Archive for the ‘ Angels Baseball ’ Category

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The intricacies of baseball can be so complicated and yet so simple. As simple as a round ball making contact with a round bat; or as complicated as pitching matchups, pitching changes, pinch hitters, shifts, and defensive changes. It is the intersection of all these factors that create the complicated beauty of baseball; or as I like to call it the good, the bad, and the ugly.

 

Let me start off with the good, through yesterday’s game, the Angels have outscored their opponents 69-43 through the first 11 games of the season. The Angels have yet to lose or split a series this season. As Shohei Otani has been simply spectacular, hitting three consecutive home runs in his first three consecutive home games in Major League Baseball record for a rookie. His pitching has been equally as spectacular, in this last outing alone he allowed only one hit with 12 strikeouts.

 

There isn’t much less talk about that is bad with the exception of the starting pitching. Excluding Shohei Otani the Angels pitching staff hasn’t gone very deep into games. Marquee players who need to produce such as Mike Trout, Kole Calhoun, and Albert Pujols have yet to produce to their full potential.

 

The ugly is that things that are not necessarily good or bad but can become bad, and as such the team needs to keep a watchful eye on developing circumstances, primary bullpen. The bullpen has been spectacular thus far, the bullpen combined with the offense are primarily responsible for the Halos excellent start. However if the starting rotation does not recover, they taxed bullpen may lead to problems as the season wears on.

 

The three phases of the game, pitching, (this includes the bullpen) batting, and defense need to combine together to have a successful season, the three parts of this baseball machine need to work together in order for survive and contend for 162 games plus any additional postseason games. Any breakdown in the machines efficiency can cause a breakdown in the complexities of how this machine works, leading to the creation of the good, the bad, and the ugly.

 

-ICE

 

Opening Day 2018 is a Week Away

The buzz of the crowd, the music playing in the loudspeakers in the stadium, feeling the spring wind swirling around, the art on the grass, the sound of the ball hitting a leather glove, the crack of the bat as it makes contact with the baseball, the scoreboard, and the beautiful site of The Big A. These are all the sights and sounds of opening day that a diehard Angels’ fan looks forward to every year.

 

We are officially a week away from opening day. The Halos’ off-season roster additions are showing a lot of promise, while others are adjusting to a new culture, and league. As a fan, I am excited as to what the new season may bring.

 

Shohei Otani is still adjusting to American baseball, he’s billed as a two-way player and in my opinion he shows promise in both aspects of his game. I strongly believe he can be a two-way player; however, he is having trouble adjusting to the American pitchers. With a few adjustments I believe his hitting ability will come with time. There are some arguments that he should start the season in the minor leagues, ordinarily I would agree, however, because he is a two-way player; his pitching is needed in the Angels’ rotation especially given the injury history of our pitching staff over the last few years. I am confident that Shohei Otani’s ability to pitch is needed much more than his hitting at this point, I like the addition of Ian Kinsler, his experience in the infield will be an asset to the Angels, giving the Angels lineup and the team a more potent punch.

 

Chris Carter is a non roster invitee at this point; I sincerely hope he makes the opening day roster. He’s hitting for an average of .306 in 36 at-bats versus Luis Valbuena who’s hitting for an average of .225 in 40 at bats this spring, there is no logical reason why Chris Carter should not be part of the opening day roster. I believe that Luis Valbuena should be the backup to Chris Carter especially since Albert Pujols will be playing more first base this year due to sharing the designated hitter position with Shohei Otani. Zack Cozart is a wonderful addition to the Angels’ offense he is hitting .342 this spring which is a refreshing update to the third base position.

 

All these new additions along with the sustained excellence of Mike Trout, Kole Calhoun, and Justin Upton among others, combined with the overall health of our pitching staff, with the addition of Shohei Otani, it should be an interesting season for this wonderful team. I’m truly looking forward to opening day against the Athletics in Oakland on March 29.

 

-ICE

A Halo in the Hall

When one plays sports in their youth they often dream of being heroes in the pivotal moments, hitting the winning home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to win the World Series, or scoring the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl, or hitting the game winning shot at the buzzer expires; these dreams are the driving force that is the foundation for a professional athletes success. Once a strong foundation is built, a select few professional athletes take it one step further; they become members of the Hall of Fame in their respective sport.

 

Vladimir Guerrero is one such athlete. His superior talents have facilitated his call to the hall. He has shared his talents with many teams, the Montréal Expos, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Texas Rangers, and the Baltimore Orioles. His best years as a player were split between the Expos and the Angels.

 

Vladimir Guerrero wants to enter the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame wearing and Angels cap. It is not surprising that he would like to do so, after all, he won his second Major League Baseball most valuable player award for the American League with the Angels, and He also won the same award for the National League with the Montréal Expos. It is my strong belief he picked to enter the hall with the Angels for two reasons, one, he was still in his prime when he joined the Angels in 2003. Two, he got his first taste of the Major League Baseball playoffs with the Angels, which is something he never got the opportunity to do with the Expos.

 

Guerrero would become the first, he would also be the first position player from the Dominican Republic and only the third player from this country to join the hall as a whole, along with making history for himself, he is also making history for the Angels’ organization; although there are players in the baseball Hall of Fame that played for the Angels, we don’t have any players in the Hall of Fame as Angels.. In a way, it’s appropriate that he is the first since “Big Daddy Vladdy” is endeared by the Angels’ organization and the fan base.

 

As a diehard fan, I am excited to bear witness to arguably the two most important moments in Angels’ history thus far, the 2002 World Series championship, and now the entry of the first Angels’ representative for the National Baseball Hall Of Fame. I am honored that both history making events happened during my lifetime; as these events contribute to the overall fabric of baseball history and lure.

 

There are currently 12 people with ties to the Angels’ organization in the national baseball Hall of Fame. Guerrero is number 13; the number 13 is traditionally associated as a bad luck charm. In most high-rise buildings there is not a 13th floor; Friday the 13th is a day of bad luck. However, for the Angels the number 13 represents a point of joy, on the 13th opportunity there will be a Halo in the hall.

 

-ICE

It Is “Sho-Time” in Anaheim

 

It is official, Shohei Ohtani, 23 has officially been introduced as part of the Angels organization. I must admit, he has my attention. The initial impression that jumps out at you is that he is very humble, as if he isn’t aware of his own star power. When asked why he picked the Angels over the other teams that were pursuing him he simply answered that he felt that something had clicked with the Angels’ organization.

 

It was very evident to me that the chemistry in the Halo clubhouse next year is going to be greatly improved, it is simply building on what appears to be an already great environment. When asked by one of the members of the media why he chose number 17 as opposed to number 11 which he wore in Japan; one would expect him to answer that he chose 17 because 11 was already retired. (Jim Fregosi) instead, he gave a humorous answer he said, that he wanted 27 but it was already taken. (Referring to Mike Trout’s number 27)

 

Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia made it crystal clear that Shohei Ohtani would indeed be present both on the pitching mound and the batter’s box. The first obvious question is, can the Japanese player adjust to major-league pitching? How successful it would he be? These are questions that only be answered during the baseball season, one which I’m clearly looking forward to.

 

-ICE

 

Related articles: https://angelsmlb.wordpress.com/2017/12/09/it-is-almost-sho-time-in-anaheim/

 

It Is Almost “Sho-Time” in Anaheim

Southern California in the Los Angeles area in particular is very familiar with “Showtime”, whether it’s the Showtime Lakers of the 1980s or the Showtime that Hollywood brings to the movie theater. However, a different type of “Sho-time” is coming to Angel Stadium this upcoming baseball season.

 

Shohei Ohtani, often referred to as the Japanese “Babe Ruth” because of his natural ability to be both an excellent pitcher and an excellent hitter has agreed to become part of Major League Baseball as a member of the Angels. His formal introduction is today Saturday, December 9, 2017 at 3 PM Pacific time. I personally don’t know much about him except for would’ve heard in the media. That’s why I have decided to make this a two-part entry; this current entry before the press conference, and an entity after the press conference.

 

I was in bed when I heard the news late last night, based on what I’ve read and heard, he throws the baseball year, at, or above 100 miles per hour, he has an above average bat, and the speed to first base rivals that of Mike Trout. If all of this is true, then the Angels have an interesting puzzle on their hands. How would they accommodate this man’s natural ability to play on both the offensive and defensive side? One of the solutions proposed is a six man pitching rotation that would allow him to get adequate rest.

 

This is an interesting situation, although to reach absolutely honest toward interesting does not encapsulate and under represents the intrigue of the situation. I will try to have my post press conference reaction up as quickly as possible, until then, let’s sit back and enjoy this ride together.

 

Related articles: https://angelsmlb.wordpress.com/2017/12/09/it-is-sho-time-in-anaheim/

 

-ICE

The Gold Coin We Call Baseball

The off-season is upon us, in the game of baseball the winter can be just as exciting as the regular season. There are many exciting aspects about the off-season, the hot stove, where free agents and franchises look to come together mutually to fill vacancies; and the winter meetings, where franchises seek to make a noteworthy splash in the market. Am I disappointed? Yes, but I can’t say that I’m upset over the Angels’ performance this past season, every team’s goal is to make it to the World Series however, in the end, as always one team stands and 29 others go home.

 

The Angels made a valiant effort at a playoff run; they fell out of contention after game 158 on September 27, 2017. As I have mentioned before I rather see this team fall out of contention late in the season and not well before the All-Star break.

 

If this team is healthy with a few additions the Halos can not only compete for a postseason spot but they can also contend. If things go well, they can possibly even make it to the World Series; First and foremost they have the best player in all of Major League Baseball today, Mike Trout, and Albert Pujols, when healthy, can still strike fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers. Justin Upton recently signed a contract extension, which gives the Angels a solid bat behind Trout and a permanent left fielder. When one adds the two Gold Gloves at shortstop and catcher for 2017 one has a pretty solid foundation.

 

With a strong foundation already established, the Angels could use a few upgrades on the roster, so far the speculation points to third baseman Mike Moustakas as the prime candidate to fulfill this need for the Angels. The former Kansas City Royal has power, and he might be just what the Angels need to get over the hump. However, for now this is pure speculation and all this of course is contingent on the Angels starting rotation and for that matter the pitching staff as a whole , staying healthy. As the Angels entire pitching staff was decimated and the starting rotation in particular was crippled this past season.

 

The off-season brings a lot of big hopes and dreams to every fan no matter which team one chooses to root for. It’s a reset button that every team looks forward to pressing, even the successful teams in the previous season. The off-season can be a two-sided coin it can bring joy and/or pain. It all depends how the coin we call the off-season lands.

 

-ICE

Does the Deck of Playoff Cards Have a Wildcard with a Halo?

A deck of playing cards comes with two jokers, often people do not use these jokers and they put them aside separating them from the deck. Traditionally the jokers are a pair of cards; they are considered the two traditional wild cards in the deck. Today, I will not discard them.

 

This metaphor is applicable to the game the baseball; just like in a deck of playing cards there are two wild cards. These wildcards are currently blank, including today’s game that is yet to be played; there are only a dozen games left for the Angels in this baseball season, and the race for the American League wild card is tight.

 

As of today, the face of each wild card read “the New York Yankees” and “the Minnesota Twins”. However, the Angels are only one game behind, due to the loss that the Twins suffered against the Yankees today, which means by the end of today if the Angels win, they will only be one half game out of the second wild-card with 11 games to go.

 

In order to determine if there is a Halo in the playoff deck, one must examine the four suits that the deck contains in order for their wild-card to be of any help towards the creation of a championship hand in this metaphorical game of cards. 12 cards (games) are yet to be dealt; with such a high number of cards left the creation of a winning hand is likely. However, equally as likely is that a losing hand which can be produced at  the end of the season.

 

The Heart

 

The heart is in my opinion the most important suit, the Halos produced more than 40 comeback wins so far this season, leading Major League Baseball they also led the majors in stolen bases prior to the Cameron Maybin trade. There is no question that this team has the talent and the heart to make sure that one of those blank wildcards reads “Angels”.

 

The Spade

 

Although there’s no question about this team’s heart, the spade has not been kind to the Angels. The Halos have survived virtually all year without a pitching staff. Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney, Matt Shoemaker, and Tyler Skaggs have been injured in some combination or another for the entire year. This is virtually our entire starting pitching staff. With the exception of Matt Shoemaker, the rest of the starting staff is back. However, due to length of time they were gone, they have been unable to be the starters that they really are. Although the Angels have been hit hard by the spade there are still enough cards in the deck to turn their fortunes around.

 

The Clover

 

When the team is hit this hard by the spade, you need a little luck brought forth by the Clover. The Angels’ patchwork and strategic positioning have allowed them to somehow stay in contention even with all the injuries to key positions. With 12 cards left, the Angels must make their own luck and take advantage of golden opportunities when they present themselves, something that they did not do yesterday when the Twins lost to the Yankees. The Angels did not close the gap, they lost yesterday’s game six with three due to bad game management by Mike Scioscia, in certain situations he left players in two along and took others out too early. This can not continue if the Angels are going to let the Clover do its magic.

 

The Diamond

 

The clover’s magic must work; the diamond suit in the deck must assure that. The diamond has been kind to the Angels. A diamond represents the value which the Angels have obtained the acquisitions of Justin Upton and Brandon Phillips, by acquiring these solid players, they Halos have strengthened their weak spots which will allow them to increase their chances of obtaining a winning hand, although I must admit I was very disappointed when Cameron Maybin was traded in order to make room for Justin Upton on the roster. I believe the Angels had a better option by letting go of Ben Revere instead of Cameron Maybin, slim as he is affectionately called; gave the Angels speed at the top of the lineup, it is the team’s ability to run the bases that renders opposing starting pitchers less effective; something that needs to happen to be successful in the playoffs.

 

It is the right combination of the four suits that will determine whether one of the wildcards will have a Halo on its face. It is an undeniable fact that wildcards always make card games or in this case the Major League Baseball playoffs more interesting. Baseball wildcards cannot be simply discarded like the jokers in the deck of cards. However, all the other card suits must combine for a wildcard to be effective. In the Angels case, there are 12 cards remaining in order to create a winning hand.

 

-ICE

 

 

 

A Perfect Storm of Circumstances Creates Franchise Defining Moments for the Angels Organization

 

There are specific moments in the history of a sports franchise that defines the direction and the legacy of the franchise decides to pursue. The moment one of sports’ fan can look back and say “that was the moment that changed everything for this franchise.” Good or bad, those moments are cherished and learned from.

 

The Halos have encountered two such moments; the first, Albert Pujols joined the 600 home run club. He hit the 600th home run of his career on Saturday, June 3, 2017 against the Minnesota Twins, off of former Angel, Ervin Santana. It was a historical home run for the reason previously stated. However, it was also history making since “the Machine” is the first player in Major League Baseball history to hit number 600 as a grand slam home run. He is also the first foreign-born player (the Dominican Republic) to join this exclusive club. For me, it was personally special because he hit it on what we call in Mexico my Santo (my saint day) a day of St. Isaac according to the Mexican calendar. Albert definitely deserves his place in history as a future Hall of Famer, although it would be nice for the Angels’ fan base to see him win a few rings with the Halos.

 

Albert Pujols is of course not the only superstar the Angels have; they also have Mike Trout, a young and very talented player. Mike Trout is out with an injury for the first time in his career. He will be out of the lineup 6 to 8 weeks from the time of his injury. I believe however, this is a mixed blessing for the Angels that the organization must take advantage of and learned from. The Angels franchise has been spoiled the last few years, they benefit from the talents of this young phenom. Since this is Trout’s first time on the disabled list since being called up to the major leagues, this provides a unique opportunity for the Angels to see what the game would be like without Trout if he were ever lost to free agency. Hopefully this little preview will underscore the importance of building around the face of the franchise.

 

If the Angels don’t learn from this mixed blessing, this may be the defining moment that determines the future direction of this wonderful franchise; The moment, which an Angels’ fan looks back and says, “that was the moment that changed everything for this franchise.”

 

-ICE

The Halo Shines Bright Over Anaheim

Opening Day brings the promise to every franchise in Major League Baseball, every franchise and  their fan base, they believe in the promise of a World Series championship; as the season progresses the optimism evolves into realism and with each game that passes fans are able to see the progression or regression of their favorite team.

 

The Angels are 6-2, in their first eight games, are undefeated at home and are in first place in the American League West. I know it’s early, however in the last few seasons the Angels were notorious for starting off slow in April. This is clearly not the case this year, the Halos have already pulled off two  tremendous comebacks one against the Seattle Mariners and last night against the Texas Rangers.

 

What is the difference? The difference is the Angels finally addressed the roster problems of the last few years, second base and left field, leading to a strengthening in team defense and offense, which are both spectacular, their base running has also improved more specifically their ability to go from first to third base with not much effort; starting pitching and the bullpen however, although not terrible; are still a little suspect. The most important ingredient of all is that they are having fun. Something I haven’t seen in the last few seasons.

 

As a fan it is very exciting to watch his team play they’ve demonstrated an uncanny ability to come back and win. I believe that’s a product of how much fun they’re having, and just playing the game without reservation.

 

There’s an excitement in Anaheim around his team that I haven’t seen in years, aside from the diehard Angels’ fans like me who are always excited. The fans support this year is making it very hard for visiting teams to come in to The Big A and win. That’s the way it should be, the Halo should always shine bright over Anaheim.

 

-ICE

Examining the Halo: the Past, the Present, and Future

This is the time of year when baseball executives and fans alike, become analysts of the game we all love. We examine our past, live in the present, and secure the future. We all become engineers, trying to create a well oiled and flawless machine. We mix and match parts, hoping to find the right combination that elevates the machine into a championship performer.

The Angels are trying to do Exactly that, the recent transactions involving Danny Espinosa, Cameron Maybin , Ben Revere, and Luis Valbuena. These new players will be introduced to the machine in the hopes of raising its championship aspirations. The Angels are trying to address the present, especially left field. I myself am not satisfied by any of these acquisitions. Left field is an ongoing problem that has persisted for at least the last three years. In my humble opinion, this issue would have been resolved with a free agent acquisition. Mark Trumbo, a home-grown talent that would’ve served the Angels well and left field; unfortunately, the mistakes of the past led to their current situation.

These mistakes include the contracts of Vernon Wells, Josh Hamilton, C. J. Wilson, who had multimillion dollar contracts and never lived up to their end of the deal. These multimillion dollar disasters have made the team become more cautious, leading them not to go after a guy like Trumbo who in my opinion solves the left-field issue. Unfortunately, Trumbo re-signed a three-year deal with the Baltimore Orioles.

Although the Angels are working on the present, the future, more specifically the Hall of Fame future looks bright. Vladimir Guerrero missed being inducted as a Hall of Famer by a relatively small margin. His chances of being welcomed to the Hall of Fame next year are very encouraging. When Arturo Moreno bought the team in 2003, he made a huge splash by immediately signing Guerrero who was of great benefit to the team. The Angels need to put themselves in a position to be the aggressive team it once was, bringing back the success of the past, securing the present, and ensuring the future of this beautiful franchise.

 

-ICE

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