Monday, August 30, 2010

Three Games, One Run, No Wins.

Its a really good thing the Angels Front Office (finally) waived the white flag on the 2010 season on Friday, by trading Brian Fuentes to the Twins for a player to be named later, because the Angels players waived an even bigger white flag by laying an absolute egg this weekend against the last place Baltimore Orioles.

After scoring on a Balk in the first inning of Friday's game, they failed to produce another run all weekend. Its a good thing the rest of the 40-Man Roster is here on Wednesday, because the current 25 stink.

There is no possible way the 15 players (mostly prospects) coming up from Salt Lake can do any worse than Hunter, Abreu and Co. have done the last week and a half.

Other than a 12 run explosion on Wendesday afternoon, the Angels have scored 7 total runs in the last week. They have been shutout three times, once by Minnesota, and TWICE by the LAST PLACE Orioles.

The Angels have a favorable schedule in September, so at this point, my goal for the 2010 Angels is to finish with 82 wins for a winning season.

Rangers Magic Number (To Eliminate Angels): 26 (22)
Carl Crawford Countdown: 104

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Best There Ever Was, and The Best That Could Have Been.

Today is August 24th. Today, Tim Salmon, the Greatest Los Angeles/California/Anaheim Angel of all time turns 42-years-old.

I was lucky enough to be at his final game. I was lucky enough to cheer for him when he took his final curtain call. I was lucky enough to get his signature that day. I was lucky enough to have seen him play.

It was a tough luck game, because he never got that 300th career home run. But we loved him anyway.

I was also lucky enough to be at this years Celebrity and All-Star Softball game. Tim Salmon looked as great as ever, even though he was only hitting underhanded pitches. The crowd went crazy, I went crazy. It was a good night to be an Angels fan.

Tim Salmon will likely forever be the most beloved Angel of all-time. He will be the player I will tell my Nieces and Nephews I was most proud to see in person. My jacket he signed will always be one of my most prized possessions. Even though I could find something bad to say about anyone, I can't think of a single bad thing to say about Mr. Angel, Tim Salmon.


I was lucky enough to be at his final game. I was lucky enough to see him pitch out of several jams like he was a 10-year-vet. I was lucky enough to give him a standing ovation as he was being lifted from the game for a reliever.

Nick Adenhart was the most promising pitching prospect the Angels have had since Francisco Rodriguez. He had the control, he had the speed, and he had the guts. I always saw all of this on display every time he pitched, but especially on that cool April night. He pitched the game of his life, which was tragically cut short hours later.

The Angels didn't get the win that night, but I vividly remember leaving that game thinking "this kid is going to be great." I remember reading an article a few days after the accident in which the author said something along the lines of "I wont be able to help it, when the 2011 and beyond Cy Young award winners are announced, thinking that Adenhart would have made a run at that award." There isn't a doubt in my mind that Nick Adenhart would have been a Cy Young Candidate, a perennial All-Star, and one of the best pitchers in baseball.

Nick Adenhart would have turned 24 today. Rest in Peace.

Why The Angels Should Claim Manny Today.

Thats right, today. Rumors are running rampant that Manny Ramirez of the Dodgers is going to be put through waivers today. His relationship with the Dodgers has crumbled, and with the Dodgers out of the race, they are looking to move the All-Star Outfielder for some pieces they can use to build on in the future. I'm going to a few of reasons that the Angels should pursue him and land him on their team for the last month of the season.

1. Increase Ticket Sales, TV Ratings and National Attention: The Dodgers received a HUGE boost in all three areas when Manny came to LA at the Trading Deadline in 2008. Not to mention a significant boost in Season Ticket sales in 2009. Its no secret that the Angels attendance isn't going to be what the team has been used to this year. They aren't selling out as many games, and there have been many more games with tickets on sale. Manny would bring people out to games in a mostly meaningless final month of the season, bringing me to my next point.

2. Keep Angel Fans Interested for Final Month of the Season: I'm not going to sugarcoat anything here. With the last two Angels losses (combined with big wins for the Rangers), the Angels are done. They are not making the playoffs, and at this point are playing for second place. With Manny on the team, you can bet your ass I'll be tuning in to just about every Angel game in September, even though Football has begun.

3. He Will Help The Angels Finish Strong: While I said two sentences ago that the Angels are out of it, that doesn't mean they should stop playing. September call-ups are a week away, and with all the new talent on the roster, guys should start playing for playing time next season. Throw a big bat like Manny in the lineup, someone who could actually get hits with Runners in Scoring Position, and the Angels could finish strong, with maybe an 85 win season. Its better to have some momentum going into next season.

4. It Will Give The Angels the Inside Track to Signing Him in the Off-season: I like Hideki Matusi. He seems like a good guy, but he didn't quite pan out as the Angels had hoped this year. With his one year contract, he is unlikely to receive another offer from the Angels, and will take his bum knees to another AL town (More than likely to Seattle, to play with guys like Ichiro, and for the huge Japanese community in the Seattle area). The Angels will need a DH, and Manny is the perfect DH. He has never liked to play in the field, but loves to hit home runs. While its not an ideal scenario for me, I admit that I've always liked Manny, and would love to see him in an Angels uniform, at least for a couple years.

5. He Can't Possibly Be Any Worse Than Our Current Hitters with RISP: After going 0-for-7 on Sunday, the Angels managed to go 1-for-11 with RISP on Monday night. Angels hitters are struggling to even move guys over. I've seen more pop-outs, shallow fly-outs and strikeouts than ever before. While I'm not going to claim Manny Ramirez is some sort of savior, there is no possible way he can be worse. Its mathematically impossible.

Rangers Magic Number: 29
Carl Crawford Countdown: 110

Monday, August 23, 2010

What Could Have Been.

The Angels just finished off a sweep of the First-Place Minnesota Twins. They now sit 6 games back of the reeling Rangers. The pitching was amazing, and the hitting was clutch as ever.

Ok, lets get a grip and come back from dreamland... Instead, the Angels sit 8 games back after losing two of three in the Twins new home, Target Field. The Pitching was ok, but the Offense was the real story, because they disappeared, again. Minnesota has a good pitching staff, dont get me wrong, but to look as bad as they looked this weekend (with the exception of the 7 run explosion on Saturday), it takes a special kind of suck.

They aren't patient at the plate, they aren't hitting to their strengths, they arent able to move guys over for productive outs... they aren't playing Angels Baseball. In other words, its like an entire team of Eric Aybars.

Things aren't going to get any easier. The Angels come back home to welcome arguably the best team in baseball to Angel Stadium, the Tampa Bay Rays. They have more offense and more pitching than the Twins, and with the Angels bats in one gigantic slump right now, it wouldn't shock me if the Angels get swept.

The Rangers, however, will have a much tougher time this week, playing the Twins (rather than the cupcake Orioles they had this weekend). But in order to get back any of the ground we lost this weekend, we not only need the Rangers to lose, but we will need to muster up a couple wins against one of the hottest teams in baseball.

Rangers Magic Number: 31
Carl Crawford Countdown: 111

Friday, August 20, 2010

Eric Aybar, How I Loathe Thee.

I was reading the "Best Tools" report today, and Eric Aybar's name came up a number of times. Second Best Defensive SS? Third Best Infield Arm? Second Best Hit-and-Run "Artist"? Third Best Bunter?

I suppose someone who tries to bunt at least once an at-bat would have enough practice to make the top three.

Also, Second Best Defensive Shortstop?!?! Are they not aware he is 10th in the Major Leagues with 15 errors on the season? Not only that, there have been many balls this season that Aybar COULD have gotten to, he just didn't hustle to them. Not only that, he is 20th in the league in Double-Play's turned. I understand that's partially the pitchers problem for not getting ground ball outs, but even Ian Desmond (who plays for Washington and has 27 errors on the season) is 9th in the league!

Eric Aybar has the tools to be a fantastic big-league Shortstop, but it seems like he never has the drive.

Don't get me wrong, the kid plays with heart, but you almost never see him playing to his potential. He gets sloppy, lazy, or downright apathetic. Like I said earlier, he doesnt get to all the balls he should, or he gets impatient at the plate and base-paths. If Eric played to his potential, he could be a .300 hitter, get 30 steals and win the AL Gold Glove at shortstop, and likely be a perennial All-Star (especially once Jeter retires). Instead? He is hitting .265 with 18 steals (been caught 8 times) and has 15 errors.

If Aybar doesn't begin to turn his career around, it could all just be a colossal waste of an enormous talent. (I don't think there was enough hyperbole in that final sentence.)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wait... We Won? This Cant Be Right II

After going 0-9 against the Red Sox going into tonight's game, the Angels some how found a way to take the lead and actually keep it through the end of nine innings.

Ervin Santana kept the BoSox hitters in check, while the Angels roughed up Beckett and Delcarmen for 7 runs. The Angels Pen actually held on to the lead and got the Angels their 61st victory of the season.

In Baltimore, the Rangers were shuout, 4-0. Thats right, the Angels actually gained a game in the division race. For the first time in almost a week, the Rangers Magic Number didnt get any smaller, and Matsui finally looked like the RBI machine we signed him to be.

Things are looking up, but if the Angels cant keep it up, in another week, they will be too far out for any kind of run at the postseason.

Rangers Magic Number: 35
Carl Crawford Countdown: 114

The Angels Glass is Half-Empty.

The Rangers have lost 7 of their last 10, and only lost a game and a half in the standings. The just got swept by the East-Leading Rays, but have lost NO ground in their quest to take their first Division crown in a decade.

The Angels, on the other hand, have had their fair share of obsticles. Loss of offensive weapons Guerrero and Figgins to Free Agency, loss of Morales to injury, Brandon Wood, the inability to ever trade for a bat to replace Morales, and long cold streaks at the plate by everyone on the team.

Even so, this team has stayed around .500 all season long, and has never really fallen all the way out of the West race.

The only problem? They are playing like they are out of it.

When you watch the Angels play today, take notice that no one will wait for the right pitch. They will try to do too much with the junk that is thrown to them. Most of them will not have that extra spring in their step, and The Pitchers will sweat more than Roger Clemens in Washington. They are playing like a team that has nothing to play for, even though they only find themselves 8 games out with 41 to play (including 7 against Texas).

If the players are going to play like they are out of the race, I'm going to start writing like they are out of the race. Its all misery, all the time!

Personally, I cant wait for September 1st to get here, to see how the young players (who will more than likely get plenty of playing time) perform at a big league level. I've really enjoyed watching Peter Bourjos the last few weeks, and I'd like to see what guys like Mark Trumbo and Hank Conger can do against big league pitching.

Also, the Carl Crawford Countdown has begun! 115 Days till the free agency period begins! Oh, and by the way, the Rangers magic number is down to 35.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Start of an Era?

Tonight, the starting Center Fielder for the Angels won't be Torii Hunter. It wont be Reggie Willits. Its going to be Peter Bourjos.

Perhaps the best all-around prospect in the Angels Organization, Bourjos will be playing in his first major league game against Jeremy Guthrie and the Baltimore Orioles. He will be hitting ninth in the lineup and playing in Center Field, territory usually reserved for Torii Hunter. Hunter will be moving to Right Field, and Abreu will bring his defensive ineptitude to Left Field.

Now, you may recall that about a week ago, I made a post wanting to see this young man, along with Mark Trumbo, in the lineup for the series in Baltimore. Well, we're halfway there (woah, livin' on a prayer).

Bourjos brings a contact bat, speed and, perhaps most importantly, a new look to the Angels lineup. Now, I've been wrong about prospects before, and there is currently one taking up a lot of room on the 25-man Roster who hasn't even played for a few weeks (Brandon Wood), but as an Angel fan with still a small amount of hope, Bourjos brings a new life to this team, that I hope will trickle all throughout the lineup. Its almost to the point now where if you don't perform to expectations, the team is going to have no problem replacing you with a young face from Salt Lake.