MoY

I often say that the Manager of the Year awards are dumb. They are usually given without much apparent thought, often to the manager of the team that happened to have an unexpectedly successful year.

But Mike Scioscia, with all he had to help his team through early in the season, certainly deserved his second MoY award.

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No Tex

The Angels have withdrawn their offer to Mark Teixeira. I can’t say that I am happy that the first real combination of power and patience at the plate that the team has had in many seasons will not be back, but if he thinks eight years and a reported $160 million is not a good enough offer, then good riddance. Such a contract makes little sense. I hope he winds up a proud member of the Nationals (though I fear he’ll be with the Red Sox or Yankees, and at this point I am no longer sure which is the worse outcome).

Moving forward, the midseason deal is now Casey Kotchman and a minor-league pitcher for two draft picks. Use them wisely, Arte and Tony.

100!

Time, at least once more in 2008, to crank up that fight song. About 100 decibels should do.

The Angels, for the first time in their history, have won 100 games.

And their season has a nice symmetry to it.

Home record:

50-31

Road record:

50-31

That road record is the only above-.500 record in the league, other than the Yankees, who won’t be playing any October baseball this year (despite a better record than whoever emerges from that mess of a Central Division).

The win, over second-place Texas, also gives them a 21-game lead, which is one of the few >20 leads of all time.

As of this writing, the remaining suspense is whether the Mariners wind up 40 games out, or only 39.

And I have to tip the halo to Joe Saunders, who returned from passing a kidney stone to pitch a fine game today. ((Unlike his other two rotation-mates for the Division Series in their final regular-season tune-ups.)) As someone who has had kidney stones more than once in the past, and whose wife has had even bigger kidney stones, I can’t imagine how he had the strength.
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TEX!

Time to crank up the Fight Song: the Angels pulled the trade trigger. Mark Teixeira is coming to a first base bag near me!

The Angels sent first baseman Casey Kotchman and minor league pitcher Stephen Marek to Atlanta for Teixeira, a first baseman.

A lot lower cost than had been rumored. Just this morning, the LA Times had said the Braves were expected to demand Kotchman, a starting pitcher in (or soon to be in) the major leagues, and an outfielder (presumably Juan Rivera).

This makes the team with the best record in the AL just that much better. I have liked ‘Tex’ a lot since I first saw him the Arizona Fall League not all that many years ago.

I don’t like rentals, so I sure hope the Angels sign him. But if this gets them deep into October, it will be worth it no matter what. Besides, as much as I like Kotchman, he’s had ample opportunity to show he is more than a .280 hitter capable of 15 or so homers a year. And he hasn’t.

Big deal.

Saves

The Angels have a pretty good bullpen and their closer is likely to break the single-season save record by a wide margin.

But today’s game shows how meaningless the “save” statistic can be, and how the save’s definition becomes part of game strategy itself.

The Angels had a 4-run lead in the 6th today against Cleveland, and brought in Justin Speier. He has a 5+ ERA, so my immediate thought was he was coming in to make the game close. To generate a save situation. But Speier failed miserably in this (cynical) definition of the set-up role. He set them down in order.

Darren O’Day did much better a couple of innings later, but the offense just would not do its part to keep the game close.

Then in came the rookie to show everyone how it’s down. Entering the game with a 4-run lead in the 9th, he gave up a run after 2 were out.

Out popped Mike Scioscia. Nice pat on the butt for the kid, and we have ourselves a bona-fide SAVE SITUATION!

One pitch, game over, 42 saves for K-Rod.

Could not script it better…

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24 July: Corrected the 9th inning sequence above.