Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mathis Shines, Bullpen Does the Opposite, Angels Win Anyway

On his 28th Birthday, Jeff Mathis went ahead and hit a home run, throw in a double and an Angels win, and it was a pretty good birthday present.

While the Angels beat the Royals, 4-2, it wasn't an easy one. Jered Weaver looked amazing, giving up zero runs through 6.1 innings, but then the Bullpen decided to make things interesting. The only guy out of the pen who looked in command of his stuff was Jordan Walden. Michael Kohn didn't look bad, but he didn't look that great either. Fernando Rodney put runners on the corners with two outs, then watched Alex Gordon almost take him deep to end the game (if he swung any earlier, it would have been a no-doubter). Thankfully, Gordon struck out a few pitches later and the Angels won.

The offense looked better than I expected, including a DEEP home run by Torii Hunter to get them started. But if the Bullpen is going to play like this all season, we are going to need to get more than 6.1 Innings out of our starters. It was an embarassing display put on by our pen today. I don't know if its Scioscia putting his trust in the wrong guys, or something completely different, but this was bad.

Dan Haren gets a chance to push the Angels to 2-0 tomorrow. Lets hope he can go a little further into the game and with a bigger lead.


Random Thoughts:
- Billy Butler looks like a chubby Country Music Star
- Vernon Wells had an average first day, had a nice double.
- Mark Trumbo looked rattled at the plate today, but was solid defensively at first.
- Of all the games played today, the only snoozer was Braves/Nationals. It was 2-0 early and you could tell it was already over.
- Can't wait to see the Freaky Franchise dominate the Dodgers tonight.

Opening Day is Finally Here!

There is not much to talk about other than that. I'm sure that once the Angels wrap up their game this afternoon, I'll have a plethora of this to talk (complain) about! For those who will be joining me in a day filled with baseball, here is an easy to follow TV Schedule:

Tigers @ Yankees - 10:10 AM - ESPN
Padres @ Cardinals - 1:10 PM - ESPN
Angels @ Royals - 1:15 PM - FSN
Giants @ Dodgers - 5:00 PM - ESPN

(All Times Pacific)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Really Big 2011 Angels Preview

Well, just about 24 hours till the Angels open the season in Kansas City against the Royals, and that means its about time for an in depth season preview. Lets start out by looking at the Losses the Angels Roster took over the offseason:

Mike Napoli (Traded to Toronto) - Total dick move by the Blue Jays to trade him back into our division, but his power from the Catcher's position will be missed, but I think we can get by. If Jeff Mathis can show a solid improvement, we should be ok. If not, Hank Conger is waiting in the wings.

Juan Rivera (Traded to Toronto) - Oh no, an average hitting and poor fielding outfielder on a team packed with outfield depth, what ever will we do?!?

Hideki Matsui (Signed with Oakland) - Oh no, an average hitting and poor fielding outfielder on a team packed with outfield depth, what ever will we do?!? I know people are thinking he is going to help Oakland take back the division this year, but did those people watch the Angels play at all last year? If anything, making sure he played every game was more of a hindrance to the Angels. Have fun Oakland.

Ryan Budde (Signed with Toronto) - He went from a situation where he will never play to another situation where he will never play. That's a shame, he is a good guy. Hopefully it works out for him somewhere.

Kevin Frandsen (Signed with San Diego) - Its a shame to see him go, especially now with Morales' uncertainty, he was a good utility infielder and he will be missed.

Robb Quinlan (Released) - It will be weird to know that he won't be waiting in the wings in Salt Lake, hoping for someone to get hurt so he can get called up... but at the same time, he hasn't really done anything for the team since what, 2006?

Scot Shields (Retired) - Its a shame to see him go, but he hasn't really been the same pitcher since 2007, but as that last link to the 2002 team, it was a sad day when he retired.

Ron Roenicke (Hired as Manager of the Milwaukee Brewers) - One of my favorite all-time bench coaches for the Angels, its really good to see him get a shot at managing a big league club, especially one with such promise like the Brewers. He will probably be the toughest guy to replace on the whole list.

Now, in a natural progression, we look at the additions the Angels made for 2011:

Vernon Wells (Acquired in Trade from Toronto) - Easily our biggest acquisition in the offseason, Wells is essentially a Torii Hunter who hits for a bit more power and a bit less average. If he can perform to the level he achieved last year, he will be a valuable asset for the middle of our lineup. If not, well, there is no way he could be as bad as Steve Finley.

Scott Downs (Free Agent Signing) - With such uncertainty in our Closer role, Downs will be a good addition to the team, that is, if he cant stop injuring himself while playing with his kids. Also, looking a lot less like The Joker will help.

Hisanori Takahashi (Free Agent Signing) - I'm normally wary of anyone coming to our team from the Mets, but this lefty is going to bring a solidity to the long relief role that we lost when we let Darren Oliver go to Texas. He can also come in for the spot start, in case Scott Kazmir turns out to be the bust we all know he is going to be.

Rob Picciolo (Former Infield Instructor) - Our new bench coach has big shoes to fill, but will he be the right man for the job? I suppose only time will tell how Rob fits in as Mike Scioscia's new right hand man.

Overall, we lost a bit more talent than we gained, or so it would seem on paper, but I still firmly believe the Angels will finish 2011 above .500. A full season of Dan Haren, and at least 4 Months of Kendrys Morales should help remedy the loss in talent. Lets grade the team on a few attributes.


Infield: Without Morales, this group suffers a bit. Morales is a damn fine defensive first basemen, and really solidifies this group. Without him, you have Mark Trumbo, Brandon Wood and Howie Kendrick platooning over there. Howie brings some solidity to Second, and as much as I don't like him, Erick Aybar will likely be our everyday starter at Shortstop. Third Base is another question mark, as Macier Izturis, Alberto Callaspo, and at least for a short time, Brandon Wood look to get starts at the hot corner. This is a solid infield up the middle, but with all the questions on the corners, it brings down the grade a bit. C+

Outfield: We now have the outfield depth that some teams dream of. Our starting 3 of Wells, Bourjos and Hunter (left to right) might be the best in baseball, at least defensively. Take into consideration that we have solid backups in Bobby Abreu, Reggie Willits and Chris Pettit. This is easily our safest bet this season. A

Catcher: We all know what Jeff Mathis brings to the table defensively at catcher, but if his bat continues to suffer, a more offensive minded Hank Conger may need to be the answer behind the plate. B


Contact: Overall, this isn't a very patient team. Eric Aybar will swing at anything, and the rest of the team will swing at almost everything. Expect even fewer walks than last year for this club, and more strikeouts. C-

Speed: Peter Bourjos might be the fastest player in the league, and it doesn't get much worse from there. The only guy in the starting lineup who won't steal 10 bases this year is Jeff Mathis, and its not like he is Molina-Brother-Slow at all. If anything, this team will need to revisit its roots and play a ton of small-ball this season if they want to remain competitive. A+

Power: Again, another lacking aspect of our offense last year was Power. Napoli led the team with 26 Home Runs, and he is now in Texas. Vernon Wells is probably good for 25, Hunter is good for another 20, but unless Trumbo really gets off to a hot start, or Morales comes back sooner than I expect, Power is going to be another troublesome area for our club. C


Starters: If speed is our strongest asset, our starting rotation is right behind. Even with the huge question marks at the back of the rotation (will Pineiro ever get healthy? Is Kazmir really going to be our 5th Starter come May 1st?), this is still one of the best rotations in the American League. Led by a pair of Aces in Dan Haren and Jered Weaver. These two are both good enough to make the All-Star Team and contend for Cy Young Awards for years to come. We may be entering our last couple seasons with Weaver, so the time to win might be now. Ervin Santana in the 3 slot is one of the best 3rd Pitchers in all of baseball, that is, if he can ditch the "I only pitch well in even-numbered years" jinx. A

Bullpen: Our Bullpen overall is very strong. A couple of lefties help fix a huge problem we had last year, and Takahashi is a great guy to have at your disposal. He can start, mop up, or even close for you. Scott Downs could be our Closer come May, but for now he is a great set-up guy for Rodney (when he gets healthy, that is). Jordan Walden might be the one guy everyone is talking about though. This flame-throwing righty seems to be the heir-apparent to Rodney in the pen, and I wouldn't be surprised if he is our Closer come the All-Star Break. B+

Closer: Fernando Rodney might have the hottest seat in all of baseball. If he doesn't come out of the gates perfect, he could lose his job in a matter of weeks. I know Scioscia likes to stick with his guys, but anyone can tell that he is at wits end with Rodney. I'd be shocked if he is still in an Angel uniform come August 1st. C-

So, now that we have gone over who is gone, who is new, and what everyone looks like now. Seems like a proper time to go over predictions. Lets do this on a month by month basis.

April: 17-10
The Angels start out with a favorable schedule in Kansas City and Tampa to face the depleted Rays. Then a few easy series at home against the Blue Jays and Indians before heading back out on the road to face Chicago and Texas. The month wraps up nicely after a tough 4-game series against Boston in Anaheim.

May: 17-13
May is going to be a tough month, as the Angels only get ONE off day on May 12th. Combine that with a four-game series in Boston and another series in Texas, its going to be a rough month, and 17 wins might be kind.

June: 15-10
Another tough month in June, as it see the Angels playing the Yankees in Anaheim, then traveling to New York to play the Mets before coming back to California to play the Dodgers in LA. They don't play on any Thursday that month, its a bit strange.

July: 13-13
The toughest part of July is a 10 game road trip at the end of the month that takes the Halos through Baltimore, Cleveland and Detroit.

August: 14-13
Trips to New York (to play the Yankees) and Toronto start out an already tough month that sees a third trip to Texas towards the end of August. This might be their first losing month of the season.

September: 14-12
Another trip through the tougher AL opponents as the Angels play the Twins, Yankees and Orioles (yes, I'm sold on Baltimore this year), and the season ends with a vital 3-game set against the Rangers in Anaheim.

Overall: 90-72
While I don't think 90 wins is going to be enough to top the Rangers in the division, it could be enough to steal a Wild Card spot from the Yankees or Twins. The Angels should play above .500 for the entire season, and if they don't, while I won't be surprised, I will be disappointed. They are still a top 10 team in the league, and they should be able to play like one, even if no one thinks they can.

Final Division Standings predictions:
AL West:
Texas Rangers - 92-70
LA Angels - 90-72
Oakland A's - 80-82
Seattle Mariners - 69-73

AL Central:
Chicago White Sox - 95-67
Minnesota Twins - 91-71
Detroit Tigers - 85-77
Cleveland Indians - 78-84
Kansas City Royals - 62-100

AL East:
Boston Red Sox - 101-61
New York Yankees - 91-71
Baltimore Orioles - 88-74
Toronto Blue Jays - 82-80
Tampa Bay Rays - 79-83

NL West:
Colorado Rockies - 90-72
San Francisco Giants - 89-73
Los Angeles Dodgers - 83-79
San Diego Padres - 80-82
Arizona Diamondbacks - 78-84

NL Central:
Milwaukee Brewers - 89-73
Cincinnati Reds - 85-77
St. Louis Cardinals - 85-77
Houston Astros - 81-81
Chicago Cubs - 73-89
Pittsburgh Pirates - 59-103

NL East:
Philadelphia Phillies - 99-63
Atlanta Braves - 95-67
Washington Nationals - 83-79
Florida Marlins - 76-86
New York Mets - 66-96

Wild Card Playoff: Yankees defeat Twins
ALDS: Red Sox defeat Rangers, 3-2; White Sox defeat Yankees, 3-1
NLDS: Phillies defeat Brewers, 3-0; Braves defeat Rockies, 3-2
ALCS: Boston Red Sox defeat Chicago White Sox, 4-1
NLCS: Philadelphia Phillies defeat Atlanta Braves, 4-2
World Series: Philadelphia Phillies defeat Boston Red Sox, 4-3

Award Winners:
AL MVP - Adrian Gonzalez (Boston Red Sox)
NL MVP - Prince Fielder (Milwaukee Brewers)
AL Cy Young - Jon Lester (Boston Red Sox)
NL Cy Young - Roy Halladay (Philadelphia Phillies)
AL Rookie of the Year - Kyle Drabek (Toronto Blue Jays)
NL Rookie of the Year - Freddie Freeman (Atlanta Braves)
AL Coach of the Year - Buck Showalter (Baltimore Orioles)
NL Coach of the Year - Ron Roenicke (Milwaukee Brewers)

So there you have it, my obligatory and random 2011 predictions for all of baseball. If I get 40% of these right, someone owes me a coke. Regardless of what happens, though, this is shaping up to be one of the best seasons in recent memory for both the Angels and the rest of the league. I can't wait to watch it, discuss it and write about it!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

In Which I Obsess About Uniforms, Part 1

Being totally honest with you guys... I'm SHOCKED I got through 11 months of blogging without gushing over my love on uniforms. Well, now that I've finally found out the lineup of "retro" uniforms that my beloved Angels are going to wear at every Friday Home Game, I can't hold it in any longer... I freaking love baseball uniforms (while were at it, uniforms in ANY sport are pretty bitchin', but baseball has the best). While this article might feel a little Uni Watch'y (the "famed" uniform periodical from's Page 2), believe me, it's totally ripping it off, and I'm seriously hoping Paul Lukas doesn't sue me.

While there are always some teams who just get uniforms right (The Yankees, Cardinals and Red Sox come to mind), there are other who just seem lost in their own awfulness. Take for example, the Seattle Mariners and their awful teal alternates:

That color DOES NOT belong on a baseball uniform unless you have the misfortune of playing for the Marlins... and then, who gives a crap what you wear?

While I'm on subject, there is one Florida team who has finally done uniforms right after a decade of wrong. The Tampa Bay Rays (formerly the Devil Rays, and that connection to Satin must have been the source of those awful rainbow's uniforms), who have switched to some of the slickest jerseys in an AL East already packed with sexy uniforms. They have very neat home and away jerseys, with two equally as sexy alternates:Do you see it now, Seattle? There is a way to do light blues and dark blues and not muck it up on an annual basis. Tampa Bay learned their lesson, why can't you?

Sadly, the "Patriotism" caps will return for a 4th Season. I like the idea at first, and the blue hats with the logo colored by the flag were still the best looking of the set, and since then, they have just gotten worse and worse. The Red ones were ok for teams with red in their pallet, but they looked god awful on teams like the Dodgers and Yankees. Then last year came the white abominations they put on players heads with either red or blue brims... simply awful... No word yet on what will be the new design this year, but I can only assume it will be awful.

Speaking of the Dodgers, they have decided to bring back (in spirit only) one of the worst looking uniforms of all time. The results are actually pretty nice. Back in the 40's the Dodgers actually wore shiny satin blue uniforms for evening road games. The results were as humorous as they sound:
I encourage you, print this picture out and use it to tease all of your Dodger friends. "Yeah, we wore periwinkle for a time in the late 90's, but who didn't? At least we didn't wear this!" When I heard the Dodgers were bringing this back, I was SOOOOO excited for all the laughs this would get, however, they found a way to not totally screw it up.

Pretty Slick, right? I'm actually jealous. Touche Dodgers.

So, that's about all the time I have to bore you with Baseball Fashion this week, but I'll be damned if I don't see some loser team wearing some loser alternate that I'll have to post about the second I see it. Oh, or someone like the Rays could come out of nowhere and put on another masterpiece of an Alternate jersey, and they will receive their due kudos.

The 10 Greatest Seasons in Angels History: #9 - 2000

The Angels only went 82-80, but it signaled the start of an era. It was the first season of the Mike Scioscia regime here in Anaheim. It was also a really fun season to watch the Angels, even if they were never really in contention for a playoff spot.

Troy Glaus led the AL with 47 Homers, while Mo Vaughn, Garret Anderson and Tim Salmon followed with 36, 35 and 34 respectively. Really though... as much as we come down on Steroids, how much fun were those 11-9 games with 6 homers on either side? Jarrod Washburn somehow went 7-2 with a 3.74 ERA, while Troy Percival notched 32 Saves. Darin Erstad was really the catalyst for the club, hitting .355 with 25 Home Runs and 100 RBI's. This season really added some excitement to baseball in Anaheim for the first time since 1986.

While they finished around .500, this was probably one of the most important seasons in Angels History. It began a decade of a winning attitude in Anaheim, and helped lead to the sale of the club to Arte Moreno in 2003.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Mystique of Fantasy Baseball

There is a fine line between casual fan and die-hard fan. It a very simple line. Do you think you could run the team better? If not, and you really don't care about the offseason squabbling or trade rumors... congrats, you are a casual fan. Enjoy your life of worry-free Octobers and occasional weeknight out with your wife/husband/etc. Those of us who really dig deep into the every-day operations of our favorite teams will always tell you one thing "I could totally do a better job" So man has gone out and created ways for us to prove to our friend and colleagues (but mostly ourselves) that we could actually do it better. The more recent of the two is "Franchise" modes in sports games. Any sports game worth a damn will feature this mode, where you take over the role of a GM, Owner and/or Coach. You can trade, sign and release player, choose how they play, and even (in some of the deeper games) set prices on tickets, parking and food.

The original "Who can be the best fake GM" game, however, was Fantasy Baseball. It's since exploded into just about every sport, and last I heard, Fantasy Football was almost as big of a business as the NFL itself. Between website fees, fantasy handbooks and a subscription to ESPN Insider, Fantasy Baseball (or any sport for that matter) can be an expensive undertaking, for usually little to no reward. But we keep coming back to it year after year. I, in fact, have two leagues this year. A traditional Roto League, where all your stats are accumulated throughout the season, and the person with the best overall stats at the end of the season is considered the winner, and then a Head-to-Head league, which takes weekly match-ups between teams in the league and whomever has the best stats that week gets a Win, and it works more like a traditional sports season, where the top 2-6 teams get into the playoffs, and continue the head-to-head matchups until a champion is crowned.

Why do I do it? I've never won a cent playing fantasy baseball (mostly due to the fact that I join or create free leagues), but every year I want to come back and do it again. Learn from the mistakes I'd made in years past. This year, for example, I need to draft power. My only power bat last year was Kendrys Morales, and we all know how that turned out come June. I do it because there is that little part of me that dreams to be a GM for a big pro-sports franchise, and nothing makes me happier than when I draft this little known guy out of Milwaukee and he turns my season around.

While I've never really "won" at fantasy baseball, that doesn't matter. The fact that its just around is enough for me. Its going to be an exciting year of baseball, and I'll have something riding on every game.


I'd like to thank Drew Litton for his cartoon I used for today's article. He worked for a now defunct newspaper, The Rocky Mountain News. He was a cartoonist for the paper, which closed its doors over two years ago. I'd go on some rant about the death of the printed news, but then who the hell would read blogs?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Kazmir in Possession of Scandalous Moreno Photos

At this point, that's the only logical explanation as to why Kaz is still on the team, let alone being allowed to start games. After his 10 Run outing yesterday, many thought an announcement should be coming down the pipeline, and it would be the Angels either letting Kazmir go, or simply moving him to the pen. Granted, the Angels are fairly thin at Starting Rotation guys right now. Those that are in the minors are either not Major League material, or not really ready to start in the big leagues. Does that mean we are stuck with Kazmir? Not necessarily.

I've been making the case for Matt Palmer to take over all day on Twitter to mixed results. Some are thrilled with the idea, especially if its just a temporary solution while the team seeks another option (either via trade or free agency). I for one wouldn't mind seeing Matt Palmer toeing the slab every 5 or 6 days, especially against other 5th starters in the American League. Palmer, in 167 Innings Pitcher for his career, has a 4.40 ERA, a 1.48 WHIP and a record of 12-6. Not miserable numbers, unlike what you'd be getting from Mr. Kazmir.

I'm all for giving guys second chances, like Brandon Wood, but what I've seen from Kaz for the last 20 months is pretty awful. He wasn't bad in 2009 in a few starts at the end of the season, but he wasn't the difference maker we thought he would be. Then in 2010 he has a historically bad season, and this spring he looks like someone who should ever see a Major League field again (expect maybe in a Pirates uniform).

I hope the Angels can put together good scoring tears during Kazmir's starts, because thats the only way we are going to be able to win those games. That, and some dumb luck.


Former Angel and Legendary Humanitarian (I may have made that up) Kevin Frandsen was released by the Padres today. I think I speak for most Angels fans when I say I hope to see him spring up somewhere else in the league really soon (except maybe in a Pirates uniform).

The 10 Greatest Seasons in Angels History: #10 - 2006

As one of only two non-playoff years to make the list, 2006 won't really be remembered by baseball historians for any significance (I mean, hell, did you even remember that the St. Louis Cardinals, led by David Eckstein and JEFF Weaver won the World Series that year?!), but it will probably remain firmly in the thoughts of Angels Fans everywhere for quite some time.

It started out bad... then only got worse. By the end of June, the Angels were 31-40, 8 games out of first place and things were not looking up. Then suddenly, when the Calender flipped to July, the Angels flipped a switch, and by the end of the month, were tied for the division lead. Things kind of evened out throughout the rest of the season and we ended up losing the division by 4 games, although we were contending up to the last week of the season.

Now, this season isn't memorable just because we won fewer games than the A's, no. It marked the last time that former World Champions Tim Salmon, Adam Kennedy, Darin Erstad, Brendan Donnelly and pitching coach Bud Black would ever put on an Angel Uniform. Most importantly it marked the end of an era for the team. The Tim Salmon Era.

I was lucky enough to see Salmon's final at-bats in person (from far off in Left, but I was still there), and the crowd wanted so desperately to see #300. It never happened, and we all went home a little upset that day, but as time has passed, it was really an honor to be there. To be able to cheer for him in a Major League setting for one final time (that is, until his number gets retired!) was an experience I'll never forget.

It was also the first season we got a sneak preview of our Ace to be, Jered Weaver. He came up, then went back down, then came back up... we jerked him around so much that season, I'm still shocked he started 9-0. He even had an ERA as low as 1.12 at times during that run. Simply Incredible. If Scioscia gave him a fair shake, he probably could have been the AL Rookie of the Year.

It was a tough luck season for the Angels, but I felt like it help the fan base grow. We had to understand that we could still have a good season under Moreno and still fail to make the postseason. It made 2010 a little easier to swallow. Is it actually one of the ten best seasons for the Angels? Probably not, but its the one I'll most fondly remember that didn't end with us raising a banner.


I bet you noticed that two of the top 10 aren't playoff teams... quick math dictates that one playoff team didn't make it.... any guesses? Times up. 2007 won't be making the list. It was a year that brought us Shea Hillenbrand and maybe our most embarrassing playoff exit ever (at least Vlad hit a Grand Slam in the sweep of 2004).

I'll revisit this list on off-days during the season, and at least one more time before the season starts on Thursday.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Do Spring Injuries Dilute Opening Day?

I think its pretty obvious that in my mosaic above, The Joker (oh, that's Scott Downs? Holy Shit, Batman...) is the least important of the injuries above, but this is an Angels Blog, and he is an Angels player, and I like to keep things relative. That being said, this has been a tough Spring for some of the favorites to win it all (or at least some) this year.

Zack Greinke and Adam Wainwright, two NL Central Ace's, went down this spring, and while the Brewers (who just traded for Greinke in the offseason) are only going to miss about a month of their star pitcher, the Cardinals are going to lose Wainwright for likely the entirety of the 2011 season. These two looked to solidify the NL Central as one of the most competitive divisions in baseball, and while it still likely will be, this give the Reds a ton of room to sneak back into the discussion. If Greinke can bounce back and pitch like a Cy Young Caliber player, I still think the Brewers are the best bet, but if not... the Central is wide open.

In what seems to be an epidemic, strained obliques have put the Opening Day statuses of Yankees Outfield Curtis Granderson and Giants Closer (and Facial Hair Messiah) Brain Wilson into considerable doubt. Its just a precautionary step, but Wilson had his bullpen session yesterday cut short, and the team announced that he is doubtful for Opening Day. Similar reports are coming from Yankees camp regarding Granderson.

A little closer to home, the Angels are currently looking at two (possibly three) everyday starters beginning the season on the Disabled List. Kendrys Morales, who of course is still nursing that leg he broke into a million pieces back in May. Also on that list are guys who hurt themselves during Spring, Joel Pineiro and Scott Downs. It would seem that Pineiro would return very shortly into the season (a week or so), but Scott Downs is going to be out as long as it takes for his broken toe to heal. The toe he broke playing with his kids (great start to your Angel career, Scott).

In the case of the Angels, some of the setbacks are almost welcome, in the sense that we get to see Mark Trumbo face big league pitching to start the season, and it will continue the tale of Brandon Wood's heroic comeback. Don't get me wrong, I can't wait for Kendrys to get back, but Trumbo is going to be a ton of fun to follow for the first month or so of the season. However, losing Downs to start the year is going to hurt an already thin bullpen, and god forbid Scott Kazmir start the season as horrendously as he ended 2010 and we have to move Takahashi to the Rotation.

I suppose my whole point of this article was "Do we really need 6 weeks of Spring Training?" It seems like right now, most players are ready for the season to start, and those who aren't, well, maybe they should re-evaluate their offseason routine. I'm all for watching a few innings of meaningless baseball for a couple days in March, and seeing some of the prospects face big-league pitchers is a fun distraction, but half those kids have already been sent packing back to the minors, and the other half are going soon. I like Spring Training as much as the next guy, but it seems like its been over-saturated, and cutting a week or two off could help put an end to some of these meaningless spring injuries that kinda put a wet blanket over the festivities of Opening Day.


Coming Tomorrow: Part 1 of the 10 Greatest Seasons in Angels History

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Former Angel Adam Kennedy charged with DUI

5 years removed from his departure from the Angels, I'm still one of Adam Kennedy's biggest fans. Now, in news that has eluded me for nearly two months, Adam Kennedy was arrested on suspicion of Drunk Driving in my city, Newport Beach, on January 26th. Kennedy, now with the Seattle Mariners, said recently in a statement about the event: "It's something I'm really ashamed of and not proud to bring to the Seattle Mariners, especially not having put on the uniform. It's my first legal trouble, something I'm definitely not looking to ever do again." Today, he was charged with misdameanor driving under the influence. Kennedy is scheduled to be arraigned June 21st. If Convicted, he could face anything from probation and community service to six months in prison.

Now, its really easy for me to defend Kennedy in this situation, and probably the route I would have taken up until recently. I mean, the guy was a childhood hero and someone I've always admired, and I understand that people can make mistakes and foolish decisions, but Andrew Gallo was just making a foolish decision the night he killed Nick Adenhart and two others.

This is tough for me, because on one hand, I want to forgive Adam Kennedy and let all be right with the world. On the other, I know I'd be a total hypocrite if I come down so harshly on one drunk driver (Gallo), but let another off the hook (Kennedy). Granted, Kennedy wasn't as drunk, nor did he kill anyone, but the possibility was still there. Even scarier was the fact that he was literally taking a road that I take home from work.

I think in the end, its going to take time for me to establish how I really feel about the whole thing. Does he do the right thing, serve his time, maybe go around to local schools and speaks about the dangers of driving under the influence? Or does he take the Miguel Cabrera approach and take swigs of liquor in front of cops, then berates them with "Do you know who I am"? I suppose his progress over the next few months will be a good sign on how I feel about the situation.

The Angels Have Dropped the Ball

The most universally loved player in Angels History. The All-Time Club Leader in Home Runs, Member of the 2002 World Series Team, 1993 AL Rookie of the Year, 1995 Silver Slugger, and, perhaps most importantly, MVP of the 2010 All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game. In case you hadn't figured it out, this is just a small blip of the accomplishments that Tim Salmon earned over the years. He is to Anaheim what Wayne Gretzky is to Canada. Young fans and old fans alike have adored Tim Salmon for the last 20 years, and with good reason. Not only was he the nicest guy on and off the field, he put up big numbers and helped the Angels capture their first American League Pennant and World Series crown. He averaged 29 Home Runs and 98 RBI per season over his 14 year career. If injuries didn't slow him down in 1999 and 2003, he probably would have ended up with Hall-of-Fame worthy numbers.

So, 5 years since his retirement, why haven't the Angels retired his number?

Bobby Cox, whom I spoke about a bit last year after his final game, retired just last October as the Manager of the Atlanta Braves. This August, the Braves will be retiring his number (#6) to honor what he had done for the organization as a whole over the last 20 seasons. I understand that age might be a factor in the decision to rush Cox's number retirement, but it still only took the team 6 months to figure it out.

Back in 1992, while he was still a member of the Texas Rangers, Nolan Ryan's number (#30) was retired by the Angels. Sure he hadn't been on the team for 13 years, but he was still an active player in the league. Silly.

Last year, when the Angels acquired Dan Haren from the Arizona Diamondbacks, where his number was #15, no one on the team asked him to change his number, but he had the wherewithal to realize that it would be inappropriate for him to don the Angels #15 (Right off the bat, a huge amount of respect to Haren), so he switched to 24.

If Dan Haren, someone who had been an Angel for about 15 minutes, could figure it out, why is it taking the organization so long? If you needed any reassurance, Angels fans went absolutely ape-shit over Tim Salmon any time he so much as moved at the All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball game. I mean, it helped that he hit a home run any time he swung the bat, but still, it was pretty damn cool to see Angel Stadium get to go crazy over Salmon one more time. Why not give everyone what they want and have a huge number retirement ceremony. Its the 50th season spectacular, why not honor our favorite player of the last 50 years?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Making the Case for Brandon Wood

10 days till Opening Day. I've really got nothing else to talk about because I'll be damned if I'm going to sit through 9 innings of a spring training game and analyze meaningless baseball. So, lets go over why Brandon Wood is going to have a renaissance season. AL Comeback Player of the Year, anyone?

Last spring, when the Third Basemen job essentially fell into Wood's lap, he was looking forward to it, but had a shaky spring. While he hit .278 with 3 Triples (random...), he looked uneasy at third, and only had 1 home run to go along with a .792 OPS (On Base Percentage + Slugging (Total Bases/At-Bats)). To compare: an average OPS is about .800, a really good OPS is around 1.000, and Albert Pujols averages a 1.1oo OPS. Needless to say, his power and ability to get on base were just ok... not something you are looking for in a Third Baseman.

So, you combine the slow start in spring to the fact that he never really had to earn anything, and maybe Brandon Wood took it easy. Maybe he had no concerns over Spring, and would get a fresh start in April. That never came, he played even worse than he did in spring, then became set back by injuries, then eventually lost his job to Macier Izturis, then got shoved even further down the Depth Chart when Alberto Callaspo came to town. Did Wood deserve this? Absolutely. He was one of the worst (if not THE worst) starting position players in all of the American League. He hit .146, with 4 whole Home Runs and a OPS of .382. Completely miserable numbers.

Brandon Wood's one saving grace? He couldn't get sent down to the Minors. Yeah, I mean, he could. The only problem is, he would have to get through waivers first, and if someone tries to claim him, he is stuck in Anaheim anyway. Last May or so, there was a very good chance he would get grabbed by a struggling team looking for any kind of offense. They could take a chance, and if he didn't pan out, its not a huge deal. Fast forward to today, however, Wood would probably pass through Waivers without much problem, if things get really bad, Wood could just get waived outright and be out of a job, and that's another motivating factor for the young "slugger".

Lets go over all of Wood's motivational tools (in case you missed them): He is third on the depth chart, he was the AL LVP (least valuable player) in 2010, he can wind up in Salt Lake or without a job pretty easily, and he has to earn EVERYTHING.

This kid's got the talent, obviously. You can't get drafted as high as he did, make your way through the minor league system, put up the numbers in Triple A that he did, and not have any talent. The problem seems to be his confidence. He changed his batting stance and swing just about every other at-bat last season, he mis-played balls in the field that a little leaguer could've handled, and he just looked like a nervous wreck at times last season. If he can build up his confidence in some pinch hitting situations, and the occasional spot start, Brandon Wood could turn out to be the player we all thought he would be.

In 2011, Brandon Wood should get a clean slate from all of us. Forget the disaster that was 2010, and if we all expect him to fail (like he probably still will (see what I did there...)), maybe we will get something special from this nice young man out of Texas.

(Ed. Note: I used parenthesis inside parenthesis TWICE in this article. I need to take a writing class or something....)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

5 Reasons to Look Forward to the Angels in 2011

I know that at times this offseason, things looked bleak. Carl Crawford signed in Boston for more money, Napoli and Rivera were traded for an enormous contract and our biggest Free Agent signing was Scott Downs. However, things aren't all bad in Anaheim. Although we couldn't finalize any deals for big-time players, at the same time, we didn't give up any future either. This team is still built to win some now, but if things pan out the way they should, we are built to win like crazy in the near future. Young stars like Hank Conger, Jordan Walden and Mark Trumbo have already shown on a major league level that they are going to be valuable pieces to the Angels future, and we still have even younger guys like Mike Trout, Trevor Reckling and Tyler Chatwood ready to show off in the Minors this year. For 2011, however, we have to look forward to what is here, right now.

1. A full season of Dan Haren and Jered Weaver at the top of our rotation - This one is pretty self-explanatory. The combination of Haren and Weaver has the potential to be the best 1-2 punch in the American League, and considering Weaver's arbitration status (and the fact that his Agent is Scott Boras) its likely we will only get to see this for a couple years. The problem is that Haren and Weaver get the lowest amount of run support on the team. Both Average just over 5 runs of support a game, opposed to Santana and Kazmir, who got almost 7 runs of support per game. It sure did feel like Haren never got any run support, its good to see the stats back me up on that. If the Angels can find a way to put runs on the board when Haren is on the mound, he could rack up 20 wins and be a Cy Young candidate, and Weaver could be right behind him.

2. Flashback Friday - Yeah, its totally cheesy and I'm totally buying into it. Every Friday Night home game, the Angels will wear a different jersey from their past. Personally, I can't wait for the Mid-90's California Angels. I just wish Vlad were still on the team, so I could see him in the Periwinkle Blue Jersey from the Late 90's.

3. To see if Vernon Wells will play like the MVP he is getting paid like - This is only a pipe dream, but in a perfect world, Vernon Wells will hit .310 with 40 Homers and 120 RBI's. Granted, that would still be under-performing, considering his pay rate. However, maybe in a situation where he isn't stuck behind the Rays, Red Sox and Yankees, he will be more apt to play with a bit more vigor, something he hasn't really shown since his huge contact was signed in Toronto.

4. We never win when we think we're going to - This one is a bit strange, but remember March 2002? The Angels were coming off a pretty bad year where they were something like 40 games out of first place (granted, this was because the Mariners won 116 games in 2001, but its bad, nonetheless), and then to make matters worse in April, the Angels got off to a 6-14 start. Then, some 170 games later, we are the Champions of Baseball. Fast-forward to 2003, or really any year since then. We were either coming off a world series win or a division victory, looking for that final piece to put us over the top and make us two-time champs. We were picked by various publications many times to either make or win the world series, but those predictions always fell apart when we played a superior team from the East, even in 2008, when we had that "power bat" in Mark Teixeira. Now, its present day. We are being picked to finish 3rd in the West by most experts. We are coming off a most disappointing winter, and to make matters worse, we were just rated the 24th best team in baseball by Sony (in their upcoming game, MLB 11: The Show). If we get off to a terrible start in April, I'm going to start looking into champagne and 2011 World Champion T-Shirts.

5. My fantastic writing will, once-again, appear everyday! - Again, self-explanatory. You're Welcome.

So, while most Angel fans will just be trying to cling to any highlights this season, or just closing their eyes until 2012/13, I'll be watching every game, just waiting for Vernon Wells to hit another Home Run (I'm pretty positive he is going to hit like, 80 this year), or for Dan Haren to inch closer and closer to a 25 win season. If not any of those, I'll at least be laughing at Erick Aybar is some ridiculous 1960's get-up.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Garret Anderson Calls It Quits After 17 Seasons

After 17 Seasons, 15 of them in an Angel Uniform, Garret Anderson has retired from Major League Baseball. With the Angels, Garret hit 272 Home Runs (2nd all-time behind Tim Salmon), 1292 RBI's, 2368 Hits (Both Angel's Records) and was a 3-time All-Star, a Home Run Derby Champion and, most importantly, a World Series Champion.

Garret Anderson also holds the Angels' records for RBI's in a single game (10) and consecutive games with an RBI (12). Most importantly, Anderson hit the eventual game-winning double in Game 7 of the World Series against the Giants. While the end of his Angel Career will be remembered as a slowing superstar who couldn't quite cut it in the outfield, he will likely be remembered as one of the two or three best offensive players in Angels history.

While his playing days might be over, I'm sure many would love to see Anderson as a hitting coach, or in some sort of an advisory role. Only time will tell what the future holds for Anderson, but I for one would love to see him back with the Angels organization.