Tag: Mike Scioscia

Mike Scioscia to Return as Angels Manager: Latest Comments and Reaction

Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia has decided to return to the team next season, choosing to forgo the opt-out clause in his contract, according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register.

“I’m coming back,” Scioscia simply said, per Fletcher.   

The longtime manager signed a 10-year contract extension with the team in 2009, though he can opt out of the deal at any point, per JB Blanchard of the Chicago Sun Times.

Scioscia, 56, has spent 16 seasons as the manager of the Angels, compiling a 1,416-1,176 record and leading the team to a World Series title in 2002. He’s also led the Angels to the playoffs seven times and was the American League Manager of the Year in 2002 and 2009, though the Angels have reached the postseason just once in the last six years. 

With a talented roster led by one of the game’s biggest superstars in Mike Trout and a new general manager coming in, Billy Eppler, another failure to reach the postseason won’t be viewed favorably by the front office or fans. While Scioscia’s track record speaks for itself, missing the postseason next year may take his future with the Angels out of his hands.  


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Mike Scioscia Comments on Josh Hamilton’s Status with Angels

Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia commented on the Josh Hamilton situation on Monday, offering his opinion of the team’s star player.      

Scioscia talked about what he feels is a frustrating situation and added that he hopes to personally meet with Hamilton to get an update, per Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times:

The Angels have a three-game series with the Houston Astros coming up this weekend. With Hamilton rehabbing his injured shoulder in Houston, it would seemingly be a good time for Scioscia and Los Angeles’ front office to check in on the 33-year-old.

DiGiovanna reported that no such plans have been made, however.

Hamilton was already set to miss the first part of the regular season as he recovers from right shoulder surgery. Following his reported drug relapse, though, his relationship with the team has become somewhat fraught.

Angels owner Arte Moreno alluded to the idea that the team might try to recoup some of the money owed to Hamilton after his relapse, but the MLB Players Association has denied that Los Angeles had any sort of language in Hamilton’s contract about a potential drug relapse.

This has been one of the most notable off-field stories of the young 2015 MLB season, and as Hardball Talk’s Craig Calcaterra tweeted out, it will be interesting to see if the Angels attempt to block Hamilton’s path to the majors once he is 100 percent again.

Since Hamilton’s contract runs through 2017, the Angels will either have to find a way to make this all work, or they’ll end up eating a lot of dead money parting ways with Hamilton.   

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Angels Manager Mike Scioscia Reaches 1,300 Career Wins

Los Angeles Angels skipper Mike Scioscia reached the 1,300-win plateau as a manager with Monday night’s victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers, per the Angels’ official Twitter feed.

Angels starter Garrett Richards was dominant on Monday night from his first pitch to his last as he went the distance on a five-hit, complete-game shutout in a 5-0 Halos victory. The 122-pitch performance (76 for strikes) was Richards’ second career complete game and his first career shutout.

Unfortunately for the Angels faithful, the team dropped its final three games of the cross-town series and will now look to end the mini-slide Friday night against the Boston Red Sox.

Prior to Scioscia—now is in his 15th season as the Angels manager—the longest tenure for any Halos skipper was nine seasons by Bill Rigney, who served as the team’s very first manager from 1961 to 1969. Rigney is also second on the franchise wins list for a manager, albeit with an unappealing 625-707 record.

Scioscia‘s winning percentage of .546 is also the best in franchise history. And, with his 1,300 wins and .546 winning percentage, Scioscia is the 31st MLB manager to achieve 1,300 victories and only the 10th manager to have a .546 win percentage along with 1,300 wins.

Among active managers, Scioscia trails only former San Diego Padres and current San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who has 1,591 victories and counting.

Scioscia has won five American League West titles, with his career highlighted by a memorable World Series victory in 2002, when the Angels beat the Barry Bonds-led Giants in seven games.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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Los Angeles Angels: Angels’ Spring Training to-Do List

The Los Angeles Angels enter their fourth straight spring training without the leftover confidence of making the playoffs the previous season. Consequently, with a good-sized payroll and star power on the roster, that scenario leaves a little bit of pressure to get things turned around right now.

And what better time to tidy up a mess than during the spring.

For the Angels, however, it’s not an overwhelming matter. Sure, the offseason wasn’t a complete “winner,” and the strength of the AL West has increased—in the on-paper category. But don’t expect the severity of the Angels’ to-do list to blast through so many reams of paper only a company like Dunder Mifflin could keep up with the demand.

There is hope—more than just Mike Trout—and all of it starts with simple steps in March.


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Los Angeles Angels: 3 Early Predictions for Angels’ Offseason

There is a headline that constantly scrolls in my mind every time predictions begin to swirl around the Los Angeles Angels’ offseason moves—each scenario popping with the lights of a ‘50s-style camera.

Big names. Big money. Big moves. Big…mistakes?


It never fails—especially in the past few seasons—making the Angels one of the more intriguing organizations to watch in the winter.

What will they do for an encore?

Remember: This is the Los Angeles Angels we are talking about here. If they went out on the first day of the offseason and acquired four top-tier pitchers for cash and the eating of a few contracts and Vernon Wells, would you really be surprised?

I wouldn’t.

However, to me, this offseason will be different. Not less interesting, but definitely different. For the first time in at least three seasons, I don’t think we see any major hype.

Sure, the cameras will be there, it’s 24/7 sports news in the offseason—they need filler. But the idea of big moves and bigger headlines coming from Anaheim just doesn’t make sense.

Granted, whenever it comes to predicting the Angels’ offseason moves, I also immediately think of those studies that explain the chances of winning the lottery.

Both instances, regardless of how you think it will go, are never an easy hit. Most often, it’s a miss—about a 1-in-175 million chance of getting it right.

In the case of the Angels, with owner Arte Moreno always poised for the unknown and astonishing, that number may be a little greater—like 1-in-180 million.

But I won’t let the odds keep me from throwing in my two cents. It’s fun. No shame in that.

And though I don’t think something drastic will happen—it’s way too early to completely exhaust every angle and detail anyways—I do feel there are three key scenarios that will lead to this revolution (let’s call it that) of an offseason.

So, let this be the first of probably thousands of prediction-based articles for the Angels this offseason.


Arte Moreno will surprise the guessers, as usual in the offseason, and keep both Jerry Dipoto and Mike Scioscia

What’s the rush on this? This team is not going to be fixed overnight, and it certainly isn’t going to get some high-powered boost if Moreno cuts loose either Scioscia or Dipoto (or both).

In fact, any such moves might set the team back even worse—if you can believe that.

Sure, I’ve seen the same reports, from the same writers as you, but I struggle to understand how this debate is clear to so many when there is obvious doubt towards the effect seeping from the cause.

We know the team is a ship without sails at this point. They have little room for spending money in the offseason, and the best efforts will be parting ways with good talent in order to secure the now and the future.

There is Albert Pujols, causing worry and concern.

There is Josh Hamilton, causing worry and concern.

There is a need for pitching, while understanding that Mike Trout is going to get more expensive.

It’s a difficult situation, no question.

But why take a ship with no sails and start removing the boards from the haul for the sake of blaming why the sails went missing in the first place?

Wouldn’t that ultimately just sink the ship?

In recent months, it seems as though both Dipoto and Scioscia have made nice, at least in the PR-latent form we hear spewed to reporters from time to time.

(It’s like watching two cast members on a sitcom, who dislike each other, smile pretty when the camera is rolling and the questions start flying their way. “No, no, we have had our differences…but I think we have a good thing going here and I think…”)

The truth is Scioscia likes to control the situation—the entire situation. But so does Moreno. To that, I imagine Dipoto would like a little flexibility to control things too, though his chances are slim.

They all like the idea of control.

In the end, it will always be a three-way struggle between Scioscia, Dipoto and Moreno, and ultimately that will be the downfall of the working relationship.

But that doesn’t mean the group needs to break up right now, dissipating like a baseball version of Guns and Roses.

There are more important things.

Dipoto has one year left on his contract. Scioscia has until the end of the 2018 season left on his—with some heavy cash to go with it.

The smart move would be to let both continue to attempt rebuilding the squad and act accordingly if failure continues in 2014 like it did in the past—a la Dipoto’s pitching acquisitions not performing well, or Scioscia struggling to manage effectively in one-run and extra-inning games.

If that kind of failure continues, then Moreno can unleash with fury, at the expected times—Dipoto at the end of 2014, followed by Scioscia not long after that.

It doesn’t need to be a surprise every time a move is made. After all, it’s thinking like that on Moreno’s part that originally cut the sails on this ship in the first place.


Mark Trumbo will overshadow Howie Kendrick on the market

I had some original doubt that the Angels would be completely willing to trade Howie Kendrick during the trade deadline. His value—in the clubhouse and on the field—seemed too great of an asset to the team.

Trading him, in my mind, equaled the same kind of sour deal that occurred with Torii Hunter.

Then I heard about the potential, almost-fulfilled, trade between the Los Angeles Dodgers and—well, I threw my doubts out on the 5-Freeway, along with the Angels’ pride, apparently.

Kendrick, almost by some “you tried to send me to the enemy default,” will be traded this winter.

And why not? There aren’t too many scenarios—especially with the teams Kendrick can block in a trade going from 13 to six—where I see the second baseman not gaining interest.

With that interest, there should be a chance for the Angels to pick up talented, young (that’s talented first, young second) arms to add to the pitching staff.

However, I don’t see Kendrick gaining the most interest of all possible trade candidates; that crown goes to Mark Trumbo, who comes with the same high-risk reasoning that got the Angels in trouble these last few years: ditch the small ball, dig the long ball.

Trumbo is certainly a long ball kind of guy. If the 29, 32 and 33 (and counting) home runs he has produced for the team the past three seasons doesn’t tell you that, then the 2012 Home Run Derby display should jog the memory.

The guy can crush a baseball.

The problem is, however, Trumbo’s average has suffered—even by new-aged power-hitter numbers—and his second-half dry spells the past two seasons have not helped the Angels.

Power aside, he is not the type of player that can provide much else. And the Angels have got other players—C.J. Cron and Kole Calhoun—that can fill in with better consistency.

There is also light at the end of the tunnel: Teams in search of a power bat will not care about the batting average. They look at the power potential and that is it.

And Trumbo has definitely got that—not to mention he will be turning 28, while Kendrick will be 30 (turning 31) next season. All of those factors could be enough to land Trumbo on the most-prized trade chip this offseason.

If you go by this next guy’s words of wisdom, it may also help the Angels get back to a winning form of old.


Jered Weaver’s thoughts and advice will impact how the Angels move forward

While there will be plenty of guessing from the talking heads, writers and fans about the Angels’ offseason moves and future, it really comes down to what the players think.

They are the ones in the clubhouse, and on the field, who have the best idea about what needs to be done for the betterment of a team.

Jered Weaver is that guy for the Los Angeles Angels.

If you didn’t get a chance to read the article MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez wrote about Weaver’s thoughts on the Angels’ situation, you are missing what I consider to be a team-changing moment for this franchise.

Or, at least, words from the clubhouse level to management level on how to reconstruct the club.

Weaver made it clear:

I think we changed our approach as far as how Angels baseball [was]. When I first got here, it was doing the little things—stealing bases, first-to-thirds—and we didn’t really sit back and wait for home runs and things like that. I think that now, we have some guys with some sock in the lineup and guys who hit home runs. The lineup is a little different from that regard.

And by different, he didn’t mean bad or good. Mediocre perhaps.

We have a lot of talent in this clubhouse, man; it’s just a matter of time before it starts clicking. I think that the way we used to go about things and the way we go about things now has taken a little bit to get used to. We’ve seen glimpses of us working together and playing well, and there’s obviously been times where it hasn’t worked out and we’ve been struggling. We have to find that happy medium where we’re playing good, consistent baseball.

Remember that goal: a happy medium.

When the seemingly right answer this offseason is to add pitching, then add some more pitching, getting rid of whoever is the man of the day. Remember what Jered Weaver has told us.

Basically, things are not all that bad; they just need a tweak here and there.

They don’t need to be flashy, highly paid or ready for ratings.

It can be as simple as relying on the learning curve of Cole Calhoun, Garrett Richards, J.B. Shuck and Grant Green, while Hamilton and Pujols, C.J. Wilson and Weaver do their thing.

Of course, Trout will do his part.

Will Dane De La Rosa, Ernesto Frieri and Michael Kohn do the same?

Will Sean Burnett?

If they do, then the predicting just got a whole lot easier.


Note: All stats provided were courtesy of MLB.com unless otherwise noted.

For more thoughts and opinions from Rick Suter, follow him on Twitter@rick_suter.

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Is Don Mattingly, Mike Scioscia or John Gibbons Most to Blame for Teams’ Flops?

Just blame it on the manager.

In Major League Baseball, when a team that appears dominant on paper but underperforms on the field, managers tend to take the brunt of the fault. Often times, they’ll lose their jobs because of it even though they aren’t the ones playing.

Through the early stages of the 2013 season there have been three teams that haven’t played like many expected to: the Toronto Blue Jays (15-24, 9.5 GB), Los Angeles Angels (14-24, 10 GB) and Los Angeles Dodgers (15-22, 7.5 GB).

But should fans be blaming John Gibbons, Mike Scioscia and Don Mattingly for their respective teams’ woes? And if so, who deserves the most criticism?


Is It John Gibbons’ Fault?

The Toronto Blue Jays made a slew of offseason moves in order to attempt to make the postseason for the first time since 1993. Toronto acquired several Cy Young-worthy starting pitchers and a couple of impact bats as well.

Toronto also hired John Gibbons, who hadn’t managed in the big leagues since 2008 when he was fired after a 35-39 start in his fifth season with the Blue Jays. It’s safe to say that Gibbons hasn’t been able to capitalize on his second opportunity just yet.

“We’re kind of just sputtering,” Gibbons told Evan Peaslee of MLB.com back in mid-April. “We haven’t been able to get anything going. We’ve had some well-pitched outings and haven’t gotten a whole lot of offense with it. Nothing has come together yet. I think it will, it’s just a batter of time, but you know what, it’s time to start playing some better baseball, there’s no question about it.”

Toronto was 7-10 when Gibbons made those comments. The Blue Jays are 8-14 since.

The starting rotation looked like one of the best in baseball before the start of the season, but R.A. Dickey (2-5, 5.06 ERA) has been a disaster, Mark Buerhle (1-2, 6.19 ERA) has been the worst pitchers on the team in terms of WAR and Josh Johnson (0-1, 6.86 ERA) is currently on the disabled list with inflammation in his triceps.

Jose Reyes, the top offensive player acquired by Toronto this winter, suffered a severe ankle sprain after just 10 games. While Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion have been their normal selves, Toronto still has the third worst offense in baseball, according to FanGraphs.

But is it really that Gibbons isn’t playing the right players or making the right decisions as to who goes on the mound?

That’s not the case here. Gibbons, who hasn’t managed in the big leagues in five years mind you, is coaching a bunch of stars that haven’t lived up to expectations yet. Injuries are out of his control. The Blue Jays would still be last in the division at this point in the season no matter who was hired over the offseason.


Is It Mike Scioscia’s Fault?

The Los Angeles Angels have spent tons of money the last two offseasons and still have nothing to show for it. Los Angeles signed Albert Pujols after the 2011 season and still finished third in the AL West.

This past winter, Los Angeles emptied its pockets in order to sign Josh Hamilton. So far, that move hasn’t paid off either.

Hamilton is hitting .212/.261/.344 with four home runs and 11 RBI through 38 games. Pujols hasn’t been much better and has a slash line of .234/.315/.393 with five long balls and 21 RBI. The offense hasn’t come through for the pitching staff yet, which hasn’t been great either.

T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times recently wrote how Scioscia isn’t the problem, but could get the axe regardless. Simers writes that it isn’t his fault that general manager Jerry Dipoto has left him with “a bunch of journeymen pitchers.”

Sure, Joe Blanton (0-7, 6.46 ERA) probably isn’t the best guy to have in the rotation these days. Other than that, the rest of the starters should be good when healthy. Unfortunately, Jered Weaver is out with a fractured elbow and Tommy Hanson was recently placed on the restricted list.

What’s Scioscia really supposed to be able to do when two of his top hitters are experiencing the worst stretches of their careers and his ace is sidelined for an extended period of time? Well, there’s not much he can do except for playing the guys that are available and hoping they have what it takes to win.

Maybe Hamilton and Pujols could use a bit of a pep talk considering it appears that if they continue to slump, Scioscia is going to be out of a job. Whether he gets another is regardless; he has to get the Angels moving forward quickly.

Los Angeles is 10 games under .500 through 38 games, which is completely unacceptable. The poor start hasn’t been the skipper’s entire fault, but I do think that he’ll ultimately pay the price for it.


Is It Don Mattingly’s Fault?

In several ways, Don Mattingly is in the same position as his crosstown rival, Scioscia. Mattingly is managing a team of underperforming stars that haven’t clicked yet. The Los Angeles Dodgers are also without one of their top starting pitchers, Zack Greinke.

Mattingly has been the manager in Los Angeles the last two seasons and hasn’t had much success. The Dodgers finished three games over .500 his first year with the club and 10 games over .500 last season. Through 37 games, finishing over .500 for a third straight time seems highly unlikely.

Despite having the likes of Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Hanley Ramirez (injured for most of the season so for) and Clayton Kershaw, among others, the Dodgers have been very average this season. But he hasn’t had much to do with it.

Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports puts it perfectly when he says:

…the Dodgers have had a player problem, not a Don Mattingly problem, and that will continue for as long as they hit like they hit, and pitch like they pitch and rehab as often as they rehab.

This is on Kemp, League and Andre Ethier, and it’s on Josh Beckett and Ronald Belisario. It’s on Hanley Ramirez’s thumb/hamstring, and Zack Greinke’s collarbone, and Adrian Gonzalez’s neck and Mark Ellis’ quad.

A handful of injuries and poor offense and pitching has brought the Dodgers to where they currently are: last place in the NL West. There’s nothing that Mattingly could’ve done to avoid this from happening. He’s playing the best players he can and it just isn’t working out.

Kemp is arguably the top offensive weapon the Dodgers have and he puts their season in a nutshell. Through 37 games, he’s hitting .277/.327/.348 with one home run and 15 RBI. Mattingly could move him down in the lineup, but it’s Kemp who needs to starting hitting like an MVP candidate instead of a below average outfielder.

Could Mattingly take Josh Beckett, who’s 0-5 with a 5.19 ERA in eight starts this season, out of the starting rotation? Sure he could, but there aren’t many other options that Mattingly has to flirt with.

The Dodgers have to start winning sooner rather than later unless they like last place. But it’s not up to Mattingly; it’s up to his players.


Final Thoughts

It’s easy to see why John Gibbons, Mike Scioscia and/or Don Mattingly could lose their jobs during or after the 2013 season comes to a close. Poor play usually results in the man at the top getting fired because that’s the easiest course of action at times.

But none of the trio deserves to have the brunt of the blame put on them or be fired for their teams’ awful starts to the season.

The Toronto Blue Jays, Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers are playing poorly because of the players on the roster and not because of the guy that decides who starts and who sits. Injuries have taken a toll on each of the three teams, which has made it difficult to turn things around.

But there isn’t much and Gibbons, Scioscia or Mattingly can do at this point except to keep motivating their players to play well. Making minor changes in the lineup, rotation or bullpen could potentially win a game here or there, but overall, it isn’t going to do much.

Ownership, front offices and fans need to wake up and smell the coffee. It’s not the managers that take the field, strike out each time and blow leads in the eighth and ninth innings; it’s the players.

The players deserve 100 percent of the blame for the way the Blue Jays, Angels and Dodgers are currently playing. It’s not the managers’ fault.

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Umpires Get It Right: Mike Scioscia’s Angels Will Lose Protest over Call vs. CWS

During a contest that saw the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim lose to the Chicago White Sox in extra innings, manager Mike Scioscia argued an umpire’s call so vehemently that he took the rather extreme step of filing an official protest.

With a 1-0 Angels lead in the bottom of the first inning at U.S. Cellular Field, White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko stepped to the plate against new Angel Zack Greinke with none out and the bases loaded. He clubbed a grounder to third baseman Alberto Callaspo, who then threw home to catcher Chris Iannetta for the easy force out.

What followed would result in one of the strangest first-inning sequences in recent baseball memory.

After receiving Callaspo’s throw, Iannetta spun and fired to first, taking great care to avoid batter-runner Konerko, who was sprinting down the first base line. The resulting throw was wide, pulling first baseman Albert Pujols off the base. Konerko was declared “safe” by first base umpire Paul Nauert, which would ultimately allow the inning to continue. Chicago scored four runs to put Anaheim in an early hole.

Sensing a potential rules gaffe, former catcher Scioscia went from the visitor’s dugout to meet home plate umpire Lance Barrett, knowing full well that Barrett had the power to make a key call from his angle near home plate.

Scioscia was determined and desperate to change the arbiter’s silence. Indeed, after the umpires convened and refused to oblige, Scioscia still felt so uneasy about the whole affair, he elected to file an official protest with Major League Baseball.

At issue was the umpires’ decision to declare Konerko “safe.”

Official Baseball Rule 6.05(k) states that a batter, in running the final 45 feet from home plate to first base, may not interfere with the fielder taking the throw at first base by running outside of the three-foot line outlined by a chalk or painted stripe. If the batter-runner does run outside of the running lane, and in doing so interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base, he may be declared out.

Because OBR Rule 4.19 states that, “No protest shall ever be permitted on judgment decisions by the umpire,” Scioscia was prohibited from filing a protest alleging that the umpires incorrectly judged batter Konerko to be within the runner’s lane. Had the umpires explained that Konerko had been within the lane, the protest could not have been filed for it would have been a judgment call protest, which is prohibited by rule.

Instead, Rule 4.19 authorizes a protest “when a manager claims that an umpire’s decision is in violation of these rules.”

Judgment call? No. Rules interpretation? Yes.

Speaking after the contest, Scioscia explained his decision and basis with which to file the report. “The umpire set the parameter and told us that Konerko was running well inside the line. All of the umpires agreed with that.”

Meanwhile, umpiring crew chief Dana DeMuth countered, “[Ianentta] threw wild … Konerko [in] no way interfered with the play at first.”

Very well.

Scioscia and the umpires stipulated that Konerko was running inside (to the left of) the foul line, in fair territory, one of the criteria Rule 6.05(k) requires for a batter-runner’s lane interference call.

Though what of that second required element of Rule 6.05(k), the actual instance of interference?

Further complicating matters is an exception to Rule 6.05(k) interference: “The batter-runner is permitted to exit the three-foot lane … in the immediate vicinity of first base.”

According to DeMuth, that second benchmark was never satisfied: “Konerko going down to first was [in] no way interfering with the play at first…It doesn’t matter where is running.”

Per Rule 6.05(k), the interference must occur with the fielder taking the throw at first base—most likely the first baseman—for such a rule to be invoked.

By rule, the thrower (in this case Iannetta) may not be the beneficiary of a runner’s lane interference call; only the receiver (Pujols) may receive the reward if he is interfered with by the runner’s illegal action.

Because only the receiver may benefit from this interference call, the exception to Rule 6.05(k) applies only to the batter-runner’s position as the fielder receives the throw.

Replays indicate that while Konerko was conclusively over fair territory when Iannetta released his throw, Konerko was on his final stride toward first base when Pujols fielded the throw, which means Konerko was covered by the Rule 6.05(k) exception.

And even if Konerko was not covered by this exception, the umpires still got the call right because Pujols was not interfered with.

Herein lies Scioscia’s conundrum. Iannetta’s throw attempt may very well have been hindered by Konerko’s running in fair territory as the Angels catcher released the ball—for all intents and purposes, it was. However, given the quality of Iannetta’s throw, which was wide and pulled Pujols off the bag, Pujols could not have been interfered with by Konerko because the throw was significantly to the center field side of first base and Pujols nonetheless made the catch.

Had Iannetta’s throw been on-line, then interference might have been possible.

Had Iannetta’s throw nailed Konerko in the back while Konerko was inside fair territory and not protected by the Rule 6.05(k) exception, interference might have been possible if the umpires ruled Konerko’s action and position prevented Pujols from fielding the throw.

Had Iannetta’s throw been lost by Pujols in the sight of Konerko running at him while inside fair territory, interference might have been possible if the umpires ruled this batter-runner positioning constituted an impediment and hindered Pujols from making the play.

Unfortunately for the Angels, neither of these scenarios occurred—the throw was inaccurate and as athletic as Pujols may be, he was pulled off the first base bag by a wild throw from Iannetta, who—as catcher—was not protected by nor subject to the Rule 6.05(k) interference call.

When MLB reviews this filing, the League Office will uphold the umpires’ call on the field and deny the Angels’ protest not because judgment was right or wrong, but because the umpires’ rule interpretation was absolutely correct.


Gil Imber is Bleacher Report’s Rules Featured Columnist and owner of Close Call Sports, a website dedicated to the objective and fair analysis of close or controversial calls in sports.

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B/R Exclusive Interview: LA Angels Catcher Hank Conger and His MLB Development

Los Angeles Angels rookie catcher Hank Conger has been given the opportunity to start over half the games thus far by Halos’ manager Mike Scioscia. Conger has responded, hitting .273 with three home runs through the first 45 games of the season.

Conger was called up last season when the roster was expanded to 40 players on Sept. 1, and with the Angels out of contention in the American League West, Conger saw action in 13 games, giving the youngster a brief glimpse of life in the majors.

Heading into spring training this season, with the departure of Mike Napoli, Scioscia declared an open audition for the starting catcher’s position.

While Jeff Mathis hit .391 and Bobby Wilson hit .304, Conger hit just .231, but Scioscia saw enough that he wanted Conger with the big club on Opening Day, electing to carry three catchers on the 25-man roster.

When Conger got his chance to start, he not only impressed at the plate, but defensively as well.

During Scioscia’s 11-plus year tenure with the Angels, he has regarded defensive abilities to be paramount among his catchers. Conger has shown an ability to not only handle the pitching staff well, but has added offense at the bottom of the order.

With Mathis hitting just .193 and Wilson essentially relegated to spot duty as the third option behind the plate, Conger is seeing more opportunities.

In an exclusive interview, Bleacher Report talked with Conger about his development in the majors, his maturation process, and his relationship with his fellow catchers.

Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle. Follow Doug on Twitter, @Sports_A_Holic.

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MLB Power Rankings: Ranking New York Yankees’ Joe Girardi and All 30 MLB Mangers

“The players make the manager. It’s never the other way.”—Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson

It’s not easy being a manager in Major League Baseball these days.

From all of the egos in the clubhouse to the increased expectations on the field, being a successful manager today requires a certain kind of individual. He has to be able to deal with the multiple personalities of multimillion dollar stars, and he’s got to be able to deal with them in a way that can still garner their respect. That’s not always an easy task—just ask the managers that had to deal with Manny Ramirez on a daily basis.

If there is a feud between a star player and a manager, very few managers will come out of it on top. Owners are more likely to stick with their $100 million player and assume the manager lost control of his clubhouse.

Just last season, rumors surfaced out of Milwaukee that All-Star outfielder Ryan Braun wanted manager Ken Macha gone. It was already known that Macha had issues relating to today’s players, and surely enough he was fired immediately after the season. Braun was just signed to a $105 million extension.

Out of the 30 MLB teams, there are 12 that have new skippers to begin the 2011 MLB season. Six have had previous managerial experience, three took over on an interim basis at some point last season and three are brand-spanking new.

When ranking all 30 managers it was based on one question—If I could hire any manager currently in baseball to manage my team, who would it be?

Let’s get started.

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MLB Opening Week: Scioscia’s Divine Intervention Calms Angels Faithful

The first week of the 2011 Major League Baseball season is well underway. The first series are in the books, and with them, fans across the country are showing their first signs of panic.

Out in Anaheim, things are no different. At least for the fans.

Optimists draw parallels to the 2002 season, when the Angels lost 14 of their first 20 games before roaring back to a 99-win season and the franchise’s first World Series Championship.

Pessimists fear the similarities with last season, when a solid Opening Day victory lead to three straight losses to the Minnesota Twins, setting the tone for a frustrating year in every aspect.

The realists, however, understand that although the start hasn’t been pretty, no baseball season was ever won or lost before tax day. Realists can appreciate that while changes may need to be made, the year is far from over.

Realists like Mike Scioscia.

The Angels skipper, regarded as one of the game’s best, is typically a slow mover when it comes to making roster moves. Particularly this early in the season, and especially when it involves an emotional response to painful losses.

But even Scioscia couldn’t sit idly by and watch his relievers continue to destroy the good work done by the offense and starting pitching.

After suffering through their team’s first losing season in seven years, he watched his bullpen fritter away three games in what could have easily been a four-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals.

In all three losses, the Royals scored the go-ahead run in their final at-bat. Twice, the bullpen surrendered walk-off home runs, breaking both fans’ hearts and coaches’ patience.

Now, that’s not to say Angel batters couldn’t improve, and Scott Kazmir certainly didn’t do himself any favors by giving up five runs in less than two innings.

What it does suggest is things haven’t changed for some Angels from last season, and that is unacceptable in Scioscia’s eyes.

He immediately dropped a long-struggling Fernando Rodney from the closer’s role, inserted young fireballer Jordan Walden in his place, and put Kazmir on notice. One more start like he had on Sunday, and the former ace will find himself bounced from the starting rotation.

These changes are far from the panicked, knee-jerk reactions some fans have had already. They are the measured, calculated, and perfectly executed plans of a savvy dugout politician.

Scioscia knows this Angels roster has its work cut out for it in the AL West. But he is not going to let his boys go down without a fight.

Rodney and Kazmir are pitching like they’re in competition to see who can put the most men on base in the fewest innings. Allowing that to continue would be as devastating to players’ morale as it would be to their win-loss record.

Need proof? One day after Scioscia’s intervention, the Angels cruised to a 5-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, capped off by a 1-2-3 ninth inning from new closer Walden.

The last time that happened, Francisco Rodriguez was still on good terms with his father-in-law.

It’s time to relax, Angels fans. It’s April. There are 157 more days and nights of emotional anguish ahead. And Mike Scioscia will be there to see us through it all.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

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