The Tigers have motored into Anaheim this weekend. I think that it is pretty cool that Garrett Richards is lining up against the opponent's ace. last night it was Max Scherzer (Let's face it, Justin Verlander is struggling mightily in 2014 with his ERA of 4.84, an ERA+ of only 84, and a WHIP of 1.452. We can all blame it on the distraction power of Kate Upton.) Last weekend it was Felix Hernandez. I can't go too much further back, because among the Rangers, Astros and White Sox it is pretty hard to find more than one active 'ace".
We are off to an unfortunate start. Their ace couldn't hold his lead, which was cool for our side. That lasted but a few minutes, because our ace went right back out and failed to hold a lead of his own. In a tight game, the 98-pound weakling end of our buillpen - Jason Grilli and Fernando Salas - let the game slip away entirely one baby step at a time, and the Angels ended up losing 6-4. Kole Calhoun was, perhaps, THE highlight of the night. Props to the Angels outfield D of 2014. And Kalhoun was 2 for 4 with 2 RBI on the night, getting both hits and RBI's off of Scherzer, no less.
- Looking Back At The Street Trade: Ignore this if Jim already linked to it (I cannot find it at the moment), but Fangraphs takes a closer look at the job Jerry Dipoto has done rebuilding the very worst part of our 2013 lineup: the bullpen. Obviously, the story concludes with the Huston Street acquisition. Overall, the review goes nicely into the turnaround, and the personalities involved. It's a good summation of a year's effort. The final paragraph summarizes the pro-trade position so I won't repeat that here. But the paragraph just before that gives us all something quite serious to think about: "They’re both basically locks to make the playoffs — these two teams have the most wins in baseball — but in the world of two wild cards, winning the division carries with it an incredible amount of value. No one wants to be the team in the one-game playoff, welcoming the Mariners or Orioles or Indians into town, knowing that a one-game playoff is essentially a coin flip, and that even if they advance, they may have had to burn one of their better starting pitchers to do it. If you’re looking for a win-now situation, especially if you think the Rangers disaster is a one-year thing and that the Astros are coming, this is it." Life for us Halo fans is not just about winning, or even winning now. It might just be about winning NOW. We might be on the verge of having 4 of the very best teams in baseball in our own division, as our core strength ages out. And if you think 2014 is tough, things might get incredibly tougher starting as early as 2015.
- C.J. WIlson: Wilson is already showing progress on ankle health. Odd, from my perspective. Far be it for me to pass medical opinions (not a doctor) on people I don't even know (no friggin' idea about his actual issues), but I still find it surprising that we are already doing bullpen sessions and thinking about a rehab start. I do have an unfortunately long history of ankle issues. "Wilson, rehabbing from a right ankle sprain, threw around four innings in an up-and-down format and is expected to do another bullpen session on Friday or Saturday, according to Scioscia....Scioscia hinted at a rehab start for Wilson but has yet to make a decision." With my problems, when an ankle gives out it doesn't recover to any form of normalcy for several weeks.
- C.J. Cron: Hey, Cron is back! Did you miss him? No? Did you know he left? No, again? Oh, sure you did. He was the asterisk in all the Huston Street for the entire future of the Los Angeles Angels for perpetuity trade, being sent down to make room. Then Christie did her number on Grant Green's lumbar, which opened a slot back up for the other CJ. Well, everything is all better now with Cron. Ignore the powerlessness of small numbers, because "In two games with Salt Lake, Cron went 5-for-8 with a RBI and a walk.". See? All better.
- Notes on Notes: Cherry picking some of the more interesting factoids from Official LAA Game Notes (the Media Information Sheets), this is only the 6th time in franchise history that the Halos have won 60 or more games at the 100 game point in a season. The other years were 1989, 1995, 2002, 2008, and 2009............"In the five-game win streak leading up to the break, the club batted .337 (61/181) while scoring 41 runs (8 per) and hit .431 (22/51) with RISP…In six games since the break, the club has been limited to a .222 clip (51/230) while scoring 18 runs (3 per)…Club has batted .153 (9/59) with RISP this homestand." In the six games since the break, those numbers are now .............Jered Weaver and lefty Grove are the only two pitchers in the history of the American League who have recorded 100 or more strikeouts and 10 or more wins in each of their first 9 seasons............
This Date in Baseball History: 1908 - Honus Wagner of the Pirates is battling Mike Donlin of the Giants for the league lead in batting. With Donlin out in right field Wagner goes 5 for 5, stopping to raise his hand and add a finger to signal Donlin in the field, showcasing the number of hits he collects as Donlin goes hitless. So, yeah, Wagner passes Donlin. But the amazing part if that Wagner goes 5-5 while on the mound, pitching for the Giants, is the mighty Christy Mathewson............1930 - The A's pull off a triple steal against the Indians, twice! (Note the A's SB line in the box score.).............1955 - Joe DiMaggio is inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame............1966 - Ted Williams is inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame...............1977 - Pete Rose becomes the all-time hit leader for switch-hitterswith 2,881...........1978 - Pete Rose breaks the National League record for consecutive games with a hit, at 38.............1988 - The Cubs test their new lighting system is preparation of the first night game to be played at Wrigley Field, which will occur on August 8 of this year................1990 - Roseanne Barr chooses to butcher The National Anthem, later pretends that she was really trying to sing well..............1999 - Nolan Ryan is inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame under the wrong cap, along with Robin Yount, George Brett, Orlando Cepeda and others............2010 - The Angels trade for Dan Haren.............2010 - John Fogerty ("Centerfield") is honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame, and his baseball bat shaped guitar is inducted...........2011 - With the bases loaded and the game tied in the bottom of the 9th, rookie Jason Kipnis collects his first major league base hit in his 6th at-bat, resulting in a walk-off victory for the Indians. Kipnis got his first hit off of Hisanori Takahashi, of the Angels. Yeah, 2011 was a very tough season. (Did you find the easter egg?)
- Arte Not As Nutty As You (and I) Think: A lot of folks, and that probably includes an occasional comment from yours truly, belabor the cost of talent versus payroll on our favorite franchise, the probable impact of that payroll, and the real yield of the talent compared to payroll. I admit it, I've done it. Well, in this glowing review of the success of Billy Beane, Billion-Dollar Billy Beane, there is a rather interesting chart roughly half way down the article. And then there is an even more comprehensive take on the same chart approach just a few inches further down. read the article, and note where the Angels fall on the charts. The Angels don't perform relative to their payroll as well as Oakland does, but they are incredibly superior to the general consensus around here. In fact, they are pretty much better than everybody in baseball not wearing green and gold.
- Theo Epstein Can't Handle Being A Big Gun: MLB, following the current CBA, held a Competitive-Balance Lottery this week. the Lottery creates extra picks after the first 2 rounds of the draft and they get parsed out to the teams in the smallest markets. Well, guess what? St. Louis is one of the smallest markets, so the Cards get gifted with extra picks. Theo, sitting in one of the Top 3 markets on Planet Earth and therefore not getting free extra picks, thinks that is bullshit. Notice in the article that the "small-market" Cards are paying out $107 million in payroll this year, while the Cubs are sitting at only $75 million. I have no empathy for Theo Epstein.
- The Biz of Baseball: Well, here we go. The MLBPA has filed a formal grievance against the Houston Astrosover their behavior in the Aiken/Nix non-signing fiasco. Remember, Brady Aiken was their first pick, first overall, and jacob Nix was there second pick. And both had slot bonus rules being applied to them. Now this has all sorts of interesting angles to be followed...........First off would be the Astros' motivation, under the guidelines of the current CBA. "Having failed to sign Aiken, inking Nix to that reported over-slot bonus would have put the Astros well above their pool allocation for signed players and subjected them to the penalty of forfeiting each of their next two first-round choices." So the union negotiated a CBA that forced the Astros to screw Nix to avoid being screwed for not signing Aiken?...........We also know that the MLB Front Office was deeply involved in reviewing the Houston position, although they didn't want to go into it too far publicly. "Look, we made a comment yesterday that we fully support the Astros," [MLB General Counsel Dan] Halem said. As the formal representative of the owners (not the players, and not you and me), this is to be expected...............Further, there is going to be some dancing between rain drops here as the MLBPA tries to create jurisdiction. Aiken and Nix were not member of the MLBPA, so MLBPA needs to stretch to find harm. Even if htey had signed contracts, they were probably going to be minor league contracts and we already know that the MLBPA thinks minor leaguers can go suck eggs. So MLBPA is trying to claim that because the rules in place were part of bargaining, they get a say on how those rule are used: "The union can get involved," union head Tony Clark said this week when speaking of the Astros’ situation. "It is a part of collective bargaining, and as such, we are invited into the conversation.".............Yeah. Good luck with that...........By the way, an intro to the medical topic of Aikens' UCL can be found over at Beyond The Boxscore.
- Time Is Up: This is due. I will not say overdue, as I am not aware of how much preparing and experience there have been by women in other sports Front Office positions in the past, nor any qualifications of any of those women. But I have yet to hear or read from anyone that Kim Ng is not completely qualified and fully ready to take the reins as General Manager for any baseball team, and San Diego is poised to make this happen. She has already been passed over twice, I believe. IMHO, it would be a watershed moment for women in sports in general by placing a woman in the a seat of power, and in a role of negotiating and strategizing against an extraordinary number of Type A males every single day. And that is not to mention asserting control over the the entire program, up and down the farm system, and dealing with a still-male dominated media. If we rail against the "old school" when we prop up Mike Trout (as if he needs any of that), just imagine how that "old school" might impose their thousand cuts on a female Master and Commander.
- Here Yu-Go-Go!: This is just too rich to risk being overlooked down in the Slap Hitting crowd this week. Over in Korea, the Hanwa Eagles have installed robots in their stadium seating, designed to mimic the cheering of fans watching on television from home. I am not kidding!! "It seems simple enough. You simply upload your comment via the complex series of tubes that is the internet and the fanbots will make your cheer heard." Which begs the question, what happens if the fan at home enables the robo-fan in the stadium to do something that the ushers find to be inappropriate? Huh? What do they do, put bags over the offending robo-fan? Unplug them all? Re-write the interface to limit the home fans to fixed cheers, like a never-ending loop of Buttercup?? Yeah. I see no way this could go wrong. Somebody grab me a bag of popcorn.
Ex-relevant Chuck Knoblauch assaults ex-wife. This is why you don't make these guys your heroes just because they wear your colors, folks..............Kendrys Morales, left unsigned by the Mariners, then not getting to sign anywhere until after the draft so that the signing team could protect a draft pick, then signed by the Twins, just got traded. To the Mariners............You are NOT going to see this kind of stuff in football, folks. The Molina brothers were having some fun with each other this week..........Speaking of fun, my first reaction to this was overblown jingoism ("I'm more 'Merican than YOU are". "No, I AM!", "No, I AM!!") , but then I got to read the backstory. I take it all back. Coolness all around...........Click here, mlbplatemusic.com, and lose the next 10 minutes of your life............File in the Department of Bullet Dodging: Dan Haren might be on the verge of getting dumped by the Dodgers, outright..........Not EVERYTHING Billy Beane touches turns to gold. Uber-Closer Jim Johnson, signed away from the Orioles at the price of $10 million, was DFA'd yesterday............To review, before we all snap and bark about resources lost in any trade, it might be good to temper one's reflexes and consider the importance of selling high. Because the alternative totally sucks...........Bad Blood Behind Bash Bros. McGwire despises Canseco. Oddly, it's because Canseco named McGwire as a PEDs user. To remind everyone, we are talking about THIS McGwire...........Tanaka closing in on Tommy John. And not in a good way............I have said it once, and I will say it a million times, mostly because I watched the LAA crew fail at this once: ground crews MUST practice rolling out the tarp when it is actually, you know, raining. (Do it dry and you fail to learn that water falls from the sky, lands on the massive surface of the tarp, and is HEAVY!)..........You know that Ian Kennedy deal with San Diego wanted by so many here last week? Well, odds are that Kennedy is coming to the AL after all. Possibly in pinstripes............This beast would feed me for a week. I am serious. In my state, a week. Literally. From my perspective, Marc Normandin avoided a fatality...........This is a mistake, somewhere. It's what happens when zero tolerance imposes zero reasoning.
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...
Friday: Ciro's Pizzeria in San Diego is doing a tasting/release event that focuses entirely on tart/sour brews, with their Sour Power night.
Saturday: Back in San Diego, at Embarcadero Park North, Heroes Brew Craft Beer Festival takes place..............Original Gravity Public House in San Jose toasts Silicon Valley Beer Week Sour Fest............AleSmith Brewing Company in San Diego puts on a tasting/release fest featuring Vietnamese Speedway Stout and Barrel Aged Old Numbskull.
Sunday: The Montrose Food & Brewfest takes place along the 2200 block of Honolulu Avenue in Glendale.