Tuesday Halolinks: Angels Spring Training 2013 Starts Today, Start Counting

Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

For some, today marks the beginning of the 2013 season. For others, today is just another milestone in the off-season. While to most, next to Opening Day, today is the second best day of the year.

Today is the day we start the official "hope springs eternal" overused phrase-watch. Last year, the phrase was used 2,956,436* times in posts and articles in an attempt to sound fresh and/or clever. For the next 6 weeks, "hope springs eternal" will replace "albeit" as the go-to word or phrase bloggers will use to sound less blogger-ish.

To some fans, today also marks the first day of the 2013 baseball season. Albeit, if you ask Jerry Dipoto, the 2013 season started the day the Angels missed the 2012 playoffs, while for the less enthusiastic fans, the season won't start until the first official game is played. For the guy who does these Halolinks, today is the day my job got a little easier.

* - this number might not be accurate.

Much like first-world problems ("I spilled my latte on my heated leather seats"), the Angels will have to deal with big market problems such as "I spent a quarter of a billion dollars, and all I got was third-place?" Hopefully the ins-and-outs of the roster transactions have a different result: The Angels have plenty of new faces reporting to camp this week, but the championship expectations remain the same - angels.com. "Gone are Torii Hunter, Zack Greinke, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana, Kendrys Morales, Jordan Walden, LaTroy Hawkins and Maicer Izturis; in are Josh Hamilton, Ryan Madson, Tommy Hanson, Jason Vargas, Joe Blanton and Sean Burnett; back are superstars Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Jered Weaver. On paper, with a payroll that will top $150 million yet again, the Angels should be good enough to, at the very least, end a three-year playoff drought. But last year taught us that "on paper" means nothing."

Now that the beginning of the season is "just around the corner". Other sites are finally catching up to what we've been talking about most of the off season: Finding a No. 2 Hitter Biggest Priority for Los Angeles Angels During Spring Training - Yahoo! Sports. "Ideally, Bourjos would be the more logical choice; his blazing speed is a natural fit along with Trout. However, Bourjos is coming off a season in which he hit just .220 with a .291 on-base percentage. He's more likely to start the season hitting ninth. ... Aybar hit .432 while hitting second last year and carries a .285 average with a .330 on-base percentage lifetime from the No. 2 spot. Aybar, like Bourjos, offers the element of speed as well, with at least 20 stolen bases through each of the past three seasons." Here's what the guy who fills out the batting order has to say: Scioscia weighing options for No. 2 hitter - angels.com. The No. 2 spot? "It can be a matchup thing," Scioscia said." Wait a minute! "Matchup thing"?? Did the guy who relies on roles just use matchup? (you don't have to answer that, that was a rhetorical question). HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL! (#1).

It wouldn't be spring unless someone was hurting: Madson dealing with elbow soreness - Yahoo! Sports. "Scioscia called the pain flare-up a part of the ''normal rehab process'' and that he expects Madsen to be pitching ''at some point in April.'' Madson seems to agree with the pain is something that comes with throwing again after a long lay-off. Sore elbow forces Angels' Ryan Madson to shut down rehab - angels.com. "Madson believes -- or, at least, is hopeful that -- the soreness is simply a nonthreatening reaction to throwing again, particularly because he long-tossed this offseason for the first time in a while. The 32-year-old right-hander, who hasn't received an MRI, reported that his arm has gradually progressed since his last throwing session, but was advised by doctors to continue to play it safe. At least one guy has a great attitude: Angels reliever Ryan Madson suffers setback - latimes.com. "When they signed Madson, honestly, I was excited," Frieri said. "If I have a great year with 40 saves and we don't make the playoffs, that's nothing. If I'm not the closer and have 30 holds and we make the World Series, that means a lot to me. It's not about my personal records or being the closer. It's about winning." In this post, there's a tidbit about Frieri learning and working on a changeup to go along with his 99-mph fastball. "I threw my fastball 99% of the time last year, but they get used to your mechanics and velocity," Frieri said. "I'm not Mariano Rivera. I can't use one pitch for 20 years. To stay in the big leagues, I need to keep working and make adjustments."

There's the romantic, baseball is back...the smell of the grass, the sound of the ball smacking a glove, and the bright sunny day at the ballpark. And then there's the numbers: Thinking Your Way Through Spring Training Statistics - FanGraphs Baseball. "Soon, there will be practices, and then there will be games. When there are games, there will be statistics, and when there are statistics, there will be attempted interpretations of the statistics. There’s no such thing as a baseball number that goes by un-analyzed."

Baseball Prospectus issued their PECOTA projections yeasterday, and based on those numbers, guess who they projected to be the 2013 MVP? Baseball Prospectus - Skewed Left: PECOTA's Projected Bests and Worsts. "AL MVP: Albert Pujols. Want proof that PECOTA has a little long-term memory? Check out who tops the list by wins above replacement player for the American League and all of Major League Baseball. El Hombre is back, or at PECOTA expects him to be back, with his track record leading to the projection for a seven-win player. Pujols had made a (National League) career out of top-10 finishes, landing there in every one of his seasons with the Cardinals. Hi introduction to Anaheim was humbling, though, with just three votes, a sixth, a ninth, and a 10th, finishing a distant 17th to Miguel Cabrera and the deserving choice teammate Mike Trout. (Cabrera and Trout, by the way, project to finish second and third.) The most intriguing part of the Pujols projection is what it says will happen to his walk rate, which has sharply declined from 16.4 percent in 2009 to 14.7 percent in 2010 to 9.4 percent in 2011 to 7.8 percent in 2012. PECOTA forecasts a nice rebound in that figure, a rise to 11.7 percent, as part of the reason for Pujols’ general recovery in year two of his 10-year deal." However, be sure to read what this post says about Joe Blanton.

Oh, and they also project the division winners: PECOTA Standings - Baseball Prospectus

If receiving team gets mentioned in one of the worst deals of the off-season, does that mean the giving team had one of the best transactions? The 10 Worst Transactions of the Off-Season - FanGraphs Baseball. "10. The Royals acquire Ervin Santana. The Royals got out in front of the off-season, picking up Santana from the Angels on October 31st to ensure that they could get a durable pitcher with some bounce-back potential before the market exploded. "

We're (they're) not done ranking things. Here are the worst contracts, and I just bet you couldn't guess who's on this list. Jonah Keri on the worst contracts in MLB - Grantland. Yep, there he is: "5. Vernon Wells, outfield, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Someday, hundreds of years from now, our highly evolved, gigawatt-obsessed successors will occupy their daily lives trying to answer the one unanswerable question of the universe: What could have possibly possessed Tony Reagins to trade Mike Napoli for $84 million worth of Vernon Wells? The tab is down to half that. Actually, not exactly half that. There's still the matter of a $100,000 bonus if he gets the most All-Star Game votes in the league." Vern ranks at number 5. That bad contract keeps getting better only because it's getting shorter.

Yipee! Spring in the air as MLB training camps open - Yahoo! Sports. "Houston's shift from the National League gives each league 15 teams and creates a steady diet of interleague play with one such series taking place virtually every day of the season. The Cincinnati Reds, last year's winners of the NL Central, will host the Los Angeles Angels on April 1, becoming the first teams to start their seasons with an interleague match-up."

The last big-time free agent hitter signed: Michael Bourn agrees to four-year, $48M deal with Indians - CBSSports.com. "The Indians pick fifth in the 2013 draft, so their first-rounder is protected and they'll only lose a second-round pick for signing Bourn. If a team outside the top 10 in the draft signed Bourn, it would have lost its first-round selection. So this is a relative coup for the Indians." Our friends over at the Daily Dish put this deal into an interesting prospective: Breakfast Links: Bourn goes Native (American), Okajima returns, Yanks talking Cano extension - MLB Daily Dish. "Cleveland will pay Bourn -- who has averaged 4.8 WAR a season since 2009 -- more than $27 million less in guaranteed money than his former team is giving B.J. Upton -- who has averaged just 1.8 WAR -- over the next five seasons. "

This has nothing to do with the Angels, baseball, spring training, Arizona, Halos Heaven, or anything else that may be important to the guys and gals who read these links. I just thought it was funny:

"Whaaaa?"

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