POSSIBLE BLACK FRIDAY #1
As I type this, there has been no official announcement or position change concerning the tenures of Mssrs. Scioscia and/or Dipoto. When you read this, it will be Friday. A good day to make such announcements while the masses are dispersed on their personal weekend adventures and away from most news services. This makes Fridays a good day for your public career to die. Or at least go on life support.
My personal belief is that we have already waited long enough to have a decision and make the proclamation. If either or both are staying, affirm that and let them get back to their respective jobs. Especially concerning Dipoto, who has to have legitimate authority that he is still representing the franchise when he picks up the phone. If either are going, let them go while the going is still good. You know, while the getting of other candidates is still optimum before we realize the risk of letting any prime candidate get snatched up by a competitor. It's not about impatience. It's about windows of opportunity. (And, for many, the opportunity is "blantantly" obvious. "I would fire the last six.")
It's time. Some might say that it's past time. Maybe by the time you read this entry something will have already been announced. My guess is that any such announcement would come later in the news day so I am comfortable posting this as things stand, but I am still on alert. If anything does happen, on one of my Fridays, I will switch the lede over to the topic at hand ASAP.
On To Angels Baseball!
WATERSHED: A year ago about this time I introduced to you the notion that Mike Trout 2012 was going to represent a watershed moment in the history of Sabremetrics and baseball. It's because his talent is overwhelming, and his overwhelming talent reaches well into the those aspects of the game best understood by modern math. The Old Guard of the MSM had their barricades breached and there was never going to be a time when they would have that repaired. Mike Trout's talent is actually going to outlive most of these guys anyway, so anything they patch up is merely going to fall apart again.
Well, throughout the course of the past 12 months there have been numerous columns and articles and posts written about what it means to be "Most Valuable". The work to repair the damage caused to the Old Guard began right away, last year. The pop psychology of it all was self-righteous indignation and self-fulfilling: "You know that we were right because, well, look at how we voted!" Once it was clear that the folks predicting a regression for Trout were wrong, the conversation again took its place on center stage. By the time we got to August guns were blazing, and some scribes were starting to seriously evaluate just how they evaluate. Others were clearly identifying themselves apart from the MSM. In September we saw all out pundit warfare, linked again and again here on HH. (There are literally dozens and dozens of links, too many for here, so let me google that for you.) My point is that we did NOT go back to pre-2012 thinking. We did not just see everyone lie down and roll over on behalf of the the pre-2012 narratives. The new thinking has the beachhead. It's only a matter of time before it rolls inland and takes the castle. As LA Angels fans with the best view of Mike Trout, you were here to witness the taking of that beach from the front row.
I seriously doubt that Mike Trout will be AL MVP in 2013. He may pick up a few more votes because the initial indignation against him and modern statistics may have subsided somewhat, plus Cabrera really sucked the back half of the season. And Cabrera may lose some other votes to Chris Davis. But Cabrera really did have a quality season overall and there is nothing to be ashamed about in losing out to him this year - especially with the drop off in Trout's base running advantage, which I (also) assign directly to Scioscia dropping him in the batting order closer to Albert Pujols and locking him to first base so often.
But, in any event possible, the main point is that due to the brilliance of Mike Trout, advanced metrics are now injected into our ongoing mainstream dialog and they will never be going back.
- 2013 Season Recap: I know that the actual context of this link and this quote was concerning only one series (the final one for us), but I feel that the content was a microcosm of our entire season & situation: "You have to tip your cap to those guys. They played well and stayed alive," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Our guys played as well as they could. It would have been nice to come in here and get some wins. .. I'm disappointed, but there's nothing to be ashamed about the way we went after them. Those guys brought their game up a notch, and we're going home.".....Ummmm, so earlier this week I went back and tallied things up. Let's recap, shall we? In that 4 game series, the Halos struck out 36 times, ground into 6 double plays, left 29 runners on base, collected only 7 hits in 34 at-bats with runners in scoring position, stole exactly 1 base, got caught stealing on their one other attempt, hit exactly 1 home run, committed 8 errors, gave up 11 walks, gave up 3 home runs, and gave up 8 stolen bases. All in losing all 4 games. Yep, that's really going after them. Way after them. Practically 3 years after by this point.
- $$$$$: A lot of hay is made out of the Big Splash Contracts laid out by Arte Moreno in recent years. Gary Matthews Jr. followed by Vernon Wells followed by Albert Pujols followed by C.J. Wilson followed by Josh Hamilton. And when one considers how few wins the Halos has in 2013, it's easy to presume that Arte's cost per win was horrendous by any measure. Well, while that cost was indeed horrific, it turns out that Arte's Cost/Win finish up in only 6th place! The Angels come in at ~$1.6 million per win, while the Dodgers barely snuck past the Yankees and into worst place at ~$2.4 million. The club making the playoffs with the lowest cost per win is, surprisingly, NOT the Oakland A's but the Tampa Bay Rays at $625,0057 per win. So the Yankees paid about 3.8 times as much as the Rays for every win this past year, only to have the Rays top them in the AL East race to the playoffs anyway. As the Angels age and the franchise continues to carry their Big Splash Contracts, our future is starting to look a lot like the Yankees present.
- SF: I don't know what this means, or even if it means anything other than something to look at, but the Angels led both leagues in Sacrifice Fly balls in 2013, and by a wide margin. Last year they were 12th. In 2011 they were 27th, and in 2010 they were 24th. You have to go back to 2009 to find when they were last in the Top 10, when they finished a string of 5 consecutive years up there - 2007 being the other year they were #1. For your interest, they were 2nd in 2002.
- Angels Stadium: It's behind their pay wall, but it turns out that the City of Anaheim is losing money on the current Stadium deal with Arte. After many years leading up to this point in time, both sides woke up and realized that time had run out and they needed more years of study. That would, of course, be more years of potential losses for Anaheim. So how does Anaheim decide to manage that new time period to properly and professionally perform a thorough analysis of all aspects of the situation and create a lasting proposal suitable to both sides? Uh, by following Uncle Bud's lead and creating a committee. Made from its citizenry. Nice leadership, right there. Arte Moreno must be licking his chops at this very moment.
Buy Stuff - Crazy-ass Baseball Finds On the Internet:
I am going to lead today with a 1938 Albany Baseball Team signed program. That's $300 for any of you still missing that Hary Chozen autograph. But, to be fair, owning any piece of ancient baseball memorabilia would be kind of cool. Or uber-cool, if you have $39,000 lying around and always wanted to own your own copy of a 1920 Sporting News. You'd think for that kind of money, the seller would be throwing in the shipping, but...nooooo.
Anyway, Angels related, some people love 'em (me, for one), and most people despise 'em. But for sale on eBay right now is a California Angels Pill Box Style snap-back cap. The kind inspired all over baseball for a while by the Pittsburgh Pirates of 70's era. This one is a brand new, un-opened promo model, so the odds are that it is a replica. What a guy like me wouldn't do to get his hands on an original...
This Date In Baseball History: 1951 - INTEGRATION PROGRESS: The first All-Black outfield starts in a World Series game. Monte Irvin, Willie Mays and Hank Thompson line up for the Giants versus the Yankees. Thompson was, normally, a third baseman...........1955 - The Dodgers franchise finally wins their first World Series, defeating the Yankees 4 games to 3 after losing 8 of their previous 9 visits, and tying the 1890 event..........1959 - Fred Haney is dismissed as manager of the Milwaukee Braves after three seasons. In those three seasons, Haney finished second twice, won two NL pennants, and one WS title. Not good enough. Haney's 1959 campaign was an abomination of managerial miscues that could not be overlooked. Bill James took Haney to task for his '59 failure as "the worst managerial performance, ever". Haney returned to Los Angeles where he had been manager of the Hollywood Stars, winning two PCL titles. Once back in LA, Haney was named the first General Manager of the Los Angeles Angels. He would remain in that position until 1968...........1964 - INTEGRATION FAIL: Alvin Dark is fired by the Giants, having complained to the press that Black and Hispanic players "...are just not able to perform up to the white player when it comes to mental alertness." Dark would go on to manage the Royals, the Padres, and the A's. His 1974 A's would win the World Series, loaded with Black and Hispanic players such as Reggie Jackson, Vida Blue, Blue Moon Odom, Bert Campanaris, Vic Davilillo, Jesus Alou, etc. They will end up defeating the LA Dodgers, which includes the likes of Davey Lopes, Jim Wynn, Willie Crawford, Manny Mota, Von Joshua, etc. Dark has always claimed he was misquoted..........1981 - The Reds finish the strike shortened season with the best record in the all of Major League Baseball, but don't make the playoffs because they were neither the winningest team in the first half before the strike, nor the second half after the strike...........2002 - Commissioner Bud Selig is forced to kneel before The Best Baseball Fans Ever and apologize to Cardinals supporters for the late starting time of the NLDS Game 1, which was caused by a lot of the playoff teams traveling from the Western states. Selig promises to never let that happen again. Huh.
Rounding Up The Major League News
- MLB Playoff Outcomes: For the first time since the inception of the Divisional Series in each league, the Pittsburgh Pirates got to play in one. Well, more accurately, they got to have an on-field view of one, since they certainly didn't show up and do any playing of their own yesterday as they lost to the Cards in a most humiliating fashion, 9-1 with 3 errors against only 4 hits: Wright way to start: Cardinals rout Pirates in Game 1. Meanwhile, down in Atlanta, the Dodgers kicked off their playoff hopes against Major League Baseball's Unwritten Rules Police. Those Braves struggled to take advantage of the struggles of Clayton Kershaw in the middle of his outing, and lost 6 - 1. Kershaw ended up K'ing 12 (including 6 straight) against only 3 hits and 3 walks across 7 innings and spared America from most of that obnoxious "war chant/chop": Dodgers ace Game 1 behind Kershaw's 12 K's. Don't you wish that Arte had a couple hundred million available right about now in order to end up flipping Zack Greinke for Kershaw here in SoCal?
- Halos Alumni Playoffs, 2013: As Alden Gonzalez points out, we have quite a few ex Angels in these here 2013 playoffs."Walden, Greinke, Lackey, Napoli, T. Hunter, Callaspo, Colon, Rodney, J. Molina, S. Rodriguez". Not as bad, I guess, as the 2006 Cardinals winning with Eckstein, Edmonds, Spiezio and Weaver, but still...And, hey! Did you wax nostalgic at Walden's outing? 1 Inning, 1 K, 2 hits and 1 earned run. Old times...
- The Hunt for a Red October: Just an observation, but the number of teams in the playoffs that are red, or have a red option, in their unis is seriously shrinking. This season, the Rangers have already fallen short. The Reds, and the Indians with their red option have been ousted. In the NL there remain just the Cards, and the Braves with a red option that we probably won't see. In the AL, there remains just the Red Sox. During the 2011 MLB playoffs, there was a 57% chance of seeing at least one team with a red option on the field throughout. Last year that dropped to only 39%. This year we are already down to 43% and falling. There was a moment not too long ago when teams started to showcase the color red in their uniforms as a visual cue of aggression, intimidation and dominance. Doesn't look like that one is working out so well, does it?
- Speaking of Red: New MLB Batting Practice uniforms are coming out in 2014, and the Halos are one of only two clubs (the Twins being the other) to walk back from imaginative styling and go full monotone. I am left wondering if any accents on batting practice unis might cost extra, to the extent that it runs Arte over the Luxury Cap? (Just a joke, people. Don't be wasting photons trying to explain to me the details of the CBT.)
- Watershed, Part 2: Speaking of Awards voting, Joe Posnaski, a new convert, went into award voting philosophy. One response (which is not atypical) was: "I don't quite understand the fixation on strikeouts in evaluating pitchers. The entire purpose of a pitcher is to get outs. Why does it matter how he gets them? Why devalue a pitcher who excels at getting hitters to hit ground balls to the infield?"..........The Prevailing SABRE response, also given in the comments, is: "The theory (with which I'm not sure I completely agree) is that a pitcher can't _really_ control what happens when a ball is put in play--whether it will find a hole or a gap, or a defender's glove."..........I disagree. The biggest variable in baseball is the home plate umpire, and it’s the very rare pitcher who manages any control over that. It’s far more common for catchers to control the ump via framing. The zone changes from ump to ump, from game to game, and often between the early and late innings of the same game. Strikeouts can contain quite a lot of chance, well beyond the pitcher’s control. And just because that is not something to be quantified and consistently accounted for is not a good reason to pretend otherwise. Discuss.
- Unwritten Rules: This is fun. Really? The theory here is that Latin players are threatening to change the culture of baseball in the direction of enthusiastic on-field behavior, and lots of folks (Brian McCann...Brian McCann...Brian McCann) think that this is a bad idea. My question: why now?
- WAR: It is generally acknowledged that WAR favors pitchers as performers on the field of baseball, primary because so much of the outcome of every pitch rolls through their particular contribution. Peter Gammons looks into Miguel Cabrera's 2013 season and, in my mind, inadvertently makes the case that WAR favors what guys do when holding a piece of wood.
Future BBWAA Member: Dan Uggla, in extreme free fall...SINCE JULY 26th(!!!).., now finds himself with a slash line of .179/.309/.362. That makes him the very worst in offensive production for any of the Atlanta roster players not a "P" (and even far worse than Julio Teheran, one of Atlanta's "P"s), was shocked - Shocked! - at being left off the NLDS squad. And so Uggla finds himself "blindsided" by the news. "It's hard for me with my numbers. I've had a great career so far. I know what I'm still capable of. I can change at any point in time. That's just the kind of player I am." Those two lines: "I've had a great career so far"...and..."I know what I'm still capable of" both read like the kind of rationalization that goes on in the mind of Lyle Spencer, while that last line "I know what [he's] still capable of." sounds like any number of post-game interviews conducted by Sosh in justifying his ongoing commitment to every one of his seasoned veterans.
Video Of The Week
(Josh Paul Says "Hello!")
(MLB.com is not offering this with embed code. So you have to click to the direct link here.)
Of all the boring and amateurish baseball played by the LA Angels in 2013, it turns out that Hardball Times finds one of those games the most exciting in all of MLB..........Debate back and forth all you want on how you might have called this if you were the umpire, but I can assure you that Ty Cobb would know how to prevent you from having to make that call twice..........Somebody needs to start dumpster-diving in Anaheim, perhaps in pursuit of Tim Salmon memorabilia..........This guy is not the only one who predicted Mike Trout to regress in 2013..........Good news or bad news? If the Rangers take a run at Robinson Cano, is this our salvation against Arte doing something stupid (good news), or is this just a force to drive up the cost that Arte will end up paying in order to do something stupid (bad news)?.................No. Just no. Bob Costas should not be the next Commissioner of Baseball. Not this Bob Costas............A-Rod. Never missing an opportunity to come off as a total tool..........Funny, but this was just, waaaay too easy!..........So, you wanted a job in baseball, you say?..........Chad Curtis, a shameful stain on the history of baseball in general, which does include the LA Angels, unfortunately...........In case you missed it, Albert Pujols got his apology concerning PEDs accusations coming from Jack Clark...........Gizmodo rolls with a fairly cool series of GIFs running through the history of logos for the 2013 playoff teams.
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...
FAIR WARNING!: You have exactly one week left to make your plans in order to get up to San Francisco for the 2013 Lebowski Fest San Francisco!!!
Friday: The California Avocado Festival kicks off and runs all weekend in Carpinteria. Not dedicated to beer, but beer shall be served. Carpinteria is a personal recommendation..........
Saturday: Clayton Oktoberfest is off and running in Clayton, CA. (that's about 20 miles up Highway 24 from Oakland, past Walnut Creek.) Taking place Saturday and Sunday at Main Street & Marsh Creek Road..........And Oakland itself launches OAKTOBERFEST in The Dimond District. This is a craft beer festival that takes place Saturday only..........Montrose, Stockton and Lakeport are hosting Oktoberfests as well (and Lakeport is famous for their Wiener Dog Races!)..........Pacific Beach down San Diego way is staging BeachFest...........Paradise Community Park is doing the 12th Annual Paradise Blues and Brews Festival..........Eagle Rock is putting on their 15th Annual Music Festival, where you fetch your beers in the local establishments, as usual.
Sunday: Clayton Oktoberfest concludes.
Future Forecast: Still gifted to us by Ladybug: The Ultimate Beerfest OC on October 19th at the OC Fairgrounds. Again, Living Social..........
BEER BONUS #1: PopChart Labs 2013 Update of their "Magnificent Multitude Of Beer" 90 bucks and it's yours! (Partial credit goes to eyespy, who maintained focus on his priorities this week and also caught this update.)
BEER BONUS #2: Beergraphs Blog. What to do with your non-baseball Internet time...