Results tagged ‘ Swept ’

Red Brooms, Red Birds, and Cincinnati Reds

For those that don’t know, red is my favorite color independent from the Angels, to me it represents the color of passion, dedication, focus, and love. Red is very versatile, it makes its presence known, it can’t be ignored, and can’t be overlooked.

 

Over the last couple of series, the color red is very meaningful for the Halos. The red of this Saint Louis Cardinals who showed their red particularly to Albert Pujols their love for Albert was evident in three-game series in Saint Louis, as an Angels’ fan, I appreciate passionate fans such as Redbird fans.

 

The Angels also are metaphorically seeing red as in having to play seven games in two of the last remaining stadiums with artificial turf, Tampa Bay, (St. Petersburg) and Toronto, Ontario Canada home of the Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays respectively; and last but certainly not least red brooms as in the sweep of both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds.

 

I postulated in my previous entry that the Angels have time to turn things around and that it had to start with a statement to the best team in baseball record wise, the Los Angeles Dodgers; indeed they did. The Halos went on to win their next seven of nine games, they went on the three-game losing streak and then swept the Cincinnati Reds. As of right now, officially halfway through the season through 81 games the Angels sit 41-40, although the situation is not ideal, considering all the injuries they continue to deal with this year they are still well within striking distance of the American League wildcard.

 

They start a four-game series today with their chief American League rival, the Oakland Athletics, the Angels must unequivocally improve their record within the division to make this season is successful one. They must become metaphorically speaking red-hot, in order to tinge the playoffs with Angels’ red.

 

Red, an unequivocally beautiful color, representing passion, focus, and love. The Angels must have the passion and focus to improve this season, and  love for the game to be successful.

 

-ICE

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

The Tale of Two Halos

The Angels have had an interesting season thus far; there are instances when it’s the best of times, yet there are other instances when it’s the worst of times. The Angels have been decimated by injuries at the absolute worst time. A few examples are C. J. Cron, who went down right when his bat was warming up, or Garrett Richards and Andrew Heaney both of whom are essential to the Halos’ success. Yet another example is the missing contribution of C. J. Wilson who was unable to throw a single pitch this season because of injury. With three-fifths of the starting rotation out of commission it’s surprising that the Angels have been able to function much less stay together as a team. At one point this season they were down 19 ½ games in their division with little hope of recovery.

In contrast, shortly before the All-Star break the Angels somehow managed to slowly bring it together with contributions of the now injured C.J. Cron. At one point they were able to string together 34 runs over four games before losing the pre All-Star break finale.

Since the All-Star break the Halos have come roaring back. They have yet to lose a game post All-Star break. They swept the division leading Texas Rangers and now move on to face the Houston Astros and continue this hopeful remarkable comeback. The Halos are now 11.5 games back begging the question if they will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline.

It is no secret that the Angels don’t have much of a farm system which necessitates them to be sellers in order to rebuild such a devastated system. If this is indeed the case who would be on the trading block? Matt Shoemaker, who so far has had the best season of anyone in the rotation. Hector Santiago, who is arguably the heart and soul of the pitching staff. He plays the game with an unmatched passion which I like to call “Controlled Chaos.” What impact will Tyler Skaggs have on this team when he is ready to come back from injury? How will the injury to Nick Tropeano impact the rotation?

In contrast would the Halos have the heart to take apart a team that appears to be chemically coming together with an unmatched chemistry that was far delayed? Will they be able to find some way to improve this team and still have enough pieces to exchange? There is an old baseball adage that states you have to give up something to get something. Who will the Angels give up that would both have minimal impact on the team and still get someone of value back in order to help this team succeed?

If the Angels find a way to reconcile this conflicting enigma I believe they have enough to create a solid base to build on for next year, if not, by some miracle make up the division deficit and attempt to contend this season.

The answer lies in resolving the contradicting tales of these two Halos and finding a conclusion to this developing novel which has the potential to become a classic masterpiece of a season. How will the tale end? On one side will this be a reflection on a successful season? Or a tale of how a string of injuries derailed this cast of characters? How long will this novel be? Are we reaching the final pages? Or are there many pages yet to be written? My sincere hope is that it is the latter.

-ICE

The Angels Are Caught in a Playground of Nightmares

There are numerous clichés that one can use to refer to this baseball season for the Angels; a recurring one for the Halos is, “baseball is a marathon, not a sprint.” Unfortunately this is nothing new for the Angels. They have started off slow in previous years. The Halos as of yesterday, are in third place in the American League West. However, this time around the Angels find themselves temporarily trapped in the playground of nightmares.

 

The Seesaw

 

This first piece of spine tingling playground equipment is the seesaw, the Angels swept the defending World Series Champions Kansas City Royals; in a previous home stand, the Angels were swept one entire home series, by losing six straight against the Tampa Bay Rays and St. Louis Cardinals. In only to rebound after falling victim to the home sweep, they swept the then first place Seattle Mariners in Seattle. The Angels continued their way up by defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 7-6 yesterday in the first game of the home at home Freeway Series. Hopefully the seesaw will stop soon, however, only time will tell.

 

The Injury Carousel

 

This second skin curdling piece of equipment is the worst of the two. The Angels as of this morning have seven players on the disabled list, with outfielder Daniel Nava expected to be the eighth player to join the list very soon. Three of the seven are part of the starting rotation and all three are on the 60 day disabled list. The Angels’ closer, Houston Street is also part of this list. The Halos are definitely riding the carousel of tears.

 

Hopefully the Angels will find the way out of this playground of nightmares very soon. There is a rampant rumor that they are close to contractually soliciting the assistance of The Freak to assist them out of the playground. If they Halos do end up coming to terms with the former San Francisco Giants pitcher, Tim Lincecum, I will have a forthcoming reaction to this occurrence.

 

-ICE

The Flickering Halo

It is often said that baseball is a marathon, not a sprint; others say, you can’t win it in April, but you can lose it in April. One describes patience, while the other describes focus and urgency. I believe, that there is a balance between the two perspectives, however patience can only be afforded during the first month and a half of the season in order not to rely on other teams collapsing the second half of the season and thus, a given team is able to control their own playoff destiny.

Through 58 games, the Angels are 29-29 an even .500, with the 59th game in progress. They are 4 1/2 games back of the surprising Houston Astros, in the American League West, Houston is a team that seems to be leaving orbit and coming back to earth, the Astros have lost six straight.

The Halo is flickering, sometimes it is very bright, as evident by a sweep of the Detroit Tigers at Angel Stadium, and sometimes the Halo is completely dark, as the Angels were swept by the Yankees in New York. The Halos also lost two out of three games to The Tampa Bay Rays. The series with the Rays was sandwiched in between the two appearances of the broom.

Why is a team that is so talented on paper only .500? Some site the lack of production from the offense since all but two of the combined 32 home runs between Albert Pujols and Mike Trout have been solo home runs.

While that is absolutely true, I would point to something else, if one juxtaposes the runs scored versus runs allowed, one sees the issue. So far this season, coming into today’s game, the Angels as a team have scored 233 runs; the Angels pitching staff as a whole has allowed 232 runs this includes unearned runs. This is a net difference of only +1 run. To me, this explains a lot, the Angels don’t need to add another bat they simply need to shore up their pitching and defense. It doesn’t really matter if this team can average 25 runs a game if the opponent can score 26. A big bat wouldn’t make much of a difference.

What can be done? Barring a major successful blockbuster trade, not much can be done. However, the Angels do have Andrew Heaney in the farm system, he is currently in AAA with the Salt Lake City Bees. He has a 6-2 record with a 4.39 Earned Run Average, he might not be ready for the majors just yet, but he is an option to improve the pitching staff.

There are 102 games left in the season, including the game in progress, and while that is true that baseball is a marathon, the Angels need to get themselves within striking distance of leadership of the division very soon.

-ICE

The Angels Fall Victim to a Royal Flush

I thought this year was going to be different. The Angels had home-field advantage throughout the playoffs including the World Series. I thought this was going to be the year that the Angels finally made it out of the first round into the American League Championship Series for the first time since 2009. I thought this was the year that we were finally going to see the postseason version of Mike Trout.

The Angels had horrible offensive numbers, they were only able to muster six runs in the entire series four which, were home runs. They were a miserable two for 28 with runners in scoring position. The offense was anemic, not what one would expect for a team that led all Major League Baseball in runs scored this season.

It was a perfect storm, bad strategies by Mike Scioscia, and the inept offense, excellent Royals defense, and a short series. I question now and will question again the manager’s decision to play Josh Hamilton, Hamilton looked psychologically absent, away from the moment, an empty gaze, as he was just moving for the sake of repetition at the plate, his body language appeared to be nonchalant; he lacked the hunger and the drive that he so desperately needed to strategically dismantle the Royals’ pitching perfection. Granted, Hamilton was recovering from an injury, but this isn’t the regular season, it’s the postseason, the Halos didn’t have time to wait for Hamilton to get back into the groove. Collin Cowgill was a better option to take Hamilton’s place. I am puzzled by Mike Scioscia’s insistence to keep the Hamilton in the lineup when he was preforming so poorly, why mess up the team’s chemistry and cohesion? If one remembers when the Angels had their 10 game winning streak that help them capture the American League West title Hamilton was not in the lineup amidst that run.
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The eighth inning of game two is another example of bad strategy, with men on base, Kole Calhoun was called on to bunt in 3-1 Count, to my recollection I have never seen him bunt before, why not let him swing away? He is a heavy hitter. Why try to reinvent the wheel in the middle of the postseason? Why not leave the bunting to a player who has done it before and is successful at it? This wasn’t the Angels team that we were accustomed to seeing in the regular season.

As my birthday winds down to a close today, I wish I had better news to write about. Taking nothing away from Kansas City, the Angels were outplayed and Kansas City was clearly the better team. The old cliché applies here, “there is always next season.” Hopefully the Angels make the right moves to be competitive next season. Indeed, the Angels fell victim to a Royal flush.

-ICE

The Showdown Became a Meltdown in Oaktown

The showdown has come and gone, I feel like I just watched a highly anticipated sequel to a blockbuster movie that turns out to be a disappointment. Unfortunately this metaphor perfectly describes the range of emotions I experienced as an Angels’ fan in this latest series against the Oakland Athletics.

The Angels lost five out of the six games this season so far against the green and gold. This series was essentially a meltdown in Oaktown, not only would the Angels swept by the Athletics but it was the Halos’ worst performance in the series thus far. The Angels were outscored 26-11. Over the last 20 games the Angels averaged 3.3 runs allowed, in comparison to 8.7 runs allowed in the Oakland series. They plummeted from 1 1/2 games behind the A’s to 4 1/2 by the end of the series. It should be said however, that Mike Trout only played in one game of the series, he missed the remaining two games with ongoing back stiffness that continued to affect him during the series against the Houston Astros. The Halos also dropped two out of three in Houston.

They are headed home tonight to play the White Sox hopefully they can turn things around. After the White Sox leave town, the Angels will have a chance to avenge the sweep as the Oakland Athletics come to town for a three-game series starting Monday. I sincerely hope that this upcoming series against the A’s is retribution, not repetition.

-ICE

The Double-Edged Sword

It is the beginning of the 2014 baseball season, and I must say I’m pretty optimistic about the Angels chances this year. Yes the club is 3-5, however to paraphrase my good friend Roger Lodge; it’s still early. I don’t know that be claimed in late April to early May but for now, I think that’s the proper way to look at things.

Josh Hamilton is swinging the bat at nearly. 500 it’s very difficult to do much better, this is the Josh Hamilton the team was expecting when he signed that multiyear contract; he went down with an injury yesterday to his thumb but I’m hoping it’s a minor injury and his time away from the diamond is minimal.

Albert Pujols’ bat is starting to warm up, he hit a two-run home run yesterday, his first of the season. The question is, is the old Albert Pujols back? Maybe, he is getting older, while I don’t expect him to put up the ridiculous numbers he did in St. Louis I do expect him to have a solid year, although if he wants to revert to the Albert Pujols that was with the Cardinals I am not going to complain. Let’s not forget about Mr. Freeze (David Friese) who hit his first homer of the season as well, if the offense can live up to its potential and expectations, we Angels’ fans are in for a pretty exciting season.

I don’t have any delusions of grandeur because I know this team has a double edge sword associated with it. This season as always will come down to pitching, both the starting rotation and bullpen. The Angels were swept by the Mariners, simply because of both starting pitching and the bullpen. With the starting pitching was solid, the bullpen was shaky at best, and vice versa. As any true baseball fan knows, the key to having a successful season is the pitching. I haven’t made up my mind how I feel about Hector Santiago yet, Tyler Skaggs has potential, we have yet to see if the grind of the season will get to him.

-ICE

A Bengal Broom + A Cosmic Broom = Seventh Heaven

It’s nice to be able to put the proverbial pen to paper again. life would be complete if I could get up every morning and just write about my favorite teams, but hey, life happens. I’m just glad to be able to take some time out of my very condense schedule lately and just write. With that said, let’s get down to business; shall we?

The Halos have had a season so far that has been below expectations. Yet, they’ve had some glimpses of greatness. Greatness, that we all know they can achieve. The Angels have swept the season series against the Detroit Tigers, a team that is heavily favored to represent the American League in the World Series. Was a Bengal broom enough? Of course not, the Halos got a matching cosmic broom by sweeping the Houston Astros in Houston, making our season series record against the Astros a little more respectable and less laughable. With these two sweeps, the Angels have come roaring back from fourth place; 12 games back to now third-place, 8.5 games back with just a little more than two games past the midpoint of the season.

As excited as I am, I’m not going to get ahead of myself. The Angels are still below .500 and are 10-23 in series so far this season. This record will have to improve dramatically if they have any shot at making the postseason. It does seem however, that this team is finally playing to their potential. Mike Trout is mirroring the near M.V.P. Season he had a year ago. The bullpen finally is coming around and is looking solid which enables this team to hold leads. The formula still isn’t perfect, but this seven-game winning streak is a start. seven is definitely heaven.

-ICE

“Houston, We Have a Problem”

After a sweep of the Seattle Mariners and the Kansas City Royals as part of an eight-game win streak, and when it all seemed to finally becoming together, the cruel hand of reality Has once again grounded this underachieving Angels team.

They were swept by the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in the first half of the Freeway series, when the scenery switched back to Angel Stadium for the second half of the Freeway series; the Angels swept the Dodgers thereby increasing their domination over the Dodgers at Angel Stadium to 13-6 the best home record against any one team in all of Major League Baseball since the inception of inter-league play in the regular-season. After that, they were swept by the Astros, and then split the two-game series versus the Cubs, resulting in a 3-5 home stand.

How does one make it to the World Series? The formula is pretty simple, win home series, try to win at least half of the road series, and finally and I believe most importantly, defeat the teams in your own division. Unfortunately the Angels have not been able to use this formula to their advantage despite the plethora of talent on this roster.

The series’ that the Halos have been able to win has been minimal, and their division record has not been very good. This has especially been the case with the Houston Astros, the Angels are 3-6 this season against the Astros. When the Astros joined the American League West in the beginning of this year as part of Major League Baseball realignment, the powerhouses in the division principally the Angels, the Athletics, and the Rangers were widely expected to feast on the Astros in order to bolster their overall record and improve their chances of making the postseason. Two of the three teams mentioned have taken advantage of this circumstance and for reasons I cannot explain, the Angels are not one of those teams.

The Halos have the talent, but Mike Scioscia in my opinion refuses to explore new options other than what he believes to be the road to victory. At this point of the season if the formula does not work Mr. Scioscia, then you must change it!

Here are a few suggestions, move Mike Trout to the leadoff spot, put Josh Hamilton second so he can see more fastballs with Albert Pujols hitting behind him. Similar to the way Torii Hunter was used last year, this strategy increased Hunter’s production, so much so that the Detroit Tigers are utilizing him in the same manner.

The second step, is to take advantage of base running pressure, one can do this by putting Peter Bourjos (when he comes off the disabled list) or J. B. Schuck and Erick Aybar in the eight and nine hole respectively; that way the Halos have speed on the bases so when the lineup turns over, the power hitters can take advantage of the opposing pitchers being off balance. In effect playing what Scioscia was so successful at one time, small ball. The Angels’ speedsters must be allowed to take calculated risks and steel more bases than they currently are. The worse that could happen is they lose the game, but aren’t they already doing that? So they have nothing to lose except keeping the opposing team off balance.

The Angels have a steep mountain to climb, I still hold out hope that they can do it. If they are indeed unsuccessful and don’t make the playoffs this year, I sincerely hope that the right changes are made, in order for this team to take advantage of the spectacular superstar talent they have on this roster. What solutions would you propose for this team?

-ICE

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