Results tagged ‘ Torii Hunter ’

Do the Angels Face a Check or Checkmate?

It is Friday, July 1, 2016, we are a little more than a week away from the All-Star break and a little more than the month away from the trade deadline; to say that the Halos are in trouble this season is a monumental understatement. They played a chess game of baseball and were unequivocally decimated.

In the previous entry I alluded to the fact that the Angels had a 13 game stretch against sub .500 teams within the American League West. I used the game of chess as a metaphor to describe the Halos perfect opportunity to strike, or at the very least put themselves in the position to attempt a strike within the division. Unfortunately for the Angels, they did exactly what they could not do. They went from 12 and a half games back in the beginning of the 13 game stretch to 18 1/2 games back by the end. The Angels’ record, 3-10; they wasted this golden opportunity.

 

There is an infinite list of problems with this team this particular season. Most Angels’ fans are going to point to the desolate condition of the starting rotation. While that may be true, there is a statistic that jumps out.

If one goes back to the beginning of the season and my rough calculations are correct, the Halos have a record of 5-31 when leading a game by three runs or less. Yes the starting rotation is in shambles however, the offense isn’t responding very well when they’re needed the most.

The long list of injuries to various players is also pointed as a determining factor for this team’s performance this season. I’m not quite sure that if this team was 100% healthy they would do much better. The problem is much bigger than just the injuries, it’s the management.

 

In January of 2009 Mike Scioscia signed a 10 year contract extension through 2018. He has been the manager since the 2000 season in a span of 16 years so far he has only brought one World Series championship to this franchise. (2002) Yes, he does have the highest winning percentage of any manager in Angels’ history. However, winning percentages are rarely remembered, what is remembered is championships. Mike Scioscia has not been handed average players during his tenure. These players include Vladimir Guerrero, Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Torii Hunter, just to name a few. In reality, he hasn’t found a way to win.

 

In my eyes, Mike Scioscia has become a bit complacent, he gets paid whether the Angels win or lose. There are numerous examples of the manager making the wrong decision, at the wrong time; for example, earlier this season, just as Matt Shoemaker began his uplifting turnaround, Mike Scioscia took out Shoemaker during a game when he was pitching very well, Mike Scioscia then proceeds to turn it over to the bullpen that in turn loses the game for Shoemaker.

 

 

 

Mike Scioscia’s obsession with using Cam Bedrosian out of the bullpen has cost the Angels a number of winnable games. Cam does not seem to be ready for the big lights of the major leagues; yet Mike Scioscia insists on using him in clearly the wrong situations. It is the introduction of this relief pitcher that causes the first domino to fall in a losing effort.

 

 

In my humble opinion Mike Scioscia also causes a negative effect on the franchise, again, this is due to the length of his contract; his complacency, and the amount of power he holds within the organization. Billy Eppler is a good general manager; I take nothing away from him. However, there was no need to replace Jerry DiPoto, the current Seattle Mariners’ General Manager and the former Angels’ General Manager. Jerry was forced to resign due to alleged disagreements in philosophy with Mike Scioscia. The result? The Mariners are 10 games better in the standings than the Angels are this season.

 

The Angels virtually have no pieces to trade at the trade deadline. How will this team get better? The injuries will heal, aside from some needs, this team is very talented. Where do the Angels go from here? They have no flexibility. They are losing the chess game of baseball very badly. In this chess game, do the Angels face a check or checkmate? Only time will tell.

-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

Stomper Mercilessly Stomps out the Rally Monkey Then Swept Him Away

The American League West Slugfest:

Stomper (Photograph Credit: HTTP://www.athletics.com)

Stomper (Photograph Credit: http://www.athletics.com)

Versus

The Rally Monkey (Photograph Credit: HTTP://www.Angels.com)

The Rally Monkey (Photograph Credit: http://www.Angels.com)

“It’ll be okay, we’ll get them tomorrow”. Those were the consoling words of a beautiful young usher as I was leading the deflated Angels’ fan base out of the front gates of Angel Stadium on Wednesday night. Tomorrow never came, the Angels were swept by the Oakland Athletics with a game one score of 9-5 a game two score of 11-5 and finally a game three score of 8-1.

First and foremost taking nothing away from the Oakland A’s, I tip my cap, they were the better team in the series and deserved to win. Second, I must thank the Oakland A’s for bringing to light to the rest of the world what diehard fans already know, the Angels are in trouble.

No matter where one looks, the starting rotation, the bullpen, or the offensive production there are many things to improve. Some will say that the Angels’ misfortunes are due to injury, but let me be realistic, Weaver’s injury was of zero impact for this series because his spot was not scheduled to be due up against the Oakland A’s. Ryan Madson is recovering from Tommy John surgery, although he is progressing nicely, it will still be quite a while before he can contribute to the team in any major capacity.

In previous entries, I questioned the Angels organizations personnel decisions. My concerns are coming true. I questioned the Angels decision not to extend a qualifying offer to Torii Hunter, now the Angels lack a legitimate number two hitter which they have tried to patch up with moving Mike Trout to the number two spot, consequently they now lack a legitimate leadoff hitter. What logic is there in the giving a contract to a pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery, a surgery which not all pitchers recover from; and not giving Dan Haren his club option? Dan Haren was also coming off an injury plagued year, but he wasn’t coming off Tommy John surgery, he could have made an immediate impact. This way of thinking doesn’t make sense to me, especially given the history of Angels’ pitching the last three years. The Angels don’t have the luxury to experiment and hope for the best. As I mentioned before, it’s not satisfactory to the Angels’ fan base for this team to compete, they must contend.

I am a strong believer that coaches in any sport have a lifespan if and only if they don’t evolve in their coaching techniques, methods, and application. When a coach evolves, it allows them to keep their players attention, by keeping things fresh and innovative; players are less likely to tune a coach out. Unfortunately, I think this is what’s happened to Mike Scioscia, he hasn’t evolved, and the players have tuned him out. The Halos are very talented, but there shouldn’t be any reason why they’re not producing and winning.

Yes, this team has a lot to work on, they need to figure themselves out extremely quickly or they are doomed to repeat the unsatisfactory season of a year ago. The good news is that there are 16 meetings left between the Oakland Athletics and the Angels, 16 meetings to avenge a sweep at home that hasn’t happened since the year 2000. I must admit the Angels got stomped on by a white elephant, however the Rally Monkey will rally, that’s his nature; Stomper better be ready when the next rounds come about. This was only the first three rounds of the 19 round American League West slugfest. Go Angels!

-ICE

Related Articles: http://angels.mlblogs.com/2012/10/06/as-a-birthday-wish-i-wish-my-hundredth-post-was-about-the-angels-in-the-postseason
http://angels.mlblogs.com/2013/02/13/i-dont-want-peanuts-or-crackerjacks-give-me-the-baseball-glove-and-the-baseball-bat
http://angels.mlblogs.com/2012/12/07/youre-a-mean-one-mr-grinch
http://angels.mlblogs.com/2012/11/17/the-sky-is-always-darkest-before-the-dawn
http://angels.mlblogs.com/2012/11/04/waiting-for-the-sun-to-rise
http://angels.mlblogs.com/2012/12/13/josh-hamilton-trades-in-his-cowboy-hat-for-a-halo

I Don’t Want Peanuts or CrackerJacks, Give Me the Baseball Glove and the Baseball Bat

Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Mike Trout speak to the media at Angels Spring Training. (Photograph Credit: Major League Baseball, http://www.Angels.com)

Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Mike Trout speak to the media at Angels Spring Training. (Photograph Credit: Major League Baseball, http://www.Angels.com)

The smell of freshly cut grass is in the air, the wet color of red clay that distinctly characterizes the infield and the warning track igniting the dreams of baseball fans around the major leagues and the world. The fire that warms the soul fueled by the flames of excitement. The core element that is part of the foundation of every baseball fan. Indeed, this is the year that their respective team wins the World Series.

For this Angels’ fan, the feeling is no different, opening day is but a few short weeks away and in 2013 the Angels organization as well as their fan base has high expectations. No, I’m not talking about those bandwagon fans whose members seem to thankfully decrease with every passing season; I’m talking about diehard fans like myself who weren’t even aware that a bandwagon existed. You see, before Matsuiland, ToriiTown or even the Trout Farm, existed Wally World. I am lucky enough to have experienced one World Series championship in my lifetime but certainly I am yearning for more.

The Angels have no shortage of talent in recent years, this off-season they have added Josh Hamilton, Jason Vargas, Tommy Hanson, Joe Blanton, and Ryan Madson just to name a few. The Angels had no shortage of offensive firepower last year however; both the starting rotation and bullpen were disastrous it was my contention this off-season that not exercising Dan Haren’s option for the 2013 season was a mistake. He had an off year and he wasn’t completely healthy. It has yet to be seen if both Blanton and Hanson can shore up their less than stellar starting rotation from a year ago.

I shy away from making any predictions prior to the start of Spring Training; I usually wait until the first few games of the preseason are played. It’s way too early to get into a discussion about end of the season standings and postseason appearances, for now I am just longing to hear the roar of the crowd the crack of the bat, and the slap of the ball against a leather baseball glove.

-ICE

Josh Hamilton Trades in His Cowboy Hat for a Halo

Josh Hamilton's Introduction at the Angels' Press Conference on December 15, 2012

Josh Hamilton’s Introduction at the Angels’ Press Conference on December 15, 2012


Josh Hamilton has signed a five-year 125 million dollar contract with the Angels. I haven’t really made up my mind as to how I feel regarding this transaction. As I mentioned in my entry written yesterday, I’m a strong believer that big bats doesn’t do a team any good if they don’t add above average pitching to go with it. I’m not happy with the Angels roster moves thus far, and I can’t say the Hamilton contract changes my mind.

Yes, I acknowledge that at the very least the Angels have dealt a big blow to the Texas Rangers by taking one of their premier players away. I also acknowledge that the addition of Hamilton creates a pretty powerful one-two punch behind Albert Pujols. To me, there are more questions than answers. What does this mean for Mark Trumbo? Does this mean the experiment at third base begins again? Or does Peter Bourjos get traded? Does this move thankfully put Vernon Wells on the bench? Are the Angels really prepared to handle Hamilton’s off field issues should they arise?

I was under the impression that the reason why they let Torii Hunter walk away from the Angels was because they wanted to get younger and resolve the logjam in the outfield. How does the Hamilton singing solve any of the issues the organization cited? Hunter was a cheaper option, yet the Angels decided to opt for the relatively younger and more expensive option. Here again, future financial flexibility concerns me.

If one looks at Hamilton’s numbers; yes, he started off hot winning the American League Player of the Month award two months in a row, but as a baseball season wore on, he was unable to hit the inside fastball; his average dropped and the strikeouts increased.

Could this gamesmanship with the Los Angeles Dodgers? After losing Zack Greinke to the Dodgers, are the Angels trying to keep pace? Was the Hamilton contract done in order to keep the inroads that the Angels have made in the Los Angeles market? There is a battle or Los Angeles indeed.

The funny thing is that Los Angeles and Anaheim are separated by a County line dissected across Interstate 5, the two cities are in close proximity to each other, but they are not exactly cross town rivals. Anaheim and Los Angeles are similar to Oakland and San Francisco in that their close proximity makes them instead natural rivals.

This upcoming season is getting more interesting by the day, not only due to the gamesmanship between the Angels and the Dodgers, but also by both teams proving that they’re in it to win it, they both want to win now. The problem is, I frankly don’t see how the Angels are any better this upcoming year than they were last year. The pieces may have changed, but the problems remain the same.

-ICE

Related Articles:http://angels.mlblogs.com/2013/04/09/are-the-angels-the-team-where-superstars-go-to-supernova/

You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch

I am still extremely sore about losing Torii Hunter. It’s still unbelievable that the Angels did not give him a qualifying offer, and at the very least guaranteed the organization compensation draft picks for his departure. I know I’ve mentioned this in previous entries and now it is water under the bridge, but I believe that the loss of Hunter will be key in the organization. There is no true leader in the clubhouse, hopefully Albert Pujols by now is comfortable enough to take that role, I can also see Mike Trout in that position in the future, but it might be a little much to ask of a second-year player.

Torii Hunter however did make a statement directed towards the Angels’ fan base organization and ownership. A very classy move in my opinion, he will be missed:

Torii Hunter's farewell to the Angels

The Christmas Grinch stole Hunter, but will he steal Zack Greinke? I sincerely hope not. With the acquisition of Joe Blanton and other arms in the bullpen however, it’s looking like they Greinke reacquisition is less likely.

I really don’t know what to make of the Blanton acquisition, Joe Blanton over Dan Haren? Really? Dan Haren is a quality pitcher who just had an off year, Dan Haren should have been a top priority especially with the struggles of C. J. Wilson last year. I am definitely not convinced that Blanton is a better option over Dan Haren.

The Angels seemed to have retooled their bullpen, these moves to me to not make us a better team than we were last year especially since we have yet to re-sign Greinke. The Christmas Grinch might still get his way. He is a mean one, that Mr. Grinch.

-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

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

As a Birthday Wish, I Wish My Hundredth Post Was About the Angels in the Postseason

It’s hard to believe that this is my 100th post. Yes, it is my birthday tomorrow, for the last three years the birthday gift I have received from the Angels has been not so fun.

After the end of a regular season, it takes a while for a diehard fan like me to come to terms that your beloved team is not participating in the playoffs. It takes a well for one to digest the fact that it’s over for the year. There is a period of time that instead of critiquing, analyzing, and re-examining what went wrong, what could have been done better, and arguments of that nature; one has to take a step back and just think the team for the wonderful year that they put forth and thank the ownership and the organization for keeping this wonderful team in Anaheim. Last but certainly not least think the players for the wonderful effort, the ones whom despite a slow start to their hearts out towards the end in order to keep themselves in the mix for as long as they could. I have stated numerous times before that I rather see my team be eliminated in late September to early October rather than late July.

Now that the mushy stuff is over it’s time to get down to business. The first thing on the agenda is the free agents. The Halos must take advantage of the exclusive signing period and ink the following players in no particular order. They have re-signed our starting catcher Chris Iannetta in the last 24 hours to a three-year contract and I hope they take the same approach to the players they have yet to sign.

Torii Hunter

“Spiderman” belongs in an Angels’ uniform. He is the heart and soul this team and also has proven that he is a clutch type player. For the first time in his career he had a Batting Average of over .300. He deserves a ring, he needs to stay with the team that can contend for one. Hunter loves the Angels and the Angels’ fans love him. He has expressed desire to stay with the Angels. I hope the Angels’ organization takes notice and re-sign soon quickly. I would hate to see him go and sign with a team like the Texas Rangers who probably will need a replacement for Josh Hamilton. Just to see him hurt us, just like former Angels turned Rangers like Vladimir Guerrero, and Mike Napoli. My hope is that the Angels give Torii Hunter a two year contract with maybe a club option for a third. I don’t care how they do it, the bottom line is we must re-sign Torii Hunter!


Zack Greinke

Greinke has proven his worth. He was an uplifting force when the Angels’ starting rotation was struggling he proved to be a solid ace in his own right, and he is a nice complement behind Jared Weaver.

Dan Haren

I can hear the collective groans already, before you write him off, please hear me out. Dan Haren had a below average season for an above average pitcher. Although he is not a free agent, the Angels in my view must exercise a club option. Dan Haren had an injury plagued season. When healthy he is a viable option for the Angels rotation. And he is a less risky proposition compared to free agent pitchers that the Angels may sign for more money.

I know that there are free agents like Ervin Santana that I have yet to talk about, but I think for me the preceding are the centerpieces that must be re-signed.

With the off-season comes a lot of waiting, but also a lot of excitement. It’s a wait-and-see what our General Manager can pull out of his magic top hat to make this team a contender.

-ICE

The Angels’ Wild-Card Deck Contains Hunters Instead of Jokers

The Angels proved last night that they are still in the hunt for a Red October. Torii Hunter must be re-signed by the Angels next season! I don’t care what the Angels’ organization has to do, he must wear a halo next season! Give him a two year contract, a two-year contract with the club and player option after the first year. Give him whatever you need to within reason to make sure he wears red next year! He deserves a ring. I would hate to see him go to the Rangers much like Vladimir Guerrero did when the Angels thought it he had nothing left. The Rangers signing Vladimir came back to bite us, let’s not make the same mistake with Torii Hunter.

It is said that a picture is worth 1000 words, so I will let the pictures finish the remaining 2000 words of this entry.

Credit: Major League Baseball, http://www.Angels.com

Credit: Major League Baseball, http://www.Angels.com


-ICE

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