April 2007

Salt Lake at Las Vegas — April 15

Bartolo Colon congratulated in the dugout after Sunday’s performance. Fellow Dominican Pedro Liriano charted the pitches.

A much larger turnout from Angels fandom Sunday, most likely to see Bartolo Colon pitch on rehab.  I’d guess about a hundred fans sitting behind the Salt Lake dugout on the third base side.

Colon was dominant.  The first 51s batter, Tony Abreu, took Bart to 13 pitches before finally taking a walk.  But after that, the only batter I can recall hitting hard Colon was Andy LaRoche, who hit a laser to center field but right at Nathan Haynes.

Bartolo’s fastball was consistently in the low 90s, and occasionally mid-90s.

Most of us thought he’d be gone after the 6th inning — the Angels fans behind the dugout gave him a standing ovation — but he came out and pitched the 7th too. So he got a louder standing ovation.

After Jonathon Rouwenhorst pitched the 8th, Chris Resop came in for the 9th. Resop was acquired from Florida during the winter for Kevin Gregg. Resop continued to struggle, giving up two runs on two hits and a walk. His mechanics are flawed, and he didn’t look like he was pitching with confidence, but his velocity got up to 97 MPH. Mechanics can be fixed. You don’t give up early on that kind of arm.

The predicted thunderstorms held off, other than for a stray raindrop or two, but driving home to O.C. it poured between Baker and Victorville. (I really have to wonder about the idiots who drive their SUVs 85 MPH on the freeway swerving in and out of traffic in a wind-driven downpour …)

Those of you who are longtime regulars at www.futureangels.com know about the legendary faceoff on July 15, 2003 between the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes and a rehabbing Randy Johnson. Bees broadcaster Steve Klauke said it’s possible there might be a rematch on Wednesday, when Salt Lake is in Tucson for a 12 PM PDT contest. Among the current Bees who were in the lineup that day were Jeff Mathis, Nick Gorneault and Mike Eylward. Dallas McPherson homered off Johnson in that game, but he’s in Tempe on rehab. Randy nicked Dallas with a pitch in his final at-bat, but injuries to one or the other over the years have robbed them of another encounter.

Salt Lake at Las Vegas — April 14

My record for the season remains intact.

I’ve been to one Quakes game, and the two Bees games here in Las Vegas.

They’ve lost all of them.

So I’m sure the good folk in Cedar Rapids and Little Rock are urging me to stay far away from their towns.

The Bees’ bats finally awoke last night, scoring four runs in the top of the 4th to tie the score at 3-3.  They fell behind at 6-3, but tied it again in the top of the 7th 6-6.  No problem for the locals, who scored two in the bottom of the 7th and one in the bottom of the 8th to win 9-6.

I have video of much of the Bees’ offense, and will try to post it on www.futureangels.com in the next day or two.  (It’s not often you get to see a Brent Del Chiaro triple.)

As for Kendry Morales, per the Bees media folk Kendry was removed Friday night due to a stiff lower back.  He missed Saturday night but could be available today.

Bartolo Colon is scheduled to make his rehab start here today at 12:00 PM PDT.  The weather forecast for the afternoon is a 40% chance of scattered thunderstorms with the temperature in the low 60s.  Right now (9 AM) it’s mostly sunny outside.

I recorded several interviews yesterday which will be in the next FutureAngels.com Radio podcast.  One was with Jim Gemma, the media guy for the Las Vegas 51s.  Yeah, I know, they’re a Dodgers affiliate, but I think Angels fans should give some thought to driving up here when Salt Lake is in town and make a good showing of Halo Red.  There are a lot of Dodgers fans in the stands.  I’ve seen a few people wearing Angels gear.  The Bees return for a four-game series July 12-15, so it would be nice to get a little Freeway Series rivalry going here in the town that never sleeps. 

Meanwhile, Not in Sports …

Back on March 16, I wrote a fanciful speculation about how Angels owner Arte Moreno might have used his Republican fundraiser connections to find out what federal prosecutors might have on Gary Matthews Jr., whose name was listed as a customer of a human growth hormone pharmacy in Alabama.

The U.S. Attorney in Mobile running the investigation is named Deborah Rhodes. I noted that she replaced her predecessor in September 2005, and was ratified about a year later — which would have been before the purge currently debated in the halls of Congress.

I speculated that Moreno could have called Karl Rove, who could have contacted a "loyal" U.S. attorney to quietly obtain information on what the feds might have on Matthews.

Well, maybe it’s not so fanciful anymore.

The latest documents released on Friday indicated that Ms. Rhodes was on a short list of candidates to replace attorneys that might be fired. The list was part of a January 2006 memo written by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ chief of staff.

As I wrote on March 16, Ms. Rhodes had a very distinguished resume with a history of prosecuting drug cases. But if her name appeared on a "short list" because she was viewed as someone "loyal" to the Administration — and let me emphasize yet again that this is just speculation — then it suggests she might be more sympathetic to a discreet inquiry made through the political back-channels.

The Mobile Press-Register on April 2 published an article about the dubious benefits of HGH to an adult, casting further doubt on speculation by some that Matthews’ anomalous 2006 was due to HGH use. Interestingly, it seems that a number of pro wrestlers were regular customers of Applied Pharmacy, the lab that allegedly sold Matthews the substance.

Anyway, for political junkies like me (hey, what’s on C-SPAN3?!) it’s fun to where all this might lead. I’ll have to remember to check the Press-Register web site in the next few days to see if they score an interview with Ms. Rhodes about her political credentials.

UPDATE April 16, 2007 — Researching the Washington Post web site, I found this about Deborah Rhodes in an April 1 article:

Of the nearly four dozen regional chief prosecutors named in Bush’s second term, 20 have been interim appointments. The proportion who have bypassed the Senate has been roughly the same for administration insiders as for the others.

Some of the insiders who had no ties to their new communities have been well received.

When Gonzales was preparing to appoint Deborah Rhodes, counselor in the department’s criminal division, she stopped by to visit with Alabama’s two Republican senators. "I don’t think I’d ever met her, or heard of her for that matter," recalled Sen. Jeff Sessions, a former U.S. attorney in the southern Alabama district in which Rhodes was to work. Sessions said he and Sen. Richard C. Shelby had intended to recommend someone local for the job permanently but ended up urging Bush to nominate Rhodes, because she appeared to be turning around an office beset by low morale and a probe of her predecessor.

Well, that explains what happened to the guy she replaced …

Salt Lake at Las Vegas — April 13

Kendry Morales left Friday’s game in the bottom of the 5th inning.

Just got back from the Salt Lake Bees game at Las Vegas.  It was the home opener for the 51s.  Although currently a Dodgers affiliate, this franchise has some Angels history we’ll get to in a moment.

The Bees lost 5-1 and didn’t impress much with two exceptions.  Terry Evans hit a shot to left field his first at-bat to give the Bees a short-lived 1-0 lead in the top of the 2nd.  In the bottom frame, Pedro Liriano gave up five runs, the critical hit a bases-loaded triple by James Loney.

Liriano was relieved by Steven Shell, just off the plane from Arkansas after being promoted to replace Greg Jones (who went to Anaheim after Kelvim Escobar was disabled).  Shell, converted to relief this year, did quite nicely.  He pitched from the stretch full-time, and pitched four scoreless innings.  Steven gave up two hits, struck out two, walked none, and induced a double-play to get out of his one jam.  He’s wearing glasses now.  According to the scoreboard, his velocity was in the high 80s with an occasional 90 MPH, but I’m not sure I buy that as he used to be in the low to mid-90s.  Shell was using his curve ball and changeup effectively.

Most curious was that Kendry Morales was lifted in the bottom half of the 5th, replaced at first base by Mike Eylward.  I’m not aware of any injury, so just speculating that maybe the Angels called him up after finally deciding to disable Shea Hillenbrand who’s been playing with a groin injury.  So far I haven’t seen any explanation on-line, so when I find something I’ll let you know.

Bartolo Colon, scheduled to make a rehab start here Sunday, was spotted briefly in the dugout during the game.  So he’s here.

As for the Las Vegas connection to Angels history … I pointed out to both the Bees broadcaster and the 51s media guy that the Las Vegas franchise originated long ago as the old Pacific Coast League Los Angeles Angels.  To move the Dodgers to L.A. from Brooklyn, Walter O’Malley had to acquire the territorial rights from the Cubs, who owned the PCL Angels.  The Dodgers moved the PCL franchise to Spokane, Washington in 1958, and there it stayed until 1982 when it moved to Las Vegas.

Just a little factoid for this Freeway Series, although it’s the I-15 Freeway Series, not the I-5 Freeway Series we Southern Californians have come to know.  Continue up the I-15 from Las Vegas about 375 miles and you’ll get to Salt Lake.  Franklin Covey Field is just a couple blocks off the I-15 in Salt Lake City.

Oh, driving up here along the I-15, gas seemed to be roughly in the $3.50-$3.60/gallon range.  Here in Vegas, gas seems to be about $2.95-$3.05/gallon.

When I get the time, I’m going to research a rumor I heard today.  The rumor has the PCL Nashville franchise looking to relocate to the West Coast, possibly somewhere in Southern California.  That rumor reminded me of past efforts by a guy in San Bernardino to bring a major league team to the Inland Empire.  I’m sure the Angels and Dodgers would have something to say about that, but so long as the PCL franchise is beyond a 45-mile radius from Angel or Dodger Stadium it would be okay.

FutureAngels.com on the Road in 2007

My travel schedule for 2007 is shaping up.

Because I live in Orange County CA, about 45 miles from Rancho Cucamonga, most of my photo/video work will naturally be with the Quakes. But I’m going to try to visit each affiliate at least once this year, if the web site finances work out.

Here’s the tentative schedule for the first half:

Salt Lake — at Las Vegas April 13-15. I should see Bartolo Colon make a rehab start with the Bees next Sunday.

Cedar Rapids — at Clinton May 12-13; at Cedar Rapids May 14-15. I’ll have to fly into Cedar Rapids, rent a car, and then drive directly to Clinton about 85 miles to the east to make that first date. Should be a fun day, flying out of Orange County at 6:45 AM to make that game. Oy.

Arkansas — at North Little Rock May 25-27. I may make it for the May 24 game too, but need to look at the finances first.

As I’ve said before, FutureAngels.com is a non-profit operation. Nobody pays me to do this — not the minor league affiliates and certainly not the Angels. Other sites that provide you with photos, analysis and interviews charge you for the privilege. I don’t. So to cover travel costs, I sell the photos to anyone who wants reprints, but I also need the help of you folk through a one-time donation or $5.00/month voluntary subscription. For 2007 to date, I’ve received $215 in donations, which certainly helps, but it costs a lot these days to drive somewhere with gas costs being what they are, and you can imagine what it’ll cost to fly to Cedar Rapids and Arkansas. Travel costs are the big killer, and if you’ve followed FutureAngels.com over the years you know I haven’t been to Cedar Rapids or Arkansas since 2003 for that reason. In fact, I’m driving out to Rancho less than I used to with gas now over $3.00/gallon.

I’m not adverse to "tasteful" advertising or sponsorship of the web site either, so if you have a business you’d like to advertise on the site, or you’d like to help sponsor FutureAngels.com, please feel free to e-mail me. Every bit helps.

Brad Coon’s Stolen Bases

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It’s time for another poll.

How many bases will Brad Coon steal in 2007?

The options are to the right … Hint: Brad stole 55 in 76 attempts last year for Cedar Rapids. He begins the 2007 season with Rancho Cucamonga.

The results of the last poll … Where will Nick Adenhart end the 2007 season?

  • Salt Lake 52%
  • Anaheim 26%
  • Arkansas 14%
  • Another Organization 6%
  • Disabled List 3%

There were 179 votes cast.

What Some People Will Do to Sell a Book

A writer is trying to promote his book by claiming that Francisco Rodriguez doctors the ball.

An early candidate for biggest non-story of 2007 is an allegation by a book author named Derek Zumsteg that Francisco Rodriguez doctors the ball when he pitches.

His so-called “evidence” is a white substance he claims to have discovered on the ball of Frankie’s cap. He posted screen captures from a recent pitching performance by Rodriguez to support his claim.

Just how dumb does Zumsteg think we are?!

Let’s see, what white powder might a pitcher be around as a matter of course … The rosin bag. Duh.

Not only is there a rosin bag on the mound, but there’s also one in the bullpen for when a pitcher warms up.

I noticed on tonight’s Angels telecast that starting pitcher Joe Saunders had white smudges on the bill of his cap when he pitched in the first inning. Oooh, the conspiracy widens.

This might also be the first time since the spitball was banned that a pitcher would use a substance that an umpire could actually see, instead of the far more popular transparent substances such as Vaseline.

Nor does Zumsteg explain how this white powdery substance could be somehow employed to alter the movement of a pitch.

Always on the prowl, Riverside Press-Enterprise reporter Matt Hurst approached Frankie before tonight’s game to ask him about the allegation:

I talked to Francisco Rodriguez about this white substance on the underside of his bill and he grabbed the hat from his locker, flipped it over and said "This?"

On the black underside of his cap was a sizable white smudge.

"It’s rosin," Rodriguez said.

There is a rosin bag on the back of every mound in professional baseball filled with the white, chalky substance that pitcher’s can use on their hands to eliminate sweat so they can better grip the ball. John Lackey, for instance, puts it on his left wrist, just above his glove, so he can wipe his right hand on the wrist instead of constantly going to the rosin bag.

So, why does Rodriguez continually tug on his cap, bringing suspicion about?

Because he stopped wearing his trademark goggles, he fidgets with his hat instead of his glasses.

End of story. Or it should be.

I’d thought about buying Zumsteg’s book, but now I won’t put a penny into this man’s pocket.

Meanwhile, I’m going to watch the Zapruder film again to see if I can spot Frankie anywhere on the Grassy Knoll …

UPDATE April 6, 2007 8:30 AM PDT — The non-story is duly reported in the local papers, giving Zumsteg more undeserved publicity:

Los Angeles Times: "Rodriguez Rebuts Furor with Chalk Talk". (To quote author Mike DiGiovanna, "It’s the rosin, stupid.")

Orange County Register: "Accusation Against Rodriguez Reviewed"

Riverside Press-Enterprise: "Rodriguez: It’s Rosin"

MLB.com: Get a Grip, Says K-Rod

This article is copyright © 2007 Wordsmith Resources and FutureAngels.com. It may not be used elsewhere without the prior expressed written permission of the author.

You Can’t Tell the Players without a Scorecard

Curtis Pride will open the 2007 season on the Arkansas Travelers’ roster.

The Angels affiliates released their Opening Night rosters today:

Salt Lake Bees
Arkansas Travelers
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes
Cedar Rapids Kernels

Comments and observations …

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that 38-year old veteran outfielder Curtis Pride will open the season on the Double-A Arkansas Travelers roster. I’m guessing this is one or both of two scenarios. If you look at the Triple-A Salt Lake roster, it shows only three outfielders — Terry Evans, Nick Gorneault and Nathan Haynes. But you might also see guys like Kendry Morales, Matt Brown and Mike Eylward get some time in the corner outfield positions. The Angels want Evans and Gorneault to play full-time, and in a pinch both can play center field should Nathan Haynes falter. By sending Pride to Double-A, the kids can get experience at a higher level while Pride stays in shape every day in the Arkansas lineup. The other possibility is that this might be easing Pride into a player-coach role, but we’ll see.

A couple guys return to Arkansas who might have seen Triple-A in a lesser organization, Greg Porter and Bobby Wilson. Nick Adenhart, Sean Rodriguez and Nick Green open the season in North Little Rock but all three could move up before the season’s over.

The Arkansas roster also features three former top prospect starters who’ve been converted to relief — Jose Arredondo, Steven Shell and Rafael Rodriguez. The Angels are looking ahead to the possibility that Francisco Rodriguez walks as a free agent after the 2008 season, so look for Arredondo to be groomed as a potential replacement.

If you liked the 2006 Quakes, you’ll love the 2007 version because there isn’t much difference.

Among the fresh faces will be outfielders Jordan Renz and Brad Coon, starter Bobby Mosebach and reliever Mitch Arnold. Renz has been a power hitter but a low average hitter; the average should benefit from the hitter-friendly California League but his plate knowledge bears watching. Coon stole 55 bases in 124 games last year for the Kernels; he had a .381 OBP in 2005 at Rookie-A Orem and .382 OBP last year at Low-A Cedar Rapids, so if he maintains that rate he should be a fun leadoff hitter to watch. Mosebach was a workhorse for the Kernels last year, with a 3.04 ERA in 159 2/3 innings, and got four starts for the Quakes down the stretch. Mitch Arnold was once considered a top relief prospect but underwent “Tommy John” surgery in 2005. This will be his first year active since the surgery.

The Kernels seem to be largely the 2006 Orem Owlz, although Mark Trumbo returns to see if he can work out his plate problems. Cedar Rapids fans will also get to see outfielder-turned-reliever Warner Madrigal, who’s reportedly throwing in the mid-90s and developing a decent slider.

I don’t see Stephen Marek or Tommy Mendoza on any roster, so I’m assuming they’ve been held back in Tempe due to injury. I’ll try to find out more this weekend when I’m at Rancho Cucamonga.

This article is copyright © 2007 Wordsmith Resources and FutureAngels.com. It may not be used elsewhere without the prior expressed written permission of the author.

FutureAngels.com Radio — Episode 6

The latest episode of FutureAngels.com Radio is now on-line. You can get to the link through the home page at www.futureangels.com.

This episode features:

  • A look back at Gene Autry Park, the Angels former minor league complex.
  • An interview with Tony Reagins, the Angels’ Director of Player Development.
  • A talk with Matt Hurst, the Angels beat writer for the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

You need Windows Media Player to listen. You can either stream the audio or download it to your MP3-compatible device.

Nick Adenhart’s Season

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It’s time for another poll.

Where will Nick Adenhart end the 2007 season?

The options are to the right.

The results of the last poll … How many home runs will Brandon Wood hit for Salt Lake in 2007?

  • 0-10 12%
  • 11-20 7%
  • 21-30 41%
  • 31-40 33%
  • 41-50 7%

There were 213 votes cast.