31 March 2010

great expectations

I've been churning out posts like crazy lately! What can I say, opening day has got me excited and inspired.


Over at the OC Register Angels Blog, they've set up a little prediction questionarre, which yours truly filled out & submitted! Though it was fun to think about what would constitute a reasonable expectation (I want to win!), it didn't leave much room for, uh, creative spectulation.

So here's three of mine (since I'm endlessly pondering the Halos), complete with lots and lots of mindless explainations:

At least two of the 5 pitchers in the rotation will become a "number 1."
I've already pegged Kaz as doing big things this coming season, so what other pitcher am I expecting to rise? Weaver is a very appealing (and popular) choice among fans and talking heads alike, but this is about going out on a limb right? So how bout I pick Ervin Santana. Ervin is far from consistant, but I think he's gotten to a point where he's putting everything together. I like the maturity he's shown since that disasterous 2007 season and even more, I like that he's healthy and has regained his fastball velocity. He's always had the stuff to be really really good - it's always been about his head more than anything. I've seen a bit of a shift - the nonchalant character he had on the mound during the ALCS last year, the decision to focus on his health rather than play winter ball this offseason, and the easy and genial quotes he's giving the media. His description of Rodney as "a little crazy, but it's a good crazy, not a bad crazy" made me laugh and indicates to me that Ervin is back to being loose and just having fun playing the game. Sure, I could be wrong, but it'd make a fantastic story for two formally highly touted hard-throwing prospects to rebound from down years to rise to the top of this rotation.

30 March 2010

ah, kids are so cute

Over at the well-respected Dodger blog, MSTI, one of his recent posts caught my eye due to the link to the story of how he became a Dodger fan. I love reading stories like that, probably cause it reflects how kids can be swayed by the smallest thing. And probably cause it reflects just how easily I became an Angels fan.

I can't even recall when exactly I chose the Angels. But I can tell you it was partially because I wanted to be different, partially because the Dodgers were too good to be my favorite team. (Ironically, this criteria didn't apply when chosing between the Lakers-Clippers, but then the Lakers were bad enough for me to root for them) It's interesting for me to try to decipher why I chose the Angels - I had no role model in my fandom, no one that influenced my decision. Heck, I didn't even have a real reason why the Angels appealed to me. But like MSTI, just the thought that chance may have directed my fandom in a different direction is something unfathomable, something horrific.

Imagine if I was worldly/smart enough to know that the California Angels played in Orange County, not Los Angeles County, and despite their name, didn't really represent the whole state (how could it, when there were four other teams?). There would be no wide-eyed watching of Chuck Finley and Mark Langston. No wondering how Jim Abbott could switch his glove so fast, no bewilderment about what was so exciting about signing Mo Vaughn. I wouldn't have learned to love saying DiSarcina and Fabregas. I wouldn't have had a running joke with my dad about the flatness of Eckstein's cap bill (that always annoyed me to no end), nor would I have experienced the exasperation with Hud always making some bad Kingfish joke or line.

There were many years I was just a casual fan. Then there were years I was practically not a fan, while I was preoccupied with sports and school. But interestingly enough, my life would've been decidedly different if I had been just a little bit better at geography (or the Angels happen to be better than the Dodgers). I'd like to think I would've still had those afternoons watching the game on TV with my parents, where my mom would pronounce a runner "dead" whenever an out occurred. But there would have been no elation and glory of 2002, no feeling of David vs. Goliath when they beat the Yankees, no disappointment of 1995 (the lasting memory of GA waving at a pitch from Randy Johnson), no inspiration from a little team that was once an underdog that become an AL West powerhouse (yet is seemingly the perpetual underdog).

Heck, I could be a Dodger fan now, lamenting the ineptitude of Frank and Jamie.


Thank God I was stupid.

thoughts: today's game, some ?s to ponder

Just some tidbits:


Only caught some of today's game, but some observations:

- The Angels stranded way too many runners.
- Kaz seemed to work better when his pace seemed quicker than normal.
- Mathis caught Kaz again. If Sosh sticks with this + having Mathis catch Ervin (like he has in the past), Jeff would be paired with the dynamic-but-erratic pitchers in the rotation.
- Aybar stole 2nd and 3rd in one inning (and was stranded!) but the play at 3rd was very close. I agree that Aybar is bound to be scary on the basepaths, but I think he'll be learning (trial by fire!) at least.
- Mathis hit the ball hard, following a recent trend. Yeah, it's just spring training, but is it too naive to *hope* for some improvement in his bat?
- Jose Mota and Terry Smith seem to be gelling together. At least there isn't anymore of the awkward silences or interupting each other. Mota, in particular, seems to be growing into the role, though he does the Angels's promotional statements too often.
- Mathis threw out two baserunners on two very good throws, but had three baserunners steal on bad throws. Interestingly, one of the outs was at third base when he threw from his knees, like he did on Thursday.
- Kaz looked good for the most part. Though I suspect even if he'd bombed, I'd stay firm with my belief in him. Chalk it up to irrational fan faith!


28 March 2010

thoughts: ST recap, organization rankings

Back in NorCal, where the rain is due to kickoff another quarter...

Just some (long) tidbits:


Which Rodney are we gonna get - the one that was dominating on Saturday (no hits, two strikeouts) or the one that was wild today (4ER, 3BB)? Ah yeah, the inconsistancy is his trademark - but it's also been fitting considering the Halo's play this spring.

Other notables this past weekend was Matsui making his first put-out (surprisingly, didn't hear more about that), hitting his first HR and taking a (seemingly) bajillion walks. Torii and Howie seem to be getting into a groove and it was interesting to see Aybar take five straight pitches for a walk today. Abreu hit some homers recently, which was a pleasant surprise. The offense is scoring in bunches, so I guess we'll all see if that translates this season to the "offensive chemistry" that Sosh is looking for in the lineup.

On the pitching side, things are much the same. Some causes for optimism, some for worry. Saundo struck out SIX batters yesterday, which is a crapload for a pitch-to-contact guy. Don't really know what to make of that - he still allowed three ER over 4 1/3IP. Ervin was scratched last Tuesday but pitched four really good innings today before becoming unravelled in the 5th. I'm kinda curious why Sosh had Weav pitch in a minor league game in Tempe on Friday rather vs. the Giants. I know that the stated excuse was that the Halos wanted a more controlled environment where he wouldn't have to bat. But Weav has already "batted" this spring, and it's not like he'd be allowed to swing anyways. Reports said he felt good (the generic report from every pitcher in the spring!) and gave up some HRs. Maybe he's still working on those new pitches Pineiro taught him? Whatever it is, the Halos used the opportunity to showcase Reckling. It's seriously hard to wrap my mind around the fact that he's only 20 years-old. Ironically, the best performance from the rotation this past week goes to Pineiro (0ER, 5IP), though he was facing the Royals. And of course, the biggest news for me was missing the chance to see Kaz pitch after he was scratched with shoulder stiffness. He says he's fine, Sosh says he's fine, so I guess it won't do me much good to worry about it. We'll see when the regular season comes around.

And really, it couldn't come fast enough. I'm tired to having to temper my enthusiasm or concern with the required "Well, it's only spring training." I'm ready to start cheering on the thumping of the AL West and those teams from the East.


24 March 2010

thoughts: ST games, snuggies &more

Finals are over and I'm finally feeling the warm sun of SoCal. Not much stuff to comment on that hasn't already been beaten to death, just a bunch of notes...


Spring training games haven't changed much from my last entry. The Angels have (finally) sprinkled in some wins with all those losses and have sent some of the youngins down to minor league camp. What has stood out the most for me is the inconsistancy of the Angels' play. I mean, for a long stretch of the losses, it seemed like they couldn't hit anything. A string of spring training games with only 3 or 4 hits is puzzling. But then they came back with multiple double-digit run games. And then the pitching! Ervin looks absolutely dominating in back-to-back games then gets hammered in a Triple-A game and the AAAA relievers alternate between horrible and capable. Like I've said, I don't really care about spring training wins/losses, but the inconsistancy can be quite annoying. I guess, it's just an extension of the unpredictability of the team this season.


The announcement that the Angels are going to try to break a world record made me laugh. I'm pretty sure the the potential publicity doesn't outweigh the ridiculousness of it all. I mean, Snuggies - really? I'd rather that the marketing department find better ways to promote the Angels (and their fans) but at least it gave me (and others) a good laugh.


Another article that gave me a good laugh - Bengie Molina was (once) a shortstop. It's definitely one of those "REALLY?" moments and, as a commentor noted, a revelation that even Bengie is probably faster than a great deal of fans.


10 March 2010

torii, the media, and a badly chosen word

The firestorm around the Angels today revolves around the beloved and media friendly Torii and a eyebrow-raising quote.
"Fans look down from their seats onto the baseball field, see dark-colored skin and might assume they are African-American players. But increasingly, the players instead hail from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico or Venezuela.

"People see dark faces out there, and the perception is that they're African American," Los Angeles Angels center fielder Torii Hunter says. "They're not us. They're impostors.

"Even people I know come up and say, 'Hey, what color is Vladimir Guerrero? Is he a black player?' I say, 'Come on, he's Dominican. He's not black.' "

"As African-American players, we have a theory that baseball can go get an imitator and pass them off as us," Hunter says. "It's like they had to get some kind of dark faces, so they go to the Dominican or Venezuela because you can get them cheaper. It's like, 'Why should I get this kid from the South Side of Chicago and have Scott Boras represent him and pay him $5 million when you can get a Dominican guy for a bag of chips?'

"I'm telling you, it's sad."

07 March 2010

thoughts: ST games, Rojas, GA, etc.

It's about time for me to go into my finals-studying isolation, so posting here should be quite sparse for a few weeks.

Just some tidbits:


Cactus League play started this past Friday and the Angels pulled out an exciting tie (can you sense the sarcasm?). Then followed with two less-than-exciting losses (to the Rockies and A's). I don't really care about spring training wins/losses (you figure they've gotta win sometime, right?), but the real treat was having the opportunity to see young prospects like Reckling, Chatwood, Amarista, Trumbo, Conger, etc. I'm still waiting to see Chaffee and Smith in action, so it's not so fun that yesterday's game wasn't televised and today's game got rained out.


Victor Rojas, the newly hired Angels play-by-play announcer, explained why he decided to leave MLB Network to come to the Angels. Well, mostly it was him explaining how he got the MLBN gig in the first place and how he grew into the role. Two thoughts - first, it speaks really well of him that, although he didn't have any broadcasting experience, he dove right into the work, was amendable to adapting on the fly, and never really shied away from trying new things. Secondly, that as much as he professes to have loved his work on MLBN, Arte got him to come to Anaheim. Specifically, "...most importantly [I left] because ... Mr. Moreno (I promise I will learn to call you Arte) wanted to make a commitment to me and the family." When the announcement was made and the resultant feedback in the halosphere was positive, I kinda wondered how the Angels enticed a national broadcaster to leave a network he helped build to come to Anaheim, where the west coast bias is in full swing. All indications point to it being a great hire and for all you doubters out there, here's another instance where Arte is doing all he can to make the Angels experience a great one.

I'm looking forward to seeing Rojas in action!


04 March 2010

california cool

A portion of the Jeff Mathis interview on The Drive caught my attention.

Jeff Biggs mentioned that he was kinda upset over the comments that Lackey had made about the laid-back nature of Angels fans. I wasn't going to comment on them, mostly since I don't care what he says in a BoSux uniform, but what concerns me is the reaction from my fellow Halos fans.

I can understand that most Angels fans see Lackey as a traitor, money-grubber, or whatever, and they feel a sense of distrust and anger towards him. Personally, I'm displeased with how the situation turned out and the passive-agressive manner he's handled it. But while some fans (and Biggs) see his comment as another parting shot, I think its a valid observation. And really, I think the real offensive part is the first line in that statement.

"This is not going to play well in Orange County..."

Yes, the stereotypical Angels fan is not as crazy as RedSox fans. Yes, there are a good majority of Angels fans that remember the barren days and appreciate the AL West titles. And yes, I'd characterize the fan base in Anaheim to be more laid back than in Boston. And to that, I'd like to say "So?"

02 March 2010

news, but nothing new

So remember when I said that the start of spring training would mean that news will start flowing? Well I was only partially right. It's been a flow of news with mostly eye-rolling (in)significance. I don't want angels&aimee to be about reporting/rehashing news, but just to show you the absolute derth of stuff to comment on, here's a sampling of the news since I made that horrible statement:

- Mathis won his arbitration case and said the process was "interesting." Sosh added that Mathis has more offensive ability than he's shown.
- Matsui arrived in camp. The waiting Japanese media rejoiced that they didn't need to take video/pictures of his locker anymore.
- Kaz was sick with a sore throat and fever and was sent home for a day.
- Guns aren't allowed in the clubhouse.
- Rain washed out some workouts last weekend.
- Shields and Jepsen have been taking the slow track in workouts. Rodney has also been held back due to his shins.
- Matsui's Japanese media throng is a circus and they have an unsatiable need for Matsui news
- Torii is fine after offseason surgery.
- Rodney came to the Angels to try to win a championship, not to close.
- Abreu is gonna hit second in the lineup.
- Sosh says that BWood's defense is more important than his offensive production, in terms of keeping playing time. He also compared him to Glaus
- Saunders is looking forward to golfing with Smoltz next offseason.
- Naps is trying out a new, bigger glove to improve his defense and hopefully earn more playing time.
- More stuff about the lack of an ace in the rotation. And more stuff on why that doesn't really matter.
- Ervin is working towards more consistancy.
- Kendry switched agents (from the Hendricks brothers to Boras) after he discovered that $300K was taken from his bank account without his permission, allegedly by a (now former) employee of the Hendricks brothers.
- Q was surprised and pleased to be back with the Angels.
- The Angels had photo day.
- The latin players miss Vlad and his mom's food.
- Willits is once again organizing a toy drive for players' and coaches' children and a local school/shelter.
- Saunders is trying to get back to where he was in 2008.
- Kendry's still not in camp because of some immigration snafu.
- Rumors that the Angels signed Erstad were disproved.
- Kendry finally arrived in camp.


I love that spring training is all about anticipation and optimism for the new season, but really, I'm becoming quite impatient. Baseball, please!

If you haven't already, check out the pictures from Tempe. It makes me envy those at spring training even more, especially when I'm sitting in class learning how a solid becomes a liquid.