Thursday, October 11, 2007

Until Next Year...

Well, it took me awhile to get over the loss, but the Angels really played like crap. Yes, the team suffered from a lot of injuries, but the offense still wasn't there. It felt very similar to 2005 when we had no offense in the series against Chicago.

Quite simply, if Bill Stoneman doesn't pick-up or trade for a power bat to put in the middle of the lineup I don't see how we can compete for a title next season. Sure, we'll win the west with the same team we have now, but if we want to go any further than that Stoneman better get to work.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Angels Trail After Game 1

So the Angels lost. Really thats all there is to it. We were outplayed, mostly out pitched by Josh Beckett. He was just nasty. I think he retired 19 straight after Figgins lead-off single? I mean, thats incredible considering the magnitude of the game. Overall I'm not that disappointed by the loss. Lackey has been less than spectacular in Boston in his career, even though I think he is a great big game pitcher. Beckett came out and proved that he truly he is the AL Cy Young.

The Angels lost game 1, but they also lost every game 1 in 2002. When you start out on the road, the goal of any visiting team is to split on the road. So if Escobar can pull off a big performance on Friday the Angels will accomplish the split which puts the pressure back on Boston. Coming back to Anaheim 1-1 will force the Red Sox to split in Anaheim just to send it back to Boston for a game 5.

Overall I'm not that disappointed by the loss. Beckett had his A game, and we lost. As a caller on the post game show said, I feel a lot better losing this game the way we did than I would losing how San Diego did in the playoff against Colorado.

The only thing really bothering me about the game is the lack of fight. From the very beginning the Angels were never in the game. It felt like Boston was always hitting with a 3-1 count and the Angels were always hitting with 0-2 counts. I guess thats what happens when Beckett has a game like he did, but I couldn't help but be reminded of the 2005 ALCS against Chicago when the White Sox pitching staff destroyed the Angels.

Friday is a big game. As long as Escobar is healthy, which I think he is, I'm confident he will come up with a big performance that will give the Angels a great shot at winning the game. The offense will have to rebound, which is likely since Beckett won't be on the mound.

Lets go Angels!

I secured myself a ticket to both of the Angels ALDS home games, now lets win the next 3 and clinch the series at home.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Angels Finish With the Best Home Record in Baseball

At 54-27 the Angels have what will end the season as the best home record in baseball. The teams success at home is what makes this finally week of the season the most important yet. The Angels are tied with Boston, but trail the Indians by a half game for the best record going into Monday's games. Home field advantage is more important for the Angels than any other team based on their success playing in Anaheim, but it also gives the Angels another advantage. This year, the team with the best record gets to choose which ALDS schedule it wants. The two schedules are as follows:

Schedule A: Oct 4, Oct 5, Oct 7, Oct 8, Oct 10
Schedule B: Oct 3, Oct 5, Oct 7, Oct 9, Oct 10

Then the ALCS begins October 12th. What schedule B allows, is for the #1 and #2 starters to pitch two games each on normal rest. In the case of the Angels, where the #1 and #2 starters are much more dominant than the #3 or #4 this is a huge advantage.

Yesterday's game had some very positive highlights, but had some lowlights as well. The highlights were pretty obvious, Lackey had another strong outing in a big game. Lackey has become a great big game pitcher, which is what excites me about his potential in the postseason. The offense was also for the most part a highlight of yesterdays game. The clutch hitting was much better than in Saturdays game, and in the second inning there was even a power display with Kotchman and Izturis both hitting home runs. Kotchman was hitting 5th yesterday, which I feel is a much better spot for him, protecting Anderson. I think Scioscia likes to alternate right and left handed hitters so a spot reliever can't come in and face multiple right or left handed hitters in the lineup. However, I think the protection Kotchman gives Anderson is of greater value than alternating right and left handed hitters. Additionally, Anderson hits better off left handed pitchers while Kotchman is much better against righties.

After several solid outings Scot Shields is scaring me again. He couldn't get his curveball over anywhere near the plate, and his fastball was all over the place, including being consistently up in the zone where it often gets crushed. I'm not sure what to do with Shields. I don't know if it's a head issue, or a physical issue, but time is up. The playoffs start in a week, and if Shields still isn't where he needs to be he is going to have to be used for long relief or in some roll other than the critical set-up role he has been used in. Darren Oliver has been lights out since the all star break, and maybe it's his time to shine. Speier was decent in his 2/3 of an inning, though he did throw a wild pitch with a runner on third, and another pass ball with another runner on third. Mathis had two pass balls yesterday, one of which lead to a run, which is another potential problem. These small mistakes are what win and lose playoff games, so hopefully all the kinks will be worked out in the next week.

Overall I'm pretty happy with how the Angels have been playing, but this final week will be the most important yet. Even though the division has been clinched the Angels still need to get to work and try to secure the best record. Santana pitches today against a rookie making his first Major League start. Hopefully Santana has gotten over his problems pitching on the road, this is a big game if the Angels can win it. Boston and Cleveland both have the day off, so a win would put the Angels past the Red Sox and into a tie with Cleveland for the best record.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Angels Win the West!

I just got back from the game, and as the headline says the Angels won it! I'm heading out now, but I'll try to get a game report posted later tonight. I'm still on an emotional high from the big win. Even though we all knew it was coming it really feels good to get the division win under our belt, and it was nice they did it at home.

Goodbye Colon, Thanks For the Memories

Saturday was quite possibly, and to be honest, hopefully Bartolo Colon's last start as an Angel. Colon is a free-agent at the end of this season and has been less than spectacular in two injury plagued seasons since his Cy Young performance in 2005. Colon's final start was one of his best of the season, however his inconsistency should prevent him from securing a spot on the playoff roster. Colon is not one of the top 4 starters in the Angels rotation, and has not come out of the bullpen since his rookie season with Cleveland in 1997, and really, there isn't a role for him in the bullpen anyway.

The Angels don't have any need to resign him. They've made it through the past two seasons essentially without him in the rotation. Escobar and Lackey anchor the rotation with the young arms of Joe Saunders and Jered Wever in support. Then there are several potential 5th starters to take the spot vacated by Colon. If Santana can put everything together the spot is his, but he could see competition from Dustin Moseley, or in the future Nick Adenhart.

So I actually missed the game today, but really I didn't miss much. The Angels struggled with clutch hitting while the Mariners went 3-6 with runners in scoring position. I was happy to see we put up a fight scoring a run in the 9th and putting the tying run on second before a game ending strikeout by J.J. Putz.

Sunday's game is fan appreciation day and what better way to appreciate the fans than clinch the western division championship in the final regular season home game. I have a feeling the team will be hungry, and with Figgins and Matthews back in the line-up the team is really starting to come together. Lackey is always a competitor, and it seems appropriate that the opening day winning pitcher be on the mound with a shot at the division championship in the final home game of the season.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Washburn Makes Us Wait

Jarrod Washburn and the Mariners put an end to the Angels' 4-game winning streak. Washburn would have no part of the Angels celebrating a league championship on his watch. The ex-Angel recorded his first win since August 21st while shutting out the Angels through 7 innings. As a result of the loss we must wait one more day for a shot at clinching the western division championship.

The loss dropped the Angels a half game behind Cleveland and into a tie with Boston for the best record in the AL. With 8 games remaining the Angels only need one more win, or a single Seattle loss to secure the west, so that is not much of a concern. The race for the best record however, will be tight. Every game matters coming down the stretch. The Angels are the best home team in baseball, so securing the best record would be a tremendous advantage for the Angels.

I was happy to see both teams seemed to forget about last nights controversy. Throwing at batters isn't baseball, so lets get through the next few games without doing anything stupid.

The Angels announced Bartolo Colon will be starting Saturday afternoon's game. Kelvim Escobar was bumped due to shoulder inflammation. The Angels say it is nothing serious and Escobar will start early next week. This could prove to be Bartolo Colon's last chance at making the playoff roster. If he doesn't have a quality start it may be Colon's last appearance of the season.

Friday, September 21, 2007

No More Bonds in San Francisco

After spending 15 years in San Francisco, the most recent of which saw Barry Bonds break the all-time home run record, the San Francisco Giants have announced that Bonds will not be returning to the Giants next season. In response to this announcement Bonds has said that he plans to continue his quest for a World Series ring.

Given Bonds age and deteriorating health it seems obvious that he would move to an AL team where he might have a chance to stick around for 2 or 3 more years as a DH. This transition will undoubtedly spark endless off-season debate as to where Bonds may end up going. Given the Angels are a contending team they will certainly be mentioned in talks concerning Bonds final location. It wouldn't be the first time analysts have talked about Barry coming to Anaheim, and I'm sure Anaheim would be high on Barry's list of potential suitors.

As an Angel fan, I hope the Angels want nothing to do with Barry. I trust Bill Stoneman to do the right thing. He has been a great GM making the right decisions on big name players thus far. As our team stands now there is no room for Barry. We already have more outfielders and DHs than there is space for. Between Vlad Guerrero, Garret Anderson, Garry Mathews and Juan Rivera alone there is no room for Bonds. Then don't forget to throw in the young talent of guys like Reggie Willits, Nathan Haynes or Tommy Murphy and we don't need another OF/DH guy. Sure we could use another power bat in our line up, but Bonds is getting old and won't be able to play everyday. It is not worth sacrificing a potential young start to get Bonds in as a DH for 100 games. Bonds would also hinder Scioscia's ability to use the DH spot as a rest day for some of our primary offensive contributors like Vlad.

Bonds will only be useful as a part time DH and therefore will have to accept far less money, but I doubt he is returning at all for the money. The only thing missing on his baseball resume is the elusive World Series ring and I'm sure that's what he's after. Since the home run record is broken Bonds won't have the same turnstile value he held this season, so finding a spot on a contending team could be difficult. Bonds has done spectacular things in San Francisco and I wish him luck wherever he ends up next season, I just hope that place is not Anaheim.