Results tagged ‘ C. J. Wilson ’

It Is Time to Get OctobeRED!

The hunt for a red October is here, the Angels are making their postseason push, Their 96 wins are the best in baseball. Halo dreams are running rampant amongst the fans, dreams that this team will win and bring their second World Series title to Anaheim.

Not all the dreams came to, however, the Halos must run the table in order to break the franchise record for wins. At this point, that is a minor accomplishment compared to what’s currently at stake. Now that the Angels have won the American League championship, they can shift their attention from the Oakland Athletics to the Baltimore Orioles with the goal of clinching home-field advantage throughout the postseason, the magic number is down to four, if the Angels can indeed accomplish this goal, the entire postseason including the World Series by virtue of the American League winning the 2014 All-Star game runs through Anaheim; as long as the Angels can stay alive in the playoffs.

There is some concern however, with the injuries to Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs and the shortcomings of C. J. Wilson, the Angels are shorthanded and will have to rely on a strong bullpen to make a deep push this postseason. It can be done, if one recalls the 2002 World Series team the Angels did not have a stellar starting rotation to speak of, they relied on the bullpen; and that’s what is going to happen again this year.

The time has come to focus, celebrate, relax, and prepare; it is time to get OctobeRED! Go Angels!

-ICE

An Extraordinary Win, An Extraordinary Loss

Following sports is like riding a roller coaster, a fan experiences indescribable highs and unbearable lows. This is the beauty and the curse of sports, the promise of what can be, and disappointment of what could have been. This is especially true in baseball, the excitement of a pennant race is like no other feeling that any other sport can produce.

The team with the best record in baseball, the Angels, increased their lead on the Oakland Athletics to 1 1/2 games. The Halos’ record now stands at 75-50, the promise is alive and well however it took a major blow today, with the loss of Garrett Richards. He suffered a left knee injury during the second inning of today’s game. Richards had to be carted off the field in a stretcher; and although the exact extent of his knee injury is not known as of yet, it is speculated that he will miss the remainder of the season.

Richards was in the middle of producing a spectacular season, his pitching performances were being talked about among the best in baseball, He was making a very strong case for the Cy Young Award in the American League. He was one of the most pleasant surprises of the entire season. Hopefully Richards can completely recover from his injury and return to display the dominance that he was showing the season in the future.

The loss of Richards further diminished an already thin starting rotation, Skaggs is already out with an elbow injury and won’t return until the 2016 season due to Tommy John surgery. C. J. Wilson is also struggling since his return from injury. It will be interesting to see where the Angels go from here.

Pitching does win championships, believe it or not, I do see some silver lining in all this chaos. Yes, the loss of Richards is devastating, there is no doubt about that. However Richards only has an impact on the game once every five days, it’s time for the offense to be the run producing machine that we all know it can be, as well as it is time for the rest of the pitching staff whether they are in the majors or the minors to step up. Now that we have a stronger bullpen compared to the past bullpens that the Angels have had in recent years, I really do not think that’s an unreasonable expectation. The September call ups are crucial to resolving this unexpected situation. This could have been much worse, we could have lost a position player that impacts the game every day.

The Angels have the best record in baseball, they are atop of the American League West, they Halos are being called upon to prove that none of these regular season accolades matter, they must rise above the adversity and the unfortunate situation and prove that they actually have the heart of a champion.

-ICE

The Halo is Burnt Out For the Rest of This Season

18.5 games back in the division and 16 games back out of the wild-card race. Barring some sort of miracle it safe to say that the Angels season is over. Yes they may be still mathematically able to make the playoffs, but to expect three teams to falter in the division and a plethora of teams to falter in the wild-card race is unrealistic. It is improbable, but not impossible.

I could feasibly sit here and write a novel sized entry describing in detail what went wrong this year, but I don’t think my readers would have time for that, nor do I have the energy to speak into the microphone for that long. I took some time to concisely think about the factors that led up to such a disastrous season and it came down to two things, bad personnel decisions and bad contracts. My loyal readers already know that given the choice, I much rather see the Angels be eliminated from contention in early September rather than mid to late July. That is unfortunately what happened this year.

Bad Personnel Decisions

The Angels’ General Manager did a horrendous job in putting this team together this year. Our pitching staff as a whole is in shambles; with the exception of Weaver, Wilson, and Vargas no one else on the pitching staff has preformed consistently. Signing Joe Blanton to a contract magnified the Angels’ General Manager’s poor decision-making. In my opinion, Joe Blanton didn’t add much intimidation factor to this pitching staff. That was my feeling when the Angels gave Blanton a contract, and his performance this season simply proved my point.

The Albert Pujols injury situation was handled very poorly by the Angels organization. I realize that Albert is a competitor; however it’s the Angels’ responsibility to step in and do what was in the best interest of the organization if they had put Albert Pujols on the Disabled List in the beginning of the season. Perhaps we would now have him available for a late postseason run, but as the old saying goes, hindsight is 20/20; however it would be impossible to argue that the Angels could not foresee the situation as a possible scenario. They should have done what they could to avoid this scenario from developing.

Bad Contracts

Ryan Madson, the Angels gave him $3 million for him to sit and do nothing. I questioned his contract from the very beginning. I personally would be very hesitant to sign a player coming off Tommy John surgery. He ended up not playing one inning for the Angels this season which ultimately led to his unconditional release. In other words, the organization paid a player $3 million to be a spectator. I wonder if the Angels’ organization would be willing to give me a 3 million dollar contract for just one season, I wouldn’t be able to play a single inning either, but at least the team can rest assured that my love for them is unconditional.

Josh Hamilton, for those of you that read my earlier entries, you know that I’m not a big fan of the Hamilton contract, $125 million over five years is a lot of money I had several concerns, my chief concern was his inability to handle a big market pressure situation, he is nowhere near the player the Angels expected to get, but the organization cannot say that they didn’t see this possibility developing. I publicly stated that this exact situation was a possibility, and I’m not a General Manager or a professional baseball scout.

A better business decision in both cases would have been to offer an incentive based contract given each player’s respective history. This type of contract would have protected the Angels’ long-term interest; unfortunately this wasn’t done in either case.

To exacerbate this matter even further, it has yet to be seen how these bad contract decisions affect the Angels ability to re-sign Mike Trout and lock him up to a long-term contract. If anybody deserves this type of money it is Trout, who in my humble opinion is the current and future face of the franchise much like Tim Salmon was in the 1990s and the early 2000s.

What is Mr. Moreno going to do? Obviously things cannot remain status quo; he has invested a lot of money in the long-term success of this team. I am sure he is very frustrated, I’m sure he knows that the Angels’ fan base is also very frustrated.

-ICE

Related Articles: http://angels.mlblogs.com/2012/12/13/josh-hamilton-trades-in-his-cowboy-hat-for-a-halo
http://angels.mlblogs.com/2013/05/09/keep-the-trum-bombs-coming
http://angels.mlblogs.com/2013/07/31/trying-to-fix-a-dim-halo
http://angels.mlblogs.com/2013/05/05/the-angels-use-the-home-run-boom-to-dodge-the-broom
http://angels.mlblogs.com/2012/12/12/zack-greinke-has-gone-from-being-anakin-skywalker-to-darth-vader
http://angels.mlblogs.com/2013/02/13/i-dont-want-peanuts-or-crackerjacks-give-me-the-baseball-glove-and-the-baseball-bat
http://angels.mlblogs.com/2012/12/07/youre-a-mean-one-mr-grinch

Star Wars: Red Matter and Blue Anti-Matter Collide

Photograph Credit: HTTP://www.MLBshop.com

Photograph Credit: http://www.MLBshop.com

VS.

Photograph Credit: HTTP://www.MLBshop.com

Photograph Credit: http://www.MLBshop.com

There is one enormous drawback to the baseball realignment that occurred this year. The elimination of two Freeway Series games that both Angels’ fans and Dodgers’ fans look forward to every year. What makes this year so special? This is indeed a type of Star Wars in the sense that both teams have a roster full of “stars” whether it is Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo, Jered Weaver, C. J. Wilson, Josh Hamilton, or Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Adrián González, Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier.

I am not overlooking the Seattle Mariners by any means, after all, they are a division rival, and one must not forget about the Kansas City Royals However. it’s a given that the Angels must take those series’, so there really is nothing to talk about.

May 27-May 30, 2013 that is the length of this year’s war between the crosstown rivals, it is shorter than usual this year, however the intensity still there. It is my believe that the Angels versus Dodgers game atmosphere is unmatched because of the teams'” proximity to each other and the intertwined histories.

What makes this year unique is that neither team is doing very well record wise, and if they expect to get back on track, both teams need the series very badly, this year especially there is an element of pride attached to a series that wasn’t there before with such intensity. Throw the records at the window, the atmosphere this year should be especially electric.

It would be too easy to talk about lineup changes that the Angels need to make to improve, or the fact that they need to improve their pitching; or that they are a miserable 4-13 in series this year. This is the Angels versus the Dodgers, oil and water, matter and anti-matter the combustible elements in each respective ballpark during this period is unmatched. This is the place where the red Star and the blue Star collide to create a massive black hole, nothing survives, this is indeed war; this is Star Wars! I for one will be making the trip and I hope to catch at the very least one of the two games played at Angel Stadium. Let the yearly war for the Southern California section of Interstate 5 begin!

-ICE

The Fans Are Prepared, the Stadium is Prepared, Are the Players?

The Angels defeated the Milwaukee Brewers today 5-1 which is a nice recovery from the disaster that happened yesterday. The Angels had a 7-1 lead going into the third inning, they ultimately lost the game. Honestly, that is the least of my worries about this team.

I do realize that it is indeed spring training; and yes the games are meaningless. However, with 10 days left in the preseason as of yesterday, it is now less about who makes the opening day roster; and more about fine-tuning the starters. The pitching as a whole is horrendous. To say that C. J. Wilson was knocked around would be an understatement. He is projected to be the number two starter behind Weaver, with the number three, four, and five starters still in question; it is especially important that Weaver and Wilson do not falter.

It feels like a dose of déjà vu, the Angels’ starting rotation and bullpen are not living up to the expectation. The starting rotation seems to be inept at holding leads that they’re elite offensive squad provides.

I’m not going to harp too much about the starting rotation since I’ve already talked about my disappointment in the pitching staff this year; in previous entries. It goes without saying that the Angels need to find a solution to what they haven’t been able to solve in recent years. Improve the pitching and this team will contend for a World Series.

There is a big difference between contending and competing, it is my belief that the Angels have been using these two terms as interchangeably the last few years. It isn’t enough to compete, they must be able to contend. It doesn’t seem to me that the Angels are anywhere near the ability to contend, at least not with the current configuration of the pitching staff. The trillion dollar question is, are the Angels’ players truly prepared for the upcoming season? They have nine days to figure it out, I for one, sincerely hope so.

-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

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

The Angels Are Reaching for the Stars

Once again I find myself apologizing for the short hiatus, life happens. I wish I could eat, drink, and breathe baseball every day if I could only be so lucky.

First and foremost, and let’s make a quick comment regarding the Freeway Series the Angels took four out of six games for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and head into the All-Star break 10 games over .500.

Mark Trumbo is hitting with the media has dubbed “Trumbombs” with regularity. His performance in tonight’s Home Run Derby could be a sign of things to come. The Angels sent four All-Stars to the 2012 Major League Baseball All-Star Game Jared Weaver, Mark Trumbo, Mike Trout, C. J. Wilson and were very close to sending a fifth, Angels’ closer Ernesto Frieri.

The second half of the season should be fun, the Angels are only four games behind the Texas Rangers at the All-Star break. They show no signs of letting up. It should be a lot of fun. Go Angels!

-ICE

A Trip Back in Time to the Wild, Wild, West, Can “Yu” Handle It?

Let’s close our collective eyes for a moment and travel back in time to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the desk is settling into place as it cradles the infant evening and puts the sun to sleep with a lullaby eerily reminiscent to that of the theme from the good, the bad, and the ugly. A showdown is about to happen, between the misunderstood yet respected outlaws with a halo and the supposed law men who call themselves the Texas Rangers. Indeed it is the wild, wild, west. However, instead of gun belts imagine that it is A weapon called A pitcher’s arm throwing bullets or in this case, baseballs at nearly 100 miles per hour.

Now imagine both C. J. Wilson and Yu Darvish who are both noted gunslingers in their own right, adjusting the brim of their hat squinting their eyes both cautious yet conscious not to be the one to make the first mistake; if they do it could prove to be lethal for their entire team. As they concentrate on the task in hand; and nothing more, ignoring the wind’s tired whistle of loneliness and despair. They both know that a mistake could bring the roar of the thunder stick and a flash of lightning that sends one of these bullets out of the ballpark and can very well send their entire team to an early grave, with no one to mourn them. The inscription on the tombstone reading: “Here lies the Texas Rangers who were unable to defeat the young upstart outlaws called the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim who carried a halo and the blessing of God, because of this; the Rangers were unable to repeat as American League West Champions.”

This is the imagery that the beautiful game of baseball brings me, especially in the American League West during an important series or a postseason matchup. Both teams are immensely talented. The Angels are now only 4 1/2 games back of the Rangers, and I strongly believe that the showdown will continue until the last day of the season. That’s what makes these head-to-head matchups that much more important; not only for positioning in the standings, but also to get an upper hand on the psychological warfare that these two teams put each other through.

The American League West has always had an aura akin to that of the Wild West, whether it’s with the Rangers or the battles that the Angels had with the Oakland Athletics nearly a decade ago. Both the A’s and Angels seemed to trade punches, much like the Angels in the Rangers do now with the glaring difference that both the Angels and the Rangers have never had this much talent and firepower at their disposal at the exact same time. The Rangers seem to do it with cunning and experience, after all they have made two World Series appearances in a row, both losing efforts, yet coming as close as one can to winning without winning, being one strike away.

The Angels also have the experience but they have the added bonus of youth, the young guns that rowdy outlaws need in Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo, and Ernesto Frieri or as I like to call him “Ernasty” because of the filthy pitches he can throw at times.

The smell of burnt leather and burnt wood is in the air, Angel Stadium will be the site of this latest showdown, when the smoke clears and the dust settles a halo will shine brightly and above any Texas Rangers ‘remnants that is left. Man, I love the Angels! I also love baseball! Enjoy the showdown in Anaheim.

-ICE

 

The Sleeping Giant with a Halo Has Awoken

Ladies and gentlemen, the giant silver back gorilla on the back of Albert Pujols has officially left the building! He hit his first Home Run today against the Toronto Blue Jays. This couldn’t have come at a better time, the Texas Rangers have started to hit what appears to be a natural slump. If Pujols can stay on track along with what the media is dubbing to be TNT (Trumbo and Trout) hitting for power the Angels should be just fine. Combine that with the acquisition of Ernesto Frieri who was acquired from the San Diego Padres in exchange for Alexi Amarista and Minor League right handed pitcher, the seven footer Donn Roach.

This is the sleeping giant that the Angels, its fan base, the franchise, and the baseball community was expecting. With the Texas Rangers losing today in a prospective win by the Angels (the game is still in progress with the Angels leading up to this point) the Angels can pull within 6 1/2 games of the Rangers by the end of the day.

The Angels have a road trip coming up against the struggling Minnesota Twins and “the showdown at sundown in Arlington” against the Rangers this upcoming weekend. This series is highlighted by a C. J. Wilson versus Yu Darvish who in twist of irony is facing a very pitcher that he replaced in the Texas rotation. If things go well for the Angels, slice this deficit significantly. The sleeping giant has awakened, the question now becomes can the giant stay awake long enough to win the World Series?

-ICE

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