Tag:Jeff Mathis
Posted on: August 7, 2008 1:03 pm

Angels getting production from behind the plate

Even though their batting averages are flirting dangerously with the Mendoza Line, the Angels catching duo of Jeff Mathis and Mike Napoli have given the team outstanding production from behind the plate. In fact, it's tough to find another Major League club that can match the pair's combined 21 HR and 67 RBI.

Napoli, who's currently on his way back from a shoulder injury, has belted 12 HR and knocked in 29 RBI in just 142 at-bats. His homerun rate of a dinger every 11.8 AB's is among the best in the bigs.

Mathis has caught nearly every game since his buddy (the two are good friends off the field) landed on the DL, and though streaky, has contributed 9 HR and 38 RBI to an Angels offense that needs every position player to pull his weight with the bat. If Mathis can find some more consistency at the plate, he looks like manager Mike Scioscia's choice to play the bulk of the innings down the stretch.

Posted on: April 24, 2008 7:33 pm

Road Warriors

In a previous post I called this road trip a “test.” Well, half the test is done, and after taking 2 of 3 from the Red Sox (albeit, a flu-ridden, sore neck-ridden Sox club) in Fenway, which has been less than hospitable to the Halos in recent years, I feel pretty confident jotting a big B+ in red pen on the work of the team thus far.

In all honesty, this could have, and probably should have, been a sweep. We were slated to face the two best pitchers the Sox have in Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka, but both were scratched, forcing the Sox to call up some emergency starters from the minors. Hey, emergency starters or not, you still gotta hit the ball, and the Angels did, getting production from up and down the lineup. Offensive heroes were Jeff Mathis, Gary Matthews, Erick Aybar and Casey Kotchman with honorable mentions going to Torii Hunter and Maicer Izturis, who seems to be coming out of his early season slump.

As for the pitching, not bad considering how hot the Red Sox bats have been and how good they are in their ball park consistently. Weaver went in game 1 and kept us in the game without his best stuff, which has yet to make an appearance thus far. Garland was solid in game 2 getting the win, and really, only made one bad mistake which David Ortiz turned into a souvenir. And today, Saunders pitched into, and more importantly, out of trouble, picking up his fourth win of the season.

The bullpen seems to be stabilizing somewhat, preserving wins in two of the three games with Speier, Shields and Franky all looking pretty good. They weren’t lights-out, but against that lineup, who is? My worries about the early season struggles of the pen are slowly being eased with every lead they hold onto. Franky’s velocity is coming back and his changeup is becoming every bit as devastating as his slider.

Off to Detroit to cool off some more hot bats.

Posted on: April 15, 2008 6:21 pm

Angels Catchers Getting it Done

It wasn't easy watching the catching tandem that helped bring the Angels a World Series title go elsewhere. Bengie and Jose Molina held down the position with class and professionalism together for five seasons, Bengie getting clutch hit after clutch hit and Jose throwing behind unsuspecting base runners who wandered a little too far from first base. Man, they were fun to watch and easy to root for. While Bob Boone is still the best catcher in the organization's history, in my opinion, the Molina's comprised the best catching duo the Angels ever had. And while the team may have let Bengie go a season or two too early, they knew they had some young guys in the organization who were ready for the challenge.

We're now in the early stages of the 2008 season, and the Halos young catchers are showing why they were willing to part with Bengie after the 2005 season and Jose toward the end of last season.

Jeff Mathis has been a name Angels fans have been aware of since he was picked in the first round of the 2001 draft. He steadily moved through the minor leagues, and was named the organization's Defensive Player of the Year in 2005, while also batting .276 with 21 HR. It appeared he was ready for the show. Mathis was named the team's starting catcher to start the 2006 season and he struggled...mostly with the bat, but he wasn't very good defensively either. He was soon sent back to the minors and another young prospect, Mike Napoli, was called up.

Napoli took advantage of the opportunity and solidified himself in the Angels lineup, hitting .228 with 16 HR and 42 RBI in just 268 at-bats. He was also more than respectable behind the plate, throwing out 31% of would-be base-stealers. It was a good enough rookie season to make me think, Mathis-who, we got Napoli.

Now the two Floridians comprise one of the best young catching tandems in the Major Leagues and both are off to a heck of start in 2008. Napoli has played in nine games and is batting .273 with 4 HR and 8 RBI, while Mathis has made the most of his five starts, hitting .353 with 2 HR and 3 RBI. It appears the catcher position for the Angels will be in good hands for the foreseeable future.

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