Results tagged ‘ Off-Season ’

I’m Not Back in Black, It’s Red Instead

I’m usually very active in the off-season, during spring training, leading up to the regular-season. However you haven’t heard from me since January of this year. The motherboard on my laptop went out yet again; I was fed up with the same component breaking down again, it turned out that it was going to be nearly a $350 repair; so instead of forking over the $350 I decided on the advice of my brother to construct an aftermarket computer. First, I want to thank him for building it for me, now if the computer breaks down I only have to replace a component for a desktop, which makes it much cheaper to repair, and thus my downtime will be limited, appropriately; I have dubbed the device “Ruby Red” since the computer is red. “Ruby” will hopefully last longer and I don’t have to repair her as much due to the aftermarket components. Yes, to paraphrase one of my favorite bands, AC/DC “I’m back!”

 

It’s a brand-new season, the Angels find themselves 12-14 in the beginning of May not including the game tonight that will be played in just a couple of hours. They are currently three games back of the first-place Texas Rangers. Teams typically use the month of April to tweak the roster, technique, and strategy. The baseball season begins in earnest in May.

 

What is my biggest concern for the Angels’ thus far? It still is left-field. Both Craig Gentry and Daniel Nava find themselves on the 15 day disabled list, essentially shattering Mike Scioscia’s platoon plans. The sample size on Shane Robinson is too small to really know if he will have a positive effect on the position. Daniel Nava is expected back sometime in early May, while Gentry isn’t expected back until mid June. It wouldn’t matter much anyway since Gentry’s batting average is only .147 in 34 at-bats over 14 games. In contrast, Nava has a batting average of .286 in 14 at-bats over eight games, again it is small sample size, however the sample size is large enough to understand that Craig Gentry should not be platooned with Nava. A platoon does not work in general in my opinion because it does not allow a player whomever it may be, to settle into their respective position.

 

I’m still perplexed as to why the Angels did not re-sign David Murphy, who is an above average left fielder. In my opinion he was a better option for the Angels. Murphy is not a marquee name but he would be a nice stopgap in the left-field position. After being released by the Red Sox during spring training, he was a free-agent until April 14 when he signed a minor-league deal with the Minnesota Twins. Murphy subsequently retired from baseball on April 25.

 

I’m maybe not back in Black, but it’s red instead; Angels’ red; now that the season has begun in earnest it’s going to be interesting to see what the Angels come up with to resolve the left-field situation.

 

-ICE

 

The Essence of Halo Nature

Human nature is unpredictable; it is basic yet complex, logical yet chaotic, fascinating yet at times disappointing. It is this essence and the interplay between these opposing forces that spark various thoughts, ideas, and philosophies for many millennia. Human nature allows one to think about probabilities and possibilities; it gives one a choice; to think logically, or to think creatively.

Baseball is a thinking man’s game; there is not a more perfect narrator for human nature than baseball. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dual between the pitcher and batter, the managers, or the front office; human nature is the ever present variable. It determines the difference between indecisiveness and insecurity.

There is not a better example of the various aspects and complexities of human nature than the current off-season that the Angels are experiencing. The Angels clearly had roster needs, and the market was full of players that could have satisfied those needs, especially in Left Field, yet despite those clear needs the Angels decided to do nothing of impact. They are opting instead to platoon Craig Gentry and Daniel Nava.

The Halos had their choice of opting for Yoenis Céspedes, Jason Heyward, or Justin Upton; all of which, are premier Left Fielders; all they had to do was surpass the 189,000,000 dollar luxury tax, something that Angels’ owner Arturo Moreno, was not willing to do. Now the Angels find themselves in a situation where they are at the mercy of other teams in baseball, with a depleted farm system they do not have any real options in the minor leagues, and now must rely on trades to address any additional shortcomings.

However, in order to do so now they must give up a piece of the team in order to get something back, rather than just parting with contract money. Granted, free agents can be expensive and an organization can at times put themselves in the situation where they overpay a player for underperformance. On the other hand, in the Angels situation one would expect that they would learn from both the Vernon Wells and Josh Hamilton contractual catastrophes. In comparison, all three players mentioned above are relatively young, and are in their prime, and all three of them produced impressive offensive numbers this past season and show no signs of decline.

Are the Angels satisfied with another average or subpar season? How does the organization justify raising prices on season ticket holders and the average fan this coming season? The fan base was told in previous years that the organization wants to wait for a strong free agent market, how much stronger can the market get? Yes, this team can compete as is, but can they legitimately contend? It is my current belief that this team cannot contend as it’s currently constructed. If an organization doesn’t have a strong farm system, which the Angels do not, then the next logical course of action is to go after a free agent that fits a glaring need; something that the Angels did not do.

It seems that the organization is going in the opposite direction; the Halos traded Efren Navarro to the Baltimore Orioles for cash consideration. Navarro was a spark plug in the Halos locker room. He was a backup first baseman but he also played some left field which would have helped the Angels’ situation should Nava and/or Gentry not work out in left field.

Indecisiveness is when one is presented with various feasible options and one cannot decide which option to go with. insecurity is when one is presented with the only clear option and one does not take action up on it. It is my strong belief that the Angels are very insecure as an organization.

In the past few seasons they have failed to balance short-term success with long-term sustainability. A shortcoming that they must address in the immediate future, the Angels’ fan base is getting restless, impatient, and annoyed. We have every right to be, the face of the franchise, Mike Trout has been through three General Managers since he was called to the major leagues. This shows tremendous instability as an organization.

Human nature is a fascinating a variable, it is a mental chess game within oneself; for Angels’ fans when our love for baseball is brought into the equation, human nature transitions to a fascinating metamorphosis, it becomes Halo nature. It is this Halo nature that drives our passion, love, and that times critique of this team. Halo nature allows for indecisiveness, but not insecurity. This organization needs to find out what the essence of Halo nature means to them.

-ICE

The Halo on the Horizon

It’s that time of year, when certain sights and sounds begin to hit one’s eyes and ears like notes of a John Williams Symphony. The electricity awakens one’s senses and sparks a relentless and untamed fire of the imagination. A new season is on the horizon, and so it begins, as the first breath is drawn that feeds the fire of every baseball fans’ soul.

Pitchers and catchers report February 19, the Halos didn’t make any headline grabbing moves this off-season, but they have a solid foundation to start the year. They now have payroll flexibility that they didn’t have before to make any additions if necessary. They were able to avoid arbitration with all nine of the arbitration eligible players.

There is still a lot of unanswered questions, how will the bullpen perform this year? Will Josh Hamilton finally live up to his contract? Will C. J. Wilson be an asset or a liability? Will Garrett Richards return to form after his devastating season ending injury of last year? Will the Angels have a diamond in the rough that they can plug in at second and third base? Will Matt Shoemaker be able to sustain the dominance that he demonstrated during his rookie campaign? Will be Angels be able to sustain or surpass the baseball best record of 98 wins from last year? Will there be any unexpected pleasant surprises this season? These are only some of the many questions that will be answered this season.

The fire is smoldering, the flame is coming, the spark will ignite the first time the bat makes complete contact with the baseball. So look upon the horizon, look into our eyes, and one will see the Halo that Burns and surrounds our soul.

-ICE

The Angels Gain an Iceman but More Importantly Lose a Trumbomber

Wow! What a whirlwind off-season it’s been in Major League Baseball. Prince Fielder is now a part of the Texas Rangers, and the Angels acquired David Freese this entry was originally intended to concentrate on that transaction more specifically on the effects of this acquisition on the Angels specifically how Fielder has resurrected his career in my opinion by joining a team that calls a hitters park home.

That has changed however, the details are still sketchy but Mark Trumbo is now a diamondback. The trade involved the Angels, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Chicago White Sox.

What is our general manager doing? Yes, it’s clear the Angels need pitching but he is the one that messed up the Angels’ pitching staff to begin with, he counted on the ability of our offense to negate any deficiencies there were on the Angels pitching staff by s giving superstar players to long-term contracts. He decimated our farm system in the process, and now the Angels have unproductive superstars while practically giving away young talent.

Mark Trumbo was a key piece to the Angels success, with Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton not producing Trumbo was the player along with Mike Trout that kept the Angels afloat. This is my raw immediate reaction. I did promise my readers that I would throw a few curveballs, this is indeed one of them. Frankly, I am speechless I don’t know where the team goes from here without decimating the few positives that are left about this team. I promise I will deliver a more analytical entry once I’ve had time to process. Unbelievable!

-ICE

postscript: I would love to hear what other Angels’ fans have to say about the team’s current situation.

Related Articles: http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-angels-trade-trumbo-20131211,0,729014.story

I Don’t Want Peanuts or CrackerJacks, Give Me the Baseball Glove and the Baseball Bat

Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Mike Trout speak to the media at Angels Spring Training. (Photograph Credit: Major League Baseball, http://www.Angels.com)

Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Mike Trout speak to the media at Angels Spring Training. (Photograph Credit: Major League Baseball, http://www.Angels.com)

The smell of freshly cut grass is in the air, the wet color of red clay that distinctly characterizes the infield and the warning track igniting the dreams of baseball fans around the major leagues and the world. The fire that warms the soul fueled by the flames of excitement. The core element that is part of the foundation of every baseball fan. Indeed, this is the year that their respective team wins the World Series.

For this Angels’ fan, the feeling is no different, opening day is but a few short weeks away and in 2013 the Angels organization as well as their fan base has high expectations. No, I’m not talking about those bandwagon fans whose members seem to thankfully decrease with every passing season; I’m talking about diehard fans like myself who weren’t even aware that a bandwagon existed. You see, before Matsuiland, ToriiTown or even the Trout Farm, existed Wally World. I am lucky enough to have experienced one World Series championship in my lifetime but certainly I am yearning for more.

The Angels have no shortage of talent in recent years, this off-season they have added Josh Hamilton, Jason Vargas, Tommy Hanson, Joe Blanton, and Ryan Madson just to name a few. The Angels had no shortage of offensive firepower last year however; both the starting rotation and bullpen were disastrous it was my contention this off-season that not exercising Dan Haren’s option for the 2013 season was a mistake. He had an off year and he wasn’t completely healthy. It has yet to be seen if both Blanton and Hanson can shore up their less than stellar starting rotation from a year ago.

I shy away from making any predictions prior to the start of Spring Training; I usually wait until the first few games of the preseason are played. It’s way too early to get into a discussion about end of the season standings and postseason appearances, for now I am just longing to hear the roar of the crowd the crack of the bat, and the slap of the ball against a leather baseball glove.

-ICE

The Angels Versus Dodgers Off-Season Rivalry Away from the Baseball Diamond

What is unique about the Major League Baseball off-season is it gives baseball fans like me time to reflect, time to think about things one would not normally think about, all the little nuances, that one doesn’t think about during the season; most of all, it makes one realize how beautiful the game of baseball truly is.

What makes this game so beautiful? The rivalries; Yankees versus Red Sox, The Subway Series, The Bay Bridge Series, and perhaps the most important of them all, The Freeway Series.

The Angels versus Dodgers rivalry goes beyond the baseball diamond, it has permeated into the respective fan bases in ways never seen before. The Angels as well as the Dodgers have been battling for fans from the same fan pool for years, but now it seems it has come to a head.

When Angels owner Arturo Moreno bought the team from the Walt Disney Company in 2003, the savvy Moreno strategically change the name of the organization from the “Anaheim Angels” to the ” Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim”. The leasing agreement with Angel Stadium states that the word “Anaheim” must be included in the team name. Moreno changed the name to the Los Angeles Angels in order to broaden the market appeal of the team into the Los Angeles market. This strategy seems to be working since the Angels have been able to draw over 3 million fans a season the last five years and counting.

Since the time that Magic Johnson and his ownership group bought the Los Angeles Dodgers the rivalry between these two franchises has intensified. This past off-season the Los Angeles Dodgers made a splash by signing Zack Greinke, which accomplished two things; one, it gave the Dodgers a quality pitcher while at the same time it took him away from the Angels. Perhaps in response to such a headline grabbing maneuver, the Angels responded by giving Josh Hamilton is spotlight stealing contract of his own.

For people like me, who are Angels’ fans for over 30 years, we’ve seen this before, between the Angels and their natural rival. However I must say the rivalry has intensified since both Moreno and Johnson a acquired their respective teams. I believe that what makes these two owners unique is that they both realize how important the marketing aspect is, aside from putting a winning product on the field. In essence, that is the reason behind the Angels’ name change.

I had the opportunity to go to the mall today, I walked into a store called “Sports Treasures,” at The Block of Orange, a store that I frequent a lot when I’m home, (one which I highly recommend should you be in the Orange, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Orange County area) I walk in, and on the rack, I see this:
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Here is exactly what I’m talking about, they Los Angeles Dodgers have taken a direct shot at the marketing campaign of the Angels. The Dodgers must realize how successful the Angels’ campaign is, they are trying to put their own Dodgers’ spin on an existing Angels campaign, in order to counteract the success of the Angels strategy.

It’s little things like this that make me long for the start of the regular season. This brazen move by the Dodgers’ marketing department shows me that they recognize as do the Angels, the potential of how deep and intense this rivalry can become. As an Angels’ fan, at first it made me cringe, then it made me laugh, and lastly, it made me realize how deep roots can grow and how beautiful this game can be; even if we are about two months away from the first ball being thrown on the field in 2013.

-ICE

Related Articles: http://angels.mlblogs.com/2012/12/13/josh-hamilton-trades-in-his-cowboy-hat-for-a-halo/

Josh Hamilton Trades in His Cowboy Hat for a Halo

Josh Hamilton's Introduction at the Angels' Press Conference on December 15, 2012

Josh Hamilton’s Introduction at the Angels’ Press Conference on December 15, 2012


Josh Hamilton has signed a five-year 125 million dollar contract with the Angels. I haven’t really made up my mind as to how I feel regarding this transaction. As I mentioned in my entry written yesterday, I’m a strong believer that big bats doesn’t do a team any good if they don’t add above average pitching to go with it. I’m not happy with the Angels roster moves thus far, and I can’t say the Hamilton contract changes my mind.

Yes, I acknowledge that at the very least the Angels have dealt a big blow to the Texas Rangers by taking one of their premier players away. I also acknowledge that the addition of Hamilton creates a pretty powerful one-two punch behind Albert Pujols. To me, there are more questions than answers. What does this mean for Mark Trumbo? Does this mean the experiment at third base begins again? Or does Peter Bourjos get traded? Does this move thankfully put Vernon Wells on the bench? Are the Angels really prepared to handle Hamilton’s off field issues should they arise?

I was under the impression that the reason why they let Torii Hunter walk away from the Angels was because they wanted to get younger and resolve the logjam in the outfield. How does the Hamilton singing solve any of the issues the organization cited? Hunter was a cheaper option, yet the Angels decided to opt for the relatively younger and more expensive option. Here again, future financial flexibility concerns me.

If one looks at Hamilton’s numbers; yes, he started off hot winning the American League Player of the Month award two months in a row, but as a baseball season wore on, he was unable to hit the inside fastball; his average dropped and the strikeouts increased.

Could this gamesmanship with the Los Angeles Dodgers? After losing Zack Greinke to the Dodgers, are the Angels trying to keep pace? Was the Hamilton contract done in order to keep the inroads that the Angels have made in the Los Angeles market? There is a battle or Los Angeles indeed.

The funny thing is that Los Angeles and Anaheim are separated by a County line dissected across Interstate 5, the two cities are in close proximity to each other, but they are not exactly cross town rivals. Anaheim and Los Angeles are similar to Oakland and San Francisco in that their close proximity makes them instead natural rivals.

This upcoming season is getting more interesting by the day, not only due to the gamesmanship between the Angels and the Dodgers, but also by both teams proving that they’re in it to win it, they both want to win now. The problem is, I frankly don’t see how the Angels are any better this upcoming year than they were last year. The pieces may have changed, but the problems remain the same.

-ICE

Related Articles:http://angels.mlblogs.com/2013/04/09/are-the-angels-the-team-where-superstars-go-to-supernova/

Zack Greinke Has Gone from Being Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader

It turns out that Zack Greinke went from promising Jedi Angels red to the dark Sith of Dodgers blue. Greinke signed a six-year $147 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The fact that he signed with the Dodgers especially stings.

Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Zack Greinke delivers against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Zack Greinke delivers against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

Los Angeles Dodgers new right-handed pitcher Zack Greinke, left, talks to the media as team owner Magic Johnson laughs, right, after during a baseball news conference at Dodgers Stadium Club,  Tuesday, Dec.11, 2012, in Los Angeles. Greinke moves up the freeway to join the Dodgers' starting rotation in a $147 million, six-year deal after spending part of last season with the rival Angels. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Los Angeles Dodgers new right-handed pitcher Zack Greinke, left, talks to the media as team owner Magic Johnson laughs, right, after during a baseball news conference at Dodgers Stadium Club, Tuesday, Dec.11, 2012, in Los Angeles. Greinke moves up the freeway to join the Dodgers’ starting rotation in a $147 million, six-year deal after spending part of last season with the rival Angels. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

All things considered it could have been worse, he could have joined the Rangers. At least this way, over the next six years, we will only see Greinke twice a year when we play the Dodgers and that’s if and only if his spot is due up in the Dodgers’ rotation. Juxtaposing that against the possibility that Greinke going the Rangers, where were the Angels would’ve had to deal with him several times of year will Greinke would have a direct influence on whether or not the Angels reached the playoffs. All in all, I believe the Angels dodged a major bullet.

I am perplexed by the Angels decision-making this off-season when it comes to the roster. Let’s flashback to the off-season last year. I stated that I was cautiously optimistic about Albert Pujols contract. A 10 year contract for an offensive player seemed a little much for me, even if he is the greatest offensive player of this generation. I was concerned at that time for the Angels payroll flexibility. The Angels inability to at least compete with the Dodgers’ offer to Greinke really bothered me.

In baseball, successful teams are based on the ability of the starting rotation to pitch deep in a game and the bullpen to hold leads. Explosive offense doesn’t mean much if the opponent can exploit porous pitching. The Angels needed to same Greinke; not because he was the biggest name on the free-agent market, but because the Angels have gaping holes in the rotation. Greinke would have plugged at least one of those holes. The loss of Greinke magnifies to a an even greater extent the loss of Dan Haren.

The Angels tried to rectify the losses of the pitching staff by acquiring Joe Blanton. Frankly, I’m not impressed. World Series championships cannot be bought. A good example of that is the San Francisco Giants, aside from Buster Posey, I’m sure that unless one is a diehard Giants’ fan; the casual baseball fan cannot name anyone else on that team. When one thinks of the Giants, one thinks of the team before they think of any individual player. I wonder how the Angels’ organization will be able to justify their actions if they don’t make the postseason for a third year in a row.

In the American League West, which is possibly the toughest division in baseball. The Angels cannot afford to just coast and hope that the dominoes fall in their favor. Take a look at the results last year. Many around baseball expected for the American League West crowned to be adorned with a cowboy hat or a halo, only to discover that a white elephant would be King in 2012. The Angels cannot expect any other team to just rolled over for them simply because they have big names on paper. In 2013 is a requirement in my opinion to add a halo not only to the American League West crown, but also the World Series trophy.

-ICE

The Sky Is Always Darkest before the Dawn

Now that the Major League Baseball awards season is over, one can say that the off-season is in full swing. I’m happy that Mike Trout was voted the 2012 Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year by the baseball writers of America, however I am disappointed he was not selected as the 2012 American League Most Valuable Player. I believe that the most valuable player award belongs to the player who’s made the most valuable impact on their respective team. To me, Mike Trout has been that player. His W. A. R. (Wins Above Replacement) was higher than any player in recent baseball history. These are things that team cannot control, so the only recourse is to congratulate Miguel Cabrera on winning the American League Most Valuable Player award.

There is no solace in the things that team can’t control however, in my eyes the Angels get A failing grade in not offering and signing Torii Hunter to a long-term contract.. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, and I will never get tired of saying it, Torii Hunter was the leader and heart and soul of this Angels’ team! They simply let him walk away without offering him a qualifying offer, which would at the very least guarantee the Angels compensatory picks if he decided to sign with another team, which is exactly what happened. The Angels could have offered Hunter if we are contract with a player option after the first year and the club option after the second year thereby, protecting both the interest of the club and the interest of the player.

Hunter has since signed a two-year contract with the Detroit Tigers. His contribution is sure to bolster the Tigers’ lineup. Torii, thank you sir for the wonderful memorable years spent with my beloved Angels, I am very sad to see you go, in my heart, you will always be a member of the Angels.

A lot people argue that Hunter needed to go in order to open a roster spot on a permanent basis for another player. The Angels trust Vernon Wells that much? I surely don’t, and I think there are a lot of the Angels’ fans that feel the same way I do. Sure, you can install an outfield of Mark Trumbo, Mike Trout, and Peter Bourjos; but as fans, does the age organization honestly expect us to believe that they will sit Vernon Wells given the size of his contract? I think not, Torii Hunter proved his worth to the Angels’ organization. It’s really a shame that both sides could not work things out.

It is said that the sky is always darkest before the dawn. For the Angels sake, I hope it doesn’t get any darker this off-season and that dawn is just around the corner.

-ICE

As a Birthday Wish, I Wish My Hundredth Post Was About the Angels in the Postseason

It’s hard to believe that this is my 100th post. Yes, it is my birthday tomorrow, for the last three years the birthday gift I have received from the Angels has been not so fun.

After the end of a regular season, it takes a while for a diehard fan like me to come to terms that your beloved team is not participating in the playoffs. It takes a well for one to digest the fact that it’s over for the year. There is a period of time that instead of critiquing, analyzing, and re-examining what went wrong, what could have been done better, and arguments of that nature; one has to take a step back and just think the team for the wonderful year that they put forth and thank the ownership and the organization for keeping this wonderful team in Anaheim. Last but certainly not least think the players for the wonderful effort, the ones whom despite a slow start to their hearts out towards the end in order to keep themselves in the mix for as long as they could. I have stated numerous times before that I rather see my team be eliminated in late September to early October rather than late July.

Now that the mushy stuff is over it’s time to get down to business. The first thing on the agenda is the free agents. The Halos must take advantage of the exclusive signing period and ink the following players in no particular order. They have re-signed our starting catcher Chris Iannetta in the last 24 hours to a three-year contract and I hope they take the same approach to the players they have yet to sign.

Torii Hunter

“Spiderman” belongs in an Angels’ uniform. He is the heart and soul this team and also has proven that he is a clutch type player. For the first time in his career he had a Batting Average of over .300. He deserves a ring, he needs to stay with the team that can contend for one. Hunter loves the Angels and the Angels’ fans love him. He has expressed desire to stay with the Angels. I hope the Angels’ organization takes notice and re-sign soon quickly. I would hate to see him go and sign with a team like the Texas Rangers who probably will need a replacement for Josh Hamilton. Just to see him hurt us, just like former Angels turned Rangers like Vladimir Guerrero, and Mike Napoli. My hope is that the Angels give Torii Hunter a two year contract with maybe a club option for a third. I don’t care how they do it, the bottom line is we must re-sign Torii Hunter!


Zack Greinke

Greinke has proven his worth. He was an uplifting force when the Angels’ starting rotation was struggling he proved to be a solid ace in his own right, and he is a nice complement behind Jared Weaver.

Dan Haren

I can hear the collective groans already, before you write him off, please hear me out. Dan Haren had a below average season for an above average pitcher. Although he is not a free agent, the Angels in my view must exercise a club option. Dan Haren had an injury plagued season. When healthy he is a viable option for the Angels rotation. And he is a less risky proposition compared to free agent pitchers that the Angels may sign for more money.

I know that there are free agents like Ervin Santana that I have yet to talk about, but I think for me the preceding are the centerpieces that must be re-signed.

With the off-season comes a lot of waiting, but also a lot of excitement. It’s a wait-and-see what our General Manager can pull out of his magic top hat to make this team a contender.

-ICE

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