Tuesday, December 20, 2011
First off, lets get one thing out of the way. I LOVE the team name "Nippon Ham Fighters". I know that the nickname is just "Fighters", but I love to pretend its "Ham Fighters". Anyway....
Japanese stud and member of the Nippon Ham Fighters, Yu Darvish, is now off the market. The Texas Rangers have won the bidding rights to the young phenom for just over $51 Million dollars. That is just what they give Nippon Ham after the player has signed with the Rangers. They will still owe whatever they agree to pay Darvish.
Now, I like a hot foreign prospect as much as the next guy, and I'm all for Major League Baseball acquiring the best baseball talent in the world, but I can't help but feel the Rangers have overpaid for Darvish. Granted, we all saw him dominate in the World Baseball Classic, and how well he has done in Japan, but that doesn't always equal MLB production. In the WBC, even if the better guys play, they don't always give 100%, its just like extended Spring Training for some of them. In Japan, guys like Daisuke and Matsui have been would-be Hall of Famers, but get over here and can barely squeak into the All-Star Game.
Many have said Yu Darvish is a different kind of talent, and that could be true, but the only guy who has come to the states for Asia and made a significant impact on the game has been Ichiro, but he has also been crippling the Mariners Payroll for about a decade (well, him and Adrian Beltre), and been in the cellar of the AL West for a good chunk of that time.
Part of me hopes Yu Darvish pays off, I hope he becomes a Top 10 pitcher in baseball and watching him toe the slab every 5 days becomes must-see-tv. Somehow, though, I doubt that will happen. I see him being a solid 2nd or 3rd starter, making an All-Star Team or two, and having a good, if forgettable, career.
Oh, but if he can find a way to always have this sweet mustache, he is cool with me:
Monday, December 19, 2011
Yeah, he lost yesterday to a much better Patriots team, but that still makes him 7-2 as a starter this season. The Broncos record before Tebow took over as starting Quarterback? 1-4, and they looked out of the playoff picture going into their Week 6 Bye Week. He (and the re-energized Defense) have now put the Broncos in 1st place in their division. That's right, 1-4 all the way to a Home Playoff Game. Sure, there are still a few weeks left in the season, and as of right now, any team in the West is mathematically still able to win that division, but lets assume the Broncos win out, finish 10-6 and get a home playoff game against the Jets or Titans.
They win that game, go on to face the Pats or Steelers in the next round, maybe win, maybe lose. Either way, this team was destined for a losing season and a high draft pick. Instead, they implant Tim Tebow during their Bye Week and end up in the second round of the playoffs.
So how do you not put this kid on your MVP Ballots? Stats aside, he has clearly been incredibly valuable to his team. Improbable comeback wins, bringing excitement to the stadium and locker room, and, most importantly, taking a team going nowhere to a playoff berth.
Obviously Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are the favorites to win the award at this point, and you could argue that those teams (Saints, Patroits and Packers) would all be much worse without their star QB's, but would they be 1-4 bad? Would they be 2-8 bad? Would they be 3-12 bad?
I'm not saying he should WIN the award, his stats just don't back that up, but he should probably be in the Top 5 in MVP votes, maybe even the top 3. I also don't think any of this will happen, because most MVP voters (in all sports) are too conventional and set in their ways. It will be the 5 guys with the best stats, guy with the best stats wins. It will have nothing to do with who is actually valuable to their team, like Tim Tebow.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Normally, when your team trades for an All-Star, it should be a happy day for you and your fellow fans. Sadly, when the Clippers trade for an All-Star, most fans can do nothing but let out a sigh and say "here we go again..."
The Los Angeles Clippers agreed to a trade today for New Orleans Hornets superstar Chris Paul, who is in his last year of his deal with the team, and was looking to be traded. Sadly, what the Clippers gave up in return was a future All-Star Guard in Eric Gordon, solid every day starters in Al-Farouq Aminu and Chris Kaman, and a possible #1 Overall pick they had gotten from Minnesota. It's very likely that this will lead to two straight NBA Drafts where the Clippers had the #1 Overall pick, but had traded it away (they traded a pick to Cleveland last year, and that pick turned into the #1 overall pick for 2011, Kyrie Irving from Duke).
As a Clippers fan, we are used to this kind of mismanagement from the front office, but we aren't used to getting an All-Star in return, and before we get all excited about Chris Paul, lets remember a few things: He has just about no cartilage in one of his knees, so how long does he last as an Elite Point Guard in the NBA? He is still only signed through the end of the 2011/12 season, and although he has said he will sign here for at least two years if traded, what are we basing that on? His word?
I know I should be excited, but I'm just not. I was looking forward to watching Eric Gordon grow into a superstar, or who we would take with the #1 pick in the 2012 Draft. Now, I know what I'm going to get. Alley Oops from Chris Paul to Blake Griffin. We win about half our games, make the playoffs and get swept in the first round by the Thunder.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
In my favorite news story of an otherwise slow day, it turns out Yankees Shortstop Derek Jeter, who split with "actress" Minka Kelly this past summer, has been thanking his one-night stands in perhaps the best way possible.
After the night of steamy passion (after which, Derek would regale his suitors with fantastical tales of his baseball prowess), he would let the women stay the night at his New York apartment, calling a car for them in the morning (to avoid the quite embarrassing "walk of shame", ever so popular in fictitious accounts of New York City). In the car would be a gift basket, including baseball memorabilia signed by the superstar himself. Apparently, he got caught in this web of awesome by giving a gift basket to the same woman twice (he forgot he had already been with her once before).
Could Derek Jeter be any more of a caricature of a playboy right now? Whats next, his off-the-field apparel is a robe and a tobacco pipe? I love every second of it, and while Derek Jeter has always been one of my favorite players on the field (love his heart and determination, and all those other cliched baseball words), this pretty much confirms that his off-the-field shenanigans are worthy of a place in my heart as well. Its not a life I'd ever want to live, but it warms my heart to know that people actually are out there living their lives like that.
Monday, December 12, 2011
Before Arte broke the bank on deals to Albert and CJ, before Jerry Dipoto locked his name into SoCal sports folklore a month into the job, there were a few moves that would have made Anaheim a better team in 2012, even without King Albert and Mighty CJ.
Move 1: Jeff Mathis traded to Toronto for Brad Mills
It could have been Jeff Mathis to Toronto for more of Vernon Wells' contract (I'm sure he has more hiding somewhere). Hell, it could have been Jeff Mathis to Toronto for a bag of baseballs and a hoagie, this was a great deal for the Angels. Even if Brad Mills never steps on the mound at the Big A, neither will Jeff Mathis (at least in Angel red). I liked Jeff Mathis, I really did, and he was a nice guy, but his bat was a cancer to the team. Its unfortunate Hank Conger didn't have a stellar 2011, because he probably could have muscled a few starts away from him. Simply taking away Mike Scioscia's ability to start Jeff Mathis for 100+ games in 2012, I knew I already loved Jerry Dipoto as a GM.
Move 2: Tyler Chatwood traded to Colorado for Chris Iannetta
Is Iannetta the worlds best defensive catcher? No. But lets face it, neither was Mathis. I like this deal for a couple reasons. I don't think Chatwood is quite up to par to be a solid big league starter in the American League, at least not right now. I love the step up from Mathis to Iannetta in terms of On Base Percentage (.220something to .357 over their careers). Plus Iannetta has some pop in his bat, not as much as Napoli did, but he is a 20 HR guy. With Iannetta in the lineup, the only weakness offensively is really Vernon Wells, and considering he hit 25 homers in 2011, that isn't a bad thing.
Move 3: Angels sign Right Handed Reliever LaTroy Hawkins for 1 year, $3 Million
Adding a great right-handed compliment to Scott Downs in an improving Bullpen was a great move on its own, then you throw in the fact that he is a long-time friend of Torii Hunter and a fantastic clubhouse guy? This was a steal at $3 Million. The signing was overshadowed by the signings of Pujols and Wilson (which happened only hours later), but it could just as important in bringing the Angels a World Series title in 2012.
If the Angels don't do anything else this off-season but re-sign all the arbitration guys (Kendrick, Aybar, etc), they are already primed to be among the top contenders in the American League. With the Yankees and Red Sox getting older, and the Rangers pitching in question, it could be a perfect storm for the Angels this October. But lets hold off on any World Series talk until this team wins a few games. Still no reason not to be excited for baseball to return. Only 67 days until pitchers and catchers report!
Saturday, December 10, 2011
This one is really simple. We paid a good price (less than the Yanks and Sox paid for AJ Burnett and John Lackey, respectively) for the best Free Agent Pitcher available, someone who would be an ace on 2/3rds of the teams in the major leagues, but will slide in somewhere between 2 and 4 for the Angels.
A Southern Californian native, Wilson makes the easy choice to live here year-round. In addition, he brings a respectable resume and will fit in nicely with our group of poorly groomed starters. Now that the Angels have perhaps the best starting rotation in baseball (even with a number of question marks regarding the 5th spot), all we need is 2-3 runs a game for an easy victory.
Take into account our bolstered bullpen (more on that coming soon), and full year of Jordan Walden closing games, this should be a pitching staff that simply dominates its opponents night after night. Then you consider that we ripped away Wilson from our biggest rival, who now lacks a true ace, and CJ becomes that much more valuable. While the Pujols deal might be a tad pricey, I feel like the Angels paid a great price for CJ Wilson, who will bring the Halos 15-18 Wins and a sub 3.50 ERA.
Friday, December 9, 2011
So, are you ready for a Seat, Soda and Hot Dog at Angel Stadium to be twice as expensive as it was last year, when our starting First Baseman was a "oh shit, Kendrys isn't ready" replacement from AAA? Well, maybe not twice as expensive, but it will be damn close.
After finally figuring out the combination to his safe, Angels owner Arte Moreno finally put up some big numbers to bring in some big stars, none of them bigger than 3-Time NL MVP Albert Pujols, considered by many to already be a Top 5 hitter all-time.
Many are already jumping on the Angels for making the deal. Complaining that Pujols will be 42 in the 10th year of his deal. While that is true, if the Angels can manage a World Championship or two in the first 6 or 7 years of the deal, won't that be worth still paying the best player of the last 30 years $25 Million when he is in his 40's? Not to mention he will be in the American League, where once his legs start to slow down, he can move over to Designated Hitter fairly easily.
Its pretty clear that if the Cardinals had signed the slugger to the similar deal they had proposed (10 years, $220 million), no one would be saying anything but "Its good for the Cardinals to finally pay the man." That's just it, for years, the Cardinals had underpaid for the future Hall-of-Famer, its about time he gets paid what he is worth.
I could go on and on, defending the Halos on the Albert Pujols deal. In the end, if you think its a bad deal, I'm not going to change your mind. Everyone made up their mind about it yesterday, and nothing is going to change that. In 10 years, we will find out who was right. Until then, its just a lot of fun to talk about.
Its pretty hilarious how mad St. Louis Cardinals fans are about Pujols leaving, as though he left them in the cold. 3 MVP awards, 10 All-Star Games, 3 NL Pennants, 2 Championships. That is a pretty fantastic decade. He had been upset with the way the Cardinals management had underpaid him all these years, and he stayed loyal as long as he could. The Cardinals will recover, and probably fight for a playoff spot again next year. St. Louis needs to just be happy that their hero deserved to get paid, and get paid he did.
Also, this (stolen from twitter, who stole it from ESPN) made me laugh:
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Its been a long time coming.
Years and years of talk, years and years of "this will be the year Arte opens his wallet". Finally, that waiting and patience has paid off. Spending roughly $340 Million on Albert Pujols (a top 5 hitter all time), CJ Wilson (Our biggest rivals Ace and the best free agent pitching available) and LaTroy Hawkins (A veteran left handed reliever who is a great clubhouse guy and long-time friend of Torii Hunter).
Now, I'll go a little deeper into the discussion about Albert and CJ a little later, but I just wanted to take today to establish the Angels as the new "Bad Guys" in town. With our $150 Million Payroll (likely quite a bit more, when things are all said and done) we are no longer a upper middle class team. We are the 1%. We are the Yankees of the West, and I couldn't be happier. As Angels fans, we need to relish this opportunity to be the most hated team this side of the Mississippi. Tease fans of poor teams, and welcome the boos you receive when you don your Angels apparel in opposing parks.
You are on notice Angels fans. You need to step up to the plate, absorb the hate as well as our Yankee brethren to the east do. You need to sell out games against bad teams. You need to cheer as loud as you can for Albert, CJ, Jered and the rest of the gang. If we are going to spend money like the Yankees, we need to be as loud and passionate as their fans.
I believe in you Angels fans, now lets get out there and let Arte know he has our full support.
I'm not going to sit here and pretend like I've been writing since July, because I haven't been. But I'm back now and that's all that matters. I've already contacted the new owners of AngelsNation.net and asked if they'd be willing to sell the name back to me. Otherwise, this will likely be AngelsNation.org in a few weeks. Its good to be back.