Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Angels 2013 Trade Deadline Report

Brand new Angel (well, Bee for the time being) Grant Green.

Welcome back to Angels Nation everyone.  As I may have said before (likely two-three years ago), there are two types of teams that are fun to follow and write about.  The very good (2009 Angels) and the very bad (2013 Angels).  An average team with mild expectations is just about the most dull thing on the planet.  Well, good news!  The Angels are atrocious and with the recent assigning of one Albert Pujols to the disabled list, management seems to have officially thrown in the towel.  Not long after putting Pujols on the DL and getting swept by the first place Oakland A's, they announced that Howie Kendrick, Erick Aybar and others would be available at today's Trade Deadline.  Now that the Deadline as come and passed, lets take a look at the moves the Angels did make.
(Note: occasionally, a deadline deal gets made that the real media doesn't hear about until much later, and seeing as I'm fake media, I hear about it even later, so if this isn't 100% up to date, blame Jerry Dipoto, Ken Rosenthal and Buster Olney, in that order)

LHP Scott Downs to Atlanta Braves for RHP Cory Rasmus
So, this was probably the easiest move to make.  Scott Downs has been up-and-Downs (ha!) all season in terms of production and effectiveness, plus he only has 2 months left on his original 3 year/$15 Million deal that he signed back in December 2010.  It's not a ton of money that the Angels are saving, but it helps a contender strengthen their bullpen for pretty cheap, and in return, we get a bullpen guy for the near future (Rasmus has seen some major league action already with Atlanta), who isn't eligible for Arbitration until 2016.  Great move on both sides, especially if Downs helps Atlanta in the postseason.
Winner: Everyone

Infielder Alberto Callaspo to Oakland Athletics for Infielder Grant Green
This move is a stroke of pure genius on someones part, but I can't decide if its Jerry Dipoto or A's General Manager Billy Beane.  Alberto Callaspo's numbers have been dipping every year since he arrived from Kansas City back in 2010 for Sean O'Sullivan (I miss that guy).  I can't quite understand why Billy Beane, a big sabermetrics guy, is all over Callaspo.  His On-Base Percentage has dipped from a career high .366 in 2011 to .324 in 2013.  For comparison, the A's current second-baseman (where Callaspo will play in Oakland) Erik Sogard has a .337 OBP in 2013... it's not a huge difference, but its enough of one to question the move.  Sogard is also a more steady defender, especially when you take into account that Callaspo hasn't played second base since 2010.  BUT, very few moves that Billy Beane ever makes come back to bite him in the ass.  He didn't give up a whole lot in Grant Green, a former Canyon High (Anaheim) and USC star, but I can't imagine the Angels could have gotten anything close to Green from anyone else, considering the down year that Alberto is having.  I'm excited for Grant Green to get called up from Salt Lake, mostly because he will have one of the best "baseball names" on the team.  Alliteration is the best.
Winner: Probably the Angels, but Billy Beane is a witch-doctor, so who knows.

So there you have it.  Our first trade deadline as sellers since, gosh, 2003?  We didn't do a whole lot, but we did clear out some of the cobwebs, and between losing Pujols to surgery and some of our not-so-wiley Vets in trades, we have cleared up some room to bring in our youth and see exactly what we have to build around for 2014 and beyond.  Good chance that Kendrick and Aybar's names will come up again in the offseason when we once again look to add quality starting pitching.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Six Ways to Cope With A Losing Team

In their 53 seasons of existence, the Los Angeles/California/Anaheim Angels have only started 2-8 twice.  The first was in 1961, the Angels' first season, and now, in their 53rd season, the Angels have once again started 2-8.  After only picking up one road win each in Cincinnati and Arlington, the Halos are an embarrassing 0-4 to start the season in Anaheim, including a 5-0 loss against the Houston Astros on Friday night.  A team many projected to be among the league's worst clubs this season, and finish with less than 60 wins.  Now, the Astros are a decent 4-6, and are two games ahead of the Angels, who sit alone at the cellar of the AL West.

What can we do?  As fans, we can't fix the pitching.  We can't get timely hits.  We can hardly root for this team, right?  Wrong.  But how does one cope with a last place team?  Let this article be your handy guide!

1. Don't Sweat The Small Stuff - Bad teams are bad for a reason.  They either don't have the talent, or chemistry, or drive of their winning counterparts.  It's hard to tell at this point in the season what the Angels are having trouble with, but it's clear that the formula isn't working.  So simply don't sweat the small stuff.  Albert Pujols doesn't run out a ground ball?  Don't worry about it Albert, you have to stay healthy for another 8 years!  Eric Aybar strikes out looking?  At least you didn't ground into a double play, buddy!  Kevin Jepsen allows two home runs in 2/3rds of an inning?  Don't let it get to you, Kevin.  It could have been 4!

The first and second rules are very similar, but also vastly different in a very important way...

2. Get Excited About The Little Things - Normally, a lot of little things in a game can go a long way.  Say Pujols grounds out, but it gets Mike Trout to third with one out.  That's amazing, cheer loudly.  Jason Vargas gives up three runs over six innings of work in a losing effort?  The offense will get you next time, and hey, that's a quality start, keep your chin up!  That pretty much puts you in the upper echelon of Angels pitching this year.  Anything that is a positive for the Angels will stick out like a sore thumb, it won't be hard to notice.

3. Root for Former Angels on New Teams - Vernon Wells is tearing it up in New York.  Hitting over .300 and with a similarly high OBP, the change of scenery did great things for his mojo.  He may not have set the world on fire in Anaheim, but he was the nicest guy imaginable.  Speaking of impossibly nice people, Torii Hunter is hitting over .400!   Sure, Detroit may have weaseled their way into the playoffs last year in an easy division, but it's still better than rooting for the Red Sox.

4. You Get A Chance to See Our Talent Grow - The Minor Leagues are for the birds.  Why wait when you can have the future of your team here today?!  With injuries to Aybar and Alberto Callaspo, Luis Jimenez got the call from Salt Lake to join the club on Friday.  He may be a little raw, but thanks to our rough start, there is very little pressure on this kid to perform at a major league level right away.  If things continue to look rough, look for more prospects to join the team well ahead of schedule!

5. Don't Buy Tickets For Future Games Now - Just imagine the pie on your face in July when the Angels have a 31-59 record and tickets to Friday Nights game are just $2 at the door, and you paid $45 back in April!  You should still go to games, but be smart and wait for bargains!  A $2 ticket will get you in the door, and by the 7th inning you will be sitting behind the Angels Dugout!

6. Update Your Resumes - I get the feeling there will quite a few job openings at Angel Stadium in the coming months if things continue to look this bleak.  Imagine how awesome "Interim Manager" would look on your resume in a couple years!

Monday, March 25, 2013

What Were The Yankees Thinking?

Though they are getting him at a discount, will Vernon Wells really be the answer in the big apple?
It was one of the quieter Angels pre-seasons in memory up until yesterday.

The regulars were playing well, our pitching looked solid (if not a step down from last year's rotation), and although we didn't have a good spring record, the Angels were playing well together.  Even Vernon Wells was having an out-of-ordinary Arizona Performance.  4 Homers, a Dozen RBI, and an impressive 1.112 OPS.  It looked as though he might continue to steal playing time from Peter Bourjos.

Then, out of the blue, reports were coming in that the Yankees and Angels had agreed on terms to send the aging outfielder (who already announced his plans to retire after the 2014 season), and at least a chunk of his remaining 42 Million Dollars to New York.

This probably made me happier than it should have.  Vernon is a nice guy, a REALLY nice guy, actually.  He is one of the best locker room guys on a team full of good locker room guys.  But lets face it, his performance on the field has left something to be desired, to say the least.  Trading away fan favorites Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera to pick up around $80 Million in Payroll is probably not a team's best move, but after getting snubbed in the free agent market, the Angels front office was desperate.  This move basically led to the forced resignation of then Angels GM Tony Reagins, and brought upon the Jerry Dipoto era, along with overpaying for Pujols, Wilson and later, Josh Hamilton.

Even after all that, Vernon Wells was still guaranteed 42 Million Dollars over the next two seasons, of which he would probably spend a majority on the bench, being a good locker room guy.  It didn't stop owner Arte Moreno from continuing to spend, so Angels fans didn't really think much of it.  We would essentially have a really expensive pinch hitter, or someone to (hopefully) pressure Peter Bourjos into playing better and guarantee his starting spot in Center Field.

Then the Yankees lost 201 of their Home Runs from 2012.  Between Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeria and Curtis Granderson (as well as guys like Raul Ibanez and Russell Martin, who left in free agency), injuries were going to take their toll on the 2013 New York Yankees, especially for the first 2-3 months of the season, while those perennial All-Stars figured to be out of action.  The Yankees outfield figured to be some combination of Ichiro, Brett Gardner (himself returning from an injury that forced him to miss 150 games in 2012), rookie Melky Mesa and Juan Rivera.  Yes, THAT Juan Rivera.

So that ended up forcing the Yankees hand into finding some pop for their lineup, as Rivera, Ichiro and Gardner hit a combined 18 Home Runs in 2012 (for comparison, Curtis Granderson hit 43 playing Centerfield for the Yankees last season).  In comes Vernon Wells.  They knew getting him would just be a matter of taking on enough of his contract, and that number was around $13 Million.  Vernon Wells (and his no-trade clause) approves the deal, and wham-bam-thank-you-maam, the Vernon Wells era is over in Anaheim.

I truly believe this is an "everybody wins" kind of deal.  Even when Granderson comes back to the Yankees lineup this summer, that team of creaky old men will no doubt lead to more time on the DL than any other big league squad this year.  That will likely mean Vernon Wells will play in about 140 games this season, or roughly double what he saw in 2012 with the Angels.  He will get to play again, and he will be doing so in a good hitters park.  His numbers (and likely his confidence) will rise, and the Yankees will get a solid-hitting outfielder to fill in for their myriad of injuries.

The winners on the Angels side are not only Arte Moreno, who makes a cool $13 Million on the deal (after just assuming he would have to eat the rest of the $42 Million Tony Reagins Mistake), but Peter Bourjos is the big winner.  He now can comfortably play every day in Centerfield, knowing he can grow into being a capable hitter without an 11-year veteran breathing down his neck.  If he starts the season hitting around .200, it doesn't matter, because new 4th outfielder Kole Calhoun isn't going to be stealing anyone's job anytime soon.