Results tagged ‘ General Manager ’

Do the Angels Face a Check or Checkmate?

It is Friday, July 1, 2016, we are a little more than a week away from the All-Star break and a little more than the month away from the trade deadline; to say that the Halos are in trouble this season is a monumental understatement. They played a chess game of baseball and were unequivocally decimated.

In the previous entry I alluded to the fact that the Angels had a 13 game stretch against sub .500 teams within the American League West. I used the game of chess as a metaphor to describe the Halos perfect opportunity to strike, or at the very least put themselves in the position to attempt a strike within the division. Unfortunately for the Angels, they did exactly what they could not do. They went from 12 and a half games back in the beginning of the 13 game stretch to 18 1/2 games back by the end. The Angels’ record, 3-10; they wasted this golden opportunity.

 

There is an infinite list of problems with this team this particular season. Most Angels’ fans are going to point to the desolate condition of the starting rotation. While that may be true, there is a statistic that jumps out.

If one goes back to the beginning of the season and my rough calculations are correct, the Halos have a record of 5-31 when leading a game by three runs or less. Yes the starting rotation is in shambles however, the offense isn’t responding very well when they’re needed the most.

The long list of injuries to various players is also pointed as a determining factor for this team’s performance this season. I’m not quite sure that if this team was 100% healthy they would do much better. The problem is much bigger than just the injuries, it’s the management.

 

In January of 2009 Mike Scioscia signed a 10 year contract extension through 2018. He has been the manager since the 2000 season in a span of 16 years so far he has only brought one World Series championship to this franchise. (2002) Yes, he does have the highest winning percentage of any manager in Angels’ history. However, winning percentages are rarely remembered, what is remembered is championships. Mike Scioscia has not been handed average players during his tenure. These players include Vladimir Guerrero, Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Torii Hunter, just to name a few. In reality, he hasn’t found a way to win.

 

In my eyes, Mike Scioscia has become a bit complacent, he gets paid whether the Angels win or lose. There are numerous examples of the manager making the wrong decision, at the wrong time; for example, earlier this season, just as Matt Shoemaker began his uplifting turnaround, Mike Scioscia took out Shoemaker during a game when he was pitching very well, Mike Scioscia then proceeds to turn it over to the bullpen that in turn loses the game for Shoemaker.

 

 

 

Mike Scioscia’s obsession with using Cam Bedrosian out of the bullpen has cost the Angels a number of winnable games. Cam does not seem to be ready for the big lights of the major leagues; yet Mike Scioscia insists on using him in clearly the wrong situations. It is the introduction of this relief pitcher that causes the first domino to fall in a losing effort.

 

 

In my humble opinion Mike Scioscia also causes a negative effect on the franchise, again, this is due to the length of his contract; his complacency, and the amount of power he holds within the organization. Billy Eppler is a good general manager; I take nothing away from him. However, there was no need to replace Jerry DiPoto, the current Seattle Mariners’ General Manager and the former Angels’ General Manager. Jerry was forced to resign due to alleged disagreements in philosophy with Mike Scioscia. The result? The Mariners are 10 games better in the standings than the Angels are this season.

 

The Angels virtually have no pieces to trade at the trade deadline. How will this team get better? The injuries will heal, aside from some needs, this team is very talented. Where do the Angels go from here? They have no flexibility. They are losing the chess game of baseball very badly. In this chess game, do the Angels face a check or checkmate? Only time will tell.

-ICE

The Essence of Halo Nature

Human nature is unpredictable; it is basic yet complex, logical yet chaotic, fascinating yet at times disappointing. It is this essence and the interplay between these opposing forces that spark various thoughts, ideas, and philosophies for many millennia. Human nature allows one to think about probabilities and possibilities; it gives one a choice; to think logically, or to think creatively.

Baseball is a thinking man’s game; there is not a more perfect narrator for human nature than baseball. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dual between the pitcher and batter, the managers, or the front office; human nature is the ever present variable. It determines the difference between indecisiveness and insecurity.

There is not a better example of the various aspects and complexities of human nature than the current off-season that the Angels are experiencing. The Angels clearly had roster needs, and the market was full of players that could have satisfied those needs, especially in Left Field, yet despite those clear needs the Angels decided to do nothing of impact. They are opting instead to platoon Craig Gentry and Daniel Nava.

The Halos had their choice of opting for Yoenis Céspedes, Jason Heyward, or Justin Upton; all of which, are premier Left Fielders; all they had to do was surpass the 189,000,000 dollar luxury tax, something that Angels’ owner Arturo Moreno, was not willing to do. Now the Angels find themselves in a situation where they are at the mercy of other teams in baseball, with a depleted farm system they do not have any real options in the minor leagues, and now must rely on trades to address any additional shortcomings.

However, in order to do so now they must give up a piece of the team in order to get something back, rather than just parting with contract money. Granted, free agents can be expensive and an organization can at times put themselves in the situation where they overpay a player for underperformance. On the other hand, in the Angels situation one would expect that they would learn from both the Vernon Wells and Josh Hamilton contractual catastrophes. In comparison, all three players mentioned above are relatively young, and are in their prime, and all three of them produced impressive offensive numbers this past season and show no signs of decline.

Are the Angels satisfied with another average or subpar season? How does the organization justify raising prices on season ticket holders and the average fan this coming season? The fan base was told in previous years that the organization wants to wait for a strong free agent market, how much stronger can the market get? Yes, this team can compete as is, but can they legitimately contend? It is my current belief that this team cannot contend as it’s currently constructed. If an organization doesn’t have a strong farm system, which the Angels do not, then the next logical course of action is to go after a free agent that fits a glaring need; something that the Angels did not do.

It seems that the organization is going in the opposite direction; the Halos traded Efren Navarro to the Baltimore Orioles for cash consideration. Navarro was a spark plug in the Halos locker room. He was a backup first baseman but he also played some left field which would have helped the Angels’ situation should Nava and/or Gentry not work out in left field.

Indecisiveness is when one is presented with various feasible options and one cannot decide which option to go with. insecurity is when one is presented with the only clear option and one does not take action up on it. It is my strong belief that the Angels are very insecure as an organization.

In the past few seasons they have failed to balance short-term success with long-term sustainability. A shortcoming that they must address in the immediate future, the Angels’ fan base is getting restless, impatient, and annoyed. We have every right to be, the face of the franchise, Mike Trout has been through three General Managers since he was called to the major leagues. This shows tremendous instability as an organization.

Human nature is a fascinating a variable, it is a mental chess game within oneself; for Angels’ fans when our love for baseball is brought into the equation, human nature transitions to a fascinating metamorphosis, it becomes Halo nature. It is this Halo nature that drives our passion, love, and that times critique of this team. Halo nature allows for indecisiveness, but not insecurity. This organization needs to find out what the essence of Halo nature means to them.

-ICE

The Angels Are Singing The Dodger Blues

How blue can you get? The Angels are asking their fans that very question, they are playing with that sweet, yet painful sting of the B.B. King classic.

After a hot start coming out of the All-Star break, the Halos handed over the American League West to the Houston Astros. The Angels have lost five straight, and eight of their last nine. To make matters worse, the Angels lost the first two games of the Freeway Series to the cross-town rival, Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Halos were playing well, both as a team and as individuals. Which is impressive, considering the turmoil that the Angels have gone through with the resignation of their General Manager. This team has shown resilience not only to stay afloat, but take over the American League West, couple that with individual success, specifically the success of Mike Trout, who became the first player in Major League Baseball history to be the most valuable player of an All-Star game in consecutive years.

The Angels didn’t make the big splash during the trade deadline that the fan base was accustomed to in recent years, however, they quietly made moves. The Halos sought to improve themselves and with the acquisitions of David Murphy from the Cleveland Indians, David DeJesus from the Tampa Bay Rays, and Shane Victorino from the Boston Red Sox. These three outfielders were brought aboard to try to negate the disappointing contribution this season by Matt Joyce.

The Angels are not playing as well as it may look, if one looks at the head-to-head record against all the division leaders in the American League, the Astros, the Royals, and the Yankees, the Halos have a record of 5-17 in the head-to-head match ups with the division leaders so far this season.

I will be attending my first Angels road game of the season tomorrow against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium for the first-half finale of the Freeway Series, I am really not interested in how much more blue the Angels can get, rather, I would like to think that tomorrow will be the genesis of the Angels returning to greatness and becoming red-hot again.

-ICE

DiPoto Turns in His Halo

Originally I was going to write about the seafaring Grinch from Seattle who stole Christmas, referring to the Angels’ “Christmas in June” promotion. I thought it would be fun to discuss my impressions. I was almost done writing the entry and I was deciding what pictures to include in the post, when the surprising but not unexpected news broke, “Jerry Dipoto resigns as Angels’ General Manager.” There it was, the news that changed the entire destination of this entry. I guess it wasn’t meant to be, the sudden course correction within the Angels’ organization is more relevant.

Rather than talk about my personal opinions on the inter-office dynamics of the organization and the reported tension, real or imaginary; between Jerry Dipoto and Mike Scioscia, I would like to concentrate on Jerry Dipoto’s legacy and impact on the Halos. ESPN, MLB.com, MLB network, and Fox sports have talked at length about the tumultuous relationship between the Manager and General Manager, if one wants to know more about the inter office dynamics of the situation, I strongly suggest you go to one or more of the sources that I cited above.

Jerry Dipoto was brought aboard in 2011, upon his arrival, he made an immediate title wave of a splash, he signed then free agent Albert Pujols to a 10 year contract. He also ensured the future of the organization by coming to terms with Mike Trout on a six-year contract extension. He also brought aboard C. J. Wilson to bolster the Halos’ pitching staff, then he traded for Zack Greinke who was eventually lost to free agency. Jerry Dipoto also traded for Andrew Heaney, who is now on the major league roster and is starting to pay dividends for the Angels.

For all of Jerry DiPoto’s wheeling and dealing, the Angels never won a playoff game under his tenure. He was an aggressive general manager, who believed in the modern baseball concept of saber metrics, the volatile and conflicting mixture between saber metrics and old-school fundamental baseball philosophies, did not allow Jerry DiPoto to execute his vision for this team.

Upon the General Manager’s resignation, the Angels brought back a name from the past, former General Manager Bill Stoneman, he was at the helm when the Angels won the World Series in 2002. He also was the general manager who hired Mike Scioscia; so there is familiarity there, however, he is not known as an aggressive general manager, so I don’t expect the Angels to do much at the trade deadline. They could use aggressiveness out of the General Manager’s office, particularly with this team, and this time of year. I’m not a proponent of proceeding into the future by reaching into the past, unless one is trying to correct a mistake, this is definitely not the case with Bill Stoneman.

Perhaps Jerry DiPoto was very strategic in his actions; he picked the proximity to the trading deadline in order to make a point. This is purely speculation on my part; however, if I am right he definitely got his point across. One thing is for sure, the Angels’ organization is in disarray. It will be interesting to see how this set of circumstances affects the Halos’ playoff possibilities for this season. One thing is abundantly clear however, uncertainty has descended over Anaheim.

Happy Independence Day!

-ICE

Waiting for Sunrise

It’s hard to describe how I feel as an Angels’ fan right now, it feels like rather than staying the course the Angels insist on making it hard on themselves. They decide not to give Torii Hunter and offer sheet, which would have at the very least guaranteed the Angels compensation picks if Hunter signs somewhere else. That’s a head scratcher. Why wouldn’t the team at least guarantee themselves compensation picks? It seems like a no-brainer, you have a player that came off a career year, why wouldn’t you at least guarantee yourself a plan B in case you lose a good player that made an impact on your team?

Dan Haren is another head scratcher, sure, he had a subpar and injury plagued season. One has to go with the times and exercise that option, especially since there is no pitcher on the free-agent market that would be worth risking major money, outside of Zack Greinke. Especially since recently traded away Ervin Santana to the Kansas City Royals for for left-handed reliever Brandon Sisk and cash considerations. This could be viewed as a salary dump, why get rid of a player who wasn’t spectacular but nonetheless held himself afloat and up to be the fourth or fifth Angels’ starter.

Give Torii Hunter the chance to win a championship with the Angels! I would hate to see him sign with the Rangers, and see them do exactly what Mike Napoli and Vladimir Guerrero have done to the Angels in the past. Think about it, Hunter signing with the Rangers is the most logical choice. Hunter lives in Dallas, he wants to play for a championship contender, and he would have the added bonus of playing his former team for most of a year. The Rangers fit all of Hunter requirements.

Jerry Dipoto seems to be in the mood of erasing any fingerprint with Tony Riggins on it, as our general manager is going to go that route; he should examine the contract of Vernon Wells. Vernon Wells has proven to be a bust in an Angels’ uniform. I understand that the Angels would be responsible for most, if not all of his contract. At the very least however, it would free up a spot on the roster that should be given to a youngster that wants to contribute to the team something Vernon Wells is no longer capable of doing in my opinion.

Things in the American League West have gotten interesting, the baseball realignment has happened. The Houston Astros are now in the American League West. It’s going to be intriguing to see how the introduction of the Astros into a new division of next the win and loss record of the other teams in the division. I believe the Astros are way over the head, they have entered a very tough division in at least for this year, they have been sent to feed the other teams, maybe with the exception of Seattle.
I don’t know what’s going on, I wish I did, but when above average players put on the Angels’ uniform the quality of play seems to take a dive. Vernon Wells is the most glaring example. However in another great example is Fernando Rodney who received the Comeback Player of the Year award for his stellar performance this past season with the Tampa Bay Rays. Where was that Fernando Rodney when he was with the Angels? For that matter, the Vernon Wells that played in Toronto? It’s perplexing how good players don’t seem to flourish with this organization.

Yes, it’s hard to describe how I feel as an Angels’ fan right now, however the beautiful thing is for every sunset there is a sunrise. The problem is sometimes the key pieces that you see before you read before you go to sleep, and expect to be there when you wake up, are just not there. When the sun rises on the new season I hope that the right pieces are there, not only to compete, but to contend this upcoming season. Just like we as fans wait for the on the rise on the new upcoming season, the Angels must wake up from their delusional dream and realize that they are keeping the wrong pieces and letting the right pieces go.

-ICE

As a Birthday Wish, I Wish My Hundredth Post Was About the Angels in the Postseason

It’s hard to believe that this is my 100th post. Yes, it is my birthday tomorrow, for the last three years the birthday gift I have received from the Angels has been not so fun.

After the end of a regular season, it takes a while for a diehard fan like me to come to terms that your beloved team is not participating in the playoffs. It takes a well for one to digest the fact that it’s over for the year. There is a period of time that instead of critiquing, analyzing, and re-examining what went wrong, what could have been done better, and arguments of that nature; one has to take a step back and just think the team for the wonderful year that they put forth and thank the ownership and the organization for keeping this wonderful team in Anaheim. Last but certainly not least think the players for the wonderful effort, the ones whom despite a slow start to their hearts out towards the end in order to keep themselves in the mix for as long as they could. I have stated numerous times before that I rather see my team be eliminated in late September to early October rather than late July.

Now that the mushy stuff is over it’s time to get down to business. The first thing on the agenda is the free agents. The Halos must take advantage of the exclusive signing period and ink the following players in no particular order. They have re-signed our starting catcher Chris Iannetta in the last 24 hours to a three-year contract and I hope they take the same approach to the players they have yet to sign.

Torii Hunter

“Spiderman” belongs in an Angels’ uniform. He is the heart and soul this team and also has proven that he is a clutch type player. For the first time in his career he had a Batting Average of over .300. He deserves a ring, he needs to stay with the team that can contend for one. Hunter loves the Angels and the Angels’ fans love him. He has expressed desire to stay with the Angels. I hope the Angels’ organization takes notice and re-sign soon quickly. I would hate to see him go and sign with a team like the Texas Rangers who probably will need a replacement for Josh Hamilton. Just to see him hurt us, just like former Angels turned Rangers like Vladimir Guerrero, and Mike Napoli. My hope is that the Angels give Torii Hunter a two year contract with maybe a club option for a third. I don’t care how they do it, the bottom line is we must re-sign Torii Hunter!


Zack Greinke

Greinke has proven his worth. He was an uplifting force when the Angels’ starting rotation was struggling he proved to be a solid ace in his own right, and he is a nice complement behind Jared Weaver.

Dan Haren

I can hear the collective groans already, before you write him off, please hear me out. Dan Haren had a below average season for an above average pitcher. Although he is not a free agent, the Angels in my view must exercise a club option. Dan Haren had an injury plagued season. When healthy he is a viable option for the Angels rotation. And he is a less risky proposition compared to free agent pitchers that the Angels may sign for more money.

I know that there are free agents like Ervin Santana that I have yet to talk about, but I think for me the preceding are the centerpieces that must be re-signed.

With the off-season comes a lot of waiting, but also a lot of excitement. It’s a wait-and-see what our General Manager can pull out of his magic top hat to make this team a contender.

-ICE

The Angels Have Gone from Cranky to Greinke

Three days before the trade deadline and I find myself shocked yet again. I am not shocked that the Angels actually made a move before the trade deadline, I’m shocked as to how they did it. For those of you that read my previous entry you know that I humbly suggested that they take a shot at Zack Greinke. I postulated that it would take Peter Bourjos, Ervin Santana, and two or three draft picks and/or Minor Leaguers. Boy was I wrong, not about the Minor Leaguers; but about Ervin Santana and Peter Bourjos.

The Angels acquired Greinke from the Brewers in exchange for shortstop Jean Segura and Double-A pitchers Johnny Hellweg and Ariel Peña. I honestly thought the Halos would have paid a heavy a price as stated above, but Angels’ General Manager Jerry Dipoto has done it again, he brought Major League Baseball to a standstill when he signed Albert Pujols and now, Greinke.

I honestly have mixed feelings about this move on the one hand, I am excited; the addition of Zack Greinke has made the Angels’ starting rotation one of the most formidable rotations in all of baseball. On the other hand, Greinke is considered an “rent a player” he is a free agent at the end of the season and I hope the Angels have made the trade with realistic expectations of re-signing him. Greinke’s current status with the team concerns me very much.

The best part is that it makes the Angels even better than what has already talented team is, and it gives the Texas Rangers a serious threat to win the division. There was a high possibility that if the Angels did not sign Greinke that the Texas Rangers and that would have spelled disaster for the Angels hopes of capturing the American League West title.

There are wonderful things on the horizon for this Angels team. As a fan I can do nothing but sit back and enjoy the Angels have gone from being cranky because of the second-place position to the possibility of winning the American League West. Essentially they have gone from being cranky to Greinke. Go Angels!

-ICE

The Angels Have a “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going on”

 I purposely haven’t written about the shakeup in the Angels’ organization because I wanted to wait until some actionable maneuvers were made. Now that there are reports of the direction that the Angels want to go as an organization, I feel more comfortable writing down my thoughts on the subject. For this entry I want to focus specifically on the resignation of Tony Reagins and the changes in the General Manager position.

According to multiple news reports the Angels are set to interview Kim Ng. Ng, is a former Assistant General Manager with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Metropolitans. If hired by the Angels she would be the first female General Manager in any major sports franchise in the United States. I strongly believe however, that the sports media is making a bigger deal of this event than it actually is. Would I love if the Angels were to hire her from a social standpoint? Sure, I would love for my beloved team to go down in history as not only having the first person of color as an owner in all of Major League Baseball but also the first female General Manager as well. The Angels would definitely go down in history as true trailblazers in professional sports.

As a fan I look at the situation from a more pragmatic point of view. Ideally I would like someone who would better fit what the Angels’ organization needs. ESPN’s Angels beat writer Mark Saxon argues that the Angels need to hire Ng because she is fiscally conservative and will keep the team from making a bad financial decision that may set them back for years and I would add to that may be several decades. However, I personally don’t think that the Angels need a fiscal conservative as General Manager, what they really need is someone who is able to make smart decisions in order to improve the team and not necessarily save the team money.

I believe the Angels would be better served with someone with a bit more tangible experience someone like a Billy Beane; someone with a proven history, a body of work, not someone who has potential like Ng who I am sure would make a great General Manager for a team that fits her mold and that she fits with the team as well. In my opinion,  the Angels are just not the right team for her talents right now. The Angels have made poor contract decisions as of late, highlighted by the questionable contract acquisition of Vernon Wells and the way they handled the contract of Gary Matthews Junior. That does not in my view equate to the need for the team to be fiscally conservative.

The Angels have also made a few more key changes in the front office, truth be told, I don’t know if all these changes help the team make the playoffs next year, but one thing is unequivocally true the team is in need of change, I’m glad that the organization has been able to recognize that change is needed.

-ICE

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