Results tagged ‘ Vernon Wells ’

Examining the Halo: the Past, the Present, and Future

This is the time of year when baseball executives and fans alike, become analysts of the game we all love. We examine our past, live in the present, and secure the future. We all become engineers, trying to create a well oiled and flawless machine. We mix and match parts, hoping to find the right combination that elevates the machine into a championship performer.

The Angels are trying to do Exactly that, the recent transactions involving Danny Espinosa, Cameron Maybin , Ben Revere, and Luis Valbuena. These new players will be introduced to the machine in the hopes of raising its championship aspirations. The Angels are trying to address the present, especially left field. I myself am not satisfied by any of these acquisitions. Left field is an ongoing problem that has persisted for at least the last three years. In my humble opinion, this issue would have been resolved with a free agent acquisition. Mark Trumbo, a home-grown talent that would’ve served the Angels well and left field; unfortunately, the mistakes of the past led to their current situation.

These mistakes include the contracts of Vernon Wells, Josh Hamilton, C. J. Wilson, who had multimillion dollar contracts and never lived up to their end of the deal. These multimillion dollar disasters have made the team become more cautious, leading them not to go after a guy like Trumbo who in my opinion solves the left-field issue. Unfortunately, Trumbo re-signed a three-year deal with the Baltimore Orioles.

Although the Angels are working on the present, the future, more specifically the Hall of Fame future looks bright. Vladimir Guerrero missed being inducted as a Hall of Famer by a relatively small margin. His chances of being welcomed to the Hall of Fame next year are very encouraging. When Arturo Moreno bought the team in 2003, he made a huge splash by immediately signing Guerrero who was of great benefit to the team. The Angels need to put themselves in a position to be the aggressive team it once was, bringing back the success of the past, securing the present, and ensuring the future of this beautiful franchise.

 

-ICE

The Essence of Halo Nature

Human nature is unpredictable; it is basic yet complex, logical yet chaotic, fascinating yet at times disappointing. It is this essence and the interplay between these opposing forces that spark various thoughts, ideas, and philosophies for many millennia. Human nature allows one to think about probabilities and possibilities; it gives one a choice; to think logically, or to think creatively.

Baseball is a thinking man’s game; there is not a more perfect narrator for human nature than baseball. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dual between the pitcher and batter, the managers, or the front office; human nature is the ever present variable. It determines the difference between indecisiveness and insecurity.

There is not a better example of the various aspects and complexities of human nature than the current off-season that the Angels are experiencing. The Angels clearly had roster needs, and the market was full of players that could have satisfied those needs, especially in Left Field, yet despite those clear needs the Angels decided to do nothing of impact. They are opting instead to platoon Craig Gentry and Daniel Nava.

The Halos had their choice of opting for Yoenis Céspedes, Jason Heyward, or Justin Upton; all of which, are premier Left Fielders; all they had to do was surpass the 189,000,000 dollar luxury tax, something that Angels’ owner Arturo Moreno, was not willing to do. Now the Angels find themselves in a situation where they are at the mercy of other teams in baseball, with a depleted farm system they do not have any real options in the minor leagues, and now must rely on trades to address any additional shortcomings.

However, in order to do so now they must give up a piece of the team in order to get something back, rather than just parting with contract money. Granted, free agents can be expensive and an organization can at times put themselves in the situation where they overpay a player for underperformance. On the other hand, in the Angels situation one would expect that they would learn from both the Vernon Wells and Josh Hamilton contractual catastrophes. In comparison, all three players mentioned above are relatively young, and are in their prime, and all three of them produced impressive offensive numbers this past season and show no signs of decline.

Are the Angels satisfied with another average or subpar season? How does the organization justify raising prices on season ticket holders and the average fan this coming season? The fan base was told in previous years that the organization wants to wait for a strong free agent market, how much stronger can the market get? Yes, this team can compete as is, but can they legitimately contend? It is my current belief that this team cannot contend as it’s currently constructed. If an organization doesn’t have a strong farm system, which the Angels do not, then the next logical course of action is to go after a free agent that fits a glaring need; something that the Angels did not do.

It seems that the organization is going in the opposite direction; the Halos traded Efren Navarro to the Baltimore Orioles for cash consideration. Navarro was a spark plug in the Halos locker room. He was a backup first baseman but he also played some left field which would have helped the Angels’ situation should Nava and/or Gentry not work out in left field.

Indecisiveness is when one is presented with various feasible options and one cannot decide which option to go with. insecurity is when one is presented with the only clear option and one does not take action up on it. It is my strong belief that the Angels are very insecure as an organization.

In the past few seasons they have failed to balance short-term success with long-term sustainability. A shortcoming that they must address in the immediate future, the Angels’ fan base is getting restless, impatient, and annoyed. We have every right to be, the face of the franchise, Mike Trout has been through three General Managers since he was called to the major leagues. This shows tremendous instability as an organization.

Human nature is a fascinating a variable, it is a mental chess game within oneself; for Angels’ fans when our love for baseball is brought into the equation, human nature transitions to a fascinating metamorphosis, it becomes Halo nature. It is this Halo nature that drives our passion, love, and that times critique of this team. Halo nature allows for indecisiveness, but not insecurity. This organization needs to find out what the essence of Halo nature means to them.

-ICE

Who Needs a Yule Log, When One Has a Hot Stove

I am back wearing my Christmas halo, my microphone broke since my last post, and it’s taken me a while to find a compatible microphone for my voice recognition software. It’s good to put the metaphorical pen to paper again; or in this case microphone to word processor.

Regrettably it’s been a few months so there’s a lot to cover, it’s the holiday season, and because time is limited; for this entry I’m just going to cover the highlights of the off-season that stood out to me. I will expand on the rest of the activity that I don’t cover in this entry at a later date.

On November 12, 2015, the Angels acquired shortstop Andrelton Simmons and catcher Jose Briceno in a trade for fan favorite, Erick Aybar, promising young pitcher Sean Newcomb along with another pitcher Christopher Ellis. Yes, Simmons can be considered a young phenom, the way he flashes the baseball glove is eye-catching, definitely highlight reel material. However, I worry that his handling of the baseball bat isn’t up to par. Simmons may have a longer contract then Erick Aybar, but Erick is a solid defender in his own right, he is more patient than Simmons, he is a clutch switch hitter, and is less likely to pop the ball up in a crucial situation; something that Simmons is prone to do.

The price paid for the acquisition of Simmons is a little steep for my taste, not only did we lose Erick Aybar but the Angels also lost Sean Newcomb. Newcomb is a promising young pitcher, so much in fact that Angels’ fans were wondering whether he was ready to join the pitching staff at the major-league level late last season, although he was not ready, he was very close; and with the Angels’ farm system being as thin as it is in my opinion the trade hurts the Angels more than it helps. While I agree that minor-league prospects don’t always pan out, the Angels need Newcomb, not only because as the old saying goes “you can never have enough pitching”, but also because the Angels pitching staff is on shaky ground as it is, and to count on Weaver or Wilson to carry the pitching staff is simply not realistic anymore, thus, magnifying the need for Newcomb.

The Angels are not only in trouble for what they have done, but they are also in murky waters for what they haven’t done. Earlier this week, Angels’ owner Arturo Moreno was quoted in the local paper stating that it was unlikely that the Angels would pursue a big name free agent outfielder. I have a few issues with that, first the big question is what is this team going to do in left field? The Angels haven’t had a solid left field presence since Garret Anderson. Shall I go down the list? First, on the list is Hideki Matsui, who joined the team when he was well past his prime. Vernon Wells, big contract, little to no results. Josh Hamilton, more of the same the only difference is that the Halos are still paying for him to play for the division rival Texas Rangers. Yes I know I neglected to mention Bobby Abreu; this is due to the simple reason that I feel that unlike the players previously mentioned Bobby did contribute substantially to the Angels and shouldn’t be lumped with the aforementioned group of players.

Second, the Angels need to come up with a long-term strategic plan, cross the luxury tax threshold and responsibly sign a big-name free agent like Yoenis Céspedes to plug the gaping hole in left field, or hold on to promising prospects like Newcomb and forgo players like Simmons. It’s impossible to have it both ways.

The Angels complicated matters further by trading away another promising pitcher to the Washington Nationals. Trevor Gott for Yunel Escobar, who is not a very impressive third baseman defensively, he is a natural shortstop. Here again the Angels are giving up a young hard throwing right-hander, for a questionable third baseman. The Halos in my opinion would be better off re-signing David Freese to a contract in order to resolve the issue at third base.

I would stop short of saying that the Halos’ hot stove is burning hot, it’s more like lukewarm. However it can definitely get considerably hotter. All that needs to be done is for ownership and the front office have to decide which direction they want to go, and commit to going in that direction. For a team that has drawn 3,000,000 fans for more than a decade, the very least Angels’ fans deserve is a clear commitment from ownership and the front office whenever direction they decide to go.

Merry Christmas, and happy holidays and a happy new year!

-ICE

The Detonation of TNT Has Explosive Effects Far beyond Just the Short-Term

Okay, I’ve had time to digest this whole fiasco of a Mark Trumbo trade and I can’t say I’m any happier. 35 Home Runs and 100 RBIs those were roughly his numbers last year, granted his OPS wasn’t that great, but in my opinion it is easier to find a player with a better OPS via free agency than it is to find right-handed power.

Mark Trumbo is a homegrown kid he graduated from Villa Park high school, he grew up an Angels’ fan and was a great presence in the clubhouse. What more does this team want? Inflated egos that have an overpaid contract to go with it? Superstars that don’t know how to play a team game? While I agree that the Angels need pitching, they needed a very specific type of pitching; that can step in and help the rotation right away. Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago don’t fill that hole, they need more development, if that’s the case, why not develop Trumbo? Now we will never know what Don Baylor could have done for him, perhaps he could have improved Mark Trumbo’s OPS.

While I agree that trade made the Angels’ payroll a bit more flexible, I’m afraid that if the Angels go after another free agent it will be more of the same. The proof? Vernon Wells, Scott Kazmir, Josh Hamilton, Joe Blanton, Ryan Madson, among many others, I am not a season-ticket holder myself, but I can tell you that I have considered it before, what stops me? I go to the ballpark and see the pain on the faces of the season-ticket holders.

This wouldn’t be a big deal if the franchise actually balanced the short-term and long-term success with sustainability, it seems that it is now it is one or the other all three elements don’t seem to coexist. I’m not a fair weather fan, I’ve been a fan of this team for over 30 years. I was exposed to the Angels before the Lakers before the 49ers and way before the Anaheim Ducks, this team holds a special place in my heart because it was this team that exposed me to the beauty of sports, as a young kid and gave me the appetite to explore other teams in other sports. Now with the detonation of TNT, (Trumbo and Trout) and TNT not being a part of the Angels arsenal it will be interesting to see where they Angels get their explosiveness from.

-ICE

Update: Mark Trumbo is a class act!
http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/ana/even-after-trade-trumbo-celebrates-holidays-with-angels-fans?ymd=20131223&content_id=66120946&vkey=news_ana

Related Articles: http://angels.mlblogs.com/2013/12/10/the-angels-gain-a-iceman-but-more-importantly-lose-a-trumbomber
http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-angels-trade-trumbo-20131211,0,729014.story

Are the Angels the Team Where Superstars Go to Supernova?

What constitutes beauty in sports? Is it a winning streak? Is it the underdog coming from behind to beat their heavily favored opponent? Or is it the team that was expected to be irrelevant during a given season, beating the odds to raise the championship trophy in their respective sport? One can ponder these questions all day and still not come up with answers.

Questions that one may never find the answers to, this concept can be aptly applied to how I feel about the Angels so far this season. They dropped two out of three in Arlington, to make matters worse Jered Weaver fell victim to an injury, suffering an elbow strain by landing awkwardly on it; in an effort to avoid a ball that was coming towards him.

Weaver’s injury

Albert Pujols has what amounts to be an inflamed heal which makes it hard for him to change speeds while running. This is an injury he is dealt with most of his career, however this is the first year it has affected him this early in the season. Josh Hamilton is making my worst fears come true, as I mentioned in previous entries, I am afraid of his inability to hit the inside fastball, a fear which unfortunately is coming true; through the first five games of the season he has gone 1 for 20 with 10 strikeouts.

Are the Angels snake bitten? It seems that every time a bona fide star comes to the team they go through a sharp decline in which a player is unable to return to his former glory. A clear example of this is Vernon Wells, are Pujols and Hamilton next?

There are some positives coming out of the series with the Texas Rangers, the Home Runs; Albert Pujols hit two Home Runs in one game, Mark Trumbo and Peter Bourjos each contributed with a Home Run.

Tonight the Angels have an opportunity for a fresh start, as they face the Oakland Athletics in the Halos’ home opener. It is their opportunity to be impeccable, nearly perfect at home. Perhaps, this is the jumpstart they need to be successful this season.

-ICE

Related Articles: http://angels.mlblogs.com/2012/12/13/josh-hamilton-trades-in-his-cowboy-hat-for-a-halo/

Update: Weaver is out of the Angels’ pitching rotation 4-6 weeks with a broken elbow. This is very unfortunate. http://losangeles.angels.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130409&content_id=44305998&c_id=ana

The Angels No Longer Have a Need for Wishing Wells

The Angels no longer have a need for wishing wells, as in wishing that Vernon Wells improves. Wells was sent to the New York Yankees today. In exchange, the Angels received two low-level prospects in 21-year-old outfielder Exicardo Cayones (.228 with 15 RBIs in Class A last year) and 24-year-old lefty Kramer Sneed (0-7 with a 5.37 ERA).

The Yankees will pay $13.9 million dollars of the $42 million dollars owed to Wells over the next two years. That may not seem like much given the size of the contract however, if one takes a moment to think about it the Angels now have $13.9 million dollars to spend on a player that will produce, at this point, preferably a pitcher; additionally this now opens up a roster spot for someone who is better equipped to help the Angels. Additionally, the two minor leaguers/prospects will help replenish the Halos’ farm system.

I wish Vernon Wells well in his future endeavors, sometimes a change of scenery can help a player return to form. The dimensions at Yankee Stadium should help improve his offensive production especially to right-field. Thank you Yankees, for the two prospects and the $13.9 million dollar gift.

-ICE

The Halo Is Removed, the Cuban Missile Is Disarmed and Moved

Kendrys Morales, “The Cuban Missile” has been moved from his launching pad at home plate in Angel Stadium to a new platform constructed just for him atop the Space Needle in Seattle. Morales was traded to the Seattle Mariners recently for Jason Vargas. Yes indeed, the Angels were a need of pitching, and although both players are in the last year of their contract, I for one am not comfortable with this trade.

I’m not convinced that he should’ve been traded within the American League West. I’m not a big fan of trading within the division, it is quite possible that he may become known as an “Angels Killer” similar to Vladimir Guerrero and Mike Napoli did when they were both with the Texas Rangers. Trading Morales severely limits the Angels’ flexibility at first base. For example, Mark Trumbo is interchangeable between First Base, the Outfield, and the Designated Hitter position. While both Kendrys Morales and Albert Pujols are interchangeable between the Designated Hitter and the first base positions. It was supposed to be this ability to mix and match coupled with the acquisition of Josh Hamilton that would’ve made the Angels a potent offensive lineup.

With Morales no longer in the picture that ability is now gone. This leaves the door wide open for Vernon Wells to infiltrate the Angels’ lineup as a Designated Hitter from time to time. Wells in my mind has really become a non-factor and is more of a hindrance than an asset to the Angels.

I understand that the Angels need pitching badly, but it seems they have gone away from developing a good farm system so they don’t have to trade valuable assets like Morales. We all know the names: Francisco “K.-Rod” Rodriguez, Troy Percival, Jared Weaver, among others. Our farm system is depleted, at what point do we start reloading it? Morales was an in-house product, had our farm system been developed; we wouldn’t need to trade such a wonderful talent.

Who knows, Vargas may work out, the question remains whether this particular way of the Angels doing business will be sustainable for the long-term ability to contend for multiple World Series championships.

-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/

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

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