Comparing the mega-teams from LA

December 17, 2012

> Following the 2011 season, Los Angeles was not in a good state as far as the sport of baseball goes. The Angels and Dodgers hadn’t reached the postseason in 2010 or 2011, posting some of their worst seasons in decades (by their standards). The Angels were struggling to find any offensive consistency to back their decent starting pitching. The Dodgers were having similar issues, but their problems extended off the field as well, as Frank McCourt left them bankrupt.

I don’t think the Dodgers were expecting to contend in 2012 (at least early on) because of where they were financially, but their one huge move was giving Matt Kemp an eight-year, $160 million deal following his MVP-caliber campaign in 2011. The Angels, however, made themselves early favorites for the World Series by signing Albert Pujols to a 10-year, $254 million deal, and C.J. Wilson to a five-year, $77.5 million deal.

Fast-forward to the 2012 offseason- following yet another season in which neither of these teams made the postseason- and a lot has changed. The Dodgers are nowhere near bankrupt; in fact, they’re the polar opposite, thanks to Magic Johnson and Co. The Angels are in the same position they were last year, but if they don’t make the postseason this time around, there’s something very wrong.

Anyway, let’s take a look at each of these teams from every angle- the lineup, the rotation, the bullpen, and so on. Both of them are considered near locks for the playoffs, but one has to be better than the other, right?

THE LINEUPS

Angels: 

1. Mike Trout, CF
2. Erick Aybar, SS
3. Albert Pujols, 1B
4. Josh Hamilton, RF
5. Mark Trumbo, LF
6. Kendrys Morales, DH
7. Howie Kendrick, 2B
8. Alberto Callaspo, 3B
9. Chris Iannetta, C

Dodgers: 

1. Mark Ellis, 2B
2. Luis Cruz, 3B
3. Matt Kemp, CF
4. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
5. Hanley Ramirez, SS
6. Andre Ethier, RF
7. Jerry Hairston Jr., LF
8. A.J. Ellis, C
9. Pitcher

OK, first off, Hairston isn’t going to start the entire season. Once Carl Crawford returns from the disabled list, he’ll take Hairston’s spot, and that’ll change the whole culture of the lineup (many project Crawford to hit second). But, until Crawford comes back- which will probably sometime in late May- that’s what I’m guessing the Dodgers’ lineup will look like.

Anyway, those are both powerhouse lineups. The each feature possibly the best 3-4-5-6 combos in their respective league in Pujols-Hamilton-Trumbo-Morales and Kemp-Gonzalez-Ramirez-Ethier. It’s hard to say which is really better than the other; both are going to be very exciting to watch. While I think the Angels’ lineup might be the more exciting with three perennial MVP candidates in Trout, Pujols, and Hamilton, I think the Dodgers have the overall better lineup. The reason I say this is because there are more experienced hitters in the Dodgers lineup, and by experienced, I mean hitters that you know what you’re going to get from them. Kemp, A-Gon, Ramirez, and Ethier aren’t necessarily “veterans” yet, but they’ve certainly been around the block a few times and have shown they can produce consistently at the big league level from year to year. The Angels definitely have that experience in Pujols and Hamilton, but they have a lot of younger, inexperienced hitters who I think we need to see more from. There’s no denying that Trout had the best offensive rookie season in quite some time, but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to be susceptible to a sophomore slump. Trumbo hit over .300 for the most of the season last year, but then flamed out for the last two months and fell to a .268 average.

I think if everyone in the Angels’ lineup performs to their ability (and that includes Kendrick, who everyone thought was going to be a batting champion one day), then they’ll have the better lineup. But until that happens, I’d put my money on the Dodgers’ lineup, especially once Crawford gets back.

Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp

THE ROTATIONS

Angels: 

1. Jered Weaver
2. C.J. Wilson
3. Tommy Hanson
4. Joe Blanton
5. Garrett Richards

Dodgers

1. Clayton Kershaw
2. Zack Greinke
3. Chad Billingsley
4. Hyun-Jin Ryu
5. Josh Beckett

Coming into this offseason, both teams wanted to improve their starting rotations, and I think each did. However, I think the Angels losing Greinke really hurt them. I also wasn’t in complete agreement with them just giving up on Dan Haren and Ervin Santana; I really wonder if they’re going to get what they could have gotten from those two from Hanson and Blanton. And Richards is going to be good somewhere down the road, but I’m not so sure he’s ready for a full-time rotation spot. There are even some question marks surrounding Wilson, who had a terrible second half for the Angels in 2012. Weaver is no doubt the ace, but health is a bit of a concern with him; same goes for Hanson.

To me, the Dodgers obviously have the better rotation, even though there are a few enigmas in theirs as well. Kershaw/Greinke is one- if not the best- 1-2 punches in baseball, and they get to throw half of their games at the pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium. After Kershaw and Greinke, however, there are a few questions. Billingsley can be an All-Star caliber pitcher when he’s on, but that isn’t always the case. Perhaps not having the pressure of being a #2 starter will help him. Anyway, the 4-5 spots in the Dodgers’ rotation should go to Ryu and Beckett, in my opinion. The Dodgers also have veterans Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano, and Aaron Harang, all of whom are capable of starting, but I think Ryu and Beckett will give them better results than any of the other two.

Clayton Kershaw

It’s evident that both of these teams will have to back up their rotations with those huge lineups, but I think the Dodgers are better off starter-wise.

THE ‘PENS 

(NOTE: I only put the six guys who I thought were guaranteed spots. There are probably going to be a few other long relievers in each bullpen>)

Angels: 

Ryan Madson
Ernesto Frieri
Scott Downs
Sean Burnett
Kevin Jepsen
Jerome Williams

Dodgers: 

Brandon League
Kenley Jansen
Ronald Belisario
Scott Elbert
Matt Guerrier
Javy Guerra

This is actually the one category in which I think the Angels are better off. There’s only one guy that I think the Dodgers can count on to be consistent, and that’s Jansen. The rest of the guys- including League, who they named their closer and threw $22 million at- have had up-and-down careers.

The Angels, on the other hand, have a nice mix of young flamethrowers and veteran guys who know how to pitch. I loved the Madson pick-up; I expect him to have a good year even though he missed all of 2012. Frieri can also close if need be. Then they have a great tandem of lefties in Downs and Burnett. This has the makings of a great bullpen for the Angels.

Frieri

These are both going to be very exciting teams to watch, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we saw an LA vs. LA World Series (though it never seems to work out that way). I think the Dodgers have the slight edge, but that’s not to put a damper on the team the Angels are going to field.

> The Phillies signed Mike Adams to a two-year, $12 million deal (plus a vesting option for a third year), so that puts to bed any rumors that spoke of his possible return to Milwaukee. But Doug Melvin probably wouldn’t have been willing to give him $6 million a year anyway.

> The Mets are being the Mets once again, as they have a deal in place to send the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner- R.A. Dickey- to the Blue Jays in a seven-player deal. The deal also includes Josh Thole and another prospect going to the Jays along with Dickey, while the Mets are getting back Travis d’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, John Buck, and a prospect.

I’m starting to wonder why the Mets gave an extension to David Wright if this is what they intended to do all along, but that’s their screwed-up organization for you. But I like the deal for the Blue Jays. They may have hurt themselves in the long run, but they’re making themselves favorites for the AL East next year. They’ve assembled a pretty nice rotation in Dickey, Josh Johnson, Mark Buerhle, Brandon Morrow, and Ricky Romero, all of whom have been considered aces at some point in their careers.

> Minor moves: 

Phillies: Signed John Lannan to a one-year deal.
Marlins: Signed Jonathan Albaladejo and Ed Lucas to minor league deals.
Giants: Signed Javier Herrera to a minor league deal.
Twins: Signed Mike Pelfrey to a one-year deal.

Advertisements

Brewers, Parra go their separate ways

December 1, 2012

> As expected, the Brewers officially cut ties with their second-longest tenured player, Manny Parra. The Brewers had five arbitration eligibles, the others being John Axford, Marco Estrada, Chris Narveson, and Carlos Gomez, and Parra was the only one to be non-tendered.

Parra, a lefty who has always had great stuff, had a very frustrating Brewers career, to say the least. He went 10-8 with a 4.39 ERA in his first full season in 2008, but has posted a 5.61 ERA in the years since. In 2009, 2010, and 2012 (he missed 2011 because of injuries), he had an ERA above 5.00. It appeared Parra was going to blossom into an ace, especially after he threw a perfect game in his first Triple-A start back in 2007, but he never panned out.

Maybe Parra just needs a change of scenery, and that’s probably something he’s going to get. Though a lot of Parra’s career stats are alarming- his 5.12 ERA, 5.4 BB/9, and 1.645 WHIP are the highlights of them- he has a career 8.4 K/9. That, coming from a power lefty who also has a splitter, is going to draw interest from teams regardless of the other stats.

So best of luck to Parra wherever he ends up; it simply didn’t work out in Milwaukee.

Parra

> There have been a few mega-deals/large extensions signed over the past few days. Today, David Wright’s seven-year, $122 million deal with the Mets followed Evan Longoria’s six-year, $100 million extension with the Rays. Both of these are similar to the extensions Ryan Braun and Joey Votto signed in recent years.

> Minor moves: 

Diamondbacks: Released Brad Bergesen.
Angels: Acquired Tommy Hanson from the Braves; claimed Scott Cousins off waivers from the Mariners.
Braves: Acquired Jordan Walden from the Angels; claimed David Carpenter off waivers from the Red Sox; non-tendered Jair Jurrjens and Peter Moylan.
Marlins: Claimed Joe Mahoney off waivers from the Orioles.
Indians: Claimed Mike McDade off waivers from the Blue Jays; designated Chris Seddon for assignment; signed Fernando Nieve to a minor league deal; non-tendered Rafael Perez and Jack Hannahan.
Blue Jays: Outrighted Cory Wade, who elected free agency; outrighted Joel Carreno and Mike McCoy to Triple-A.
Astros: Claimed Philip Humber off waivers from the White Sox.
Yankees: Claimed Jim Miller off waivers from the Athletics; designated Mickey Storey and Jayson Nix for assignment.
Orioles: Acquired Yamaico Navarro from the Pirates; designated Stuart Pomeranz for assignment; non-tendered Omar Quintanilla and Mark Reynolds; re-signed Taylor Teagarden, Steve Pearce, and Alexi Casilla to one-year deals.
Pirates: Acquired Jhondaniel Medina from the Orioles; acquired Zach Thornton from the Athletics; non-tendered Jeff Karstens.
Athletics: Acquired Chris Resop from the Pirates; re-signed Daric Barton and Adam Rosales to one-year deals; designated Sandy Rosario for assignment; non-tendered Jermaine Mitchell.
Cubs: Non-tendered Ian Stewart, Jaye Chapman, and Zach Putnam; outrighted Casey Coleman to Triple-A. Padres: Non-tendered Juan Oramas.
Mets: Non-tendered Mike Pelfrey, Andres Torres, and Manny Acosta.
Phillies: Non-tendered Nate Schierholtz.
Royals: Outrighted Ryan Verdugo and Adam Moore to Triple-A; re-signed Chris Getz to a one-year deal; non-tendered Derrick Robinson.
Twins: Outrighted Deolis Guerra to Triple-A.
Red Sox: Non-tendered Rich Hill, Ryan Sweeney, and Scott Atchison.
White Sox: Non-tendered Anthony Carter and Dan Johnson.
Tigers: Non-tendered Daniel Schlereth.
Nationals: Non-tendered John Lannan, Tom Gorzelanny, and Jesus Flores.


After long delay, Marcum, Brewers dominate Mets

August 20, 2011

11:54p The Brewers definitely needed a game like this to at least show that their offense is still alive.

Brewers-Mets Wrap-Up

The Brewers beat the Mets today, 6-1, in a game that was nearly rained out. But, after a two hour and 46 minute long rain delay, the Brewers were able to beat up on the Mets, and also got another great road start from Shaun Marcum. Marcum went seven innings while giving up a run on six hits. He walked one and struck out three, and lowered his road ERA to 2.47.

The Brewers jumped on Mets starter Mike Pelfrey right away in the first inning, when Prince Fielder hit an RBI single following an error by third baseman David Wright.

That would be it until the fifth, when the Brewers broke it open. They got back-to-back RBI singles from Fielder and Casey McGehee, then Yuniesky Betancourt followed with a RBI double.

The Brewers tacked on two more in the sixth inning on another McGehee RBI single, and a gifted run from the Mets (in other words, a wild pitch by reliever D.J. Carrasco, allowing Fielder to score from third).

The Mets avoided the shutout in the seventh inning on Josh Thole’s RBI single, but they couldn’t muster up enough offense to avoid the loss.

Tempers flare in New York

At first, I was angry about this, but was able to laugh it off later. In the eighth inning, Mets reliever Tim Byrdak threw WAY inside to Fielder, and Fielder wasn’t happy with the pitch location. He kept it to himself, until after he grounded out and started running back to the dugout. As Byrdak was walking back to the Mets’ dugout, he said something to Fielder (which you obviously don’t want to do to him). It clearly phased Fielder, who got in Byrdak’s face. The umpires managed to break it up before the benches completely cleared, but a few guys from each dugout made their ways out. Now, for the funny part.

Jerry Hairston Jr. was one of those guys who came out from the Brewers’ dugout, and he got into it right away. He started pointing at the Mets’ dugout, and I couldn’t tell why at first. But, during the next inning, announcer Brian Anderson showed that Hairston was pointing at his brother, Scott Hairston, who just so happens to be on the Mets, and was sitting in the dugout at the time. I don’t know why, but I found that hilarious, and I wouldn’t have minded seeing the brothers get at it.

Braun get ejected

Ryan Braun got ejected in the third inning today for arguing balls and strikes. But, it was an awful pitch, so I can’t blame Braun for fighting back. Home plate umpire Angel Campos, who ejected Braun, was making questionable ball-strike calls all night, however. He was giving them to Pelfrey more than he was Marcum, but, it’s nice when the Brewers beat the umpires as well as the opposing team.

Up next for the Crew…

The Brewers will play the second game of this three-game set in an afternoon game tomorrow. Randy Wolf (10-8, 3.30 ERA) will go for the Crew, and is coming off a great start against the Dodgers, in which he went eight shutout innings. He’s also won four consecutive decisions. Wolf has pitched a lot against the Mets in his career, being a former Phillie, and he’s had success against them. He’s 12-5 with a 3.21 ERA against the Mets in his career.

The Mets will counter with ex-Brewers Chris Capuano (9-11, 4.58 ERA). He’s having a season worse than any he ever had with the Brewers for the Mets thus far this season. He has one career start against the Brewers, which came earlier this season, when he gave up a run over six innings and got the win.


Kershaw, sloppy defense snap Brewers’ win streak

August 18, 2011

4:54p Well, you can’t get by with a lack of offense forever. Why? Because the pitching will eventually cave in and give up runs, and the defense will stop making plays.

Dodgers-Brewers Wrap-Up

Unfortunately, both the pitching and defense part of that quote came true today for the Brewers, who fell to the Dodgers, 5-1. It snapped a six-game winning streak that the Brewers had going, and, with they way they’d been playing before this, it looked like it would never end.

But, as I said before, the pitching and defense both caved in today, and the offense was once again a no-show.

Marco Estrada was making another spot start in place of the injured Chris Narveson today, and he didn’t do all that bad. He went five innings (which is pretty much all you can ask out of a spot starter) while giving up one run on just three hits. He walked two and struck out five, and showed once again that he’s a much better starter than he is a reliever.

That one run Estrada gave up was a solo shot to Rod Barajas in the second inning. Estrada had fallen behind Barajas 3-1, and was forced to give him something to hit in that count. Sadly, since Estrada doesn’t have that blow-you-away fastball, Barajas timed the pitch perfectly and crushed it.

But, that was all Estrada would give up. It was primarily the offense, defense, and bullpen that didn’t do their jobs today.

Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw pretty much dominated the Brewers offense for the entire game. He went eight innings while giving up no runs on five hits. He walked none and struck out six. Kershaw actually looked poised to toss a shutout, since he was only at 104 pitches after eight, but he was pinch-hit for by James Loney in the eighth inning.

The Brewers’ lone run came on a Prince Fielder sacrifice fly in the ninth inning off of Dodgers closer Javy Guerra (it was a non-save situation, obviously). That followed a one-out triple by Ryan Braun.

Brewers prepare to face Mets on the road

The Brewers didn’t finish this homestand on a particularly good note, but you have to remember that they actually went 6-1 during it, so that was a great homestand for them. But now, they’ll go on the road and face a team that’s having a somewhat similar season as the Dodgers are- the Mets.

The Mets took two of three in a series against the Brewers earlier this year at Miller Park, but the venue for this series will be the pitcher-friendly Citi Field.

Now, the only thing that worries me about the Brewers headed into this road trip is the offense, which has been pretty non-existent over the past week or so. I guess you could argue that the reason they were stymied today was because of Kershaw, who is a front-runner for the National League Cy Young Award at this point. But, you could also argue that the Brewers should have crushed Kershaw today, since his career ERA against the Brewers coming in was 6.23. The Brewers definitely faced some good pitching during this stretch, and their pitching kept them in the game during every game, but the offense will have to break out at some point.

The Mets don’t have the greatest pitching staff in the world. In fact, all of their starters have ERAs hovering around 4.00, the lowest ERA being that of R.A. Dickey’s, which is currently 3.77.

Here are the pitching matchups for this series:

Shaun Marcum (10-3, 3.50 ERA) vs. Mike Pelfrey (6-9, 4.58 ERA)

Randy Wolf (10-8, 3.30 ERA) vs. Chris Capuano (9-11, 4.58 ERA)

Yovani Gallardo (13-8, 3.55 ERA) vs. R.A. Dickey (5-11, 3.77 ERA)

The Marcum vs. Pelfrey matchup will take place tomorrow, so I’ll just do my usual “Up next for the Crew…” segment right here. Marcum is coming off a no-decision against the Pirates, but he went 7 2/3 innings while giving up just one run. He has one career start against the Mets, during which he threw six shutout innings against them, but had to settle for a no-decision.

Pelfrey, meanwhile, left his last start with an injury, but has been cleared to pitch tomorrow. He is 1-1 with a 3.12 ERA against the Brewers in his career.

Anyway, that’s about it, but, before I go, I’m going to explain some of the sloppy defense the Brewers played today (I probably should have done that earlier, but oh well). There were two errors: one by third baseman Casey McGehee, when he pulled the first baseman Fielder off the bag with a low throw, and the other by reliever Kameron Loe, who threw the ball away in what should have been a somewhat routine play. Shortstop Josh Wilson also missed a double play ball and let it roll into center field, but, with how loosely the error stat is used, that play wasn’t considered an error. Anyway, all of those plays cost the Brewers runs (except McGehee’s error). Hopefully the offense and defense shows up tomorrow, though, because we’re going to need it if we want to keep winning.