Thursday Halolinks: Ten games never felt so bad

Lisa Blumenfeld

Although the Angels are 10 games over .500, there's not that feeling of success.

I don't think there's ever been a time when being 10 games over .500 has felt so bad.  If you've been reading these Halolinks for any length of time, you'll know I'm a pretty optimistic guy when it comes to the Angels.  Sure, I question some managerial move made by Mike Scioscia, and I've scratched my head on some of the acquisitions and non-acquisitions of Jerry Dipoto, but mainly I've assumed they have better access to information and are basically just smarter then me.  Still, with that understanding and mindset, I have an uneasy feeling about the recent success of this team.  I have complete faith in the players and their ability, but I lack the same towards the coaching staff and to a less degree the front office.  Ten games over .500 is fantastic, but why doesn't it feel like ten games and more like a team struggling to stay at .500?

Need some Mike Trout porn to make you feel better?  This is courtesy of the Angels PR department: Mike Trout leads AL with a 1.003 OPS, second with 41 extra-base hits, second with a .604 slugging pct. and third with 163 total bases…He is on pace for a career-best 350 total bases…Earlier this month, Trout became the first player in MLB history w/ at least 300 runs, 75 HR, and 75 steals in his first 400 games (ESPN STATS)…Trout is the only major leaguer this season with 5 triples, 15+ doubles, and 15+ home runs.

Here are today's 10 games over Halolinks:

  • Not only is the clubs overall record very good, they've managed to put together a 5-game winning streak with the possibility of going undefeated in their most recent homestand: Angels top Twins to move 10 games above .500 - The Orange County Register.  "At 43-33, they are 10 games over .500 for the first time this season. They hadn’t been double-digits on the plus side of .500 since the end of the 2012 season."
  • I'm not quite ready to proclaim Garrett Richards the ace of the Angels pitching staff just yet.  Obviously he's pitched the best so far this season, but he lacks the dominating "presence" of Jered WeaverMinnesota Twins at Los Angeles Angels - June 25, 2014 - MLB.com.  "Richards now ranks eighth among American League starters in ERA (2.76), tied for seventh in wins (eight), seventh in WHIP (1.12), eighth in strikeouts (99) and 16th in innings (101). He's thrown at least six innings while allowing no more than two runs and four hits in each of his last five starts, the longest streak in Angels history. And he's thrown at least seven full innings in 10 of his 16 starts."  He starting to get the attention of people outside of the Angels' fanbase: Baseball Prospectus - What Scouts Are Saying: June 26, 2014.  "Angels RHP Garrett Richards: "Why doesn't anybody talk about Garrett Richards? He's Anaheim's ace and the stuff is top-shelf. Richards doesn't get the hype Stephen Strasburg does, but their weapons and outcomes are actually quite similar. He keeps getting better and better, and as he learns to manage pitch counts he will emerge as a household name."
  • This sorta makes sense in I-believe-roles-are-more-important-than-outcome way, but if you believe the best reliever should be used in the ninth inning (I don't), then you have to believe Joe Smith is the guy in the ninth.  Scioscia rooting for Frieri to win back Angels' closer job - The Orange County Register.  "Scioscia has said repeatedly this year that he believes Smith has more flexibility and versatility than Frieri, such as the ability to pitch parts of two innings, get righties and lefties and get a double-play ball. That’s why Scioscia wants to have the freedom to drop Smith into the seventh or eighth, rather than simply saving him for the ninth, as he does when Smith is the closer."  Smith should be the guy that comes into the game in the highest-leverage situation regardless of inning.  Get through the current spot without any damage, and worry about what might happen later in the game...if anything does happen.
  • Minnesota Twins at Los Angeles Angels - June 26, 2014 - MLB.com Preview.  "Frieri said he talked with Weaver, along with pitching coach Mike Butcher and reliever Joe Smith, hoping to rectify a delivery that had left balls up in the zone. "I just saw something in his delivery where he's throwing against himself and not really getting the full extension like I remember him having when he was throwing balls by people," Weaver said."  Does anyone else think Mike Butcher's contribution to that conversation was tips on not scalding the marinara?  And why was it Weaver who noticed something in Frieri's delivery and not the guy whose sole responsibility to see these types of things?
  • Huh?  Twins-Angels Preview - Yahoo Sports.  "'Our record and the standings are irrelevant right now,'' said manager Mike Scioscia, whose team is a season-high 10 games over .500. ''We need to continue to evolve as a team. ... It really has no bearing where you're playing or who you're playing, but how you're playing.''
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    If it doesn't matter, than why play the games?  Maybe, just maybe caring where, who, and how you're playing has something to do with the team's success.  Or maybe having a clue as to what is really going on with your players would have an impact on your team's success.  I don't know, just a thought.Grant Green's latest work station with Angels is third base - Los Angeles Times.  "Manager Mike Scioscia said Green started Wednesday because Freese's left elbow was sore from getting hit by a pitch Tuesday and that Freese, acquired from St. Louis in the off-season, would still get "the lion's share" of starts at third base. "I think he's hit the ball much better than some of his numbers show; he's had a lot of hard-hit outs," Scioscia said. "What David gives you is that great at-bat with guys in scoring position. We're starting to see a little bit more of that." Those "great" at-bats haven't yielded much. Freese is hitting .170 (nine for 53) with 18 strikeouts and five walks with runners in scoring position."
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    What's interesting about the above Mike DiGiovana post from the LA TImes is the inclusion of Freese's stats with runner in scoring position.  The OC Register's Jeff Fletcher pointed out the same thing:
    Are the local writers starting to find flaws with the Angels' manager?
  • Let's move on to the front office: Halos to focus on deal to shore up bullpen | angels.com.  ""Our primary need is to make sure we address the bullpen," Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said, "and a left-hander in the 'pen would be huge."  So what was wrong with claiming this lefty reliever off of waivers? Could it be Dipoto is working on a deal for one of the Padres' relievers?  Padres trade rumors: Huston Street, Joaquin Benoit drawing interest - MLB Daily Dish.  "Street, who turns 31 in August, has been excellent for the Padres this season, pitching to a 0.96 ERA while notching 20 saves in 24 appearances. He is under team control through next season through the use of a $7M team option, meaning that a team looking to acquire him could use him for the remainder of this season and elect to bring him back as their closer or setup man next year."  Acquiring Street would be great, but what was the downside of claiming Outman too? 

    Another thing, why are the Angels linked to so many high-priced starters when they lack the necessary trade chips to land one?  Angels trade rumors: LAA interested in David Price, Jason Hammel - MLB Daily Dish.  "While David Price has consistently garnered interest from other clubs, Jason Hammel is starting to draw more and more attention as his season continues to shine. He currently holds an ERA of 2.99 with a 8.50 K/9 rate, both of which are in stiff competition with teammate (and fellow trade possibility) Jeff Samardzija (2.53 ERA, 8.48 K/9)."

    Heck, even this guy would be a pretty good add to the pen: Rangers listening on their core of vets, spicing up weak bat market - CBSSports.com.  "Reliever Joakim Soria could be a star of the bullpen market, as he's made a boffo return from his second Tommy John surgery and currently has 35 strikeouts to only three walks to go with a 1.75 ERA."But watch, here's who I predict will be the newest player added to the Angels roster:
  • Nice one Tim Lincecum: San Diego Padres vs. San Francisco Giants - Recap - June 25, 2014 - ESPN.  "Lincecum totally shut down the weakest-hitting team in the majors, striking out six and walking one in a 113-pitch outing -- 35 fewer than he needed last July 13 against the Padres in his first no-hitter."
  • Although he didn't pitch that well, it's interesting that a player no longer on the Angels wins for the A's: Cespedes, Moss send Mills and A's past Mets 8-5 - Yahoo Sports.  "Claimed off waivers in spring training last year, Brad Mills toiled in Triple-A for a couple of teams and even went to Japan before getting another shot in the big leagues....No wonder he fits in so naturally on the roster full of castoffs and vagabonds that has Oakland on top of the standings."
  • Speaking of Oakland, another 10 years of Coliseum follies: Oakland Athletics reach 10-year lease deal to stay at Coliseum - ESPN.  "The rundown Coliseum has had multiple sewage problems in the past year and an outage affecting the outfield lights against the New York Yankees on June 14. Despite the A's recent on-field success, they are currently 24th in the majors in attendance with an average of 23,462 per game."
  • Congratulations to Vanderbilt: Vanderbilt edges Virginia on Norwood's HR, wins first CWS title - CBSSports.com.  "Norwood's tie-breaking homer in the top of the eighth inning carried Vanderbilt to a 3-2 victory against Virginia on Wednesday night for the Commodores' first national championship. Norwood turned on Nick Howard's 97 mph fastball and sent it into the left-field bullpen. Then Hayden Stone and Adam Ravenelle closed out the third and deciding game of the College World Series finals."
  • And speaking of college baseball: The Secretly Recorded Videos That Got A Raging Baseball Coach Suspended.  "On April 17, Rick Vanderhook, the head coach of the Cal State Fullerton Titans, a powerhouse in Division I college baseball, was placed on administrative leave. He returned to the team a month later, but the reason for his brief absence remained a mystery. Now, thanks to documents obtained from Cal State Fullerton via the California Public Records Act, we know why Vanderhook was told to stay away from the team for a month: He flipped the fuck out on them, and somebody recorded it."
  • And speaking of on-deck circles...wait, what?  The Complicated Serenity of Being On-Deck – The Hardball Times.  "Being on deck is more a state of mind than an actual place, and that’s not just because nobody actually spends time in that quaint little painted circle any more. The mental space between spectating on the bench and participating in the game is complicated, if you believe the calisthenics and rituals you see performed there. And yet the goal is simple: relax and get ready to play."
  • The following couple of links have nothing to do with baseball...they're just funny: Adorable Old Couple Roll Honda, Take Best Picture In Car Wreck History.  "Bel Air, a money-saturated part of the west side of LA, is usually known for lovely, high-maintenance trophy wives driving lovely, high-maintenance cars. What's less common are octogenarian couples flipping Hondas and then posing with them like freaking rock stars, but that's what we have here today." 
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    The comment section had a photo of this guy before his pants reached his nipples:
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  • I cracked up: ​UFC Glitches, Narrated.  "Glitches in the newest UFC game are fun. But glitches in the newest UFC game accompanied by people pretending to be real MMA commentators? Those are hilarious."
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