Results tagged ‘ Jason Vargas ’

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

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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
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http://angels.mlblogs.com/2012/12/07/youre-a-mean-one-mr-grinch

Trying to Fix a Dim Halo

With a little under one hour before the 2013 MLB non-waiver trade deadline, at 1 PM Pacific time, I’m curious to see what the Angels are going to do with his underachieving team. Last night they traded Alberto Callaspo to the A’s for Minor League infielder Grant Green during the game. The Halos also traded relief pitcher Scott Downs. In a different transaction. It is apparent that the Angels have become strategic Sellers. They don’t want to move any major pieces because they still want to remain competitive for the 2014 season. Essentially they are retooling to the extent that they can. Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar as of now, are still on the trading block

The Angels lost the first two games against the Texas Rangers in the most painful way possible back-to-back walk-off home runs. The most painful loss to me was the first game, the Angels blew a 3-0 lead and ultimately lost 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning.

I cannot underscore how important these series against the Athletics and the Rangers were. This proves yet again that pitching is the key to a successful season. Ryan Madson has yet to play an inning, Joe Blanton has not been a good fit and has been utterly useless, Jason Vargas and Weaver have had stints on the disabled list during crucial parts of the season. I’m not going to rehash the bad personnel moves that the Angels have made recently, the disparity between this team’s talent and their on-field results has frankly left me speechless.

-ICE

Stomper Is Ahead of the Rally Monkey on the Score Cards

Baseball is a lot like boxing, the longer a fight goes, the later rounds become exponentially important. The American League West division race is much like a boxing match, especially the second half of the season where less than half the games are left. I mentioned in a previous entry a strong start coming out of the All-Star break would be especially important for the Angels. I said that numbers now matter.

The Angels started off strong by taking two of three from the Oakland A’s, the Halos needed to sweep the A’s in Anaheim and in Oakland in my opinion, in order to make any sort of meaningful progress in the division race. After losing ground by dropping the last game of the series against the A’s at Angel Stadium, then the Angels dropped two out of three against the Minnesota Twins. To add to the problem, the Angels have lost two out of four in the current series against Oakland at the Oakland Coliseum. The best they can hope for is a series split by winning tomorrow’s game.

Yes, baseball can be like a boxing match at times, it is quite possible that the Angels will receive a knockout blow by possibly losing Albert Pujols for the rest of the season due to his ongoing condition of plantar fasciitis. He left Oakland and returned to Southern California in order for doctors to run more tests, dare I say it doesn’t look good. He may have to go on the Disabled List for the rest of the season.

I can’t help but question the thought process that led to the poor handling of the situation. The team knew that this injury would be an ongoing problem; they should have rested number five, early during the start of the season. I realize he is a competitor, but I also realize that the Angels have invested a lot of money into his contract for him only to be able to play at half strength. The Angels knew that they would meet him late in the stretch run, and I question why they didn’t act accordingly. Now because of what I consider to be a poor decision, the team and their fan base are suffering the consequences.

I do realize that the Angels have their share of injuries, mainly Jason Vargas, however Albert is a big part of the Angels’ future plans and the team is not acting like it. I take solace in that history can repeat itself. The Halos must ironically take a page out of last year’s Oakland A’s playbook. If I recall, the Oakland A’s were in a similar position this time last year and won the division championship. At the very least the Angels must concentrate on winning one of the two wild-card spots and make a playoff push that way. They did that in 2002, and we all know what resulted. The Angels have the championship pedigree, but like any true champion they must come back in the later rounds and when the fight.

-ICE

Related Articles: http://angels.mlblogs.com/2013/07/13/the-symphony-of-the-numbers-game
http://angels.mlblogs.com/2013/04/12/stomper-mercilessly-stomps-out-the-rally-monkey-then-swept-him-away
http://www.latimes.com/sports/sportsnow/la-sp-sn-angels-albert-pujols-aggravates-foot-injury-20130727,0,612262.story

Update: Albert Pujols will likely miss the rest of the 2013 season

http://www.latimes.com/sports/baseball/mlb/angels/la-sp-0729-angels-athletics-20130729,0,4351670.story

Keep the “Trum-Bombs” Coming

Mark Trumbo, the “Trum-bomber” has launched the home run bomb in six of the last nine games; this is the sole positive that the Angels have this season. I know that in an earlier entry I mentioned that the team had tuned out Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia. However, I’m beginning to think that the problem is not Mike Scioscia, but Jerry Dipoto; the Angels’ General Manager, he was quoted on May 8, 2013 in the Los Angeles Times:

“There is no move to make,” “Our best talent, our best team, is here. There really isn’t a quick fix, a magic bullet, a singular player move you can make that would turn things around. The best thing we can do is show up today and play hard.”

Mr. DiPoto, lifelong Angels’ fans like myself, and especially season-ticket holders who spend their hard-earned money on this team deserve a better explanation than that. Yes, there is no quick solution, on the other hand, at least own and admit your mistakes.

Mistake number one: Ryan Madson, a player coming off arguably risky Tommy John surgery, He yet has to play an inning for the Angels; at times these players don’t really recover, yet you decided to give him a contract.

Mistake number two: you used money that was earmarked for re-singing Zack Greinke, to sign Josh Hamilton, instead of using that money to upgrade pitching which includes the bullpen. This is an area of need that the Angels have had for the last two years, yet, you do-nothing of meaning to improve this glaring weakness.

Mistake number three (which is closely related to mistake number two): you traded Kendrys Morales, a power hitter whom the Angels’ farm system developed, for an average pitcher Jason Vargas. A smart move would have been to keep Morales and go after a few above average pitchers using the money that was earmarked. What you did is replace Morales with Hamilton, a player who may have more name recognition but can’t hit the inside fastball which was one of my concerns when you gave him a contract.

Mistake number four: Joe Blanton: 0-6, a pitcher that clearly does not fit in the Angels’ system. The Halos’ offensive production is negated by the poor pitching performance of the entire pitching staff, a pitching staff, which you are ultimately responsible for putting together. Please remind me why you decided not to re-sign Dan Haren? Picking up his option is a better decision than signing Joe Blanton. Haren may not be the player he used to be, but he sure a better player than Joe Blanton at this point.

The Halos have the talent that they need to succeed, but it needs to be managed better, the front office needs to make better decisions. Until then, for the foreseeable future let’s keep the “Trum-bombs” coming.

-ICE

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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/2012/12/21/the-halo-is-removed-the-cuban-missile-is-disarmed-and-moved
http://angels.mlblogs.com/2012/12/13/josh-hamilton-trades-in-his-cowboy-hat-for-a-halo

Look at the Pretty, Shiny Red Diamond

It is finally Opening Day! The day that every baseball fan awaits with excitement and anticipation of the season that has yet to be. I am no exception. As of noon tomorrow Pacific daylight Time I will be unavailable to the rest of the known world for about four hours, why? I will be entranced by the sheer beauty that is the baseball diamond, the crown jewel of all jewels; the only jewel that outshines all others.

The opening Day roster, the players who have received their major league Halo include: Pitcher Mark Lowe, Infielder Brendan Harris, and outfielder J. B. Shuck. Luis Jimenez, David Carpenter, John Hester, and Kole Calhoun have all been sent to the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate the Salt Lake City Bees, Ryan Madson and Andrew Taylor have been added to the 15 Day Disabled List, retroactive to March 22.

Coming out of spring training, this team still has one glaring concern; the starting pitching. Jason Vargas gave Up seven runs to the Dodgers in the middle game of the preseason Freeway Series. If the Angels do not remedy this soon, it’s going to be a long season for the Angels and their fan base. As I mentioned before, it doesn’t do any good for a team to have a potent offense if the pitching staff can’t hold any leads. The games are for real now, the meaningless exhibition season is gone; this is where it all begins. If the Angels don’t get a good start out of the gate it doesn’t matter how well they do the rest of the season, if they create too much of a deficit; it is very easily going to be a repeat showing of last season.

With that said, to me Opening Day represents optimism; and as such, I’m not going to focus on things this team needs to fix. Rather, I’m going to continue to enjoy the beautiful hypnotic enchantment that is provided by the beauty of the baseball diamond.

-ICE

I Don’t Want Peanuts or CrackerJacks, Give Me the Baseball Glove and the Baseball Bat

Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Mike Trout speak to the media at Angels Spring Training. (Photograph Credit: Major League Baseball, http://www.Angels.com)

Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Mike Trout speak to the media at Angels Spring Training. (Photograph Credit: Major League Baseball, http://www.Angels.com)

The smell of freshly cut grass is in the air, the wet color of red clay that distinctly characterizes the infield and the warning track igniting the dreams of baseball fans around the major leagues and the world. The fire that warms the soul fueled by the flames of excitement. The core element that is part of the foundation of every baseball fan. Indeed, this is the year that their respective team wins the World Series.

For this Angels’ fan, the feeling is no different, opening day is but a few short weeks away and in 2013 the Angels organization as well as their fan base has high expectations. No, I’m not talking about those bandwagon fans whose members seem to thankfully decrease with every passing season; I’m talking about diehard fans like myself who weren’t even aware that a bandwagon existed. You see, before Matsuiland, ToriiTown or even the Trout Farm, existed Wally World. I am lucky enough to have experienced one World Series championship in my lifetime but certainly I am yearning for more.

The Angels have no shortage of talent in recent years, this off-season they have added Josh Hamilton, Jason Vargas, Tommy Hanson, Joe Blanton, and Ryan Madson just to name a few. The Angels had no shortage of offensive firepower last year however; both the starting rotation and bullpen were disastrous it was my contention this off-season that not exercising Dan Haren’s option for the 2013 season was a mistake. He had an off year and he wasn’t completely healthy. It has yet to be seen if both Blanton and Hanson can shore up their less than stellar starting rotation from a year ago.

I shy away from making any predictions prior to the start of Spring Training; I usually wait until the first few games of the preseason are played. It’s way too early to get into a discussion about end of the season standings and postseason appearances, for now I am just longing to hear the roar of the crowd the crack of the bat, and the slap of the ball against a leather baseball glove.

-ICE

The Halo Is Removed, the Cuban Missile Is Disarmed and Moved

Kendrys Morales, “The Cuban Missile” has been moved from his launching pad at home plate in Angel Stadium to a new platform constructed just for him atop the Space Needle in Seattle. Morales was traded to the Seattle Mariners recently for Jason Vargas. Yes indeed, the Angels were a need of pitching, and although both players are in the last year of their contract, I for one am not comfortable with this trade.

I’m not convinced that he should’ve been traded within the American League West. I’m not a big fan of trading within the division, it is quite possible that he may become known as an “Angels Killer” similar to Vladimir Guerrero and Mike Napoli did when they were both with the Texas Rangers. Trading Morales severely limits the Angels’ flexibility at first base. For example, Mark Trumbo is interchangeable between First Base, the Outfield, and the Designated Hitter position. While both Kendrys Morales and Albert Pujols are interchangeable between the Designated Hitter and the first base positions. It was supposed to be this ability to mix and match coupled with the acquisition of Josh Hamilton that would’ve made the Angels a potent offensive lineup.

With Morales no longer in the picture that ability is now gone. This leaves the door wide open for Vernon Wells to infiltrate the Angels’ lineup as a Designated Hitter from time to time. Wells in my mind has really become a non-factor and is more of a hindrance than an asset to the Angels.

I understand that the Angels need pitching badly, but it seems they have gone away from developing a good farm system so they don’t have to trade valuable assets like Morales. We all know the names: Francisco “K.-Rod” Rodriguez, Troy Percival, Jared Weaver, among others. Our farm system is depleted, at what point do we start reloading it? Morales was an in-house product, had our farm system been developed; we wouldn’t need to trade such a wonderful talent.

Who knows, Vargas may work out, the question remains whether this particular way of the Angels doing business will be sustainable for the long-term ability to contend for multiple World Series championships.

-ICE

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