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 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT!
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What National League Team do the Angels do very bad against in the History of the Interleague?
Mark Saxon (2:02 PM)
Well Chris, none of them lately. Two years ago, they lost two out of three to both the Cardinals and Brewers. Earlier this year, they lost two out of three to the Padres. Otherwise, they have won every series against National League teams. They are 66-31 vs. the NL since the start of 2007, best IL record in baseball.
What should the Angels' strategy be on Monday against Cain?
Mark Saxon (2:06 PM)
Hey Alex, That's a great question. The Angels will be the next team to face Matt Cain after his perfect game. I guess they can hope for the hangover effect. Plus, he threw a lot of pitches in that game (I believe, around 130), so maybe he'll be tired. Just for fun, I looked up the Angels' numbers against Cain. Albert Pujols is batting .571 in 14 at-bats with a double and two home runs, so there's that. Nobody else, other than Chris Iannetta who is hurt, has had any success (in small sample sizes).
So it seems like we've got two young studs in the making in Trout and Trumbo. The trend around the league has been to lock up these players early a la Longoria, CarGo, etc. Is there any sign of an effort on DiPoto's part to take this path and is it possible he may "buy high" on Trumbo given the stark contrast of last year's non-power numbers to this year?
Mark Saxon (2:09 PM)
Hi Dan, I would say there's no shot of that happening with Trumbo. Because Trout is showing signs of being so good, so young, the Angels might take a stab at the Tampa Bay way and see if he's interested in something like that. In fact, I spoke to Jerry about it and he says he has no philosophical problems with that approach. Some people think it's a bad idea because it takes away a young player's motivation. Trout seems like the kind of guy who wouldn't slow down. And remember, even if you give him a six year deal, you're not stopping him from reaching free agency. What you do is control costs for arbitration. The Angels already have him under club control for the next six seasons.
Was Jerry Dipoto and his new staff really involve in this year Draft?
Mark Saxon (2:12 PM)
Robert, Yes, as most teams do, they hunkered down in meetings at a hotel in Anaheim for several days leading up to the draft. Jerry Dipoto's fingerprints are all over that draft, with the heavy haul of college players and the signability factor. The Dipoto era began with those two big free agent signings, but I think the most important thing he can do for the long run is to rebuild the Angels farm system. In a couple of years, we can see how he did in this draft. Good college pitchers can easily reach the big leagues within a year or two.
How is Vernon Wells rehab progressing?
Mark Saxon (2:16 PM)
Which answer are you rooting for, Yousef? Last time I talked to Vernon, he still had his hand in a splint, the cast had just come off. I'm sure he won't pick up a bat for another few weeks, at the earliest. It appears he won't be back until early August, at the soonest, so the Angels have a little more time to sort out that mess. It certainly appears there is nowhere for Wells to play, but things can change with so much time left.
By any chance do you know what the so called experts Graded the Angels Draft this year?
Mark Saxon (2:22 PM)
I tried to do a quick search, but couldn't find any "so-called experts" analyses. Sorry, Junior. I would give you my opinion if I had heard of any of the players.
Really glad to Jerry Dipoto was really involve in the Draft.. Hoping he rebuilds the Angels farm system like he did in Arizona. Any chance he Trades Ervin like he did with Haren when he was pitching bad in Arizona?
Mark Saxon (2:24 PM)
Hmmm, Robert, seems like different situations. The Diamondbacks were in last place at the time of the Haren trade. I think the Angels will hang onto Ervin, though if he keeps struggling, I suspect he'll be headed to the bullpen soon. They don't have enough pitching depth to trade a guy. On the other hand, it's looking like that 2013 option might be a no.
The Angels really dominate in inter-league play. Have you heard any theories as to why this is?
Mark Saxon (2:26 PM)
I've been asking that for years, Howard, and never gotten a satisfactory answer. One part of it, I think, is that the Angels haven't had a dominant DH in recent years, so they aren't hurt as much when they play at NL parks. (Think about Boston having to sit David Ortiz or Travis Hafner getting benched). Otherwise, I think there are two primary factors at play. The NL just isn't as good and the Angels play a small-ball style with pitching and fundamentals that plays well in the other league.
Read a report that the Angels sent scout to see Ben Sheets any truth to that?
Mark Saxon (2:28 PM)
Don't know, but it could well be true, Mike. I talked to Jerry Dipoto and know they took a look at Jorge Soler,but didn't get involved. I think for them to get involved with Ben Sheets, he would have to have very modest demands.
Artie Moreno doesn't seem to be in the limelight much these days. Is it just me or have you noticed this?
Mark Saxon (2:29 PM)
No, I have definitely noticed Arte becoming more reclusive in recent years, Harry. In spring training, he made it clear that he feels several members of the mainstream media have not been fair to him, so maybe it has something to do with that.
Mark, Really feel bad for Peter Bourjos not playing as much as last year.. Do you think Jerry Dipoto might traded him since we all know teams would want his services? The Angels have no room for him. Nobody will take Wells..
Mark Saxon (2:31 PM)
Definitely agree with the last part, Mike. It appears the Angels are just stockpiling Peter this year with the idea of using him next year, after Torii Hunter moves on. If they are going to trade him, it won't help that he's not playing at all and can't budge his average off the .200 mark.
Is Ernesto Frieri locked up with the Angels for a few years? Do you know his contract status?
Mark Saxon (2:33 PM)
Zolty, Frieri's not going anywhere for another few years unless the Angels trade him or release him. He only has two seasons of service time, which means he'll be eligible for arbitration after this season and after the two that follow. If he keeps going like this, he might become expensive, but he'll be an Angel.
We always hear that the Angels will be aggressive on International players but never hear them being involve on any high profile players. Will Jerry Dipoto change this?
Mark Saxon (2:34 PM)
I mentioned that they scouted Soler, but didn't make an offer. That might have to do with the fact that he's an outfielder, which is the area of least need. I think they will get far more involved on international players than they were in the past. Jerry is committed enough to the minor league side to make his right-hand man, Scott Servais, in charge of it.
At the beginning of the year I ranked the MLB teams, and I had Detroit 1 LAA 2 and Miami 3
Mark Saxon (2:34 PM)
Hmmm, having a rough year, Solomon?
Rob McMillin (Los Angelish)
How many more starts does Ervin Santana get before he's relegated to the bullpen? Also, do you get any sense at all that there's a hidden injury with him?
Mark Saxon (2:35 PM)
My over-under is one. He starts Saturday. If he's bad, look for something to happen since his next turn very well could coincide with Jered Weaver's return. It's pretty clear right now that Garrett Richards is giving them a better option than Ervin.
Anthony (Burbank, CA)
Hey Mark- What do you think happens with the catchers when Iannetta comes back? I would really like to see them give Conger a longer look.
Mark Saxon (2:37 PM)
The way Hank was throwing the other night, I think they should, too. He made three great throws and all three times Dee Gordon beat it, though the ump probably blew the call on the last one. Throwing has been his biggest issue. When Iannetta returns, he'll probably play five days a week, but it looks like he's been setback in his rehab so that could be a couple of weeks away.
Don (Chino Hills)
Hester appears to be the #1 catcher for now. Is Conger still hurting or is Scioscia lacking confidence in him?
Mark Saxon (2:38 PM)
No, Hank is healthy, but Mike just doesn't trust him on the defensive side, plus Hank has inexplicably struggled with the bat.
Mark, I was thinking the same about Ervin option for 2013 not being pick up. So why not trade him and put Richards in rotation instead of putting him in the Bullpen.. Would rather get something than nothing..
Mark Saxon (2:39 PM)
Well, one thing to think about Donald: What if a starter gets hurt and Ervin is gone? Your next best option is someone like Brad Mills or Trevor Bell. See what I mean about depth?
Karen (Chino )
Mark,I think you have a pretty good job. Do you need an assistant?
Mark Saxon (2:41 PM)
I would love one, Karen, but I'm not sure if it's in the ESPNLA budget. I'll check with my boss, but expenses have been tight lately... I am lucky, though, you're right.
Are trade rumors really just rumors by the media or are the players really on the trading block?
Mark Saxon (2:42 PM)
Not sure how to answer that one, David. But I think if a reporter simply makes up a rumor, they're probably not long for their job. Sometimes, flimsy rumors get circulated to death and take on a life of their own. But typically where there's smoke there's at least some fire. Not sure which specific players you are referring to.
Frank (Santa Ana,CA)
Which of the new front office member do you really like? Feel has really good baseball mind?
Mark Saxon (2:47 PM)
Frank, I noticed in spring training that there was a new energy around the complex with Jerry and his team moving around the building and fields. I've been told there is a culture of vibrant debate. I've known the two special-assignment scouts, Larry Corrigan and Tim Schmidt, for a while and know they're quite respected. I covered Scott Servais as a player and found him one of the brighter guys I've covered. I've heard great things about Matt Klentak but don't know him as well. It looks like a bright bunch.
Anthony (Burbank, CA)
Hey Mark- CJ Wilson- one of the few free agent signings good as advertised. Comparing #5, Fielder, Heath Bell, etc.
Mark Saxon (2:49 PM)
Might be a little early for that, Anthony. As we've seen with Pujols' turnaround, things can change when you're only 2 1/2 months into a season. But yeah, C.J. looks like a good signing. The biggest risk with a pitcher, of course, is injury. But the Angels feel good about it because C.J. has only been a starter since 2010 and, therefore, has less mileage on his arm.
Frank (Santa Ana,CA)
Which Angels player do you think will make All-Star Team?
Mark Saxon (2:50 PM)
The Angels won't have any starters, Frank, but I would think Mark Trumbo is a lock as a reserve. C.J. Wilson looks like a good bet. Either Ernesto Frieri or Scott Downs has a shot. I also think MLB will push hard to have both Mike Trout and Bryce Harper there. It would create so much positive buzz for the game to have these young, brilliant prospects running around and doing their thing.
Jarett (Orange County)
Do you see 3rd base as the Angels biggest need? Is Kevin Youkilis a real possibility if the Red Sox eat most of his money?
Mark Saxon (2:52 PM)
No only the biggest need, Jarrett, but in some ways the only fill-able need. Kevin Youkilis is definitely a possibility, especially if Boston helps defray some of the cost. I think Youkilis has a $1 million buyout for next year's option, which is reasonable. The thing the Angels will have to ask is if Youkilis' power is preferable to Callaspo's glove, because both of them get on base a lot. Even though he is injury-prone, I think Youkilis is a reasonable risk to take in the short term if the cost isn't too great.
What do you think Jerry Dipoto will look for before the trade deadline. Major League help or Building the farm system?
Mark Saxon (2:54 PM)
It's funny, Keith, you would think a contending team would automatically look for major-league help, but the Angels have some potential spare parts at the major league level and have depleted the pitching in the minor leagues through several trades in recent years. I think you might be onto something.
Taking my daughter to her first Angels game this weekend.. Where is the place in hopes of getting her ball sign by a player?
Mark Saxon (2:55 PM)
Probably the best place is outside the players' parking lot beyond center field. Otherwise, along the rail near the dugout when the players come in from taking batting practice.
Mike (Long Beach)
Howie Kendrick has looked really uncomfortable at the plate this season (especially against breaking balls away). How are Howie and Jim Eppard working on finding his stroke and getting back to going opposite field?
Mark Saxon (2:55 PM)
I don't know the specifics, Mike, but Howie has always had an inside-out approach. I don't think that's the issue as much as just recognizing off-speed pitches better and adjusting. It's always been Howie's bugaboo.
Colin (orange, CA)
Have you heard anything about Jim Eppard's involvement with the players? What has he done differently than Mickey Hatcher and is he the reason why the Angels have had a recent offensive surge?
Mark Saxon (2:57 PM)
I think Jim has been a fairly quiet presence so far, Colin. He gets on well with the younger players who worked with him in the minor leagues. One thing I wonder is if the Angels will make a push to lure Mark McGwire in the off-season. McGwire lives about five miles from Angel Stadium and, obviously, has a wonderful relationship with Albert Pujols. Rudy Jaramillo also is suddenly available, but his price tag might be a bit too steep for the Angels.
Mark Saxon (2:58 PM)
OK, we started a little slowly, but this turned into a nice chat. We'll do it again next week.