Saturday, August 30, 2003

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and sometimes it rains. Of course, it never rains in Southern California.

There is a pretty funny article on the official Angels website on how David Eckstein has been picked to be the new player rep. Eckstein hasn't agreed to do it yet, but as Jarrod Washburn said (who is filling in for the traded Scott Schoeneweis) "He has less service time than me. He has no choice." Washburn addded that "I'd give it to Shields, but he ain't smart enough."

This seems to be the way of a lot of teams--unless the team has a respected veteran who has been active in union activity for a while or someone actually wants to do it, it goes to a young player that the rest of the team can respect. I know the Cubs picked Mark Prior for the job after Joe Girardi got dumped.

Ironically, such a cavalier attitude actually indicates that the players take the job pretty seriously, rather than the other way around. It's a lot of work for no extra pay and a lot of extra grief. All you get out of it is the respect and gratitute of your fellow players. Eckstein is perfect for it and Wash is right, Eck has no choice.

Wow, I haven't written since Wednesday. No big deal since I don't really have any readers yet because I refuse to advertise. I guess "refuse" is simply a fancy way of saying "too lazy to get around to doing it" and "would feel too much pressure to write if I thought anyone was reading."

Alfredo Amezaga decided that he wanted to be a real Angel so he went and tore up his labrum. I laughed out loud when Physioc said this on Friday. I mean, how cursed can this team be? Certainly, if it's a matter of us having used up all our good luck last season, it was a good trade. Bad seasons are forgotten, but World Championship flags fly forever.

But since I don't believe in that kind of crap, I have to think that it's just bad luck, with perhaps a bit of desperation from players playing hurt to help a struggling team and making it worse.

Despite that, the Angels got to play spoiler to their old eighties nemesis the Royals and their playoff hopes with a 10-3 victory in Kansas City. Of the Angels I expected to have a chance of a breakout year, Bengie Molina was not one of them. But Bengie's season takes some of the pressure off of Stoneman to push Jeff Mathis.

In a "related" manner, Jose Molina now has gone 88 AB without a walk.

Baseball Prospectus has an article on the Angels firing of Denny Rowland. It a subscriber-only article, but essentially it looks at the 2000 and 2001 drafts and concludes that he wasn't fired for performance reasons, because he did a pretty good job.

Well, I agree he wasn't fired for performance reasons. The Orange County Register uses nicer words that I'm going to, but they claimed he was fired for being a jerk. An ambitious jerk who might have been angling for Stoneman's job, even. He apparently upset the scouts below him and management above him.

But for as wonderful as the 2001 draft was, BP admits that the 2000 draft wasn't all that special, although Bobby Jenks could salvage it. They don't even look at the 2002 draft, probably because they think it is too early to evaluate, but it isn't looking very good. First round pick Joe Saunders is injured, and only second round pick Kevin Jepsen making even as far as low A Cedar Rapids so far. Rowland has been a decent scouting director, and certainly the Angels Latin American operations have improved greatly over the past few years. But I don't think that Rowland is so great that he can't be replaced, and it would be easier to replace him than two-thirds of the scouting staff who can't stand him.

Finally, Carlos Beltran is making noise that he'd like to play for the Angels. I don't think he has any particular affinity for the Angels, I just think he wants to get out of KC and would like to play somewhere warm that has a chance to win. The Angels inquired about Beltran earlier this season and were told it would cost them Casey Kotchman and Jeff Mathis and the Angels wisely said no. Beltran doesn't become a free agent until after next season, but it is generally assumed that the Royals won't agree to arbitration with him this off-season, where he could make as much as twelve million. So if the price for Beltran comes down, the Angels might be willing to make a deal for him.

Is this a good idea? Probably. Carlos Beltran is probably one of the top two or three centerfielders in the majors, only clearly inferior to our old buddy Jim Edmonds. On top of that, he'll only be 26 next season, so he should just be entering his prime.

The downsides? Beltran's agent is Steve Boras, and Boras thinks he can get Beltran a contract of 15 to 18 million a year over eight years. That's not going to happen. Not from the Angels, not from the Dodgers and even not from the Yankees. But it does mean that trading for him means risking losing him to free agency after next year because Beltran and Boras will test the market if they don't get a deal close to that.

The other downside is what to do with Darrin Erstad. I've said it so many times that it seems ridiculous to repeat myself, but Darrin Erstad is worthless as a first baseman. Perhaps moving him to right and Salmon to the DH spot might be OK, but Erstad simply wouldn't have as much of an opportunity to use his great defensive skills in right field as he would in center. It would make the Angels pitching staff extremely happy, however, to see as outfield of Garret Anderson, Carlos Beltran and Darrin Erstad. That would be one of the greatest defensive outfields in history. But it still isn't clear that giving up, essentially, Brad Fullmer's bat to DH Salmon and put Erstad in right field would be worth the defensive gain of keeping Erstad in the outfield. But it certainly isn't worth it to move him to first base.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Last night's 3-0 loss to the Twins is just another mark on a lost season. I honestly don't know what to say about it. I can't really get upset with the strike-'em-out-throw-'em-out double play that ended the game, since I had said just before the play to my wife "Yeah, I send the runners." I thought that Salmon hits into a lot of double plays and Figgins runs well It was a good gamble that just didn't work out. Additionally, there is no assurance that Spiezio would have done anything with two outs had the runners not gone.

The Angels fired scouting director Donny Rowland the other day in what appears to be more of a personality conflict between Stoneman and Rowland more than a judgement on his ability. On the other hand, if he was churning out great draft after great draft, Stoneman would have kept Rowland even if they didn't get along. As has been noted in the articles after his firing, the Angels 2001 draft was a bonanza with Casey Kotchman, Dallas McPherson and Jeff Mathis, but the 2000 and 2002 drafts are considered busts, with 2003 being too soon to tell, of course. What bothers me about this is not that Rowland was let go, but rather the comment made in the LA Times article:

Stoneman said the Angels have not wavered from the philosophy he directed Rowland to follow, that of drafting high-risk, high-reward prospects, particularly high school players.

Under the previous management of general manager Bill Bavasi and his scouting director, Bob Fontaine, the Angels emphasized the selection of college players who might sign more cheaply and reach the majors more quickly, even if their potential might not be as great.

Look, I thought Moneyball was a great book, but that Michael Lewis overstated the advantage of drafting college players over drafting high school players. But Lewis and Beane have a point--it is much harder to project high school players than college players. And it is absolutely ridiculous to think that high school players have a higher ceiling that college players. The folks at Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America don't agree on a lot, but the old saw that high school players have a higher ceiling is one that they both reject. Sure, Alex Rodriguez didn't go to college, but Barry Bonds did. Mark Prior, Tom Seaver and Randy Johnson all went to USC. If those aren't "high ceiling" pitchers, I don't know who is one. On the Angels, Garret Anderson was drafted out of high school, but Troy Percival, Troy Glaus, Jarrod Washburn, Adam Kennedy, Darrin Erstad, John Lackey and David Eckstein are all college men. Tim Salmon went to junior college. The Angels are a living testament to the idea that drafting players out of college (OK--the Red Sox drafted Eckstein and the Cardinals drafted Kennedy) and then developing them through your farm system is a formula for winning a World Championship. And of the three highly-touted players taken in the 2001 draft--Kotchman, Mathis and McPherson--which one looks like the best right now? McPherson. Can you guess which one went to college? That's right, McPherson went to the Citadel.

I'm not Michael Lewis. Heck, even Billy Beane isn't Michael Lewis. I'm not against drafting some talented high school players and taking some chances. What is it that investment advisors are always saying? Diversify your portfolio? A good farm system has got a good mix of high schoolers and college players. But the idea that high school players have a higher ceiling is simply crap. The Braves have a draft strategy of getting all the best players, high school or college, from Georgia and the Carolinas, in a way to concentrate their resources to make sure they get the best players. The Angels could do a lot worse than to concentrate on really scouting Southern California, both high school and college. Unfortunately, unlike Georgia and the Carolinas, the Angels would have to deal with a lot of other teams combing SoCal for talent.

Of course, it may be that the crap here is coming out of the LA Times and not the Angels, since the Angels declined to put those comments on drafting strategy on their official site. But having seen the heavy emphasis on drafting high schoolers since Stoneman took over, I doubt it.

Monday, August 25, 2003

I forgot to mention Bobby Jenks yesterday, and today's off-day is as good a time as any. Jenks has now pitched 29.2 innings of shutout ball, and many people are saying that Jenks has finally gotten his five cent head out of the way of his million dollar arm and turned himself into a real prospect. (Nuke LaLoosh was twice as smart as this guy.) John Sickels answered a question about Jenks, essentially repeating the party line on him, although he was kind by describing Jenks as simply having "troubles with emotional maturity."

I'm still dubious. Jenks is still walking a lot of batters, and that's going to only get worse as he moves up the ladder. Minor league hitters know that they get rewarded more for a high batting average than a high on-base percentage (ask the Red Sox and David Eckstein) and thus they have a tendency to swing at pitches that major leaguers would lay off. Jenks may still put it all together and become a dominating pitcher and I certainly hope he does, but I think that even if he learns to control his head, he still is going to have to learn to get that 100 mph fastball over the plate.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Wow, I hadn't written anything since the Tigers series started. It's been hard since today's game was the only one televised.

Something just isn't right about Percival and there is probably more to his retirement talk than he is letting on. Even when he manages to get a save, he looks bad doing it. Sure, the runs that he gave up in the ninth were unearned, but I've always thought it was a little bogus when they consider a run scored on a home run to be "unearned." I understand why they do it, but it is silly to think that Percival wasn't responsible for those runs in today's defeat. Of course, he is getting the "L."

It's ironic that an error by Adam Kennedy was what led to the losing dinger. Kennedy should win a gold glove, but such things aren't usually decided by overall excellence. What's also ironic is that just about a month after I had packed AK's bags and shipped him of to Baltimore (or wherever), Adam Kennedy has clearly been the Angels MVP since the all-star break. So much so that the Angels finally got rid of Benji Gil and gave the job to Kennedy full-time.

How good has Kennedy been? His defense has always been excellent, and even the error he made today was a tough play. But he has been tearing the cover off the ball-- a .958 OPS--so much so that only Marcus Giles has a better OPS among second basemen since the all-star break. He's even getting on base at a .390 clip. When one considers that Eckstein's health has been questionable and pretty much every thing except his health has been questionable for Alfredo Amezaga, Kennedy is making a strong bid to return for next season. With the Angels continuing to pursue Kazuo Matsui in Japan, according to the LA Times, would the Angels be willing to part ways with fan favorite David Eckstein to keep Kennedy? That's a tough call. If you base it on this season, Kennedy has now pulled ahead of Eckstein, and he's a year younger and more "toolsy." But I can imagine the outcry from Cerritos to San Clemente if little David Eckstein is allowed to go on his way.

Looking at the lineup the Angels put on the field in Detroit, I'm actually pretty surprised that the Angels took three out of four. Yes, there isn't a word in the English language to describe how truly terrible the Tigers are, but they have managed to win one out of every four games this year against real major league teams, and those guys wearing the grey uniforms with Anaheim on the front were much closer being the Salt Lake City Stingers than the Anaheim Angels. Losing the last game--and the only televised one-- was a real disappointment, but not really all that surprising.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

No TV for tonight's game, which pretty merciful considering how the Pale Hose have been treating the Halos. Which reminds me that when my wife first started calling the Angels the "Halos", it really sounded like "Pale Hose."

David Eckstein joined Troy Glaus, Darrin Erstad, Brad Fullmer, and the Rally Monkey on the disabled list. Alfredo Amezaga got a HR, but made another error and is still 50 points away from hitting his own weight, despite only weighing 165. The Angels have a big decision coming up this off-season, and Amezaga isn't making it any easier.

Troy Glaus is out for the year. You can't just blame this whole season on injuries, but they sure haven't helped.

Troy Percival is talking retirement after his contract ends after the next season. I doubt he will. Although I don't know Troy personally, most athletes have to have their jersey ripped off their backs and I'm sure that some team would offer Percival a chance to pitch in 2005. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure that team won't be the Angels. If Francisco Rodriguez hasn't been move to the starting rotation before then, and I doubt he will be, then he would certainly be a cheaper and probably a better option as the closer. And if you are like me and are looking for bright spots for the Angels since the All-Star break, look at the way K-Rod has gotten his act together. He's been the pitcher we expected him to be after the past post-season. On May 22 his ERA was at 5.48. He's only given up eight runs since in 45 innings and has dropped the ERA to 2.90.

By the way, if you saw the Hall of Fame's Baseball as America exhibit in LA this past offseason, you got to see Frankie Rodriguez's cap. How many players get their cap in the Hall of Fame before they are a rookie?

I don't have anything to say about Mike Scioscia and Scott Spiezio's sniping about the team's defensive players in the LA Times, other than to say that they both are right. The Angels pretty much packed it in at the end of the 2001 season, and I'm sure Scioscia is having visions about reliving that nightmare again. But while you have to expect injuries and usually it's no excuse, you really have to figure that the Angels used up all their good luck last season.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

There goes the chance to win twenty in a row.

I'm really mad at the LA Times. Today my copy arrived at my doorstep and instead of a sports section, I got a piece of paper that was completely blank except for some faded color photographs of Jeremy Burnitz and some football players from USC. The California section was equally mutilated. And no, I'm not going to subscribe to the "Camelot" Daily News in protest.

From reading on-line, I notice that the Angels are talking contract extension with Garret Anderson. I hate paying players for what they did last year rather than what could be reasonably expected from them over the life of the contract, but the Angels are going to have to pay GA whatever he wants. There is no clear replacement in the minors for him and while he still won't draw many walks, if he hits enough home runs and for a high enough average, who really cares? It's not like he's still the Luis Polonia wannabe that he was in the late 90's, and most hitters develop more plate discipline as they get into their thirties, which hopefully makes up for their drop in batting average. On top of that, Anderson is the player most associated with the Angels in the minds of the public these days. Get out the checkbook one more time, Arte.

Monday, August 18, 2003

The Angels finished off their sweep of the hapless Tigers with an 11-6 victory on Sunday. Ramon Ortiz got the win despite pitching pretty poorly, and Ramon has got to be the worst fourteen game winner in the majors. He's even got an outside chance at winning twenty. If Ramon wins 18-20 games this season, Stoneman has got to move him this offseason before Ramon becomes the next Shawn Estes, trading on one high-win season into seven years of "one more chance."

The Angels, as I predicted, have now won five in a row. I figure if the Angels can win another fifteen in a row, they'll be back in the playoff race. Even with four more games against the Tigers, this isn't going to happen. They might win 17 out of 20, but that isn't going to be enough. And now with David Eckstein and Brendan Donnelly day-to-day, the list of walking wounded keeps growing.

The pitching matchups for the White Sox series:

Jarrod Washburn (9-11, 4.38) vs. Mark Buehrle (10-12, 4.22)
Scot Shields (3-3, 2.15) vs. Jon Garland (8-9, 4.60)
John Lackey (8-11, 5.12) vs. Esteban Loaiza (15-6, 2.55)

The Wednesday night matchup looks brutal, but the others are OK. Frank Thomas said something to the effect of "They may be the World Champions, but that isn't the same team out there." The White Sox are reeling right now and they were embarrassed in Anaheim. Should be a good series.

Finally, Adam Riggs made history by being the first player to ever play for the Anaheim Angees. Hudler and Physioc had a lot of fun with that one. Apparently it was the fault of the manufacturer, and I could see how no one in the Angels clubhouse bothered to check and see if the front of the jersey was spelled right. Oh well, it was probably made by an illiterate peasant in a sweatsop in Bangladesh--they're lucky they got the other five letters on correctly.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

My Fair and Balanced look at the Angels.

The Angels have gotten to the soft underbelly of their schedule, the time that I predicted back in July would give them a chance to get back into the race. Actually, that soft underbelly started with the trip to Baltimore and Tampa Bay after the all-star break, and we all know how well that went. But what I'm trying to say is that the Angels three game winning streak is not to be unexpected, and it is likely to hit five before the Angels finish up with the Tigers and leave town on Sunday. And it'as also nothing to get excited about, even if Baseball Prospectus now gives the Angels a 0.1% chance of making the playoffs, up from zero. So the Halos have gone from none to slim. Well, really, really slim.

I'm not a doctor, but I think Troy Glaus should have the surgery. But I don't know what I'm talking about when it comes to things like rotator cuff tears, so I just hope he's getting good advice.

I wrote about Alfred Amezaga's troubles last time, but I think one player who has really helped himself earn a spot on the Angels next season is Chone Figgins. Better known as Tim Salmon and Bengie Molina's legs in the 2002 World Series, Figgins has come up to the Angels and hit a very empty .300, with few walks and no power. But the Angels aren't going to ask Figgins to replace David Eckstein, like perhaps they will with Amezaga, they just want him to pinch-run and fill-in at several positions when a guy gets a minor injury or needs a day off. When a utility player like that hits .300, you really don't care how empty it is, because a .641 OPS is good enough for such a player.

When I say that Figgins is hitting with no walks and no power, l don't mean Jose Molina-type no walks and no power. Jose is going to places that no one since Rob Picciolo has gone. Jose has gone 80 ABs without drawing a walk, and is now only 39 ABs away from Picciolo's team record for the '84 Angels of 119 ABs without a walk. OK, I'm just assuming it's a team record. How could anyone other than Picciolo go 119 ABs without a walk? Even Gary DiSarcina drew a good 15-20 walks a season. But in 1628 ABs in the majors (how?), Picciolo drew just 25 walks.

The funny thing is, this really isn't in character for Jose. Coming into this season, he had ten walks in 126 ABs. Not exactly Kevin Youkilis territory ("The Greek God of Walks") but certainly not something too out of the ordinary. Take that out to a full season, and that's about 40-45 walks. I don't know what has gotten into Jose lately, but I do think it's odd that no one has ever seen him and Rob Picciolo together in the same room.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

I didn't get around to posting after the Angels got their butts handed to them on Tuesday, but the good Jarrod Washburn returned yesterday and while he didn't get the win, he did keep the Halos in it long enough for them to pull out a 2-1 victory over the White Sox on Wednesday.

I forgot to add one thing about my discussion of Matsui. Well, two things actually. The first is that the Mets are apparently going after him, which seems odd considering how much they rave about Jose Reyes as their shortstop of the future. But of course, if the Mets really want someone and assuming that Matsui doesn't have a real allergy to the East Coast, the Mets will get him.

But the thing that I really forgot to mention is the struggles of Alfredo Amezaga. Amezaga has looked completely overmatched out there, both at the bat and in the field. I know that a lot of independent analysts seem to think Amezaga is more of a utility prospect than someone who could actually be a contributing starting shortstop. The Angels better find out in the next six weeks what the truth is. And besides, it's fun listening to the Baseball Tonight crowd trying to pronounce his name.

Finally, I've read Rob Neyer's column on the Angels, in which he essentially says it's all Darrin Erstad's fault, or more precisely, Darrin Erstad's contract's fault. I really like Neyer as a writer, and in fact I think he's the most insightful baseball writer in the game on a day-by-day basis. But we all have our own little prejudices, and Neyer's is Darrin Erstad and his contract. Neyer points out that the Angels have had a ton of injuries and that they are massively underperforming their pythagorean projection. Somehow this isn't an excuse. The Angels have actually outscored their opponents this season, 545 to 533, and should be sitting around 61-59 right now, even with all those injuries and disappointing production from the middle of the infield. But then Neyer makes the absolutely crazy assertion that Erstad's contract prevented the Angels from making the necessary upgrade to their offense.

Ridiculous. Neyer never answers who should have been "upgraded," in fact he specifically says that they probably shouldn't or couldn't have replaced Kennedy or Spiezio, the two players who were the least likely to repeat their 2002 season. He pretty much leaves unsaid who should have been replaced, but by elimination, the only answer is that Neyer thinks Erstad himself should have been sent packing.

OK. I like Erstad, but I'm not wearing blinders. I've repeatedly written that most of his value comes from his defense and if he can't play centerfield, he's worthless. So if the Angels can replace him with someone better, great. Let's assume that in the offseason, Bill Stoneman traded Darrin Erstad and Jeff Mathis to the Royals for Carlos Beltran. I think that Neyer would agree that Beltran was the best CF who might have been available this past off-season. So take Erstad out of the lineup and replace him with Beltran. Does Neyer honestly believe that the difference between Darrin Erstad and Carlos Beltran would cause the Angels to pick up 13 games on the Athletics and win the wild card? Of course he doesn't. Neyer has argued repeatedly in the past that the difference in such cases is no more than two or three wins.

Neyer doesn't know what he's talking about. The 2002 Angels were a unique and rather weird team, with no outstanding strengths outside of the bullpen but no glaring weaknesses or even old players nearing retirement. Stoneman could have dumped Spiezio, Erstad and Kennedy, but he wasn't likely to get better players in return. Stoneman correctly decided he'd rather gamble with what he had than with what was out there. But hey, even Troy Percival blows a save every once in a while, and I now know from experience that it isn't easy to come up with something interesting to say about baseball every day. But Erstad's contract is not dragging the Angels down to mediocrity.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

The Angels looked like the Angels of 2002 for a few innings of last night's 10-8 victory over the Chicago White Sox. The irony of this, of course, was that a lot of the damage was done off of Scott Schoeneweis. And then Troy Percival brought us back to a sense of despair, looking as poor as he ever has while giving up four runs in the ninth and almost blowing a six run lead. Still, we won and so I shouldn't complain that much.

The LA Times report that the Angels may be after Japanese free agent Kazuo Matsui. The Times is saying that Matsui wants to play on the West Coast, which gives the Angels a good chance to get him. The Giants have Rich Aurilia and the Athletics won't have the money and are clearing out shortstop for Bobby Crosby. I figure that the Dodgers will make a big play for Miguel Tejada, and the only way they won't get him is if they aren't willing to spend the money, which means they won't get Matsui either. That leaves the Angels, Mariners and Padres--and maybe the Diamondbacks if Arizona is considered "West Coast." I doubt the Padres will sign him--they may have the money with Petco Park but Japanese players seem to avoid losing teams. The Mariners have to be considered the favorite with their Japanese owner and all their Japanese players, but they seem to be up against the limit as to how much ownership is willing to spend, although Edgar Martinez's expected retirement might free up enough money for the Mariners to sign him. That leaves the last two World Champions, the Angels and the Diamondbacks. Bet that Arte Moreno won't let Jerry Colangelo sign a player he wants.

If I had to bet, I'd bet Matsui goes to the Mariners. But we don't know what Arte is going to be willing to drop in terms of money this off-season. If he's free-wheeling--and a Japanese player might be good for attendance--Matsui could end up in Angels red.

Finally, Steve Bisheff continues to live in his alternate reality where he castigates the Angels for not giving up Dallas MacPherson (or whomever) to get Aaron Boone (or whomever) in a ridiculous attempt to win 84 games this season. Those were the kind of moves that made the Yankees so lousy in the late '80's. If those kinds of trades sunk the Yankees, they certainly aren't a good idea for the Angels.

Monday, August 11, 2003

Back from San Diego, where I was mercifully spared watching the Angels continue their self-immolation in Boston and Cleveland. Unfortunately, while Angels games are not televised in San Diego, KSPN radio comes in loud and clear, at least as long as the sun is out. I did get to watch the Cubs sweep the Padres, much to the delight of the large number of Cub fans in Jack Murphy/Qualcomm Stadium. Qualcomm is a pretty bad place to watch a ballgame. It isn't terrible--the place was pretty clean and the weather is almost always nice, but it certainly is sub-standard these days. The pictures of Petco Park look pretty good. It won't be Pac Bell or PNC Park, but it will likely be an excellent place to see a ballgame and should energize a moribund Padres fan base.

Oh, I'm supposed to be talking about the Angels, not the Padres. What to say? Everyone knows that they're playing terribly right now. The hitting has pretty much disappeared. A lot of that is the result of injuries, some is just slumping players, the rest is guys like Jeff DaVanon coming down to earth. Erstad is out for the season and Ross Newhan is again speculating that he will have to move to first base. I've said it once and I'll say it again: if Darrin Erstad can't use his magical glove in center field, he's worthless as a player. He does not hit enough to be a productive first baseman, and he'd just block Casey Kotchman.

I'm trying to be positive about the Angels, but it's a little hard. Still, because even losing baseball is better than no baseball, I'm going to try and conviince you not to give up on the Halos. Having said that, I now present:

Top Ten Reasons to still watch the Angels this season

10. Dumb "Condiment Race" at Edison now replaced with more exciting "Molina Race."

9. Rex Hudler's head might explode.

8. You know how you slow down to gawk at an accident on the Santa Ana Freeway? It's like that, only without the cars.

7. Ah-nold Schwarzenegger has promised to reveal his position on an important issue after every Angels win! (Hey, wait a minute . . .)

6. For the convenience of the players, home games moved from Edison Field to Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center.

5. Washburn, Lackey and Ortiz give every Angel game the excitement of a home run derby!

4. Rally Monkey to be replaced with "Don't Embarrass Us" Monkey.

3. Arte says: "Free Beer!"

2. New weekend uniforms designed on "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy."

1. It couldn't be worse than watching "The OC" on Fox!

Sunday, August 03, 2003

I'm spending next week in San Diego, where I'll get to say my own personal good-bye to the Q. Of course, I doubt it will be any sort of tearful farewell. But this means I won't update this blog until Friday or Saturday.

The bad Jarrod Washburn showed up again last night.

Scot Shields gets his tryout to try to pitch himself into the rotation for next season. Shields himself seems pretty ambivalent about the whole thing: probably not a good sign. But it just may be his personality. Also, Steve Physioc on the Angels radio pre-game made the first mention of Ervin Santana possibly being in the majors next season. Well, if Dontrelle Willis can make the jump, maybe Santana can too. Santana was the most dominating pitcher that I've personally seen in single A ball since Mark Grant twenty years ago--and he made the jump to the majors that quickly. On the other hand, the rest of Grant's career indicates that it might not have been a good idea.

Sympathy for the Devil

Alex Rodriguez should just keep his mouth shut, because no matter what he says or what he does, the mediocrities of the world are going to jump on him. Mike DiGiovanna, one of the dumbest hacks at the LA Times, took up the "Greedy, Greedy Alex Rodriguez theme" because he's too stupid to write anything else. Buster Olney at ESPN the Magazine the same thing earlier in the week, but I can't find the link right now.

Derek Zumsteg in Baseball Prospectus took on some of the fallacies of this in this article. The first point that Zumsteg makes that shouldn't be ignored is that the Rangers were just one year removed from a 95 win season when A-Rod signed with them. The idea that he signed with a terrible team just for the money is false. If Vlad Guerrero signs with the Angels next season, is DiGiovanna going to write an article about how Vlad signed with a lousy team just for the money?

The second of Zumsteg's points is that in the end, A-Rod only had two offers on the table. (He never had an offer from the Yankees or Braves, despite DiGiovanna's rantings) The Mariners and the Rangers, and the Rangers offer was for more than 2 and a half times as much. I'd like to see DiGiovanna turn down an offer from the San Bernardino County Sun for two and half times what he makes at the LA Times just so he could be on a winning team.

Or willingly cut his salary in half so that the Tribune Corporation can hire another editor. This "A-Rod should take a pay cut" argument is so bogus, and that isn't a word I use lightly or even often since I graduated from high school twenty years ago. First of all, the MLBPA would never allow it. Maybe he could defer some more of it, but I dobt that Tom Hicks wants to still be paying A-Rod until A-Rod's 70th birthday. I know where this "renegotiate to sign another player" crap comes from though: the NFL. Just because the NFL doesn't have a union worthy of the name doesn't mean that athletes in other sports should risk getting crippled for their employer and then see their employer cut them off without a cent when they do. (And this happens in the NFL every year--heck, it happens every week.) If a steelworker gets crippled by an industrial accident and the company then said "Sorry, but since you can't work anymore we aren't going to honor your contract," people would be angry. This guy didn't do anything but do his job (let's assume no malfeasance here), he got crippled for the company he worked for and now they say they aren't going to give him another dime. That happens in the NFL every week, and people see it as just part of the game.

But what I really want to address is the idea that the Rangers can't sign a good pitcher because of A-Rod's contract. This, of course, is also crap, and that's what A-Rod got tired of hearing when he lashed out. Take A-Rod off the Rangers, and they still have a payroll of 82 million dollars, which is the same as the San Francisco Giants. They're spending money even with A-Rod. This crap is also demonstrably false. Even after A-Rod signed his contract, the Rangers did sign a big name free agent pitcher: Chan Ho Park. Is it A-Rod's fault that this was a terrible idea? Is there any evidence that if A-Rod cut his salary that the Rangers wouldn't use that money to give 50 million dollars to Freddy Garcia? And why isn't Mike DiGiovanna calling on Chan Ho Park to take a paycut to make the Rangers more competitive?

Even funnier is DiGiovanna's suggestion that if A-Rod wanted to play for a winner, he should have signed with the Mets. THE METS? THE METS? Has DiGiovanna noticed where the hell the Mets are in the standings right now? The Mets without A-Rod are a lot worse than the Rangers without him. At least the Rangers have good young players like Hank Blalock and Mark Teixeira. The Mets have Ty Wiggington and Jason Phillips.

I could go on and on about the bad spending decisions that the Rangers have made. Juan Gonzalez. Todd Van Poppel. Chan Ho Park. Rafael Palmeiro. Ugeth Urbina. But no one seems to care about their bloated salaries.

Is Alex Rodriguez overpaid? Of course. Every player is overpaid, if you want to compare them to what our teachers, police and fire fighters earn. But if you want to boo A-Rod for being overpaid, you'd better be prepared to boo Tim Salmon, Darrin Erstad and Garret Anderson for the same reason.

Friday, August 01, 2003

One more thing I forgot to add. It seems like the outfield walls at Edison are getting covered with advertising these days. I suppose that's the downside of having a guy who sold billboards for a living owning the team. If that's what it costs to have a guy who cares about the game, the team and the fans own the team, I can live with that.

Aaron Sele pitched well, but it didn't matter as the Angels got swept by the Yankees for the first time in eight years. The home plate umpire decided early that he wasn't going to call any strikes on the Yankees, but the Angels hung in anyway.

The trade deadline came and went without the Angels making a move. Apparently the NY Yankees inquired about Darrin Erstad and Stoneman said no. I'm not against trading Erstad, and the Yankees are the only team likely to take on his contract, but I can't really see who the Yankees were planning on trading us to get him. So while I'm not against trading Erstad, I'm not in favor of just giving him away either. The Yankees weren't trading Nick Johnson, and the Yankee farm system is really bare from years of trades and neglect.

Scot Shields is stepping into the the starting rotation with the departure of Appier, who will apparently sign with either the Cardinals or the Royals. Better that he sign with the Cardinals to help the Cubs out. But both the OC Register and the LA Times are saying that this may be a temporary move, with the Angels going after a big-name starter in the off-season. The other position the Angels are looking to fill is right field, with Salmon becoming more or less the full-time DH.

I certainly be happy if the Angels picked up Vlad Guerrero or Brian Giles. One keeps hearing that Giles is bound for San Diego though, and a lot of teams are going to be bidding for Guerrero. Carlos Beltran would also be a nice option, and Anderson, Erstad and Beltran would easily give the Angels the best defensive OF in the majors. I'm going to toss out a final name that I think ought to be considered: Ken Griffey Jr. Sure, the Reds would have to pick up a chunk of his contract in order for us to get him, but even so, his contract isn't that bad--remember he gave the Reds a home-town discount. If he can stay healthy, he's still young and still potentially the best player in the game. Yeah, I know that "if" is a big if, but he only had one major injury in the 11 years he played in Seattle. We could also let him DH a bit and put Salmon out in right field from time to time, which would make Tim happy, or at least happier. He'd also play right field for us instead of CF, which would mean quite a bit less running. Would he be a risk? Sure. But so would Vlad Guerrero (whose back problems may be chronic, according to Will Carroll) and Carlos Beltran, who's had a few injuries himself. Everyone in Cincinnati, including Junior himself these days, has to agree that he needs to get out of Ohio. (Last one on the Reds turn out the lights!) I don't know what the Reds would want for him, but it can't be too much. Maybe Scot Shields and Ben Weber. Maybe Dallas MacPherson. Not guys we want to get rid of, but probably cheaper than Vlad Guerrero and Carlos Beltran would cost. It's something worth pursuing in the off-season.

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