Results tagged ‘ Matt Angle ’
Who is he?
An outfielder and leadoff-type batter whose offensive contributions are walks and speed. He’ll be 29 in 2013 and has played 18 games at AAA, scattered over three seasons. In 428 AA games, he’s hit .264/.391/.323. He’s always had a contact-oriented swing and never learned to drive the ball. He seems to fall midway between Kyle Hudson and Matt Angle, and is on their career path, at best – a September callup as a pinch-runner/defensive replacement outfielder.
UPDATE: Richardson was declared a minor-league free agent and has signed with the Twins.
Should he be a major-leaguer? Can he be a regular?
I thought last season that Angle would be an excellent fourth or fifth outfielder and had a chance to be a regular outfielder, like Brett Gardner. While I underrated Gardner in that analysis — Gardner was and is a better player than Angle — I still think Angle is a major-league player.
First, the positives. Angle is an outstanding defensive center fielder, perhaps not quite as spectacular as Torii Hunter or as physical as Andruw Jones, but outstanding nevertheless. He has plus-plus speed, a knack for judging fly balls and running good routes. He also has an above-average throwing arm that plays better because he’s very accurate. In fact, although some of my colleagues might think it impossible, Angle may be an overall better center fielder than Denard Span, who was certainly the most spectacular center fielder I’ve seen in my six seasons of datacasting and had always been considered the best. Offensively, Angle has good strike-zone judgement and is an outstanding base-stealer (minor league career totals — 169 stolen bases in 205 attempts.)
Also, his performance last year told me a lot about Angle’s makeup. He got off to a terrible start. While many AAA players who get off to terrible starts end up with truly terrible years, Angle rebounded to have a solid season not far out of line with his career performance. He didn’t press, nor try to do too much, nor let his offensive struggles affect his defense.
The negative, and it’s a big negative, is that Angle doesn’t hit for any power at all — a career (slugging percentage – batting average) of .066 (Brett Gardner’s minor-league value was .094). Generally, the concern with a player with so little power is that he’s a weakling and pitchers will throw strikes, knowing he can’t hurt him. And, in general, the concern is valid. I think Angle may be an exception. He has a flat swing, so he does hit the ball hard but without much loft. Angle does draw an adequate number of walks, so he’s not a Joey Gathright against whom pitchers groove pitches.
Angle’s not going to be a superstar. On the right team — a team with an above-average offense but a below-average defense on which Angle could hit ninth (with the DH) or eighth (without the DH) — I’d be happy to plug Angle into center field.
So why did the Orioles expose Angle to waivers, where the Dodgers claimed him?
I’m not going to discuss the merits of signing Luis Ayala here, nor am I going to lambaste the Orioles front office. I think the Orioles exposed Angle for several reasons. First, the Orioles are the wrong team for Angle. They have an outstanding defensive center fielder in Adam Jones. While their offense is better than it was when Cesar Izturis and Josh Bell occupied the ninth and eighth spots, it’s still not a good offense. But more importantly, the Orioles are still — again? — in the initial phases of their development. As I see it, when they signed Ayala, the Orioles had to choose between Angle and Jai Miller for the roster spot. While I think Angle is better than Miller, I also think that Miller has a much better chance of becoming a very good player (mainly because Angle doesn’t have any chance of developing much beyond the adequate-regular class.) So, since the Orioles are so far away from being good, it might make sense to hope that Miller lives up to his potential and allow Angle to go elsewhere. As I said, I would have kept Angle, but I can see the case for keeping Miller.
How does he project as a prospect?
Not only was Kyle Hudson the player most fun to watch for the 2011 Tides, he may have been the player most fun to watch (in a positive way) for the Tides in the six years I’ve been datacasting. He’s very fast and gives his all every play. However, I don’t think he’s a very good prospect, for several reasons:
- He has zero power. His entire offensive game is based on slapping at the ball and running like crazy; or, for a change of pace, bunting and running like crazy. Major-league pitchers will knock the bat out of his hands unless he gets stronger.
- Although he’s very fast, he’s not a good outfielder. He has trouble judging fly balls and doesn’t have a good throwing arm.
- Possibly because he’s a former college football player, he does play all-out on every play. That makes him entertaining to watch and someone to root for, but it also makes him susceptible to injuries.
I think the best-case scenario for Hudson is to be someone like Joey Gathright, another pure speed player. Gathright managed to last four seasons as a bench player / part-time regular. The key difference is that Gathright was a .300 hitter in the minors, while Hudson has been a .280 hitter in the minors. That may not seem like much of a difference, but when you consider that Gathright was a very marginal player anyway, it may be enough to keep Hudson in the minor leagues.
Would you rather have Hudson or Matt Angle?
Although they’re similar players, I’d rather have Angle, who’s a far better defensive outfielder and, at least in my opinion, has more strength. The Orioles won’t have either one; they waived Matt Angle. They wanted to remove Hudson from the 40-man roster, but because of an arcane roster-rule technicality Hudson was declared a free agent and signed with the Rangers.
Is he a useful major-league player?
When Reimold first came up through Norfolk, he looked like he’d be a multi-dimensional offensive star, potentially a .300 hitter with power. He seemed to take a long time to recover from a late-2009 injury. In 2011, he seems to established himself as a low-average slugger.
On the surface, Reimold’s major-league statistics make it look as though Reimold has degenerated from 2009 (.279/.365/.466 in 411 plate appearances) to 2011 (.247/.328/.453 in 305 plate appearances). But that doesn’t take into account the league context — Reimold’s 2009 is a 116 OPS+ and his 2011 is a 113 OPS+. The difference is that much more of Reimold’s productivity came from home runs in 2011 than in 2009. IN 106 more plate appearances, Reimold had only 2 fewer home runs; but eight fewer doubles, 19 fewer walks, and 34 fewer base hits. That indicates a less well-rounded set of skills. And that is reflected in his 2011 Norfolk numbers compared to 2009 — .394/.485/.743 with 9 home runs in 130 plate appearances in 2009; .237/.329/.410 with 6 home runs in 161 plate appearances in 2011.
If I were running the Orioles, my first plan would probably be to play Matt Angle in center field in 2012, moving Adam Jones to left. I think Angle gives the Orioles an outstanding defensive center fielder, and another look on offense as a singles-hitter with speed. But if that didn’t work, I’d have no problem playing Reimold. He’s a Plan B type player, good enough to fill a hole but not really good enough to have a solid hold on his position. The problem with Reimold on the Orioles is that he gives them another right-handed hitting home run hitter, along with Mark Reynolds, J.J. Hardy, and Adam Jones.
Saturday night’s Gwinnett-Norfolk game was suspended by rain after the first inning, and completed on Sunday night. Norfolk ended up winning the game, 6-5 in ten innings, on a controversial home run by catcher Adam Donachie. However, Gwinnett had two legitimate chances to score runs in the first nine innings, which would have made the extra innings unnecessary. However, I would not attribute either missed chance to bad baserunning; the first was the result of an outstanding defensive play and the second was simply a bad coaching decision.
In the 4th inning, with the game tied 1-1, Gwinnett loaded the bases with one out. Stefan Gartrell and Brandon Hicks walked and Ruben Gotay singled. Diory Hernandez hit a fly to fairly deep center field. Usually, this would be a routine sacrifice fly. Gartrell tagged up and went to home plate. While Gartrell isn’t as old as Ramon Castro or as bulky as Prince Fielder, he’s not an eager kid like Kyle Hudson and he’s filled out quite a bit. So, even if Gartrell weren’t trotting home, he wasn’t sprinting and consequently not moving very fast. And Brandon Hicks tagged up from second and tried to advance to third base. Center fielder Matt Angle had no shot at throwing out Gartrell, even with his relative lack of speed, so he threw to third to try to put Hicks out. And Angle made an outstanding throw; third baseman Brendan Harris applied the tag and Hicks was plainly out. Immediately, the home plate umpire turned to the press box and vigorously waved his arms, telling us that no run scored because Hicks was put out before Gartrell touched home plate. While Gartrell might have hustled a little bit more; or Hicks might not have tried to advance; or Hicks, realizing he would be put out, might have tried to delay the inevitable long enough, the real reason the run didn’t score was Angle’s outstanding throw.
In the ninth inning, with the Tides leading 5-3, closer Jeremy Accardo came in to pitch. With one out and J.C. Boscan on first, Accardo walked Tyler Pastornicky and Matt Young to load the bases. After Gartrell lined to short, Mauro Gomez hit a hard line drive off the left-field wall. Kyle Hudson played the ball of the wall and quickly threw to shortstop Carlos Rojas. Boscan scored from third and Pastornicky from second, tying the game. Although the ball was hit very hard and Hudson played it well, manager Dave Brundage, coaching third, told Young to try to score. Rojas had the ball almost as soon as Young reached third, and he easily threw Young out at the plate.
Gwinnett did lose the game in extra innings, so it is true that had Hicks not tried to take third in the fourth inning, Gwinnett would have won the game. And if Young had held at third, Gwinnett might have won the game in the ninth inning. But I wouldn’t classify Hicks’ decision as bad baserunning; it was a reasonable decision that didn’t work out. And I don’t blame Young; Brundage made a bad decision that Young couldn’t rescue.
Years — or perhaps decades — ago, baseball magazines would have a feature in which obscure rules and unusual situations would be brought up for discussion. Bill James once described a typical question as “what happens if the live baseball lands in the pocket of a passing marsupial?” Friday night’s Tides-Indianapolis game included a play that led to a potential “knotty problem of baseball.”
In the top of the third inning, Indianapolis’ Brian Friday blooped a single to center. He was sacrificed to second by Gorkys Hernandez. Chase D’Arnaud lofted a fly ball that Tides center fielder Matt Angle misjudged. Angle drifted back on the ball, then suddenly broke out into a sprint back toward the infield and dove for the ball. From my vantage point in the seats behind home plate, I couldn’t tell whether Angle had trapped or caught the ball; and the umpire making the catch was out of my line of vision.
Friday, on second base, thought that the ball was caught and returned to second base. D’Arnaud, the batter, either thought that the ball was not caught or wasn’t sure, and he charged for second base. The two runners arrived at the same time; both dove headfirst into the base; and nearly conked heads. Angle threw the ball to the second baseman, who looked perplexed before finally tagging runners clinging to second base. Eventually, the umpire arrived, said a few words, and D’Arnaud got up and trotted to the dugout.
We still weren’t quite sure what happened. Our first guess was that Angle was ruled to have made a catch and thus D’Arnaud’s dive, though spectacular, was wasted. But our confidence was shaken when the scoreboard operators put an additional base hit on the line. After discussing this for a bit, we finally decided that Angle had not caught the ball, and that D’Arnaud was tagged out by the second baseman. By rule, if two runners are legally on a base (more on that later), the trailing runner is put out when tagged. Finally, we went back to our first opinion — that Angle caught the ball — when later in the inning the extra hit was taken off the linescore.
Now for the knotty problem. By and large, runners are not allowed to run the bases backwards. More precisely, a runner who has legally reached a base is not allowed to go back to a previous base. A century ago, a “character” named Germany Schaefer, on first base, broke for second on a hit-and-run play and stole the base successfully, although the hit-and-run failed. On the next pitch, he broke back for first base so that on the third pitch, he could try the hit-and-run again. That’s now illegal — once a player has legally reached a base safely, he can’t go back to a previous base. A runner can run back and forth during rundowns, because he’s never reached the following base — and he can return after a fly ball has been caught, because he never reached the following base legally – but once he’s reached a base, he can’t go back.
Another principle is that the final decision of the umpires is final. So, for example, if one umpire signals “No catch” on a fly ball and another umpire signals “catch”, and a runner doesn’t tag up because he sees the “no catch”, and the runner is doubled off his base, and the umpires, after conferring, rule a catch, the runner is out of luck — the final ruluing is a catch; he never tagged up; hence he’s out.
So, let’s take the Friday-D’Arnaud-Angle play and complicate it a little. Suppose that Friday reached third base. He then either saw the umpire signal “catch” or heard the coach telling him “catch” and thus returned to second base. D’Arnaud reached second base but seeing Friday returning to second, decided to return to first to allow Friday room to return. Both runners reached base safely; the umpires then declare “no catch”. Could Friday and/or D’Arnaud be then called out for running the bases backward? I don’t know the answer.
Major-league opening day is March 31, and the Tides’ opening day is a week later, April 7. The impending cutdown of the major-league roster means that the minor-league rosters will be identified, and so I’ve been following the Orioles transactions in the small print of the newspapers. There’s really no difference between being “optioned” and being “assigned to minor league camp” — players on the 40-man roster are optioned and players not on the 40-man roster are assigned to minor league camp. Final team assignments won’t be made, in some cases, until the day before the minor league season begins.
That doesn’t mean we don’t have a pretty good idea about some of the Tides. For example, Matt Angle has been optioned to Norfolk. Angle had a good 2010 season for the Tides, and he plays center field, so it’s almost certain that he’ll actually end up in Norfolk. For other players, it’s a numbers game. Although Chorye Spoon pitched pretty well in the Eastern League, and would usually be promoted to the Tides this season, he may wind up back in the Eastern League if Norfolk has too many other starting pitchers for the Tides. (That happened to Jason Berken two years ago; he was promoted after about a week when a spot opened up.) On the other hand, guys like Pedro Viola and Pat Egan are organization roster filler, and will be assigned wherever there’s room. And, some players, both former prospects and veteran free-agent signings, may be released outright if their particular skills aren’t needed.
Is he a future star?
No. Angle has no power, so he has no star potential.
How about a future regular?
Maybe. While Angle has no power, he is an outstanding defensive center fielder. Offensively, he has good speed which he uses well; he’ll take a walk; and can probably hit .280 in the major leagues.
The interesting thing about Angle is that he’d probably have a better chance of being a regular on a good team — or, more specifically, a good offensive team — than on a bad team like the 2010 Orioles. Angle doesn’t profile that much differently than Brett Gardner. But because the Yankees have a good offensive team, they can afford to bat Gardner in the 9th spot in the batting order, where a speedy on-base machine with little power can be the so-called second leadoff man. Unfortunately, the 2010 Orioles were carrying at least two non-hitters in the lineup. Angle’s not a good enough hitter to bat leadoff, and he doesn’t have enough power to bat 7th or higher. So, he could play regularly on a good team but not on a bad team.
The Orioles have added Derrek Lee, Mark Reynolds, Vladimir Guerrero, and J.J. Hardy to the lineup, presumably improving the offense. Unfortunately, that probably moves Luke Scott to left field, and Angle won’t be beating him out unless Scott’s defense is unplayable.
How about a bench player?
Definitely. A table-setting pinch-hitter, who can pinch-run, and play brilliant defense in the outfield? Who hits left-handed? I’d sure think I’d find room on my bench for him. The Orioles are probably committed to carrying at least twelve pitchers, which will hurt his chances.