Results tagged ‘ Major League Baseball Winter Meetings ’
The off-season is upon us, in the game of baseball the winter can be just as exciting as the regular season. There are many exciting aspects about the off-season, the hot stove, where free agents and franchises look to come together mutually to fill vacancies; and the winter meetings, where franchises seek to make a noteworthy splash in the market. Am I disappointed? Yes, but I can’t say that I’m upset over the Angels’ performance this past season, every team’s goal is to make it to the World Series however, in the end, as always one team stands and 29 others go home.
The Angels made a valiant effort at a playoff run; they fell out of contention after game 158 on September 27, 2017. As I have mentioned before I rather see this team fall out of contention late in the season and not well before the All-Star break.
If this team is healthy with a few additions the Halos can not only compete for a postseason spot but they can also contend. If things go well, they can possibly even make it to the World Series; First and foremost they have the best player in all of Major League Baseball today, Mike Trout, and Albert Pujols, when healthy, can still strike fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers. Justin Upton recently signed a contract extension, which gives the Angels a solid bat behind Trout and a permanent left fielder. When one adds the two Gold Gloves at shortstop and catcher for 2017 one has a pretty solid foundation.
With a strong foundation already established, the Angels could use a few upgrades on the roster, so far the speculation points to third baseman Mike Moustakas as the prime candidate to fulfill this need for the Angels. The former Kansas City Royal has power, and he might be just what the Angels need to get over the hump. However, for now this is pure speculation and all this of course is contingent on the Angels starting rotation and for that matter the pitching staff as a whole , staying healthy. As the Angels entire pitching staff was decimated and the starting rotation in particular was crippled this past season.
The off-season brings a lot of big hopes and dreams to every fan no matter which team one chooses to root for. It’s a reset button that every team looks forward to pressing, even the successful teams in the previous season. The off-season can be a two-sided coin it can bring joy and/or pain. It all depends how the coin we call the off-season lands.
After a long involuntary absence, The Angels’ Ace is back on the pitching mound ready to throw more fireballs. The motherboard of my laptop went out. So I have been unable to write for a couple of months now, months of agony, it’s very difficult to program another computer to recognize voice recognition now that my motherboard is repaired and I am back in business!
Given that the flash player produces snow on the MLBblogs website this time of year. I decided to write a holiday themed post, I will be discussing Halo gifts received (awards) and the Halo gifts exchanged (trades) then I will discuss my letter to Santa Claus hopefully there will be gifts waiting for me under the Angels tree this year.
“This is so exciting, which gift shall I open First?”
Let me start with the obvious one, congratulations to Mike Trout for winning the 2014 American League Most Valuable Player award. After two years straight of being a runner-up for this award he finally gets it. I guess the third time is the charm.
Speaking of runner-ups congratulations to Matt Shumaker for being the American League Rookie of the Year runner-up, the committee did well in considering him. If it wasn’t for his performance, I don’t know what the result of this past season would have been. He saved the Angels’ season, and his contribution was definitely a critical one which allowed the Halos’ to claim the best record in Major League Baseball this past year.
If Garrett Richards’ season had not ended early, I believe he was a strong contender for the American League Cy Young Award.
The Winter Meetings for the Angels was largely uneventful in comparison to years past. Although none of their transactions were headline grabbers, I do want to concentrate on one transaction in particular, more specifically the Howie Kendrick trade to the Dodgers. The truth is I’ve never been in love with Kendrick’s bat, in fact my friend Shaun jokingly teases me saying that Kendrick is my favorite player. I’ve told him on numerous occasions that I simply want an upgrade at second base, especially during the postseason when Kendrick seems to leave his bat at home. However, I’ve always respected Kendrick’s defense, the Angels now have a gaping hole at second base defensively. I honestly think that Grant Green is definitely not the long-term answer.
Another transaction that I find intriguing is the acquisition of Matt Joyce from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for Kevin Jepsen the long-time reliever that was drafted by the Angels. I think Joyce can contribute immediately to the Angels’ organization and make the Halos better. What does this mean for C. J. Cron? Only time will tell.
Now for the wish list, of course Max Scherzer and James Shields are at the top of the list, but it’s unlikely that the Angels can make a run at either one. This team has been plagued with a history of bad contracts in recent years, another long-term contract is not what this team needs.
Part of the Christmas spirit is to be selfless, so Santa please give Josh Hamilton a hitting instructor for Christmas since he is far removed from his MVP season with the Texas Rangers.
Santa, I would like Jason Grilli, and Gordon Beckham back in an Angels’ uniform. They were the motor of this team this past season, and these two players would be good for the overall competitive spirit of the club.
The ultimate wish would be a World Series trophy this year, this is the one gift that all Angels’ fans can enjoy. This also would be the best way to spread holiday cheer that would last a lifetime. Happy “Halo”days!
This blog has truly become my sanctuary when talking about the Angels. I tend to write about this team’s successes, shortcomings, and my own personal reflections as a fan. It’s these types of entries that I enjoy writing about the most. They help me personally explore my own relationship to this team that always will have a special place in my heart.
The Angels have always had a special and ongoing rivalry with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who we locals call their Freeway series; referring to Interstate 5 which separates Anaheim and Los Angeles. All we have to do is travel north on Interstate 5 and 35 minutes later you’re there. (Barring any traffic, which almost never happens; traffic is a way of life here) in the American League West, the Angels have had an ongoing rivalry with the Oakland Athletics. For almost a decade the Halos and Elephants have exchanged American League West Championships, culminating in 2002 when the A’s won a major league record 20 games in a row and finished their season winning in American League West title; only to have the Angels capture the American League Wild-Card which eventually led them to win the 2002 World Series. Personally, the Athletics are the team that I will always love to hate a little bit more than the Rangers simply because of my time spent in the Bay Area during my college years as well as a trading of division titles during that decade.
This rivalry was temporarily put on hold however in 2010 and 2011 when the Texas Rangers won back-to-back American League West Championships. Both times they eventually reached the World Series themselves. This budding rivalry between these two teams have created an interesting dynamic in the American League West. As we are not battling solely during the season, but were now also battling during the off-season. As the Angels are trying to court CJ Wilson away from the Texas Rangers. This rivalry is starting to feel much more intense come not only because I over Wilson but also the various connections between our two franchises.
In addition to Wilson, I believe that genesis of this rivalry in my opinion began with the trade of Mike Napoli who eventually ended up with the Rangers. Any team that loses a excellent player to a division rival feels the pain, however this one stings a lot more because of the success that Napoli had in this past World Series. It’s interesting to see how this rivalry will develop in the future, especially if the Angels or able to pry CJ Wilson away from Texas. The Angels would be taking away the Ace of the Rangers. Which would probably leave a bad taste in Rangers’ fans collective mouth. For Angels’ fans, it would represent the ultimate coup and be a form of retribution for the loss of Mike Napoli to division rival.
Add to that a compounding factor, Rangers’ Executive Vice President, Nolan Ryan who is a very important part of Angels’ history. Many, myself included still consider him a valuable and vital part of the Angels family. He has never denied using dual career but the fact that he now is part owner of the Rangers, eats at your stomach.
It is these ongoing connections between these two franchises that makes this an important rivalry between these two teams. The fight over CJ Wilson personifies the evolution of what clearly has the potential to become a very intense rivalry between these two teams in the American League West. Whether it’s Wilson, Napoli or Ryan the Angels and Rangers have a bright and bitter rivalry to look forward to.
It seems like it’s going to be a busy off-season for bloggers like me, either one of two things have happened, either the Angels have been intensely reading my blog, or Jerry Dipoto is shaping up to be a very valuable magician pulling rabbits out of hats that I didn’t even know existed. I believe it’s the latter.
Today, Saturday, he traded Jeff Mathis a player who had virtually no trade value for Brad Mills of the Toronto Blue Jays. For those who read my blog regularly, I’ve been calling for the Angels to move Mathis in some way, shape, or form for a while now. The Jeff Mathis “error” (era) as most Angels’ fans call it is officially over. I prefer to call it an era simply because it’s a segment of history in Angels baseball that can’t be dismissed as an error. I prefer to call it the Mike Napoli/Jeff Mathis saga, because one can’t talk about one player without talking about the other, and it is how these players relate to each other that made an impact on Angels’ history.
When they were both still with the team, I myself questioned why Mike Scioscia opted to play Mathis over Napoli, yet I understood Mathis had virtually no trade value even then, at that time, the Angels were shopping Napoli around because the Angels needed an offensive constant. Mike Scioscia wanted Jeff Mathis to get acclimated with the team since the trade of Mike Napoli was a very probable one. Mike Napoli at the time was a very streaky hitter. He had the most trade value so it made sense to trade him away when the Angels acquired Vernon Wells, whether that was a good trade is a totally different story, but from a logical standpoint the Angels made the most logical move. Vernon Wells’ contract aside, the Angels felt that they were getting a much more consistent power hitter in Wells then Napoli. There was no way the Angels could’ve predicted that Wells would struggle in Anaheim his first year.
When Mike Napoli was traded to the Blue Jays, there was no way that the Angels could’ve foreseen that the Blue Jays would turn around and trade Napoli to the division rival, the Texas Rangers. Before I stir grumblings among Angels’ fans, let’s take a look at the situation with some perspective, there is only one main reason that Napoli had a career year in Texas and a stellar World Series; the Rangers home stadium.
Angel Stadium, “The Big A” is a bigger stadium in its dimensions compared to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.”The Big A” is a hitters park during the daytime, but becomes a pitchers park during night games. The ballpark in Texas has smaller dimensions than Angel Stadium couple that with the warmer temperatures in Arlington and the ball carries even for evening games. Thus, when one combines the warmer temperatures at night with the smaller ballpark it creates an artificially inflated statistic when it comes to power numbers such as Home Runs.
In my opinion that’s the case with Mike Napoli if he were still in an Angels uniform, Angels’ fans would still be complaining about how streaky of a hitter he is. I for one I’m just glad that the Angels’ organization came to their senses and trading away Jeff Mathis. If I had to pick between Mathis and Napoli of course I would’ve picked Napoli, who wouldn’t?
It’s important for Angels’ fans not to confuse the business and logic of the game with a passion for a team. As a fan, between the two; Mike Napoli is bar none the better choice, but from a business standpoint since Jeff Mathis had no trade value, it made sense to trade Napoli.
The Major League Baseball Winter Meetings begin this coming Monday; I have already received an early Christmas present, the Angels trading away Jeff Mathis. Ladies and gentlemen this is the magic that is the Christmas and holiday season, I can’t wait to see what magic Jerry Dipoto does next to make this truly a Winter Wonderland.
In my season finale blog I mentioned that I would stay quiet until the start of the regular season unless something big happened during the Major League Baseball winter meetings or at some point during the off-season. Unfortunately my computer broke and I was unable to write sooner than today.
Perhaps that was a blessing in disguise because instead of a knee-jerk reaction I have had a chance to reflect on the Angels off-season transactions or lack thereof.
Since the big-splash signings of Vladimir Guerrero, Bartolo Colon and Kelvim Escobar before 2004, the Angels have become the ugly fat kid that is always picked last if he take all due to his lack of athletic appeal, the Angels have ended up being the aforementioned fat kid in negotiations for Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, John Lackey, Chone Figgins and Paul Konerko and in trade talks for Roy Halladay and Miguel Cabrera.
Now the Angels can add Carl Crawford and Cliff Lee to that impressive list. According to sources cited in the Los Angeles Times the Angels were very competitive in the bidding for Crawford, the article goes on to say that it was a very hard decision for him. The reason he cited for Crawford signing with the Boston Red Sox was primarily because he wanted to stay in the American League East. If money wasn’t the issue what is it about the Angels’ organization that Major League Baseball players find unattractive?
It is a complete unknown to me, the Angels are a very attractive franchise with a great coaching staff and a superb owner; why then have they not been able to sign a big-name free agent with the exception of Torii Hunter since 2003? I attribute it to the Angels believing a little bit too much in their philosophy of homegrown talent. Yes, a great farm system is the foundation of an elite team however it is the mix of homegrown talent and market aggressiveness that create a championship team. The Angels in my opinion don’t believe in themselves and therefore project that insecurity to potential free agents, in essence they believe themselves to be that ugly fat kid that has rich parents and believes that he can buy friends just by throwing money at them. Until they change that perception of themselves don’t look for the Angels to sign any key free agents in the near future. They are not who they seem to believe themselves to be; they are better than that.
Up until last year we were the three-time defending American League West champions, granted all the injuries that we had last year hurt the team, not necessarily because of who was out, but because of the timing of those injuries. All the while the fan base myself included are very upset, we are the ones who spend our money to go watch billionaires employ millionaires to play a child’s game. The least any franchise can do is to try to put a winning product on the field.
The Angels have drawn over 3 million fans a season the last few years. The Angels’ attendance is only second to that of the New York Yankees; so it would be prudent for the Angels to at least pursue someone and if they fail, at least fail knowing that they gave it all they had; for example, before Cliff Lee agreed to a contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, the Angels’ General Manager to was quoted as saying that he was content with the pitching staff and he didn’t foresee the Angels making any moves to improve their pitching any further than what they already had at that point. Really? They are content with the contract signings of Scott Downs and Hisanori Takahashi? The latter player has me thinking that he will be the next Brian Fuentes, we all remember how that turned out; I would be surprised if he wasn’t booed out of the stadium like Brian was. How the signing of those two players come anywhere close to signing a caliber player like Cliff Lee?
There is an old adage that defense wins championships; that still holds true signing Lee would’ve only helped the Angels especially since our bullpen was one of the worst in the major leagues last season, and it was the collapse of the bullpen that started the Angels downfall. Cliff Lee joining the Angels would have bolstered an already strong starting rotation, in turn the Angels wouldn’t of had to rely on the bullpen as much and negate any weaknesses that the offense would’ve had especially since they were unable to sign a caliber player like Carl Crawford.
With all that being said I’m glad that the organization does not spend their money recklessly, however give the Angels’ fans something to look forward to! This upcoming season is our 50th anniversary season. The Angels needed to make an impact, they clearly didn’t. I expected them to make the 50th anniversary season a memorable one Which they are, but for all the wrong reasons.