched tonight. Sure, okay, against the Devil Rays, but still - a three-hit shutout, for a guy who's in the process of rehabilitating his reputation as a starter - this will be one he remembers for the rest of his life. I'd dearly love to see the locker-room interviews with him, but, even more so, the interviews with Jose Molina, who looked very much like a catcher coming into his own. Molina called a terrific game, and seemed to really get Lackey on the right track whenever he had to visit the mound. If Jose isn't somebody's starting catcher by next year, I'll be very, very surprised.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

The Press-Enterprise has a profile of Erick Aybar today. Aybar, along with Alberto Callaspo and Brandon Wood, is one of three promising shortstops percolating through the Angels' system.

On the heels of Aaron Sele replacing Ramon Ortiz in the lineup comes another intriguing roster move. Robb Quinlan has returned to Anaheim, replacing Matt Hensley. That's first baseman Robb Quinlan.

Now, it's obvious that the Angels weren't going to carry fourteen pitchers for very long, and Quinlan does fill a hole on the bench now that Chone Figgins and Shane Halter are starting regularly. But it's an especially noteworthy move combined with (1) the fact that Garret Anderson's back travails appear to be of the "indefinite duration" variety, and (2) Chone Figgins is getting some playing time at third base, and (3) Troy Glaus's move to DH seems to have slowed him down offensively not at all. Given that Figgins is looking like a guy who could really help the lineup, especially if he's returned to his natural spot at the top of the order, I wonder if Scioscia may be on the verge of moving Darin Erstad back to center, playing Quinlan at first, and using Glaus and Figgins to share third and DH? On one hand, it's crazy talk, because I think Scioscia will be very resistant to the notion of putting Erstad back in center. On the other, however...it makes some sense, and if Scioscia can pull the plug on Ortiz, he can do this, too.

Not that this has looked like a team that requires much adjusting recently. The Angels finished their sweep of the Tigers last night to remain in a first-place tie with Texas. On top of their 7-2 road trip, that makes the Angels 11 for their last 13. Sure, Detroit ain't New York. But so what? Beating up on the weak teams and contending with the strong ones is how championships get won, and the fact is that taking two out of three at Minnesota - on the basis of pitching, no less - is pretty impressive, too. The New Yorks and Bostons of the league will keep until later in the month; right now, the Angels are doing what they need to do, and deserve a lot of credit for it. The team currently has the best record in the majors, and leads the AL in runs scored. Washburn leads the league in wins; Glaus leads the majors in home runs and the American League in RBI, and trails only Jorge Posada in the AL in OPS. Jose Guillen, until recently the lineup's red-headed stepchild, has started cranking out hits. Kelvim Escobar has quietly become a dependable starter, and John Lackey is well down the path to doing the same. Frankie Rodriguez has yet to give up an earned run. Troy Percival has nine saves and an ERA of 1.69. Brendan Donnelly is likely to return next week, and eventually the club will add Garret Anderson, one of the best players in the league, back into the lineup.

Winning streaks are fragile things, and the baseball gods are capricious, but let's not forget that it's good to stop and smell the W's.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Mike Scioscia appears to have finally given up on Ramon Ortiz, demoting him to the bullpen and putting Aaron Sele into the starting rotation. Thanks be to Jebus. Sele will start on Thursday against Tampa, and Ortiz will theoretically be coming out of the pen in long relief. I suppose anything's possible, but since Ortiz's real problem has always been mental, I can't imagine that he'll actually improve when he enters a game with runners on base.

Meanwhile, the Angels are estimating that Brendan Donnelly could return as soon as next week, welcome news for anyone who watched Scot Shields "protect" a five-run lead last night. Don't get me wrong - Shields is a good reliever, but when he doesn't have command of his fastball the Angels need to be able to turn to someone else. I have to admit that I'm a bit mystified by the talk of Donnelly's impending return displacing Ben Weber or (please, God) Ortiz, since the team brought Matt Hensley up from Triple-A when Salmon went on the DL, and could easily send him back down again once Donnelly's back. The real crisis wouldn't come until Salmon and Anderson return, at which point they're unlikely to continue carrying fourteen pitchers.

Of course, it's probably unwise to carry fourteen pitchers now. I had a nice little reminder of how closely I've been following this team this morning: driving to work, I hit a patch of construction on the highway in which the speed limit changed; passing the signs that said "55," all I could think was frickin' Jeff DaVanon...we need better pinch hitters.