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WeekEnd HaloLinks: One week until pitchers report!

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Down to just days now, and if you cannot get excited to start watching baseball and see how the roster rebuild works out heading into Opening Day, you may already be dead.

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Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

As Jim noted the other day, with Shields signing with the Padres the draft order is set and the Angels are slotted at #26. Jim also wondered what kind of player one gets at #26? I wondered the same thing. The oracle of knowledge that is Baseball Reference delivers the answer. Out of all 50 players selected as #26 overall, only 5 had pro careers where they delivered at least 5 bWAR total. (To be fair, the 3 most recent shouldn't really count yet.) None since Jeremy Bonderman (5.2bWAR) in 2001, drafted by Oakland (Oakland has, in fact, drafted in the #26 position more than any other team, doing so 5 times). You have to go back to 1991 to find another, Brent Gates (5.5 bWAR, again drafted by Oakland). The biggest successes are Dan Plesac in 1983 (17.6 bWAR, Brewers), Dave Henderson in 1977 (27.6 bWAR, Mariners) and the great Alan Trammell in 1976 (70.4 bWAR, Detroit). Almost half the time (21 out of 50), folks have taken a pitcher. Add to that 14 infielders, 10 outfielders and 5 catchers. For those thinking about a future replacement for Howie to be had, in the 50 years of the June entry draft no second baseman has ever been taken at #26.

So all that means...something. For the rest of us, there are HaloLinks:

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  • Garrett Richards: Cleared for takeoff! Angels' Garrett Richards get medical clearance to begin throwing off mound: "The fact he's gone so quickly and had no setbacks is fantastic," General Manager Jerry Dipoto said. "I couldn’t be any happier. We're still going to be cautious as we go into Tempe. We're not in a rush. We want him strong and healthy for the long season. We're not going try to prove a point by having him ready by opening day. If it's two weeks in, that's fine too.".

  • Tyler Skaggs: The only thing that must be worse than being a baseball fan who has to stay behind and watch the moving trucks drive away, hauling off your favorite team to Tempe to open Spring Training, would be to be a young, actual, pro baseball player in his prime years who has to stay behind and watch those same moving trucks drive away. And that would be Tyler Skaggs. Moving Day 'bittersweet' for Skaggs, who will miss season. "I'm having that baseball itch," Skaggs said. "I really want to play, and I'm really excited about it. At the same time, I know I'm going to see everybody play and it's going to be tough. This year, I'm going to be the biggest cheerleader, which sounds kind of terrible. But at the same time, I'm looking forward to it."

  • Winter Roundup: we fans of LAA tend to be glass half-full kinda people when it comes to our favored franchise. Conversely, everybody else sees us with a glass half-empty perspective. Thus, Sports Illustrated does their roundup and Dipoto barely scores a C+. Winter Report Card: Los Angeles Angels. He gets credit for bringing in Heaney, It is also recognized that he brought in some new names that immediately landed into our To 10 prospect list, but that gets washed away because the bar there was so low to begin with. But the big negatory is the hole at second base. In the opinion of SI, that undermines most of the goodwill garnered through all the other good deeds. "The biggest impact of all of their moves on the 2015 team seems likely to be the hole created by the loss of Kendrick, meaning that while the Angels may have taken a step forward as an organization this winter, they took a step back at the major league level."

  • Troy, of Riverside: the new head coach out at UC Riverside, our own Troy Percival, is finding life in management a bit of a struggle. For new UC Riverside coach Troy Percival, games might be the easy part. "There’s a lot of meetings, a lot of stuff when I want to be out here hitting ground balls, working on mechanics," he said. "There’s always a constant: a meeting at 9 tomorrow, a meeting at 11. You get used to it and get a rhythm with it, but I don’t check my emails. Somebody in here has to tell me, ‘Hey, you’ve got a meeting.’"  Yeah, Troy, take it from a guy who has swam in the and through and around the management tanks for decades and decades: the longer you choose to ignore that middle-management is busy work akin to some Permanent Employment Act, the longer you will be able to stayed focused on the important stuff, that which makes you happy.

  • Marketing Mis-Stooges: Regular readers of WeekEnd Links will know that this author has an ongoing thing for blasting the underwhelming marketing, merchandising and promo traits of the Age of Arte. You certainly must have expected me to come in with my own take on the Mike Trout cap. I do my own editing (regrettably), so you will understand my vote when you read the responses I found around the Internet. "Hideous". "Exceptionally hideous". "Amazingly ugly". and "Remarkably ugly". That can only mean that the masses are gonna love it and State Farm is going to be inundated with new customers, just to keep punishing me for my sour attitude on this subject.

  • Anaheim: Not specific to the franchise, but still germane to our baseball interests as attendees at Angel Stadium, comes a question about bars nearby. Forget other towns. We have a special challenge due to suburban sprawl, giant parking lots, industrial complexes and wide, pedestrian un-friendly boulevards.   The vote used to be OC Sports Grill, but even that is now defunct. So what is YOUR call? If you are going to extend your evening, either before or after, where do you go? To where do you call your home team to assemble? (Hat tip from a local: anybody who has failed to try Anepalc south on State College for Sunday pre-game brunch is missing out on phenomenal chilaquiles. And their beer selection is always changing, so if you don't like it one week, come back the next.)

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This Date In Baseball History: 1920 - The Negro National League is formed when a group of owners meeting in a Kansas City YMCA to formulate the new venture, giving birth to legends............1935 - Here is an oddity. The first player contract written entirely in French is signed by Gus Dugas, while visiting relatives in Quebec. Dugas, a French-Canadian, is signed by the Montreal Royals..........1964 - Ken Hubbs, Chicago Cubs' second-baseman, is killed when the small plane he is piloting crashes in a Utah storm. Hubbs had taken up flying lessons to overcome his chronic fear of flying..........1970 - Chicago White Sox pitcher Paul Edmondson and his girlfriend are killed in an auto accident when he loses control on a rainy Santa Barbara highway and veers into oncoming traffic..........1995 -The Dodgers sign Hideo Nomo, and Nomo becomes the first player to jump direct from the Japanese major league to the North American major league............2008 - Roger Clemens testifies before Congressional Committeeconcerning his use of PEDs, denying everything that his personal trainer will testify to on this same day. This will not end well, as Clemens will be indicted a couple of years later for having lied.........2012 - The Oakland A's nab Yeonis Cespedes, signing him to a 4-year, $36MM deal. The A's will get about 2 1/2 seasons out of him before surrendering him for half a season of Jon Lester. Because, like, Genius and all that.

Pacific Coast League History Nuggets

More great anecdotes about the legendary Bill Schuster as we lead into Spring Training and finish up our off-season history fun:

"Billy Schuster was classic. First I played against him, then he became a teammate. he later became my manager in the Western International League. Oh man, did we put it on.  Whether there was any baseball played or not, we got a crowd.

"When I was with the Salons, one night Bill Schuster is batting against me at Wrigley Field. I throw over to first base five times, trying to pick the base runner off. The next thing I realize, Billy is standing next to first base, with the bat at the ready, waiting for me to 'pitch' the ball to first base again."

- BUD BEASLEY - Sacramento Salons

"Bud Beasley is pitching for Seattle, and he's going through all the gyrations that he did. Schuster, no doubt, had been hoping for the moment. Bud starts out with the pumps, working his way up his body. The first time, Bill just leans on his bat.

"Beasley starts again, and while Beasley is doing all that stuff Schuster starts doing the hula. He's not going to be out-done.

"He hits one back to the mound and runs out there, sticks his hand out, and shakes hands with Beasley"

- CHARLES "RED" ADAMS - Los Angeles Angels

The Grand Minor League: An Oral History of the Old Pacific Coast League, p. 237, 236 respectively

Dick Dobbins

Woodford press, Publisher

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  • Zoning Out: (You'll see what I did there in a minute.)  For years, you have known and I have known and all other fans have known and screamed bloody murder about it. Professional batters and pitchers and catchers and TV announcers have all known and remained silent. Umpires have known and been vocally belligerent. Defiantly so. We're talking about the MLB strike zone region concept idea.  That cloudy, nebulous, foamy thing and has shape-shifted on its own for years and years until one had to become an expert in Venn diagrams to correlate the rule book with reality. It got so bad that MLB decided a few years ago to impress upon umpires that they needed to return to the original concepts. Well, that appears to not be working out so well. Why? Because it appears that such a thing comes at a time when pitchers are already becoming incredibly dominant, and is being considered a serious cause behind falling offenses. Source: MLB could alter strike zone as response to declining offense. "The committee will pay close attention to the size of the strike zone in 2015 with an eye on change as early as 2016 after studies showed it has expanded significantly since 2009, coinciding with a precipitous dip in run scoring. Of particular concern, sources said, is the low strike, a scourge not only because it has stretched beyond the zone’s boundaries but is considered a significantly more difficult pitch to hit."

  • A Little Beleaguered: You know by now that Little League International vacated the U.S. National Title for last year, de-listing Jackie Robinson West of Chicago as punishment for submitting falsified area border documents in order to use players who were supposed to be playing in other leagues. Now, I am not going to get into "cheating" or anything, because I suspect that the day-to-day story concerning residency habits of inner-city Chicago kids is something far from my area of expertise. My experience of how easy the rules parallel the living habits of suburban white folks only explains my ignorance. And, as an International organization, I have to believe that Little league knows far better than I do as to how Chicago might compare to inner-city Taipei or inner-city Manila or inner-city Pretoria. That said, I do take umbrage with Jeff Passan and his premise that kids should not be punished for the sins of adults. To which I call bullshit. Kids are not stupid. Certainly not kids 10 to 12 years of age. Not unless they are are 180 degrees different than when I was 10 to 12 years old. Me, my brothers older and younger, and all of our organized ball playing peers, all knew what was up with other teams and shenanigans. And we all knew to keep our comments to a whisper. Kids know when they rules are being bent, even in their favor - and even when it feels justifiable. And even kids need to know that the real world is not a My Little Pony episode. If anything, who is thinking about those kids who will get the news in the mail, months later and alone in their home, that Little League had granted them a tournament "win" after all. Yea. Let's go out for tacos. Show grandma the certificate. But, no, they still got ejected at that point in the tourney. Thanks for participating. (I also object to Passan's decision to ignore due process and complain that Little league took action after the fact rather than preemptively.) Jeff Passan, you took "the cheap, easy route".
Off Topic, but still apropos to our world of sports: Rest in peace, Jerry Tarkanian.

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MLB cancels the Fan Cave after 4 seasons. After all, we can't have a formal event in the heart of NYC taking place year after year where Angels fans are the dynasty. (runner-up in 2012, winner in 2013, not invited to the other 2).............Wow, the value of relievers continues to tank. Nobody will take Papelbon off the hands of the Phillies, and nobody will give KRod a deal worth more than a single season...............If this guy can do it, why can't I?? #noexcusesnow..............The San Diego Padres have sure been splashy, but instead of the San Diego Right-Handed Sluggers, I would suggest the San Diego Florida marlins of 1997...............LAA Franchise Bests and Worsts, for those of you who might be light on team lore and history..........Early how-to: hit like Babe Ruth or Ty Cobb..........I hope when I am 88 I can still be a badd-ass like this guy. Hell, I hope I even get to 88!..........Do you want a Jacuzzi spa that real Major League players have once sweated in? The Royals are auctioning one of theirs............Here is some fun: your favorite ballplayer immortalized as an old-fashioned jumbotron bitmap..........Oh, geez. MLB has decided that it owns the letter "W". That's 'cuz, like, a "W" is reserved for that rare thing: a "win" that happens for the Cubs on some flag or something. Oh, and "W"ashington, where there is a baseball team............Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard, to fetch her poor dog a player. But when she got there, the cupboard was bare, and so the poor dog had none. The next time you read some MSMS scribe ranting about how important they are to the world of sports in general, and baseball in particular, you might want to point them at this news. The dude's employer ditched him and his contributions before he even got to the podium...........The umpire's lament: I've Been Framed!...........Finally, something to think about with SPRING Training just around the corner. SPRING! It's over 80 degrees here in Anaheim these days. But not everywhere!

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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: If you are anywhere near the Bay Area up north, SF Beer Week continues with a full slate..........

Saturday: SF Beer Week continues with a full slate..........

Sunday: SF Beer Week concludes..........

LAST WEEK'S BEER QUIZ ANSWER: Last week's question, which went unanswered, was to explain why beer stein lids were created. The choices were: (A) Keep out dust, (B) Protect against the plague, (C) Make sure that no one drinks your beer, or (D) Identify personal mugs? The correct answer is (B). Back in the 14th century when bubonic plague was rampant throughout Europe, covering one's food and drink was thought to be extra precautionary. So lids were added to mugs, and "steins" were invented.

THIS WEEK'S BEER QUIZ QUESTION: What is the oldest still-operating brewery in the U.S?: (A) Yuengling, (B) Brooklyn Brewery, (C) Boston Beer Company, or (D) McSorleys?

Stay safe, everyone!