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WeekEnd HaloLinks: Welcome to 2016. Take 2!

Wouldn't it be cool if we all teams started now at 0-0, with a second half mini-season dash? Give the Rangers the First Half Stanley Cup and now we could make a run at the traditional World Series title.

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Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

One of my many baseball fantasies would be to blow up everything in baseball and do a split season format. The first half would be a lot of round robin play that would seed all teams into an eventual two-game elimination tourney. Then there would be an All-Star Break. And the second half would be a mini-season of 81 games in a dash to a single AL and NL winner, to go directly to the World Series.

Screw the need to grant everybody all those home games. Screw the need to sell bad beer via Fox Sports and TBS on all those extra playoff series', since those happen in June/July anyway. And screw everybody wanting to protect all those hundreds of years worth of statistical commonality. I'm the Emperor and this is my magic plan. In some alternate universe, I get my way and we are having much more fun, and the Angels are now starting the second half tied with everybody else in first place.

Have some Stuck In This Reality Links:



The Upcoming Series:

Chicago White Sox @ Los Angeles Angels - Angels Stadium, Anaheim, CA.

Day Game Time Probable Pitchers TV
FRIDAY 7:05 PM PDT Miguel Gonzalez (2-4, 4.39 ERA)  vs. Hector Santiago (6-4, 4.58 ERA) FS-W
SATURDAY 6:05 PM PDT James Shields (2-3, 7.68 ERA) vs. Matt Shoemaker (4-9, 4.45 ERA) FS-W
SUNDAY 12:35 AM PDT TBA  vs. Jered Weaver (7-7, 5.27 ERA) FS-W

From the official White Sox team Game Notes (because the Angels didn't put anything up on CWS before the break): "WHITE SOX AT A GLANCE.....The Chicago White Sox have won five of their last seven games, eight of 12, nine of 14 and 12 of 18 as they finish the first half of the season with the series finale vs. Atlanta.....RHP James Shields, who has won each of his last two starts (3 ER/12.2 IP), takes the mound for Chicago.....The White Sox opened the homestand by winning two of three games vs. the Yankees.....Chicago will open the second half of the season with a six game trip at the Angels (7/15-17) and Seattle (7/18-20).....The Sox are 3.5 games off the pace for the second American League Wild Card … they were 6.5 games behind on 6/19."


Everywhere In Baseball

Taking Stock: Billy Eppler gave us some public words concerning how he is going to approach restoring the Angels to AL West supremecy. I would comment on his words, but I honestly have no clue concerning what the hell he means. "We'll continue to invest. We'll invest throughout this season, with a mind for this season, with a mind for the future and this winter, with a mind towards competing and contending year in and year out." I mean, like, what does he mean by "invest"? With this team, in this state, it certainly doesn't mean "expend money with the expectation of achieving a profit or material result...". And it certainly doesn't mean that since that is not something Eppler has had a chance to continue. So wouldn't that be the spot where you, as an interviewer, might take pause and ask the subject to try again?............

Clogged Arteries: Tyler Skaggs is on the verge of moving back to Anaheim. Skaggs just posted a 14 strikeout outing so he has little left to prove there. And word is that Nate Smith might be right behind him, leaving Mike Scioscia with some choices. One potential victim could be Tim Lincecum, who chose the Angels explicitly because he could be a starter and get back into MLB form.  I know that Lincecum has not been stellar, but it does feel that he is trending in the right direction and, except for Jered's 6/19 outing, has been doing better than Weaver. And Lincecum and Weaver are both Free Agents after this season, so that excuse is net-neutral between the two. If it were me, I would have more patience with Lincecum, slot Skaggs into Weaver's spot, move Weave to the pen, and then give Lincecum a couple more starts before I think about bringing up Nate Smith. But the, of course, Eppler might intervene with everybody's scenario and move a starter. Or two...........

More Mid Way: Quick, before you click, in reviewing The Least Valuable Player on each of the 30 MLB teams for the first half, who takes the cake for LAA? This is the second report to tab this same player this week, probably because there is some fog among writers that blocks their memory from knowing we still employ Ji-Man Choi...........Also at the halfway point few, if any, preseason prognosticators have to admit they made some kind of mistake with the Angels because the Angels are doing well to live down to everybody's expectations..........A good roundup of top performers at every position in both leagues, to date, with the best line reserved for Mike Trout: "...and he’ll be on every All-AL First Team from now until the end of time." Incredible to think about since he is still a kid, but true............

Old News: Get used to it, as if you haven't already. Since Arte committed mountains of money to little or no production for years now, and for years to come, the Angels are going to be on lists like this for a very long time...........

Safe Positions: The next time you watch a game, especially an LAA win, pay close attention to the details shown around the field as the commentary recaps the broadcast. Chances are, you will decent take of the dugout as the players and coaches gather themselves up and head down the steps to the clubhouse. If so, watch Dina Ebel. Watch how many thick binders he gathers up and places in a stack. Also notice how careful he is with them. They are State Secrets there, not to be left behind for unauthorized eyeballs. All those he will carry downstairs himself. That is the stuff that comes from the Front Office scouting and analytics teams to the dugout crew, and Dino Ebel is responsible for defensive positioning based on that data. "Late in the game, when Huston Street is throwing that slider down and away, we’ll bring [Calhoun] in a little. We don’t play him deep. We bring him in and move him over, because most of the time right-handed hitters are going to hit the ball short to right field. For each pitcher who goes to that mound, we have information where hitters are most likely to hit the ball. We’ll move outfielders depending on the count. A lot of it is pull counts and oppo counts with two strikes. Mike is the type of manager who hardly ever likes to play ‘nothing over our heads.’ With counts, we play more pull and oppo when we’re moving our outfielders." What I  wonder, and what is left unsaid here, is how much goes into pitch location and how location is integrated with fielder positioning?...........

Food for Thought: One of the things that many modern baseball metrics strive to do is adjust for things like park factors and playing eras. It's an honest effort to try and create a way to fairly compare players who perform under so many varying circumstances. The idea is to neutralize those things that might create measurable advantages or disadvantages that inflate/deflate the numbers, and yet have little to do with the player themselves. So while reading this piece that looks back upon Lou Gehrig and Honus Wagner, a point is made that needs explaining to me. "So who was Gehrig hitting against? Not the best pitching staff in the league, because that belonged to the Yankees. Four of the top 12 ERA qualifiers were his teammates, and he doesn't have to face them." Now here is my brain fart: how accurate is the concept of "average" if the forces of opposing talent are not evenly distributed? Every other player on every other team had to endure their chances against Gehrig's teammates, much to their dismay. Those results get lumped into the bucket of formulations for average, or replacement, values. And the sheer mathematical quantities of so many players having so many poor results against guys that a Gehrig won't have to face will overwhelm Gehrig's solo contributions into that bucket. They will grossly draw down replacement value and enable a Gehrig to shine even brighter. The author is touching on this point, among many others. But when I focus on this particular point, it opens itself up into a larger issue than even what is presented by the article..........

Big Sexy: Some of you might have been around long enough to know the tales of John Lackey and the rock pile. But Darryl Strawberry does Lackey TWO better. (A), Strawberry had his trysts while he was actually playing in games (and remember, as an NL pitcher he took turns at bat). And (B) he did it int eh actual clubhouse, not off in some neglected corner of  the stadium...........

Bid "Duh": No surprise to me. I have been reading these tidbits for years now. MLB is being sued for computer hacking when they were running all over the country trying to nail ARod as part of their Biogenesis campaign. "Neiman Nix...and his DNA Sports Performance Lab...claimed an MLB investigator misrepresented herself as law enforcement and MLB intimidated the company’s clients and hacked accounts on YouTube, Facebook and PayPal. The allegations are similar to those filed in a suit two years ago that was dismissed......Vincent White, Nix’s new lawyer, said former MLB investigator Ed Dominguez is cooperating and will testify MLB employees "illegally gained access to electronic accounts of individuals they investigated through various exploits and phishing schemes. We believe these tactics may have extended to players, team staff and ownership groups." Now going up against he MLB cadre of lawyers is bound to fail for the very reason these people are suing in the first place. MLB acts like it's their own branch of the Department of Justice, except without any of those silly constitutional checks or balances. But just because David gets stepped on by Goliath doesn't mean David was a liar...........


The Duffle Bag

The last time I witnessed the MSM being all happy and giddy and effusive over the offensive amazement of some slugger, it was somewhere around the year 2000..........Major League Baseball, still working hard to murder America via gastronomy, that is, if Americans don't just puke it all out first...............A young starting pitcher prospect who tops out at 105mph must be amazing to see, if you can see him. Don't worry, though, since the odds are you will get a chance to see a lot of him after that arm explodes and he is sitting in the dugout..........Oops. David Ortiz had such a love-fest with the media this week that, apparently, he pissed off somebody in the Toronto organization and is forcing MLB to conduct some fluffy "investigation". If it's anything other than a "no infraction" or, at worse, a $10,000 fine I will be amazed...........Over in the Bronx, Yankee ownership insists on holding while Yankee staff insist on folding. But don't giggle at the MFY misfortune. Their situation might be what we look like all too soon..........Yes, it's true. If Billy Eppler could, he might consider the need to trade any player throughout the entire organization in an effort to rebuild - except Mike Trout and Andrelton Simmons..........How odd this must be: pitch for the Padres and do well, and have the Padres send you to their home town All-Star Game. But don't come back. When you are done there keep right on going and report to the Red Sox. The Rangers tried to tie up Rougned Odor early and Odor's agent didn't bite. One more reason why the Mike Trout extension was an impressive coup. Odor, by the way, is barely above replacement Value. But that future FA market should truly be as insane as any other...........Go play with the history of baseball..........

On no. Please don't let this become a thing at baseball parks. PLEASE!!!!


Mystery Graph

(As of the time of this writing, you people had yet to figure out yesterday's Mystery Chart. I am not going to let you ff that easy. I am going to keep re-posting it until you get it. BUT...I will give you hints. Teh more hints you get, however, the less cred you get for figuring it out. Yesterday I made sure that you remembered that the red bar was the Angels. So right there you know that we are talking about TEAM STATS, and not individual stats. Now, focus on the Y axis. What element of baseball commonly falls between 94 and 89?)