Results tagged ‘ Orioles ’

Examining the Halo: the Past, the Present, and Future

This is the time of year when baseball executives and fans alike, become analysts of the game we all love. We examine our past, live in the present, and secure the future. We all become engineers, trying to create a well oiled and flawless machine. We mix and match parts, hoping to find the right combination that elevates the machine into a championship performer.

The Angels are trying to do Exactly that, the recent transactions involving Danny Espinosa, Cameron Maybin , Ben Revere, and Luis Valbuena. These new players will be introduced to the machine in the hopes of raising its championship aspirations. The Angels are trying to address the present, especially left field. I myself am not satisfied by any of these acquisitions. Left field is an ongoing problem that has persisted for at least the last three years. In my humble opinion, this issue would have been resolved with a free agent acquisition. Mark Trumbo, a home-grown talent that would’ve served the Angels well and left field; unfortunately, the mistakes of the past led to their current situation.

These mistakes include the contracts of Vernon Wells, Josh Hamilton, C. J. Wilson, who had multimillion dollar contracts and never lived up to their end of the deal. These multimillion dollar disasters have made the team become more cautious, leading them not to go after a guy like Trumbo who in my opinion solves the left-field issue. Unfortunately, Trumbo re-signed a three-year deal with the Baltimore Orioles.

Although the Angels are working on the present, the future, more specifically the Hall of Fame future looks bright. Vladimir Guerrero missed being inducted as a Hall of Famer by a relatively small margin. His chances of being welcomed to the Hall of Fame next year are very encouraging. When Arturo Moreno bought the team in 2003, he made a huge splash by immediately signing Guerrero who was of great benefit to the team. The Angels need to put themselves in a position to be the aggressive team it once was, bringing back the success of the past, securing the present, and ensuring the future of this beautiful franchise.

 

-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

It Is Time to Get OctobeRED!

The hunt for a red October is here, the Angels are making their postseason push, Their 96 wins are the best in baseball. Halo dreams are running rampant amongst the fans, dreams that this team will win and bring their second World Series title to Anaheim.

Not all the dreams came to, however, the Halos must run the table in order to break the franchise record for wins. At this point, that is a minor accomplishment compared to what’s currently at stake. Now that the Angels have won the American League championship, they can shift their attention from the Oakland Athletics to the Baltimore Orioles with the goal of clinching home-field advantage throughout the postseason, the magic number is down to four, if the Angels can indeed accomplish this goal, the entire postseason including the World Series by virtue of the American League winning the 2014 All-Star game runs through Anaheim; as long as the Angels can stay alive in the playoffs.

There is some concern however, with the injuries to Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs and the shortcomings of C. J. Wilson, the Angels are shorthanded and will have to rely on a strong bullpen to make a deep push this postseason. It can be done, if one recalls the 2002 World Series team the Angels did not have a stellar starting rotation to speak of, they relied on the bullpen; and that’s what is going to happen again this year.

The time has come to focus, celebrate, relax, and prepare; it is time to get OctobeRED! Go Angels!

-ICE

One Can Find Heaven in Seven

It is that time of year, the time of year where the dog days of summer and division races are replaced with magic numbers and the hunt for October. The hunt for a red October that is, a red October that includes a Halo. The Angels have a seven game lead over the Athletics and the magic number to clinch the division stands at 14. In other words, any combination of Angels wins or Athletics losses that add up to 14 will clinch the division for the Angels. Ultimately all the Angels would have to do at this point would be match the Athletics record for seven more games, and the division receives a Halo on the American League West Championship.

The Halos have some points of concern however, they have yet to find a legitimate starter to replace Garrett Richards in the starting rotation, they also have to find a way to ease the pressure on the bullpen for the postseason run; the bullpen is being taxed way too much. If the Angels don’t find a way to resolve these issues, their postseason run will be relatively short and no Angels’ fan ones that after a four year postseason drought.

If the regular season were to end today that playoff picture in the American League would look like this:

The divisional round for the Angels would be an all American League West series. The Halos would pay the winner of the wild-card play in game between the Oakland Athletics and the Seattle Mariners, the other bracket would pit the Baltimore Orioles against the Kansas City Royals. Essentially, regardless of the outcome and American League West representative is guaranteed for the American League Championship Series. Hopefully that representative will be the Angels.

A seven-game lead, plus a magic number of 14; both numbers are multiples of seven. One can definitely find heaven in seven.

-ICE

The Angels Use the Home Run Boom to Dodge the Broom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-ICE

The Angels Must Draw an Ace, and Beat a King to Have a Chance at a Wildcard

It’s the homestretch of the 2012 baseball season, and the Angels find themselves in the thick of things in the American League Wild Card race. They are a season-high 16 games over .500 but still face an uphill battle to win the wildcard even if they run the table the rest of the season. The American League West is proving to be the toughest division in baseball. The Angels are 16 games over the .500 mark yet find themselves six games out of the American League West title.

There is a possibility although unlikely, that if the Baltimore Orioles falter and fall out of wild-card contention there may be three American League West teams with a chance to go to the postseason the Angels, the Athletics, and the Rangers, the American League West is a tough division. People may say that the toughest division in baseball is the American League East but the way the postseason is shaping up that maybe no longer true. It is going to take at least 90 maybe 91 wins to win this division, in order to do so the Angels must go 5-3 in the remaining games to get to 90 and 6-2 to get to 91 wins.

The American League wild card race as well as the American League West division race is tight. As I was going to bed after listening to last night’s Angels’ game that post season situation reminded me of a poker game. I’m not much of a gambler and I very rarely play poker. But I thought describing the remaining season in poker terms might be fun since baseball jargon and poker jargon have a lot of similarities.

Texas Hold ‘EM

the Angels boast a spectacular record, although they need help, so the Halos are “all in” playing “Texas Hold ‘EM” as in they must rely on the Texas Rangers to hold the Oakland A’s at bay and drop them out of wild-card contention. Although we sweep it is no longer possible the Rangers must be able to take the remaining games from the Athletics in order to make room for the Angels.

The Flop

The Angels have done well on the flop so far, sweeping the White Sox and taking the first game yesterday against the Seattle Mariners. When the Angels look At the cards they must hope that that they have and “ace” type quality performance from tonight’s starter C. J. Wilson to counteract the “King” that the Mariners hold in their hand as in King Félix Hernández.

The Turn

the turn must be kind to Angels, as the Angels are only 2 games out of the second wild-card spot and 2 1/2 games out of the first wild-card spot the Angels need at least a sweep of the Mariners and take two out of three from the Rangers, or vice versa to be considered a contender for the wildcard. It is this “turn” of events that the Angels need to be successful.

The River

For the River, the Angels need to win as many games as they can, from my perspective they can only afford to lose one more game the rest of the season. I know it is highly unlikely but stranger things have happened in baseball. The Orioles might falter altogether and the division and both wild-card spots would be occupied by teams from the American League West. Success on the turn will not matter if it they can’t sustain their winning ways on the river. The Halos must hope that a wild-card is there once the community cards are dealt. As fans, we’ll just have to wait and see if a wild-card with a Halo is in the deck.

-ICE

Brooms Sweep the White Sox into the Heavenly Hamper

The hunt for red October continues, the Angels swept the Chicago White Sox with a 4-2 victory. Jared Weaver was a masterful, winning his American league-leading 19th game of the season, on his way hopefully to a 2012 Cy Young Award.

The Angels potentially can collect their fair share of hardware, Jared Weaver in my opinion is the leading candidate for this Cy Young Award, and Mike Trout is a surefire American League Rookie of the Year. His numbers are so astronomical the season, that it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the American League claiming that award and depending on how the Angels finish and if they make the playoffs, Mike Trout may be in the running for the American League Most Viable Player Award. He may be able to add an American League Gold Glove based on his spectacular play in Center Field this year.

It’s late September, and as I mentioned before it will be an uphill battle for the Angels to be able to punch your ticket into the postseason party. With nine games left play, the Angels find themselves 3 1/2 games back of the first Wild Card position and 2 1/2 games back of the second Wild Card position. With only one game separating the Oakland A’s and the Baltimore Orioles.

The A’s start a four-game series with the Texas Rangers tomorrow while the Angels have their last off day of the season. Strangely enough the rivalry that I’ve been craving for all year, the Angels versus the A’s is indirectly happening. I reluctantly find myself rooting for the Texas Rangers to defeat the A’s to knock them out at wild-card contention and allow the Angels to replace the A’s or the Orioles in one of two Wild Card spots. See the Angels in the playoffs is sweet but to deny the A’s a playoff berth would be even sweeter.

I’m also reluctantly willing to concede the AL West to the Texas Rangers if that allows the Angels to punch their ticket into the postseason. After all, the only thing needed to be eligible to win a World Series is to be invited to the party.

However the Angels are treading in dangerous waters, let us suppose a Texas Rangers clinch too early, they may decide to rest their players for the postseason, since even if the A’s are somehow able to surpass the Rangers and when the American League West. The Rangers are already guaranteed at least a Wild Card berth since at this point they would virtually have to lose all the games on the remaining schedule to be left out.

Another interesting scenario arises in my mind, let us suppose although unlikely, that the Orioles somehow have a monumental collapse and somehow drop out of contention for the American League Wild Card. One would be left with three teams from the American League West fighting for an invitation to the playoffs.

All this predicated of course on the Angels winning the vast majority of their remaining games. Although this is very difficult I have faith that they can do it. I truly believe that they can somehow punched their ticket, and once invited, I sincerely believe that they have the talent and the firepower to win their second World Series in franchise history. It’ll be exciting to see if the postseason includes a Halo.

-ICE

A Chameleon with a Halo

After a short hiatus, I am back I wanted to post sooner but I didn’t have access to a computer, much less voice recognition software. I went home and I was able to catch the Angels game last Tuesday which was Albert Pujols bubblehead day. I’m fascinated by the freefall this team has taken. They have all the talent in the world yet they are an astounding seven games behind the Texas Rangers and the seller of the American League West. As of today before tonight’s game two against the Baltimore Orioles the Angels are five and nine. This is clearly not the expectation that Angels’ fans had for this team especially with the acquisition of both C. J. Wilson and Albert Pujols.

Unlike some Angels’ fans, I am not ready to walk off the plank or jump off the ledge. I think that is what separates diehard fans like myself and the bandwagon fans. I remember when this team was unbelievably bad. Fans like myself just learned to get used to it. Much like the Chicago Cubs’ fans have gotten used to their beloved “Cubbies” losing. Rather than suggesting a major overhaul, or suggesting that Mike Scioscia, Mickey Hatcher, or Mike Butcher is a problem. I will examine what is happening in my eyes, the beautiful thing is that my observations can be easily implemented.

Yes, the bullpen is a problem especially when it collapses in the late innings however, that wouldn’t be an issue if the Angels could get men on base. I think the Angels need to first settle on the lineup they’ve had numerous minor changes in these first 14 games they need to play to their talents, something that in my opinion they haven’t been doing. First, they need to utilize their speed with players like Erick Aybar, Maicer Izturis, Peter Bourjos, and let us not forget the “Prince Fish” Mike Trout in the minor leagues. It is my strong belief that the Angels must mix and match, put the speedsters in the lineup early by maybe bunting for a base hit more often (more often than one may think) and get themselves on base, and once they are on they have to be a bit more aggressive on the base paths they should attempt more steals regardless of weather they will be thrown out or not. That way it keeps the opposing pitcher off balance knowing that the speedsters are going to run and risk it all win or lose. In turn, this unbalanced opposing pitcher is more likely to make mistakes in the strike zone allowing the power hitters to take advantage the power hitters like Pujols, Trumbo, Morales, Hunter, and Wells to do what they do best.

Speaking of Mark Trumbo, the Angels need to find a way to utilize him in the everyday lineup the Angels are where they are right now because Trumbo was not in the lineup for most of those losses, for that matter most games this season. They need to also find a way to utilize Jorge Cantú since there is an opt out clause in his contract if he is not in the major leagues by May 1, 2012. The Angels should call him up to see how he can contribute to this offense and defense; especially with a losing record and especially since he wasn’t on the opening day roster. I’m genuinely shocked to find that the Angels are not utilizing him more since he had an above average preseason.

This team is too talented to have a record they have, and they simply need to put the right pieces in the right places and not allow themselves to be defined as a one-dimensional team such as a power team, a speed team, or a small ball team. They need to be a metaphorical chameleon and keep the other teams around the major leagues off balance. They are losing because the Angels have become too predictable other teams already know what to expect. This communion must have a halo.

-ICE

One Angels’ Ace in Search of 29 Other “Lost Souls”

For those of you that are familiar with my MLB blogs in the past, you may remember my list of “lost souls”, which was a creative and fun way to refer to those that were not necessarily Angels’ fans but were just as diehard for their respective teams as I am about the Angels. For those of you that may remember my past blogs I haven’t been able to logon to this site in a little under a year, now with the move to WordPress, I’m glad to say that that issue is resolved. However I lost my original list of lost souls. With the exception of the rays’ renegade and the original Washington Senators fan who represents the Texas Rangers, I am still looking for 28 other lost souls to be part of my main list. Especially since the MLB blogs main page doesn’t exist anymore; I would like these bloggers to be active, passionate fans who I can get my non-Angel information from. If you are interested please reply with your blog location the team you blog for, and a little information about yourself, I would look over your blog. And add you to my list.

 

Thank you,

-ICE

%d bloggers like this: