Mailbag: Halos need another bat?
Reporter Mychael Urban answers questions about the ALDS
Will the Game 2 result finally bring Angels general manager Bill Stoneman and manager Mike Scioscia to the realization that they need some more big bats in the lineup? For several years now, popular opinion has suggested that this is the difference between the Angels being serious World Series title contenders and annual division winners, and perhaps opposing teams are starting to smell their advantage when it really counts. As good a job as Mike and the team have done playing their run-and-gun style of baseball, their best results are when Vladimir Guerrero and Garret Anderson are pounding the ball long and deep. But when they go quiet, who is there in support?
-- Rohan S., Melbourne, Australia
You seem to be suggesting that Stoneman and Scioscia don't realize their team could use another big bat or two, but that's probably off the mark. Of course they do. Everyone does.
And I certainly understand the frustration of fans that have seen the team stand pat at the trade deadline for the past few years when the need for more power has been obvious -- particularly given the fact that the Angels appear to have plenty of top prospects and young big league talent to dangle in an effort to land such additions.
But I also see the logic in Stoneman's (and let's face it, owner Arte Moreno's) reluctance to part with many of the young studs the Halos have in their system in exchange for someone like Miguel Tejada, to offer a recent example. If the Angels project a guy like Casey Kotchman or Brandon Wood to develop into a .320 hitter or a 25- to 30-homer guy in the near future, they'd be nuts to deal him because -- unlike a Tejada-type -- Kotchman and Wood could very well end up being highly productive and cheap for years.
Bottom line, as far as I'm concerned: If Vlad, GA and Gary Matthews Jr. were all healthy right now, the Angels wouldn't be down 0-2 in this series. And in a year or two, you'll be thrilled that Stoneman resisted the quick fix at the expense of a potentially very bright future.
Who will have the biggest impact for the Red Sox in this postseason: J.D. Drew, Coco Crisp, Dustin Pedroia or Jacoby Ellsbury?
-- Jeff D., no hometown provided
Obviously this is little more than a guess, but I'm going to split my pick between Pedroia and Drew, because of where they hit in the batting order.
The last thing opponents are going to want to do, now that David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez both look to be closing in on that scary locked-in territory they often inhabit, is walk Pedroia ahead of the big boys. So they'll go right after him with a diet heavy on fastballs, and I like his chances of taking advantage.
It's a similar deal with Drew. Teams are going to be pitching around Big Papi and Manny a lot, so they'll be on base a lot. And by the time Drew comes up, the bases might be so full that Drew gets a lot of hittable pitches, too.
I don't understand why Scioscia keeps putting Frankie Rodriguez in when the game is on the line. He does great when the Angels have at least a two-run lead, but otherwise, he doesn't even begin to pitch the way he should unless one man is on second and his adrenaline is running high. You can guarantee a run by him in the ninth most of the time. He is just not a mystery anymore. He has a lot of great stuff, but he's just not warmed up enough when he first goes in. He needs more time in the bullpen than he thinks he does.
-- Geri D., La Habra, Calif.
Just curious, Geri: If you don't want K-Rod in the game when the game's on the line, you obviously don't want him to be your closer. And if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. So what's the solution? Who would you like to see closing?
Justin Speier? He's developed into a solid setup man, but he's 33 years old, he has 17 career regular-season saves, and his lifetime ERA is just under 4.00. Rodriguez is 25 years old, has 146 career regular-season saves and a lifetime ERA of 2.37. Scot Shields? Darren Oliver? No. K-Rod is a very, very good closer. He's had some rough patches this year, but he's still far and away Scioscia's best option with the game on the line.
I know you're frustrated, and you have every right to be under the circumstances. But Rodriguez only gave up three runs in 11 appearances in September, and he got beat by a future Hall of Famer on Friday night. That's going to happen now and again.
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After watching Manny's walk-off, I wondered if home runs in the postseason count on an individual's all-time home run total. Is this the case? Because before this game, I know he had 490 homers; does this one make it 491? Thanks for your time.
-- Robert B., no hometown provided
No problem, Robert. And no, Manny's moon shot off K-Rod doesn't count on his career total -- that's for regular-season homers only, so Manny still needs to go deep 10 times in 2008 to join the 500 club.
If playoff homers counted, Hank Aaron wouldn't have passed Babe Ruth as the all-time home run champ until Aaron's 730th career clout.
It seems like the Angels are really banged up for this series. Could all these injuries be the result of the style of offense they play, i.e., always taking the extra base, hit-and-runs, etc., which might tend to wear down veteran players over the course of a season? Or is it just a case of the injury bug hitting at the wrong time?
-- Matt B., Chicago
I think it's the latter. Bad timing. Terrible, actually. If it's the former, which I highly doubt, someone needs to have a sit-down with the strength and conditioning coach.
There are a lot of teams that do just as much running as do the Angels. The Diamondbacks take a similar approach, in fact, and they've held up pretty well. Sure, the D-backs are a younger team with younger "veterans," but it's not like Vlad and GA are a big part of the Halos' running game. And I have a feeling that Matthews' knee trouble is more a result of his aggressive style in the outfield than anything he does on the bases.
Why did Red Sox manager Terry Francona decide to carry three catchers? I can understand carrying two, but with Tim Wakefield out with an injury, there seems little need for Doug Mirabelli, who is a knuckleball specialist and hitting .202, and Kevin Cash carries a .111 batting average with three hits. It is a well-known fact that a World Series is won with pitching, and Kyle Snyder has been an effective right-hander out of the bullpen all year long. Why not carry an 11th pitcher on the roster?
-- Ben C., Tucson, Ariz.
Remember, Ben, Francona can change his roster if Boston makes it to the next round, and he can change it again if the Red Sox reach the World Series. And he probably will.
He went with three catchers in the ALDS for two primary reasons: 1. He was confident that with the extra built-in off-day during the American League Division Series, 10 pitchers -- three starters, seven relievers -- are plenty. 2. The extra catchers give him the flexibility to pinch-run for Jason Varitek late in games and not worry about the No. 2 catcher going down and leaving the Red Sox in a pinch of another kind.
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.