Make no mistake: The Angels‘ shortcomings in 2013 revolved around pitching. It’s the foundation of every championship club, and while their offense ranked seventh in the Majors in runs scored this season, their pitching staff was 24th in ERA. But that does little to hide the fact that their highest-paid players have yet to live up to expectations—albeit for vastly different reasons.
Consider: In 2013, Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols combined to make up close to 23 percent of the payroll at a total of $31 million. Their combined fWAR was 2.6 — or, about seven percent of the club’s WAR total. The Angels will spend their offseason scouring the Earth for starting-pitching help, and that will probably require them to part ways with some offensive pieces. The likes of Howie Kendrick, Erick Aybar,Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo are expected to be dangled as trade bait. That will only heighten the importance of Pujols and Hamilton moving forward. “Very clearly, there’s no doubt in our minds that you’re going to get a better Albert Pujols and a better Josh Hamilton next year, no doubt. Both for different reasons,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said toward the end of the regular season. “These guys are very motivated. Albert will be rejuvenated because he’ll be able to do a lot of the things we haven’t seen him do in a couple years, both at the plate and in the field. And Josh has grown a comfort level that has grown through the year. I think he’s turned the corner on that. And I think he’ll be what we expect next year.” —Alden Gonzalez at MLB.com
So they said
“This,” [WS games 6 and 7] said Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino, “is the reason I came here. I wanted to play in games like this in front of these fans.” —Jason Stark at ESPN
Mariner’s potential off-season targets
Norichika Aoki, the Brewers’ incumbent right fielder with a very affordable 2014 club option worth $1.5MM, is a prime trade chip. [Brewers GM Bob Melvin], however, seems hesitant to deal Aoki. “Those things are like pitching. You never have enough,” Melvin said of the Brewers’ outfield depth (as quoted by MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy). “Look at the injuries that can happen. Aoki can play left field; he can play right field. Whenever we make those decisions, he’s probably going to be a part of that offense. You’ve got to have depth, too, if you’re not going to get involved in free agency. We don’t know that yet; we don’t know where that market is going. Probably outfield is where we have a trade piece if we want to trade to maybe fill another hole.” —Edward Creech at MLB Trade Rumors
Baseball Best Practice
“As Bud Selig retires from his long tenure as Commissioner of Baseball and a new era dawns on MLB, I proffer up Core Values from the Valley’s newest defining company, Facebook, for baseball to beg, borrow and steal. Facebook stated Core Values (with explanation from CEO Mark Zuckerberg in quotes):
“We have a saying at Facebook: ‘Move fast and break things.’ The idea is that if you never break anything, you’re probably not moving fast enough.”
Baseball is a wonderful sport. It has its own pace, and each game its own story. I love it passionately. I truly do. But I also love horse racing for a lot of the same reasons, and I know that each time I go to the track, I bring the average age of the attending crowd down significantly. Baseball needs to move faster. The game needs to be sped up, and the average age of the fan lowered. Games for the most part need to be completed in less than three hours. The pace of the game has been a hot topic for as long as I can remember, but the small rule changes have had little to no impact. Baseball’s rule changes for the most part have been iterative over the last 100 years, while the pace of life, attention span of the fan, and competition for entertainment dollars have shifted massively. Let’s break the rules: Time limits between pitches with real penalties. Limits on number of trips to the mound in an inning or game. No stepping out of the box or calling time for a hitter unless there is an injury, etc.” —Andy Miller at Gammons Daily
Whether the Twins make a strong play for Korean right-hander Suk-min Yoon remains to be seen. What seems clear is that Yoon, an international free agent represented by powerful agent Scott Boras, is on their radar. “He’s got some talent,” Twins general manager Terry Ryan said recently. Yoon, who would not require a posting fee, would be the youngest established starting pitcher on this year’s free-agent market, a month younger than New York Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes. However, Yoon is coming off a season in which he was plagued by shoulder woes in the wake of the WBC.
“Is it a concern? Yeah,” [Twins VP Mike Radcliff] said. “He would have to pass a physical.” —Mike Berardino at the Saint Paul Pioneer Press
By The Numbers
The opportunity to see the Boston Red Sox win a World Series at home for the first time in a lifetime has turned Game 6 at Fenway Park into the most expensive local ticket in the city’s history. As of 10 a.m. ET on Tuesday, the average list price on the resale market for a ticket to Wednesday night’s game was $1,860, according to TiqIQ, a ticket tracking company. Bleacher seats to the game, which could have been had for $300 last week, were selling for $1,100 on Tuesday.
On Monday night, someone who wanted two of the best seats in the house paid $24,000 on StubHub for a pair of tickets in the first row in a dugout box between home plate and one of the on-deck circles. —Darren Rovell at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended]
Carlos Gomez became the first Brewer to win a Gold Glove since Robin Yount in 1982 and the first Brewers outfielder to win one since Sixto Lezcano in 1979. Gomez led the majors with five home run robberies. No other player had more than two. —ESPN Stats & Info
Since 1924, there have been 22 World Series (all best-of-seven) in which a team has led 3-2 with the final two games coming at home. Sixteen of those 22 teams coming home with a lead have gone on to win the series, including the last six. The last team to lose was the 1979 Baltimore Orioles against the Pittsburgh Pirates. STATS_MLB
Comment From Matt: Tanaka: ERA, Over or Under 3?
Tim Dierkes: Safe bet is over 3.00 for almost any pitcher.
Comment From Dancing Dan McGraw: Do you find that the QO system benefits the bigger market teams more? I don’t know many small market teams that could risk giving a QO to Stephen Drew and Salty just in case they do accept it
Tim Dierkes: It certainly benefits large market teams for that reason. If Salty was on the Rays, a QO might be too risky. Large market teams love high-dollar one-year deals. Still, no one accepted a QO last year and I’m not anticipating it this year either.