I’m Sick and Tired Of This Small Ball Crap

Game 4, season on the line, bottom of the ninth, runner at 2nd base with nobody out, 3 chances for a base hit with a .306 hitter and two .280 hitters coming up. So what does our genius manager do? Give up an out bunting the runner over to third so he can try a suicide squeeze. Which, if anyone was watching, failed miserably. “It was a bad call, Ripley, …a bad call.” To put it mildly.

What kind of message does this send to those three players waiting to hit, who happened to be Kendrick, Aybar and Figgins: “Wow, my manager doesn’t think I can get a big hit.” What kind of confidence does this instill in these players?

And once again we have Scioscia playing for one run instead of a possible big inning, as we saw constantly throughout this season. No wonder K-Rod had so many save chances! It’s ridiculous, and I’m tired of it. In one game this year in the bottom of the 9th the Angels had a runner at first with no outs and Napoli up (prior to him getting hot though) and they pinch-hit with Willits to bunt the runner over, playing for a tie. They didn’t score and lost the game, when Napoli could have won it with one swing. These are the kind of Gene Mauch-like moves that are infuriating and all too familiar to long-time Angels fans.

Make no mistake, Scioscia lost this series, not the players. The team with the better manager won, a manager who trusts his players, and they reward that trust with confidence in themselves and what they can accomplish, even when some of their key players are hurt.

Now that we won’t be watching any more baseball this year, we might as well start trying to figure out what to do next year after going for broke with the Tex deal and coming up empty. It’s probably too much to ask to have a new manager at the helm, unless Arte is really pissed off at that play too (which he should be). But I expect Scioscia will be back.

Teixeira probably won’t be back since he’ll go where the money is, I guessed a long time ago he’d end up in pinstripes. K-Rod with his huge contract demands will be elsewhere, maybe on the Mets since a decent closer this year might have gotten them into the playoffs. Garland will get a decent deal elsewhere. Rivera will sign somewhere else where he can play every day and get his 30 home runs and 100 RBI and 15 outfield assists.

What about the rest of the team? Personally I’d trade our starting lineup straight across with Texas. If we could keep our pitching. Since that can’t happen, let’s start by getting rid of Matthews, just cut him and eat his contract if we have to and use the roster spot for a guy who can hit. GA can go too unless they can get his contract restructured to about half what he’s getting now. At this point I don’t pick up his option. With GA, Matthews and Rivera gone we still have Torii at CF and Vladdy part-time in RF, spelled by Morales or Willits. Or I guess we could hang on to Matthews and use him in RF, if we can’t find anyone to listen to our pleas to take him off our hands.  

Figgy was great at 3b this year but we’ve got another guy who can play 3b and hit with power named Brandon Wood, so we move Figgy back to LF and put Woody at 3b. With Tex taking a hike we bring up Morales to play 1b, and we bring Woody over to play some 1b as backup, to be spelled by Maicer Isturis at 3b. Isturis starts at SS but when he spells Woody at 3b then he’s replaced by Aybar. Kendrick gets one more chance at 2b, but if he keeps getting hurt and/or swinging at those outside breaking balls, then he’s out the door and we go with Aybar-Isturis up the middle with Sean Rodriguez as backup. Or use any combination of the above when the inevitable hamstring injuries occur.

We’re set at catcher with Napoli having a monster September, Mathis plays when Santana pitches. Or Mathis is trade bait and Bobby Wilson gets the backup role.

Pitching-wise, K-Rod and Garland are gone. Kelvim Escobar is back and he’s the new closer, one-inning stints being easier on his shoulder/elbow (whatever injury he had). Mosely gets the nod as 5th starter, or if they sign or trade for another starter he’d make a great long-relief guy since he seems to do well for 4 or 5 innings. Speier is gone, he gave up too many home runs although he’s so funny I wish they’d keep him around. I guess he could pitch when they’re down by 5 runs.

Lackey will leave after next year because he’ll be tired of pitching on a team that doesn’t score any runs. He’ll sign with his home-state team of Texas where he can pile up some 20-win seasons with that lineup scoring 6 runs a game for him.

Saunders and Santana are locked up for a few more years but they better give Santana a pay raise to make up for the pay cut they made him take this year (after going 7-14 last year). Otherwise they can expect Santana to walk when his 6 years are up. Weaver looked strong at the end of the year too, so our top four in the rotation looks good, for one more year anyway.

In the bullpen it looks like Shields will inherit the closer role unless Escobar can do it. Arradondo will be the setup guy for a year or two then step into that role. Bulger and O’Day should make the bullpen roster, and hopefully Darren Oliver will be here, he had a great year and maybe should have come in in the bottom of the ninth in that last game.

This roster will save Arte a ton of money and make up for what he lost having to refund all those playoff tickets (I want my game 5 ALDS and game 7 ALCS refunds right now!). And we’ll be competitive enough to win the West again because none of the other teams are good enough to challenge yet (unless Texas signs a couple starters like CC and Garland).

  

  

 

 

Torii gets mad….

The Angels’ website got this story right, but it would be nice if Yahoo Sports had. All you have to do is watch the video to see what happened. Torii makes a half-hearted attempt to knock the ball out of Fudge-Rod’s glove. Then he stumbles slightly as he steps on the bat which had ended up right on the basepath after Mike Napoli dropped it following his fielder’s choice groundout. As Torii steps on the bat, he loses his balance a little bit and it looks like he put his hand or arm out on Pudge for support to keep from stumbling. Pudge of course did not see Torii stepping on the bat because he was turned the other way, so Pudge assumes Torii pushed him a little bit (from behind) and does the same to Torii, a bit more strongly.

If Pudge had been turned the other way he probably would have stuck a hand out to help Torii keep his balance and nothing would have happened. Or if Pudge, instead of assuming Torii had pushed him, had turned around he would have seen Torii picking up the bat and probably there would have been a short exchange where explanations would have settled it amicably. Although… Pudge was probably extremely irritated that Torii had just stolen two bases off of him, so maybe it would have happened anyway.

More interesting is the conversation Torii was having earlier with the first base ump who called him out on the close play at first, where replays seemed to show Torii had beaten the throw. Torii was jawing right in the ump’s ear but the ump was smiling and laughing, and so was Torii. The ump did get the call wrong, but Torii showed what kind of person he is by the way he handled it.

And when the altercation started, who was the first Angel to reach the scene to back up his teammate? The guy Torii replaced in the outfield, Gary Matthews.

Who’s On First?

We do know who will be on first for today’s opener against Texas, it’ll be Mark Teixeira obviously. The question is, who’s on third? And who’s on second? And who’s at short? 3b Chone Figgins didn’t play yesterday because of a sore toe. 2b Howie Kendrick left the game with a hamstring injury, as did SS Erick Aybar a few innings later. If these three guys are day to day and can’t play today, what do the Angels do? Send down a pitcher and call up Brandon Wood to play SS?

Juan Rivera played 2b in the 9th inning yesterday, I guess because he’s taken infield practice at 1b, a move that luckily worked because he didn’t have to field the ball or turn a double play. Which might have been interesting to watch!

The Angels can’t win the World Series with a AAA infield. S-Rod, Wood and Brown can handle the defense but none of the three hit worth beans earlier in the year, and while one weak bat can be somewhat hidden and compensated for in a lineup, three weak bats can’t.

They should have had Reggie Willits taking some infield practice earlier this year when they were trying to cope with all the injuries. At least he can get on base and be a substitute leadoff guy if Figgy is unavailable. Last night’s substitute leadoff guy went 0 for 5, and if you guessed that was Gary Matthews you guessed right. If Gary’s game-winning hit the other night earned him some more playing time, his 0-fer last night earned him a seat right back on the bench.   

The Angels haven’t won any of their last four series, splitting two games with Seattle, losing to Cleveland and Tampa 2-1, and splitting with the Twins 2-2. After last night’s loss to the A’s they need to win the last two games or it’ll be five straight series without a series win.

A couple weeks ago this team looked unbeatable, now they don’t look like they could win a playoff. What’s the difference? Like I said in the last column, Mighty Maicer. They’re now 4-7 and counting since losing him for the year.

Still no more victories for Angel starters, holding at 5 wins this month with only six games to go. We’ve got wins on the:

17th – Lackey

12th – Garland

8th – Weaver

6th – Santana

1st – Santana

Which translates into only one Angel victory by a starter in the past two weeks.

New Base-running Strategy Dept: Every time you’re caught in a rundown, just stick your arm out and fall down. Umpire David Eddings made up this new rule the other day when AJ Pierzynski did just that when caught between 2nd and 3rd, and was ruled safe. Way to go AJ, I still don’t understand why you’re not running to first base every time you strike out. 

 

The Red Shirts

On Star Trek, whenever Captain Kirk beamed down to a planet and somebody got killed, it was always one of the guys wearing the red shirts. How does this relate to the Angels? It doesn’t. Just thought I’d mention it since the Angels also have red shirts they use on occasion.

Earlier this year during one of their many offensive funks, the Angels switched to the red jerseys for a few games and won them all, initiated by Joe Saunders on one of his starts. Having a tough time on the road in Cleveland and Tampa the past week, the Angels switched to the red jerseys for the final game of the trip and eked out a 5-4 win. So after a dismal offensive outing wearing the normal white jerseys in the first game at home against the Twins, they switched back to the red shirts and had an even more dismal game. If the red shirts won’t work, maybe they should try the white sleeveless jerseys. Although I don’t think they’ve won a game this year using those shirts. Worth a try though!

The Angels look tired after the grueling series with Tampa, probably why Torii Hunter was at DH last night and a good move as far as resting a tired player who banged the wall a couple times recently, but not a good move as far as helping out a once-again-struggling offense. Now if Willits had been able to play center instead of Matthews…

2-6 without Mighty Maicer, not a very good omen for playoff time. Willits is coming back tomorrow though, they need to get him in the lineup somehow. Maybe it’s time to move Kendrick into the 2 hole. Permanently. Although he’s been struggling lately too…

When was the last time an Angel starter got a win? Seems like forever, be right back after a bit of research…. oops, Lackey got his 10th win last Saturday. Prior to that… Garland got a win on the 12th, Weaver got a win on the 8th, Santana got wins on the 6th and 1st. That’s 5 wins for the starters in the month of August. Not so hot. Saunders’ last win was July 30th against the Red Sox.

Tonight I expect Vlad Guerrero to get a “night off” at DH, but hopefully Rivera will be in RF instead of Matthews…  

Daze Off…

Frankie blows a save last night when he doesn’t get a called third strike, then argues with the umpire as he’s leaving the mound and gets tossed. Next time he pitches with the same ump behind the plate (Jerry Davis I think it was) I wonder if he’ll get the benefit of any borderline calls? Not Likely! Way to go, K-rod, if this ump is behind the plate in game 7 of the World Series and you come in to save a 1-run game, don’t expect any favors.

The Halos finally lost a game that Gary Matthews didn’t start, the last time that happened was July 11th. They’re now 18-6 after the all-star break, 15-1 w/o Matthews and 3-5 with. Hurry up and get back from the DL, Reggie Willits. Maybe Matthews should go on the DL for a rest after Reggie comes back, it looked like his knee was really bothering him the last time he ran the bases and got thrown out at home. Kudos to Gary for not saying a word about his knee but after that play it seems fairly obvious that something’s wrong.

Fearless Predictions For Next Year Dept: Teixeira signs with the Yankees. K-Rod signs with the Mets. Shields is the closer with Arredondo as setup guy. Shields will falter at some point and they’ll switch roles. Juan Rivera will sign elsewhere (unfortunately), unless Matthews can be unloaded, in which case they’ll offer Juan enough to get him to stay. Justin Speier won’t be on the team. GA’s option is picked up (possibly with an extension at a lower rate), Figgie is offered arbitration. Garland signs elsewhere for big bucks, for whoever needs a solid starter (just about everyone). Kendry Morales is the opening-day 1st-baseman.   

Randumb Thoughts….

In the last Angels’ game against the Red Sox (you know, that team that clobbers other teams in the playoffs who happen to have their entire starting outfield injured), they used an interesting camera angle that I’d never seen before. The camera was directly behind the pitcher’s mound, and you could get a clearer view of balls and strikes than when the camera is shifted to the right as it usually is. Pitches from left handers and right handers suddenly looked exactly the same. That “sweeping curve” from the left handers we’re always hearing about? Change the camera angle and it disappears, it’s no different than a curveball from a righty.

The Angels are undefeated since the all-star game in games Gary Matthews hasn’t started, going 11-0. They are 2-5 in games he has started, which includes the losses in three of their last four games (Juan Rivera started in the game they won). In fact one has to go all the way back to… hang on, I’m still looking… July 11th when they lost to the A’s 9-2 just before the all-star game, to find the last time the Angels lost when Matthews wasn’t in the lineup. Since that time they are 12-0 in games Matthews hasn’t started, and 3-5 in games he has. I wonder if this should factor into who plays and who doesn’t? I wonder… Is there a lack of confidence in Matthews’ bat that causes the Angels’ pitchers to give up when they see his name in the lineup? How many more comebackers and 0-for-5 games can we stand to see?

Manny on the Dodgers… I’m still not going to watch any of their games. Unless maybe when they play Atlanta, to check out how Casey Kotchman is doing.

It was refreshing to see FOX the other day discussing the Teixeira trade and what might happen if he doesn’t sign with them for next year. Ken Rosenthal actually mentioned that they have Kendry Morales waiting in the wings. Which is somewhat amusing after hearing an ESPN guy saying the Angels are courting disaster with this deal. What does ESPN know? Nothing obviously.

 

 

  

  

Who is ESPN going to root for….

….when the Red Sox don’t make the playoffs? During the playoff games the announcers won’t be able to sit there and talk about the Red Sox hitters when the Red Sox are batting, or the Red Sox pitchers when the other team is hitting. They’ll have to actually talk about the other teams! What a unique concept. Although in the late innings of the Angels/White Sox series I suppose they’ll talk about the Red Sox anyway… “The Red Sox should have gone after this guy,” “When they played the Red Sox,” etc etc blah blah blah…

I question whether anybody on ESPN knows a thing about the Angels other than what they see in the box score. In addition to the local doofus radio guys the other day who couldn’t pronounce our shortstop’s first name correctly, we now have the guy on ESPN tv who also can’t pronounce Maicer’s name correctly. These guys have never watched an Angel game! If they had, they’d know his name was pronounced My-sur not May-sur.

If all these guys know is what they see in the box score, then how could they possibly know what’s going on with a team? When a guy goes 0 for 5 were those line drives (Isturis or Figgins) or weak comebackers to the pitcher (Matthews)? When the Angels weren’t hitting earlier this year, were they swinging at good pitches and not hitting them, or was the reality that they were all swinging at bad pitches and thus never getting thrown any decent pitches to hit because it wasn’t necessary in order to get them out?

It was quite remarkable to see the turnaround in Angel hitting this past month as soon as they got more selective with the pitches they swung at. But don’t expect ESPN to know this. And I question if they know what’s going on with any other team either (except their beloved Red Sox), other than what they can glean from a box score, which doesn’t always tell the story.  

So Texeira’s an Angel…

So Texeira’s an Angel. What does this mean?

The Angels will now win the world series, according to everyone I listened to on the radio yesterday whilst driving to Studio City. Prior to the trade being announced, the two guys on ESPN 710 (Steve Mason and John Ireland) were asking callers if they’d stand pat with Casey Kotchman, or rent Texeira for two months if they knew it would guarantee a World Series win for the Angels this year, even though Texeira would probably be gone next year. Most callers said they’d make the deal, and of course the Angels did.

What I got out of it is that these two guys were practically guaranteeing that the Angels would win it all if they made this deal. So we’ve already won the World Series now, it’s a done deal. Which is comforting to know, since we could get a rash of injuries at the end of the year like last year (our whole outfield and first baseman), which these guys (and everyone else) seem to totally forget or ignore when discussing what happened in the playoffs last year. I guess last year if the Angels had been healthy and the Red Sox had been without their starting first baseman and had their whole outfield hurt, they would have crushed the Angels anyway, right?

Well these guys must know what they’re talking about and watch the Angel games every day because Mr Mason was talking about this guy named May-sur Isturis, whom I’ve never heard of. Now they do have a player named Maicer (pronounced My-sur) Isturis, so maybe this other guy is his brother and he’s in the minor leagues or something, or they called him up to replace Maicer or something, and all us Angel fans wanted to keep “our guys” like May-sur….. D’oh!!!!! How in the heck can these guys even know what they’re talking about when it comes to the Angels, when they’re so unfamiliar with the team that they can’t even pronounce the players’ names correctly?!?!?!?! 

So now these “experts” are more or less guaranteeing the Angels will win the World Series with Texeira added to the team. How would they know? They haven’t been watching any of the games, they haven’t seen all the Angel hitters except Kotchman swinging at bad balls all year long up until a month ago, they haven’t seen all the clutch plays Kotchman has made that don’t get into the highlight reel, and they obviously haven’t listened at all to the Angels’ announcers, otherwise they’d know how to pronounce Mighty Maicer’s name correctly!

Personally I don’t think the Angels gained all that much. Tex has proved he can drive in runs with his 78 RBI so far this year on a sub-.500 team, but you gotta get guys on base first. One good thing though, a slow guy won’t be hitting in the number two spot any more. Kendrick was there last night, hopefully he stays there for good. Although with Scioscia, one never knows.

And they got a guy who always gets clutch hits in the playoffs… oops, wait a minute, he’s never been in the playoffs. Here’s hoping if the Angels do make the playoffs (this much at least seems guarantee-able) that Tex will be Derek Jeter-like and not A-Rod-like. 

 

Power Surge

Three reasons why the Angels are suddenly scoring a ton of runs:

1. Scioscia is finally sticking with more or less the same lineup every night (as we’ve been urging for the past two months at least). Everybody knows when they’re going to hit, and that can’t help but make it much easier for them to prepare. Unfortunately it ruins the little guessing game we were playing, but that’s okay.

2. From the beginning of the year up until mid-June, almost every player on the team was swinging at bad pitches, mostly those low-outside sinkers, making it very easy to pitch against them. Just throw it low and away and they’ll swing at it for an easy out. Vlad Guerrero was the worst offender, but all of them were guilty of it except maybe Casey Kotchman. Now that they’re not swinging at those pitches any more, it forces the opposing pitcher to throw better pitches, giving them better pitches to hit. Thus, more hits. Funny how that works…

3. Juan Rivera is playing instead of Gary Matthews.

Guess What Dept: All you Red Sox fans who keep chanting how the Sox own the Angels, well guess what, it isn’t going to matter when the Red Sox don’t even make the playoffs.

The last and only time the Angels won the World Series in 2002 was the first year they wore the new red uniforms. They haven’t won it since. Maybe another uniform change is what’s needed to get them over the hump and win that second title. The red looks great, but it seems kind of funny to have a red “A” on a red hat, or have red lettering on those red jerseys. The team name has changed a few times but they’ve always played in Orange County, and I always wondered why they didn’t get a clue from that and use the color orange in their uniforms. They shouldn’t switch from red to orange (and definitely never ever use navy blue with the red again) but they could add some orange to the red, like an orange “A” on the red hat, and orange lettering on the home red jerseys. No pro team that I can think of uses red and orange colors together (the color of orange I’m talking about is the Tennessee Volunteers light orange). Too late to do anything about it this year, but for next year, add some orange and win a World Series.

It seems kind of funny how the sports reporters keep saying the Angels have “quietly” become the best team in baseball right now. The only reason its been quiet is because those same reporters and announcers (Yahoo, ESPN) are the ones who ignore them all year! Maybe it’s quiet to you east-coast doofus sports reporters, but perhaps you should watch and/or report on some Angels games once in awhile instead of just looking at the box scores and the standings. Yahoo still rarely puts the Angels game in their MLB headlines. Maybe it’s because they’re 10.5 games up or maybe it’s because their home games start at 10pm on the east coast, but when they’re playing on the road on the east coast and their games start at 7 (4pm at real west coast time) like everyone else’s and their game still is unimportant enough to Yahoo to put on their headlines, one has to wonder.

And hopefully if the Angels make the playoffs this year, whoever announces the games will actually talk about them at some point during the game. In one of those two playoff series against the Red Sox the past few years, I remember a game when the Red Sox were batting and they’d talk about the Red Sox hitters, and when the Angels were batting they’d talk about the Red Sox pitching (I don’t even think it was on the Red Sox homer station ESPN because I didn’t have cable then). The Angels batter’s name was only mentioned in passing, and the team name wasn’t mentioned at all. For a novice baseball fan who happened to turn that game on in the 6th inning, they would have had to wonder exactly what team Boston was playing because the announcers never mentioned it. I guess when the Red Sox don’t make the playoffs this year, maybe then we’ll see some balanced coverage, and maybe then we’ll see the east coast sports reporting machine stop ignoring the (current) best team in baseball… meh, not likely.   

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