Thursday, November 30, 2017

Sho-Mei The Money!!!


Alright, so here's the deal.  It's been a long season.  If I had been writing regularly, I would have most definitely made an ass out of myself as the conductor of the Justin Upton/Brandon Phillips Hype Train.  On September 1, there wasn't anyone who could convince me that the Angels weren't winning the 2nd Wild Card, beating the Yanks in New York and steam rolling the Indians en route to an ALCS appearance.

But then the rag-tag bullpen finally started to regress to the mean, where they should have been all along.  Average, maybe even a little below average.

Fine.

Who cares?

Not me.

We've still got Trout, Upton, Simmons... oh... right... the rest of our lineup is made up of Martin Maldonado (GREAT defensive catcher, well deserving Gold Glove Recipient, but like... kinda bad hitter?), A 58-Year-Old Brandon Phillips (I'm close enough), and some slow guy wearing Albert Pujols' jersey for some reason.  Okay, so the offense has some holes, but this is still a better team than the Twins, right?!  The Twins?!? I mean, Come ON!!

No, they weren't.  It was a long and difficult September with spikes of hope mixed with droughts of reality.

The Angels finished 81-81.  Pure Mediocrity.  "Wasting" another year of the greatest player to lace up his sneakers in 50 years.

So, where do the Angels go for 2018?  They've already locked up Justin Upton for 5 years.  That's great.  That's awesome.  Left Field is solved and it's got a reliable All-Star who can actually hit at Angel Stadium.  Love it.

Obviously, the highest highs of the baseball off season are right around the corner, and there are few big names that can solve some of the teams other issues, and I'll get to the boring ones over the next few days (Stanton, Gordon, Arrieta, etc), BUT, in a weird move with the Braves today, the Angels sent a minor league pitcher to Atlanta for Jim Johnson and their budget for International Players.

First off, I didn't even know that was something you could do?!  What a weird trading piece, and the fact that the Braves even still had theirs to trade after their recent punishment from the league for violating International Player signing policies... that's a whole other wrinkle to this that I don't want to unpack.  I'm just happy it happened.

It makes Anaheim an actual player in the race for Baseball's most exciting free agent: Shohei Otani.

Shohei Otani is like Baseball's Kazuchika Okada.  Okada is probably the best professional wrestler in the world (Pro Wrestling, you know... WWE...).  He has had more great matches over the last five years than anyone else in the world.  BUT, to the North American wrestling fans, he is just a name.  That guy who your super dorky friend who watches LITERALLY EVERY WRESTLING will tell you about whenever you try to bring up how good that AJ Styles match was ("Yeah man, AJ is great, but no one can hold a candle to Okada!" "Shut up, Brad!  I'm not inviting you to my house anymore...)


I've seen about as much of Otani pitch (Last Year's World Baseball Classic) as I have Okada wrestle (His two matches with Kenny Omega and one with Cody in 2017).  Otani is talked about over here like Okada is.  We talk about Otani like he could walk onto any mound in any stadium in the world and be lights out. We talk about Okada like he could stand in any ring in any arena in the world and have a five star match with anyone.  They are "unknown" excellence.  Only unknown because they aren't on our television's in North America week after week.

Why do the Angels need Otani?  Well, for obvious reasons (Our Rotation is more fragile than a glass museum of Faberge eggs; even if he doesn't hit often, he is still another resource for our spotty lineup), BUT, to stretch out the wrestling analogy... Trout needs his contemporary.  The Angels have potentially one of the best 10 players of all time on their team right now, and no one else on the roster even comes close.  Otani could be close. What would Hulk Hogan have been without "Macho Man" Randy Savage?  What would Ric Flair have been without Sting?  Bret without Shawn?  Austin without Rock?

To be the best of all time you need another great by your side.  Someone who brings out the best in you and you in them.  Jordan had Pippen.  Rice had Montana.  Okada has Omega.  Trout needs Otani.

Why not?  What's stopping him?  We are offering the chance to play alongside the best player in the world at what he does and show that you are his equal.  To play in one of the most pleasant parts of Earth's atmosphere, with a relatively relaxed media, a relatively patient and accepting fan base and, oh yeah, Disneyland is right fucking there.

So yeah.  Break the bank.  Go get Trout his Macho Man.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Mike Trout is a Magical Baseball Wizard


There have been a lot of hyperbolic things written about the Greatest Baseball Player of All Time, Michael Nelson Trout.  What you are about to read is not that.  It is 100% true fact backed up with statistics and science.

Mike Trout is a Magical Baseball Wizard who has the ability to bestow his amazing baseball prowess upon his teammates while he has extended stints on the Disabled List.

I know, seems unlikely.  For one, Mike Trout didn't even attend Hogwarts.  He went to Millville High.  But for the 16 games he has missed since May 29th, Trout has transferred his baseball powers (magically) to one Eric Young Jr.

Below is a Table showing you just how eerily similar their stats are:














Now I'm sure you are thinking "Hey Josh, I don't know this Eric Young Jr. fella very well, what if he has put up similar stats his whole career?".  That's where you'd be Pineapple-on-Pizza-levels of wrong, my friend.














Eric Young Jr. has played off and on for nine seasons.  After fizzling out with the Mets and Yankees the last two seasons, it looked like EY's career was done.  He got a chance with the Angels for Spring Training this year, impressed them enough to make the AAA Bees roster and has been waiting in the wings for a spot on the big league club.

Upon arrival from Salt Lake City, Young was greeted by Mike Trout, donned in his wizardry robes, who gave him powers previously thought unfathomable.  Now, Eric Young has been able to keep the Angels at .500 while Mike Trout mends at Wolverine-like speeds.

But why Eric Young?  Why not his pal Calhoun?  Why not someone struggling like Espinoza or Pennington?  That all comes down to the most magical state in the union: New Jersey.

Mike Trout and Eric Young Jr. both have the pleasure(?) of being born in New York's Little Brother.  The most crowded and (allegedly) smelliest state in the union.  People from New Jersey stick together.  It could only be Eric Young.  It HAD to be Eric Young.  He was Trout's Horcrux.

Yesterday, Trout said he thinks he will be back before the All-Star break.  Putting his recovery at an impressive 5 weeks (originally slated to be 6-8 weeks), at which time he will recover all his powers from Eric Young Jr and he will go back to a replacement level talent.

That's fine though.  If the Angels can use this momentum for a playoff run, those Five Weeks where Eric Young inexplicably played like Mike Trout was magically granted the powers of Mike Trout will go down in Angels History until at least November.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Where Do We Go From Here?


This certainly is NOT where we intended to be.

After another 3-1 loss against the Rays on Sunday (completing the Sweep for Tampa Bay), the Angels have lost 7 of their last 10 and are beginning the slow decent to the bottom of the league.  It's thankfully going to take a few more weeks of futility to catch the likes of Minnesota and Atlanta, but it's certainly the direction this team is headed.

I've been a baseball fan for 18 years now, and I've seen some downright bad Angels teams.  But this one might take the cake.

Questionable front office moves have led to a bit of a stale-mate talent wise.  Pujols' contract isn't getting cheaper.  Trout is almost getting paid what he deserves.  Josh Hamilton is getting paid tens of millions of dollars by the Angels to play for Texas.  Plus there is a lot of money tied up in players who aren't worth most of it.

So rather than address needs in the offseason (Pitching, Left Field, Organizational Depth), a bit of money was spent to fill those holes, but not with anything above replacement-level talent (Sorry not sorry, Daniel Nava/Craig Gentry).  The front office didn't have a lot to spend, and they certainly don't have the prospects to trade anymore.

The Angels' last "real" piece in the minor league system is Kaleb Cowart, but he is a "B"-Level Prospect at best and could only really net the Angels more replacement-level talent.  Essentially putting a band-aid on someone who just lost an arm.  

So what do the Angels do?  I have no idea.  I don't get paid enough to make these decisions, but I'll tell you a few things they SHOULD NOT do.

1. Trade Mike Trout under ANY circumstances - Except one: He asks REALLY, REALLY nicely after another year of this miserable play from the other 24 guys on this club.  If this team finds itself 10 games under .500 to start May 2017... and Trout wants to go somewhere with a chance to win... maybe you let him at that point.   But in 2016, he needs to remain in Anaheim.  There are VERY few teams that even have the combination of Big League and Minor League talent to even net a player like Trout.  A team like the Red Sox might have that combo, with young Major Leaguers like Henry Owens, Xander Bogarts, Mookie Betts, Blake Swihart and Jackie Bradley Jr., plus hot prospects like Yoan Moncada, Rafael Devers and Anderson Epinsoza to fill out a trade... but even if that deal could even come close to happening, why would Boston cripple their future at so many positions just for one guy?  And why would the Angels take a chance on 8 guys who still might not equal the production of Mike Trout?  It doesn't make sense for either side, and that's the only team with enough young players that I'd even begin to consider... so no... there is NO purpose to trade Mike Trout (unless Washington loses their minds and wants to send us Harper+Prospects, and even then... probably not worth it).

2. Trade away ANY prospects - Honestly, with how decrepit the farm system already is, there is no need to make it worse.  No one player is going to save this season for the Halos.  Even if some drunk GM is willing to send an Ace Pitcher our way for Cowart and whatever other junk we have, it will probably be a short-term deal that leads to MAYBE an 80 win season... and then what?   We are back where we started, except that pitcher is in Colorado (probably) and half our rotation is still hurt to start 2017.  Maybe start calling up guys like Cowart and Victor Alcantra and Kyle Kubitza... see if they have anything to contribute to this team, because most of the guys who are already here cannot.

3. Attempt a Full Rebuild - I get it... we have some pieces that could be used to net some okay prospects in an effort to build our farm system.  Calhoun, Simmons, Cron, Tropeano, and even vets like Escobar and Street could net some decent offers, and I'm all for trading a few of those guys away to build the minors, but if we trade all those guys, get maybe a dozen decent prospects for them... all this team is left with in 2017 is Trout, Pujols and a Garret Richards who is still probably 3 months away from pitching off a mound.  Instead, understand that this year is a wash, keep some of our younger talent and remember... a good chunk of money is coming off the books at the end of 2016.

So... how does 2017 look?  CJ Wilson and Jered Weaver both enter free agency.  I cannot imagine a scenario in which either of them are in an Angels uniform next year, which opens up a total of $41 Million next year.  Right there, you could turn that into 3-5 above-average big leaguers in spots like Catcher, 2nd Base, 3rd Base, Left Field, Rotation or Bullpen guys.  

Combine that with a couple trades this July, and you've got a mostly okay Major League team, with a decent amount of organizational depth and Josh Hamilton's contract set to expire in 2018.

This team might be at least another two (long) seasons away from contending for a championship, but at least a "mostly okay" team will put butts in seats, which is going to be a big problem for the team going forward in 2016.

That brings about my final point.  Don't stop supporting this team.  There is a lot to like in the players we've got left.  Mike Trout is obviously an insane talent who is almost worth the ticket price alone... but you've also got Kole Calhoun who is putting together an impressive season at the plate, Albert Pujols chasing historic numbers each night, and guys like Santiago, Tropeano and an aging Jered Weaver trying to hold the rotation together.  It's going to be a long season, but it's always darkest before dawn.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Nancy Drew and The Case of the Missing Offense

Man, what a rough couple of games.  I was trying to stay mostly positive after Monday's game, but game 2 was almost a carbon copy of game 1.  Andrew "Babyface" Heaney had a little more trouble than Garrett Richards did but the bullpen did a better job of limiting the damage.  Still basically the same outcome.

In fact, Heaney was mostly effective outside of that one rough inning... similar to Richards... the offense was a nonstarter (aside from one pity run) once again... and no one was playing with any intensity, especially in the middle of the lineup.  

Over the first two games, the Angels 2-3-5 hitters have one hit and six strikeouts in 22 At-Bats to start the season.  The only hit was a fairly pedestrian single by Kole Calhoun in his first AB of the season.  Former MVP Mike Trout has 3 of those Strikeouts and I don't think Albert Pujols has hit the ball past second base yet this season.

It would be one thing if it was just a chunk of our lineup not hitting effectively for a couple games... whatever, no big deal... but it just feels like there is zero intensity out there right now.  On offense, no one is really working the counts (Neither Cubs starter needed more than 93 pitches to get through 7 innings of work), no one is showing a ton of hustle on the bases or on defense... it just feels like this week has just been a continuation of Spring Training.  

This team is talented, or at least shows the promise of talent, at just about every position.  Things will start to fall into place.  But the start to the 2016 season has been harder to watch than an episode of Big Bang Theory with the laugh track removed.

--

Tonight:
The Rangers are in town with Derek Holland on the mound.  Hector "Which One Are You Gonna Get?" Santiago is on the mound for the Angels.  Trout and Pujols have great career numbers against Holland, if they are going to get out of this rut, tonight is the night.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

When a Cub Becomes a Bear



Well, that was certainly one way to start the season.

Some positives to start off:

+ Carlos Perez looked like he belonged behind the plate at a big league level.  He called a good game, was always cool under pressure and blocked the plate like a champ.  For a team that likes to build it's pitching around a great catcher, Carlos Perez could be that next guy, and it's exciting to watch.  Also, he was one of only three guys to get on base against Jake Arrieta last night.

+ At least we aren't the San Diego Padres right now...

....And the Negatives... I'll try to keep this to just three:

- Four Total Bases... FOUR.  I know Arrieta is the reigning NL Cy Young.. but FOUR total bases?  The Cubs managed three in the first inning.  The equipment manager should probably check the bats to make sure their aren't any baseball-sized holes comically drilled into them.

- Garrett Richards' consistency.  He was either striking guys out or putting them on base last night.  Only 3 came around to score on his watch, but nine guys reached base safely... His stuff can be nasty, but he needs to be able to locate it over and over again.

- The Bullpen looked ROUGH.  I know they were coming out in mostly a losing effort, but that's no excuse for six runs over four innings. My least favorite Angels tradition is crappy bullpens, so this is a bad start to 2016.


All that being said, we are less than 1% into the 2016 season and the Angels were facing one of the best pitchers in baseball.

Sorry San Diego, but I'll say it again... at least it wasn't 15-0...

You can actually pinpoint the second when his heart rips in half.

--

Tonight sees Jon Lester and Andrew "Babyface" Heaney on the mound... there is pretty much nowhere to go but up from here.




Monday, April 4, 2016

Baseball is Back! Wait, Is That Guy One of the Ballplayers?



The 2016 MLB Season is upon us, and the Angels have some new faces this year!  Let's get to know them a little better in my quick (read: two sentences or less) new player bios!  Sorry, Art Donovan, player weights are not included, but I can assure you that all these guys are one of the players.

Catchers:

Geovany Soto - Catcher:  Long-Time Cubs catcher who has spent the last few seasons tormenting Angels fans in Texas and Oakland.  Will be alright defensively, mostly there to mentor and develop Carlos Perez.  (Related: I miss Chris Iannetta already.)


Infield:

Andrelton Simmons - Shortstop:  The Best Defensive Shortstop in Baseball right now who is improving offensively and is only 27-years-old.  Easily the Angels' most important new player.

Yunel Escobar - Third Base: Okay with a glove and a Bat, although he has a knack for getting on base.  Can't possibly be worse than David Freese, probably.

Ji-Man Choi - First Base: 24-Year-Old who is getting his first taste in the majors after years in the Marlins and Mariners organizations.  Probably will only stick around at this level until Pujols is 100%.


Outfield:

Daniel Nava - Left Field: Had that one good season in Boston.  Has hit a ton in spring training but will likely continue to split time in Left Field.

Craig Gentry - Left Field: Had that one good season in Texas.  Has great speed, but will be splitting time with Nava.


Pitchers:

Al Alburquerque - Reliever: Spent a number of seasons as an inconsistent reliever for Detroit, will now be an inconsistent reliever for Salt Lake City.


I was only going to include players on the opening day roster until I realized that NO new pitchers are on the 25-man roster... so I threw Alburquerque in there since he was the biggest name the Angels added to the bullpen this offseason.

I was going to go into this huge outlook on the season, but decided this was more fun than over-analyzing every little thing trying to figure out if the Angels would win 78 games or 83 games.

If things go well, maybe semi-regular updates will continue, but I'm certainly not promising anything (because then we'd start 5-14 with Trout hitting .178).

Enjoy the 2016 Angels Baseball season!

Friday, July 10, 2015

How To Fix The Home Run Derby



The All-Star Break is upon us and that means it's time once again for the Home Run Derby. Maybe the inexplicably boring and pointless four hours of baseball all year long, despite being centered around the most exciting moment of any game.  It shouldn't be this way.  Getting the best sluggers in the game together for the sole purpose of hitting a baseball as far as possible shouldn't be so dull.  So, how do we fix it?  I've got some solutions.

CHANGE JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING ABOUT YOURSELF, HOME RUN DERBY

The format (either whatever nonsensical playoff-bracket style they are using this year, or the boring old format of years past) is simply broken.  Nothing about it is entertaining or fun.  It feels like work for everyone, both the players trying to squeeze another couple of home runs out of their last "outs", and the fans trying to keep up with the half-dozen minor changes every year.  Just scrap it all.  The only thing that should stay the same is that it's a bunch of all-stars trying to hit home runs in ugly All-Star caps so New Era can get a nice boost in sales during July.

EXPAND THE FIELD

Hold on, I know that seems like it would only make things longer, but I'll get to that later.  In the meantime, it would be a lot more captivating if fans of every team (or at least most teams) had a horse in the race.  Expand the field to somewhere between 20 and 30 players (or, more simply, each team that sends a hitter to the ASG gets to participate.  This year, that would be 23 guys), getting more eyes on the event.  Plus, who wouldn't want to see Dee Gordon in a Home Run Derby?

1 ROUND, 10 SWINGS, 1 WINNER

It's simple.  All 20-30 batters get 10 swings.  Home Run or not, it counts against that number.  At the end of the 20ish batters getting 10 swings, whomever has the most home runs in that time wins.  That's it.  Game over.  Come back tomorrow for an actual baseball game.

NO MORE TAKING STRIKES

Needlessly adding minutes and minutes per batter is guys just staring at pitches down the middle.  Screw that.  Have an umpire back there.  If you don't swing at a strike, it counts against your swing total.  Don't like it?  Get a better pitcher next year.  Alternatively, don't take such a silly thing so seriously.

MAKE IT ALL ABOUT CHARITY

Let's say you win the one-round home run derby by hitting 7 homers in your 10 swings.  Awesome!  Here is a $100,000 for the local charity of your choice.  Did you show up and lose?  Don't worry about it, Puig, here is $10,000 for The Boys and Girls Clubs of Los Angeles.  If there is a tie, either the two winners can split the prize, or the sponsors can pony up a second grand prize, their choice.

So now, worst case scenario, even if it's still boring as crap and takes 4 hours, at least we raised ~$250,000 for local charities in almost every MLB city.  Good publicity for the players, the event and the league itself (as well as Taco Bell or State Farm or wherever the money for the donations come from).

WINNER GETS 10 1ST PLACE VOTES FOR MVP

Just kidding.  Wouldn't that be really stupid?  What next, the All-Star Game determining home field advantage for the World Series?


There it is, five simple steps to fixing the Home Run Derby and making sure the ESPYs aren't the 2nd most exciting thing in sports the second week of July.

You're Welcome, Major League Baseball.


---

Good luck to Pujols in the actual Home Run Derby.  Also, hopefully the AL wins the ASG so we can get Game 7.... in Kansas City.