Results tagged ‘ Trade Deadline ’

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

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

The Angels Are Singing The Dodger Blues

How blue can you get? The Angels are asking their fans that very question, they are playing with that sweet, yet painful sting of the B.B. King classic.

After a hot start coming out of the All-Star break, the Halos handed over the American League West to the Houston Astros. The Angels have lost five straight, and eight of their last nine. To make matters worse, the Angels lost the first two games of the Freeway Series to the cross-town rival, Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Halos were playing well, both as a team and as individuals. Which is impressive, considering the turmoil that the Angels have gone through with the resignation of their General Manager. This team has shown resilience not only to stay afloat, but take over the American League West, couple that with individual success, specifically the success of Mike Trout, who became the first player in Major League Baseball history to be the most valuable player of an All-Star game in consecutive years.

The Angels didn’t make the big splash during the trade deadline that the fan base was accustomed to in recent years, however, they quietly made moves. The Halos sought to improve themselves and with the acquisitions of David Murphy from the Cleveland Indians, David DeJesus from the Tampa Bay Rays, and Shane Victorino from the Boston Red Sox. These three outfielders were brought aboard to try to negate the disappointing contribution this season by Matt Joyce.

The Angels are not playing as well as it may look, if one looks at the head-to-head record against all the division leaders in the American League, the Astros, the Royals, and the Yankees, the Halos have a record of 5-17 in the head-to-head match ups with the division leaders so far this season.

I will be attending my first Angels road game of the season tomorrow against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium for the first-half finale of the Freeway Series, I am really not interested in how much more blue the Angels can get, rather, I would like to think that tomorrow will be the genesis of the Angels returning to greatness and becoming red-hot again.

-ICE

DiPoto Turns in His Halo

Originally I was going to write about the seafaring Grinch from Seattle who stole Christmas, referring to the Angels’ “Christmas in June” promotion. I thought it would be fun to discuss my impressions. I was almost done writing the entry and I was deciding what pictures to include in the post, when the surprising but not unexpected news broke, “Jerry Dipoto resigns as Angels’ General Manager.” There it was, the news that changed the entire destination of this entry. I guess it wasn’t meant to be, the sudden course correction within the Angels’ organization is more relevant.

Rather than talk about my personal opinions on the inter-office dynamics of the organization and the reported tension, real or imaginary; between Jerry Dipoto and Mike Scioscia, I would like to concentrate on Jerry Dipoto’s legacy and impact on the Halos. ESPN, MLB.com, MLB network, and Fox sports have talked at length about the tumultuous relationship between the Manager and General Manager, if one wants to know more about the inter office dynamics of the situation, I strongly suggest you go to one or more of the sources that I cited above.

Jerry Dipoto was brought aboard in 2011, upon his arrival, he made an immediate title wave of a splash, he signed then free agent Albert Pujols to a 10 year contract. He also ensured the future of the organization by coming to terms with Mike Trout on a six-year contract extension. He also brought aboard C. J. Wilson to bolster the Halos’ pitching staff, then he traded for Zack Greinke who was eventually lost to free agency. Jerry Dipoto also traded for Andrew Heaney, who is now on the major league roster and is starting to pay dividends for the Angels.

For all of Jerry DiPoto’s wheeling and dealing, the Angels never won a playoff game under his tenure. He was an aggressive general manager, who believed in the modern baseball concept of saber metrics, the volatile and conflicting mixture between saber metrics and old-school fundamental baseball philosophies, did not allow Jerry DiPoto to execute his vision for this team.

Upon the General Manager’s resignation, the Angels brought back a name from the past, former General Manager Bill Stoneman, he was at the helm when the Angels won the World Series in 2002. He also was the general manager who hired Mike Scioscia; so there is familiarity there, however, he is not known as an aggressive general manager, so I don’t expect the Angels to do much at the trade deadline. They could use aggressiveness out of the General Manager’s office, particularly with this team, and this time of year. I’m not a proponent of proceeding into the future by reaching into the past, unless one is trying to correct a mistake, this is definitely not the case with Bill Stoneman.

Perhaps Jerry DiPoto was very strategic in his actions; he picked the proximity to the trading deadline in order to make a point. This is purely speculation on my part; however, if I am right he definitely got his point across. One thing is for sure, the Angels’ organization is in disarray. It will be interesting to see how this set of circumstances affects the Halos’ playoff possibilities for this season. One thing is abundantly clear however, uncertainty has descended over Anaheim.

Happy Independence Day!

-ICE

Trying to Fix a Dim Halo

With a little under one hour before the 2013 MLB non-waiver trade deadline, at 1 PM Pacific time, I’m curious to see what the Angels are going to do with his underachieving team. Last night they traded Alberto Callaspo to the A’s for Minor League infielder Grant Green during the game. The Halos also traded relief pitcher Scott Downs. In a different transaction. It is apparent that the Angels have become strategic Sellers. They don’t want to move any major pieces because they still want to remain competitive for the 2014 season. Essentially they are retooling to the extent that they can. Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar as of now, are still on the trading block

The Angels lost the first two games against the Texas Rangers in the most painful way possible back-to-back walk-off home runs. The most painful loss to me was the first game, the Angels blew a 3-0 lead and ultimately lost 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning.

I cannot underscore how important these series against the Athletics and the Rangers were. This proves yet again that pitching is the key to a successful season. Ryan Madson has yet to play an inning, Joe Blanton has not been a good fit and has been utterly useless, Jason Vargas and Weaver have had stints on the disabled list during crucial parts of the season. I’m not going to rehash the bad personnel moves that the Angels have made recently, the disparity between this team’s talent and their on-field results has frankly left me speechless.

-ICE

The Angels Have Gone from Cranky to Greinke

Three days before the trade deadline and I find myself shocked yet again. I am not shocked that the Angels actually made a move before the trade deadline, I’m shocked as to how they did it. For those of you that read my previous entry you know that I humbly suggested that they take a shot at Zack Greinke. I postulated that it would take Peter Bourjos, Ervin Santana, and two or three draft picks and/or Minor Leaguers. Boy was I wrong, not about the Minor Leaguers; but about Ervin Santana and Peter Bourjos.

The Angels acquired Greinke from the Brewers in exchange for shortstop Jean Segura and Double-A pitchers Johnny Hellweg and Ariel Peña. I honestly thought the Halos would have paid a heavy a price as stated above, but Angels’ General Manager Jerry Dipoto has done it again, he brought Major League Baseball to a standstill when he signed Albert Pujols and now, Greinke.

I honestly have mixed feelings about this move on the one hand, I am excited; the addition of Zack Greinke has made the Angels’ starting rotation one of the most formidable rotations in all of baseball. On the other hand, Greinke is considered an “rent a player” he is a free agent at the end of the season and I hope the Angels have made the trade with realistic expectations of re-signing him. Greinke’s current status with the team concerns me very much.

The best part is that it makes the Angels even better than what has already talented team is, and it gives the Texas Rangers a serious threat to win the division. There was a high possibility that if the Angels did not sign Greinke that the Texas Rangers and that would have spelled disaster for the Angels hopes of capturing the American League West title.

There are wonderful things on the horizon for this Angels team. As a fan I can do nothing but sit back and enjoy the Angels have gone from being cranky because of the second-place position to the possibility of winning the American League West. Essentially they have gone from being cranky to Greinke. Go Angels!

-ICE

Basking in the Halo Heat: A Season of Surprises in the American League West

This season is starting to get interesting, the Angels took the rubber game from the Texas Rangers beating them from our 7-4. Both teams still have two face each other 10 more times this season so it should be interesting.

The Rangers starter this is hot. They seem to be on fire during the months of April and May but have since then cooled off. Especially Josh Hamilton other teams seem to have adjusted to his strengths. Yesterday the Angels pitching staff very rarely pitched to Hamilton inside, Hamilton’s aggressive swings did the rest.

The Angels on the other hand have gone in the opposite direction they still trail the Rangers by five games however everything seems to be clicking together especially the TNT boys (Trumbo and Trout) this explosion by the offense has a lot to do with the detonation of TNT.

Here are some of the effects that the detonation of TNT has had on the Angels:

Bringing the Halo Heat

6-14 Angels’ record before Mike Trout was called up on April 28.

46-30 Angels’ record since April 28, the second-best record in baseball during that span.

.352 Trout’s batting average, best in the American League.

.622 Mark Trumbo’s slugging percentage, best in the AL.

.404 Trout’s on-base percentage, third in the AL.

26 Home runs hit by Trumbo, fourth- most in the AL.

30 Stolen bases for Trout, most in the AL. He’s only been caught three times.

The numbers may be dated by a day or two, but one gets the idea. The pitching is still a little suspect, but it’s my hope as well as I think it is a hope of every Angels’ fan that are pitching problems can be somewhat resolved by a trade before the trading deadline July 31.

I am thoroughly impressed by the Oakland Athletics who somehow have seemed to get themselves back in the American League West race they currently sit in third place only a half-game behind the Angels, Billy Beane still has some magic left in that hat of his; “Money Ball” indeed, Stomper should be proud.

Ladies and gentlemen, it seems that the Elephant has joined the Angel and the Ranger in staking its claim to the American League West crown, the dogfights of summer have truly begun.

-ICE

Will There Be a Halo over the Baseball Casino?

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

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

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

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

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

-ICE

Some Connections Run Deep

This is going to be an interesting entry; I am so used to writing about the team that I absolutely love; so I’m not really a custom to writing about myself in the process. At least for this entry I’m going to have to do a little bit of both. You see, the reason I write is not for myself since I live, eat, and breathe Angels Baseball. There is no reason why I would write about facts that I already know, unless I was going to share them. I love writing because it keeps my mind sharp and improves my communication skills with every entry. It has been my philosophy that when one stops learning, one stops growing and that one never grow old until one stops learning. I guess writing for this blog keeps me young and the sense that it forces me to learn the facts, and it forces me to organize my thoughts and be able to express my love for this team to people that otherwise may not be exposed.

To that end, I decided to pitch myself for the Jumbo MLBlogs, mainly to increase my readership and motivate myself to keep writing about the team that I love. Why am I an Angels’ fan? The answer is pretty simple, I’ve been connected to the team since I was a small child, I remember watching the Angels since I was about four years old, at that age I did not know the intricacies of this beautiful game, for me, it was about watching somebody pitched the ball and see the other person hit the ball. Watching a ball making contact with the bat was the most exciting thing in the world, for a four-year-old, everything seems exciting; but there was something about hearing that crack of the bat that made it special. I remember passing Angel Stadium on the 57 freeway on our way back home from visiting my aunt who lived in Pomona. As I grew older I always dreamed about seeing a live game but because of my father’s work schedule, he was almost always working the second shift it was nearly impossible for me to go since most of the games were at night.

That changed however, when I was nine, I was selected the official ambassador for the United Cerebral Palsy Association. (UCP) part of my duties was to show up at various charity events, as part of my official duties, I was to be featured in A poster for the United Cerebral Palsy telethon, “Weekend with the Stars” at the time, and I didn’t really know what that meant. The UCP representative asked me who my favorite sports team was, and an late 1980s saying that my favorite team was the Angels was not a very popular for various reasons, one, the Angels were not very good back then. Two, it was the middle of Fernando mania so everybody liked the Dodgers. Three, it was also the middle of the Showtime era of the Los Angeles Lakers so the most popular answer would’ve probably been these two teams. Of course I was nine I had never seen Dodger Stadium or the Great Western Forum, so when I answered the California Angels the representative was taken back, she asked me, “wouldn’t you like to meet Magic Johnson?” I responded as confident as a nine-year-old boy could be, “not really”; they scrambled to make arrangements with the then California Angels.

Later that year my first experience at Angel Stadium was actually on the field in uniform, how many Angels’ fans can say that? I touched the field before I ever sat in the stands, and I also got to meet Hall of Famer Don Sutton. It was then that I felt an even stronger connection with the team, I had never been in a major league baseball ballpark, much less on the field. To this day this is one of my fondest childhood memories. When does someone become much more than a fan? For me, it was definitely on that day. While in college I had the honor of meeting the current Angels’ owner Arturo Moreno. The Angels are much more than just a Major League Baseball team to me. They are part of my childhood, and in a sense, forever part of my life.

Isaac López & Donald Howard Sutton 2

Arturo Moreno and  Isaac Lopez

Now on to business, it’s the second half of the season; many would argue including myself that this is when the real season begins. The Angels are only two games behind the Rangers in the American League West. Ervin Santana has just come off pitching a No-Hitter, the Halos lead the American League in team Earned Run Average, it’s a beautiful time of year, will be Angels make any moves before the July 31 deadline? I sincerely hope so, however they must stay away from the rental players, unless they can find someone who is truly interested in staying with the Angels long-term. It is my belief that after the smoke clears they will overtake Texas and win the American League West Championship. The Angels organization must be willing to solidify the team, not necessarily to deal with the Rangers; as I feel that the team we have now, if they are able to play to their potential, can beat Texas, I’m specifically talking about having the ability to beat the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, and the San Francisco Giants. Let it not forgotten that the Giants have made a splash by being able to acquire Carlos Beltrán from the New York Metropolitans.

Yes, indeed the season has now really begun season has begun, the sports dream of a young Angels’ fan has been fulfilled, and the expectations of the heavenly halo universe hang in the balance.
-Isaac “ICE” L. The Angels’ Ace

Will the Angels Make a Splash or Sit Poolside With Their Feet in the Water at This Summer’s Trade Deadline?

As I’m writing this entry, it is the eve of the renewal of the Freeway Series between the Angels and the Los Angeles Dodgers, and although most of my focus tonight will be on watching the Angels win against the Dodgers; I can’t help but wonder if the Angels will make any major moves before the trade deadline on July 31.

With the injury to Kendry Morales a surefire All-Star before he got hurt, the Angels are missing a key offensive juggernaut in their lineup. Mike Napoli has been at first base the last few games in an attempt to ease avoid left by Morales, which seems to be working but it is only a temporary solution because if you watch Napoli closely he is  clearly not a first baseman.

With the Angels defensive issues temporarily addressed they need to concentrate on acquiring a player that will fit our system, perhaps Carl Crawford who I have stated in previous entries would be a perfect fit not only for the but also for the Angels’ system. Carl Crawford would be able to put pressure on the base paths which is an Angels’ staple, and he would also add the power that we are missing with the absence of Morales for the rest of the season. Additionally, the Angels do not have a batter that is hitting over a .300 average this season this will complicate matters eight and the season as they start facing playoff contenders with above average pitching.

Am I the only person in the Angels’ fan base who believes Brian Fuentes should be replaced by Fernando Rodney as the Angels’ Closer? Lately it seems that Fernando Rodney and Kevin Jepsen are the only members of the Angels’ bullpen that are anywhere close to reliable. Some fans doubt Rodney and his effectiveness but I would argue that his ineffectiveness results from his uncomfortable position. Simply put Rodney is not a setup man, he is a closer. He is essentially out of position, you wouldn’t ask a Point Guard on a championship basketball team to defend a Center, that is called a mismatch in basketball; matches almost never render positive results. Likewise Fernando Rodney is being asked to play out of his position facilitating mistakes and hurting his confidence.

The Angels can not simply remain idle and let the trade deadline pass them by, they need to make a move, although the answer can be found sometimes internally I strongly believe this is not the case this time around. They need Carl Crawford because he is the only player that  fits the Angels’ scheme. I hope they acquire him through a trade and sign him to a long-term deal. Wishful thinking? Not for lifelong fans like me who want them to win now and for a long time in the future. We pay for tickets so it’s only fair for the team that put the best product possible out on the field.

-ICE

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