Friday HaloLinks: TB Rays Gunning For LA Angels. Halos Looking For Shields.

Fun Caption Of The Week: "Hey, ump! One of us can be replaced by robots any time now. Who's it gonna be???"

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The Tampa Bay Rays come to town still without Evan Longoria. Of no small interest is the co-mingling of franchises, remaining topical even this season as we approach the trade deadline. Alumns Joe Maddon, Fernando Rodney, Jose Molina, Sean Rodriguez are joined by future Halo rumor targets Ben Zobrist, James Shields (Shields update here) and Wade Davis (Davis rumor here). This would be a convenient time to make a deal and save some air fare.

ALL THE FUN STUFF AND THINGS TO DO AFTER THE JUMP...

Two things to watch for: Joe Maddon going ballistic and getting ejected in Anaheim, again. That's always fun and a sign that the umps' usual and customary bone-headedness is trending our direction. Also, we need to try and steer clear of any situation where we need to break through against the TB bullpen. They are smoking hot at the moment. They have gone 21 innings without being scored upon and have KO'd 33 batters during this streak.

I should remind all that Tampa Bay is the only team in the league that the Halos have played yet not defeated. They are 0 for 3 to date, with 7 games to be played. (I am not counting Boston, which remains to be played at all.) They come into Anaheim 5 and 5 over the past 10 games and merely 3 wins behind the Angels, but have feasted on the AL West this season, going 11 and 5.

The Angels are also 5 and 5 over the past 10 games and, amazingly considering that they have NOT yet played Boston, have staged more games against the AL East than other division or Interleague. They are roughly .500, going 15 and 14, which would park them directly in the mix of everybody not named the New York Yankees. To refresh everyone's memory, Erick Aybar is on the verge of the DL (pending trade opportunities & outcomes and any need for another roster spot) for hitting himself with a foul ball. Albert Pujols is sore from being struck in the arm by a pitched ball, erroneously declared a foul. And Jordan Walden remains on the DL. Howie Kendrick remains Howie. Maicer Izturis is heating up. Kendrys Morales remains tepid.

This would be an excellent time for a lot of guys to kick it into a higher gear and for the team to go on a run and gain some momentum going into Arlington for a 4 game series beginning Monday! So bring on Florida!!!

Strange (But Real) Laws Of Florida: Single women are prohibited from parachuting on Sundays (one presumes skydiving is OK, just don't pull the chute?)...........Women in Pensacola can be fined for becoming electrocuted to death while using "beauty aids" in the bath..........Every house in Seaside MUST have a white picket fence and a porch..........Strolling in Hialeah is illegal..........Chickens are a protected species in Key West..........Pensacola mandates at least $10 in your pocket whenever downtown..........Stay-at-home fathers are listed as vagrants by the city of Oakland..........Gay men are not allowed in bars without the accompaniment of a child...........Having sex with a porcupine needed to be made illegal in the entire state, as did hunting and killing deer whilst swimming..........Leaving your elephant at a parking meter requires that the meter be fed as necessary..........Pedestrians in Sarasota are worth a $78 fine when hit........Destin requires that you change into your bathing attire in a hotel room prior to entering the ocean..........Miami has found the need to prohibit men from forcing their wives to dress as a parrot............Taking The Commandments seriously, it's illegal to even DREAM about another man's wife. Or his cow...........No livestock on a school bus...........And no showering naked.

Zack Greinke: should be considered an ex-Brewer at this point, by all indications. The locals lead the charge in this news, and now the national press is picking up declarations coming directly from the Milwaukee GM. The tea leaves point to Richards/Segura or Richards/Cron getting it done. (Cron is currently Man On Fire.) I would love to chat about the reality of all this over lunch with Dipoto.

Francisco Liriano: Lord knows I hate twitter as an official source of news and information, but there it is. Scribes need the speed buzz to define their value to society. So here is where we go to learn that the Halos are back on board the Liriano bandwagon.

Jerry Dipoto: Alden Gonzalez puffs and fluffs the public-facing diatribe coming from the other side of the curtain of activity (the official one). The best line in the piece is Dipoto saying "How do we get these guys [Haren and Santana] where they need to be?" The Santana answer is pretty easy: call a cab, pin a plane ticket on Santana's lapel, and direct the driver to proceed immediately to John Wayne Airport.

Field & Stream (Weekly Mike Trout Watch): From LA Angels Game Notes, no MLB player in recorded baseball history has ever hit 20 home runs, stolen 40 bases, and batted at least .340 in one season. Mike Trout is within striking distance of history. And the only player since 1900 to have as many hits, runs and stolen bases in his first 76 games of a season is...wait for it...Ty Cobb!! Meanwhile, taking a glance into BBR data, The Alpha Velociraptor is learning. Check out how our phenom is, amazingly, learning (to date):

2012 Month BA OBP SLG OPS
May .324 .385 .556 .941
June .372 .419 .531 .950
July .413 .473 .838 1.311

Now, we all know that chicks - and baseball media types - dig the long ball. So the only thing that may matter towards garnering AL Player of the Month for July will be his 8 home runs, which sit 1 behind Josh Willingham at this point (and tied with Miguel Cabrera, and Mark Trumbo!). But Mike Trout has one more week to slay any last pretenders.

Meanwhile, it's hard to take seriously anybody who forecasts that Trout will eventually regress. Obviously he cannot keep this up. That's like, duh, since he is not going to continue on until he realizes some 1.000 BA month. But what does "regression" even mean when what is being measured has yet to even peak? What part of that upslope does Trout regress to? Regressing to June for his career would still be monstrous, so that can't be it. Regressing to replacement levels is not even considered a possibility barring major injury. And what if his August is even better than his July?? Where does regression expect him to level off then??? Bah. Let's just ignore silly talk of regression and enjoy the ride while we are on it, shall we?

Jered Weaver: He of the 13 - 1 record and 8 straight wins...the 3rd best ERA in MLB (best in AL)...the 3rd best BAA in all of MLB (2nd best in the AL by a mere .001)...and tied for the best WHIP in all of MLB...well, he pulled off something remarkable that went right under our noses. It turns out, Weave is the first pitcher in all of baseball since Sandy Koufax in 63/64 to reach at least 10 wins with an ERA below 2 prior to the All-Star break in back to back seasons. (Also from LA Game notes.)

Mark Trumbo: Mark's predicted 2012 regression is coming along nicely, don't we all agree? 12th in AL batting average, 18th in AL On Base Percentage (just above Jeter, by the way), 1st in AL Slugging (3rd in all of baseball, while we are at it), 5th in AL OPS (10th in MLB), and 3 shy of the AL lead in home runs. Meanwhile, he has had 80 put outs in the outfield in 83 chances with 2 assists and only 1 error. Advanced metrics kill his defense, mostly based on a lack of range, but I am going to grant him a pass playing alongside Trout and Bourjos and considering how lightly informed defensive metrics yet remain, especially concerning range. Besides, he has been forced to play 4 different defensive positions so far this season.

Vernon Wells: Wells went 0 for 3 on Wednesday, showing that he is fully recovered and ready to join the club this weekend. Oh joy. Oh rapture.

Chris Ianetta: Iannetta also appears ready to return as soon as this weekend. Note the complete game.

eBay Auction Of The Week: Here's a weird one. Did you ever want to enjoy the power, the privilege, of carrying a stadium VIP Club card in your wallet as you cruised the concourse? Now is your chance! All you need is a magic phone booth to whip you back to 1988. And then you too could be a motion picture soundtrack copyright infringer!



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FRIDAY

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Los Angeles Angels @ Angel Stadium - 7:05 PM Start (FS-W)

Alex Cobb (R) 4-7 5.05 ERA vs. Dan Haren (R) 7-8 4.76 ERA

BIG BANG FRIDAY

LIVE MUSIC IN THE GARDEN

SATURDAY

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Los Angeles Angels @ Angel Stadium - 6:05 PM Start (FS-W)

Matt Moore (L) 6-7 4.23 ERA vs. C.J. WIlson (L) 9-6 2.89 ERA

KIDS ANGELS KITE

POST GAME CONCERT: THE GOO GOO DOLLS

SUNDAY

Tampa Bay Rays vs.Los Angeles Angels @ Angel Stadium - 12:35 PM Start (FS-W)

Jeremy Hellickson (R) 5-6 3.42 ERA vs. ZACK FRIGGIN' GREINKE!!!! (R) 9-3 3.44 ERA

FAMILY SUNDAY IN THE RIGHT FIELD PAVILION

Well, on the upside here we have skipped a Santana start in the rotation, we are facing three pitchers with a losing record, we are facing the 3rd weakest offense in MLB (.233 BA, ahead of only the Oakland A's and the Seattle Mariners, probably explaining those losing records), we kick off with two stud pitchers and a few hot bats, and the weather forecast for this weekend is glorious (sorry, non SoCal fans). On the down side the Rangers are catching the AL Central leading Chicago White Sox dealing with a post ASG slump of their own, a recent sweep of the lowly Minnesota Twins notwithstanding. But, hey, I am a glass half full kinda guy, and I have an angle on the potential for weekend greatness! The entire sporting world will turn their eyes to London beginning this weekend, paying zero attention to anything special coming out of Anaheim. To me, that can only mean a hell of a lot of greatness shall come out of this team the next couple of weeks, starting the next three days. Huge games by Halo stars are upon us, all to be overlooked by the Olympic-biased International Media!!!

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This Date In Baseball History: 1918 - Henry Heitman is pulled after surrendering four consecutive hits in his MLB debut, and never pitches again, retiring with an ERA of infinity..........1946 - Rudy York hits two grand slam home runs in the same game (this is the meme of the day, so stay tuned)..........1947 - Jake Jones of the Boston Red Sox gets an infield triple when pitcher Fred Sanford tosses his glove at slow grounder trying to keep the ball from rolling back into fair play..........1978 - Duane Kuiper hits two bases-loaded triples in the same game (here is that meme again, this time with triples)..........1984 - Newly named reality star Pete Rose surpasses Ty Cobb for career singles..........1998 - Tyrone Horne (permanent minor leaguer) accomplishes the only Home Run Cycle in history, with a solo blast, a 2-run blast, a 3-run blast, and a grand slam..........2000 - Jim Fregosi gets his 1,000th win as an MLB manager..........2009 - Josh Willingham knock ins (guess what?) two grand slams in the same game............2011 - Ervin Santana, way back when he used to be one hell of a pitcher, completes his no-hitter over Cleveland..........2011 - The Pittsburgh Pirates file a formal complaint concerning super crappy umpiring by home plate ump Jerry Meals. Predictably, the protest goes nowhere.

Stephen Strasburg Watch 2012: Let's pontificate a little bit here. When the Nat's Jordan Zimmermann went down with Tommy John surgery (2009), he was limited by the Nats and doctors to 160 innings in 2011 and that has worked out pretty well (2.31 ERA this season to date). So there is significant precedence to the notion that the Nats will do likewise with Strasburg, even in a playoff year. Strasburg has pitched 117 innings so far in 2012. That leaves 43 innings between now and the oft-rumored-but-recently-much-denied shutdown target of 160 innings for 2012. If we assume that the Best Case Scenario would be to reserve 15 innings for the World Series, 15 innings for the NLCS, and 15 innings for the NLDS, the Nats would have had to shut Strasburg down in the 5th inning on Wednesday and hope they held on to the NL East Division lead. They did not (he went 7). So, from this point on out, the Nats either risk some impact on their Ace's availability in the playoffs, or they risk some impact to his health. They have chosen not to risk their playoff slot. The race is on!

Speaking of Phenoms, Speaking of Pitchers, Speaking of projecting too far out into any career: Tim Lincecum continues to get absolutely shelled. I do realize that the 2012 season is far from over, but as a pitcher Lincecum doesn't have too many starts left in his bag this year. Maybe 11, maybe 12. But the hole he has dug to date is just too enormous. His Runs better than Average sits at MINUS 30, his Wins Above Average at MINUS 2.8, and his WAR at MINUS 2.0 (all BBF data here). In 2008 his WAR was 7.6 and in 2009 his WAR was 7.1. Perhaps like Icarus, having soared too close to the hot sun of over-ambitous expectations, he is now plummeting. For the sake of Lincecum AND baseball, let's hope that it is not a career-fatal dive.

Instant Replay: You know how all you guys and gals around here on HH, and elsewhere in the blogosphere, complain bitterly about the need for more and better Instant Replay in baseball? Uh, no you're not. You are not complaining. Ever. Never have, never will. Never happened. You are merely imagining that you ever did. And you know why I know that to be true? Because Uncle Bud tells us all that this is so. Selig: "I get almost no letters, calls or thoughts on Instant Replay."

History, Ironically: It is inevitable in this culture of ours, one of constant renewal and driven by the spirit of creativity and improvement, that one day Angel Stadium will be demolished. Hopefully, any replacement venue will be on the same lot but that decision shall forever be beyond the control of us fans. So take a moment to commiserate with the Detroit Tiger faithful, who have come together to do a little care and feeding of the abandoned lot that once was Tiger Stadium. And pay particular attention to the city official who proclaims "It cannot be a space for playing baseball. That space is not meant for that." Just think about that one a little while and let it soak in.

Speaking of Soaking: Anybody not from New England who is not paying attention to how land-locked the Red Sox are at the moment and how screwed they appear to be in the swirling of this year's trade winds, is really missing an opportunity to bask in the joy of their misery. It's been a while since they were this much of a non-entity during trade season as squads line up for their playoff runs. Becky? Really??? Bwa-haa-haa-haaaa...

Toast Of Baseball!: Well, at a minumum at least the Toast of the Town. New York finally found a rookie to promote. The Mets called up Matt Harvey for a start Thursday, and Harvey promptly struck out 11 Diamondbacks of the 16 outs he faced in his MLB debut. Besides Justin Verlander losing to the Cleveland Indians, this might be my feel good story of the day.

Every Baseball Dude's Fantasy: This is so sweet. Foul ball into the stands, and this fan leaps into the air and snags the foul. One handed. Because his other hand is holding his beer. And he drops neither the pop fly, NOR the beer:


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Five great places to go and waste your employer's Friday morning...

1) Ballparks Online (Not to be confused with Ballpark Tours that I offered up on 6/29/2012)

2) Field Of Schemes (Very current site with data and conversations concerning public financing of sports complexes)

3) Rickwood Field (Dedicated to the very, very, very oldest ballpark in America)

4) Modern Era Baseball (Planning a road trip to a ballpark not in your area? This site is for you!)

5) SportTurf Magazine (I park you right at the beginning of a section that reveals the effort behind mowing patterns on the field. But don't be shy, turn the pages in both directions and learn a lot!!)

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Sign Of The Apocalypse: ESPN mentioned the LAA more than any other sports team last week (12 1/2 minutes, or 3.8% of their time)..........Nolan Ryan: I agree with Matt Snyder, Nolan Ryan is already priming the Rangers feckless fans for the upcoming offseason when he dumps their current-golden-boy-soon-to-become-a-drugged-out-anti-country western-terrorist...........Josh Hamilton responds: Mentally "out of sorts". Yeah, I get that way too if I stand up too fast. Not the kind of thing that lasts for months..........Hanley Ramirez: you watch, now that Ramirez has a change of venue, he will become great again, and be the bookend to the Dodger story that once started as "Adrian Beltre"..........The Privileged Class: for those of you who may tend to chafe at, or misunderstand, the whys and wherefores behind Rev when he lashes out at the MSM, allow me to introduce you to Sports Media Entitlement 101..........Barry Bonds: Apparently, a change of regimen has restored Barry to his Pittsburgh Pirate physique. Some might say that it is cycling, while others might tend to disagree.

And now, being the full service weekend linkage institution that we are, here is the obligatory moment we take out of each Friday for beer:

The California Beer Festival continues on with a tour stop at Aptos Village Park, Santa Cruz. Beer, music and food on the 28th from 12:30 to 5:00 PM. Check it out here...........Up in LA, the Far Bar Summer Beer Fest takes off on Saturday, the 28th, starting at noon..........Finally, on Sunday the 29th, from 3PM to 6PM, Sophie's Place in Redondo Beach (gastropub) will entertain their Rare Bottle Share, hosted by Adam's Fine Wine & Liquor.

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