May 13, 2010

Catching flack is not as fun as catching a baseball

One has to wonder if Ryan Budde likes living on the edge. I mean, there is no quicker route to Mike Scioscia’s dog house than via the passed ball. Yesterday, Budde let two balls get past him and the mental lapses/failures in execution were part of the reason the Angels lost.

Budde also had a very embarrassing moment when he nearly walked off the field after the second out, thinking the inning was over with a runner on third at the time... That could have really set off Scioscia. Yikes.

When Angel catchers don’t do their jobs on the defensive side it reflects poorly on Scioscia (a former major league catcher himself). I would even venture to guess that he might even take this kind of stuff personally. Much is made about what it means to be a catcher in the Angels' organization and it should. These guys get put through the paces in the spring and the expectation is for them to be solid, fundamental players on the field.

Losing a game because of three unearned runs is the kind of stuff that turns hair grey. If this keeps up, the next thing you know - grown men and women will be pulling those grey hairs out of their heads.

Speaking of miscues, Kevin Frandsen isn’t winning over any fans. Okay, so he has a couple of base hits. Big deal. He’s also got two errors in two games. Now I know that third base isn’t his natural position, but he’s on pace to set some sort of record and we’re not talking about the kind you celebrate either. I'm beginning to see why he never stuck with the Giants and why he might have been released by the Red Sox before being claimed by the Angels. Just play Brandon Wood, please.

The way I see it, the Angels have had very few bright spots outside of Jered Weaver and Kendry Morales. Joel Pineiro has also had his moments; and a few others have been "okay," but the vast majority get a huge FAIL.

How bad is it? Mark Whicker of the O.C. Register points out that this year’s start is the Angels worst in 20 years.


All of this adds to the frustration and the level of angst is getting quite high. Quite frankly, I’d rather not be ranting on this blog every dang day. There isn't much joy in it.

So let’s have some fun….

Did you hear about how upset Bengie Molina is with ESPN? Apparently, ESPN showed a clip of Molina getting thrown out at the plate. That in and of itself, isn’t all that bad, but they decided to add some sound effects… like the music from the movie “Chariots of Fire”

Molina was so upset, he even blogged about it.

Shame on ESPN for trying to humiliate a major league baseball player! That’s what bloggers are for! I’m wondering if ESPN or Bengie read my post from a couple days ago titled There’s Slow and then there’s “Bengie Molina slow.” Just saying.

By the way, even though I do make fun of Bengie's lack of speed - you should know he's my all-time favorite catcher.

Meanwhile, over on the Baseball Think Factory site, some sabermetric types were going at each other pretty good over the new debate about whose better – Jered Weaver or Felix Hernandez?

A like a closer look at the statistics between the two shows us they’re not all that different. The article begs the question as to whether or not Jered Weaver is an ace or if Felix Hernandez is just an innings eater (as Weaver has been described from time to time). The point of the piece is to challenge the perception of two pitchers as they previously existed. It's an interesting discussion and kind of humorous as well.

What’s really funny are the shots some of sabermetic types take at one another in the comments section of the article. This is kind of a common practice among this group in my opinion. Then again, I like taking a shot or two now and then too. Difference is I really don't take myself nearly as seriously as some of them appear to.

In any case, I could have saved them all a bunch of time on this. I don’t need any statistical analysis to tell me that Jered Weaver is an ace. He does all the things that aces do. He stops losing streaks. He pitches well in big games. He has “top of the rotation” stuff and is a leader in the club house. He hasn't always been an ace, but he most certainly is one now.

Weaver has always been hyped, but never embraced. Even after coming out of Long Beach State; where he had an amazing career, some “experts” labeled him as “over-rated” and even projected him to be nothing more than a #3 starter at best.

Weaver has never really been considered a power pitcher. He’s basically been a fly-ball pitcher for most of his major league career. If you’re not a power pitcher, you’re usually not considered a top of the rotation guy.

Well, Weaver is changing the labels that were previously attached to him. Now, he also has some statistics to back up the idea that he is indeed an ace. Last year he reached a career high in strike outs with 174 which placed him among the top 24 in all of baseball and 10th in the AL. He also currently leads the AL with 59 K’s. His ERA is 2.47 and batters are only hitting .219 against him.

Now, some sabermetric types will dig deeper to demonstrate their belief that he’s still not an elite pitcher, but what’s the point? He’s clearly the Angels’ ace and has a shot to be the starter for this year’s All-Star game in Anaheim (I'll be hyping this idea a lot so get used to it).

As for the comparisons to Felix Hernandez... I could care less. All I know is that the two have gone head to head seven times and the Angels have won five of those contests. Now, I know enough to say that using wins as any kind of criteria to determine whose better is enough to send the sabermetric types into a hissy fit, but I like mentioning it anyway. And if you noticed, I didn’t say Weaver was better (although I might secretly believe that).

Let’s just say that when the two square off, I like the Angels' chances.

Side note: I feel much better now that I've posted something that wasn't necessarily a "rant" about the Angels' play of late. Whew!

Oh and to those of you who stumbled on this site today when googling Bengie Molina and the word "slow" - I'm glad you found this blog; even if it wasn't intentional. :-)

BallHype: hype it up!

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