This is a question that doesn't deserve to be dignified with an answer. C'mon now, shouldn't Josh Hamilton really be batting 2nd in the Angels’ lineup come 2013? The answer is so obvious, who wouldn't want to see a Trout-Hamilton-Pujols-Trumbo lineup? That is easily the deadliest 1-4 in all of baseball within recent memory. I haven't been a fan of baseball as long as a lot of you have, but I feel confident in saying that is one of the best lineup combinations within the last few decades. That lineup has the potential to put together 120+ HR's just between the four of them. The all put up a combined 135 HR's last season, so even if they remain stagnant and neither improve nor regress that'll still be an incredible amount of production from 4 consecutive players. At first glance it seems that it's almost a no-brainer that Hamilton bats 2nd, that idea quickly falls apart once you regard both the lineup behind the 4 spot and the unpredictability in said lineup.
Once Josh Hamilton signed it seemed to be a fact that he would bat 2nd, but the departure of Kendrys Morales to the Seattle Mariners took away a lot of depth and protection from the Angels lineup. Whereas Kendrys would have projected to hit 4th with Trumbo protecting him in the 5th spot it seems that there is a serious vacancy in the 5th spot in the lineup. If Hamilton does indeed hit second then who could possibly hit 5th in the lineup behind Trumbo? Howie Kendrick? While he does seem to be the best fit in the lineup currently to hit 5th his inability to find consistency at the plate as well as his high strikeout numbers would prove more damaging than productive to the Angels lineup. Once you take into account his horrible tendancy to his into the most untimely double plays, noted by the 26 double plays he grounded into last season, it seems that Mr. Unclutch Freeswinger isn't really the best option to hit 5th. However, his 2012 season was a regression from his 2011 campaign, and when you take into account his relatively young age (29) it seems plausible he could have a strong bounce back campaign. But if that were the case wouldn't the lineup project better with a bounce-back Kendrick hitting 2nd with Pujols/Hamilton/Trumbo behind him? Last year Torii Hunter saw an incredibly low number of off-speed pitches, with only 15.1% of the pitches being thrown to Hunter registering as off-speed/breaking pitches. The benefit of hitting behind Trout is getting a lot of hard, fast pitches to hit; with guys like Hamilton or Kendrick having the benefit of seeing a bevy of hittable pitches it seems that one of these two would be perfect for the 2 hole. Once you consider these two hitters ability to kill fastballs and flounder on breaking pitches it seems obvious that one of these two would be best fit to hit 2nd. Kendrick’s inconsistencies make him a less attractive option than the very stable Alberto Callaspo, though Callaspo does not have as high of an upside as Kendrick.
Last year Josh Hamilton saw an incredibly low amount of fastballs, with fastballs being thrown to him approximately 50% of the time. This number, based off of FanGraphs, is the sixth lowest fastball rate in the last decade. To compare, the lowest fastball rate in the last decade belongs to Ryan Howard in 2009, a season in which he saw fastballs only 47% of the time. With Hamilton hitting behind Trout he'll be feasting off of more fastballs, there is no doubt about that at all. Hamilton kills fastballs in the middle/lower-half of the zone, holding a .700+SLG % on the middle/lower-half fastball. Adding in the fact that Hamilton will be hitting between Trout and Pujols, it just seems obvious that Hamilton should be batting second in the lineup. Keeping him away from the 2nd spot would be like keeping the caramel out of a Twix bar. Even though it just feels so obvious that Hamilton should be hitting second the fact that the lineup drops off pretty hard after Trumbo signifies to us that Hamilton should be hitting lower in the lineup to keep from packing the meat of the order into one area while allow the rest of the lineup to suffer. The biggest key would be Mark Trumbo, given how absolutely horrible his 2nd half was in 2012 is seems that having him hit 4th when he could fall apart at any second seems counter-productive to creating a strong, consistent lineup. Then again, if we do see the return of pre-All Star break Trumbo we could be in for an absolute behemoth of a lineup. However, even a resurgent Trumbo can't ensure quality bats in the 5-9 spot in the order. Even if the 1-4 hitters are killing hit having an inconsistent Howie Kendrick hit 5th followed by Chris Iannetta or Callaspo seems like a weak follow up to the top of the lineup.no comments
The January 24th, 2013 edition of daily news for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim including Wells not likely to be traded, wondering if Luis Jimenez could be a breakout candidate and much more...
The Monkey Says: Delmon Young just ruins everything. I can't say that this is a huge surprise, but it is still disappointing if only because Wells needs a fresh start and I still worry about Scioscia being tempted to use Wells over Bourjos the first time Petey goes into a slump.
The Monkey Says: It is more of a hunch than any real educated analysis. One thing I will give Luis credit for is that even though he is a free-swinger, he actually makes a lot of contact and doesn't strike out much, so there could be a little more something there because we have seen players in the past succeed even though they don't draw walks by compensating for it by just being able to make good contact with everything. I'm not sure Lucho is one of those guys, but I'd sure like to see him get some kind of a chance at the bigs this season.
The MWAH prospect countdown marches on with this year's catching prospect du jour. Maybe this one will actually work out.
Position: C Highest Level: Low-A
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6'1" Weight: 205 lbs.
Age: 23 Born: 1/10/90
2012 Season Stats
Low-A: 214 PA, .268 AVG, .385 OBP, .419 SLG, 7 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 23 RBI, 38 SO, 1 SB, 2 CS, .319 BABIP
Contact – C+. Wright’s ability to make contact was slightly below average throughout college. However, like all good prospects, he showed the ability to develop this particular skill, and his strikeouts came under control during his senior year. This trend continued in his stint in A-Ball (he skipped Rookie Ball after being drafted). He’ll probably swing and miss more as he progresses through the system, but he gets a slightly above average grade because of his ability to make adjustments.
Power – B. This is what attracted so many teams to Wright. Power hitting catchers are a rarity, and even more rare are power hitting catchers that can remain catchers and not become first baseman or DH’s. The Midwest League isn’t a hitter friendly environment, but Wright drove balls into the gaps and over fences with authority. This isn’t a feigning ability either, Wright’s build suggests he may become even stronger with age.
Discipline – B+. Wright is another one of those picks that screams “Dipoto selection”. He’s got a good eye, works counts in his favor and will walk his way on base when necessary. Scouts within the organization rave about Wright’s ability to make adjustments and advanced approach at the plate. The Angels themselves were surprised Wright was still on the board after the 10th round given his ability to reach base. On their board, he was projected to go in the 5th round.
Speed – C. Wright is fast enough to swipe a base when needed but I wouldn’t put him in a foot race with most outfielders or middle infielders.
Arm – B. Wright’s flashed a strong arm through all four years at East Carolina and scouts saw more of the same in Cedar Rapids. Combined with his ability to get in front of pitches in the dirt, it’s clear that Wright will remain a catcher throughout higher levels of the organization.
Performance – B. How many mid-round selections skip rookie ball altogether and hold their own and then some in A-Ball? He hit for power, he played excellent defense and showed an advanced eye at the plate.
Projection – B-. Wright doesn’t project into being a superstar, but it’s clear that his tools are better than that of most collegiate mid-round selections. If he continues to develop, the best comparison for him would actually be current Angels catcher Chris Iannetta given his power, arm and discipline.
Estimated MLB Arrival Date – 2015/2016.
(*As always, the above scouting report is provided by Scotty Allen of LA Angels Insider)no comments
The January 23rd, 2013 edition of daily news for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim including the Angels need to give Mike Trout an extension now, projecting Hamilton based on swing and contract rates and much more...
The Monkey Says: He also thinks that water is wet, that murder is bad and that Lance Armstrong might have done PEDs. I tell ya, that Jim Bowden is one controversial dude!
The Monkey Says: When the name Miguel Olivo is invoked, you won't be able to help but tremble all the way to the core of your soul. I do agree though that no matter what we see from Hamilton, his career and talent level or so unique that he is essentially unprojectable. Still, MIGUEL OLIVO!
The Rally Monkey, the “Steal Third” kid’s run, and light-up beer glasses. To Southern Californians, these items are the signatures of the Big A, Angels Stadium of Anaheim. Certainly there are countless other hallmarks of the stadium, but they all share one thing: Tradition. Some newer than others, but all are considered calling cards of the Angels’ home turf. Some, like the Rally Monkey are here to stay, but other budding traditions are on more tenuous ground.
Namely, the 7th inning singing of The Foundations song “Build Me Up Buttercup”.
It may come as a surprise to some, but apparently there those who don’t enjoy late-60's soul-pop with their seventh inning stretch. If last year’s team performance was any indication, the soundtrack between innings is the least of management’s concerns. However, it has been said a team thrives off of the energy from the fans. So in the interest of increasing fan enjoyment, let’s consider other songs in place of Buttercup.
A main complaint in the anti-Buttercup camp is that the song has nothing to do with baseball (lookin at you, Boston. “Sweet Caroline”? ...Yeah). Our task then, is to find a song with a link to baseball. The party classic “Tequila” by The Champs was prominently featured in the baseball cinema classic “The Sandlot”, but since no alcohol is served after the 7th, maybe it’s better we don’t stick the notion in people’s heads to have a shot before getting on the road. If we wish to go with an older classic, Mozart’s “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” was used in the Charlie Sheen feature “Major League”, and could bring a certain level of class to the ballpark. Unfortunately, unless there’s a new earl grey tea vendor in the venue this season, orchestra arrangements might not be so a great for a ballgame.
If the baseball link can’t be addressed, then maybe we can solve other Buttercup-related concerns. A secondary issue brought to the table is that Buttercup is a sad song. Upon examination of the lyrics, there is a very sad state of affairs afoot in the track. A young man sings of a woman he loves, but she won’t be tied down to him and he refuses let go of his feelings. Indeed, the smooth, soulful pop sound belies a generally crappy mood. A more up tempo, happier song may be the ticket here. Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin” is the obvious (if a bit clichéd) choice. The hit anthem is definitely a pick-me-up, but anyone who has visited a karaoke bar will tell you: About 1 out of 13 people can truly sing it well. In a stadium with a capacity of over 50,000 people, there are more than 46,153 ways that situation can go badly. Moving forward, The Beach Boys “California Girls” would be a nice nod to the home state, but it’s only a matter of time before the porcine drunks in attendance find a sort of humor in strutting body parts that nobody wants to see. Think of a slow motion horror show, similar to watching replays of Kendrys Morales breaking his leg hopping on home plate.
Traditions don’t come into their own overnight. Sure, at first people would turn their heads and say “Why are they playing Build Me Up Buttercup every game?” but now it has become expected. Whether it grows to be a part of ballpark lore, or becomes part of a story that starts with “Hey, do you remember how stupid that song was?” is ultimately up to chance. Perhaps there is just enough twisted charm in the song to make it an Anaheim crown jewel, just like Del Taco after the game, or seeing “Monster Jam” truck shows in the off-season.
As long as fans don’t traditionalize the Macarena or the Cha-Cha Slide, we should be okay.
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The January 22nd, 2013 edition of daily news for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim including Trout accepts RoY award, the 2002 Angels bullpen one of the best ever and much more...
The Monkey Says: Public speaking is not one of his five tools. I'm a bit disappointed in him for not taking a jab at the BBWAA for screwing him over in the MVP voting, but I guess he had to go and be all classy and junk.
The Monkey Says: And just imagine how much better it could have been had K-Rod been on the team for the whole season.
Watching Howie Kendrick hit has always been a joy for me. The way he sprays line drives all over the field is simply fun to watch. When a hitter is consistently able to square the ball up no matter the location, they are pretty special. Kendrick falls into this category when he is going well, as he is extremely tough to get out and seems to hit everything. Angel fans have become accustomed to seeing Kendrick rifle line drives off the right center field wall. Because of this, the Angel faithful have always had a special place in their hearts for Howie. Most Angel followers have always revered Mr. Kendrick, yet Howie has left them wanting more. Imagine a parent who loves their kid, but is just waiting for them to reach their potential. Due to a widely perceived off year in 2012, some of that support has dwindled. Upon further review of his numbers, Howie was not as bad as many thought he was last year. Actually, if he can fix two things, he stands a good chance to start living up to the great expectations that have always followed him. But first, let’s go back to the beginning.
When Howie Kendrick made his debut on April 26, 2006, the excitement was palpable. He was being called upon to kick start a struggling offense and the reports of his minor league prowess with the bat were glowing. Kendrick was promoted despite the fact that incumbent second baseman Adam Kennedy was hitting .338 at the time. That mattered very little, as manager Mike Scioscia was in need of some more production from his lineup. The offense seemed to need Kendrick’s bat and it did not matter what position he played. With Casey Kotchman struggling, Kendrick was one of several players given a shot at first base that year. As a matter of fact, during that first season, Kendrick started more games at first base (42) than he did at second base (25). There was much excitement about his offensive abilities, from the coaching staff, fellow players and fans alike. The most commonly bandied about description Angel fans heard was “future batting champ”. Those three words have followed Kendrick throughout his first 7 big league seasons and probably will continue to until he wins a batting title. Fair or not, a lot has always been expected of the second baseman.
Every winter from 2007-2011 Angel fans would wonder if the coming season would be the one that Kendrick would lead the league in hitting. This winter, due to the obvious fact that Mike Trout will lead the universe in hitting for the next 20 years, (just kidding, only the next 15 years) there has been little discussion of a batting title for Kendrick. Combine the Trout factor with the double play, rally killing machine that was Howie Kendrick last year and you can understand why those expectations might have fallen for Howie. To those who watched a large portion of Angel games last year it seemed like EVERY time Howie was up with a runner on first, a double play followed. Well of course that was not true; the actually number was only 23% of the time. Yes, you saw that right. With a runner on first and less than two outs, Kendrick hit into a double play almost a quarter of the time. The double plays definitely hurt, as they always seemed to come in big spots. But recording such a large number of GIDP does not make a season a failure, just ask Miguel Cabrera. Most of Kendrick’s other numbers were right in line with his career averages, so why did last year seem so rough? When you look closely at those numbers there are four stats that stick out, and they all coincide with each other and all stem from 2011.no comments