Results tagged ‘ Jered Weaver ’

Who Needs a Yule Log, When One Has a Hot Stove

I am back wearing my Christmas halo, my microphone broke since my last post, and it’s taken me a while to find a compatible microphone for my voice recognition software. It’s good to put the metaphorical pen to paper again; or in this case microphone to word processor.

Regrettably it’s been a few months so there’s a lot to cover, it’s the holiday season, and because time is limited; for this entry I’m just going to cover the highlights of the off-season that stood out to me. I will expand on the rest of the activity that I don’t cover in this entry at a later date.

On November 12, 2015, the Angels acquired shortstop Andrelton Simmons and catcher Jose Briceno in a trade for fan favorite, Erick Aybar, promising young pitcher Sean Newcomb along with another pitcher Christopher Ellis. Yes, Simmons can be considered a young phenom, the way he flashes the baseball glove is eye-catching, definitely highlight reel material. However, I worry that his handling of the baseball bat isn’t up to par. Simmons may have a longer contract then Erick Aybar, but Erick is a solid defender in his own right, he is more patient than Simmons, he is a clutch switch hitter, and is less likely to pop the ball up in a crucial situation; something that Simmons is prone to do.

The price paid for the acquisition of Simmons is a little steep for my taste, not only did we lose Erick Aybar but the Angels also lost Sean Newcomb. Newcomb is a promising young pitcher, so much in fact that Angels’ fans were wondering whether he was ready to join the pitching staff at the major-league level late last season, although he was not ready, he was very close; and with the Angels’ farm system being as thin as it is in my opinion the trade hurts the Angels more than it helps. While I agree that minor-league prospects don’t always pan out, the Angels need Newcomb, not only because as the old saying goes “you can never have enough pitching”, but also because the Angels pitching staff is on shaky ground as it is, and to count on Weaver or Wilson to carry the pitching staff is simply not realistic anymore, thus, magnifying the need for Newcomb.

The Angels are not only in trouble for what they have done, but they are also in murky waters for what they haven’t done. Earlier this week, Angels’ owner Arturo Moreno was quoted in the local paper stating that it was unlikely that the Angels would pursue a big name free agent outfielder. I have a few issues with that, first the big question is what is this team going to do in left field? The Angels haven’t had a solid left field presence since Garret Anderson. Shall I go down the list? First, on the list is Hideki Matsui, who joined the team when he was well past his prime. Vernon Wells, big contract, little to no results. Josh Hamilton, more of the same the only difference is that the Halos are still paying for him to play for the division rival Texas Rangers. Yes I know I neglected to mention Bobby Abreu; this is due to the simple reason that I feel that unlike the players previously mentioned Bobby did contribute substantially to the Angels and shouldn’t be lumped with the aforementioned group of players.

Second, the Angels need to come up with a long-term strategic plan, cross the luxury tax threshold and responsibly sign a big-name free agent like Yoenis Céspedes to plug the gaping hole in left field, or hold on to promising prospects like Newcomb and forgo players like Simmons. It’s impossible to have it both ways.

The Angels complicated matters further by trading away another promising pitcher to the Washington Nationals. Trevor Gott for Yunel Escobar, who is not a very impressive third baseman defensively, he is a natural shortstop. Here again the Angels are giving up a young hard throwing right-hander, for a questionable third baseman. The Halos in my opinion would be better off re-signing David Freese to a contract in order to resolve the issue at third base.

I would stop short of saying that the Halos’ hot stove is burning hot, it’s more like lukewarm. However it can definitely get considerably hotter. All that needs to be done is for ownership and the front office have to decide which direction they want to go, and commit to going in that direction. For a team that has drawn 3,000,000 fans for more than a decade, the very least Angels’ fans deserve is a clear commitment from ownership and the front office whenever direction they decide to go.

Merry Christmas, and happy holidays and a happy new year!

-ICE

Like Mike, If I Could Be Like Mike

In all sports there are athletes, and there are phenoms, a phenom is that special player that takes his or her respective sport by storm and immediately makes an impact. Mike Trout is indeed a phenom. On April 17, 2015 Trout became the youngest player in Major League Baseball history to reach 100 home runs in 100 stolen bases. I am reminded of a song in an advertisement back in 1991 by Gatorade, a commercial that featured Michael Jordan shortly after the Chicago Bulls beat my Lakers; as the Chicago Bulls captured their first ever NBA title. The jingle went something like this:

“Sometimes I dream
That he is me
You’ve got to see that’s how I dream to be
I dream I move, I dream I groove
Like Mike
If I could Be Like Mike”

Mike Trout could be considered by many, as this generations’ “Mike” this young 23-year-old has brought excitement to the Halos’ franchise. Children of my generation idolized Michael Jordan, I imagine that young baseball players idolize Mike Trout.

After taking two of three from the Mariners, being swept by the Royals, and taking two of three from the Rangers; the Angels are positioning themselves to take two of three from the Astros with a win tomorrow. Garrett Richards makes his return to the Angels’ starting rotation after suffering a season-ending ankle injury last year. I am anxiously awaiting his return especially after a shaky start by Weaver and Wilson. Aside from the sweep by the Kansas City Royals the Angels have started this season well. Hopefully the addition of Richards can greatly improve this team.

As the Halos make their way home after tomorrow’s game, I can’t help but wonder what other milestones and achievements will Angels’ fans be witness to, this season?

-ICE

The Angels Draw a King from the American League Wild Card Deck

The matchup for the American League Division Series is set. The Angels are set to square off against the Kansas City Royals. Kansas City won the American League wild card by defeating the Oakland Athletics in a game that will go down as one of the most exciting wild-card games in Major League Baseball history. The score was 9 to 8 in 12 innings. A hard fought victory for the right to face a celestial juggernaut in the Angels.

The Royals’ speed on the base paths last night was impressive. In a five-game series it’s going to be interesting to see how the Angels deal with said speed. The Angels however, play as a team and it’s going to be hard for the Royals to contend with the Angels bullpen and the Angels’ offensive prowess.

Game one is a golden opportunity for the Angels, with Kansas City using James Shields for the wild-card game, compile that with the Royals coming off a 12 inning battle with the Athletics; there is less pressure on Weaver. This series is truly going to hinge on whether or not C. J. Wilson can pitch a good game and whether or not Angels’ rookie Matt Shoemaker can handle the postseason pressure. Ideally if they can sweep the Royals in three games the Angels rotation problems would be minimized.

It’s going to be a fun series, will the Angels fly high? Or will a Kansas City King be crowned? In a five-game series anything is possible, but I sincerely hope that the hunt for red October continues, I’m definitely ready to get my red on! Please check back for Angels postseason entries.

-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

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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
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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

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

Stomper Mercilessly Stomps out the Rally Monkey Then Swept Him Away

The American League West Slugfest:

Stomper (Photograph Credit: HTTP://www.athletics.com)

Stomper (Photograph Credit: http://www.athletics.com)

Versus

The Rally Monkey (Photograph Credit: HTTP://www.Angels.com)

The Rally Monkey (Photograph Credit: http://www.Angels.com)

“It’ll be okay, we’ll get them tomorrow”. Those were the consoling words of a beautiful young usher as I was leading the deflated Angels’ fan base out of the front gates of Angel Stadium on Wednesday night. Tomorrow never came, the Angels were swept by the Oakland Athletics with a game one score of 9-5 a game two score of 11-5 and finally a game three score of 8-1.

First and foremost taking nothing away from the Oakland A’s, I tip my cap, they were the better team in the series and deserved to win. Second, I must thank the Oakland A’s for bringing to light to the rest of the world what diehard fans already know, the Angels are in trouble.

No matter where one looks, the starting rotation, the bullpen, or the offensive production there are many things to improve. Some will say that the Angels’ misfortunes are due to injury, but let me be realistic, Weaver’s injury was of zero impact for this series because his spot was not scheduled to be due up against the Oakland A’s. Ryan Madson is recovering from Tommy John surgery, although he is progressing nicely, it will still be quite a while before he can contribute to the team in any major capacity.

In previous entries, I questioned the Angels organizations personnel decisions. My concerns are coming true. I questioned the Angels decision not to extend a qualifying offer to Torii Hunter, now the Angels lack a legitimate number two hitter which they have tried to patch up with moving Mike Trout to the number two spot, consequently they now lack a legitimate leadoff hitter. What logic is there in the giving a contract to a pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery, a surgery which not all pitchers recover from; and not giving Dan Haren his club option? Dan Haren was also coming off an injury plagued year, but he wasn’t coming off Tommy John surgery, he could have made an immediate impact. This way of thinking doesn’t make sense to me, especially given the history of Angels’ pitching the last three years. The Angels don’t have the luxury to experiment and hope for the best. As I mentioned before, it’s not satisfactory to the Angels’ fan base for this team to compete, they must contend.

I am a strong believer that coaches in any sport have a lifespan if and only if they don’t evolve in their coaching techniques, methods, and application. When a coach evolves, it allows them to keep their players attention, by keeping things fresh and innovative; players are less likely to tune a coach out. Unfortunately, I think this is what’s happened to Mike Scioscia, he hasn’t evolved, and the players have tuned him out. The Halos are very talented, but there shouldn’t be any reason why they’re not producing and winning.

Yes, this team has a lot to work on, they need to figure themselves out extremely quickly or they are doomed to repeat the unsatisfactory season of a year ago. The good news is that there are 16 meetings left between the Oakland Athletics and the Angels, 16 meetings to avenge a sweep at home that hasn’t happened since the year 2000. I must admit the Angels got stomped on by a white elephant, however the Rally Monkey will rally, that’s his nature; Stomper better be ready when the next rounds come about. This was only the first three rounds of the 19 round American League West slugfest. Go Angels!

-ICE

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Are the Angels the Team Where Superstars Go to Supernova?

What constitutes beauty in sports? Is it a winning streak? Is it the underdog coming from behind to beat their heavily favored opponent? Or is it the team that was expected to be irrelevant during a given season, beating the odds to raise the championship trophy in their respective sport? One can ponder these questions all day and still not come up with answers.

Questions that one may never find the answers to, this concept can be aptly applied to how I feel about the Angels so far this season. They dropped two out of three in Arlington, to make matters worse Jered Weaver fell victim to an injury, suffering an elbow strain by landing awkwardly on it; in an effort to avoid a ball that was coming towards him.

Weaver’s injury

Albert Pujols has what amounts to be an inflamed heal which makes it hard for him to change speeds while running. This is an injury he is dealt with most of his career, however this is the first year it has affected him this early in the season. Josh Hamilton is making my worst fears come true, as I mentioned in previous entries, I am afraid of his inability to hit the inside fastball, a fear which unfortunately is coming true; through the first five games of the season he has gone 1 for 20 with 10 strikeouts.

Are the Angels snake bitten? It seems that every time a bona fide star comes to the team they go through a sharp decline in which a player is unable to return to his former glory. A clear example of this is Vernon Wells, are Pujols and Hamilton next?

There are some positives coming out of the series with the Texas Rangers, the Home Runs; Albert Pujols hit two Home Runs in one game, Mark Trumbo and Peter Bourjos each contributed with a Home Run.

Tonight the Angels have an opportunity for a fresh start, as they face the Oakland Athletics in the Halos’ home opener. It is their opportunity to be impeccable, nearly perfect at home. Perhaps, this is the jumpstart they need to be successful this season.

-ICE

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Update: Weaver is out of the Angels’ pitching rotation 4-6 weeks with a broken elbow. This is very unfortunate. http://losangeles.angels.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130409&content_id=44305998&c_id=ana

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

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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