Chat with Mark Saxon
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, Los Angeles Angels writer Mark Saxon will stop by to chat some baseball.
Saxon is a staff writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. He spent six years at the Orange County Register, and began his career at the Oakland Tribune, where he started an 11-year journey covering Major League Baseball. He has also covered colleges, including USC football and UCLA basketball.
Send your questions now and join Saxon Thursday at 11 a.m. PT/2 p.m. ET!
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who will be the 2012 Starting Rotation for the Angels?
Mark Saxon (1:58 PM)
The big news today is that Kendrys Morales is playing in his first spring game and his first against major-league competition in nearly two years. But there are a lot of topics to hit on, so let's get going, shall we?
Mark Saxon (2:00 PM)
Hey Chris,It's looking like Jerome Williams still has a narrow chance of winning that fifth starter spot after missing 3 weeks with a hamstring injury. He'll join Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana and C.J. Wilson, probably in that order.
If, after a month or two into the regular season, Trumbo is hitting and Wells is not, can you envision Trumbo playing more left field (assuming his defense at third hasn't improved)?
Mark Saxon (2:01 PM)
Johnathan,That's an astute point. I could also see Mike Trout forcing his way into that discussion if he's tearing it up at Triple-A, which I predict he will. Of course, the impediment is Wells' contract ($63 million left on it). They would much rather Wells hits better and holds that spot and I think he has a chance to do that. And one more consideration: Trumbo is more comfortable playing right field.
brian sanchez (anaheim california)
With arguably the best pitching staff in the American League, do the Angels have the offense to win the American league and win the world series
Mark Saxon (2:04 PM)
That's where Kendrys Morales comes in, Brian. If he is productive again after two years off, they'll potentially have a lineup just as deep as those in New York, Boston and Texas. You could have guys who have hit 25 home runs or more in the Nos. 3 through 7 spot in the lineup (Pujols, Morales, Hunter, Trumbo, Wells). That's a lot of firepower. But Morales is crucial to letting that happen.
Skyler Miller (Orange, Los Angeles CA, United States)
Is there a chance Kendrys could retain his 2010 form? If so do you think Abreu will be traded? i find it hard to get Abreu 400+ atbats if Kendrys is playing like he used to
Mark Saxon (2:07 PM)
Hey Skyler, I think both of those things are possible and maybe even probable. Even without Morales, I see no way the Angels are going to find 400 at-bats for Bobby Abreu. With him, Abreu has no role. In talking with some hitters today, I think the consensus is Morales may not be quite as good as he was in 2009. If he's close, though, he'd be a huge addition.
will the angels be able to trade izturis or abreu this spring?
Mark Saxon (2:08 PM)
Well, I think they'd love to trade Abreu, but the way he's hitting, I can't imagine other teams are dying to get at him. It'll take a while before this happens, but they might at some point be forced to release him. If he's not playing, he just takes up a roster spot and casts a pall over the clubhouse. I don't think there's any way they could afford to trade Izturis. He's the only infielder other than Erick Aybar capable of playing shortstop. I think they'd rather move Callaspo.
David (Santa Ana, CA)
Hi Mark, exciting day with Morales in the lineup!! Standing O in order at Tempe Diablo upon first AB?
Mark Saxon (2:10 PM)
Funny you say that, David, because Torii Hunter told me this morning the players are planning a little something, like a standing ovation from in front of the dugout. It could be a funny moment.
The one player that has really jumped out to me besides the great spring of kendrick and wells is kole Calhoun. Do you ever see him getting called up to the bigs in a Angel Uniform either this year or next?
Mark Saxon (2:11 PM)
Hey Ryan, Yeah, Calhoun did look great this spring and he is rising fast on the depth chart, but he's headed to Double-A so that's a long way to travel to reach Anaheim. By the way, that Little Rock team could be pretty solid with him, Jean Segura and John Hellweg on it.
What are your expectations for Kendry Morales this season? Is it reasonable to expect him to return to his pre-injury form or is that just optimistic thinking?
Mark Saxon (2:13 PM)
That's a little optimistic, David, in part because he probably won't play as many games as he gets in shape and deals with his ankle. I'll say he hits .270 with 22 home runs and 70 RBIs. In that neighborhood.
Mark, I was wondering if, and to what extent, you think Trumbo's offensive production will be affected by being continuously moved around defensively? He's young and a great athlete so I don't expect him to completely drop off offensively but I do think he might exhibit some growing pains on the offensive side as well as the defensive side due to his nomad status on the diamond... thanks
Mark Saxon (2:14 PM)
I asked him that question, Jean, and he said he's trying to keep his internal expectations very low on the defensive end to keep from things snowballing on him. If he makes a few errors, though, it could become a mental grind that affects his all-around season. It's something that bears watching.
What kind of a timeframe will Mike Scioscia give Peter Bourjos to prove himself for the leadoff spot?
Mark Saxon (2:16 PM)
None right now, Gilbert. It's pretty obvious he's eying Erick Aybar for that role for the first month or so. Peter will probably do it against left-handed pitchers. I wouldn't be surprised if it stays that way all season.
Andrew (Omaha NE)
With Conger having a good ST does he have a shot of being a backup this year or will he start in AAA
Mark Saxon (2:17 PM)
Andrew, It feels like Hank has no chance to make this team unless one of the other catchers gets hurt. And, frankly, I think he realizes that. With catchers, though, you're one foul tip away from getting called up, so that's not to imply he won't play a role.
Hey Mark- If Kendrys and Trumbo are both healthy and based on Bobby's poor spring- whats your best bet on what happens to Abreu?
Mark Saxon (2:17 PM)
Designated for assignment.
How many AB will Abreu get this year?
Mark Saxon (2:20 PM)
For what team?No, I have no way of knowing that, but I suspect he could get more on a team that doesn't have a full-time DH and a totally full outfield. Or, as the game has done to some other great players this winter, maybe it will retire him before he's ready to go.
Is there any talk among Angels brass about Mike Gonzalez? If not, why not? If there is one clear weakness on this team, isn't it the bullpen?
Mark Saxon (2:27 PM)
I haven't heard much on that, Johnathan, but there have been trade rumors saying they want another lefty reliever. I can't imagine why unless they're concerned there's something wrong with Scott Downs. He's pitching today so I would imagine two lefties is enough.
Mark- thnks for your help with the spring training tips. Had a great time. BY the way, if Howie and Aybar get on base like they have been this line-up is going be very, very good.
Mark Saxon (2:28 PM)
I agree, Anthony, and glad you had a good time.
This upcoming season are weakest link most likely being the bullpen, have you seen anyone in the pen really stand out to you this spring?
Mark Saxon (2:30 PM)
Yeah, Ryan, it has stood out by being quite bad, actually. Jordan Walden gave up five hits and only got one out the other day. Scott Downs had a brutal first outing. LaTroy Hawkins and Jason Isringhausen have barely pitched. It all will mean nothing in a couple of weeks, but these indications haven't been promising.Two youngish guys, Kevin Jepsen and Michael Kohn, have been good.
What are your impressions of Trumbo at third? I really hope it works out because I don't think he can get ABs anywhere else due to other players.
Mark Saxon (2:31 PM)
Mixed bag, Ryan. He actually looks good there and has made some really nice plays. He also has thrown a ball into the photographer's well and bobbled easy grounders. He has 3 E's already. But I would say I'm encouraged for him that it's going to work out.
Mark, with all the talk surrounding Pujols, Wells, Morales seems like Hunter has been lost in the shuffle. Do you think he will bounce back this year and get off to a better start now that he healthy?
Mark Saxon (2:32 PM)
Chris, He assured me he's going to have a good season. Of course, most guys probably feel that way this time of year. Torii is in great shape and he'll play hard as always, so there's no reason to doubt his word.
chris pepper (LA)
Can't wait to see the Tigers v Halos. Weaver v Verlander. With Pujols and Fielder in the lineups. What marquee games/matchups are you looking forward to this year?
Mark Saxon (2:33 PM)
Yeah, that's a great one, Chris, but it won't come until after the All-Star break. I'm more focused on that 3-game series at Yankee Stadium on the first road trip and every single series they play against Texas.
Joel (Lake Forest)
I have been hearing alot about the Phillies having interest in Callaspo? Any chance we trade him for Blanton?
Mark Saxon (2:35 PM)
Joel,I wouldn't be surprised to see them trade Callaspo, but I would be surprised if they got Joe Blanton in return. That guy is coming off two pretty bad seasons, plus he's probably out of options so he couldn't be stockpiled at Triple-A as depth. A lot of teams apparently have shown interest in Callaspo.
Hey Mark, do you know off the top of your head which guys on the roster they could cut without taking the full hit of their major league contract? Wondering if guys like Hawkins/J. Izzy can be cut before the season without eating their whole salary this season.
Mark Saxon (2:36 PM)
Definitely a "no" on Hawkins. Isringhausen is on a minor-league deal, but they'll have to pay him $100,000 if they send him to Triple-A.
John (Costa Mesa)
Are the Angels any closer to locking up Aybar? Do you think a deal will get done eventually (before he hits free agency)?
Mark Saxon (2:37 PM)
John, Frankly, I don't know. Nothing got done while his agents were here, obviously, but I've heard rumblings that it might be close. The net effect is to leave me baffled, but I'll be sure to get it up quickly if I hear anything from a knowledgeable source.