Results tagged ‘ Free Agent ’

MLB 150: 150 Years of Tradition

Tradition, this is what comes to mind when one thinks about the 150th anniversary of Major League Baseball. 150 years, of America’s pastime; the oldest sport in existence in the United States. A sport that has made history, with names like Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, Sandy Koufax, Lou Gehrig, Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, and in time, Mike Trout. These names is what makes a sport standalone as part of the American fabric, it is the only sport in my opinion that one can be of average height and weight and with just pure talent still make an impact.

 

It is this anniversary that makes the season feel special for all the teams and fans of Major League Baseball. This is especially true for the Cincinnati Reds who celebrate their 150th anniversary as a franchise; as they were the first team founded during the creation of Major League Baseball.

 

Just as the season is a milestone for professional baseball, it also is a congruent milestone for the Halos since shortly before the start of the season the Angels signed Mike Trout to a long term contract, essentially, making him an Angel for life. Trout, has decided to follow the path of Tim Salmon and Lou Gehrig, remaining one uniform for his entire career.

 

Mike Trout has begun another stellar season by making a considerable contribution to the team once again. The team however, has been on a roller coaster ride since the beginning of the season starting the season one and six, then going seven and one in the span of eight games, and most recently they were swept by the Texas Rangers in this last series. The Halos are currently 8-10.

 

The Angels have fallen victim to more than their fair share of injuries, and this year is no exception. Injuries include Shohei Ohtani who is still recovering from Tommy John surgery. Justin Upton, Tyler Skaggs, and Andrew Heaney, or among the notable injuries thus far, this is not included Mike Trout, who was out for a few days with strained groin.

 

The starting rotation this year is far from stable, adding to the ups and downs of this metaphorical roller coaster. The Halos must stabilize their trajectory and travel on an even plain. How do they do that? There is one transaction that the Angels can make right now to improve the pitching staff, they can do so by signing Dallas Keuchel. Reports have surfaced that he is willing to sign a one-year deal. This perspective transaction has a potential of shifting the balance of power in the American League West. Dallas Keuchel is a former Houston Astro, as such, he is familiar Astros’ organization; such a contract signing, would help the Angels stabilize their rotation. In turn, allowing them to have more success on the field. What do they have to lose? The Angels must find a way to get off this roller coaster.

 

 

The 150th anniversary of Major League Baseball is a special milestone for the sport. It would be wonderful if the Angels could mark this milestone with a congruent milestone of their own, a World Series championship.

 

-ICE

Mike Trout Reinforces His Halo

The smoke has cleared, and the dust has settled. The apprehension of Mike Trout leaving the Angels in two years is no more. The biggest transaction of the off-season has been completed before even having the chance to become a free agent. I wanted to wait until the deal was official before I wrote this entry. It’s now official, Mike Trout has signed a 12-year, $426.5 million contract, for the sake of simplicity I’m going to round the number of to 430 million since that’s what the major media outlets have been reporting. The press conference will be on Sunday, March 24 at 3 PM. Pacific daylight Time.

 

I am ecstatic, the Angels have secured Mike Trout in Angels’ uniform for the rest of his career. The contract, is the largest contract ever signed in the history of North American sports. No one deserves this type of contract more than Trout. He plays the game the right way, and much like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, he speaks softly and carries a big stick.

 

Some sports pendants are questioning the contract, they argue that no matter what he does Trout can never live up to the contract; and still others, question the contract arguing that he is not marketable because he is not outspoken like other players, that’s not Mike Trout style, and I doubt it will ever be. As I mentioned in my previous entry, Mike Trout is a throwback to a classic baseball player. He doesn’t call much attention to himself and he quietly plays the game the right way, and I applaud the Angels for securing both his future and the future of the team. He is the best player of his generation, and if he can continue playing at the level that he’s currently playing that is, if he doesn’t get better which is a very scary proposition within itself for the rest of Major League Baseball, he may go down in history as the best player to ever play the game of baseball.

 

In addition to questioning the contract, detractors have questioned Mike Trout’s desire to stay with the Halos, arguing that the Angels are “generic” that it was going to stay in California the Dodgers, the Giants,and arguably the biggest brand in baseball, the Yankees would be better choices for his career. I would argue against the Angels being “a generic franchise”; yes, the Angels may not be a marquee franchise like those mentioned above, but this is where Trout wanted to be, and the team of course, wanted to keep them. Mike Trout is a highly intelligent person and player, it is my belief, he would have tested the free-agent market if you didn’t see something in the Angels franchise that pointed to his future ability to be successful with the team.

 

As a fan, I would like to thank Mike Trout for loving this team is much as a fan base does. I personally look forward to many wonderful and successful years to come, congratulations Mike Trout!

 

-ICE

Will Angel Stadium and Mike Trout Lose Their Halos?

 

When I was formulating this entry I knew from the beginning that it would be very personal for me to write, I debated for an entire week whether two separate the two issues that I wanted to talk about into two separate entries or write about them together. I quickly realized that the answer was obvious, the two issues that I want to discuss our intertwined and I can’t really talk about one issue without talking about the other; so writing about Angel Stadium and Mike Trout separately didn’t make much sense to me.

 

Sports’ have a way of uniting communities for the better with a singular identity between the franchise and the city in which the franchise resides in, it’s a special interdependency that gives both the team and the community and intertwined identity. Some examples of this are the San Francisco 49ers helping the city of San Francisco heal after the assassinations of its mayor and a supervisor in the 1970’s or the Boston Red Sox helping the city heal after the Boston Marathon bombing; sometimes the identity between a city and its franchise become so intertwined that it’s tough to differentiate or even imagine two separate entities.

 

An example of the latter is the case of the Angels and the city of Anaheim. The Angels moved to Anaheim in 1966. Creating a singular identity for Anaheim and the rest of  Orange County separate from the Los Angeles Dodgers and the city of Los Angeles. I was born and raised in Orange County, and grew up about three and half miles away from Angel Stadium. Yes, I absolutely love my Lakers but it is nice to have a team closer to home that we as a community don’t have to share with another city much less another County, I have similar feelings of allegiance towards the Anaheim Ducks.

 

Until recently the Angels had a lease with Angel Stadium until 2029 with a opt-out clause that was exercised by the franchise this past off-season. The Angels franchise and the city of Anaheim recently agreed to a short-term extension until the end of the 2020 season, in order to give the two sides time to discuss a possible extension that would be more amicable to both sides. During these talks between the two parties, The city of Long Beach has reached out to the Angels franchise about the possibility of moving the team and building a stadium in Long Beach.

 

As an Angels’ fan for over 30 years, I can see the appeal of moving to Long Beach, however, from a pragmatic, financial, and business standpoint it doesn’t make much sense to me, let’s assume the Angels do move to Long Beach. They would be in close proximity to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Angels would be in more direct competition with the Los Angeles Dodgers, I find it hard to believe that the Angels would be very successful in prying away fans from a well-established franchise such as a Dodgers. The relationship between the Dodgers and the city of Los Angeles is too entrenched for the Angels to have any measure of success.

 

It is for this same reason that I believe the Angels would be more successful staying in Anaheim. The Angels identity is Anaheim no matter how many name changes the Angels franchise decides to go through. Anaheim is far enough away from Los Angeles for the team to have its own distinct relationship with the city, additionally the location in Anaheim is situated such that the Stadium sits next to a Metrolink and  Amtrak train station that very easily brings people from all over Southern California without causing Stadium goers to think twice about traffic, while at the same time saving the fans that use the train Stadium parking fees. The Angels would be better off in my opinion taking advantage of the public transportation options surrounding the Stadium, including the Orange County bus system that facilitates the ability of fans to attend games. If the franchise goal is to draw more fans in, moving to Long Beach seems counterintuitive. I sincerely hope that the Angels franchise realizes how intertwined they are in the Orange County community, I highly doubt they can duplicate the loyal fan base if they move to the Los Angeles area. While I realize Angels’ ownership is always wanted to be in direct competition for the Los Angeles fan base, it’s important not to forget about the Orange County fan base; as the old adage goes, “if you stand too close to the fire, you’re going to get burned.” In my opinion, if the Angels do decide to move from Angel Stadium, this is going to monumentally backfire on the organization. I love the organization too much to not at the very least express my very personal opinion, I do not want to see Angel Stadium lose its Halo.

 

Perpetually intertwined with Angel Stadium and the Angels franchise is the future of Mike Trout, how will the Angel Stadium negotiations or a potential move affect Mike Trout’s desire to stay? There is no question that the Angels need to put better pieces around Mike Trout especially pitching both in the bullpen and in the starting rotation. In order for them to do this, they must be able to successfully put fans in the seats, something that is extremely difficult to do given that they would have to draw from the same local fan base that the Dodgers do, which would hamper the Angels ability to successfully draw fans, from a dwindling fan pool; in turn, this scenario brings us back to the Stadium situation, if this happens, Mike Trout is as good as gone. Trout, is a throwback to an old time baseball player, he is a baseball purist, and although money is important to him it is not as important as being successful at winning championships. The Angels must find a way to contend, not just compete in order to convince Trout to stay. It’s going to take much more than just beating Bryce Harper’s 13 year, over a quarter of $1 billion contract to convince Trout that he belongs in an Angels’ uniform for the rest of his career. The team must show its willingness and ability to contend and be close to winning every year that he is involved with the team.

 

I highly doubt the Mike Trout cares about is state-of-the-art Stadium or how many fans the Angels can possibly pry away from the Dodgers, however these two items are intertwined and it won’t mean much if he Stays or goes if the Angels don’t figure out a way to contend and win. It won’t matter if the Stadium is state-of-the-art if no one’s around to watch Mike Trout and the rest of the team play.

 

The Angels are definitely in a conundrum and face the very real possibility that both Angel Stadium and Mike Trout will lose their Halos. It is my very sincere and deep love for this team that makes me hope neither of these two situations happen.

 

-ICE

Are the Angels Preparing a Winter Wonderland or Preparing for the Brunt of Bitter Old Man Winter?

The holiday season invokes different emotional reactions from different people, some people think about spending time with loved ones, others think about the family gatherings, the food, the games; while still others think of the lights the holiday decorations and the overall spirit of the season.

 

Baseball fans however, have an added bonus during the holiday season, the Major League Baseball winter meetings. The winter meetings can only be described one way, opening a holiday gift early. This is the time a year select front office personnel from all 30 teams get together in one place and discuss anything pertaining to the upcoming season; primarily free-agent signings and trades. Some teams going to these meanings with the intent of making a splash, while others stay relatively quiet.

 

This is the case of the Angels this year, unlike years past, they haven’t made an eye-opening transaction during this year’s winter meetings, on the contrary, I believe this year has much more uncertainty than years past. The Halos lost Garrett Richards to free agency. Richards signed a contract with the San Diego Padres, Shohei Ohtani is recovering from off-season Tommy John surgery and is unable to pitch this upcoming year, although he will be in the batters’ box this upcoming season. Parker Bridwell, a once promising Angels’ pitcher is no longer available because he was claimed off waivers by the New York Yankees. Injuries combined with these transactions make the Angels’ starting rotation questionable at best.

 

The Halos number one priority should be starting pitching, and/or pitching in general. This position is there Achilles’ heel as of late. They’ve had more of their fair share of pitching woes and it doesn’t seem that this year will get any better.

 

If that wasn’t enough, the Angels need help in the infield, they had Ian Kinsler’s veteran presence in the infield. I believe they gave up on Kinsler too early, alternatively, keeping Kinsler would have helped the Angels at the very least determine whether he deserved a longer-term contract to shore up the infield. His absence now not only leaves question marks in the infield for next season but it also creates a huge hole that the Angels need to fill; combined with the team’s pitching needs, I don’t see how they can possibly fill all these holes and expect to not only compete, but contend. Something they must do if they want to keep Mike Trout happy and in an Angels’ uniform in the long-term, especially for a team that does not want to go over Major League Baseball’s luxury tax.

 

It seems that the Halos are trying to do too much at the same time, this is a combination of bad contracts over the years with several players that have put them in this bind. How does one find the pieces they need to contend well still have enough money to sign the greatest player of this generation in Trout, long-term? This is a conundrum that the Angels face, a conundrum that won’t be easy to solve. I believe that in order to keep Trout and be contenders at the same time they must go over the luxury tax. The Halos are already asking a lot of the Angels’ fan base when it comes to paying to spend time at the ballpark, the least they can do is begin to show us that our investment of time and money is bearing fruit. The organization has two choices, create a winter wonderland or prepare for the brunt of bitter old man winter.

 

-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

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

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

It’s Time for a Change in the Halo Recipe and/or the Chef

The Halo is closed for repairs; it will reopen in early April. Hopefully when it reopens it will be vastly improved. The Angels finished the season with an 8-2 record over the final 10 games. While that was a positive sign, it was too little, too late in my humble opinion.

 

To say the Angels must improve is an understatement, they had an injury-riddled starting rotation and bullpen. I cannot recall one game this season when the pitching staff was at full strength; since they Halos don’t have much of a farm system to speak of, they couldn’t replenish any deficiencies on the team. The left-field experiment was a disaster; I feel that was the team’s weakest link this year.

 

Mike Scioscia has become complacent since 2009 he hasn’t shown anything of significance, nothing that makes this team stand out from the pack. He needs to find a way to ignite both the team and the fan base, I do not deny that he knows his baseball, unfortunately, it isn’t enough. Mike Scioscia reminds me of a chef that substitutes French fries when the recipe clearly calls for exotic Cajun fries. In other words, it is not enough to know the game of baseball, when the brand of baseball is clearly bland; he needs to find a way to add some flavor and distinction to this baseball team. I feel that although he has a wonderful baseball mind, he has lost his creativity, the Halos cannot afford for the chef in the kitchen lose his ability to create distinct flavors, especially with the team as talented as this one.

 

How can the recipe be changed? First and foremost, the Angels need to address left-field. There is really no big name out there in the free-agent market this year that is an instant game changer, with the exception of perhaps Mark Trumbo. Some argue that he is not consistent enough at the plate to make much of a difference, and while I do see the substance of the argument, we don’t have much of a farm system to draw from; although Mark Trumbo is not a marquee name out there, he is a former Angel, he knows the system and given this year’s free-agent market he is the best option.

 

Will this change in ingredients add any flavor to the recipe? Let’s hope so, for the sake of both the team and the fan base. The chef must create a more potent championship recipe, if he cannot do so, he must be escorted out of the baseball kitchen.

 

-ICE

 

 

 

 

Tarnished Halo, Tattered Wings

As a baseball fan, one expects to see their favorite team go through ups and downs, peaks and valleys. During the season a team must learn to pace themselves; in essence they must play the chess game that is baseball, put the chess pieces in the right position in order for a team to attack when the moment is right.

The Angels find themselves in this exact metaphorical scenario described above, they are currently 12 1/2 games out of first place in the American League West, fourth in the division, with 10 players on the disabled list with various injuries. The Halo is tarnished and the wings are tattered. The situation may look bleak to outsiders, yet this may be the perfect time to position the test pieces for an attack.

Starting tonight the Halos play their next 13 games against division rivals, which involves two teams that are sub .500 the Oakland A’s and the Houston Astros. This may be the perfect time for the team to strike as there are high hopes that the contribution of the newest Angel, Tim Lincecum, will give this team a much needed lift in the pitching rotation with three-fifths of the starting rotation on the 60-day disabled list with long-term injuries. Tyler Skaggs who was expected back within the near future has hit a snag in his rehabilitation forcing the Halos to find other more creative options.

It is well-known among baseball’s purest that the key to a successful team is pitching, something that the Angels clearly do not have at this moment. It is looking highly unlikely that C.J. Wilson will be able to make a meaningful impact this season due to the setbacks that he has had; based on the fact that this is the final year of his multi-million dollar contract it is very doubtful that he will have a meaningful impact for the Halos.

Can this team stay consistent for this 13 game stretch? It all depends if this team can come together at the right moments. It is not time yet to worry about the division leader, the Texas Rangers, since they have been on fire and look unstoppable at the moment; but, they too will fall into a valley that may allow the Halos to gain some ground. If the Angels can use this 13 game stretch to their advantage, we may have an interesting division race after the All-Star break, but in order to do so, the Halos must shine again and their wings must heal if all this is to come to fruition.

-ICE

From the Freeway to the Freak

I know I am a little late with this entry, but there is no point in writing about baseball if one does not enjoy life; that is what I’ve been doing for the last couple of weeks. I’ve enjoyed myself spending time with my family. However, I haven’t forgotten my loyal readers.

 

First, a few comments about the Freeway Series, I really enjoy inter-league play; especially the Angels/Dodgers rivalry. Natural rivals always bring out the best in teams in my opinion, and this year was no exception. This year, it was a four-game home at home series starting in Los Angeles and ending in Anaheim. The Angels took three out of four games. It’s always fun to hear the Stadium Buzz no matter which team is up to bat. The environment can not be duplicated, when these two teams play it always feels like a World Series game. Hopefully I am able to witness an Angels-Dodgers World Series in my lifetime. My only wish is that Major League Baseball would schedule the Freeway Series as a six-game series; 3 home games for each team that are played on consecutive weekends. That way, people like me who really enjoy the series can go watch all six games with less difficulty. This year, all four games were during the week making it difficult for people like me to travel between Los Angeles and Anaheim. The very special highlight of this year’s Freeway Series is meeting a beautiful, lovely, and interesting young lady; Angela, she is an example of the beautiful nuances and wonderful surprises that baseball brings.

 

Join me while I take the Freeway Series off ramp as I transition from the freeway to the freak, Tim Lincecum signed a one-year deal with the Angels on May 20th. The contract includes incentives. I am optimistic about this contract. Yes it’s a risk; Lincecum is coming off hip surgery. However, at this point with three members of the Halos’ starting rotation on the 60 day disabled list, the only bad risk is no risk; especially if this team is going to contend in any fashion, this team is too talented not to contend.

 

If this team expects to contend, they must be able to correct an alarming statistic, the Angels are 0-16 this year when their lead is two runs or less. This is especially important when games are close and games carry a bit more weight later on in the year.

 

The journey of baseball is a special one it can take you up and down freeways, across Bay Bridges, and even allows you to ride the subway. Baseball is a wonderful vehicle that allows one to explore the nuances and wonderful surprises in life.

 

-ICE

Update: May 29, 2016; after the completion of yesterday’s game the Angels are now 0-17 when the lead is two runs or less.

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