As you sit and read this on this Friday morning (you all do dash to your computer and log in to read WeekEnd HaloLinks every Friday at dawn, right? Right??), the Angels have played 28 games, and have 134 games left to play in the regular season. Realistically, it should take at least 92-93 wins to snag a playoff slot, what with 7 teams already off to a decent start. The Angels have only 10 wins, so they need to win 82-83 of those 134 to be in the mix that last week. That would be a winning percentage of roughly 61% - 62%. That seems reasonable. Panic can be forestalled a little bit, right?
Well, maybe not. Over a complete season, that winning percentage would equate to 100 wins. Is there anybody out there who realistically considers this roster to be 100 win capable? This pitching staff? This bullpen? These injuries? This distracted and lackadaisical?
On the bright side, Joe Blanton is turning out to be something less than an outright catastrophe, as I was expecting based on the off-season hue and cry. Last night he lasted 8 innings, working hard to save us from our own bullpen (an impossible task, as it turned out), and surrendered only 2 earned runs. I was impressed, which went a log way to offset the paltry 4 hits and 2 walks put forth by our offense across 30 total at-bats. Hooray for Albert Pujols, poking a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth, trailing 0-5. That'll look real nice on Baseball-Reference.
And Mike Trout's asshat agent needs to get on the phone and have a hard chat with him about how easy it is to destroy all that goodwill that he worked so hard to build last year. Blame Howie for sleeping on duty and failing to signal Trout to slide (as he did, even Trout, after he was tagged out, paused to look at Howie just standing there doing a whole of nothing), but Trout's job is to assume that he has to run hard and slide UNLESS HE IS SIGNALED TO EASE UP! Trout, in my eyes, did look like he was laboring as he rounded third base. Check the video. So is that a cause for concern? Meanwhile, that missed-catch-lift-up-the-baseball-and-shove-it-over-the-fence trick to hand Nate McLouth a home run and put the game out of reach will be remembered right along with his other Baltimore heroics. Not the kind of stuff that makes for bobbleheads.
On To Angels Baseball!
- Hot AND Not: Every week Jeff Sullivan over at Fangraphs goes after the follies of baseball. Last weekend our two hottest offensive producers both got skewered for their extraordinary level of FLAIL at the plate. Coming in 4th place was our own Mark Trumbo, waving in embarrassing futility at Yu Darvish junk. Sad. Very sad. But it could have been worse. Trumbo could have come in 1st place, as the WORST swing of the week. But he would have had a hard time matching that champion: Mike Trout against Alexi Ogando. I am really beginning to be bugged by Trout taking the first strike. I used to love it, but now it just seems to be Trout handicapping himself with a 2 strike at-bat resource, while still needed 4 balls to advance. He only has two strikes to really work with. So moments like this against Ogando make me weep.
- Trout Fail, As Haiku: Many of you saw this brilliant Darvish versus Pujols montage. (H/T to Turks Teeth.) You might have missed that the same contest was also portrayed in an interesting graphic, as a Haiku. The Hardball Times features another unfortunate moment from that same horror of a contest. These are not the kind of ways we want to be featured in the national psyche.
- Outfielders as Microsoft Operating Systems: Mike Trout is the Windows XP of baseball. Josh Hamilton is Windows 8. Mark Trumbo is Windows 98. Yeah, I guess. If the Replacement Value MS Operating System is DOS 6.2. Based on my professional career, I could go all day long with Baseball as Microsoft jokes.
- More Trout: Mike will be fine, folks. So says RANT Sports. "Actually if you want to be technical about it Trout is way ahead of last year’s numbers because he has 3 homers and 17 RBI and last April he had nada."
- Deep Sigh: Our long Mike Napoli nightmare is far from over. Baseball Nation gets into it: "Here's a spoiler: Napoli has a higher OPS versus the Angels than any other player has against any other AL team, min. 100 at-bats." Meanwhile, remember those degenerative hips that impacted his 2013 contract with the Red Sox? Well, Boston may have missed their chance to lock him down at a reasonable rate. And he seems to be having no problem exerting his power swing with his hip issue. Those of you who cross paths with me in the stadium, wearing my dark blue long-sleeved cotton shirt with the "A" logo in front, will understand why there is a big "44" on the back and the word "Schadenfreud" above it. No offense, Trumbo.
- Fire Sosh?: It has become tough times for Mike Scioscia here on HH over the past couple of weeks. I vacillate on this issue. And I don't dogpile when things get bad for him around here. But I do have a position on the record for any replacement: Wally Backman. It may be too late, as the rumors have started to swirl that Terry Collins is on the hot seat with the Mets. Backman is recognized as the Mets' Manager-In-Waiting so any bad news concerning Collins equates to bad news for my theory. Of course, those same rumors got quickly shot down, so it is back on you all: if you go jump on the "Fire Sosh" bandwagon, take the time to think about the name you place on your protest replacement placard. Somebody with experience and a proven pedigree, please, and not just not some dude's name because one time he was your favorite player. Get real. Take a stand.
- Jerry Dipoto: I am a Dipoto defender (Only one draft, a depleted farm system with which to get to work, no presence in Latin America). But this observation is all on Jerry. "The Angels are the big losers after giving up Segura and failing to make the postseason with Greinke as a rental." The author has a point, although middle infielders represent the one area of abundance Dipoto had to work with. Personally, after locking up Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick to multi-year deals at favorable rates, I would have led with them as proven trade bait with excellent club control, and expected a lot more in return than what we got knowing that I had guys such as Alberto Callaspo, Jean Segura and Alexi Amarista right behind them.
Now this is the kind of thing most folks would overlook. But if you are curious about team lore and interesting factoids of yore, this is actually a good place to drop a buck. It's a set of 6 California Angels team media guides from 1971 to 1979. Note the names on the covers and do a "Where are they now?" quiz. Jerry Remy? Bruce Bochte?
Friday, May 3 @ 7:05 PM, (KCOP / MLB.TV) Baltimore Orioles vs. LA Angels - Angels Stadium, Anaheim
[BIG BANG FRIDAY, TROUT FARM in Section 101]
Miguel Gonzalez (RHP) 2-1 4.60 ERA versus(LHP) 0-3 4.85 ERA
Let's take this one. Gonzalez has been gettable lately, while Vargas has been warming up!
Saturday, May 4 @ 1:05 PM, (FOX / MLB.TV) Baltimore Orioles vs. LA Angels - Angels Stadium, Anaheim
[PLAID FEDORA HAT NIGHT, TROUT FARM in Section 101]
Freddy Garcia (RHP) 0-0 -.-- ERA versus Tommy Hanson (RHP) 2-1 3.91 ERA
Plucked off the discard heap, 36 year old Garcia has been burning it up in AAA. This is his first MLB start of the year. He should be out of baseball. So let's all say it together: "Freddie Garcia throws a no-hitter!"
Sunday, May 5 @ 12:35 PM, (FSW / MLB.TV) Baltimore Orioles vs. LA Angels - Angels Stadium, Anaheim
[TROUT FARM in Section 101]
Jason Hammel (RHP) 4-1 3.79 ERA versus Garrett Richards (RHP) 1-2 5.04 ERA
Jason Hammel (RHP) 4-1 3.79 ERA versus Jerome Williams (RHP) 1-0 1.69 ERA
** UPDATE ** It was announced Friday evening that Garrett Richards has been moved to the bullpen and that Jerome Williams will be taking his place in the rotation. We will now learn for ourselves what happens when the coach starts the backup quarterback!
The good news is that it's Sunday, and I shall be winging my way to Vegas for the week! The bad news is that Hammel has been crushing it, and Richards has not looked so good with his last two outings.
This Date In Baseball History: 1936 - Fresh off his 1935 minor league campaign, where as PCL MVP he led the San Francisco Seals to the PCL championship, Joe Dimaggio takes the field for the first time as a New York Yankee. Sold to the Yankees for $25,000 in cash and 5 players a few months earlier, Dimaggio will nab 3 hits with a triple, score 3 runs, lead the Yanks to 4 consecutive World Series titles and 9 out of the next 13 seasons..........1947 - Today is the date that Branch Rickey took a stand against clubhouse racial tensions and forestalled an outright mutiny by trading away 5 Brooklyn Dodgers to the Pittsburgh Pirates, sending a message to the remaining players that Robinson was a Dodger..........1952 - Joe Dimaggio has just retired, and Mickey Mantle is still out due to his knee injury, so the Yankees try to fill the void by trading for Irv Noren, sending Spec Shea and Jackie Jensen to the Washington Senators. Six years later Jensen will be AL MVP for the Boston Red Sox..........1979 - With his 300th career home run, Bobby Bonds (B-o-b-b-y Bonds, not B-a-r-r-y..) becomes only the second player (behind Willie Mays) in history to hit at least 300 dingers and steal at least 300 bases. (By the time Mays got his 300th SB, he was 38. He had his 300 HR's when he was only 30. Bonds, on the other hand, reached his 300th HR at the age of 33 and had already stolen his 300th base at the age of only 30..........1987 - Joe Cowley makes his final MLB appearance, pitching in relief, and becomes the only pitcher in history to pitch a no-hitter (against the Angels in 1986) and never win another game..........1999 - Creighton Gubanich becomes only the 4th player in history to garner a Grand Slam as his first MLB hit. Can you name any of the other three? (Hint: one is mentioned here, and I was able to watch it live on a local TV broadcast of an away game.)..........2005 - Tom Umberg pushes a bill though a California State Committee that would force the Angels to disclose on all published material that they actually played in Anaheim.
Rounding Up The Major League News...
- STRIKEOUT RATES: Leading off, something is definitely in the air. I will save you the paywall problem, but April saw more strikeouts throughout MLB than any other month it the history of the game. The reasons for this are unknown. I did link to a story a few weeks ago focusing on how striking out was no longer considered uncool among players, and an acceptable outcome of their chosen approach. The good news, I suppose, is that as bad as our offense has been, we don't have anybody chasing the lead for historic strikeout rates.
- ROBOTS, Part 1: Ok, so we are all frustrated by the start of umpiring in the modern game. Far too many are calling for robots to replace human umps altogether. Well, let's look at non-robot solutions to umpireless baseball first, shall we? The minor league club St. Paul Saints will, instead, use a judge in robes behind the plate, and a jury panel of 12 honest and true Little Leaguers at first and third base to judge plays at those bases. This will occur May 11. I expect an written brief, double-spaced, 12 pt. Courier, from all of you shortly thereafter.
- ROBOTS, Part 2: If MLB ever gets to use robots to judge results, will teams ever get to use robots to create those events in the first place? Imagine having a robot player with more power than Mark Trumbo, and more plate discipline that the entire Oakland A's staff.
- Smart Defense versus Smart Offense: Let's look at BAPIP data. No, don't yawn. Click and learn something cool today. Why? Well, let's start with the general transformation within baseball: "In an interview with mlb.com last June, Joe Maddon made a statement that you never would have expected to hear from a big league manager—he acknowledged the impact of sabermetrics on the game of baseball. True, Maddon is a "friend of the numbers people," but his comments were especially surprising because they focused on the impact of numbers on defense." If managers start ignoring the Murray Chases of the world and speak out honestly concerning the practical use of real information, why shouldn't we be curious, too? And, when you finish your 15 minutes over there at Hardball Times, you will come back with their conclusions, which include the following: "This research suggests that new advanced metrics are improving defensive positioning, and that hitters may not be adjusting to these changes. Other defensive metrics can also be used to highlight any of the above trends, but BABIP serves as a simple and easily understandable measure." BAPIP is a nice new stat to learn. Does anyone need a primer?
- The Milwaukee Brewers might be cheating?: Why Wihalo is not all over this brewing story is beyond me. But the Pittsburgh Pirates are convinced that their poor showing in Miller Park is all due to the Brewers stealing signs. Which, we all know, is not against any of the WRITTEN rules. But, boy, those unwritten ones. Read the backstory. It ain't just the Pirates who have complained.
- Arte Is Tax Deductible?: Who knew that the Angels were a 501(c)(6)??? I didn't! A move is afoot to strip professional sports franchises of their standing as charitable donation entities. Apparently, they have all always claimed this status due to their role in promoting their sport to the nation and to the world. I'm sorry if I offend anyone's sensibilities, but this is just plain stupid. By that logic, Chevron should also file as a 501(c)(6) on behalf of oil producers everywhere, in recognition of their role in promoting the consumption of petro-chemical products. The next Administration would garner a bust on Mt. Rushmore if they were to create a new Department Of Eradication of the Stupid.
- Get Off My Lawn!!: Us old timers can recall the quaint days of our youth when the regular season schedule was, for each league, one long slog to find the two World Series contenders. There weren't 30 teams as there are today. In the early 60's, when the Angels were born, there were only 20, 10 in each league. So one would think that this made for exciting baseball. In years like 1964 maybe, if you were fans of the Yankees/White Sox/Orioles who all finished within 3 games of each other. But the 4th place team finished 14 games back. The last place team 42 games back. The year before, 1963, was worse. The second place White Sox finished 10.5 games behind the Yankees, and the last place Senators were 48 1/2 games back. Suffice to say, for the vast majority of baseball fans, the vast majority of the time, baseball was enjoyed merely for the sport and the event, not for the possibilities. Why do I dwell on the past? Because blogger Joe Posnanksi has teamed up with Billy Beane to mull over the idea of returning to Premier League Football style competition in determining a champion. "In England, soccer mirrors life. It’s the day-to-day excellence that marks greatness, not a three or four-week run to glory. Well, I think we should bring some of that spirit to America … especially to baseball." Yeah, thank you for your money, Astros fans, now get the hell out of our party!!
- Nanny Baseball: Meanwhile, Rob Neyer worries about the toll taken on baseball players forced to grind through a potentially limitless number of innings in a tied contest, as happened twice in the past week. I guess the threat of playing 162 extra-inning games does exist in one of the alternate universes, and each of those games could, I guess, be 20 innings or more. Sucks to be a pitcher or catcher of plate umpire in that universe. But the other guys? Sitting on their ass or standing on a pristine lawn? Neyer wants to consider term limits, and he wants them because Peter Bourjos did not get 20 hours of rest between the 9th and 10th inning, which must be the reason his body broke down in the 11th.
- Money Moment: Jeff Passan over at Yahoo! Sports digs deep into the Magic 8 Ball to forecast who is the next team to snag the billion-dollar TV windfall. Regular Friday readers will follow my continuing coverage of TV finances, both real and imaginary, and the potential house of cards upon which it is built. So we will continue to be observers of the rise, and possible fall, of these fortunes and the impact they might have on the owners and franchise health statuses. (Pay particular attention, by the way, to which player agent it is that is circling the party boat, drawn by the chum his olfactory senses have identified to be on board.) This particular prediction, by the way, points to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Video Of The Week
(How about we steal send, then third, then home ALL IN THE SAME AT-BAT??)
(Trouble viewing the video? Try here.)
Unwritten rules, require Unwritten Adjudication!..........MLB joins Youtube, huzzah!, and some day they will have enough old content to let you go back and witness classics..........This is sad: a tv camera operator suffered a heart attack covering a Nationals game, was revived by Nats trainers, but passed away later at the hospital..........We all agree that Angel Stadium sucks for wireless (unless you have LTE). So 2015 cannot come soon enough. Of course, by 2015 wireless tech will be completely different...........Ok, this has nothing to do with Jason Collins...or does it?
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...
Sunday: Stone Brewing Company in Escondido will host their 3rd Annual Chef Celebration, a Food and Brew event.
Beer Bonus: Top Ten Parks for Craft Beer. We drink well out here in the West.
Beer Bonus #2: Chemical Reaction GIF of the Week. That's powdered chlorine being added to Coca Cola, by the way, and we can only wonder what would happen if we used beer and not Coke?