Randy Galloway of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has offered up some observations on the AL West, from a Ranger’s perspective. He notes:
“The Rangers are a staggering 14-2 vs. the Astros, and in the past two weeks have gone 7-0 on Houston. The A’s are showing some slippage of late, but a 12-3 record vs. Houston gives them a cushion even with the slippage. The Rangers are a dominant 41-16 in divisional play. They have a losing record otherwise. The blame for the current state of the AL West goes really to the LA Angels, not Houston. The division lost deep competitive balance when the Angels lost their way, or actually, never found their way. That’s the most gutless team in baseball at the moment. Total quit job. The Rangers, by the way, are 10-2 so far against Josh and his Orange County mess. Seattle, meanwhile, remains spunky, coming in here and winning two of three from the Rangers last weekend, then going to Oakland and winning two of three. Head-up, the Rangers and A’s have six games left, with three games each against the Astros. The team both want to avoid is spunky Seattle. The Rangers (9-7 vs. Mariners so far) wrap up the season series next week in Seattle. But the A’s, with a losing record (6-10) against the Mariners, are in Seattle for the final three games of the regular season. There is no denying the Astros have been an AL West gift this season for the two clubs that took advantage of Houston’s Triple A status. There’s no denying the Rangers have a losing record outside the division.”
From the Where are they Now file: MLB Trade Rumors reports that the Blue Jays have signed 33-year-old former Ms outfielder Ryan Langerhans to a minor league deal, according to a press release from Triple-A Buffalo. Langerhans was cut loose by Toronto earlier this summer and spent some time with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League, where he hit .283/.415/.496 in 142 plate appearances.
Alden Gonzalez a reporter for MLB.com in a piece entitled “Disappointing roster, farm ask tough queries of Halos” points out that:
[Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton have had off years, promising prospects are mostly in the lower Minor League levels, basically every aspect of the big league club has struggled, many of the moves the front office made have backfired, and the Angels could finish with 90 losses for the first time in 14 years. Where do they go from here? When the regular season ends — it may be more than players who get moved. The jobs of manager Mike Scioscia and general manager Jerry Dipoto are quite possibly in jeopardy. Asked by MLB.com last week about their status, though, owner Arte Moreno was vague and noncommittal, saying, ‘You’re always evaluating.’
Here’s the thing about the Angels, though: They can’t spend much more. The back-loaded nature of the contracts they doled out and the fact they’ll owe the Yankees $18.6 million for the final season of Vernon Wells’ deal means $126.5 million is already in their books for 2014, and that doesn’t include the first-year arbitration cases of Mark Trumbo, Ernesto Frieri and Peter Bourjos. For ’15, they already have $111.725 million in set salary, plus the looming arbitration case of Mike Trout, who’s almost guaranteed to obliterate Ryan Howard’s first-year-arbitration record of $10 million. That’s very little wiggle room for a payroll that figures to stay in the range of $140 million to $160 million. Simply put, the easiest way to turn things around is for the Angels to receive production from the guys whose track records indicate they should be better. That makes any everyday player not named Pujols, Hamilton or Trout an option.]
Mariners’ potential off-season targets
Bad pitching cost the Ms more losses this season than a lack of offense, a reversal of former problems. The Big 3 or 4 and Erasmo have a lot of potential, but it has yet to manifest itself in results. The old truism that you can never have enough pitching was proven yet again. The team should add a couple of better arms this coming offseason and not count on the kids coming to their rescue. The Fangraphs leader board of probably-available arms, put together by MLB Trade Rumors, is ranked by current WAR and offers some possibilities of who might be worth consideration. The Royals have three in #5 ranked James Shields (2.8 WAR), #7 Ervin Santana (2.7 WAR) and #18 Bruce Chen (1.1 WAR). The small-market team should struggle to outbid the market for those veterans and may not be able to give them all qualifying offers to get a draft pick return. #10 Scott Feldman (1.9 WAR) won’t be eligible for draft pick compensation. Even #14 Tim Lincecum (1.6 WAR) may not get a $14MM qualifying offer. #21 Phil Hughes (1.0 WAR) might well not get one from the Yankees either but he would get better results in Safeco than the homer happy Yankee Stadium. #24 Jason Vargas (0.8 WAR) might not get a qualifying offer, but the Angels need to keep him. #4 Bartolo Colon (2.9 WAR) won’t get a qualifying offer, but he would help the Ms and hurt the As if they could buy him away.
Joe Saunders ranks seventeenth among MLB pitchers in ground ball rate at 49.9 percent, easily the best rate of his career. Worms beware!
Yankees are 12-1 vs Blue Jays, 56-58 vs all other teams. ESPN Stats & Info@ESPN Stats Info
Shane Ryan at Grantland put together some numbers for two leading AL Cy Young Award candidates.
Candidate 1: 2.62 ERA, 5.7 pitching WAR, 2.54 FIP, 6.9 IP per start, 1.91 BB/9, 0.60 HR/9, 182 strikeouts, 1.10 WHIP, .238 opponent AVG, .309 BABIP. 12-6 W/L, 4.19 runs of support per start (T-25th in baseball).
Candidate 2: 2.82 ERA, 5.4 pitching WAR, 2.66 FIP, 6.9 IP per start, 1.98 BB/9, 0.71 HR/9, 185 strikeouts, 0.90 WHIP, .189 opponent AVG, .246 BABIP. 18-1 W/L, 6.04 runs of support per start (1st in baseball).
Candidate number one is Felix Hernandez. Candidate two is Max Scherzer.
Greg Johns of MLB.com reported on Wedge’s return to the team, indicating that the players think a lot more of him than some of the fans. He wrote:
“Wedge met with the team before Friday’s batting practice, and the reunion was a happy one.
‘It’s awesome,’ said veteran pitcher Joe Saunders. ‘We’ve all been looking forward to him coming back. He looks like he’s in great shape, a world of difference from when we last saw him. We’re excited to have the skipper back and can’t wait to go out there and battle our butts off for him.
‘He takes this game to heart very much. He cares a lot and players respect that and really appreciate the fact he’s there for us and cares so much about us. It’s nice as a player to know your manager has your back 100 percent and it makes you want to go out there and give 120 percent for him. It’s great to have him back.’ “