Results tagged ‘ Lead-off Hitter ’

“Houston, We Have a Problem”

After a sweep of the Seattle Mariners and the Kansas City Royals as part of an eight-game win streak, and when it all seemed to finally becoming together, the cruel hand of reality Has once again grounded this underachieving Angels team.

They were swept by the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in the first half of the Freeway series, when the scenery switched back to Angel Stadium for the second half of the Freeway series; the Angels swept the Dodgers thereby increasing their domination over the Dodgers at Angel Stadium to 13-6 the best home record against any one team in all of Major League Baseball since the inception of inter-league play in the regular-season. After that, they were swept by the Astros, and then split the two-game series versus the Cubs, resulting in a 3-5 home stand.

How does one make it to the World Series? The formula is pretty simple, win home series, try to win at least half of the road series, and finally and I believe most importantly, defeat the teams in your own division. Unfortunately the Angels have not been able to use this formula to their advantage despite the plethora of talent on this roster.

The series’ that the Halos have been able to win has been minimal, and their division record has not been very good. This has especially been the case with the Houston Astros, the Angels are 3-6 this season against the Astros. When the Astros joined the American League West in the beginning of this year as part of Major League Baseball realignment, the powerhouses in the division principally the Angels, the Athletics, and the Rangers were widely expected to feast on the Astros in order to bolster their overall record and improve their chances of making the postseason. Two of the three teams mentioned have taken advantage of this circumstance and for reasons I cannot explain, the Angels are not one of those teams.

The Halos have the talent, but Mike Scioscia in my opinion refuses to explore new options other than what he believes to be the road to victory. At this point of the season if the formula does not work Mr. Scioscia, then you must change it!

Here are a few suggestions, move Mike Trout to the leadoff spot, put Josh Hamilton second so he can see more fastballs with Albert Pujols hitting behind him. Similar to the way Torii Hunter was used last year, this strategy increased Hunter’s production, so much so that the Detroit Tigers are utilizing him in the same manner.

The second step, is to take advantage of base running pressure, one can do this by putting Peter Bourjos (when he comes off the disabled list) or J. B. Schuck and Erick Aybar in the eight and nine hole respectively; that way the Halos have speed on the bases so when the lineup turns over, the power hitters can take advantage of the opposing pitchers being off balance. In effect playing what Scioscia was so successful at one time, small ball. The Angels’ speedsters must be allowed to take calculated risks and steel more bases than they currently are. The worse that could happen is they lose the game, but aren’t they already doing that? So they have nothing to lose except keeping the opposing team off balance.

The Angels have a steep mountain to climb, I still hold out hope that they can do it. If they are indeed unsuccessful and don’t make the playoffs this year, I sincerely hope that the right changes are made, in order for this team to take advantage of the spectacular superstar talent they have on this roster. What solutions would you propose for this team?

-ICE

The Angels Use the Home Run Boom to Dodge the Broom

The Angels avoided the sweep by the Oakland Athletics with the Home Run ball. As unbelievable as it may seem the Angels are off to an even worse start than they were last year. Many, including myself didn’t believe that was possible. What’s wrong? It starts with the Angels’ pitching, both the starting rotation and bullpen. The Halos can’t hold a lead. Their team ERA is currently 4.91 this is the source of the Angels inability to succeed at this point of the season. Despite 19 runs scored in the series including seven Home Runs by the Angels’ offense.

Sure, the Angels have a plethora of players on the disabled list, but it’s not like this team hasn’t been competitive. The pitching staff at the very least should be able to take advantage of the offensive production and keep afloat during games. Hanson and Blanton have been especially disappointing.

Given the circumstances how do the Angels stay afloat? Well, aside from the fact that they need to get better pitching which is very difficult to do right now, since their farm system is relatively dry. I believe they can offset the pitching staff’s poor performance by increasing base-running pressure that historically has been the Angels’ trademark. Mike Trout needs to return to the lead-off spot, that will allow him to steal bases more often. the Angels can put pressure on the base paths, that in turn puts the opposing pitcher on his toes, consequently making it more likely for the pitcher to make a mistake thus, increasing the likelihood of pitching mistakes which the offense can then take advantage of in order to offset the pitching staff’s shortcomings; essentially temporarily creating defense by creating offensive production and pressure. The Angels are simply not taking advantage of their speed right now, which is unfortunate.

I’m sure Arturo Moreno is quite frustrated, I also share his frustration. The lone bright spot is Mark Trumbo who homered in all three games in the Oakland series and two of four games played against the Baltimore Orioles.

The Angels are waiting for their players to come off the disabled list, the question then becomes can the Angels contend once they are at full strength? Unless Josh Hamilton improves his overall performance and the Angels do something major to improve the overall pitching performance, given the way this team is currently constructed; the answer is unfortunately no.

The proof? The Angels have played 10 series so far, and only won 2; they are 2-8 in series this season. They swept the Detroit Tigers and won two out of three against the Houston Astros.

It is my hope that the Angels find themselves, compete and contend to their potential and ability, one thing remains true no, matter what happens; I will always be a diehard Angels’ fanatic. There will be brighter days ahead. Go Angels!

-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

Related Articles: http://angels.mlblogs.com/2012/10/06/as-a-birthday-wish-i-wish-my-hundredth-post-was-about-the-angels-in-the-postseason
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/2012/12/07/youre-a-mean-one-mr-grinch
http://angels.mlblogs.com/2012/11/17/the-sky-is-always-darkest-before-the-dawn
http://angels.mlblogs.com/2012/11/04/waiting-for-the-sun-to-rise
http://angels.mlblogs.com/2012/12/13/josh-hamilton-trades-in-his-cowboy-hat-for-a-halo

6-14, World Series déjà vu from 2002?

There is not a lot to say tonight, the Angels lost again. The Angels now have an identical record as they did in 2002 when they won the World Series. With a couple of key differences, they have much more talent than they did in 2002 mainly Albert Pujols, Torii Hunter, and Mark Trumbo among others.

Heads are starting to roll; Bobby Abreu was released by the Angels today, and Mike Trout was called up to take his place. The 38-year-old two-time All-Star had been relegated to part-time duty and was batting .208 in 24 at-bats. He is a lifetime .293 hitter with 2,389 hits, 557 doubles, 284 home runs, 1,330 RBI and 393 stolen bases. He has played for Houston, Philadelphia, the Yankees and the Angels.

With a call up of Mike Trout, Peter Bourjos seems to be the odd man out. As I mentioned in my previous entry, with Trout the Angels don’t lose anything defensively; and they gain a better bat. If Trout bats lead-off in the position it might be the spark that Angels need to turn their season around.

-ICE

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