Results tagged ‘ Major League Baseball Realignment ’

“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

Star Wars: Red Matter and Blue Anti-Matter Collide

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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

Texas: “The Lone Halo State”

Texas: “The Lone Star Halo State”

With the first series of the season over, the Angels had a less than stellar performance, only winning one of three games. Yes, it is the first series of the season. Yes, the Angels had the distinction of being the first team in Major League Baseball history (along with the Cincinnati Reds) to play an interleague series in the first series of the season. Yes, it was in a National League ballpark with National League rules. Yes, the first series does not make a season.

Now that all possible explanations for the Angels’ poor performance have been stated, here’s the truth; the Angels have the best record overall when it comes to interleague play. They were in a hitter friendly ballpark in Cincinnati. There is no reason why the Angels shouldn’t be hitting the cover off the ball, in the series the Angels fell victim to 36 strikeouts and they left 27 men on base. These were the determining factors that led to the Angels downfall. The bullpen on the other hand was pleasantly surprising. I was especially impressed by Mark Lowe who kept the Angels afloat in the 13 inning marathon opening-day, if the bullpen stays solid and the hitters can find their groove, the Angels should be alright this season.

The Angels go to a hitter friendly ballpark in Arlington for the next series, a showdown with the Texas Rangers. Another hitter friendly ballpark, under American League rules which means an extra hitter, with the incorporation of the DH, no more pinch-hitting for the pitcher which should alleviate the taxing of the bench.

I hope with these different variables, the variables that the Halos are accustomed to; they can get back to form. They cannot have 36 strikeouts and 27 men left on base and expect to survive against a talented team like the Texas Rangers. Arlington Texas is in “The Lone Star State”, now with the incorporation of the Houston Astros into the American League West, the Angels will be traveling to Texas twice as much from this point forward and they must dominate the Texas teams on the road. The Angels must make sure that Texas is known to the baseball world as, Texas: “The Lone Star Halo State.”

-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

Halos, Elephants, Cowboys, Sailors, and Comets? I Personally Prefer a Rattlesnake over the Comet

The off-season brings about intrigue to a franchise; the Angels’ organization is no exception. There is a lot of uncertainty yet great anticipation of what was what is, and what can be. It’s also the time of year that my entries become less analytical and more based on my fan enthusiasm. This is where reflection, anticipation, and expectation converge.

I believe angels made a statement this past season, although they were eliminated from postseason participation this year, they were still able to make an impact. Jared Weaver was the runner-up to a 2011 American League CY Young Award, and Mark Trumbo was a runner up for the American League Rookie of the Year Award. Clearly this demonstrated to me that the Angels have the talent to be a championship caliber team they just lack if you pieces that need to be in place to reinforce an already talented team full of potential.

Potential is not always good, the team has to be developed said potential, in order to accomplish that. They must be crafty in the way they approach the transactions both made in the off-season and during the season. Angels’ General Manager, Jerry Dipoto was quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying that free agency was not the only option; the team has the option of improving and solidifying itself via trade as well. Let’s think about that for a second, on the one hand, I agree with him the Angels must stay away from bad contracts. Then why go after C. J. Wilson? The 31-year-old left-hander wants a six-year contract; let’s do the math this multimillion dollar contract would end when he is 36 years old. Isn’t that the essence of a bad contract?

If one is going to risk that much money why not go after Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder? At least in Pujols’ this case one is taking a similar risk but I think a reward would be much more likely. In the 2011 World Series, Wilson was a lackluster player who seemed to crumble under the bright lights of the fall classic. As opposed to Pujols who seemed to shine especially in game three and tied Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson for the most home runs in one game. Wilson reminds me a bit of Chone Figgins. Who is a great player during the regular season, but seems to wither away during the playoffs.

The winds of change are apparent in Major League Baseball, in the way of division realignment, it seems to be a done deal; the Houston Astros are coming to the American League West. Giving all divisions in Major League Baseball five teams.

I myself would rather see the Arizona Diamondbacks transfer over to the American League West simply because that would keep all the teams in the Pacific time zone; the Angels, the Athletics, and the Mariners, from traveling to time zones to face a division opponent, and the Rangers would go to the Pacific time zone something that they’re already accustomed to doing with the other three teams in division. This move would keep the American League West strong by adding a quality Baseball team like the Diamondbacks, and not give them the East Coast pundits one more reason to downgrade the quality of baseball in the American League West. Let’s face it, the Astros don’t really help the American West solidified itself as a strong division, and with the exception of the Texas Rangers that he wasn’t Astros don’t really mean much, nor are they as strong attendance draw for the rest of the American League West. From a financial standpoint it doesn’t make sense to bring in a weak team into the division. I’m certainly not opposed to bringing a fifth franchise into the American League West. I do believe in balance, however let us bring in the team that strengthens the division while at the same time makes geographical sense, and does not put one team at an advantage over the other three teams in the division.

-ICE

Major League Baseball’s Christmas Is Finally Here

It appears that the Angels are finally coming around, taking two out of three from the Mariners and the first game yesterday against the New York Mets. The Rangers are finally starting to lose, giving the Halos an opportunity to capitalize on this reversal of fortune.

 

Joel Piñeiro received his 100th win of his career, one of many positive milestones that are happening for the Angels. The offense is finally beginning to at least warm up, and Vernon Wells is beginning to grow comfortable in an Angels’ uniform.

 

Inter-league play has always been kind to the Angels. They have the best overall record amongst all the teams in Major league baseball in inter-league play, and yesterday’s performance against the New York Mets was not the exception. After three games against the New York Mets, they go on to play the Florida Marlins in Miami, the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, they come home to host the Washington Nationals, and finish inter-league play against the Dodgers at Angel Stadium.

 

Over the years I have stated that inter-league play is my favorite time of year of the Major League Baseball calendar, and I must say that continues to be the case. It has a special flair, flavor, atmosphere, that cannot be matched, even with the proposed realignment being talked about in baseball circles, I don’t believe that inter-league play will lose its flair one bit. Remember regardless of how many times the American League faces the National League; the results of inter-league play doesn’t have a direct effect on how each league shapes up at the end of the season other than an indirect effect by virtue of the win-loss record, Major League Baseball doesn’t factor in head-to-head match-ups between each respective league when it comes to playoff positioning.

 

Inter-league play is a fun way to measure how a prospective team from each league measures up against another team, a World Series preview, what would happen if the Angels were ever to meet the Dodgers in a World Series featuring the Freeway Series?

 

Inter-league play is one of my favorite things to write, about lucky for me the Angels flourish in inter-league play; hopefully during this wonderful part of the season the Angels can take advantage of a clear strength, to overtake the Texas Rangers and ultimately win the American League West Championship.

 

-ICE

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