Results tagged ‘ Closer ’

The Angels Are Caught in a Playground of Nightmares

There are numerous clichés that one can use to refer to this baseball season for the Angels; a recurring one for the Halos is, “baseball is a marathon, not a sprint.” Unfortunately this is nothing new for the Angels. They have started off slow in previous years. The Halos as of yesterday, are in third place in the American League West. However, this time around the Angels find themselves temporarily trapped in the playground of nightmares.

 

The Seesaw

 

This first piece of spine tingling playground equipment is the seesaw, the Angels swept the defending World Series Champions Kansas City Royals; in a previous home stand, the Angels were swept one entire home series, by losing six straight against the Tampa Bay Rays and St. Louis Cardinals. In only to rebound after falling victim to the home sweep, they swept the then first place Seattle Mariners in Seattle. The Angels continued their way up by defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 7-6 yesterday in the first game of the home at home Freeway Series. Hopefully the seesaw will stop soon, however, only time will tell.

 

The Injury Carousel

 

This second skin curdling piece of equipment is the worst of the two. The Angels as of this morning have seven players on the disabled list, with outfielder Daniel Nava expected to be the eighth player to join the list very soon. Three of the seven are part of the starting rotation and all three are on the 60 day disabled list. The Angels’ closer, Houston Street is also part of this list. The Halos are definitely riding the carousel of tears.

 

Hopefully the Angels will find the way out of this playground of nightmares very soon. There is a rampant rumor that they are close to contractually soliciting the assistance of The Freak to assist them out of the playground. If they Halos do end up coming to terms with the former San Francisco Giants pitcher, Tim Lincecum, I will have a forthcoming reaction to this occurrence.

 

-ICE

Songs of the Baseball Season

Baseball is full of tradition, from singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh inning stretch to the Phillie Phanatic, and everything in between. New traditions are established: such as the Presidents’ race in Washington D. C. leaving the Nationals’ fans asking themselves, “when is Teddy Roosevelt going to win a race?”

Other teams such as the Angels are trying to build questionable traditions such as singing “Build me up Buttercup” by the Foundations during the seventh inning stretch, similar to the way the Boston Red Sox use to sing “Tessie” and now sing “Sweet Caroline”.

I have several quarrels with “Build Me up Buttercup”, first and foremost, the song is one of disillusionment, the singer is complaining about being let down by the girl that he is interested in. Although this is a catchy tune, I don’t believe this song is appropriate to fire up a crowd as big as 45,000 people. The Los Angeles Dodgers use “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey which seems appropriate for the moment.

However, “Build Me up Buttercup” is appropriate for how the Angels preformed this season. After a disastrous month of August, the Halos came roaring back in September, at one point they were victorious in seven games in a row. They ultimately fell short and were knocked out of postseason contention by the Texas Rangers, losing the game 9-2.

For many people the Angels’ season ended yesterday October 4. For me, the season ended in the top of the seventh inning in the game versus the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday, September 30th. Mike Scioscia made a questionable move, replacing second baseman Johnny Giavotella who was a principal reason why the Angels had a 5-3 lead at the time, mainly because of the home run; in favor of Taylor Featherston who committed a costly error by mishandling and dropping the ball; a play that would’ve been routine for Johnny G. Featherston’s error allowed the Oakland Athletics to extend the inning, and in the end win the game 8-7.

Mike Scioscia has made many questionable decisions this season; he underutilized David Murphy in the Texas Rangers series, his reason for doing so? Matchups, according to Scioscia Murphy did not provide the appropriate matchup for left-handed pitching; however Murphy had an extraordinary average against such pitching. As a former Ranger, David Murphy is familiar with that ballpark, if Murphy was in the lineup, perhaps this entry would be discussing the upcoming Wild-Card game or reflecting on back to back American League West division titles.

The seven-game win streak built a fan base up, and bad managerial decisions by Mike Scioscia let us down. This begs the question: “why do you build us up Buttercup, just to let us down?”

One thing is clear however, Mike Scioscia needs to refine his decision-making skills because he is the primary reason why the Halos lost September 30th, and by extension he is a primary reason why the Angels are not making a postseason run this year. Yes, the injury to Houston Street was a big as far as the closers role. However, the effect is minimal compared to bad managerial decisions which Mike Scioscia is clearly guilty of.

It was not all doom and gloom however, for the first time in Angels’ history two players hit for at least 40 home runs; Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. I’m sure that both players would be more than willing to trade in those accomplishments in exchange for a World Series ring.

The off-season has officially begun, the Angels have officially hired a new General Manager Billy Eppler the Assistant General Manager from the New York Yankees. I will expand on his hiring as well as reflect on all season activities and personnel changes in future entries.

Which team will I be supporting on the road to the World Series now that the Angels are out? This is probably the easiest answer of all, I wholeheartedly will be supporting the Chicago Cubs, not only would it be wonderful to see their over 100 year drought end, but I would also be supporting a connection to the Angels in Cubs Manager Joe Maddon, who is a former member of the Angels’ coaching staff.

The post season is upon us, as for the Angels’ fan base, we will have to wait yet another year to put on our postseason Halo.

-ICE

A Perfect Sweep, Not so Perfect Team

I think the World Cup has everybody distracted, at least that’s my case; but now I’m back and ready to talk about baseball again. The Angels are coming off a perfect home stand with a sweep of the Rangers and a sweep of the Twins. The Angels themselves have been far from perfect. They have lost nine games when leading in the seventh inning or later, as well as 12 blown saves this season so far.

The Angels traded Ernesto Frieri to the Pirates for Jason Grilli in order to try to address the bullpen issues. I myself wasn’t ready to give up on Ernesto, yes he has been responsible for some of the blown saves this season, however, he still seem to do well if he pitched as middle reliever with less pressure he seemed to perform better. I haven’t seen Jason pitch so I can’t comment on him just yet. But I’m sure either way I will reflect on him when the time is appropriate.

Ernesto is no worse than Francisco Rodriguez was when he was a closer. Both men are unpredictable and both men seem to do better as middle relievers. The Halos Would have been better served to wait a little bit more for Ernesto to come around just as they did for Rodriguez a few years ago.

The Angels might not be perfect just yet, however they have been getting better with the passage of each game. They may have some flaws, but the positives cannot be overlooked. They have an identical record to the Oakland A’s of 7-3 over the last 10 games, and are currently only 4 1/2 back. If they can to shore up the bullpen issues, they will be just fine.

-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

Chronicles of a Diehard and Faithful Angels’ Fanatic

When one has a favorite team, and becomes a diehard fan, one signs a contract of sorts. One promises to be a fan regardless of the ups and downs a team may go through. In exchange, the team gives a fan a connection to wonderful memories that will last a lifetime.

It seems that fans are losing faith in the Halos, and I can understand why as of today they are 5 1/2 games behind division leading Texas Rangers and the offense is struggling; however, let me put everything into a analytical perspective. Let me first address the Texas Rangers, have no doubt that the Rangers are where they deserved to be in credit needs to be given where it is due. The Rangers are a spectacular team.

In my previous entries I pointed out the Halos’ shortcomings this season, in this entry I want to put everything into a more palatable perspective. The Angels so far have been involved in eight extra inning games including the loss to the Tampa Bay Rays last night. Yesterday was also their 15th game in which there has been a one run differential between the participating teams, most of which the Angels have come out on the losing end.. What does that say about the Angels? If the Angels were able to come out on the other side of the situation; and things would have gone a little differently I would be discussing a much different story right now. Although the team has glaring problems, they are on the cusp of greatness.

For those of you that read my blog last season, most of you know my feelings towards Brian Fuentes. In the alternative I suggested that Fernando Rodney become the Angels’ closer. I’m glad to say that the Angels made the right decision in getting rid of Brian Fuentes, should the same be done with Fernando Rodney? I would argue no, for the simple reason that when the Angels severed their ties with Brian Fuentes, Fernando Rodney was there to take his place. The problem then becomes if Rodney is indeed released then who would take his place in the bullpen? I think Rodney struggles is more endemic of the Angels’ overall situation rather than his personal struggles. When Fuentes was let go the Angels were a much different team, I don’t think the same can be said if they decide to release Rodney.

I strongly believe are still feeling the effects of losing Kendrys Morales last year, he was supposed to be a potent power hitter Morales was supposed to help the Angels this season. However, due to complications with his ankle that was not to be. Now the Angels are expecting him by spring training of 2012. Not the news the Angels are looking forward to. It seems like his teammates have not been able to get the freakishness of his injury out of their heads, that’s one of the many reasons why the team is performing the way it is up to this point in the season.

Many fans believe this is the reason why the Angels are a third placed team, however I’m taking a vastly different approach yes, I concede that their way the Texas Rangers are playing right now, it will be extraordinary difficult yet not impossible to overtake the Rangers by the end of the season. I remind everyone that last night was only game number 64 of an 162 game season. The Angels’ chances are not over by any stretch of the imagination. However they will need to find a way to get out of this psychological funk that they are in. As a diehard faithful fan, I have to believe that things will turn around for them. It is often said that baseball is a game of inches, the same thing can be said for the psychology of baseball, the Angels are not getting blown out by any means they just have to correct the mistakes; and swing the pendulum in their favor so as they continue to add to their extra inning games and one run differential statistics the Angels are the ones that must come out on top.

Perhaps with the Angels need is to actually get away from Angel Stadium, this upcoming road trip involves inter-league play. The Angels the Angels have done well in inter-league play and maybe this is exactly what they need to get back to their winning ways.

-ICE

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