Results tagged ‘ MLB.com/Blogs ’

Are the Angels Preparing a Winter Wonderland or Preparing for the Brunt of Bitter Old Man Winter?

The holiday season invokes different emotional reactions from different people, some people think about spending time with loved ones, others think about the family gatherings, the food, the games; while still others think of the lights the holiday decorations and the overall spirit of the season.

 

Baseball fans however, have an added bonus during the holiday season, the Major League Baseball winter meetings. The winter meetings can only be described one way, opening a holiday gift early. This is the time a year select front office personnel from all 30 teams get together in one place and discuss anything pertaining to the upcoming season; primarily free-agent signings and trades. Some teams going to these meanings with the intent of making a splash, while others stay relatively quiet.

 

This is the case of the Angels this year, unlike years past, they haven’t made an eye-opening transaction during this year’s winter meetings, on the contrary, I believe this year has much more uncertainty than years past. The Halos lost Garrett Richards to free agency. Richards signed a contract with the San Diego Padres, Shohei Ohtani is recovering from off-season Tommy John surgery and is unable to pitch this upcoming year, although he will be in the batters’ box this upcoming season. Parker Bridwell, a once promising Angels’ pitcher is no longer available because he was claimed off waivers by the New York Yankees. Injuries combined with these transactions make the Angels’ starting rotation questionable at best.

 

The Halos number one priority should be starting pitching, and/or pitching in general. This position is there Achilles’ heel as of late. They’ve had more of their fair share of pitching woes and it doesn’t seem that this year will get any better.

 

If that wasn’t enough, the Angels need help in the infield, they had Ian Kinsler’s veteran presence in the infield. I believe they gave up on Kinsler too early, alternatively, keeping Kinsler would have helped the Angels at the very least determine whether he deserved a longer-term contract to shore up the infield. His absence now not only leaves question marks in the infield for next season but it also creates a huge hole that the Angels need to fill; combined with the team’s pitching needs, I don’t see how they can possibly fill all these holes and expect to not only compete, but contend. Something they must do if they want to keep Mike Trout happy and in an Angels’ uniform in the long-term, especially for a team that does not want to go over Major League Baseball’s luxury tax.

 

It seems that the Halos are trying to do too much at the same time, this is a combination of bad contracts over the years with several players that have put them in this bind. How does one find the pieces they need to contend well still have enough money to sign the greatest player of this generation in Trout, long-term? This is a conundrum that the Angels face, a conundrum that won’t be easy to solve. I believe that in order to keep Trout and be contenders at the same time they must go over the luxury tax. The Halos are already asking a lot of the Angels’ fan base when it comes to paying to spend time at the ballpark, the least they can do is begin to show us that our investment of time and money is bearing fruit. The organization has two choices, create a winter wonderland or prepare for the brunt of bitter old man winter.

 

-ICE

The Injury Bug Is Feasting on the Halo

One of the wonderful things about being a diehard Angels’ fan for more than 30 years is that one learns to appreciate the good times and the bad; from winning the World Series in 2002 to finish a magical season that started 6-14, two finishing 41 1/2 games out the first place in the American League West in 2001. One win away their American League championship in 1986 after reading the series 3 games to 1, who can forget the infamous one-game tiebreaker game for the American League West championship in 1995 after the Angels had an 11 game division lead on August 3 with one month to go.

All these highs and lows has helped me appreciate when the Angels are doing well, I often mention to my fellow baseball fans that I don’t understand why the modern fan base (those who became fans because of the 2002 World Series championship) are so hard on this team; is it because they never experienced the dark times? Or is it simply easier to follow a team when it’s on top? From 2002 until the end of the 2009 season the Angels have experienced success relative to their history of being such lovable losers.

Now it seems that since 2009 the Angels have been plagued with bites from the injury bug in the past, players such as Tyler Skaggs, Garrett Richards, and Matt Shoemaker, don’t seem to be all healthy at the same time, which has really hindered the potential of this team. All three starting pitchers have dealt with long-term injuries at one point or another. This team is very talented on paper but the injury bug has not allowed them to flourish as a team.

The Halos at one point in the season had a Major League Baseball leading 24 players on the disabled list at the same time, no team, regardless of how much talent they may have can recover from that very easily. Although the Angels have gotten some players back slowly others replace them on the list such as Albert Pujols will likely miss the rest of the season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. It seems like the injury bug loves take a bite out of the halo.

Shohei Ohtani, the young phenom two-way player was originally supposed to be shut down on the pitching side for the rest of the season to allow his grade 2 elbow sprain to heal, the Angels 18 games back of the division leading Houston Astros. There is no reason to risk aggravating his injury any further since the Angels have really nothing to play for being this far back this late in the season. The wildcard at this point seems out of the question as well. The Angels organization, should be taking this time to develop young players that they brought up during the September call ups, and setting the foundation for a better season next year. Shohei Ohtani clearly lost his velocity towards the end of his outing last night. It perplexes me why the Angels would risk making a bad injury situation even worse; granted, Shohei Ohtani may have wanted his opportunity at history since after he is outing this night he is the first major-league baseball player since Babe Ruth in 1919 to pitch 50 innings and hit 15 home runs. “Showtime” has marked his patient history there is no reason to risk his future and that of the organization’s any further.

As a diehard Angels’ fan for over 30 years I have seen my fair share of peaks and valleys with this team, I am a strong believer that the Angels should take the time to regroup and heal, this is not the time for rest decisions, is not the time to allow the injury bug to take one more bite out of the halo.

-ICE

The Angels Must Be As Hot As Fireworks in Order to Save Their Season

 

Today is the Independence Day of the United States, it is very fitting, because fireworks are often used to express this independence. The Angels must use today as a personification of an example of what they must become in order to save their season.

 

The Halos have fallen victim to the dirty dozen, they are 12 1/2 games behind the division leading Houston Astros in the American League West. After losing to the Seattle Mariners yesterday. The Angels must explode, just like the fireworks that will light up the sky today throughout the United States. Including today’s game the Angels have 11 of their next 19 games against the division, with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox sandwiched in between. If the Halos are to have any postseason aspirations they must make their presence known in these next 19 games.

 

It’s going to be quite a challenge however, the Angels have recently led Major League Baseball with the amount of players on the disabled list with 15; similar to recent years, the Angels endured more than their fair share of injuries.

 

My hope is that the can at least take 15 of the 19 upcoming games in order for them to have shimmer of hope of making the postseason. It has yet to be seen if they are able to do that. We will just have to wait and see.

 

-ICE

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The intricacies of baseball can be so complicated and yet so simple. As simple as a round ball making contact with a round bat; or as complicated as pitching matchups, pitching changes, pinch hitters, shifts, and defensive changes. It is the intersection of all these factors that create the complicated beauty of baseball; or as I like to call it the good, the bad, and the ugly.

 

Let me start off with the good, through yesterday’s game, the Angels have outscored their opponents 69-43 through the first 11 games of the season. The Angels have yet to lose or split a series this season. As Shohei Otani has been simply spectacular, hitting three consecutive home runs in his first three consecutive home games in Major League Baseball record for a rookie. His pitching has been equally as spectacular, in this last outing alone he allowed only one hit with 12 strikeouts.

 

There isn’t much less talk about that is bad with the exception of the starting pitching. Excluding Shohei Otani the Angels pitching staff hasn’t gone very deep into games. Marquee players who need to produce such as Mike Trout, Kole Calhoun, and Albert Pujols have yet to produce to their full potential.

 

The ugly is that things that are not necessarily good or bad but can become bad, and as such the team needs to keep a watchful eye on developing circumstances, primary bullpen. The bullpen has been spectacular thus far, the bullpen combined with the offense are primarily responsible for the Halos excellent start. However if the starting rotation does not recover, they taxed bullpen may lead to problems as the season wears on.

 

The three phases of the game, pitching, (this includes the bullpen) batting, and defense need to combine together to have a successful season, the three parts of this baseball machine need to work together in order for survive and contend for 162 games plus any additional postseason games. Any breakdown in the machines efficiency can cause a breakdown in the complexities of how this machine works, leading to the creation of the good, the bad, and the ugly.

 

-ICE

 

Opening Day 2018 is a Week Away

The buzz of the crowd, the music playing in the loudspeakers in the stadium, feeling the spring wind swirling around, the art on the grass, the sound of the ball hitting a leather glove, the crack of the bat as it makes contact with the baseball, the scoreboard, and the beautiful site of The Big A. These are all the sights and sounds of opening day that a diehard Angels’ fan looks forward to every year.

 

We are officially a week away from opening day. The Halos’ off-season roster additions are showing a lot of promise, while others are adjusting to a new culture, and league. As a fan, I am excited as to what the new season may bring.

 

Shohei Otani is still adjusting to American baseball, he’s billed as a two-way player and in my opinion he shows promise in both aspects of his game. I strongly believe he can be a two-way player; however, he is having trouble adjusting to the American pitchers. With a few adjustments I believe his hitting ability will come with time. There are some arguments that he should start the season in the minor leagues, ordinarily I would agree, however, because he is a two-way player; his pitching is needed in the Angels’ rotation especially given the injury history of our pitching staff over the last few years. I am confident that Shohei Otani’s ability to pitch is needed much more than his hitting at this point, I like the addition of Ian Kinsler, his experience in the infield will be an asset to the Angels, giving the Angels lineup and the team a more potent punch.

 

Chris Carter is a non roster invitee at this point; I sincerely hope he makes the opening day roster. He’s hitting for an average of .306 in 36 at-bats versus Luis Valbuena who’s hitting for an average of .225 in 40 at bats this spring, there is no logical reason why Chris Carter should not be part of the opening day roster. I believe that Luis Valbuena should be the backup to Chris Carter especially since Albert Pujols will be playing more first base this year due to sharing the designated hitter position with Shohei Otani. Zack Cozart is a wonderful addition to the Angels’ offense he is hitting .342 this spring which is a refreshing update to the third base position.

 

All these new additions along with the sustained excellence of Mike Trout, Kole Calhoun, and Justin Upton among others, combined with the overall health of our pitching staff, with the addition of Shohei Otani, it should be an interesting season for this wonderful team. I’m truly looking forward to opening day against the Athletics in Oakland on March 29.

 

-ICE

A Halo in the Hall

When one plays sports in their youth they often dream of being heroes in the pivotal moments, hitting the winning home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to win the World Series, or scoring the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl, or hitting the game winning shot at the buzzer expires; these dreams are the driving force that is the foundation for a professional athletes success. Once a strong foundation is built, a select few professional athletes take it one step further; they become members of the Hall of Fame in their respective sport.

 

Vladimir Guerrero is one such athlete. His superior talents have facilitated his call to the hall. He has shared his talents with many teams, the Montréal Expos, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Texas Rangers, and the Baltimore Orioles. His best years as a player were split between the Expos and the Angels.

 

Vladimir Guerrero wants to enter the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame wearing and Angels cap. It is not surprising that he would like to do so, after all, he won his second Major League Baseball most valuable player award for the American League with the Angels, and He also won the same award for the National League with the Montréal Expos. It is my strong belief he picked to enter the hall with the Angels for two reasons, one, he was still in his prime when he joined the Angels in 2003. Two, he got his first taste of the Major League Baseball playoffs with the Angels, which is something he never got the opportunity to do with the Expos.

 

Guerrero would become the first, he would also be the first position player from the Dominican Republic and only the third player from this country to join the hall as a whole, along with making history for himself, he is also making history for the Angels’ organization; although there are players in the baseball Hall of Fame that played for the Angels, we don’t have any players in the Hall of Fame as Angels.. In a way, it’s appropriate that he is the first since “Big Daddy Vladdy” is endeared by the Angels’ organization and the fan base.

 

As a diehard fan, I am excited to bear witness to arguably the two most important moments in Angels’ history thus far, the 2002 World Series championship, and now the entry of the first Angels’ representative for the National Baseball Hall Of Fame. I am honored that both history making events happened during my lifetime; as these events contribute to the overall fabric of baseball history and lure.

 

There are currently 12 people with ties to the Angels’ organization in the national baseball Hall of Fame. Guerrero is number 13; the number 13 is traditionally associated as a bad luck charm. In most high-rise buildings there is not a 13th floor; Friday the 13th is a day of bad luck. However, for the Angels the number 13 represents a point of joy, on the 13th opportunity there will be a Halo in the hall.

 

-ICE

It Is “Sho-Time” in Anaheim

 

It is official, Shohei Ohtani, 23 has officially been introduced as part of the Angels organization. I must admit, he has my attention. The initial impression that jumps out at you is that he is very humble, as if he isn’t aware of his own star power. When asked why he picked the Angels over the other teams that were pursuing him he simply answered that he felt that something had clicked with the Angels’ organization.

 

It was very evident to me that the chemistry in the Halo clubhouse next year is going to be greatly improved, it is simply building on what appears to be an already great environment. When asked by one of the members of the media why he chose number 17 as opposed to number 11 which he wore in Japan; one would expect him to answer that he chose 17 because 11 was already retired. (Jim Fregosi) instead, he gave a humorous answer he said, that he wanted 27 but it was already taken. (Referring to Mike Trout’s number 27)

 

Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia made it crystal clear that Shohei Ohtani would indeed be present both on the pitching mound and the batter’s box. The first obvious question is, can the Japanese player adjust to major-league pitching? How successful it would he be? These are questions that only be answered during the baseball season, one which I’m clearly looking forward to.

 

-ICE

 

Related articles: https://angelsmlb.wordpress.com/2017/12/09/it-is-almost-sho-time-in-anaheim/

 

It Is Almost “Sho-Time” in Anaheim

Southern California in the Los Angeles area in particular is very familiar with “Showtime”, whether it’s the Showtime Lakers of the 1980s or the Showtime that Hollywood brings to the movie theater. However, a different type of “Sho-time” is coming to Angel Stadium this upcoming baseball season.

 

Shohei Ohtani, often referred to as the Japanese “Babe Ruth” because of his natural ability to be both an excellent pitcher and an excellent hitter has agreed to become part of Major League Baseball as a member of the Angels. His formal introduction is today Saturday, December 9, 2017 at 3 PM Pacific time. I personally don’t know much about him except for would’ve heard in the media. That’s why I have decided to make this a two-part entry; this current entry before the press conference, and an entity after the press conference.

 

I was in bed when I heard the news late last night, based on what I’ve read and heard, he throws the baseball year, at, or above 100 miles per hour, he has an above average bat, and the speed to first base rivals that of Mike Trout. If all of this is true, then the Angels have an interesting puzzle on their hands. How would they accommodate this man’s natural ability to play on both the offensive and defensive side? One of the solutions proposed is a six man pitching rotation that would allow him to get adequate rest.

 

This is an interesting situation, although to reach absolutely honest toward interesting does not encapsulate and under represents the intrigue of the situation. I will try to have my post press conference reaction up as quickly as possible, until then, let’s sit back and enjoy this ride together.

 

Related articles: https://angelsmlb.wordpress.com/2017/12/09/it-is-sho-time-in-anaheim/

 

-ICE

The Gold Coin We Call Baseball

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.

 

-ICE

Does the Deck of Playoff Cards Have a Wildcard with a Halo?

A deck of playing cards comes with two jokers, often people do not use these jokers and they put them aside separating them from the deck. Traditionally the jokers are a pair of cards; they are considered the two traditional wild cards in the deck. Today, I will not discard them.

 

This metaphor is applicable to the game the baseball; just like in a deck of playing cards there are two wild cards. These wildcards are currently blank, including today’s game that is yet to be played; there are only a dozen games left for the Angels in this baseball season, and the race for the American League wild card is tight.

 

As of today, the face of each wild card read “the New York Yankees” and “the Minnesota Twins”. However, the Angels are only one game behind, due to the loss that the Twins suffered against the Yankees today, which means by the end of today if the Angels win, they will only be one half game out of the second wild-card with 11 games to go.

 

In order to determine if there is a Halo in the playoff deck, one must examine the four suits that the deck contains in order for their wild-card to be of any help towards the creation of a championship hand in this metaphorical game of cards. 12 cards (games) are yet to be dealt; with such a high number of cards left the creation of a winning hand is likely. However, equally as likely is that a losing hand which can be produced at  the end of the season.

 

The Heart

 

The heart is in my opinion the most important suit, the Halos produced more than 40 comeback wins so far this season, leading Major League Baseball they also led the majors in stolen bases prior to the Cameron Maybin trade. There is no question that this team has the talent and the heart to make sure that one of those blank wildcards reads “Angels”.

 

The Spade

 

Although there’s no question about this team’s heart, the spade has not been kind to the Angels. The Halos have survived virtually all year without a pitching staff. Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney, Matt Shoemaker, and Tyler Skaggs have been injured in some combination or another for the entire year. This is virtually our entire starting pitching staff. With the exception of Matt Shoemaker, the rest of the starting staff is back. However, due to length of time they were gone, they have been unable to be the starters that they really are. Although the Angels have been hit hard by the spade there are still enough cards in the deck to turn their fortunes around.

 

The Clover

 

When the team is hit this hard by the spade, you need a little luck brought forth by the Clover. The Angels’ patchwork and strategic positioning have allowed them to somehow stay in contention even with all the injuries to key positions. With 12 cards left, the Angels must make their own luck and take advantage of golden opportunities when they present themselves, something that they did not do yesterday when the Twins lost to the Yankees. The Angels did not close the gap, they lost yesterday’s game six with three due to bad game management by Mike Scioscia, in certain situations he left players in two along and took others out too early. This can not continue if the Angels are going to let the Clover do its magic.

 

The Diamond

 

The clover’s magic must work; the diamond suit in the deck must assure that. The diamond has been kind to the Angels. A diamond represents the value which the Angels have obtained the acquisitions of Justin Upton and Brandon Phillips, by acquiring these solid players, they Halos have strengthened their weak spots which will allow them to increase their chances of obtaining a winning hand, although I must admit I was very disappointed when Cameron Maybin was traded in order to make room for Justin Upton on the roster. I believe the Angels had a better option by letting go of Ben Revere instead of Cameron Maybin, slim as he is affectionately called; gave the Angels speed at the top of the lineup, it is the team’s ability to run the bases that renders opposing starting pitchers less effective; something that needs to happen to be successful in the playoffs.

 

It is the right combination of the four suits that will determine whether one of the wildcards will have a Halo on its face. It is an undeniable fact that wildcards always make card games or in this case the Major League Baseball playoffs more interesting. Baseball wildcards cannot be simply discarded like the jokers in the deck of cards. However, all the other card suits must combine for a wildcard to be effective. In the Angels case, there are 12 cards remaining in order to create a winning hand.

 

-ICE

 

 

 

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