Results tagged ‘ American League East ’

The Beautiful Glow of the Fire Lit Halo

The Halo is on fire, indeed glowing beautifully. The Angels find themselves 3 1/2 games back of the Oakland Athletics; however, that’s not the story. The Angels have stayed pretty close to the A’s throughout the season. The story lies in how they have kept up with them.

The Angels have the second-best record in all of Major League Baseball, second only to the team they are chasing. They do have the best home record in all of Major League Baseball with an impressive 32-15 record, this record includes three home sweeps and an 11 game home winning streak, along with 27 come from behind wins. It is extraordinary how they’ve been able to keep up with the A’s and not be able to overtake them yet.

Part of their success is attributed to Garrett Richards who possesses a 10-2 record and a 2.71 Earned Run Average in 18 starts for the Angels. It’s amazing how someone can be this good and still not make it to this year’s All-Star game, for that matter it’s amazing that a team can be this good and only have two representatives so far in The Midsummer Classic.

The sports networks often cite the American League East as a class of baseball. It is actually the American League West. The top two records in all of baseball reside in the American League West. It may be the West Coast bias, it may be that the American League East just happens to have two of the most storied franchises in baseball in the Yankees and the Red Sox. That certainly isn’t the case this year, and once the Texas Rangers recover from this year’s injury plagued season, the AL West may continue its dominance over baseball next year.

Yes, the dog fights of the summer are here. Pull out your popcorn, it should be a good division race between the Angels and Athletics. Can the monkey keep the rally going and blaze past Stomper? I truly believe that the Halos will. As baseball fans, let’s sit back and take in all the sights and sounds of the best division in all of baseball.

-ICE

The Angels Must Draw an Ace, and Beat a King to Have a Chance at a Wildcard

It’s the homestretch of the 2012 baseball season, and the Angels find themselves in the thick of things in the American League Wild Card race. They are a season-high 16 games over .500 but still face an uphill battle to win the wildcard even if they run the table the rest of the season. The American League West is proving to be the toughest division in baseball. The Angels are 16 games over the .500 mark yet find themselves six games out of the American League West title.

There is a possibility although unlikely, that if the Baltimore Orioles falter and fall out of wild-card contention there may be three American League West teams with a chance to go to the postseason the Angels, the Athletics, and the Rangers, the American League West is a tough division. People may say that the toughest division in baseball is the American League East but the way the postseason is shaping up that maybe no longer true. It is going to take at least 90 maybe 91 wins to win this division, in order to do so the Angels must go 5-3 in the remaining games to get to 90 and 6-2 to get to 91 wins.

The American League wild card race as well as the American League West division race is tight. As I was going to bed after listening to last night’s Angels’ game that post season situation reminded me of a poker game. I’m not much of a gambler and I very rarely play poker. But I thought describing the remaining season in poker terms might be fun since baseball jargon and poker jargon have a lot of similarities.

Texas Hold ‘EM

The Angels boast a spectacular record, although they need help, so the Halos are “all in” playing “Texas Hold ‘EM” as in they must rely on the Texas Rangers to hold the Oakland A’s at bay and drop them out of wild-card contention. Although we sweep it is no longer possible the Rangers must be able to take the remaining games from the Athletics in order to make room for the Angels.

The Flop

The Angels have done well on the flop so far, sweeping the White Sox and taking the first game yesterday against the Seattle Mariners. When the Angels look At the cards they must hope that that they have and “ace” type quality performance from tonight’s starter C. J. Wilson to counteract the “King” that the Mariners hold in their hand as in King Félix Hernández.

The Turn

The turn must be kind to Angels, as the Angels are only 2 games out of the second wild-card spot and 2 1/2 games out of the first wild-card spot the Angels need at least a sweep of the Mariners and take two out of three from the Rangers, or vice versa to be considered a contender for the wildcard. It is this “turn” of events that the Angels need to be successful.

The River

For the River, the Angels need to win as many games as they can, from my perspective they can only afford to lose one more game the rest of the season. I know it is highly unlikely but stranger things have happened in baseball. The Orioles might falter altogether and the division and both wild-card spots would be occupied by teams from the American League West. Success on the turn will not matter if it they can’t sustain their winning ways on the river. The Halos must hope that a wild-card is there once the community cards are dealt. As fans, we’ll just have to wait and see if a wild-card with a Halo is in the deck.

-ICE

Yu Darvish, Don’t Be Blinded by Albert Pujols’ Shiny New Halo

Let the gamesmanship begin, the Angels and the Texas Rangers started the game of one upmanship during the off-season. The Texas Rangers made it to the World Series two years in a row as the American League representative. The Angels responded by signing Albert Pujols to a 10 year contract, then delivering a crippling blow to the Texas Rangers by swiping their ace C. J. Wilson. The Rangers countered by bidding, winning, and singing Japanese phenom Yu Darvish, and now both teams are playing poker; neither team wanting to give away the hand that they strategically have. Both Wilson and Darvish were scheduled to face off during today’s spring training game. Alas, we will have to wait until the regular season and see the skills of the phenom from the land of the rising Sun, compete against the Halo.

Can it be a Rangers are just a little bit nervous in regards to the power of Pujols and the damage he can do in a hitters park like Rangers Ballpark in Arlington? Are they afraid that Albert Pujols will somehow tarnish Darvish? I think it’s neither, the Rangers are very wisely saving their aces until the games count, they want to win this poker game so they won’t keep their collective poker face on the table for as long as they can. The American League West will come down to a wild West style shootout. Where I believe the Halo war is from the ashes, and once again claim was rightfully theirs; the American League West Championship.

I don’t believe this sparring match will end in the regular season. Don’t be surprised if the American League wild card comes out of the American League West. I don’t believe the Rangers will go away that easy. But then again, neither will the Angels. I strongly believe that the American League West in the American League East are the two strongest divisions in baseball right now, and I don’t think one should pencil in the Yankees or the Red Sox or for that matter the Rangers just yet. The Angels will have a lot to say about how the postseason turns out before this is over. And when we look back at the 2012 season, at least for the Angels and Rangers the games began well before opening day, they began during spring training March 2012.

-ICE

The Royals, King Pujols and Prince Fielder Cause a Shift of Power between the American League and the National League

Here we are, it is late January and this upcoming baseball season has proven to be one of the most exciting and anticipated seasons in recent memory. I recently moved from Southern California to Northern California, I will be here at least for the next year. I went from living 3.5 miles away from Angel Stadium a 10 minute ride, to living 412 miles away in the state capitol. Needless to say I’m going to miss going to the ballpark in the next year, with the exception of going to games when I visit my parents. To top it off, just when the Angels signed Albert Pujols; what luck. As the old saying goes, “you can take the boy out of his home, but you can’t take home out of the boy.” So I think MLB TV and I along with game day audio stream and I will become the very best of friends over the next year. Thank you God for giving Al Gore the ingenuity to invent the Internet! Just kidding, you know I love you, Mr. Vice President.

For those of you who read my previous entry you know have already talked about the impact of Albert Pujols of green dual contract with the Angels, But even more significant Prince Fielder not singing with the Texas Rangers. I know what you’re thinking, and before your imagination runs away with you; let me clarify I would have loved if Prince Fielder came to an agreement with the Rangers. I’m a strong believer in competition, that move would’ve solidified the American League West as the Premier division in all baseball, even surpassing the American League East; the Yankees and the Red Sox would’ve had a run for their money. I do believe however, acquisition of Prince Fielder to the Rangers would’ve given the Rangers a clear advantage over the Angels. Why? Simply because the ballpark at Arlington is a hitters park therefore, given the Prince a real power advantage since he would’ve worked with the shorter field than Pujols in his home park, at Angel Stadium. I know my fellow blogger Steve; will probably have a lot to say on the subject.

Baseball purist say that the National League is the league of real baseball, I don’t disagree however, I enjoy the designated hitter rule I’m okay with getting rid of that rule if and only if coaches decide to actually teach pitchers how to hit. I don’t honestly a pitcher bunt to advance the runner every time he comes up to bat. Let the pitcher hit, I do realize that it’s not worth risking an injury to a star pitcher just because he swung the bat wrong, hence that is why the designated hitter is such a beautiful position. It doesn’t give a pitcher a break it forces him to keep focus, while the same time it allows hitters to hit.

That’s why it is such an advantage for Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder to doing the American League; it essentially extends their respective careers, and only solidifies their Hall of Fame potential. It is a beautiful time to be a baseball fan, let’s get the season started!

-ICE

Will Four Aces and a Wild Card Red Bird Turned Red Angel, Give the Halos the Winning Hand into the World Series?

I am still trying to process everything that has gone on the last 24 hours, the Texas Rangers must have really left a bad taste in our collective mouths for the Angels’ organization to react this way. I guess seeing someone in your division represent the American League in the World Series two years in a row can do that to a team.

Since the big-splash signings of Vladimir Guerrero, Bartolo Colon and Kelvim Escobar before 2004,  Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, John Lackey, Chone Figgins and Paul Konerko and in trade talks for Roy Halladay and Miguel Cabrera; free agents, Carl Crawford, and Cliff Lee.one would think this would be a list of all stars, but they have all been failed acquisitions by the Angels.

Now they have signed both Albert Pujols and C. J. Wilson to long-term contracts essentially changing landscape of not only of the American League West, but of the entire American League. My little brother knocked on my bedroom door this morning and said, “did you hear the news?” Half asleep, I thought he was talking about Wilson. He goes on to say “I think they overpaid, but we have him for 10 years.” Slowly waking up, I thought to myself, “CJ Wilson for 10 years? I only remember the Angels offering five.” Then it dawned on me that he wasn’t talking about CJ Wilson at all, he was talking about Albert Pujols.

 

For those of you that have read my blog on a regular basis, you know I have brought this up as a possibility since the beginning of last year, but I myself didn’t believe that this was actually a possibility especially after the spectacular rise of Mark Trumbo, but truth be told it makes sense both from a team perspective and a business perspective as well.

 

For the last two years, the Texas Rangers have dominated the American League West, with the Angels coming in at a close second, this is a team that was used to trading division titles with the Oakland Athletics. We’ve always had a good team, but never a team that could compete with the American League East, the Yankees, the Rays and the Red Sox, particularly. We needed to make an impact move that would help the team get past the Rangers while at the same time help us compete with the rest of the power divisions in baseball such as the aforementioned American League East.

 

From a business standpoint, it also makes a lot of sense the Angels have always competed with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the Los Angeles area market, with the Dodgers in the middle of an ownership transition this was the perfect opportunity for Angels owner, Arturo Moreno to take advantage of this opportunity. What better way than to ink the best player in all of baseball of the modern era?

 

People are concerned about the length of Albert’s contract, but one of the advantages of Albert Pujols coming over to the American League is towards the back of his contract the Angels can now use them as a designated hitter. Extending his offensive influence on this team.



One has to wonder, what the Angels are now capable of doing, with a rotation that is arguably now one of the best in all of baseball with Jared Weaver, Dan Haren, C. J. Wilson and Ervin Santana. Offensively, we have the guy the heart and soul the offense Torii Hunter, Mark Trumbo, Mike Trout, and hopefully a resurgence from Vernon Wells. We would definitely be a team with a lot of depth, yet limited flexibility.

 

I am also concerned for the accessibility of Angels tickets to the average fan given this shocking news, next year will be my 30th anniversary as a loyal Angels’ fan and I just hope that tickets can still stay somewhat affordable so that future generations can enjoy the game of baseball just as I have over the years. For me it’s no longer a “Winter Wonderland” it now has become “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”.

 

-ICE

Can Three Aces, A Few Offensive Jacks, and a Wildcard Give the Angels a Winning Poker Hand in the Upcoming World Series of Baseball?

Well here we are, there is seven games left to play in the regular season; and the dogfights for October are in full swing. The teams in the thick of their respective pennant races have reached full throttle; such is the case for the Angels as of today they are 5  games back from the division leading Texas Rangers, however, they are only 2 1/2 back out of the American League wild-card race.

 

There seems to be no stopping the Texas Rangers, when the Angels win, the Rangers also win. In effect, making it progressively more difficult for the Angels to win the division, due to the fact that all that’s happening is that the amount of games to be played a shrinking, and the need of having to rely on other teams make the Rangers have an epic melt down, which doesn’t seem to be happening.

 

What’s left for the Angels? Well, they are still very much alive in the American League wild card race. They are only 2 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox, and tied with Tampa Bay for second place in the wild-card race. The Angels must keep winning and hope they get some help from of all teams the New York Yankees whose remaining schedule is exclusively against the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays. It has it yet to be seen if this is even a remote possibility because with the Yankees clinching the American League East yesterday, expect them to start resting their players for their playoff run. Unless the Yankees’ substitutes can somehow pull it off, I don’t see how the Yankees supplementary players can match up against the starters of either the Red Sox or the Rays; especially considering that both teams very much want the postseason for themselves, and are not going to quit.

 

Who knows, stranger things have happened that’s the beauty of baseball. And for the Angels in particular it’s happened before, in 2002 the Angels had their worst start in franchise history, they recovered, while the Oakland Athletics won a Major League Baseball record 20 games in a row, the Athletics seemed unstoppable; like the 2011 Texas Rangers the Athletics were counting down magic numbers and their clinching the division was only a matter of time, but somehow the Athletics lost their division series against the Minnesota Twins and their division championship was all for not, while the Angels as a wildcard, defeated the New York Yankees, defeated the Minnesota Twins, and virtually came back from the dead against the San Francisco Giants in one of the greatest comebacks in World Series history, to win the 2002 World Series and become World Series Champions and as they say, the rest is history.

 

So who’s to say we can’t do it again? Especially with a team that we now have? We have spectacular pitching in Jared Weaver, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana. In a five-game series we can virtually be anybody especially the New York Yankees since the Angels seem to be known around baseball as Yankee killers since we are the only team that holds a winning all-time record against the Yankees, in Major League Baseball.

 

Yes, it’s going to be a difficult road, nothing is for certain, but this is not a road the Angels have not been down before. The hunt for a red October begins, the Angels were the first team in Major League Baseball history to win the World Series as a wildcard. The Angels may find a way to do it again. May the shadows of 2002 a company them and aid them in their quest for a second World Series title. How special would it be not only unexpectedly won the World Series as a wildcard yet again, but also complete the journey during their 50th Anniversary Season. I know it’s a long shot, but like any true fan would think as long as  they are alive in the playoff race anything and everything is possible. Go Angels! Let’s light up the Halo and put a Halo over this upcoming World Series.

 

-ICE

The Angels Are the Rich Ugly Fat Kid That Is Picked Last, If Picked at All

In my season finale blog I mentioned that I would stay quiet until the start of the regular season unless something big happened during the Major League Baseball winter meetings or at some point during the off-season. Unfortunately my computer broke and I was unable to write sooner than today.

Perhaps that was a blessing in disguise because instead of a knee-jerk reaction I have had a chance to reflect on the Angels off-season transactions or lack thereof.

Since the big-splash signings of Vladimir Guerrero, Bartolo Colon and Kelvim Escobar before 2004, the Angels have become the ugly fat kid that is always picked last if he take all due to his lack of athletic appeal, the Angels have ended up being the aforementioned fat kid in negotiations for Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, John Lackey, Chone Figgins and Paul Konerko and in trade talks for Roy Halladay and Miguel Cabrera.

Now the Angels can add Carl Crawford and Cliff Lee to that impressive list. According to sources cited in the Los Angeles Times the Angels were very competitive in the bidding for Crawford, the article goes on to say that it was a very hard decision for him. The reason he cited for Crawford signing with the Boston Red Sox was primarily because he wanted to stay in the American League East. If money wasn’t the issue what is it about the Angels’ organization that Major League Baseball players find unattractive?

It is a complete unknown to me, the Angels are a very attractive franchise with a great coaching staff and a superb owner; why then have they not been able to sign a big-name free agent with the exception of Torii Hunter since 2003? I attribute it to the Angels believing a little bit too much in their philosophy of homegrown talent. Yes, a great farm system is the foundation of an elite team however it is the mix of homegrown talent and market aggressiveness that create a championship team. The Angels in my opinion don’t believe in themselves and therefore project that insecurity to potential free agents, in essence they believe themselves to be that ugly fat kid that has rich parents and believes that he can buy friends just by throwing money at them. Until they change that perception of themselves don’t look for the Angels to sign any key free agents in the near future. They are not who they seem to believe themselves to be; they are better than that.

Up until last year we were the three-time defending American League West champions, granted all the injuries that we had last year hurt the team, not necessarily because of who was out, but because of the timing of those injuries. All the while the fan base myself included are very upset, we are the ones who spend our money to go watch billionaires employ millionaires to play a child’s game. The least any franchise can do is to try to put a winning product on the field.

The Angels have drawn over 3 million fans a season the last few years. The Angels’ attendance is only second to that of the New York Yankees; so it would be prudent for the Angels to at least pursue someone and if they fail, at least fail knowing that they gave it all they had; for example, before Cliff Lee agreed to a contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, the Angels’ General Manager to was quoted as saying that he was content with the pitching staff and he didn’t foresee the Angels making any moves to improve their pitching any further than what they already had at that point. Really? They are content with the contract signings of Scott Downs and Hisanori Takahashi? The latter player has me thinking that he will be the next Brian Fuentes, we all remember how that turned out; I would be surprised if he wasn’t booed out of the stadium like Brian was. How the signing of those two players come anywhere close to signing a caliber player like Cliff Lee?

There is an old adage that defense wins championships; that still holds true signing Lee would’ve only helped the Angels especially since our bullpen was one of the worst in the major leagues last season, and it was the collapse of the bullpen that started the Angels downfall. Cliff Lee joining the Angels would have bolstered an already strong starting rotation, in turn the Angels wouldn’t of had to rely on the bullpen as much and negate any weaknesses that the offense would’ve had especially since they were unable to sign a caliber player like Carl Crawford.

With all that being said I’m glad that the organization does not spend their money recklessly, however give the Angels’ fans something to look forward to! This upcoming season is our 50th anniversary season. The Angels needed to make an impact, they clearly didn’t. I expected them to make the 50th anniversary season a memorable one Which they are, but for all the wrong reasons.

-ICE

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