Angels show some power, Is Jeff Mathis finally good?  Halolinks.

Angels 9, Padres 6 -  FOX Sports
First, it was Torii Hunter who homered. Next pitch, Vernon Wells. The Los Angeles Angels have some proven power in the middle of their lineup and it showed on Tuesday. Hunter and Wells connected on consecutive pitches to start the fourth inning and Los Angeles went deep four times in a 9-6 victory over the San Diego Padres. Mark Trumbo added a two-run shot in the fourth - his fifth homer of the spring. Brandon Wood connected in the sixth.

This probably isn't a preview of the Angels 2011 season as Vernon Wells is the only player on the Angels' roster to hit more than 30 home runs in a season more than once (although Torii Hunter has did hit 31 one year, and came close a couple other seasons).  It is nice to see the middle of the order does have the potential to power-up ever once-in-a-while, especially when Kendrys Morales is back.  Side note:  How much more does Trumbo need to do to make the team out of spring training?  If he can keep up the hot hitting once other teams start playing more of their major league players more often and Morales isn't ready for opening day, Trumbo is your opening day first baseman.

MORE LINKS AFTER THE BREAK...

 

Pitching (almost) always wins championships - The Hardball Times
I think this really hammers home the point that pitching really does win championships; that you need at least an adequate stable of arms to have a prayer. Trying to win the Fall Classic without league-average pitching has proven to be about as fruitful as attempting to drive a car without gas. You’re not going to get very far. So, if you had to choose which is more important between offense and pitching, the answer is obvious: run prevention.

Good news for the Angels as they have one of the best pitching staffs in the American League.

Angels in the outfield could be among best - latimes.com
But make no mistake: This should be a summer of glove in the Angels outfield, which has nine-time Gold Glove winner Hunter in right and three-time winner Wells in left flanking Bourjos, a speedy and acrobatic center fielder. "Defensively, this could be the best outfield in the game," said Hunter, who moved from center field to right in August to make room for Bourjos.

Wow, the LA Times has some breaking news...from last month.

Team Preview: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim - FanGraphs Baseball
The bench is rather thin with bats as well. There is plenty of defensive coverage and some speed as well, but not being able to land Adrian Beltre hurt the Angels here. Being able to keep one of Izturis or Aybar as an infield backup instead of starter would have improved things. Scott Kazmir looks all but finished and Ervin Santana looks further and further removed from ever repeating his 2008 season again, but the other three starters provide the Angels with an overall above average rotation.

This is one of the worst team previews I've ever read.  And I'm not just talking about Angel team previews, but any team's write up.  One of the comments to this post was, "I get the feeling that the author of this preview typed it out on his I-phone while he was standing in line at Subway."  This pretty much sums up the post.

Unanswered Question No. 1: Third base -  ESPN Los Angeles
Yeah, there's a good chance Chavez, too, will get hurt again (he's played in 154 of a possible 648 games the last four years because of back, shoulder and neck injuries), but you wonder why the Angels couldn't have at least tried something creative and outside the box. Instead, they went with their new favorite Plan B: inactivity.

I agree with Mark Saxon on this one.  Although Eric Chavez probably has nothing left to offer, what would it have hurt to try him out?  Especially with the Angels' situation at the corner infield spots.  I like the line about the Angels' new Plan B, but I'm afraid their new Plan C: Panic.

Angels still have questions at catcher, third base and closer - angels.com
Mathis, widely criticized over the winter by media and fans for his offensive deficiencies (Hey! That's us!), has responded nicely to the challenge. His fractured right wrist fully healed after causing his 2010 season to crash just as it was taking off, Mathis is showing a strong, accurate arm along with his familiar high-quality defensive skills. Through nine Cactus League games, he's batting a solid .333 with .429 slugging and .364 on-base marks. He has struck out only three times in 21 at-bats, making consistent contact with a more compact swing with an emphasis on firing off his back side.

I have to say, I am impressed with Mathis' ability to make contact this spring.  Although 21 at-bats is an extremely small sample size, the three K's in those 21 at-bats is less than half of Mathis career K% (Spring 2011: 14%, Career: 30%).  Color me SLIGHTLY optimistic.

Pineiro has off-speed day - angels.com
"You need to have [the secondary pitches] ready for when the season starts. Even though you can throw them in the bullpen, it's not the same as with a hitter up there in a game situation. When you leave a ball up, you see what happens."

I'm on record as to saying that Joel Pineiro is my pick to "surprise" this season.  Hopefully he learned something during this outing.

Brewers have best chance to go from under-.500 to playoffs - Tom Verducci - SI.com
The Angels never have had back-to-back losing seasons under manager Mike Scioscia. Indeed, after their only two previous losing seasons under Scioscia, they rebounded with playoff seasons each time, once to win the World Series.

Verducci picks the Angels as one of 5 teams likely to surprise.

Sports teams are entering the news business. Good. Let them have it. - HardballTalk
Specifically, there are three main areas where the content is simultaneously interesting to the fans and valuable and unique to the media organization that disseminates it: opinion writing, in-depth and/or investigative reporting and gossip. There may be a couple of others — suggestions requested — but those are the areas where I think the sports media can still make money and still make a difference. These are also the areas the teams and leagues will never get into because being credible in these arenas require that actual criticism be made or negative information come to light, and teams hate that. The best work out there doesn’t require official access to official events. It requires a brain and an angle for the opinion stuff. It requires some good reporting chops for the investigative/in-depth stuff. It requires Daulerioan-sized cajones for the gossip. If you have one of those things you have a niche. If you have two of those things you’re going to be a superstar. If you have three, you’re a media empire.

Good post by Craig Calcaterra about today's media.  It is my opinion this is why Halos Heaven is so much better than other Angel sites, no one here is afraid to post news that may be critical of the Angels organization.  Other sites such as AngelsWin will never post anything negative about the club, and will even delete comments or close message board topics if they they criticize the Angels organization too much.  Although they do occasionally get press box access (which they use as a perk for their insiders club rather than for news gathering), it comes at a cost of objectivity.  When you start accepting favors from the subject you are supposed to be covering, you become another tool of their PR department.

Rangers' Chris Davis Available To First Serious Taker -  SBNation.com
Well, now that 2008 season looks like a mirage. Since then he hasn't been as good in the minors, or nearly as good in the majors. In 555 plate appearances with the Rangers over last two seasons, Davis has racked up 190 strikeouts and a .283 on-base percentage, with nothing like the compensatory power.

Ron Washington wants experienced closer to replace Neftali Feliz, who had zero experience before 40 saves - HardballTalk
Now that Neftali Feliz is apparently on board with the front office wanting to make him a starter Ron Washington is facing the very real possibility of being without his 40-save closer from last season and the manager told Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com that he’d expect the Rangers to acquire a veteran reliever to fill the role.

Fernando Rodney for Chris Davis.

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda donates $50K to Japan relief -  FOX Sports
Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda Tuesday pledged $50,000 to the earthquake and relief effort in his native Japan and urged his teammates to get on board as well, MLB.com reported."Every year I donate $100,000 to the ThinkCure Foundation and I decided to take half of that and give it to earthquake relief," he said. "I decided to do this as soon as the earthquake happened."

Okay, here's where I lose some friends...Although Kuroda's donation is a nice gesture, I think it's bullshit.  Two reasons I feel this way, Kuroda is making $12,000,000 this season ($4M signing bonus, $8M salary).  In comparison, I make a little over $30K.  If you convert that $50,000 into "Jim Dollars", it'd be like me giving $150 to charity, and I can tell you I give much more than $150 a year to charity.  So while $50,000 sounds like a lot of money, to use one of Lenny Dykstra's terms, it's ashtray money to Kuroda.  The second thing is, the $50,000 isn't an additional donation Kuroda is giving, he's taking it away from a donation he regularly makes to another organization.  You think the ThinkCure Foundation is happy about losing $50,000?  My feelings aren't coming from bitterness that players make so much more than I do.  I believe they are entitled to as much as they can make.  I feel that a person, regardless of their income level, has a certain moral obligation to help others.  They're not obligated to help anyone, but players are in a unique position to help a lot of people, should they? 

Bud Selig appoints committee to study origins of baseball - USATODAY.com
Commissioner Bud Selig announced Tuesday he has formed a 12-person committee to study the origins of baseball.Notable members of the panel include, filmmaker Ken Burns, former National League president Len Coleman, author Doris Kearns-Goodwin, Elias Sports Bureau vice president Steve Hirdt, author Jane Leavy and political columnist George Will.

Doesn't this panel look like the entire cast of Burns' baseball documentary?

Poll says Derek Jeter tops Babe Ruth for New York's greatest athlete -  FOX Sports
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was voted the greatest New York athlete ever, with slugging right fielder Babe Ruth coming in a close second, according to a poll released Tuesday. Jeter -- a five-time World Series champion -- earned 14 percent of the vote, while 11 percent tipped their hats to Ruth, according to the poll conducted by the Siena College Research Institute. Yankees greats Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle, and former Jets quarterback Joe Namath rounded out the top five.

This just in:  Reports are leaking in that 14% of the New York metropolitan area has been infected with brain damage.  Or it's possible they've ingested large quantities of LSD.

The Hall of wWAR: Pitchers - Beyond the Box Score
Chuck Finley: Chuck Finley surprised me just as much as Appier did. His 200 wins and 115 ERA+ don't shock you, but doing what he did for 3200 innings is very valuable. While Finley did produce over 6 WAR three times, consistent solid seasons were his calling card. He totaled 55.0 WAR and saw that bumped to 74.7 wWAR after factoring adjusting for his peak. People always talk about how innings eaters are valuable. Turns out they're right.

Chuck Finley was good.  So was Frank Tanana and Kevin Appier (they're on the list too).

March 16 - BR Bullpen
Events, births and deaths that occurred on March 16
1895 - John T. Brush, owner of the Cincinnati Reds and the Indianapolis Hoosiers, transfers six Reds to his minor league team. This sort of exchange becomes increasingly common in the 1890s as owners of more than one team shuttle their players between their teams throughout each season in an attempt to stock their most profitable team of the moment. This strategy causes much distrust among fans, who feel that their loyalties are being trampled.
1978 - High-priced free agent pitcher Andy Messersmith separates his shoulder in an exhibition game for the New York Yankees. A 20-game winner both for the Angels and Dodgers, Messersmith will never win a game for the Yankees.
1992 - Anaheim Angels pitcher Matt Keough is hit in the head by a batted ball during an exhibition game in Scottsdale, Arizona. He is taken to the hospital and undergoes emergency surgery to remove a blood clot. The injury will put an end to his comeback attempt.
Happy b-day:
1943 - Rick Reichardt, outfielder
1965 - Jose Mota, infielder   Little know fact: He appeared in the movie For the Love of the Game in 1999, playing the role of Tiger player "Jose Garcia."
1981 - Curtis Granderson, outfielder; All-Star

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