Results tagged ‘ Tigers ’

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

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

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 Are Starting to Create a Buzz Just As I Acquire My Bee Wings

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My trip home is sadly coming to an end, I head back To the State capitol tomorrow morning. I was able to catch two games while I was home, against the new arrivals to the American League West, the Houston Astros; and the forever hated rival the Oakland Athletics. After a sweep by the A’s, they lost the series against the Twins in Minnesota (there is one more game to be played in Minnesota since the last game of the series was postponed) the Angels came home to take two out of three from the Houston Astros and unbelievably sweept the Detroit Tigers.

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Yoenis Céspedes preparing for a plate appearance.

Yoenis Céspedes preparing for a plate appearance.

Albert Pujols in his batting stance at Home Plate.

Albert Pujols in his batting stance at Home Plate.

The Angels are on quite a turnaround, they outscored the Tigers 22-4 in the three-game series. I’m especially impressed by the youngsters; relief pitcher Michael Roth who was promoted from Double-A affiliate the Arkansas Travelers directly to the major league squad; he is holding his own quite well. Luis Jimenez who was promoted from Triple-A Bees and is doing quite well at third base, and last but certainly not least; Mike Trout hit his first career grand slam on Saturday afternoon in the 10-0 shellacking of Detroit Tigers.

Leaving home for me is bittersweet, first and foremost I miss my family tremendously, and it is always hard to be away from home especially during baseball season. Unlike when I lived in the Bay Area when I could see the Angels every time they played the Oakland Athletics, Sacramento does not have a major league team. Sacramento is the home of the Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland A’s; the Sacramento River Cats. I hope that I’m able to catch a few games when they play the Salt Lake City Bees that way, I am at least able to see future Angels play the game that I love.

Tonight begins a “Texas sized” series against the Texas Rangers, it is my hope that the Angels are able to continue their winning ways and slowly but surely climb into the upper echelons of the American League West.

It is my sincere hope that the Angels turn it around, so the next time I come home, which will be soon; I’m able to enjoy the sweet nectar that is brought when the Angels play to their potential, and “light up the Halo!”

-ICE

The Sky Is Always Darkest before the Dawn

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

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

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

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

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

-ICE

Cabrera Is a Fish Out Of Water, the American League MVP Award Should Belong to a Trout

Yesterday as I was watching game three of the World Series, I found myself thinking about the Angels’ season. While at the same time watching in awe as sheer domination of the San Francisco Giants over the Detroit Tigers. I thought to myself, “it’s interesting how the Angels better season record 89-73 compared with the Tigers who finished 88-74 they had a better record than the Tigers, yet finished in third place in the American League West, while the weaker record was good enough to win the American League Central.”

That in turn made me ponder as to who will win the American League Most Valuable Player award, the Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera or the Angels’ Mike Trout. I must say up front, that it would be ludicrous of me to say that I am completely unbiased; however I believe that the award should belong to Trout.

My reasoning is simple, the Angels even though they did not make the playoffs, they finished with a better record than the Tigers in the much tougher American League West. The most valuable player award is also an individual award. The award does not and should not measure team success, the World Series Trophy exist for that recognition. The most valuable player award recognizes the impact a player has made on the team as well as personal success. Mike Trout’s statistical numbers are phenomenal.

Yes, I do realize that Cabrera won the Triple Crown, but I think as far as his personal success impacting the team to the extent that team succeeds is negligible. Mike Trout’s success dictated the success of the Angels this season. Yes, the Tigers have made to the World Series but they have a weaker record in the Angels; thus, his impact on the team not as drastic as Trout’s.

I know people may disagree with me, and that’s completely okay, it all comes down to how the baseball writers interpret the numbers. I sincerely hope that they look at the individual numbers is well as each players’ environment the Angels boast a better record in what proved to be the toughest division in baseball, and Mike Trout is largely responsible for the Angels dramatic turnaround.

-ICE

Rally Monkeys with Halos Are Swinging from Oak Trees, This Time With a Broom

How ironic, in my last entry I wrote about the Angels versus the Athletics and for this entry I will do the same thing. As I mentioned in my last entry, I went home to Southern California to take care of some family matters. As such, I was unable to write any entries when my home because I lack the technology necessary for example the voice recognition software in order for me to type at home. Now, in addition to my desktop I now have a laptop which will allow me to write entries from home whenever I go to see the Angels live. So the amount of time between entries whenever I go home should be minimized.

I think that not being able to write for a few weeks was a blessing in disguise. I went home to see the Angels play the Cleveland Indians; a game in which they lost. The Halos went on to lose the series against the Indians who took two out of three from the Angels. The Angels went on the road only to be swept by the Tampa Bay Rays, and lose two out of three games against the Tigers in Detroit. It was quite a free fall and I honestly thought that although they were not mathematically eliminated from postseason contention, I believed at that point that their poor play created a daunting task that they might not overcome. There were a lot of things on my mind at that point regarding my beloved team. I just could not write my thoughts down.

It was really frustrating not to be one who express myself at that point about this team, but like I said, I think it was a blessing in disguise. Since then the Halos took the three-game series against the Mariners, swept the A’s in Oakland and came back home to sweep the Tigers. After all this, the Angels find themselves only six games behind the Texas Rangers for that division lead and one game out of the American League Wild Card. With a big series starting tonight against the A’s in Anaheim and a big series against the Rangers at home with three games against the Royals in Kansas City sandwiched in between these two big series.

If the Angels can only continue their sweeping ways against Oakland and the Rangers and take two out of three from the Royals the Angels could quite possibly being the mix for the American League West division title again. I am well aware that this is a tall order for the Angels but they have demonstrated especially with their play as of late, that they are quite capable of being the team the Angels’ fan base expected them to be. The Rally Monkey must be wide awake with his broom in hand and continue his sweeping ways in order to help the Angels into the postseason.

-ICE

The Angels Must Fly Alongside “Bats” Not Try to Ride “Bulls”

I don’t know which is more frustrating, the bullpen debacles or the fact that the Angels cannot take advantage of the opportunities to cut into the Texas Rangers’ lead in the American League West. Yesterday was the Texas Rangers being idle the Angels’ bullpen gave up a game that they had all but won. The Halos had a 5-2 lead at one point and had a 5-4 lead after six innings ultimately losing the game 8-6.

If the baseball season ended today the Angels would have the second wild-card spot and would be playing the Detroit Tigers in the wild-card play in game at Angel Stadium in Anaheim. The Angels went on to annihilate the Detroit Tigers today 13-0.

I think it is key for the Angels to take advantage of the opportunities given to them by the Texas Rangers especially since they are coming here and far between. The Halos started three-game series against the Rangers on Friday. ideally the Angels need to sweep the series or at the very least take two out of three. They need to be able to take advantage of Rangers losses as well as be able to beat them head to head, especially with the number of injuries the Rangers are going through at the moment.

The prospect of the Angels clinching the second wild-card to play in the postseason makes me nervous. The last time the Angels had to play game number 163 was when they gave up a 10 game American League West lead and lost to the Seattle Mariners in Seattle.In the mid-1990s

It has it to be seen how the positioning in the standings end up. Either way I have a feeling this season will end like it started, historic.

-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

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