Advertisement

Angels Mailbag: Why are so many pitchers hurt?

Angels Mailbag: Why are so many pitchers hurt?
Angels' Garrett Richards pitches against Texas on May 1. (Ronald Martinez / Getty Images)

Hello, Angels fans. The team you follow just took two out of three from the pretty-good Pittsburgh Pirates after taking two out of three from the talented Detroit Tigers, so the week was good. Now, they will tour New York, opposing a Yankees team with the same record they own — 26-30.

Let us recap the week and preview the upcoming one with some questions and answers. As always, this is the place to ask anything you want about the Angels, with questions submitted through my email (pedro.moura@latimes.com) and Twitter accounts (@pedromoura). It begins.

Advertisement

Pedro, with Pujols' 10-year service contract that kicks in at the end of his playing contract, doesn't that assure he'll wear an Angel hat in Cooperstown rather than a Cardinal hat? He can't go into the Hall as a Cardinal while working in Anaheim, can he? 

From Kirk Dingley, Hollywood

Sure he can, Kirk. Funnily enough, Tony La Russa was inducted into the Hall of Fame two years ago as a Cardinal while working as the Arizona Diamondbacks' chief baseball officer. If Pujols' old friend can do it, Pujols can do it. We are way ahead of ourselves, but given that Pujols won two titles with St. Louis and has not won a playoff game with the Angels, it's hard to imagine him going in as an Angel.

@OnBaseUnit: Think there's anything other than bad luck factoring into all these pitching injuries?

This seems the most obvious question to me. Of course you have to ask this, as a fan of the team. Of course you have to ask this, if you're involved with the team in any capacity whatsoever. Of course I have to ask this, as I am supposedly a reporter.

The Angels do not think so, although Mike Scioscia said Sunday they have explored the topic to extensive measures. I, also, do not think so, at least in the strictest sense of the question. To have five capable starting pitchers hurt at the same time is clearly rotten luck. But there are other things to consider here.

We know that velocity correlates with UCL tears to some degree. It is good to throw hard because hard pitches are hard to hit, but it is bad because it makes you more susceptible to injury. This applies to Garrett Richards.

We know that the single most proven predictor of future injury is past injury. This applies to C.J. Wilson, who had Tommy John surgery at a young age and has had other arm problems, namely bone chips, since.

We know that Tommy John surgery takes a long time to recover from, longer than anyone really wants to hear. This applies to Tyler Skaggs.

We don't know what precisely makes up good mechanics within a delivery, but there is at least a sense that high-effort ones correlate more with injuries. And unusual angles of the shoulder within deliveries make men more susceptible to shoulder pain. This applies to Nick Tropeano.

Angels' Nick Tropeano pitches against Houston on May 29.
Angels' Nick Tropeano pitches against Houston on May 29. (Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

We know that major league organizations are not eager to trade great, young starting pitching, and that if a team is trading a well-regarded young starter they probably think he possesses a higher probability to get hurt than others. This applies to Andrew Heaney (and Tropeano, too).

By all that, I mean: No one would have predicted the Angels suffering five starting-pitching injuries at once, but, in isolation, none of them are particularly surprising. Pitchers get hurt.

Pedro….What do you think about encouraging the Angels to reach out and hire super communicator Torii Hunter to join the team and help spread good cheer in Angels land as we potentially face a couple years of rebuilding ahead of us?

Warm Regards

Advertisement

-- David Alpern

Torii Hunter has long held about as good of a reputation within the industry as any human can have. Players love him. In recent years, he has hurt it some by repeatedly stating his reticence at accepting gay ballplayers within Major League Baseball.

Of more direct import, he has said recently he has little interest in becoming a coach at this point. Much travel is required. A a special-assistant position may be more suitable to his interests at this point, and I would guess the Minnesota Twins — the team with which he began and ended his career —  might have first dibs on him in that role.

@Crudemeisters: Pete will the angels win the world series?

It is unlikely.

@Jay4455: y did they send lincecum to AAA instead of single A? He hadn't pitched in a year. I thought they'd start him off slow.

Billy Eppler, the Angels' general manager, granted Tim Lincecum the choice of where and when to begin his rehab assignment as part of their agreement, and Lincecum opted to move to triple-A Salt Lake for his Thursday start. He'll start again tomorrow afternoon in Reno, and a June 12 Angels debut would slot him perfectly into the rotation spot vacated by Tropeano's injury.

@BlakeStevens22: What is the advantage or strategy to bat the pitcher 8th?

The idea is to increase the likelihood your best hitters will have men on base when they bat. You want your best hitters to be able to drive in runs. Ideally, batting a better hitter ninth will make men on base more likely for your Nos. 2-4 hitters, but you also run the risk of wasting a chance created by your fifth, sixth and seventh hitters.

Basically, batting orders don't matter. They do, but not nearly as much as everyone seems to think. We reporters are guilty of playing up meaningless one-spot switches too. If Mike Scioscia wants to bat his pitchers eighth in National League ballparks, it's sensible enough that it's not worth criticizing.

Geovany Soto, left, congratulates Joe Smith after an Angels win over Seattle on May 15.
Geovany Soto, left, congratulates Joe Smith after an Angels win over Seattle on May 15. (Otto Greule Jr / Getty Images)

@jaydieguez: Angels become sellers before or after the all star break? I know they're winning in a gritty ways to keep hope alive

It's interesting that the Padres opted to sell James Shields eight weeks ahead of the trade deadline, but I'd guess right around the All-Star break, but, again, it's not like the Angels will have a lot to sell off, unless they choose to dismantle next year's team.

The only true rentals on their team who could add value to opponents are Geovany Soto — who is currently hurt — and Joe Smith — who might go on the disabled list this week with a sore hamstring. Yes, they can trade Yunel Escobar, but if they're trying to win next year, doesn't having a .300-plus hitter at third base for $7 million help? Yes, they can trade Huston Street, but if they're trying to win next year, doesn't having a proven closer help?

@OnBaseUnit: How are Escobar's trade prospects looking? Mets and Royals both seem to be in need.

I put this question here to continue the conversation on Escobar. Every week, the Angels' trade for him seems more like a steal. He is limited on the bases, his effort lacks on defense, but the man can hit. Trevor Gott has been a middling triple-A setup man for Washington. Both those teams could make sense as trade partners. I don't see any other options right now.

@basedhaloballs: What type of player will the Angels target for their first pick in next weeks draft?

Advertisement

A good one, you'd think. Sorry to be trite, but it is exceptionally hard to peg picks for the middle of the first round. If I had to guess, I'd say they'll take a starting pitcher, but I wouldn't want to bet much on that. Take a look at Baseball America for thorough draft rankings and some projections.

@DuranSports: Now that you're there every game, what's the vibe at Angel Stadium from fans?

I'm not sure I really get that great a sense of the crowd from where I sit. There does seem to be a lot of families in attendance, a lot more than I see when walking the courses at other ballparks. This is mostly anecdotal and entirely unscientific, but I would guess the average age among fans at Angel Stadium is among the highest in the sport. That is probably at least in part because of Orange County itself.

That's it for this week's Angels mailbag. Send in your questions to the below addresses at any time, and check back each Monday for answers.

Twitter: @pedromoura

Advertisement
Advertisement