Angels Atop the West, First Round Draft Review.  Halolinks.

Angels win sixth straight, claim first place - angelsbaseball.com
Kazmir helped the locked-in Angels stretch their winning streak to six and move into first place in the American League West, one-half game ahead of Texas, which lost 4-2 to Seattle. Angels manager Mike Scioscia said it's far too early to worry about the standings, but Kazmir had a different take. "I think it means a lot," Kazmir said. "Out of where we started at and now the roll that we're on, it feels good. It feels good to be back in first place. We want to stay there. We want to keep it and build a lead on it. It's good right now, but we've got to get back to business tomorrow." The Angels beat the A's for the sixth straight time in Oakland and for the ninth time in their past 10 games at the Coliseum. They improved to 7-1 on their 14-game road trip and are 8-1 since losing first baseman Kendry Morales, their leading hitter, to a fractured leg.

Through 60 games in 2009: 31-29, 3.5 Games Out
Through 60 games in 2010: 32-28, First Place

by jjackflash on Jun 8, 2010 3:03 AM CDT

As jjackflash pointed out, when you compare the standing from this year to last, the Angels are doing much better, at least in regards to the standings, but doesn't SEEM like they're not?  It wasn't until June 23rd that the Angels finally grabbed a piece of the division lead from Texas (a lead they would not give up for the rest of the season), yet this season just doesn't have the same "feel" to it.  Here are some of last night's highlights:  Napoli makes a nice snag in the ninth - Mike Napoli has trouble finding a fly ball in foul territory but recovers just in time to make a great catch in the ninth.  Abreu blasts his seventh homer of the season -  Bobby Abreu jacks a two-run shot to right to give the Angels an early 2-0 lead in the first.  Aybar's triple knocks in a run in the fifth - Erick Aybar smacks a triple to center to plate Bobby Wilson, giving the Angels a 3-0 lead in the fifth

Angels-Athletics Preview - 6/8/10 - FOX Sports on MSN
With their longest win streak of the season, the Los Angeles Angels have climbed back atop the AL West.  Weaver (5-2, 2.74 ERA) also has flourished against the A's lately. The right-hander has a 1.17 ERA in the past four matchups and won his previous trip to Oakland on Oct. 2, allowing three hits over five scoreless innings in a 5-2 victory. He gave up one run over six innings April 10 against the A's but did not get the decision in a 4-3 win. Losers in five of seven this month, the A's will counter with Vin Mazzaro (1-0, 6.08), who is replacing the injured Brett Anderson in the rotation. Anderson was placed on the disabled list with left elbow inflammation after leaving a 9-8 win in Boston on Thursday. Mazzaro relieved Anderson in that game and earned his first victory since Aug. 12 despite allowing three runs and nine hits in 3 1-3 innings.

Jered Weaver against Vin Mazzaro.  Why am I frightened?

MORE LINKS AFTER THE BREAK...

Jeff Mathis, moving right along - ESPN Los Angeles
You can pencil in the return of catcher Jeff Mathis for Saturday at Angel Stadium. That presumes that Mathis has no further setbacks in the right wrist he fractured on April 19. He's playing in Triple-A games through Friday, then will be evaluated by Angels doctors.

Cowart is first of Angels' three first-rounders - angelsbaseball.com
Cowart, at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, is the 2010 Gatorade High School Player of the Year. His numbers this season are off the charts: .654 batting average (second highest in state history) with 11 homers, 59 RBIs and 36 steals without getting caught. A Florida State University signee, he was 10-1 with a 1.05 ERA with 116 strikeouts in 73 innings. "We are thrilled to have a player of Kaleb's caliber," Angels scouting director Eddie Bane said. "His skills are matched by his intensity for the game, and we look forward to his advancement in our system."

Nationals Tap Harper, Then Fun Begins - BaseballAmerica.com
The Angels bucked consensus even more with their supplemental first rounders. With the 37th pick, they chose Arizona prep shortstop Taylor Lindsey, who played on an Angels scout team. Most scouts in Arizona saw him as more of a fifth- to seventh-round talent. Their final supplemental pick was used on Mississippi high school outfielder Ryan Bolden, who ranked as the No. 141 player on Baseball America's Top 200 heading into the draft.

A good portion of this article talks about the Angels draft.

2010 MLB Draft Selections - FanGraphs Baseball

FanGraphs has a short write-up of most of the draft picks.

The 2010 Draft Class: Giving the Game a Whitebread, Nerdy and Suburban Name - Bugs & Cranks
Despite knowing nothing about the incoming draft class, I decided to tune in for Monday’s broadcast of the MLB Draft’s first round. Besides learning that 17-year-olds are apparently very bad at applying eye black and also being reminded that Delino Deshields exists (and procreated!), I was struck with one staggering revelation. Within the next five years, baseball will be chock full of players with wussified baby book names and, as a direct result, the reputation of the game will be forever tarnished.

Kinda funny.  Unless your name is Skylar, Connor or Drake.

Here's the "Feel Good" section of today's Halolinks...

Pujols gives his bat to kid after hitting him with home run ball - FOXSportsMidwest.com
After Pujols homered to left-center in the Cardinals’ eventual 4-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, television replays showed the ball hitting a kid, who appeared to be about 10 years old, as he attempted to catch the ball. Pujols’ saw the same replay when he went into the video room to watch his at-bat a few minutes later, so he autographed a bat and had it delivered to the kid at his seat. 

Here's video of Pujols being a nice guy  (By the way kid, that big hunk of leather on your hand is called a "glove".  Typically it's used to catch baseballs, not for hiding your face when the ball caves in your chest.) - Young fan is hit by Pujols' homer - Albert Pujols hits a solo home run in the sixth inning, but the home run hits a young boy in the front row, causing him to cry

All's well that ends well in David Wright baseball mixup - Big League Stew -  Yahoo! Sports
Such was the case at Citi Field on Sunday when a grown man named Mike Terry saw New York Mets star David Wright throwing a ball into the stands and instinctively leaned over the railing to catch the offering for his 3-year-old son, Mackey. A nice day at the ballpark for father and son. End of story, right? Well, not quite.

Check out the look on the lady wearing the brown visor.  Classic.  (This post has over 900 comments).

How Jim Joyce went from Toledo to the bigs to national scrutiny - Detroit Free Press
He had told reporters that he hadn't realized his mistake until he saw the replay in the umpires locker room. But as he began to relive the heated moments after the game, the details became clearer to him. For example, when he walked into the door of the umpires room at Comerica Park that night and asked his crew, "Did I kick that call?" he knew he was asking a rhetorical question. And so when Derryl Cousins, his crew chief, told him: "Yeah, it looked like you did," all Joyce could do was let out a string of profanity. Actually, he just repeated one word, over and over and over. "You can imagine what it is," Joyce told the Free Press.

Nice story.

Dollars per WAR - The Baseball Analysts
To objectively evaluate others, you need a whole lot of context. I'd like to provide a bit of that context using the informative and interactive Google Motion Charts. (If you want to view the charts, you need Flash, and if you're using Chrome, you need to open them in a new tab or incognito. For some reason, Google doesn't want its browser to have access to its apps.)

Did you hear that?  That explosion you heard was the the sound of a 1000 zippers simultaneously bursting open now that the entire sabermetric community realizes they can have ANIMATED CHARTS!!  The Simpson's just lost half of their viewers.

When a pitcher meets a hitter - The Hardball TImes
So how often will Lidge throw each pitch? Remember that Lidge wants the hitter to be indifferent between looking for a fastball or a slider (otherwise, the hitter can "cheat"). If Lidge throws his fastball with some probability, p, and his slider therefore with the probability, 1 – p, then hitter’s payoff from looking for a fastball will be: 3*p + -3*(1 – p)

See.  You will need that stuff you learned in your 10th grade calculus class.

AccuScore: Rangers take Texas-sized leap -  Yahoo! Sports
Texas led the American League with a 10.6 percentage-point improvement in playoff probability after going 4-2 including taking two of three over Tampa Bay. It is surprising to see Texas with such a solid 64 percent lead in the AL West race considering they are just 0.5 a game ahead of the Angels.

Did you hear that?  While not as impressive as the the sabergeeks boner-thon, that sound was the 12 Rangers fans who can count to 16 realizing that they still have a chance to win the AL west division.

Standing room only for Strasburg's Nationals debut -  SI.com
The anticipation is nearly over. The 21-year-old with the fastball that approaches 100 mph and the curve that freezes batters is about to take the mound in the nation's capital. Stephen Strasburg is set to make his Washington Nationals debut Tuesday night. Standing room only tickets went on sale Monday, all part of a rare Nationals Park sellout. The Internet is humming with offers for good seats. More than 200 requests for media credentials have been submitted, forcing officials to turn a dining area into a work space to accommodate all those reporters with laptops.

Just in case you haven't heard, some guy is making his first start for the Washington Nationals tonight.

Selig will look into expanding replay but this season is unlikely -  CBSSports.com Baseball
Bud Selig will continue to look at expanding the use of instant replay in baseball, but doesn't think it will happen this year -- if at all. "I doubt it, but I wouldn't ever say never," the baseball commissioner said Monday night at the site of the draft at MLB Network studios. "It's worked out well. Look, I am a traditionalist, but I also want to do what I think is best for the sport."

He's waiting for his stock options in "Robo-Ump" to vest.

American League All-Star Fan Voting - MLB News - FOX Sports on MSN
To Be Held: Tuesday, July 13 At Angel Stadium, Anaheim, Calif.

Whatever.

Joe Posnanski " Posts My Least Favorite Move of 2010 "
"He said he wanted to hit, and then I knew I had to run for him. I didn’t want to see a grown man go to the bathroom in his pants on the field."

Bob Geren knows more about Morneau than Morneau knows, and Morneau knows it.

June 8 - BR Bullpen
1955 - The Los Angeles Dodgers option left handed pitcher Tommy Lasorda to Montreal Royals to make room on the roster for "bonus baby" Sandy Koufax, who has been on the disabled list.
1965 - Arizona State star sophomore Rick Monday, selected by the Oakland Athletics, is the first player chosen in the initial major league free-agent draft of high school, college, and sandlot players. Picking second, the Mets take pitcher Les Rohr. In the tenth round, they finally take Nolan Ryan. Cincinnati picks Johnny Bench in the second round.
1977 - Nolan Ryan notches his fourth career 19-strikeout game, pitching the first 10 innings of a game against Toronto.  He only went 10 innings?  Slacker.  (Seriously though, vintage Nolan Ryan.  Check out the boxscore from that game.  Bobby Grich, playing shortstop, won the game with a home run in the bottom of the 13th)
Happy b-day:
1925 - Eddie Gaedel, pinch hitter (d. 1961)
R.I.P.:
1950 - Cannonball Titcomb, pitcher (b. 1866)  I love, I mean LOVE this guy's name.
1982 - Satchel Paige, pitcher; All-Star, Hall of Famer (b. 1906)

First place, baby!:

Los Angeles Angels
Erick Aybar, SS 3 1 1 1 0 1 1 .257
Howard Kendrick, 2B 4 1 1 1 0 1 2 .261
Bobby Abreu, RF 4 1 1 2 0 0 2 .264
Torii Hunter, CF 4 0 0 0 0 2 0 .282
Hideki Matsui, DH 4 0 1 0 0 1 0 .262
Mike Napoli, 1B 4 0 0 0 0 2 1 .263
Juan Rivera, LF 4 0 0 0 0 1 1 .229
Kevin Frandsen, 3B 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 .385
Bobby Wilson, C 3 1 2 0 0 0 1 .167
Totals 33 4 6 4 1 8    
Batting
2B - Bobby Wilson (2, Sheets)
3B - Erick Aybar (1, Sheets)
HR - Bobby Abreu (7, Sheets)
SH - Erick Aybar (6)
RBI - Erick Aybar (11), Howard Kendrick (37), Bobby Abreu 2 (30)
2-OUT RBI - Erick Aybar (2), Howard Kendrick (11)
SB - Erick Aybar (10, 2nd base off Rodriguez/Suzuki)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
PB - Bobby Wilson (1)
E - Mike Napoli (5, Throwing)

Oakland Athletics
Rajai Davis, CF 3 0 1 0 0 2 1 .257
    Eric Patterson, CF 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 .207
Daric Barton, 1B 3 0 0 0 2 1 2 .277
Kurt Suzuki, C 4 0 0 0 0 1 5 .257
Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B 4 1 1 0 0 1 1 .261
Adam Rosales, SS 4 0 1 0 0 1 1 .279
Ryan Sweeney, RF 4 0 3 1 0 0 1 .317
Mark Ellis, 2B 4 0 0 0 0 1 4 .289
Jack Cust, DH 4 0 0 0 0 1 2 .277
Jake Fox, LF 3 1 1 1 0 0 0 .220
Totals 35 2 7 2 2 9    
Batting
2B - Ryan Sweeney 2 (14, Kazmir, Rodney)
3B - Rajai Davis (2, Kazmir)
HR - Jake Fox (2, Kazmir)
RBI - Ryan Sweeney (27), Jake Fox (12)
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
E - Kevin Kouzmanoff (6, Throwing), Adam Rosales (1, Misplayed grounder)
 
Los Angeles Angels
Scott Kazmir (W,5-5) 6.1 5 1 1 2 5 1 5.40
Kevin Jepsen (H,13) 0.2 0 0 0 0 0 0 5.66
Fernando Rodney (H,8) 1 2 1 0 0 2 0 2.70
Brian Fuentes (S,8) 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 5.52
HBP - Fox (by Scott Kazmir)
Pitches-Strikes - Scott Kazmir 115-77, Kevin Jepsen 6-3, Fernando Rodney 19-16, Brian Fuentes 12-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Scott Kazmir 11-4
Batters Faced - Scott Kazmir 28, Kevin Jepsen 2, Fernando Rodney 5, Brian Fuentes 3

Oakland Athletics
Ben Sheets (L,2-5) 6 6 4 3 0 5 1 4.96
Henry Rodriguez 2 0 0 0 1 2 0 5.06
Cedrick Bowers 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 2.45
Pitches-Strikes - Ben Sheets 89-59, Henry Rodriguez 29-18, Cedrick Bowers 14-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ben Sheets 13-1, Henry Rodriguez 1-3
Batters Faced - Ben Sheets 25, Henry Rodriguez 7, Cedrick Bowers 3
 
Game Information
Attendance - 10071
Game Time - 2:37
Temperature - 61
Umpires - Home - Eric Cooper, First Base - Bill Miller, Second Base - Mike Reilly, Third Base - Chad Fairchild
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