Purgatory Online

Thursday, May 13, 2004

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.