Matthew Pouliot

Strike Zone

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AL Team-by-Team Notes

Sunday, June 14, 2009


The Angels chose now to send down Howie Kendrick? He was hitting .269/.367/.385 in 26 at-bats this month. I would have understood making the move a week ago. That the Angels demoted him Saturday seemed to be an extreme reaction to the 4-for-4 game that Maicer Izturis turned in on Friday. Prior to that, Izturis actually trailed Kendrick in OPS (609 to 636).

Just as the Angels declined to give Brandon Wood a chance when the opportunity was present earlier this year, they're going to have PCL home run and RBI leader Sean Rodriguez ride the pine now in favor of Izturis at second base. Rodriguez was hitting .273/.355/.634 with 21 homers, 60 RBI and six steals in seven attempts for Triple-A Salt Lake. However, he had also fanned 68 times in 205 at-bats. In 167 major league at-bats last season, he hit .204/.276/.317 with 55 strikeouts.

Like Wood, Rodriguez does deserve an opportunity to play regularly in the majors. However, he's a flawed player who might not make it as more than a utilityman. The Angels, of course, feel more comfortable with their veterans. It'd just be nice if they would admit it and begin trading some of the prospects they have no intention of playing. While four postseasons in six years is nothing to sneeze at, the organization's conservative ways have proven to be quite a handicap since the World Series victory in 2002.

American League Notes

Baltimore - I didn't like the decision to keep Jason Berken over David Hernandez with Koji Uehara back, and I don't see Berken sticking around for much longer after he lost to the Braves on Friday. If the Orioles don't want to go right back to Hernandez, then perhaps they'll give Chris Tillman a chance. The 21-year-old Tillman is deserving with the way his command has improved this year. He's 5-2 with a 2.25 ERA, 41 H and 55/14 K/BB in 48 innings for Triple-A Norfolk. If he does get the call, mixed leaguers should keep a close eye on him. … Melvin Mora drove in 104 runs in 135 games last season. This year, he has 16 RBI in 45 games. Luckily for him, Ty Wigginton has been worse, and even at age 37, Mora is the better defensive third baseman of the two. The Orioles might as well keep playing Mora, but it's time they stopped batting him fifth. … It's still possible that he'll be activated, but there's been no indication that Cesar Izturis (appendectomy) will return Friday when eligible. Robert Andino is filling in.

Boston - Finally finding his swing, David Ortiz has started off June with a .313/.389/.625 line and three homers in 32 at-bats. Fortunately, the Red Sox's interleague schedule was more broken up than some of the others, so they'll play six games at home this week after their road series in Philly. It was going to be difficult to keep squeezing him in at first base. … John Smoltz is expected back this week, giving the Red Sox the horrible problem of possessing too much pitching. I'm guessing we'll see a six-man rotation for a couple of weeks. If everyone stays healthy, then Brad Penny should be traded. There wouldn't seem to be any benefit to moving Penny or Daisuke Matsuzaka to the bullpen. … There's been increased talk about the Red Sox making a move for a shortstop, but I think they'll hold off until they see how Jed Lowrie recovers from wrist surgery. It'd be easier if Julio Lugo was showing more range, but he's still less than three months removed from knee surgery. His side-to-side movement should improve.

Chicago - Incredibly, Jose Contreras, who got himself sent down with an 8.19 ERA in his first six starts of the year, has pitched 16 scoreless innings in two outings since returning to the majors, allowing just three hits in the process. Those showings guarantee that he'll be picked up in AL-only leagues, but it's doubtful that he'll have any long-term value in mixed leagues. It would be OK to try him for the duration of interleague play and see what happens. … Gordon Beckham is off to a 3-for-31 start and he committed his first error at third base on Saturday, but the White Sox didn't call him up to give up on him after two weeks. Perhaps he'll lose a few more starts to Josh Fields if he doesn't heat up soon, but he shouldn't be a candidate for demotion unless he's still struggling at the All-Star break. … Carlos Quentin's lack of progress in his recovery from plantar fasciitis means that Scott Podsednik will remain a regular for another month. The empty .300 average has the White Sox content.

Cleveland - The results of Monday's MRI on Grady Sizemore's elbow might determine whether the Indians go into sell mode or not. If the Indians stand to get Sizemore, Asdrubal Cabrera (shoulder) and Jake Westbrook (elbow) back during the first half of July, they'd still have a chance to contend in the AL Central. However, if Sizemore requires surgery, it would make sense to part with Cliff Lee, Mark DeRosa and Carl Pavano. … Luis Valbuena is hitting .175 in his last 12 games, and the 26 strikeouts in 78 at-bats on the season suggest that he's not ready for the majors just yet. Maybe it's time for the Indians to give Josh Barfield another shot at second base. … The Indians will begin a string of six games in NL parks on Friday, so Travis Hafner should be worthless in mixed leagues the next two weeks.


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Matthew Pouliot is the Executive Editor of RotoWorld.com and has been doing the site's baseball projections for the last 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @matthewpouliot.
Email :Matthew Pouliot



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