Dear Dodger Fans,
It's okay. I understand your frustration. Your team was riding high with a solid first couple of innings and looked like you were on your way to righting your sinking ship. We Angel Fans were in your same boat just a dew month ago. We too, would get overly excited about the illusion of our team playing well only to have our hopes dashed by a superior team. Look, your run as LA favorite sons was a nice little story in April, but this is the real part of the season and this is big boy baseball. And tonight, was exactly what big boy baseball players do.
Angels 8 Dodgers 5
-- Yes, Dan Haren got the win. But his start continued a trend of his inability to get batters out when he's ahead in the count. Haren got rocked in the first two innings, but somehow managed to go five innings and keep the Angels in the game. To put it simply, Haren needs to start pitching better if the Angels have any hope of long term success.
-- Mike Trout is really, really good. But what makes him special is his sense of the moment. Superstars know how to elevate their game at the right moment and between the go ahead home run and the ridiculous speed he showed scoring from first on a single, Trout found the moment. MVP anyone?
-- I love how Mike Scioscia is using his bullpen. In a normal circumstance Scott Downs does not pitch the seventh inning. The old Mike would have saved Downs for the eighth since he is the "set-up man". But with the game in doubt, Scioscia threw his best guy out there. Brilliant!
So that's why the Angels gave him that new deal? Erick Aybar was everywhere tonight. He had a double, a triple and 2 RBI at the plate. He made a couple of nice plays in the field, including a acrobatic double play to squash a Dodger rally. Seems like the pressure is starting to ease and Erick is playing at the pace he is capable.
Dear Dodger Fans,
Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles (42-28) @ Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (38-32)
Pitching Probables: LAD – Chad Billingsly (4-5, 3.75 ERA) LAA – Dan Haren (4-7, 3.97 ERA)
Game Info: 7:05 PM PT; TV - Fox Sports West, Fox Prime Ticket; Radio - KLAA 830
The freeway series heads down the 5 to the confines of Angel Stadium with the Angels having already spanked the Dodgers last week taking 2 out of 3 at Chavez Prison, sorry, Revine. The thing with this series is that although it's supposed to be a rivalry, there hasn't been any real animosity since Chan Ho Park tried to drop kick Tim Belcher a few years back. Sure, the fans don't care for one another, but for the players it's just another game on the calendar.
Dan Haren is back on the bump after getting beat down by the Diamonbacks and having been generally uneven all season. Haren has been inconsistent mostly because he hasn't been able to put people away after getting ahead in the count. His split finger has not had the usual bite from last year, which has lead to him getting shelled. This means that the Halo offense will need to show up tonight against Chad Billingsley, who has also struggled lately.
This would be a good weekend for Mike Trout to really break into the national spotlight (even though most people will be focused on the Subway Series in New York), with a big series. I also expect a lot from Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo. This is the time of the year when good players play well and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Angels leap all over their neighbors from the north for at least two wins this weekend.
|Like MWAH on Facebook||Follow MWAH on Twitter|
Historically, there has always been a major deficiency in some facet of Angel's catchers. Bobby Wilson is hitting roughly .175, with 3 RBIs, and recorded his first extra-base hit of the season Wednesday (in 35 games). His stolen base percentage against him is .750, leaving room to improve. Chris Iannetta, John Hester, and Hank Conger are .818, .857, and .714 respectively. None are in the top 30 in the league. And what they lack in managing the run game, they truly haven't compensated for at the plate, either. But Mike Scioscia, like any reasonable manager, is defense first. There are reasons behind Hank Conger shuffling flights back and forth to Salt Lake (in addition to Mike claiming Conger has "come a long way" defensively).
One does not have to iterate constantly that there hasn't been as much production offensively from catchers to be understood. But what they lack in plate presence they reciprocate with intelligent design, preparation, and execution. The Angels sport the best staff ERA in the AL (3.43) and 3rd best in the Majors. Retrospectively, all through Spring Training each interview with Chris Iannetta asked about his new relationships with each starter, and how he was feeling his way along. He was frank about his progress, saying he was taking notes, writing in a journal, and studying comfort and pitch selection. As a Math major from UNC, his analytical skills are professional to say the least. It isn't a coincidence he already has a no-hitter under his belt in his first season. Those never come easy, even with Weaver on the mound. The biggest surprise, however, has been the thrusting of Wilson and Hester at the pivot of the pitching staff. Strides are being made, and some credit has to go to both guys for maintaining the starters and stabilizing the bullpen (not to take away from the relief corp or Iannetta at all).
There are definite sacrifices players make in this game to succeed and win. Both positions that see the most action per play (pitcher and catcher) give up the most with their bat. Pitchers have never been feared sluggers, and historically, neither have catchers. It seems that the more devoted focus on defense correlates mostly to detriments on offense. Each pitch for these positions is hours of preparation, constant chatter in dugouts, and either results in a mini victory or defeat after the numbers are thrown down. This takes me back to Wilson and Hester's bats. Even though Bobby is sitting under the Mendoza Line, and Hester looks to be headed that direction, they are components to a successful recipe. Give and take, push and pull. Dipoto and Mike assembled this formula for one reason and it looks to be victory.
|Like MWAH on Facebook||Follow MWAH on Twitter|
When Jerry Dipoto was hired as the Angels new General Manager replacing the much maligned Tony Reagins, he was asked about his approach in terms of rebuilding a minor league system depleted by trades and promotion. One particular emphasis Dipoto outlined was his theory that of aggressively challenging prospects. The previous regime was by far the most conservative in the major leagues in promoting youngsters. They believed in a slow and thorough progression of prospects.
Take the first eight picks of the Angels 2010 draft, the best opportunity the Angels would have in the entire history of the ball club to build an elite minor league system.
3B Kaleb Cowart - 18th overall pick spends a year and a half in Orem before promotion to Class A.
RHP Cam Bedrosian - 29th overall pick spends over a year rehabbing in Extended Spring and Arizona Rookie Ball.
CF Chevy Clarke - 30th overall spends a year and a half in the Arizona Rookie League before promotion.
2B Taylor Lindsay - 37th overall pick is held back an additional year in Rookie Ball by Tony Reagins. He earned MVP honors before Jerry Dipoto decides Cedar Rapids would be a useless step. Currently the best 2B in the Cal League.
CF Ryan Bolden - 40th overall pick is in his 3rd stint in the Arizona Rookie League.
RHP Dan Tillman - 81st overall pick transitioned to reliever immediately upon promotion to protect his arm and mechanics.
SS Wendell Soto - 111th overall pick is in his 3rd stint in Rookie Ball.
RHP Donn Roach - 115th overall pick is forced into a bullpen role until Dipoto takes over as GM, when Roach is transitioned to starter, dominates immediately and is a key piece in the Ernesto Frieri deal.
By contrast, Jerry Dipoto and his regime didn't get a draft pick until 114th overall this season. Let's analyze where the first five picks are placed so far.
The June 22nd, 2012 edition of daily news for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim including Mike Trout the MVP candidate, Jean Segura was chosen for the Futures Game, Brendan Donnelly defends Joel Peralta's pine tar use and much more...
The Monkey Says: If his numbers maintain, he obviously has a legit case. However, I don't know that we can just throw away the Angels' resurgence once he called up. It isn't a strict cause and effect, but it isn't just a "fairy tale" either. The biggest problem facing the Angel lineup was that the top three in the order were giving them absolutely nothing before Trout got called up. He gave them the top of the order catalyst they were in desperate need of. Having Albert Pujols remember how to hit at the same time helped too, that part is coincidence.
The Monkey Says: Segura deserves it, but he isn't as exciting as past Angel representatives. This is also hardly the time to be talking about how he is "blocked" in the majors. The Angels will likely trade him before long, but they don't have to. They could move him to third base. They could keep him in the minors for another season then trade Howie Kendrick. They could call him up if Erick Aybar continues to stink. They could use him as a super-sub after Maicer Izturis leaves this off-season, my preferred choice.
I remember hiding under the covers and listening to the Angels on a hand-held transistor radio while I was supposed to be asleep. The lights were out and the volume was down and that radio was very close to my ear. My dad was in the next room, his den, almost always listening to the game just as I was. Once in a while he’d walk over to my room, open the door and say, “we should have been there to see that play,” or “we might actually win this game.”
There are many explanations for why people follow professional sports teams, everything from suppressed survival drives (including sex) to a desire to be accepted into social circles. To me it’s nice to have something outside of myself that gives a buffer to my personal angst. Sometimes it’s easier to experience ups and down at a distance. The teams and the players allow for a release of energy that goes safely aside, but parallel to my life.
The season is more real to the players. One hundred sixty two games spread over six, or seven in a successful year, months. So for the better part of a year, things can happen in that span. Life does not go on hold during that time, it grinds forward with bad hops and glare in your eyes. Ask Tori Hunter or think of Nick Adenhart.
Or consider Jerome Williams, still a feel good story at 6-5, 4.46 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP. Add in a very solid stretch at the end of last year and he’s been an excellent #5 for the better part of a season combined. On Monday night Williams did not have his best stuff while he was in the game, giving up four earned runs while getting 10 outs on 75 pitches, but things just got worse after he was taken out of the game when he apparently passed out in the clubhouse.
Williams, who has a history of asthma, was hospitalized with shortness of breath. About 8% of the US population suffers or has a history of suffering from asthma. Those that have experienced an asthma attack, as I have, would tell you that there’s nothing like fighting for breath. Talk about competing, with the game on the line. Of course, Williams has experienced some adversity in his career as well, coming up as a top prospect and then seeing success going, going, gone.
After being released from the hospital, Williams tweeted that he was ok, resting up, getting ready to get back out there on the mound and pitch. He may do that from the bullpen, since I’m guessing that Garrett Richards has made Mr. Scioscia a bit breathless and Mr. Weaver has returned.
|Like MWAH on Facebook||Follow MWAH on Twitter|
Everyone is guilty of it. As we peruse the Angels home game schedule, deciding which games we want to attend, our eyes are inexorably drawn to the blue asterisk marking certain games. That small graphic that indicates one of the Big A’s notorious promotional giveaways will be taking place. From shower curtains to bobbleheads, Angels Stadium has been host to some of the best (and worst) promotional giveaways in the MLB. Yes, we ALL could use a Howie Kendrick 2nd base coaster to set our drink on, but the giveaways these days seem to lack thought. They lack a certain je ne sais quois that could make them so much better. Sure, they’re fun, and baseball fans are group known to enjoy random swag. All we ask is for a little bit more of the team be reflected in the giveaways.
The way to construct a giveaway item is simple. Start with a basic item, an everyday item like a day planner. Everyone needs to plan their day, right? We’ll give away something that will help them. Next, we give it a team-specific touch. For the Angels, we may use Mike Scioscia. This is where most giveaway brainstorm sessions stop. Put up a fancy starburst graphic and have the announcer call it out on the promo: “This Sunday, the Halos face the White Sox and every fan in attendance will receive a Coach Mike Scioscia day planner!” We can do better though. How about we customize it even further? We’ve already branded it to Scioscia, but let’s make it a true representative of the man: The Mike Scioscia Bullpen Day Planner. It lets you know about all of your appointments and important events, but it lets you know about 5 minutes too late, and then it asks you to stick around for a few more minutes while someone warms up to cover you. Now THAT’S going to sell some tickets!