December 2012

The Halo Is Removed, the Cuban Missile Is Disarmed and Moved

Kendrys Morales, “The Cuban Missile” has been moved from his launching pad at home plate in Angel Stadium to a new platform constructed just for him atop the Space Needle in Seattle. Morales was traded to the Seattle Mariners recently for Jason Vargas. Yes indeed, the Angels were a need of pitching, and although both players are in the last year of their contract, I for one am not comfortable with this trade.

I’m not convinced that he should’ve been traded within the American League West. I’m not a big fan of trading within the division, it is quite possible that he may become known as an “Angels Killer” similar to Vladimir Guerrero and Mike Napoli did when they were both with the Texas Rangers. Trading Morales severely limits the Angels’ flexibility at first base. For example, Mark Trumbo is interchangeable between First Base, the Outfield, and the Designated Hitter position. While both Kendrys Morales and Albert Pujols are interchangeable between the Designated Hitter and the first base positions. It was supposed to be this ability to mix and match coupled with the acquisition of Josh Hamilton that would’ve made the Angels a potent offensive lineup.

With Morales no longer in the picture that ability is now gone. This leaves the door wide open for Vernon Wells to infiltrate the Angels’ lineup as a Designated Hitter from time to time. Wells in my mind has really become a non-factor and is more of a hindrance than an asset to the Angels.

I understand that the Angels need pitching badly, but it seems they have gone away from developing a good farm system so they don’t have to trade valuable assets like Morales. We all know the names: Francisco “K.-Rod” Rodriguez, Troy Percival, Jared Weaver, among others. Our farm system is depleted, at what point do we start reloading it? Morales was an in-house product, had our farm system been developed; we wouldn’t need to trade such a wonderful talent.

Who knows, Vargas may work out, the question remains whether this particular way of the Angels doing business will be sustainable for the long-term ability to contend for multiple World Series championships.

-ICE

Josh Hamilton Trades in His Cowboy Hat for a Halo

Josh Hamilton's Introduction at the Angels' Press Conference on December 15, 2012

Josh Hamilton’s Introduction at the Angels’ Press Conference on December 15, 2012


Josh Hamilton has signed a five-year 125 million dollar contract with the Angels. I haven’t really made up my mind as to how I feel regarding this transaction. As I mentioned in my entry written yesterday, I’m a strong believer that big bats doesn’t do a team any good if they don’t add above average pitching to go with it. I’m not happy with the Angels roster moves thus far, and I can’t say the Hamilton contract changes my mind.

Yes, I acknowledge that at the very least the Angels have dealt a big blow to the Texas Rangers by taking one of their premier players away. I also acknowledge that the addition of Hamilton creates a pretty powerful one-two punch behind Albert Pujols. To me, there are more questions than answers. What does this mean for Mark Trumbo? Does this mean the experiment at third base begins again? Or does Peter Bourjos get traded? Does this move thankfully put Vernon Wells on the bench? Are the Angels really prepared to handle Hamilton’s off field issues should they arise?

I was under the impression that the reason why they let Torii Hunter walk away from the Angels was because they wanted to get younger and resolve the logjam in the outfield. How does the Hamilton singing solve any of the issues the organization cited? Hunter was a cheaper option, yet the Angels decided to opt for the relatively younger and more expensive option. Here again, future financial flexibility concerns me.

If one looks at Hamilton’s numbers; yes, he started off hot winning the American League Player of the Month award two months in a row, but as a baseball season wore on, he was unable to hit the inside fastball; his average dropped and the strikeouts increased.

Could this gamesmanship with the Los Angeles Dodgers? After losing Zack Greinke to the Dodgers, are the Angels trying to keep pace? Was the Hamilton contract done in order to keep the inroads that the Angels have made in the Los Angeles market? There is a battle or Los Angeles indeed.

The funny thing is that Los Angeles and Anaheim are separated by a County line dissected across Interstate 5, the two cities are in close proximity to each other, but they are not exactly cross town rivals. Anaheim and Los Angeles are similar to Oakland and San Francisco in that their close proximity makes them instead natural rivals.

This upcoming season is getting more interesting by the day, not only due to the gamesmanship between the Angels and the Dodgers, but also by both teams proving that they’re in it to win it, they both want to win now. The problem is, I frankly don’t see how the Angels are any better this upcoming year than they were last year. The pieces may have changed, but the problems remain the same.

-ICE

Related Articles:http://angels.mlblogs.com/2013/04/09/are-the-angels-the-team-where-superstars-go-to-supernova/

Zack Greinke Has Gone from Being Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader

It turns out that Zack Greinke went from promising Jedi Angels red to the dark Sith of Dodgers blue. Greinke signed a six-year $147 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The fact that he signed with the Dodgers especially stings.

Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Zack Greinke delivers against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Zack Greinke delivers against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

Los Angeles Dodgers new right-handed pitcher Zack Greinke, left, talks to the media as team owner Magic Johnson laughs, right, after during a baseball news conference at Dodgers Stadium Club,  Tuesday, Dec.11, 2012, in Los Angeles. Greinke moves up the freeway to join the Dodgers' starting rotation in a $147 million, six-year deal after spending part of last season with the rival Angels. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Los Angeles Dodgers new right-handed pitcher Zack Greinke, left, talks to the media as team owner Magic Johnson laughs, right, after during a baseball news conference at Dodgers Stadium Club, Tuesday, Dec.11, 2012, in Los Angeles. Greinke moves up the freeway to join the Dodgers’ starting rotation in a $147 million, six-year deal after spending part of last season with the rival Angels. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

All things considered it could have been worse, he could have joined the Rangers. At least this way, over the next six years, we will only see Greinke twice a year when we play the Dodgers and that’s if and only if his spot is due up in the Dodgers’ rotation. Juxtaposing that against the possibility that Greinke going the Rangers, where were the Angels would’ve had to deal with him several times of year will Greinke would have a direct influence on whether or not the Angels reached the playoffs. All in all, I believe the Angels dodged a major bullet.

I am perplexed by the Angels decision-making this off-season when it comes to the roster. Let’s flashback to the off-season last year. I stated that I was cautiously optimistic about Albert Pujols contract. A 10 year contract for an offensive player seemed a little much for me, even if he is the greatest offensive player of this generation. I was concerned at that time for the Angels payroll flexibility. The Angels inability to at least compete with the Dodgers’ offer to Greinke really bothered me.

In baseball, successful teams are based on the ability of the starting rotation to pitch deep in a game and the bullpen to hold leads. Explosive offense doesn’t mean much if the opponent can exploit porous pitching. The Angels needed to same Greinke; not because he was the biggest name on the free-agent market, but because the Angels have gaping holes in the rotation. Greinke would have plugged at least one of those holes. The loss of Greinke magnifies to a an even greater extent the loss of Dan Haren.

The Angels tried to rectify the losses of the pitching staff by acquiring Joe Blanton. Frankly, I’m not impressed. World Series championships cannot be bought. A good example of that is the San Francisco Giants, aside from Buster Posey, I’m sure that unless one is a diehard Giants’ fan; the casual baseball fan cannot name anyone else on that team. When one thinks of the Giants, one thinks of the team before they think of any individual player. I wonder how the Angels’ organization will be able to justify their actions if they don’t make the postseason for a third year in a row.

In the American League West, which is possibly the toughest division in baseball. The Angels cannot afford to just coast and hope that the dominoes fall in their favor. Take a look at the results last year. Many around baseball expected for the American League West crowned to be adorned with a cowboy hat or a halo, only to discover that a white elephant would be King in 2012. The Angels cannot expect any other team to just rolled over for them simply because they have big names on paper. In 2013 is a requirement in my opinion to add a halo not only to the American League West crown, but also the World Series trophy.

-ICE

You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch

I am still extremely sore about losing Torii Hunter. It’s still unbelievable that the Angels did not give him a qualifying offer, and at the very least guaranteed the organization compensation draft picks for his departure. I know I’ve mentioned this in previous entries and now it is water under the bridge, but I believe that the loss of Hunter will be key in the organization. There is no true leader in the clubhouse, hopefully Albert Pujols by now is comfortable enough to take that role, I can also see Mike Trout in that position in the future, but it might be a little much to ask of a second-year player.

Torii Hunter however did make a statement directed towards the Angels’ fan base organization and ownership. A very classy move in my opinion, he will be missed:

Torii Hunter's farewell to the Angels

The Christmas Grinch stole Hunter, but will he steal Zack Greinke? I sincerely hope not. With the acquisition of Joe Blanton and other arms in the bullpen however, it’s looking like they Greinke reacquisition is less likely.

I really don’t know what to make of the Blanton acquisition, Joe Blanton over Dan Haren? Really? Dan Haren is a quality pitcher who just had an off year, Dan Haren should have been a top priority especially with the struggles of C. J. Wilson last year. I am definitely not convinced that Blanton is a better option over Dan Haren.

The Angels seemed to have retooled their bullpen, these moves to me to not make us a better team than we were last year especially since we have yet to re-sign Greinke. The Christmas Grinch might still get his way. He is a mean one, that Mr. Grinch.

-ICE

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