Results tagged ‘ Mike Scioscia ’

Jason Vargas still on the mend …

Jason Vargas would figure to be one of the more attractive arms leading up to the non-waiver Trade Deadline. He’s a free agent at season’s end, he’d cost the pro-rated share of $8.5 million this season, he’s on an Angels team that enters the second half nine games out of the final playoff spot and, well, he’s a solid left-handed starting pitcher.

Problem: He may still be on the disabled list by the time the non-waiver Trade Deadline comes and goes.

Vargas has been on the shelf since June 21 with a blood clot near his left armpit area. He had surgery, took two weeks off from throwing a baseball and has progressed since then, currently playing catch from 140 feet. But he has yet to get off a mound, and after he does that, he’ll likely have to go on a rehab assignment.

And the Trade Deadline is 13 days away.

“He’s got a little more work to do long-tossing before he can get on the mound,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “We’ll evaluate him through this next week.”

– Alden Gonzalez

Fujikawa meets with Angels, among others

UPDATE, MONDAY, 1:30 P.M. PT: Fujikawa did indeed meet with Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto this weekend, a source confirmed to MLB.com, with Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times specifying that it took place Saturday and Mike Scioscia was also in attendance.

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Right-hander Kyuji Fujikawa, the top closer in Japan for nearly a decade, is a free agent now, has begun meeting with Major League clubs and is slated to stop by the Angels’ facility, according to a recent report in The Dallas Morning News, which added that the 32-year-old had already visited with the D-backs and Cubs and was also slated to meet with the Dodgers. The Rangers are also believed to have interest.

Since he’s a free agent, Fujikawa won’t have to go through the expensive posting system, where teams bid on the rights to simply negotiate with a player. Fujikawa, who mixes a mid-90s fastball with a split-finger and slider, has gone 42-25 with a 1.77 ERA, a 0.96 WHIP, 914 strikeouts and 220 saves in 692 1/3 career innings for the Hanshin Tigers. In 2012, he posted a 1.24 ERA and 41 saves in 56 games.

Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto likes him, but he’s among several free agents the club is looking at in hopes of improving the bullpen.

“I have seen Fujikawa; we have up-to-date scouting reports on him,” Dipoto said. “We have scouted him, as have the 29 other Major League clubs. He’s no secret in the industry. Everyone has seen him. He’s been a premier closer in Japan for the last half-dozen, seven years, and it remains to be seen where he winds up. But he’s one of the available free agents, and therefore he’s a name that we, like everybody else, have considered.”

Alden Gonzalez

Angels in a bit of a holding pattern

The closer July 31 gets, the more vulnerable the Angels’ starting rotation looks, making the need and desire for outside help seem that much more prominent.

With 12 days left until the non-waiver Trade Deadline, though, everyone seems to be in a holding pattern.

The Angels themselves are waiting to see if Dan Haren can regain form after dealing with lingering back stiffness, which could have a major say in how willing they are to trade for a premium starter. And the trade market in general could be slowed by two wrinkles in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement – the extra wild card and the diminishing Draft-pick compensation.

But general manager Jerry Dipoto doesn’t anticipate pitching being any more difficult to come by this year.

“I think there are different dynamics at play that are creating a little bit of a drag on the market, but I don’t think it’s moving at any quicker or slower pace, or there’s any more or less players that are available at the right price,” he said. “I just don’t know that we’ve determined, as an industry, what the appropriate value for those players might be.”

Some of that has to do with Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke – two starters the Angels have been linked to all month.

The Phillies, CBSSports.com reported on Tuesday, are preparing to offer Hamels a six-year extension worth $130 million. If he doesn’t accept, they’ll have little chance but to shop him. But until that’s finalized, those talks won’t intensify.

And then there’s Greinke, who’s slumping through July and did not pitch as scheduled this week, with the Brewers trying to get him back on track while still deciding whether they’re going to be buyers or sellers – or neither – at the Deadline.

Until the situations surrounding the two most coveted starting pitchers are decided, little movement can take place.

One thing’s for sure: The Angles are keeping their ears open.

With a 5.28 rotation ERA in July, and several uncertainties up and down their staff, they need to.

“Our starters just before the [All-Star] break started struggling with some stuff,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said after his club’s 5-1 loss to the Tigers on Thursday, which saw Jerome Williams give up five runs in six innings. “[Jered Weaver] is obviously pitching well, C.J. [Wilson] has given us a couple good looks here and there, Ervin [Santana] did a couple nights ago. But outside of that, we’re just not getting the ball to a certain point in the game. That also affects how your bullpen is going to do.”

Alden Gonzalez

Morales will be tendered contract by Angels

The Angels will indeed tender Kendrys Morales a contract prior to Monday’s deadline, general manager Jerry Dipoto confirmed during Saturday’s introductory press conference for Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson.

After finishing fifth in voting for the American League’s Most Valuable Player award in 2009, Morales missed nearly two full seasons with a broken lower left leg. A lot is still unknown about Morales’ status for 2012, regarding his health – he’ll still need to prove he can run at full speed in Spring Training – and whether or not he’ll remain with the team.

But the Angels will at least keep their options open.

And when asked about plans for a cleanup hitter behind Pujols, manager Mike Scioscia went directly to his switch-hitter, who’s entering his second year of arbitration after making $2.975 million in 2011.

“The one thing that sets us up really well is if Kendrys Morales is coming back; just his presence, being from the left side,” Scioscia said. “Right now, a player like Albert, there’s really only one way to protect him. One is get guys on base in front of him, and the other is have some depth behind him that will take advantage when they walk him, or he gets on base a lot, too. So I think we’re going to get guys in front that hopefully are not going to set the table, but be able to run and get in scoring position and do things that you want for the middle of your lineup.”

– Alden Gonzalez 

Top priority for Scioscia: Starting pitching

Mike Scioscia made it clear during his availability at the Winter Meetings on Tuesday that adding starting pitching is the No. 1 priority.

Asked whether he’d prefer to add a bat (perhaps someone like Aramis Ramirez) or a starter (perhaps someone like C.J. Wilson), Scioscia chose a starter — despite the presence of Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana.

“We need to get stronger pitching,” Scioscia said. “I think if you look at a lot of things ‑‑ you’re just talking about in the rotation, but we need depth in our bullpen, and we need depth in our rotation, and I think those are things that are priorities as Jerry [DiPoto] is moving through this process this winter. We had a lot of leads last year. Even though our offense wasn’t firing on all cylinders, we had countless games that maybe because of some depth in our bullpen that fell through the cracks that would have made a difference in our ability to contend particularly those last couple weeks in our division.”

More quotes are up on the blog.

Alden

Angels the frontrunners for C.J.?

That’s the word from late Monday night, where Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeted that the Angels “have emerged as favorites for C.J. Wilson.” The Halos were reportedly meeting with Wilson’s agent late Monday night, Day 1 of the Winter Meetings from Dallas, and Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com said via Twitter that the Angels were making a “serious push” to sign him.

Earlier in the day, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that five teams were in on Wilson and one of them had made a six-year offer (though the identity of that team never really materialized). Wilson, a native of Newport Beach, Calif., had dinner with new Angels general manager Jerry DiPoto and long-time skipper Mike Scioscia in late November. DiPoto and Wilson’s agent, Bob Garber, also met during  the General Managers Meetings in Milwaukee.

Asked about paying Wilson something higher than the five-year, $85 million extension Jered Weaver signed in August, Dipoto said that thought would “certainly create some hesitancy.” As it usual is with negotiations like these, though, this is a very fluid situation. Wilson could be lured by the prospect of pitching close to where he grew up, and if they still want to improve their offense after the signing, the Angels could do so via the trade market.

The Nationals, Marlins, Red Sox and Rangers have also been said to have strong interest. According to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick, Texas plans to make its first offer to C.J. on Tuesday.

Alden

Big move looks unlikely for Angels

CLEVELAND – There has been considerable talk about the need of another bat or a reliever, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia seems content with his roster. Before Monday night’s game against the Indians, Scioscia didn’t dismiss outright the notion of a non-waiver Trade Deadline deal being made by Sunday – but didn’t sound overly encouraged or even enthused about the prospect.

Owner “Arte Moreno has spent enough money,” Scioscia said. “We need to get it in-house. It’s realistic. It’s not a wing and a prayer. I think we’ll get better, and I’ve already seen signs of it.”

In Scioscia’s mind, a return to form by Fernando Rodney after missing five weeks with upper back issues “is like a huge trade acquisition.” Rodney couldn’t have looked much better in his first appearance since returning to the bullpen, striking out two of the three hitters he faced in Baltimore on Saturday with fastballs only.

“It’s hard to get a guy who can throw anywhere from middle [relief] to late in the game and have the possibility to close,” Scioscia said, referring to Rodney. He brings back-end balance in the form of two right-handers (with closer Jordan Walden) and two lefties (Scott Downs and Hisanori Takahashi).”

There have been reports connecting the Angels to the Padres and Heath Bell, but the Angels have been down that road before and the asking price was way too high for their taste.

Scisocia seems convinced the Angels’ offense has the right pieces but just needs Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, Maicer Izturis and Vernon Wells to produce closer to the level of their track records. – Lyle Spencer

Scioscia looking in-house

Angels manager Mike Scioscia didn’t sound overly enthused on Sunday about the Angels going outside the organization for an upgrade as the non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches.

“The potential to get better is in our clubhouse,” Scioscia said. “We’re not going to look at the standings. We’ve seen some growth and some shortcomings. We have to focus on playing good baseball. We’re not the deep team we need to be, but we’re deeper now than we were.”

It’s no secret that any club offering an impact hitter to the Angels will be asking for super prospect Mike Trout in return.  Trout might not be untouchable, but you might burn yourself if you try to get too close to the multi-talented outfielder. It would take something almost unimaginable for the Angels to part with the future star they plan to align with Peter Bourjos and possibly Mark Trumbo in a potentially lethal outfield. — Lyle Spencer

 

Angels excited about opener

Frigid weather notwithstanding, the Angels are geared up for their season opener against the Royals.

“Every Opening Day is a new experience,” clubhouse leader Torii Hunter said. “We have a great blend here of young guys who can’t wait to get started with their careers and older guys like Vernon [Wells], Bobby [Abreu] and myself who can teach them some things and show them the way. I really like our team. I think we’re ready for a big year.”

Angels manager Mike Scioscia echoed Hunter’s sentiments, adding that he’ll feel even better when Kendrys Morales returns from his foot ailment to fortify the heart of the lineup.

“We’re definitely excited, ready to get after it,” Scioscia said from the visitors’ dugout about 2 1/2 hours before game time at Kauffman Stadium. “We feel good about where we are. I know we have some growth. I hope we can continue to improve as we get into the season and get a little deeper.”

That depth was a reference not only to Morales, who could be back in about three weeks, but also setup man Scott Downs, whose recovery from a broken bone in his left big toe is right on schedule. — Lyle Spencer

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