Angels Sign (The Other) J. Weaver

Posted in Baseball at 8:50 am by

On the brink of his re-entry into the Amateur Draft, P Jered Weaver has come to terms with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Which Is Located On Planet Earth, writes the LA Times’ Mike DiGiovanna.

In the negotiating equivalent of a game-winning, 65-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass with the final seconds ticking off the clock, the Angels and 2004 first-round pick Jered Weaver agreed to a $4-million signing bonus in the final hour before Monday’s 9 p.m. deadline to sign the former Long Beach State ace.

With the sides at an impasse for almost a year and about $1.5 million apart going into the weekend, Weaver, the 12th overall pick in last June’s draft, essentially yielded to the Angels’ demands, agreeing to a minor league deal, pending the passing of a physical this week, for the same amount offered to the right-hander in late February.

Had Weaver, 22, not signed Monday he would have reentered next week’s draft, a prospect that seemed to grow less attractive by the hour Monday, considering there was no guarantee the team that drafted Weaver would accede to his demands, especially knowing Weaver probably wouldn’t sit out a second consecutive season.

“I had no indication that this was going to happen, really, until [Monday], and it still took most of the day,” Angel General Manager Bill Stoneman said on a conference call. “There were a lot of last-minute discussions. It was finally completed fairly close to the deadline.”

Though the Angels’ hard-line stance in negotiations clearly paid off ” it was Weaver who blinked in what seemed like a high-stakes game of chicken, but it was Weaver who initiated talks that led to the agreement and who compromised the most.

Weaver, who went 15-1 with a 1.62 earned run average at Long Beach last season, striking out 213 and walking 21 in 144 innings and winning the Golden Spikes Award, sought a signing package in the $10-million range before dropping his asking price to $8 million in March to $6 million last week.

Negotiations grew testy at times, with Boras criticizing the Angels for selecting Weaver when they had no intention of meeting his original asking price, Stoneman accusing Boras of putting “a spin on it to make it look like he’s made major concessions to get a deal done,” and Angel scouting director Eddie Bane rebutting Boras’ claim that Weaver could be ready to pitch in the big leagues this season.

Weaver even went so far as to sign with the Camden (N.J.) Riversharks of the independent Atlantic League this month, but he did not pitch in a regular-season game. Instead, Weaver will return to Southern California this week, and speculation about when he can help the Angels’ big league club can really begin.

“I just don’t know enough about him,” Stoneman said, when asked how close to the big leagues Weaver is. “He hasn’t pitched competitively in a year, and we’re not sure what kind of shape he’s in. We definitely don’t want to rush things ¦ but as soon as he’s ready for a challenge, we want to give him one.

Down On The Farm With Eli Gelman

Posted in Baseball at 8:36 am by

Those wishing to learn about the ups and downs of various prospects scattered throughout the Mets’ minor league system could do worse than pay attention to the reporting of the Newark Star Ledger’s Eli Gelman. They could, for instance, read back issues of Hello! magazine, which feature little to no coverage of the Mets’ stars of tomorrow.

On broadcasts of Hagerstown Suns games, the announcer refers to Dante Brinkley as “The Inferno.”

Brinkley (above), the starting left fielder for Hagerstown, laughs at the nickname he has been given for being the team’s top hitter.

“Right now, I’m just trying to stay even-keeled and not get too high or low,” said Brinkley, hitting .371 with 12 doubles, three triples, eight home runs and 32 RBI through Sunday’s games. “I don’t look at my stats. I don’t think I’m Dante’s Inferno like everyone else. I’m just picking up a couple hits and minimizing the 0-for-4 games.”

Brinkley’s maturity has impressed his manager Gene Richards, who calls the 23-year-old “a gamer” and said he reminds him of Darin Erstad, the first baseman for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, whom he coached as a roving instructor with the club.

“He’s a throwback. He reminds you of an old-time ballplayer who wants to fight if things don’t go right,” Richards said. “He’s my leader. Players tend to listen to their peers and Dante’s not afraid to tell guys what he sees. He criticizes, points them in the right direction.

“He’ll bunt, hit and run, throws his body around out there, will go into the wall. He does a lot of the dirty work that others wouldn’t do.”

Gelman also notes that the Mets’ no. 1 pick from the 2004 draft, Rice’s Phillip Humber (above), allowed 7 earned runs and 8 hits in 3 innings of work against the Yankees’ FSL Tampa affiliate last Wednesday. Compared to fellow ’04 Big 12 grad Huston Street (seen collecting the win in Oakland’s come from behind victory over Tampa Bay late last night), Humber’s path to the big leagues should be a bit longer.


One Foot Out The Door With Larry Brown

Posted in Basketball at 11:31 pm by

ESPN.com’s Chad Ford is reporting that Larry Brown has already accepted the position of Director Of Basketball Operations for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Given that the league showed no inclination to force the likes of Alonzo Mourning, Glenn Robinson or Jimmy Jackson to live up to their contractual obligations earlier this year, should it surprise anyone that the Head Coach of the defending champs, whom ideally should be solely focused on the task currently at hand in the Eastern Conference Finals, can so easily be tampered with?

(Larry calmly reacts to Darko asking “who gets your parking space?”)

When Jeff Van Gundy questioned the integrity of the league a few weeks ago, he was only skimming the surface of what’s wrong. Detroit players, management and fans alike oughta be pissed. Larry Brown is obviously one of the game’s sharpest minds, and recent reports of serious health problems would certainly explain his reluctance to continue coaching. But it really makes the league and the Pistons look like saps for Brown to be negotiating a new gig with a division rival while Detroit are still fighting for a repeat crown.

Powell Sniffs Around The Nats

Posted in Baseball at 7:02 pm by

Says Ben Schwartz,

I have no problem with Colin Powell buying into MLB baseball. I wish George W. Bush still was a baseball owner, so let’s hope it starts a trend.

(most of the photos of retired General Powell on Google Image Search are pretty dull, so instead, here’s a gratuitous snapshot of Sgt. Slaughter and Jim Cornette, at least one of whom would make an excellent owner of a baseball club. Lots of good stuff available if you type “Corporal Punishment”, however).

Carlos D.’s Green Light = The End Of NY’s Love Affair With Mr. Koo

Posted in Baseball at 4:48 pm by

The Newark Star Ledger’s Don Burke on the oft-replayed moment from the Mets’ 6-3 loss to Florida on Sunday.

Dae-Sung Koo still doesn’t know all that much about baseball here in the United States. But his education is an ongoing process and the Korean reliever learned a very important lesson yesterday.

Grooving a 3-0 fastball to Carlos Delgado is a mistake in any language.

Brought in specifically to face the Florida Marlins first baseman, Koo threw one right down Main Street and Delgado nearly hit it all the way to South Beach. His three-run homer in the seventh inning erased a one-run Mets lead and helped the Marlins avert the sweep with a 6-3 victory.

“I didn’t expect him to swing at it,” the reliever said. “Most of the batters in Korea and Japan don’t swing.”

Of course, Koo isn’t in the Far East anymore. And, as he found out the hard way that when major-league hitters see a fastball that’s just begging to be hit, they usually oblige.

“That was about as grooved as you can groove one,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said.

“I’m employee No. 25,” Delgado said when asked if he knew he had the green light. “I follow orders.”

(Delgado, center, congratulates reliever Todd Jones, left, on a) staying straight, b) not engaging in sex outside of marriage and c) earning his 8th save, not necessarily in that order).

In Koo’s defense, even the screamers doing the game for Fox Sports Miami were predicting that Delgado would take the 3-0 pitch (presumably neither of those guys should be relieving for the Mets, either). I’m not sure if Mike Difelice has learned how to say ‘don’t throw one right down the middle to Carlos Delgado” in multiple languages, but had Koo walked the bases full, we’d probably be hearing about it today as well.

The Bergen Record’s Steve Popper submits that the Mets are haunted by Delgado’s decision to spurn New York’s offer and instead sign with the Marlins, while the Times’ Charlie Nobles wonders along with the rest of us when Carlos Beltran will return to the starting lineup. (Maybe tuesday, maybe not.) Meanwhile, Newsday’s Jon Heyman is puzzled as to how Kaz Matsui managed to talk his way into yesterday’s game.

When Mets writers were looking for Jerry Manuel in an apparent attempt to uncover the story of how a man without a pulse might be hired to manage again (just a joke; the low-key Manuel would make a better hire than the no-key Art Howe), Manuel got a colorful heads-up from a Mets reliever who didn’t like their early reviews.

“Hey,” Roberto Hernandez yelled, “the rats are looking for you.”

Hernandez either has the idea that “rats” and “reporters” are synonymous or tried to reassert the clubhouse caste system, which still places reporters several pegs below relievers, even mediocre ones.

Anyway, we “rats” have to hand it to Hernandez. He still throws cheese (sorry, couldn’t resist), as does Bell, a nice surprise, and all their mates aren’t yet forming the disaster area everyone figured.

The Mets returned home relieved after the trip’s 0-3 start, and one thing to cheer is not playing the Braves in the next 37 games. You can say great things about the new, improved Mets, but everyone knows who’s the daddy in that relationship.

The Mets still turn to goo against Atlanta, responsible for the ugly part of this 3-4 trip. About Atlanta, Cliff Floyd conceded: “I think we’re thinking about it, and I think they know we’re thinking about it. It’s not that we’re waiting for something to happen. But when it does, we say, ‘Oh, –, here we go.'”

Funny, that was my very reaction to Matsui being back in the lineup after an eight-day hiatus. Matsui replaced Miguel Cairo, who had three hits, three runs and two steals in Saturday night’s victory (a good month for Matsui), after finally telling Randolph he was good to go.

Previously, Randolph said Matsui had described a less-than-perfect health situation. But once Matsui finally understood that Randolph wouldn’t play him until Matsui assured him he was perfectly fine, Randolph penciled Matsui back into the lineup.

Matsui and Randolph may understand each other now, but the game still confounds Matsui. When he failed to catch Matt Treanor’s pop-up, it was such a sophomoric miscue that Randolph wrongly figured it must’ve been part of some ingenious strategy to swap Treanor for the faster Alex Gonzalez, whom Matsui forced at second.

“I think he let it drop to change the runners,” Randolph guessed. Not in this lifetime. “I completely lost it in the sun,” Matsui said.

In any language, or in any culture, Matsui continues to play like garbage.

Another Clemens Start Wasted, Astros Sink Futher Into Oblivion

Posted in Baseball at 4:25 pm by

A day after winning their first away series of the season, Houston returned to Minute Maid Park with Roger Clemens on the hill, and true to form, provided no run support whatsoever for the 7 time Cy Young Award Winner, succumbing to the lowly Reds, 9-0. Clemens (7 K’s, 2 earned runs, 4 hits over 7 IP) saw a 2-0 deficit turned into a 9 run margin as John Franco and Russ Springer combined to face 8 batters and retire just one. Captain Fucko saw his ERA rise to 7.36 ; Springer , 8.62.

Cincy’s Aaron Harang (4-1) struck out 10 in 7 scoreless innings.

Morales Feasts On California League Pitching

Posted in Baseball at 2:35 pm by

This jet-lagged correspondent caught Kendry Morales homering in his U.S. pro debut for Rancho Cucamonga last weekend, and the LA Daily News’ Joe Haakenson reports that the young slugger has yet to cool off.

Kendry Morales is making a good first impression on the Angels’ organization. Going into Sunday’s game, Morales was hitting .343 with two homers, seven RBI and a .571 slugging percentage in eight games at Single-A Rancho Cucamonga. He struck out only four times in 35 at-bats.
How soon the 21-year-old Cuban defector rises through the ranks of the organization remains to be seen.

“It’s a daily evaluation of him,” said Tony Reagins, the Angels’ director of player development. “The coaching staff, the rovers, the front-office staff will see him as much as possible to see when is the right time to move him. Right now, there’s no timetable.”

Reagins would not rule out Morales reaching the big leagues this season.

“Anything could happen in this game,” he said. “If he shows progress that warrants him being here, he’ll be here. But to say it’ll be next month, or in two months, I don’t know if that’s fair to say.”

Morales (above) has been playing first base for the Quakes, but he also can play third base and the outfield. His biggest adjustment has been off the field.

“He does things fluidly and has power to all fields,” Reagins said. “But he’s still getting acclimated to the States. The language barrier is something he has to get comfortable with. He speaks almost no English. It’s just a different environment for him.”