27 February 2010

"I still blame southwest!"

The Story of.. My First Playoff Game

I never had the chance to see a playoff game. My dad tried to get tickets to the World Series in 2002, but he was new to the whole buying-playoff-tickets madness and found that they were sold out and exorbitantly expensive. During the playoff run from 2004-2005 and 2007-2008, I was at school and admittedly not yet the fan I am now. But in 2009 my fandom had reached the point where I really wanted to see a playoff game.

Of course, there was the problem of class and that I was in Stanford not Torrance. So in addition to paying for tickets, I'd have to pay for a flight, skip class, find the time to actually study, and convince my dad that the money going to pay for my tuition isn't going to waste. It took a bit of convincing myself, but I snapped up some tickets for the ALCS. As a grad student not on a fellowship and going to a private school, the financial part wasn't trivial. I was also feeling quite guilty about skipping class, especially when I realized I'd have to skip an additional class to make my flight and that I'd need to take a midterm early (since I'd be missing it). But I knew that I would be incredibly excited and that a great game would be enough to make it all worth it.

In the end it was, but the real story is the beginning.

characters of intrigue!

I talked earlier about the questions surrounding the Angels this upcoming season. It's these questions that make this year's Angels team so interesting. Here are who I think are the three most interesting players with question marks, in increasing intrigue:

Scot Shields
Shields remains the last player from the Angels' 2002 glory days. But in the last year of his contract, and after a year spend on the DL, what kind of player will show up this season? Can the Shields of old return with enough dominance to force the FO to retain him? Or will he go the way of Lackey, K-Rod, GA, and Figgy? Is this season his Angels swan song as the Angels continue to transition? A healthy Shields could do wonders for the Angels bullpen, solidify the 8th inning role and allow the second-year players (Jepsen, Bulger) to develop rather than the trial-by-fire they experienced last season.

21 February 2010

the big questions

The interesting thing about this upcoming season and this Angels team is the prevalence of uncertainty. Oh, you can count on Scioscia and the winning culture in the organization. But a team in transition, like the Angels, has a lot of questions. Here are what I think are the big three over-arching questions for this season, in increasing importance:

Can the Angels stay healthy?
The Angels' depth has always been a strength these recent years as young prospects Willits, Wood, Rodriguiz were given long stretches of playing time to fill in for injured regulars. Well, that depth is noticably thinner. Can the Angels survive if multiple regulars are confined to the bench?

In the infield, Izzy remains as a fantastic super sub. However, the middle infield list behind him is, well, non-existant. Sean Rodriguiz is a Ray, Wood is expected to be manning third base and the top middle infield prospects played in low-A ball or lower last season. At catcher, Wilson is out of options, so unless he makes the 25-man roster, he will most likely be lost to another team. And for the corner infield, rotation and bullpen, there remains familiar and servicable replacements in AAA, but who among them are clear-cut above replacement level? The outfield is the area of most concern, due to the collective ages of Abreu-Hunter-Rivera (and -Mastui, if you believe in those knees). This is where I wonder if Angels fans will miss having GMJ on the bench. Prospects Evans, Pettit and Bourjous have shown some promise, but are unproven, and Willits has displayed a noticable slide since his magical 2007 campaign.

18 February 2010

thoughts: ST starts, arbitration cases

Just some tidbits:


Pitchers and catchers reported to Tempe yesterday. I could echo every other baseball fan in what a joyous occasion it is, but what it really means for angels&aimee is that it'll no longer be on life support!

When I began angels&aimee, I had a modest viewership, mostly cause I didn't really care to promote it - it was all for my own pleasure. I've been surprised and pleased to get the support of other bloggers and media, but now that I have actual readers, well it's been on me to actually produce stuff for them to read. And unfortunately, there hasn't been much Angels news for me to comment on. Unless of course, I really wanted to espouse about the Quinlan signing for a whole post. But now that Spring Training has begun, news should be free flowing, as evidenced by the bevy of stuff today. So new Angels news = more thoughts, opinions, comments = more posts!

This being my first season of angels&aimee, I'm especially excited.


Arbitration cases are pretty much done with. Aybar settled for $2.05M before his hearing and Mathis's hearing occured this morning. I'm really glad that the FO settled with Aybar, but it really sucks that they couldn't settle with Mathis. Mathis needs some confidence to improve his production at the plate and an arbitration hearing is definitely detrimental to that. Furthermore, looking at their figures again, the FO may have low-balled him. Naps got $2M last year in his first year of arbitration and even if you account for the obvious difference in offensive production and arbitrations value on offense, is $700K really a winnable submission? BR lists Brandon Inge as a comparable at the same age and Inge recieved $1.35M in his first arbitration year, abeit when he was 28 and had improved his numbers. I think I'd feel better about the FO winning if they had submitted something closer to $900K, but I guess that's all a moot point now.


The other Angels news today is that Rodney and Kazmir were kept out of pitcher fielding practice due to minor injuries. Irony aside, Kaz's injury is worrisome since supposedly his hamstring is what was bothering him last season. Sosh says its not serious, so let's hope that it won't be chronic either.

08 February 2010

thoughts: Saunders, PECOTA, &more

Back from a (seemingly) long midterm-studying hiatus.

Just some tidbits that I missed...


Saunders signed a one-year deal, avoiding arbitration. It's good that they're not gonna argue over $250,000, but I was really hoping for that multi-year deal. Maybe the FO is just waiting to see what Joe does with a healthy full season.


PECOTA came out with their projections, then realized that they screwed up. Um, yeah, didn't having the Nationals win 82 games make them pause and say "huh?" The use of statistics in baseball fascinates me (even if I don't want to be a stathead), but that's gotta put a dent in BP's credibility. Any good scientist can tell you that data can describe things, but if the math (and procedures) behind it isn't sound then the conclusions are worthless. To their credit, they did admit they screwed up and fixed it.