Results tagged ‘ World Series Championship ’

The Halo Shines Bright Over Anaheim

Opening Day brings the promise to every franchise in Major League Baseball, every franchise and  their fan base, they believe in the promise of a World Series championship; as the season progresses the optimism evolves into realism and with each game that passes fans are able to see the progression or regression of their favorite team.

 

The Angels are 6-2, in their first eight games, are undefeated at home and are in first place in the American League West. I know it’s early, however in the last few seasons the Angels were notorious for starting off slow in April. This is clearly not the case this year, the Halos have already pulled off two  tremendous comebacks one against the Seattle Mariners and last night against the Texas Rangers.

 

What is the difference? The difference is the Angels finally addressed the roster problems of the last few years, second base and left field, leading to a strengthening in team defense and offense, which are both spectacular, their base running has also improved more specifically their ability to go from first to third base with not much effort; starting pitching and the bullpen however, although not terrible; are still a little suspect. The most important ingredient of all is that they are having fun. Something I haven’t seen in the last few seasons.

 

As a fan it is very exciting to watch his team play they’ve demonstrated an uncanny ability to come back and win. I believe that’s a product of how much fun they’re having, and just playing the game without reservation.

 

There’s an excitement in Anaheim around his team that I haven’t seen in years, aside from the diehard Angels’ fans like me who are always excited. The fans support this year is making it very hard for visiting teams to come in to The Big A and win. That’s the way it should be, the Halo should always shine bright over Anaheim.

 

-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 Duality of Baseball

Baseball is a game of duels, there is a dual between pitchers, it can also exist between pitcher and batter, as well as between base men and base runners. There also exist a certain duality within the game.

The Angels are experiencing such duality, Albert Pujols hit his 500th career home run in Washington DC against the Nationals. The number 500 appears again as the Angels are trying to get back to a .500 record, a threshold they haven’t been able to accomplish since the opening day of 2013. Which is simply astonishing given the talent on this team. The team cannot get all three facets of the game to work at the same time. When the offense is on fire, the pitching cannot hold leads; this problem is manifested by the performances of the bullpen, a unit that can’t seem to get it together. The positive? The Angels lead Major League Baseball in Home Runs with 36 more than any other team in both leagues. Yet somehow they haven’t been able to translate the positives into wins.

The future is not bleak for this team, the ingredients are there, Josh Hamilton will eventually be back and give both Albert Pujols and Mike Trout much-needed protection. In contrast to recent years the Angels now have relatively healthy players to complete the original winning formula that was conceived. Once they resolve their bullpen issues they should have a winning record, and eventually I am hopeful that the many dualities that I’m currently observing become one distinct singularity, which manifests itself as a World Series Championship at the end of the season.

-ICE

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

Zack Greinke Has Gone from Being Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader

It turns out that Zack Greinke went from promising Jedi Angels red to the dark Sith of Dodgers blue. Greinke signed a six-year $147 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The fact that he signed with the Dodgers especially stings.

Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Zack Greinke delivers against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Zack Greinke delivers against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

Los Angeles Dodgers new right-handed pitcher Zack Greinke, left, talks to the media as team owner Magic Johnson laughs, right, after during a baseball news conference at Dodgers Stadium Club,  Tuesday, Dec.11, 2012, in Los Angeles. Greinke moves up the freeway to join the Dodgers' starting rotation in a $147 million, six-year deal after spending part of last season with the rival Angels. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Los Angeles Dodgers new right-handed pitcher Zack Greinke, left, talks to the media as team owner Magic Johnson laughs, right, after during a baseball news conference at Dodgers Stadium Club, Tuesday, Dec.11, 2012, in Los Angeles. Greinke moves up the freeway to join the Dodgers’ starting rotation in a $147 million, six-year deal after spending part of last season with the rival Angels. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

All things considered it could have been worse, he could have joined the Rangers. At least this way, over the next six years, we will only see Greinke twice a year when we play the Dodgers and that’s if and only if his spot is due up in the Dodgers’ rotation. Juxtaposing that against the possibility that Greinke going the Rangers, where were the Angels would’ve had to deal with him several times of year will Greinke would have a direct influence on whether or not the Angels reached the playoffs. All in all, I believe the Angels dodged a major bullet.

I am perplexed by the Angels decision-making this off-season when it comes to the roster. Let’s flashback to the off-season last year. I stated that I was cautiously optimistic about Albert Pujols contract. A 10 year contract for an offensive player seemed a little much for me, even if he is the greatest offensive player of this generation. I was concerned at that time for the Angels payroll flexibility. The Angels inability to at least compete with the Dodgers’ offer to Greinke really bothered me.

In baseball, successful teams are based on the ability of the starting rotation to pitch deep in a game and the bullpen to hold leads. Explosive offense doesn’t mean much if the opponent can exploit porous pitching. The Angels needed to same Greinke; not because he was the biggest name on the free-agent market, but because the Angels have gaping holes in the rotation. Greinke would have plugged at least one of those holes. The loss of Greinke magnifies to a an even greater extent the loss of Dan Haren.

The Angels tried to rectify the losses of the pitching staff by acquiring Joe Blanton. Frankly, I’m not impressed. World Series championships cannot be bought. A good example of that is the San Francisco Giants, aside from Buster Posey, I’m sure that unless one is a diehard Giants’ fan; the casual baseball fan cannot name anyone else on that team. When one thinks of the Giants, one thinks of the team before they think of any individual player. I wonder how the Angels’ organization will be able to justify their actions if they don’t make the postseason for a third year in a row.

In the American League West, which is possibly the toughest division in baseball. The Angels cannot afford to just coast and hope that the dominoes fall in their favor. Take a look at the results last year. Many around baseball expected for the American League West crowned to be adorned with a cowboy hat or a halo, only to discover that a white elephant would be King in 2012. The Angels cannot expect any other team to just rolled over for them simply because they have big names on paper. In 2013 is a requirement in my opinion to add a halo not only to the American League West crown, but also the World Series trophy.

-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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