The Angels welcome the Boston Red Sox for a 4 game series starting tonight. Any time the beast from the east roll into the Big A its a big deal. To commemorate the occasion we teamed up with Derek Stykalo of Bo Sox Injection for the series preview. Check out the series at a glance as Derek and I dish on Sox vs. Halos
- Red Sox: 6-11 ( 5th AL East)
- Angels: 12-6 ( 1st AL West)
- Game 1: Josh Beckett vs. Tyler Chatwood
- Game 2: John Lester vs. Dan Haren
- Game 3: Daisuke Matsuzaka vs. Ervin Santana
- Game 4: John Lackey vs. Matt Palmer
Players To Watch
- Red HOT Sox: Jed Lowrie – he has hands down been the hottest Red Sox player as of late. He recently had a 7 game hitting streak snapped against Oakland, only to rebound and go 2 for 4 with 1 HR and 2 RBI’s in the following game. In his last 10 games, Lowrie is batting .455, has 3 home runs and 11 RBI’s. Lowrie has managed to work himself into regular playing time by his clutch hitting and not to be outdone, his rock solid defense.
- Cold as Ice: Jason Varitek – the captain of this team has struggled mightily at the plate, managing only 1 hit in his first 20 trips to the plate (.050 AVG). But manager Terry Francona has a hard time keeping Tek’ out of the lineup when Beckett pitches.
- Holy Halos : Peter Bourjos: The Angels center fielder is 8 for his last 16 and has displayed an improved approach by driving the ball the other way. Bourjos recent hot streak combined with the power exploits of first basemen Mark Trumbo have sparked the Halos lower third of the order that has carried the offense for the past week.
- Who’s Not for LA: Torii Hunter – For as bad as Vernon Wellswas to start the season Torii Hunter has matched him stride for stride lately. Hunter has refused to go the other way with pitches on the outer half and has seemingly produced a full season’s worth of weak ground balls to the left side already. When he’s not sending panic to left side infield dwelling insects, Hunter has swung wildly at pitches out of the zone.Torii has gone 3 for his last 36 at bats dropping his season totals to .208/.253/.325. Hunter is completely lost at the plate right now.
3 On 3
Kalup’s Questions, Derek’s Answers.
- Q: During his early season slump, Carl Crawford has been moved all over the batting order 1st, 2nd, 7th etc… What spot in the lineup do you feel suits him best?
- A: A lot has been made of where Crawford has been batting. It’s even been public knowledge that Joe Maddon, manager for the Tampa Bay Rays publicly stated he feels Crawford is best suited for the number 2 spot in the lineup. Problem is, Dustin Pedroia is the number 2 guy in Boston and quite frankly, that’s the best for him. It’s clear that Crawford is not comfortable at lead off and it doesn’t make a lot of sense to bump Pedroia. Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis are your natural 3 and 4 hitters, so why not try Crawford in the 5 hole? It’s difficult to say where he’s best suited, because he’s struggled everywhere this year. He’s a player who is used to his comfort and consistency and so far he hasn’t gotten either. He may have to get used to the lead-off position as it appears that is where Terry Francona feels he’s best suited.
- Q: Both Dice K and John Lackey have gotten off to slow starts. Which starter gives Red Sox fans the most cause for concern?
- A: I have to say it’s Dice-K. He’s been struggling for the past 2 years and showing a lot of inconsistency. His start against Tampa Bay just over a week ago was atrocious as he left everything up and over the plate. His fastball was flat and didn’t appear to have control of anything. Then he goes out and 1 hits the Jays this past Monday and looks like the Dice-K of 2008 when he won 18 games. There just seems to be too many question marks with him to know what you’ll get on a consistent basis. Not to say Lackey hasn’t been inconsistent. Aside from his last start in Oakland, Lackey has struggled much like Dice-K. Last season he was decent and managed to win 14 games. Red Sox fans know what he’s capable of as we watched him dominate the Sox in the 2009 ALDS and that’s the type of performance everyone is waiting to see. His fastball isn’t hitting 95mph anymore, rather consistently topping out at 91mph. So he has to rely on his off speed stuff a little more and that hasn’t been the case. He does however show more promise than Dice-K and I think Red Sox fans feel he can be the more consistent starter for the year.
- Q: Jed Lowrie has arguably been the Red Sox most valuable player. Did Sox fans see this breakout coming and can Lowrie sustain similar production all season long ?
- A: For the past 2 years Lowrie has been touted as a shortstop with tremendous talent on defense and a lot of pop in his bat. A bad battle with mononucleosis last season really limited his playing time and when he did play it was evident he wasn’t 100%. I’d like to say his performance is a surprise, but in reality many knew he was capable of putting up these numbers. He just hasn’t been given the everyday playing time to prove it. His hot start in April has now allowed him to play every day. Now it’s very easy to say he won’t hit .400 for the year, but a .300 plus average is not out of the question. He’s earned his playing time lately and with Marco Scutaroon the last year of his 2 year contract, if Lowrie can continue to deliver offensively, then the Red Sox may be in a position to trade Scutaro come July.
Derek’s Questions, Kalup’s Answers
- Q: Many in the baseball world picked the Texas Rangers to repeat as AL West champions, with the Oakland A’s to challenge them for the division. Not much was said about the LA Angels in this division and given their great start, what can be expected of this team come September?
- A: Predictions were mixed overall but you’re right a lot of pundits wrote if the Angels. The current state of the baseball off season is typically to over hype the team that makes the most moves. As we saw last season when the Mariners were the darlings of the 2009 hot stove season and picked by many to win the West. The Angels relatively quiet off season and then widely mocked trade for Vernon Wells made them the poster child for “off season losers”. Despite the lack of Twitter worthy moves this off season for many it was long apparent that the Angels likely have the most balanced club out West. By moving Wells to left field they bolstered what was a porous outfield defense They have a starting rotation that rivals any in the AL and if the lineup ever gets fully healthy (Return of Kendrys Morales) they should return to one of the top run scoring teams in the AL.While September is a long ways away and a lot can happen from now to then I fully expect as I did this off season for the Angels to remain in the midst of what should be a three team race with Texas and Oakland.
- Q: Although it’s early and a lot can happen, it is hard to ignore what Jared Weaver and Dan Haren have done so far this season. How much of the Angels early success have been from the two starters and how long can these two carry the starting rotation?
- A: Weaver and Haren have been special so far this season. The Angels are a combined 9-1 in their 10 appearances ( 1 in relief for Haren)and their combined ERA of 2.39 would be the envy of most. Albeit not at this pace, these two will likely carry the rotation all season long. Its clear the Angels have two legit aces, but Ervin Santana, Joel Pineiro ( currently on the DL) and rookie Tyler Chatwood could form one of the best rotations in the AL.
- Q: Vernon Wells was a big acquisition for the Angels this off season and with him comes the big contract and lofty expectations. Given his early season struggles at the plate, at what point does it get concerning for the Angels, if it hasn’t already?
- A: Wells got off to a horrendous start and fans naturally were tough on him during the last home stand. He has been one of the hottest Angels over the past week hitting in 6 straight and socking his first home run in last nights game. In short the worst appears to be behind him.
- Matt Albers – 15-day DL, strained right lat muscle – Late April return
- Junichi Tazawa – 60-day DL, torn ulnar collateral ligament – July return
- LHP Scott Downs (virus) did not pitch April 16-19. He is day-to-day.
- LHP Scott Kazmir (lower back stiffness) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 4. He pitched in extended spring training April 19, and he is make at least one more appearance there before starting a rehab assignment.
- 1B Kendrys Morales (fractured left ankle) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. Morales had been running on a treadmill in early April, and he began running on the field April 12. He could head out on a rehab assignment in the next few weeks.
- SP Joel Pineiro (tight right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. He was rehabbing in extended spring training camp in mid-April and should start a rehab assignment start with Class-A Inland Empire before the end of the month.