30 May 2010

replacement players

Yesterday, Doc Halladay threw a perfect game - something any baseball fan can appreciate. Yesterday, the Lakers closed out the Suns and are making their third consecutive trip to the Finals - something all Los Angelenos are aware of. But to this Halo fan, the only thing that mattered yesterday was the walk-off broken leg of Kendry Morales.

Now its a new day, with some perspective and a level head.
Well at least for most the halosphere.

In the wake of Kendry's unbelievable injury, there has been a flurry of trade proposals and evaluations on the halosphere, the interwebs, and the media. I was thinking about this myself, since there is no clear-cut heir apparent. (And why would there be? After last year, KMo was sure to be entrenched there). There's two main things to consider: Worse case, Kendry is only going to be out for the rest of the season, and the Angels farm system is woefully barren (hence the excitement of those great prospects in Cedar Rapids and the 5 first round picks next next week). I can't see the FO making a blockbuster trade (Konerko, Berkman) just to fill in 1B for 3/4ths a season and deplete the farm even more. There is no way that the Angels could (or would) get AGon, Pena or Fielder. I wondered a bit about Mike Lowell, but I'm wary that the Red Sox will try to gouge Reagins, despite their desire to move him. The only out-of-house options I could see happening would be cheap free-agent types (Ryan Garko, Jermaine Dye). Halosheaven has got it right - the Angels won't be doing anything drastic, it's going to be in-house.

I wouldn't be surprised if 1B is a revolving door. I wouldn't expect BWood, Wilson, Q, or Naps to be there everyday, but I think all can handle the position at around replacement level. Apparently, Sosh sees the obvious least-sucky option - Naps is at 1B today. I'm surprised, to say the least. Firstly, that Sosh would throw Naps in there so suddenly (he hasn't played there since 2006 in the minors) and that he would do so with Mathis still on the DL. Well we'll see how this evolves - at least Naps can swing the bat.

They say that baseball is a game of adjustments and really, this is just another challenge for the Angels. Kendry was the best young player in the lineup, but now its up to the underperforming veterans (Matsui, Abreu, Rivera, and to some extent Torii) to start pull their weight.

29 May 2010


After finally finishing up my magnetism project I was looking forward to enjoying a great duel of Weave and King Felix and later writing a lengthy post on Kaz's struggles last night. It wasn't meant to be.

First, FOX decided to air the Cubs-Cardinals in the Bay Area and then Aybar decided to revert to his risky, wild fielding. But I was amazed and happy to hear Terry's excited voice describe Kendry's game-winning hit. But we all know how that really ended.

I couldn't stick around after the game, but the whole time I was thinking "How bad is it that they had to cart him off?" I couldn't convince myself it was a simple sprain - I've had bad ankle sprains before. Nevertheless, the truth is devastating.

Torii's HBP was scary, no doubt. But if there was one player who is absolutely irreplacable on the Angels roster, it is Kendry.

I can't say what the Angels can or should do, but I hope that they don't give up on this season as easily as some in the halosphere. Let's all grieve today and come back tomorrow with some better perspective.

As discouraged I've been this season, I still believe in this team.

16 May 2010


Just checking in...

These coming weeks are looking to be very hectic for me as my magnetism project will be consuming me. Just a few thoughts:

- I was very proud that the Angels took heed of what I said in my last post. Even though they lost that game, they ended up threatening in the 8th inning and not giving up.

- I actually really liked Kaz's and Sosh's postgame comments. Firstly, Kaz noted that going 5IP isn't acceptable. And secondly, he stated "I know I have what it takes to be a quality starter in this league." It really goes back to the fact that Kaz is going to do whatever he can to get back to where he can be. He and Butcher are going to work on his mechanics to try to get him back to where he needs to be. Truthfully, I don't know how much good it will do and how quickly it can produce results. But I was relieved that Sosh decided to keep him in the rotation (shows some faith) and that the Angels are "still trying to unlock Kaz and get him to be the pitcher we know he can be." At least the Angels are still as hopeful as I am that Kaz is better than he's shown.

- There were two great articles in the LA Times. One was on the role of pitching coaches. Another was T.J. Simer's article on Wednesday. I enjoyed the Angels coverage with the acerbic wit, though you know, I think he's developed some respect for Fuentes!

- That loss last Wednesday was disappointing. Partially because it was because Weave was on the mound and he's risen so high that my expectations have risen accordingly. But it was also the defensive miscues that were so difficult to stomach.

- Friday's masterful performance from Saundo was perhaps the opposite of Wednesday's loss. It seemed to come out of left field! But anyway, that is MUCH closer to the Saunders that Angels fans are used to seeing. I have a sneaky suspicion that the wide strike zone and ineptitude of A's hitters had a lot to do with Saunder's success. Nevertheless, it has to do wonders for Saunder's confidence. I loved to see the smile he had when he hugged Naps and then Weave.

- Saturday's game was good to see. After the initial fear that the Angels bats were going to get no-hit (why is it that Angels hitters can't hit rookie pitchers??), they got some breaks and really broke out. I loved that they didn't show any mercy, but were always working for more runs and never seemed satisfied. During the past losing streak, there were times where the offense simply believed that what they did was enough and they went into hibernation.

- Missed most of Sunday's win, but it was good to see some momentum being built. In fact, a pretty great day: Angels sweep the A's, Tampa Bay beats Seattle, Toronto sweeps Texas, Detroit wins against the Red Sox (and scores 5ER against Lackey), and the Twins come back against the Yankees. Great day!

- One of the best things about two complete games and a blowout in this sweep was the complete irrelevance of the bullpen. If the rotation can limit the bullpen appearances half as good as it did this weekend, there would be much less of a glaring hole.

- The Angels seemed a lot more like themselves during the sweep. The M's seemed to be the right tonic last weekend, but the Halos regressed against the Rays. Will the A's prove to be a more potent cure-all?

- I'm curious to see how the Angels respond to Texas. Surprisingly their first meeting, but I think the outcome of those two games can go a long way to setting the tone for the rivalry.

- After the Rangers, the Angels embark on a stretch of games where the opponents are noticably weaker than the early schedule has provided. I'm definitely looking forward to it.

11 May 2010


A quote from Torii after Monday's win:
“That felt good,” Hunter said. “It was good to get away from that road trip. That was a disaster. We’d like to apologize to the fans, to the front office and everybody because of the way we played. It was terrible. But we won two out of three in Seattle and kind of built off of it.”
Coming back home has been met with better play from the Halos. Not great or really even good, but passable. Yesterday's win highlighted the holes in defense, baserunning (2 strike 'em out, throw 'em out DPs), and of course the bullpen. They dug out the win though, which I though was the best sign. The Rays could've very well stolen the game, but I thought that the Angels were very much in it and had the momentum. They gritted through to win it.

Today, (so far) this game is a blowout. I want to see the Angels fight through it, chip away, do anything but lay down and conceed the game. I would consider that a big step forward after that awful road trip.

Kaz took some baby steps today. I don't think he did as bad as the line suggests. He didn't give up any extra base hits and a few of the hits were of the infield variety. And 3ER after that disaster in Boston is a definite improvement. Of course, the big things holding him down (walks, pitch count) did not improve. He wasn't economical with his pitches, for the most part lived on the outer edges of the plate, and was at 108 pitches in 5IP. We'll see if he can at least keep heading in the right direction.

Weave vs. Price tomorrow should be a great game. Hopefully I'll get to catch some of it!

09 May 2010

perfect and not so much

Dallas Braden threw a perfect game today. And not against some puff-piece lineup either. Tampa Bay is one of the hottest teams in the league with the best record in baseball. Tough for the Rays - they've been at the wrong end of a perfect game for the second time in a row.

Despite the fact that Braden is an Oakland pitcher, I was rooting for him. That whole spat with A-Rod was amusing to me (a bystander), but I took Dallas's side. Even though Dallas may have flipped out unnecessarily over the whole it's-a-unwritten-rule and that-is-my-mound-! thing, I thought A-rod was the one that looked like the jerk. A-rod could've (and should've!) taken the high road and said something along the lines of "I didn't mean any disrespect," and "I've never heard of that unwritten rule." Instead, A-rod took a dig at him, saying that he didn't expect to be called out by someone with "a handful of wins." That's just arrogant and disrespectful. It ended up making the whole incident more than it was. Even worse, in response to Dallas's interview with a reporter, A-rod couldn't let go of his ego and stoked the fire even more with his comment on not wanting to extend his "15 minutes of fame."

Well now Dallas Braden has much more than 15 minutes of fame as A-rod's crazy nemesis. Congrats to Dallas, now he's written in the history of baseball.


Now onto Angels baseball.

Yesterday the Angels pretty much were asking the M's to take the game. Thankfully, the M's are such a mess that they didn't know how to. Saunders took some positive steps forward, even though he unravelled in the end against a pitiful lineup. Same with the bullpen, as each reliever seemed to teeter on the brink of fail. Fuentes provided a surprising lockdown inning, striking out two and giving up no baserunners. With the new mustache, I can't help but think he looks like Mario, even though he's Latino, not Italian. Maybe he'll start throwing some fireballs. Frandsen made a great Angels debut, going 3-4 with some nice stops at 3rd and some high throws. Nothing much to note, except it didn't look like the Angels built upon the previous win. I wouldn't say they regressed - it took some guts to win that game in extras when you know that Stokes and Fuentes were all that was left in the bullpen. I guess I was disappointed that they didn't take off right off the bat. I guess it's gonna take some time for the Angels to turn on the switch.

Today's play didn't really help. Misplays abound, horrible relief, and silent bats. Silver lining was the terrific 3.2 innings Ervin pitched before losing focus and imploding. That and the terrific defensive plays by Reggie and Rivera in the outfield to get two assists. Also, at least there's the solstice in knowing that today was probably one of the worse lineups Sosh could trot out. Q as DH!?! I'd think letting Ryan play the outfield with Abreu as the DH would be better. But hey, I'm just a blogger, maybe Sosh was counting on Q's communion with pink bats...

Tomorrow's another day and another game. We'll see how the Halos respond to losing and returning back home.

08 May 2010

a twinkle

Yesterday the Halos won.

I think that pretty much sums it up, even though it was against the free-falling M's. Weave pitched a gem, the Angels crushed some pitches from Felix (who definitely didn't look like himself), and for the most part the Angels played some clean defense.

I'm not jumping for joy yet. This team has been inconsistant enough that I'm waiting to see if they can combine this new mindset with a semblance of continuity.

Saunders goes tonight and he needs a good outing as badly as the Halos needed a win yesterday. We'll see if the M's can be a cure-all once again.

07 May 2010

nothing yet

So I was mostly distracted through last night's game. (As the Angels were getting owned by the BoSox, I was getting owned by a take home midterm...)

The gist that I got was that nothing much has changed. But there is cause for hope.

Of course, I've been looking at silver linings and glimmers of hope for most of the season. But for once, the Angels showed some spunk, some life. That first inning definitely gave me hope that the team had some fight left in them. Even though Dice-K gifted them some walks, the Angels also managed to get some key hits (Howie!) and, for once, make the other team look ridiculous (three stolen bases, an error on a DP ball). But in almost predictable fashion, it was short lived.

Kaz didn't hold onto the lead. To tell you the truth, I'm running out of what to say. I'm not yet ready to say that I was wrong about him, despite the talking heads wondering if Kaz is weighing down the team (he's just another underperformer). Maybe I'm just being my usual stubborn self, but its like I know that once his head comes around, he'll be fine. The walks are always telling. He needs to trust himself and his stuff enough to hit the strike zone. He needs to ditch the tentativeness and find his swagger. Hey Kaz, remember all that hard work you did in the offseason? Remember why you did it? Cause I'm sure as hell you didn't put yourself through that so you can give them free passes. I'll say it again - he has what it takes, just like the Angels do.

I don't blame Kaz for the loss last night. Defense, the bullpen, and partially the offense also broke down. Heck, culpability has exchanged hands so many times this season that it's like a game of hot potato. I thought Abreu's comment that they "laid down" after the BoSox pulled away needed to be said. Sosh talked about the team pressing, and while that can be a problem, I see what Bobby has. This team needs to take that mentality of the first few innings and carry it over tonight. Just build upon the positives, fight to climb the next step, and they'll turn the the corner.

Like I said yesterday, I still believe in this team.

And if you need a smile, Halo fans are still providing some.

05 May 2010

frustration and inspiration

Yes, I know, it's been a long time since I've written here. And no, the lack of posts is not an indication that angels&aimee is dead. I've been away, trying to take care of myself and my future, so I've had precious few moments for baseball, most of which I spent watching games and staying aware of the going-ons around the league. So there've been no commentary here, just my in-game thoughts on twitter. I figured that once I had figured out my things, then I could enjoy the Angels more and angels&aimee would take off once again. Well, all of those things are a work in progress.

So why am I here, after three weeks of silence?

Simple. I'm frustrated.

I would count myself among the patient and even-kneeled in the Halo fanbase. But at this point, even I'm angry. During my absence, the Halos have been inconsistant and are now floundering. But it's been more than the 6-game losing streak. It is how this team is playing - or not playing.

True Grinch wrote a post last week about the uninspiring play of late. One passage stood out to me:
We keep waiting for this team to start clicking on all cylinders and it just hasn't happened yet. I don't know about you, but I'm getting a little restless; just a tad bit mind you.
I keep waiting too. I'm waiting for them to turn the corner. After the disappointing first week, the Halos seemed to be heading in the right direction at the end of the second week and start of the third. But all that good mojo evaporated and the inconsistancy once again set in. Every encouraging sign seems to be followed by a discouraging breakdown. There seems to be a new culprit (or multiple culprits) everyday. It's past the time where we can say "Oh, it's early." The Angels need to show some signs of life.

Lately, they've looked lost and tentative. The Halos need to play with a purpose. They need someone to step up, and inject some fire and steely determination. I get that (mostly) everyone is scuffling. Bad breaks and slumps happen. But I've come to expect better from my Angels. I miss that team last year that played with such measured passion and determination that they inspired me. Inspired me to be a better fan, to be here at angels&aimee. That team fought through the bad times with a determined do-what-it-takes-to-win attitude. They would grit it out and frankly, they exuded a believe in themselves.

Today, they faced John Lackey and the Red Sox. I didn't care so much for the hype, I just wanted to see a shift in the Halos' attitude. I wanted to see them "show some nuts" and gut out good at-bats, good pitches, clean defense. After a gutsy performance from Ervin last night, I wanted to see if Pineiro could follow the trend and if the bullpen can find a way to turn the page. In predictable fashion, encouraging signs from the rotation were coupled with silent bats and shaky relief.

So I am here because I'm disappointed, frustrated. This Angels team is better than this.

Kaz is going tomorrow - which gives me something to look forward to. He hasn't quite lived up to my lofty preseason expectations, but I haven't given up on him. His past outings have been encouraging. I remember that first start in NY where he lamented about the disappearance of his slider and he sat on the bench with this utterly lost expression on his face. Since then he's had more trust in his mechanics and his fastball. I'll say it again, he has what it takes, but he needs to believe that he has what it takes. That's where it all needs to start - to play with conviction.

The same can be said for the team as a whole. And I'm not ready to give up on them either.