Results tagged ‘ Starting Rotation ’

MLB 150: 150 Years of Tradition

Tradition, this is what comes to mind when one thinks about the 150th anniversary of Major League Baseball. 150 years, of America’s pastime; the oldest sport in existence in the United States. A sport that has made history, with names like Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, Sandy Koufax, Lou Gehrig, Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, and in time, Mike Trout. These names is what makes a sport standalone as part of the American fabric, it is the only sport in my opinion that one can be of average height and weight and with just pure talent still make an impact.

 

It is this anniversary that makes the season feel special for all the teams and fans of Major League Baseball. This is especially true for the Cincinnati Reds who celebrate their 150th anniversary as a franchise; as they were the first team founded during the creation of Major League Baseball.

 

Just as the season is a milestone for professional baseball, it also is a congruent milestone for the Halos since shortly before the start of the season the Angels signed Mike Trout to a long term contract, essentially, making him an Angel for life. Trout, has decided to follow the path of Tim Salmon and Lou Gehrig, remaining one uniform for his entire career.

 

Mike Trout has begun another stellar season by making a considerable contribution to the team once again. The team however, has been on a roller coaster ride since the beginning of the season starting the season one and six, then going seven and one in the span of eight games, and most recently they were swept by the Texas Rangers in this last series. The Halos are currently 8-10.

 

The Angels have fallen victim to more than their fair share of injuries, and this year is no exception. Injuries include Shohei Ohtani who is still recovering from Tommy John surgery. Justin Upton, Tyler Skaggs, and Andrew Heaney, or among the notable injuries thus far, this is not included Mike Trout, who was out for a few days with strained groin.

 

The starting rotation this year is far from stable, adding to the ups and downs of this metaphorical roller coaster. The Halos must stabilize their trajectory and travel on an even plain. How do they do that? There is one transaction that the Angels can make right now to improve the pitching staff, they can do so by signing Dallas Keuchel. Reports have surfaced that he is willing to sign a one-year deal. This perspective transaction has a potential of shifting the balance of power in the American League West. Dallas Keuchel is a former Houston Astro, as such, he is familiar Astros’ organization; such a contract signing, would help the Angels stabilize their rotation. In turn, allowing them to have more success on the field. What do they have to lose? The Angels must find a way to get off this roller coaster.

 

 

The 150th anniversary of Major League Baseball is a special milestone for the sport. It would be wonderful if the Angels could mark this milestone with a congruent milestone of their own, a World Series championship.

 

-ICE

Will Angel Stadium and Mike Trout Lose Their Halos?

 

When I was formulating this entry I knew from the beginning that it would be very personal for me to write, I debated for an entire week whether two separate the two issues that I wanted to talk about into two separate entries or write about them together. I quickly realized that the answer was obvious, the two issues that I want to discuss our intertwined and I can’t really talk about one issue without talking about the other; so writing about Angel Stadium and Mike Trout separately didn’t make much sense to me.

 

Sports’ have a way of uniting communities for the better with a singular identity between the franchise and the city in which the franchise resides in, it’s a special interdependency that gives both the team and the community and intertwined identity. Some examples of this are the San Francisco 49ers helping the city of San Francisco heal after the assassinations of its mayor and a supervisor in the 1970’s or the Boston Red Sox helping the city heal after the Boston Marathon bombing; sometimes the identity between a city and its franchise become so intertwined that it’s tough to differentiate or even imagine two separate entities.

 

An example of the latter is the case of the Angels and the city of Anaheim. The Angels moved to Anaheim in 1966. Creating a singular identity for Anaheim and the rest of  Orange County separate from the Los Angeles Dodgers and the city of Los Angeles. I was born and raised in Orange County, and grew up about three and half miles away from Angel Stadium. Yes, I absolutely love my Lakers but it is nice to have a team closer to home that we as a community don’t have to share with another city much less another County, I have similar feelings of allegiance towards the Anaheim Ducks.

 

Until recently the Angels had a lease with Angel Stadium until 2029 with a opt-out clause that was exercised by the franchise this past off-season. The Angels franchise and the city of Anaheim recently agreed to a short-term extension until the end of the 2020 season, in order to give the two sides time to discuss a possible extension that would be more amicable to both sides. During these talks between the two parties, The city of Long Beach has reached out to the Angels franchise about the possibility of moving the team and building a stadium in Long Beach.

 

As an Angels’ fan for over 30 years, I can see the appeal of moving to Long Beach, however, from a pragmatic, financial, and business standpoint it doesn’t make much sense to me, let’s assume the Angels do move to Long Beach. They would be in close proximity to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Angels would be in more direct competition with the Los Angeles Dodgers, I find it hard to believe that the Angels would be very successful in prying away fans from a well-established franchise such as a Dodgers. The relationship between the Dodgers and the city of Los Angeles is too entrenched for the Angels to have any measure of success.

 

It is for this same reason that I believe the Angels would be more successful staying in Anaheim. The Angels identity is Anaheim no matter how many name changes the Angels franchise decides to go through. Anaheim is far enough away from Los Angeles for the team to have its own distinct relationship with the city, additionally the location in Anaheim is situated such that the Stadium sits next to a Metrolink and  Amtrak train station that very easily brings people from all over Southern California without causing Stadium goers to think twice about traffic, while at the same time saving the fans that use the train Stadium parking fees. The Angels would be better off in my opinion taking advantage of the public transportation options surrounding the Stadium, including the Orange County bus system that facilitates the ability of fans to attend games. If the franchise goal is to draw more fans in, moving to Long Beach seems counterintuitive. I sincerely hope that the Angels franchise realizes how intertwined they are in the Orange County community, I highly doubt they can duplicate the loyal fan base if they move to the Los Angeles area. While I realize Angels’ ownership is always wanted to be in direct competition for the Los Angeles fan base, it’s important not to forget about the Orange County fan base; as the old adage goes, “if you stand too close to the fire, you’re going to get burned.” In my opinion, if the Angels do decide to move from Angel Stadium, this is going to monumentally backfire on the organization. I love the organization too much to not at the very least express my very personal opinion, I do not want to see Angel Stadium lose its Halo.

 

Perpetually intertwined with Angel Stadium and the Angels franchise is the future of Mike Trout, how will the Angel Stadium negotiations or a potential move affect Mike Trout’s desire to stay? There is no question that the Angels need to put better pieces around Mike Trout especially pitching both in the bullpen and in the starting rotation. In order for them to do this, they must be able to successfully put fans in the seats, something that is extremely difficult to do given that they would have to draw from the same local fan base that the Dodgers do, which would hamper the Angels ability to successfully draw fans, from a dwindling fan pool; in turn, this scenario brings us back to the Stadium situation, if this happens, Mike Trout is as good as gone. Trout, is a throwback to an old time baseball player, he is a baseball purist, and although money is important to him it is not as important as being successful at winning championships. The Angels must find a way to contend, not just compete in order to convince Trout to stay. It’s going to take much more than just beating Bryce Harper’s 13 year, over a quarter of $1 billion contract to convince Trout that he belongs in an Angels’ uniform for the rest of his career. The team must show its willingness and ability to contend and be close to winning every year that he is involved with the team.

 

I highly doubt the Mike Trout cares about is state-of-the-art Stadium or how many fans the Angels can possibly pry away from the Dodgers, however these two items are intertwined and it won’t mean much if he Stays or goes if the Angels don’t figure out a way to contend and win. It won’t matter if the Stadium is state-of-the-art if no one’s around to watch Mike Trout and the rest of the team play.

 

The Angels are definitely in a conundrum and face the very real possibility that both Angel Stadium and Mike Trout will lose their Halos. It is my very sincere and deep love for this team that makes me hope neither of these two situations happen.

 

-ICE

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 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

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

 

 

 

The Halo Shines Bright Over Anaheim

Opening Day brings the promise to every franchise in Major League Baseball, every franchise and  their fan base, they believe in the promise of a World Series championship; as the season progresses the optimism evolves into realism and with each game that passes fans are able to see the progression or regression of their favorite team.

 

The Angels are 6-2, in their first eight games, are undefeated at home and are in first place in the American League West. I know it’s early, however in the last few seasons the Angels were notorious for starting off slow in April. This is clearly not the case this year, the Halos have already pulled off two  tremendous comebacks one against the Seattle Mariners and last night against the Texas Rangers.

 

What is the difference? The difference is the Angels finally addressed the roster problems of the last few years, second base and left field, leading to a strengthening in team defense and offense, which are both spectacular, their base running has also improved more specifically their ability to go from first to third base with not much effort; starting pitching and the bullpen however, although not terrible; are still a little suspect. The most important ingredient of all is that they are having fun. Something I haven’t seen in the last few seasons.

 

As a fan it is very exciting to watch his team play they’ve demonstrated an uncanny ability to come back and win. I believe that’s a product of how much fun they’re having, and just playing the game without reservation.

 

There’s an excitement in Anaheim around his team that I haven’t seen in years, aside from the diehard Angels’ fans like me who are always excited. The fans support this year is making it very hard for visiting teams to come in to The Big A and win. That’s the way it should be, the Halo should always shine bright over Anaheim.

 

-ICE

It’s Time for a Change in the Halo Recipe and/or the Chef

The Halo is closed for repairs; it will reopen in early April. Hopefully when it reopens it will be vastly improved. The Angels finished the season with an 8-2 record over the final 10 games. While that was a positive sign, it was too little, too late in my humble opinion.

 

To say the Angels must improve is an understatement, they had an injury-riddled starting rotation and bullpen. I cannot recall one game this season when the pitching staff was at full strength; since they Halos don’t have much of a farm system to speak of, they couldn’t replenish any deficiencies on the team. The left-field experiment was a disaster; I feel that was the team’s weakest link this year.

 

Mike Scioscia has become complacent since 2009 he hasn’t shown anything of significance, nothing that makes this team stand out from the pack. He needs to find a way to ignite both the team and the fan base, I do not deny that he knows his baseball, unfortunately, it isn’t enough. Mike Scioscia reminds me of a chef that substitutes French fries when the recipe clearly calls for exotic Cajun fries. In other words, it is not enough to know the game of baseball, when the brand of baseball is clearly bland; he needs to find a way to add some flavor and distinction to this baseball team. I feel that although he has a wonderful baseball mind, he has lost his creativity, the Halos cannot afford for the chef in the kitchen lose his ability to create distinct flavors, especially with the team as talented as this one.

 

How can the recipe be changed? First and foremost, the Angels need to address left-field. There is really no big name out there in the free-agent market this year that is an instant game changer, with the exception of perhaps Mark Trumbo. Some argue that he is not consistent enough at the plate to make much of a difference, and while I do see the substance of the argument, we don’t have much of a farm system to draw from; although Mark Trumbo is not a marquee name out there, he is a former Angel, he knows the system and given this year’s free-agent market he is the best option.

 

Will this change in ingredients add any flavor to the recipe? Let’s hope so, for the sake of both the team and the fan base. The chef must create a more potent championship recipe, if he cannot do so, he must be escorted out of the baseball kitchen.

 

-ICE

 

 

 

 

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