Monday, September 08, 2003

Thoughts on the Kansas City Series

1. The double-header sweep of the Royals on Saturday probably ended any realistic chance the Royals had to make the playoffs. Baseball Prospectus' now gives the Royals only a 3.7% chance of making the playoffs, and that may be generous. The Royals have been one of the best stories of the year, but it was always built on sand.

2. Kevin Gregg has certainly earned himself a look in spring training next year. He certainly hasn't earned himself a spot in the starting rotation, because two good starts do not prove anything. He doesn't have great stuff by any means, but I do like his K/BB numbers in AAA: 75 strikeouts and only 18 walks in 91.2 innings. Anyone with better than a 4-1 K/BB ratio has at least earned a chance.

3. Speaking of having earned a chance, Scott Shields earned a shot at the starting rotation, and has done little to show that he deserves it. I was a big proponent of cutting loose either Appier or Sele and giving Shields a chance. I still think it was a good idea. We now have a pretty good indication that Shields is better suited for long relief rather than starting, at least at this point in his career, and we don't have to find that out next season when the games will probably count.

4. Uncle Arte for the first time promised a trip to the free agent Toys R Us this Christmas, but didn't promise to actually buy anything. My wish list? 1. Kevin Millwood. 2. Vlad Guerrero 3. Carlos Beltran (if available) 4. Kaz Matsui.

5. Watching the Angels without Hudler and Physioc just didn't seem right. I'm not going to argue that those two are great announcers--they aren't, and sometimes they give me fits. But they are ANGELS. They have really made themselves as an identifiable part of the Anaheim Angels and something just doesn't seem right when they aren't there. Kind of like that goofy freshman year roommate that you tolerated more than liked, but you really missed him when you were out on your own and you looked him up on occasion. And to be honest, Hudler is a character. Harry Caray used to say anyone could announce for a team in first place in September during a close game. It's the June blowouts for a team out of the race that separates a real announcer from the pretenders. Caray was willing to make himself the story if there were no stories going on the field, and willing to get out of the way when there was somethig we needed to pay attention to on the field. Hudler is the same way, except sometimes he has a little trouble with the "get out of the way" part. That will come with experience. Hudler is the young Garret Anderson of color men: maddeningly frustrating and one isn't quite sure that he understands the game, but certainly full of talent and promise.

I don't particularly condone what Hudler is accused of doing, but I don't condemn it out of hand, either. It's a misdemeanor, and should be treated as such. Besides, it isn't like he's accused of raping a teenager in a Colorado hotel room. And it certainly seems that most sports fans in SoCal are willing to say that's OK, as long as it means another victory parade outside Staples Center.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

This explains a lot.

Honestly, I love Hudler, and in an era when all the announcers are starting to sound and look alike, we need a clown like the Wonder Dog in the booth, even if I sometimes think a donkey knows more about the game of baseball than he does. His particular brand of idiocy might play better if they had a smarter play-by-play man than Physioc next to him, but I honestly can't say that Physioc is any worse than most of the idiots out there calling ballgames, and in some ways he's better.

I'm sure I'll say more about this later on, but as for now, I'll just say: DON'T FIRE HUDLER!

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Having now seen the replay on Baseball tonight, all I can say is:

I was writing my last post while listening on the radio to the horrible, horrible end of today's 6-5 loss to the Twins. I can't think of a worse way to lose a game. Well, actually I can, but I don't want to. And would someone please tell KSPN that that I'm tired of being asked about whether or not I have "sweaty palms" during each commercial break. (No link, I'm not going to give them any more publicity.) Talk about making up an illness to fit a cure!
I haven't said anything about the Angels picking up Wilson Delgado. I wonder why?

It's hard to know what to do with a season that is lost like this one. You can blame it on injuries, you can blame it on not making moves in the off-season and you can blame it Darrin Erstad's contract, as Rob Neyer likes to do. What's even harder is trying to motivate yourself while you are essentially playing out the string. But I know how the Angels are motivating themselves. They are looking forward to that big Christmas shopping trip to F.A.O Schwartz that Uncle Arte has promised to take them on if they are good boys. Never mind that Uncle Arte has never promised any such thing, but the assumption is that now that Uncle Scrooge is gone, there will be lots of presents under the Angels tree this winter.

We've already mentioned the wish list of Kaz Matsui and Carlos Beltran, but Ramon Ortiz added another name to the list, Vlad Guerrero.

Now I would love to get Vlad Guerrero, and although I have some real questions about his long-term health, getting him off the turf in Montreal would have to help him like it helped Andre Dawson. But are the Angels forgetting the lessons of the eighties, when Gene Autry's high priced free agents brought nothing but an occasional lightning in a bottle AL West championship? The Angels won a championship by building from within, and there are at least four players (Santana, McPherson, Mathis and Kotchman--add in Bobby Jenks if you are feeling charitable) that have major league all-star written all over them. Certainly injuries could derail any or all of those guys, but I would hate to see those guys become the next Tom Brunansky, Brian Harper, Mike Easler, etc, etc, while the next Geoff Zahn is trying to win games in Anaheim and Donnie Moore is trying to save them.

Honestly, I don't think Stoneman will go in this direction. I think that all of this is a bunch of players trying to motivate themselves by saying better times are ahead. Stoneman seems pretty committed to building from within--otherwise he would have traded Mathis and Kotchman for Beltran earlier this year.

But I do think it is possible the Angels will sign ONE big name free agent this off-season, and it might be Vlad, if Arte really wants to open up the pocketbooks. The Angels are going to draw three million fans this season, so there should be some money to go around towards Vlad's huge contract. And there is one other cultural matter: Vlad doesn't speak English very well. Arte would be the only owner who could make a personal pitch to him without a translator, and that might mean a lot to Guerrero. But let's just say I'm not getting my hopes up.

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