Purgatory Online

Saturday, September 18, 2004

So here's my theory: obviously, Bad Bartolo temporarily escaped from the two-dimensional "Superman II"-style prison in which he had been placed, and took the field before anyone could stop him. After the first inning, Good Bartolo and the other Angels lured him back to the prison with cheeseburgers and shot it back into space.

I was entertaining thoughts of turning the TV off and doing something worthwhile with my time, like learning Sanskrit, but stuck around knowing how bad Chan Ho Park is. I'm sure glad I did. Once Bartolo started pitching like he had a pair, he dominated in a way that's absolutely worth the money the Angels are paying him, provided he can do it again a few dozen more times over the next three years. Plus, we saw timely hitting and power in the same game! Hopefully, Guillen's homer will jump-start him a little bit, but two from Vlad and one from Glaus wasn't too shabby.

Meanwhile, the A's went down in flames, blowing a 3-1 lead after Ken Macha pulled a cruising Barry Zito after six.

As noted earlier, tomorrow's going to be a tough day. But it was nice to start the series this way.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Okay, here's the scoop:
Pitcher Frank Francisco has been suspended for the remainder of the 2004 championship season, but no less than 16 regular season games in the event of an appeal, and fined an undisclosed amount for his highly inappropriate actions and reckless disregard for the safety and well-being of the fans. Unless appealed, Francisco's suspension is scheduled to begin tonight.

Doug Brocail has been suspended for seven games and fined an undisclosed amount for his inappropriate actions and inciting a bench-clearing incident, while pitcher Carlos Almanzar has been suspended for five games and fined an undisclosed amount for his inappropriate actions during the incident. Unless appealed, Brocail's suspension is scheduled to begin tonight and Almanzar's is scheduled to begin on Saturday, September 25.

This more or less forces the Rangers to decide whether they want to lose Francisco's services during a pennant drive, or lose them at the start of a fresh season. To me, this is no choice at all - the Rangers aren't in a pennant drive, they're done. If it were me, I'd serve Francisco's sentence without appeal and be grateful it's not longer, and I suspect the Rangers will do so (while making noises about how "this team isn't just one guy," etc.) This would be advantageous for the Angels, since they have seven games left with the Rangers, while the A's have only three.

If Brocail begins his seven-game suspension tonight, he would be eligible to return the day Almanzar's began (there's an off-day in there). So the Rangers would be without him during their three-game series with Anaheim and their three-game series with Oakland. Almanzar's five-game suspension would be comprised of the Rangers' Saturday and Sunday games with Seattle next weekend, and the first three of their final four games with Anaheim. This would again be an advantage for the Angels, as Almanzar would miss no games against Oakland. In essence, while Oakland would play three games against the Rangers minus Francisco and Brocail, Anaheim would play three against that configuration plus three against the Rangers minus Francisco and Almanzar. Now, whether that's better than playing Seattle - which the A's will be doing - is certainly debatable, but it's certainly not debatable that, if these suspensions are served as ordered, six of the Angels' last sixteen games just got easier, while only three of Oakland's did.

We should know the Rangers' decision on the appeal before gametime tonight.

Update: Dallas radio KRLD, which broadcasts the Rangers games, is reporting that all three players will appeal.

According to Buck Showalter, he expects to hear today or tomorrow that "three or four" of the Texas relievers will be suspended for participating in the scrum with fans in Oakland this week. The article notes that they suspensions could be appealed, but that such a move would push back the days served to the end of the season (and, I'm guessing, possibly into 2005, which they'd want to avoid). Depending on the timing, this could help or hurt the Angels in their quest to catch Oakland.

Neither the Angels nor the A's looked like the particularly wanted to win a division title this week. While the Angels split their series with the Mariners in Seattle, the A's split theirs with Texas at home. So the Oakland lead remains at two, with sixteen to play. The Angels should have been able to pick up at least one game during the last four, but they didn't, and it's hard to say they're done when the lead could be chopped in half on any given night.

Certainly the most perplexing, frustrating, and problematic aspect of the Seattle series was the sudden lack of offense against pitchers who were, shall we say, underperforming. Over the last three games of the series, the Angels scored four earned runs on fifteen hits. The gruesome numbers from those games:

Eckstein - 3 for 12 - .250
Erstad - 2 for 11 - .182
Guerrero - 1 for 9 - .111
Anderson - 2 for 12 - .167
Glaus - 1 for 10 - .100
Guillen - 1 for 11 - .091
Figgins - 1 for 10 - .100
Molina (playing in Tuesday and Wednesday's games only) - 1 for 7 - .143

So, out of eight regular players, we've got one hitting .250, six on the Interstate, and one playing bingo. Only Adam Kennedy has had a stick since Tuesday, going 3 for 7.

Obviously, that has to change. And it will, since this team has some offensive talent. The problem is, it has to change right now.

There's a little good news headed into the Texas series, however. First, the pitching matchups look like this:

Friday - Chan Ho Park (3-5, 5.72) at Bartolo Colon (15-11, 5.12). Park is terrible, and we've seen Good Bartolo a couple of times in a row - plus Colon's owned the Rangers this year, going 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA against them.

Saturday - Juan Dominguez (1-2, 3.91) at Kelvim Escobar (10-10, 3.86). This matchup actually scares me. Dominguez isn't the answer to the gaping holes in the Texas rotation this year, but he has the potential to develop into a fine starter, and the Angels have never seen him before. This has "no run support for Kelvim" written all over it, which I say with the sincere hope that I'll look like a fool on Saturday night. But Escobar has been the Angels' most reliable starter this year, and the Angels should be in this one until the end.

Sunday - John Wasdin (2-4, 6.71) at Jarrod Washburn (11-7, 4.73). I give Wasdin credit for managing to stick around the majors for nine years despite posting a career 5.36 ERA as a right-handed pitcher. If the offense can't produce here, it's going to be ugly.

These are, in fact, just about ideal matchups for Anaheim. No Ryan Drese or Kenny Rogers for Texas. No John Lackey, Ramon Ortiz, or Aaron Sele for Anaheim.

Additionally, Alfonso Soriano looks likely to miss the series (and possibly the rest of the season) due to an injury sustained in yesterday's game against the A's. I'm not sure how much this will slow down the Rangers' attack, since they're extraordinarily deep offensively, but Soriano had hit in twelve of Texas's last thirteen games, including hitting four home runs.

Meanwhile, here are the probable starters for the Oakland-Seattle series, in Seattle:

Friday - Zito (11-10, 4.44) at Meche (5-6, 4.92)
Saturday - Hudson (11-5, 3.36) at Baek (1-3, 7.13)
Sunday - Redman (10-12, 4.94) at Madritsch (5-2, 3.03)

Saturday's game should be a lock for the A's, but both Friday and Sunday feature Seattle pitchers who've been on fire recently against Oakland pitchers who've been inconsistent all season. Those games could go either way.

The pieces are in place. The Angels need to go for the kill. It's time to step on some necks.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

In the event of a tie between Oakland and Anaheim for the A.L. West, the one-game playoff will be played at Angel Stadium.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Sometime during the Angels' series with Texas this weekend, Garret Anderson should catch and pass Brian Downing as the Angels' all-time leader in at-bats. Anderson currently has 5842, and needs just 12 more to equal B.D.'s 5854.

G.A. is under contract for the next four years. Assuming he stays reasonably healthy and in Anaheim, by the end of that time he will pretty much own the Angels' record book, at least in terms of the "longevity stats." He currently holds the record for hits and doubles, and can be expected to grab the following honors as well (in addition to at-bats):

Games played - currently in third with 1462; record held by Downing with 1661 (Salmon in second with 1596). Projected record date: Summer, 2006.

Plate appearances - currently in third with 6189; record held by Downing with 6912 (Salmon in second with 6795). Projected record date: Spring, 2006.

Runs scored - currently in third with 756; record held by Salmon with 956 (Downing in second with 889). Projected record date: Spring, 2007.

Total bases - currently in second with 2798; record held by Salmon with 2863. Projected record date: Spring, 2005.

Home runs - currently in third with 206; record held by Salmon with 290 (Downing in second wtih 222). Projected record date: Summer, 2008.

RBI - currently in second with 940; record held by Salmon with 989. Projected record date: Spring, 2005.

If you live near the stadium, go on out this weekend and see history get made.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

The Angels' 5-1 victory over the Mariners last night moved the club to 82-61, guaranteeing them a winning season. The 2002 team went 99-63; the current squad would need to go 17-2 from here on in to match that.

So far, the Angels are 39 games over .500 counting from the start of the 2000 season. Counting from the start of the 1994 season, they are exactly at .500.

On to more important things: by and large, last night was a good game for the Angels - any win now qualifies as a "good game" - though it's starting to get to the point that an Anaheim win without an Oakland loss is making me hear "tick tock" sounds. Yes, they've got six left with the Athletics. But that last road stretch - four in Texas, three in Oakland - is going to be brutal. It may be imperative to be at least tied, and preferably a game or two ahead, before going in to that. In which case, the Angels may need a sweep of the A's during their series in Anaheim.

A couple of things concerned me. I thought Shields looked a little shaky, a little less crisp than he usually does. And Casey Kotchman is not going to make any significant contributions to this club, at least not this year. Darin Erstad is apparently suffering from back spasms, and is day-to-day, but the Angels will need him back ASAP. I missed seeing Kotchman's single, but in his other at-bats he looked totally overmatched, and he made at least two mental errors at first base. Since the Mariners are starting a lefty tonight, Scioscia has indicated that he might start Andres Galarraga at first if Erstad is not available.

After Rodriguez finished taking care of business in the ninth, I flipped over to catch the end of the Rangers-A's game, just missing the brouhaha in the bullpen. The Rangers' broadcast team was studiously avoiding replays, despite the fact that the delay in the game lasted longer than the reign of the Emperor Constantine, but my understanding is that Frankie Francisco threw a chair at a heckler, hitting a woman and breaking her nose. The general consensus seems to be that Francisco should be suspended, which I'm certain will be the case, though I also think it's a little out there to pretend like ballplayers should be expected to take any abuse without reacting. They're human, folks, and in an unprotected environment like the 'pens at Network Associates Coliseum, things can get downright scary. Remember when Robbie Alomar spat at Hirschbeck, and how everyone treated it as an unforgivable sin? Supposedly, though, Alomar was reacting to Hirschbeck calling him a "whining spic," which somehow almost never made it into the story. If you can't spit at a racist, I don't know what kind of world we're living in.

(NOTE: I have no idea what Hirschbeck called Alomar, if anything. As far as I know, that's never really been resolved, nor does it matter. The point is that there are times when you need to know what happened on both sides before you start up with the righteous wrath).

Of course, throwing a chair into a crowd is a much more irresponsible act than hawking a loogie at the specific guy you've got a problem with while he's standing by his lonesome, and I completely agree that Francisco deserves to be punished. But I also know that, if I knew what provoked him, I'd probably sympathize a little.

Anyway, the Rangers managed to blow the game a couple of times, thanks to some of the most comically terrible late-inning pitching and defense I've ever seen. So we're where we were yesterday - two back of Oakland. For what it's worth, Boston's lead in the wildcard is 4.5; they start a set with Tampa Bay today.

Monday, September 13, 2004

The Angels may give Sele another start.
"His stuff was as good as it's been in five years," Manager Mike Scioscia said of Sele's last start, a 1 2/3 -inning appearance Saturday against the Chicago White Sox in which he allowed eight runs — four earned — and six hits. "That's what encourages us."


Not that the alternatives are much more appetizing. Ortiz? We've been over that ground. Gregg has been unreliable. Scioscia is described in the article as "reluctant" to use Shields as a starter because of his importance to the bullpen, which is understandable, but with Scott Dunn and Matt Hensley now on the expanded roster, there's a little more flexibility down there. I think Shields is needed more to take the ball every fifth day than to pitch middle relief right now.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Is it just me, or is it true that every time Rob writes off the Angels, something like this happens?

The Angels put a serious hurting on the White Sox this afternoon, good to see after they completely imploded against them last night. Good Bartolo showed up. Actually, Pretty Excellent Bartolo showed up. The offense rocked and stomped. Balls were caught, except by Guillen, who apparently needs another talking to. Overall, however, the team looked about five times better than last night's edition.

From here on in, it's Western Division foes, starting with four in Seattle beginning tomorrow.