The Los Angeles Angels are going young at catcher in 2011

Blogged under Bloglockers,Front Page,General,Positional Preview for Season by chinmusic on Friday 28 January 2011 at 3:38 pm

Jeff Mathis, Bobby Wilson and Hank Conger are going to engage in a open competition behind the plate this spring to see who will be the two catchers in 2011. 27-year old righty swinging Jeff Mathis has the most experience of the bunch so he might have a slight edge heading into camp. Mathis played in 68 games for the Angels last season and he was 40 of 205 (.195 avg, .497 OPS) with 19 runs scored, 3 homers, 18 RBIs and 3 stolen bases. He whiffed 59 times for the Angels last season while only walking 6 times so there isn’t a lot of hope that his hitting is going to improve any time soon. Mathis has the reputation of being a good defensive catcher but he didn’t show that at all last season. Mathis made 7 errors and he also had 6 passed balls in only 67 games behind the plate for the Angels last season and that’s pretty bad. Mathis only threw out 7 of 54 (13%) runners trying to steal on him last season but Angels’ pitchers had a 3.67 ERA with him behind the plate. Mathis isn’t a good enough defensive catcher to make up for the fact that he just can’t hit. If his hitting doesn’t improve this spring, I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts the 2011 season in the minors.

27-year old righty swinging Bobby Wilson came into last season as the Angels’ #26 prospect according to Baseball America. Wilson played in 40 games for the Angels last season and he was 22 of 96 (.229 avg, .705 OPS) with 12 runs scored, 4 homers and 15 RBIs. He has power potential as a hitter and I think his average would also come up with an increase in P.T. Wilson only had 1 error but 3 passed balls in 38 innings behind the dish for the Angels last season. Wilson threw out 6 of 34 runners (17.6%) trying to steal on him last season and Angels’ pitchers had a 3.63 ERA with him behind the plate. Wilson has as good a chance as Mathis or Conger of winning the starting gig behind the plate this spring.

23-year old switch hitting Hank Conger came into last season as the Angels’ #1 prospect according to Baseball America. Conger played in 108 games in AAA-ball last season in which he was 116 of 387 (.300 avg, .847 OPS) with 56 runs scored, 11 homers and 49 RBIs. He also showed a good eye in the minors last season as he walked 55 times while whiffing 58 times. Conger also played in 13 games for the Angels last year in which he was 5 of 29 (.172 avg, .570 OPS) with 2 runs scored and 5 RBIs. Conger made 3 errors in 10 games behind the plate for the Angels last season but he didn’t have any passed balls. He might have just been a tad nervous in his first experience in the show. Conger threw out 1 of 9 (11.1%) runners trying to steal on him last season but Angels’ pitchers had a 1.91 ERA in 80 innings pitched. Conger will likely start the 2011 season in AAA-ball if he doesn’t win the starting job in spring training.

PROJECTED GRADE FOR THE ANGELS CATCHERS IN 2011: C-

The Los Angeles Angels sign Virgil Vasquez

Blogged under Arrivals & Departures,Bloglockers,Front Page,General by chinmusic on Wednesday 26 January 2011 at 5:25 pm

The Los Angeles Angels have signed 28-year old righty starting pitcher Virgil Vasquez to a minor league deal. Vasquez pitched in 13 games (all starts) in Rookie+AAA-ball last season and he was 7-2 with a 4.54 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP. He last pitched in the majors back in 2009 with the Pirates. He has pitched in 19 games (10 starts) in his first two years in the majors and he is 2-6 with a 6.60 ERA and a 1.76 WHIP. Vasquez has been overmatched so far in the majors as he has given up 85 hits (13 homers) in only 61 1/3 innings so far in his career. He’s going to have to earn his way to L.A. by pitching good in the minors in 2011.

The Los Angeles Angels acquire Vernon Wells from the Blue Jays

Blogged under Arrivals & Departures,Bloglockers,Front Page,General by chinmusic on Friday 21 January 2011 at 9:44 pm

The Los Angeles Angels have acquired 32-year old righty swinging outfielder Vernon Wells from the Blue Jays for 29-year old righty swinging C/1B Mike Napoli and 32-year old outfielder Juan Rivera. Wells played in 157 games for the Blue Jays last season and he was 161 of 590 (.273 avg, .847 OPS) with 79 runs scored, 31 homers, 88 RBIs and 6 stolen bases. He has now played in 1,393 games in his first 12 years in the majors and he is 1,529 for 5,470 (.280 avg, .804 OPS) with 789 runs scored, 223 homers, 813 RBIs and 90 stolen bases. Wells has made the A.L. All-Star Team 3 times, he has won 3 Gold Gloves and 1 Silver Slugger Award in his major league career to date. It will be interesting to see if the Angels play Wells in CF or LF in 2011. He is the best player in this deal but he’s also by far the most expensive.

Mike Napoli played in 140 games for the Angels last season and he was 108 of 453 (.238 avg, .784 OPS) with 60 runs scored, 26 homers, 68 RBIs and 4 stolen bases. He played in 506 games in his five years with the Angels and he was 389 of 1,549 (.251 avg, .831 OPS) with 246 runs scored, 92 homers, 249 RBIs and 21 stolen bases. With Kendry Morales coming back from injury, Bobby Abreu likely moving to DH and Jeff Mathis, Bobby Wilson and Hank Conger behind the plate…..Napoli was expendable. Juan Rivera played in 124 games for the Angels last season and he was 105 of 416 (.252 avg, .721 OPS) with 53 runs scored, 15 homers, 52 RBIs and 2 stolen bases. Rivera played in 595 games in his six years with the Angels and he was 566 of 2,042 (.277 avg, .789 OPS) with 270 runs scored, 92 homers and 337 RBIs.

I think the Angels are a better team now than they were yesterday.

The Los Angeles Angels sign Gil Velazquez

Blogged under Arrivals & Departures,Bloglockers,Front Page,General by chinmusic on Saturday 15 January 2011 at 9:13 pm

The Angels have signed 31-year old righty swinging shortstop Gil Velazquez to a minor league deal. Velazquez played in 72 games in AAA-ball last season and he was 60 of 241 (.249 avg, .644 OPS) with 24 runs scored, 1 homer, 18 RBIs and 4 stolen bases. Velazquez last played in the majors in 2009 with the Red Sox. He has played in 9 games in parts of two years in the majors and he is 1 for 10 (.100 avg, .282 OPS) with 1 RBI. Velazquez will likely start the year in AAA and get a call to L.A. if the Angels need him.

The Los Angeles Angels ink Kevin Richardson

Blogged under Arrivals & Departures,Bloglockers,Front Page,General by chinmusic on Saturday 15 January 2011 at 9:10 pm

The Los Angeles Angels have inked 30-year old righty swinging catcher Kevin Richardson to a minor league deal. Richardson played in 63 games in AA+AAA-ball last season and he was 53 of 215 (.247 avg, .760 OPS) with 26 runs scored, 12 homers, 31 RBIs and 2 stolen bases. He last played in the majors in 2009 with the Rangers, and it is his only major league experience to date. Richardson has played in 4 games in his major league career and he is 3 of 6 (.500 avg, 1.000 OPS) with 2 runs scored. The Angels will likely stash Richardson in AAA-ball as they have a lot of catchers ahead of him on the depth chart.

The Los Angeles Angels sign Kevin Melillo

Blogged under Arrivals & Departures,Bloglockers,Front Page,General by chinmusic on Saturday 15 January 2011 at 9:07 pm

The Angels have signed 28-year old lefty swinging IF/OF Kevin Melillo to a minor league deal. Melillo played in 98 games in AAA-ball last season and he was 97 of 352 (.276 avg, .810 OPS) with 54 runs scored, 10 homers, 41 RBIs and 9 stolen bases. He has only played in 1 game in his major league career (in 2007 with the Oakland A’s) and he walked in his only plate appearance. Melillo is a good guy to have stashed in AAA, as he can play almost any position defensively.

Bert Blyleven gets elected into Baseball’s Hall of Fame

Blogged under Blast from the Past,Bloglockers,Front Page,General by chinmusic on Thursday 6 January 2011 at 9:03 pm

59-year old starting pitcher Bert Blyleven has been elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame. Blyleven pitched in 81 games (80 starts) in three years with the California Angels (1989-1992) and he was 33-24 with a 3.92 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. Blyleven finished his career with the Angels and he was pretty solid for them. In 1989, at the age of 38, Blyleven started 33 games in which he was 17-5 with a 2.73 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP. He finished in 4th place for the A.L. Cy Young Award in 1989 for the Angels. Blyleven pitched in 692 games (685 starts) in his 22 years in the majors and he was 287-250 with a 3.31 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP.

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