Results tagged ‘ Starting Pitching ’

Tarnished Halo, Tattered Wings

As a baseball fan, one expects to see their favorite team go through ups and downs, peaks and valleys. During the season a team must learn to pace themselves; in essence they must play the chess game that is baseball, put the chess pieces in the right position in order for a team to attack when the moment is right.

The Angels find themselves in this exact metaphorical scenario described above, they are currently 12 1/2 games out of first place in the American League West, fourth in the division, with 10 players on the disabled list with various injuries. The Halo is tarnished and the wings are tattered. The situation may look bleak to outsiders, yet this may be the perfect time to position the test pieces for an attack.

Starting tonight the Halos play their next 13 games against division rivals, which involves two teams that are sub .500 the Oakland A’s and the Houston Astros. This may be the perfect time for the team to strike as there are high hopes that the contribution of the newest Angel, Tim Lincecum, will give this team a much needed lift in the pitching rotation with three-fifths of the starting rotation on the 60-day disabled list with long-term injuries. Tyler Skaggs who was expected back within the near future has hit a snag in his rehabilitation forcing the Halos to find other more creative options.

It is well-known among baseball’s purest that the key to a successful team is pitching, something that the Angels clearly do not have at this moment. It is looking highly unlikely that C.J. Wilson will be able to make a meaningful impact this season due to the setbacks that he has had; based on the fact that this is the final year of his multi-million dollar contract it is very doubtful that he will have a meaningful impact for the Halos.

Can this team stay consistent for this 13 game stretch? It all depends if this team can come together at the right moments. It is not time yet to worry about the division leader, the Texas Rangers, since they have been on fire and look unstoppable at the moment; but, they too will fall into a valley that may allow the Halos to gain some ground. If the Angels can use this 13 game stretch to their advantage, we may have an interesting division race after the All-Star break, but in order to do so, the Halos must shine again and their wings must heal if all this is to come to fruition.

-ICE

An Extraordinary Win, An Extraordinary Loss

Following sports is like riding a roller coaster, a fan experiences indescribable highs and unbearable lows. This is the beauty and the curse of sports, the promise of what can be, and disappointment of what could have been. This is especially true in baseball, the excitement of a pennant race is like no other feeling that any other sport can produce.

The team with the best record in baseball, the Angels, increased their lead on the Oakland Athletics to 1 1/2 games. The Halos’ record now stands at 75-50, the promise is alive and well however it took a major blow today, with the loss of Garrett Richards. He suffered a left knee injury during the second inning of today’s game. Richards had to be carted off the field in a stretcher; and although the exact extent of his knee injury is not known as of yet, it is speculated that he will miss the remainder of the season.

Richards was in the middle of producing a spectacular season, his pitching performances were being talked about among the best in baseball, He was making a very strong case for the Cy Young Award in the American League. He was one of the most pleasant surprises of the entire season. Hopefully Richards can completely recover from his injury and return to display the dominance that he was showing the season in the future.

The loss of Richards further diminished an already thin starting rotation, Skaggs is already out with an elbow injury and won’t return until the 2016 season due to Tommy John surgery. C. J. Wilson is also struggling since his return from injury. It will be interesting to see where the Angels go from here.

Pitching does win championships, believe it or not, I do see some silver lining in all this chaos. Yes, the loss of Richards is devastating, there is no doubt about that. However Richards only has an impact on the game once every five days, it’s time for the offense to be the run producing machine that we all know it can be, as well as it is time for the rest of the pitching staff whether they are in the majors or the minors to step up. Now that we have a stronger bullpen compared to the past bullpens that the Angels have had in recent years, I really do not think that’s an unreasonable expectation. The September call ups are crucial to resolving this unexpected situation. This could have been much worse, we could have lost a position player that impacts the game every day.

The Angels have the best record in baseball, they are atop of the American League West, they Halos are being called upon to prove that none of these regular season accolades matter, they must rise above the adversity and the unfortunate situation and prove that they actually have the heart of a champion.

-ICE

There Is a Halo Around the Peak of the Baseball Mountain

Baseball is a mountain with only eight ledges, one for each division winner and two wildcards. In reality there are only seven ledges and one peak, the halo shines brightly around that peak. The Angels staked their claim August 16th to the best record in all of baseball they have been in possession of this record for the last two days, their current record is 72-50 statistically one percentage point ahead of the Oakland Athletics.

The American League West

W L PCT GB
LA Angels
72 50 .590 –
Oakland
73 51 .589 –
Seattle
67 56 .545 5.5
Houston
52 73 .416 21.5
Texas
48 76 .387 25.0

 

Coming into this season the goal of every Angels’ fan was to win the division after a long four-year absence from the postseason. The biggest question mark was the pitching staff, and whether it was strong enough to sustain the grind of the season. The bullpen issues were addressed with trades, and the emergence of Garrett Richards was certainly a pleasant surprise on the other hand, the pleasant surprises have been met with disappointment with the loss of Tyler Skaggs who will miss the rest of the season and the entire 2015 season due to Tommy John surgery, this could possibly leave the Angels with a shorthanded rotation next season.

The Angels have had struggles, but every baseball fan knows that the baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint; like every team the Angels have, and will go through peaks and valleys and at this point the Angels are in front of the marathon pack.

Most Angels’ fans would be ecstatic with a postseason berth, given the drought of the last four years, but to achieve the best record in baseball is more than anyone could have imagined. It’s not enough to have the best overall regular-season record, because in the end that doesn’t really matter, although I must say it feels extremely good to be able to say that. In the five years of this blog has been in existence, in its various incarnations, my statistical/analytical mind hasn’t stopped to enjoy the view, I must say that the view from up here is spectacular. The view from atop of the American League West is awesome, however the view from the peak of the mountain is simply breathtaking. This unexpected surprise is great!

-ICE

The Repercussions of the Josh Hamilton Contract

“Hindsight is 20/20.” “You can’t cry over spilled milk.” “Monday morning quarterback.” These are all terms people use to express the feeling of what’s done is done; although these terms are very true, they can not be applied in my opinion to the Josh Hamilton contract.

Don’t get me wrong, I am ecstatic that the Angels did not sign Masahiro Tanaka. What’s really bothering me is the report that the Angels didn’t even extend an offer because they did not want to go over the luxury tax. It was indeed bad money management that put the Halos in the position they are today. A position they wouldn’t be in had they passed on Hamilton.

It appears this team is suffering from selective amnesia, the money that was used in the Hamilton contract was earmarked for pitching. They chose instead to ignore that, and sign Hamilton to a contract which ultimately led to patchwork repairs of the pitching staff. The cost? They lost a homegrown player with a huge upside in Mark Trumbo. They essentially let go of a young player for someone with inflated numbers who hit in a hitters park in Arlington.

The Angels had a backup plan, Matt Garza if and when the negotiations with Masahiro Tanaka fell through. Well, they did, and Garza signed a four-year contract with the Milwaukee Brewers. Now what? According to the Angels general manager they are “prepared to move forward with their current roster.” What does that mean? A fifth consecutive year without a playoff appearance? If that’s the case, how did the Josh Hamilton contract change anything? Did Hamilton make the Angels more competitive this past year? Of course not, so what’s going to be different this year? If the Angels would have been more careful with their money, The Halos would have money in the budget to sign a high quality pitcher without relying on a backup plan.

How will that translate when it comes time to re-sign Mike Trout? If the Angels weren’t competitive with Tanaka, how do they expect to be competitive with Trout? Will the Angels be willing to go over the luxury tax with a Trout contract? I sincerely hope so, I would be willing to go one more year without a playoff appearance if that meant the Halos would sign Trout to a long-term contract. On the other hand, how is this team going to remain attractive and a viable option for Trout if the Angels do not make the playoffs this year? It has yet to be seen if the current roster will make an impact this year, as a fan, I sincerely hope so. However, I highly doubt it.

-ICE
Related Articles: http://losangeles.angels.mlb.com/news/article/ana/angels-sit-out-masahiro-tanaka-sweepstakes?ymd=20140122&content_id=66964996

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/mlb/anthony-castrovince-los-angeles-angels-need-to-figure-out-what-mike-trout-is-worth?ymd=20140211&content_id=67635368&vkey=news_mlb

Look at the Pretty, Shiny Red Diamond

It is finally Opening Day! The day that every baseball fan awaits with excitement and anticipation of the season that has yet to be. I am no exception. As of noon tomorrow Pacific daylight Time I will be unavailable to the rest of the known world for about four hours, why? I will be entranced by the sheer beauty that is the baseball diamond, the crown jewel of all jewels; the only jewel that outshines all others.

The opening Day roster, the players who have received their major league Halo include: Pitcher Mark Lowe, Infielder Brendan Harris, and outfielder J. B. Shuck. Luis Jimenez, David Carpenter, John Hester, and Kole Calhoun have all been sent to the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate the Salt Lake City Bees, Ryan Madson and Andrew Taylor have been added to the 15 Day Disabled List, retroactive to March 22.

Coming out of spring training, this team still has one glaring concern; the starting pitching. Jason Vargas gave Up seven runs to the Dodgers in the middle game of the preseason Freeway Series. If the Angels do not remedy this soon, it’s going to be a long season for the Angels and their fan base. As I mentioned before, it doesn’t do any good for a team to have a potent offense if the pitching staff can’t hold any leads. The games are for real now, the meaningless exhibition season is gone; this is where it all begins. If the Angels don’t get a good start out of the gate it doesn’t matter how well they do the rest of the season, if they create too much of a deficit; it is very easily going to be a repeat showing of last season.

With that said, to me Opening Day represents optimism; and as such, I’m not going to focus on things this team needs to fix. Rather, I’m going to continue to enjoy the beautiful hypnotic enchantment that is provided by the beauty of the baseball diamond.

-ICE

The Fans Are Prepared, the Stadium is Prepared, Are the Players?

The Angels defeated the Milwaukee Brewers today 5-1 which is a nice recovery from the disaster that happened yesterday. The Angels had a 7-1 lead going into the third inning, they ultimately lost the game. Honestly, that is the least of my worries about this team.

I do realize that it is indeed spring training; and yes the games are meaningless. However, with 10 days left in the preseason as of yesterday, it is now less about who makes the opening day roster; and more about fine-tuning the starters. The pitching as a whole is horrendous. To say that C. J. Wilson was knocked around would be an understatement. He is projected to be the number two starter behind Weaver, with the number three, four, and five starters still in question; it is especially important that Weaver and Wilson do not falter.

It feels like a dose of déjà vu, the Angels’ starting rotation and bullpen are not living up to the expectation. The starting rotation seems to be inept at holding leads that they’re elite offensive squad provides.

I’m not going to harp too much about the starting rotation since I’ve already talked about my disappointment in the pitching staff this year; in previous entries. It goes without saying that the Angels need to find a solution to what they haven’t been able to solve in recent years. Improve the pitching and this team will contend for a World Series.

There is a big difference between contending and competing, it is my belief that the Angels have been using these two terms as interchangeably the last few years. It isn’t enough to compete, they must be able to contend. It doesn’t seem to me that the Angels are anywhere near the ability to contend, at least not with the current configuration of the pitching staff. The trillion dollar question is, are the Angels’ players truly prepared for the upcoming season? They have nine days to figure it out, I for one, sincerely hope so.

-ICE

The Halo Is Removed, the Cuban Missile Is Disarmed and Moved

Kendrys Morales, “The Cuban Missile” has been moved from his launching pad at home plate in Angel Stadium to a new platform constructed just for him atop the Space Needle in Seattle. Morales was traded to the Seattle Mariners recently for Jason Vargas. Yes indeed, the Angels were a need of pitching, and although both players are in the last year of their contract, I for one am not comfortable with this trade.

I’m not convinced that he should’ve been traded within the American League West. I’m not a big fan of trading within the division, it is quite possible that he may become known as an “Angels Killer” similar to Vladimir Guerrero and Mike Napoli did when they were both with the Texas Rangers. Trading Morales severely limits the Angels’ flexibility at first base. For example, Mark Trumbo is interchangeable between First Base, the Outfield, and the Designated Hitter position. While both Kendrys Morales and Albert Pujols are interchangeable between the Designated Hitter and the first base positions. It was supposed to be this ability to mix and match coupled with the acquisition of Josh Hamilton that would’ve made the Angels a potent offensive lineup.

With Morales no longer in the picture that ability is now gone. This leaves the door wide open for Vernon Wells to infiltrate the Angels’ lineup as a Designated Hitter from time to time. Wells in my mind has really become a non-factor and is more of a hindrance than an asset to the Angels.

I understand that the Angels need pitching badly, but it seems they have gone away from developing a good farm system so they don’t have to trade valuable assets like Morales. We all know the names: Francisco “K.-Rod” Rodriguez, Troy Percival, Jared Weaver, among others. Our farm system is depleted, at what point do we start reloading it? Morales was an in-house product, had our farm system been developed; we wouldn’t need to trade such a wonderful talent.

Who knows, Vargas may work out, the question remains whether this particular way of the Angels doing business will be sustainable for the long-term ability to contend for multiple World Series championships.

-ICE

Waiting for Sunrise

It’s hard to describe how I feel as an Angels’ fan right now, it feels like rather than staying the course the Angels insist on making it hard on themselves. They decide not to give Torii Hunter and offer sheet, which would have at the very least guaranteed the Angels compensation picks if Hunter signs somewhere else. That’s a head scratcher. Why wouldn’t the team at least guarantee themselves compensation picks? It seems like a no-brainer, you have a player that came off a career year, why wouldn’t you at least guarantee yourself a plan B in case you lose a good player that made an impact on your team?

Dan Haren is another head scratcher, sure, he had a subpar and injury plagued season. One has to go with the times and exercise that option, especially since there is no pitcher on the free-agent market that would be worth risking major money, outside of Zack Greinke. Especially since recently traded away Ervin Santana to the Kansas City Royals for for left-handed reliever Brandon Sisk and cash considerations. This could be viewed as a salary dump, why get rid of a player who wasn’t spectacular but nonetheless held himself afloat and up to be the fourth or fifth Angels’ starter.

Give Torii Hunter the chance to win a championship with the Angels! I would hate to see him sign with the Rangers, and see them do exactly what Mike Napoli and Vladimir Guerrero have done to the Angels in the past. Think about it, Hunter signing with the Rangers is the most logical choice. Hunter lives in Dallas, he wants to play for a championship contender, and he would have the added bonus of playing his former team for most of a year. The Rangers fit all of Hunter requirements.

Jerry Dipoto seems to be in the mood of erasing any fingerprint with Tony Riggins on it, as our general manager is going to go that route; he should examine the contract of Vernon Wells. Vernon Wells has proven to be a bust in an Angels’ uniform. I understand that the Angels would be responsible for most, if not all of his contract. At the very least however, it would free up a spot on the roster that should be given to a youngster that wants to contribute to the team something Vernon Wells is no longer capable of doing in my opinion.

Things in the American League West have gotten interesting, the baseball realignment has happened. The Houston Astros are now in the American League West. It’s going to be intriguing to see how the introduction of the Astros into a new division of next the win and loss record of the other teams in the division. I believe the Astros are way over the head, they have entered a very tough division in at least for this year, they have been sent to feed the other teams, maybe with the exception of Seattle.
I don’t know what’s going on, I wish I did, but when above average players put on the Angels’ uniform the quality of play seems to take a dive. Vernon Wells is the most glaring example. However in another great example is Fernando Rodney who received the Comeback Player of the Year award for his stellar performance this past season with the Tampa Bay Rays. Where was that Fernando Rodney when he was with the Angels? For that matter, the Vernon Wells that played in Toronto? It’s perplexing how good players don’t seem to flourish with this organization.

Yes, it’s hard to describe how I feel as an Angels’ fan right now, however the beautiful thing is for every sunset there is a sunrise. The problem is sometimes the key pieces that you see before you read before you go to sleep, and expect to be there when you wake up, are just not there. When the sun rises on the new season I hope that the right pieces are there, not only to compete, but to contend this upcoming season. Just like we as fans wait for the on the rise on the new upcoming season, the Angels must wake up from their delusional dream and realize that they are keeping the wrong pieces and letting the right pieces go.

-ICE

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

Will There Be a Halo over the Baseball Casino?

It’s that time of year again. The time of year when Major League Baseball resembles the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The time a year with the wheeling and dealing begins. It’s known throughout baseball as the July 31 trading deadline.

There have been conflicting reports both over the Internet and in the local newspapers that cover the Angels. Some outlets are reporting that the Angels tend to stay pat, others are reporting that they plan to be minimally active. I think the Halos need to make a move especially since there has been a rule change regarding the wild-card the second wild-card and the play in game changes everything there are teams at this point I could very easily claim the second spot if they make the right moves. The Angels are one of those teams.

I believe that the Angels should trade for Zack Greinke from the Milwaukee Brewers for Peter Bourjos, Ervin Santana and maybe a couple of draft picks. It would be great if the Angels could trade Peter Bourjos for Zack Greinke. However, I don’t think the Brewers would give up a starting pitcher for an outfielder without someone to replace him on the pitching staff that’s why Ervin Santana will be included in trade. The Angels have a logjam in their outfield especially once Vernon Wells comes back.

The Angels need to be proactive now and prepare for the eventual situations that may come about. Zack Greinke would help the Angels compete for the wild-card were even overtake the Texas Rangers for that division lead in the American League West, but really all Angels need is a wild-card spot since we all know what happened last time they clinched the wild card. We don’t really need to win the division in order to win all, evidence of this is 2002 when the Angels were crowned the 2002 World Series Champions.

Tonight, ESPN Sunday Night Baseball features the Angels versus the Rangers in the Angels need to take advantage of these head-to-head matchups against the Rangers, since the Angels can’t seem to take advantage of Rangers’ losses when they need to the most.

-ICE

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