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Dec. 14th, 2007 @ 01:30 am Angels represented in the Mitchell Report
In total, there are 16 former or current Angels named in the Mitchell Report.  All though this sounds quite bad, I thought I'd take a moment to give you a name by name breakdown of who was named and what it means.

Part One: The "Who Gives a Shit?"s

1) Jason Christiansen: He pitched 3 2/3 innings in his Angels' career.  I actually remember the acquisition for him, and was even at a game for one of his appearances.  His tenure was basically just a long-delayed layover flight between clubs.  Whoop-de-fucking-doo.

2) Bart Miadich: Anyone who remembers who this is or recalls his 12 career innings pitched with the Angels aside from Bart himself, or his immediate family is just a fucking liar.  Next.

3) Adam Riggs: The highlight of his career with the Angels was getting his name misspelled on his jersey.  Yawn.

4) Glenallen Hill: I sorta liked him during his days as a Giants player.  Still sorta do.  Thanks for the .318 OPS in 66 at-bats though, man.  We couldn't have been the same 2001 team without it.

5) Jason Grimsley: Everyone already knew he'd be in this report before it even surfaced.  Thankfully this abortion of a pitcher only spent 1996 with us, in which time he still managed to single-handedly bring a franchise to its knees with his 6.84ERA.  God knows what he would have done without 'roids.

6) Derrick Turnbow: We all knew he'd be here after his positive test ages ago.  He's not our problem, nor has he ever really been.  He pitched less than 60 career innings for the franchise, before deciding to not suck for about a season with the Brewers.  I sorta miss his goofy face.

7) Kent Mercker:  Really?  Him?  I could have hit his stuff at age 14...when he was throwing 48 1/3 innings of 6.52ERA ball for the 2000 Angels.  Irrelevant.

8) Ismael Valdez: Hey Dodgers, thanks for your leftovers.  Next time you can keep them.  His inclusion in the list, like so many others, means nothing to our franchise.  The Angels were just a pit-stop on his road trip of a career through mediocrity.

Part Two:  They stayed in the fridge a couple weeks past expiration

9) Brendan Donnelly: We all liked him for a while when he was a lights-out set-up man for the '02 Angels.  Remember that time that Bernie Williams called him "Donaldson" after a game?  He took his performance enhancers after the '02 series, so he's really just a footnote.  Especially since we've all come to hate him and his pine-tar bullshit, along with the fact that he was just sort of a horrible human being.

10) Scott Schoenweis: Jack of all trades, master of none.  And by 'jack of all trades', I mean he could stand on the mound in either relief or as a starter and manage to not cause your team to fall into a twelve run deficit.  And by 'master of none', I mean he damn well might try his hardest to make it an eleven run deficit.  He was with the Angels for the '02 run, but again was not linked to anything that makes that title even marginally tainted...which would have required him to be relevant for that team in the first place.

11) Mo Vaughn: Oh boy.  I'm not gonna even touch this one.  Needless to say, Vaughn's inclusion in the report was likely a mix-up.  I'm sure Vaughn simply thought HGH was a new type of Krispy Kreme filling.  Thanks for the dugout tumble, buddy.

12) Paul Byrd: Actually, he was pretty decent as an Angel.  He was quiet, unassuming, had a small built-in fanbase, and kept you in games almost every time out.  It's a little sad to see him on the list, but we all already knew he was going to be there.

13) Randy Velarde: Boy, that's a hell of a name-drop.  I remember rooting for him as a kid and being sad to see him shipped off right as I thought he was coming around.  Then we traded him for Jeff DaVanon...who hit for the cycle at a game I went to.  Oh, how easily one memory is replaced with another.  Another name you're sort of disappointed to see, and then quickly realize it doesn't mean a thing.

Part Three: I guess, if you squint real hard, you can sorta see how that's relevant

14) Troy Glaus: Used post 2002.  Following injury troubles.  Shortly before he found himself on someone else's team.  This really couldn't be much less of a problem for the Angels.  But he was a franchise cornerstone for a while, and did win the World Series MVP, so it's certainly a big name to see coming from this investigation.

15) Gary Matthews Jr.: We all already knew it.  We all already have the garbage name picked out for him, and have been using it for a year now.  He used HGH.  When it wasn't illegal in the game.  And he's likely not using anymore.  And he's been a decent player for us...post-juicing.  The relevance is solely found in the money he's being paid, and the fact that he's actually with us right now.  His mention on this list changes nothing in the minds of the millions of Americans who watch baseball, compared to what they were thinking last year.

16) Wally Joyner: He used.  After he left the Angels.  Long after.  Then he felt so freakin' bad about it, that he flushed the rest of his pills down the toilet.  He took three pills in all, he said.  During spring training.  He comes out of this looking like a boy scout.


And what goes for Joyner, a franchise icon, goes for the whole franchise as well.  This team has come out of the Mitchell report without a real scratch.  They are untarnished, and look about ready to stay as such.  And I'm sure we all couldn't be happier that that's the case.  We can all breathe easier knowing now that the Angels of past and present have set an example for all of baseball to follow.

That is, after we apologize for being a pit-stop to a bunch of second-tier nobodies who happened to find a home here for about a week at a time.  I think this sentence here is apology enough for that.  But really, Grimsley should be the one apologizing...for offending all of the pitchers out there who know how to throw a clean 6.84ERA.
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Dec. 12th, 2007 @ 12:49 am Christmas with Mr. Mitchell

*Cross-posted at Halos Heaven (halosheaven.com)


In the coming weeks, many of us will be celebrating the Christmas holiday.  We will also be receiving the Mitchell report which, according to our beloved owner, will name names.

Putting together the two, I have to ask: which names would you like to see on the list as an early Christmas present.  Granted, none of us want the game destroyed by the revelations that so-and-so did 'roids, but given that we already have reason to believe that names will be given, who do you want there?  What names on the list would brighten your holiday season, as you watch their career, reputation, and, possibly hall-of-fame career destroyed?

So, drop in and just give me a name, and maybe a short reason.  I'm interested to see who is on your wish list.

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Dec. 8th, 2007 @ 07:03 pm Top 10 Reason the Angels Win in '08*
*Assuming the status quo is maintained in the American League

10) The Angels have the best rotation in baseball.

- That's right.  The best.  Not the Red Sox.  Not the Indians.  Not the Tigers.  The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  Last year, John Lackey won the American League ERA title.  Kelvim Escobar spent almost the entire year as a top Cy Young Candidate.  Jered Weaver, entering his third big league season, is healthy and poised to take the next step forward into becoming a potential staff ace.  Jon Garland is a 4+ ERA innings eater, who many teams would take as their #2 starter.  Some desperate franchise may slide him in at #1.  He's our #4, arguably our #5.  Santana can't possibly be as bad as he was last year, and even if he is, the reliable Joe Saunders slides in as a more than adequate 5th starter.

The Tigers?  Lots of question marks.  Verlander is an ace in the making, but Bonderman is still all about potential, with very little in the way of results.  Rogers is getting too old to be a sure thing, Robertson has had one season in his career with an ERA+ at or above 100, and Willis is coming from the National League East to the American League Central...bringing his 5+ ERA from 2007 with him.  They could be a solid bunch.  More than likely, they'll wish they had Andrew Miller back along with their entire farm system when their rotation proves vulnerable.

Red Sox are more of the same.  Assuming they don't end up with Santana, they have Beckett at the front as an ace.  They have an aging, injury prone, and now inconsistent Schilling behind him. Then Matsuzaka, who I firmly believe we've seen the MLB ceiling of.  Wakefield is the king of the 7IP, 2ER start...and the 2IP, 7ER start.  Buchholz has the make up of a future ace, but is much too young to rush to judgment on.  Lester has the ceiling of a #3 or #4, but really not much more.  Am I missing someone?

The Indians rely heavily on Carmona and Sabathia.  Beyond that, I'm really just very unsure of what they offer.  Byrd is a perennial #4 starter.  Westbrook is one of the biggest question marks among starters on American League contenders.  More than likely, he throws up another mediocre dud.  Sowers and Laffey have the talent to become #2/#3 starters, but does it come together in 2008, or does Sowers struggle on the big stage once more?

9) Injuries

- I don't think I can overstate this point.  Going into the playoffs, Kotchman, Vlad, Matthews, and Anderson were all hit with various ailments.  Regardless of what happened in the playoffs with our offensive production compared to Boston, it can't be ignored that we suffered greatly with these injuries.  If the same caliber of players go down on the other side, we'd walk into the ALCS.  During the season, Kendrick and Kotchman suffered once more from freak injuries.  Don't count on it happening again.  Guerrero and Anderson can produce very well when healthy.  Their time split at DH this year will make sure that that continues to happen.  Jered Weaver, Mike Napoli, and Justin Speier also figure to be due for more healthy seasons than in the past.

8) Torii Hunter

- It's not your $90 million, so toss that out the window right now.  Not only does Hunter bring a more-than-solid bat with him, but he gives us depth that allows both Anderson and Guerrero to spend more time at DH.  But look at his numbers.  Six full seasons in the Majors, 5 of them with 90+ RBIs, and in a lesser lineup than the one he will be in now.  Every full season, he's hit at least 23 home runs.  He's even stolen 18 or more bases in 5 of the last 6 years.  He's a virtual lock to bat at least .270.  His stats actually compare across the board very favorably with a prime-era Garret Anderson.  Basically, subtract 25 points from Hunter's batting average, add them back to the OBP courtesy of his increase in walks over G.A., and you have the same offensive caliber.  Interesting to note: Hunter's OPS+ has climbed every year for four straight years.  Pencil him in for a .275/.330/.480 season.  Minimum.  Oh, and don't forget the glove love.  Statisticians will tell you he's overrated with the glove.  I'll remember that when he and Matthews routinely turn home runs in to outs.  He's certainly not below average.

7) The right side of the infield

- Kotchman, Kendrick, and the Kennedy's (not Adam).  Perhaps the three unluckiest K-names in the world.  That has to end, and will end.  We've seen what the two of them do when healthy: Kotchman was hitting .333/.411/.556 before Russell Martin's errant throw knocked him back to earth.  And no, that wasn't an aberration.  He was a career .325/.407/.493 hitter in the minors.  His 37 doubles in 443 at-bats in 2007 put him on a 50 double clip in a 600 at-bat season.  Did I mention that he plays gold glove defense?  Howie Kendrick, who we were oh-so-willing to part with in exchange for Miguel Cabrera, is not a bad piece to be holding on to himself.  When he was healthy last year, he was raking.  He batted .322 in 338 at-bats.  He'd do well for himself to draw a few more walks, but I'll take the 43 doubles-pace, and the certain-to-improve power numbers from a healthy 24 year old.  And between the two of them, they'll be earning about half of one Angels' stadium sell-out for the entire season.  Not bad.

6) Fewer wasted roster spots.

- This was actually on my list last year, too.  Then Shea Hillenbrand happened to us.  But every year, we've had fewer and fewer duds added to the roster for no apparent reason.  1-25, there isn't a Hillenbrand, Finley, Alfonzo, Halter, or Merloni to be seen.  In fact, I don't see a regular in our lineup incapable of reaching a 100 OPS+.  Yes, even Matthews.  We're losing excess wasted at-bats every year.

5) Garret Anderson

- I've had a man-crush on Garret for a long, long time.  It's always sort of hurt to be stuck defending him against hostility amongst Angels fans who seem to forget what he once was.  This man was on his way to the Hall of Fame before arthritis and God-knows-what-else caught up with him.  This is a man who, if you added nothing more than WALKS to his career resumé, would stack up right alongside the hero-worshipped Derek Jeter (Don't believe me?  Stats don't lie: http://www.baseball-reference.com/a/anderga01.shtml and http://www.baseball-reference.com/j/jeterde01.shtml).  That's right.  If Garret added the walk to his career stats, he's right alongside the so-called "first balloter."

But that's not the point in discussing his '08 impact.  Last year, Garret made a ton of Angels fans eat crow.  A healthy serving of it, too.  That it took an end-season slump brought on by fatigue to bring his OPS+ DOWN to 114 speaks volumes.  In his last 282 at-bats (312 plate appearances), Garret had an .053 BA/OBP differential.  His career average is .030.  That's more than a 70% increase in walks-drawn.  During that time, he also knocked in 65 runs and slugged .532.  All because he was healthy and drawing more walks than usual.  If he had swung a little harder on his grounder-up-the-middle in a certain August game, he'd be the single-game record holder for RBIs in a game.  If you think he's incapable of doing it again...stop being a contrarian and get on board.  Garret, for all the flaws you may love to find in his game (despite a decade of amazing performance), has found his rhythm and his late-career stride by turning around his approach to the game, and it's working.  If he stays healthy in 2008, even to a marginal degree, he's going to produce like he did in his prime.

4) Defense

- Reagins giveth, and Reagins taketh away.  We lost the glove of Orlando Cabrera at shortstop, but we gained Torii Hunter in Centerfield.  Not only that, but our defense gets better by subtraction.  That's right...the subtraction of Vladimir Guerrero's glove.  Defensively, Hunter, Matthews, and Anderson/Rivera is arguable the best defensive outfield in baseball, and will save countless runs over the course of a season.  And we all know Aybar and Izturis could use some polish on their game, but their defensive work is still slick enough to hold down the fort.  Casey is a gold glover, Mathis is a wiz behind the dish, and Kendrick is learning fast in the field.  Figgins will always be a defensive liability, but when he is spelled by Wood, Izturis, or dare I even say...McPherson...the defense at the corner will improve.

3) The power is back on

-
Nope, we didn't get Miguel Cabrera.  But that doesn't mean the power will be in short supply again this year.  Let's take a look at what they did in regards to the long ball in 2007, versus some educated guesses for 2008.

2007Actual/2008 Estimate
Catchers
Mike Napoli: 10 / 16
Jeff Mathis: 4 / 6

Outfield
Vladimir Guerrero: 27 / 28
Gary Matthews Jr.: 18 / 16
Garret Anderson: 16 / 13
Juan Rivera: 2 / 6
Reggie Willits: 0 / 0
Torri Hunter: NA / 26

Infield
Casey Kotchman: 11 / 18
Howie Kendrick: 5 / 12
Orlando Cabrera: 8 / NA
Chone Figgins: 3 / 6
Erick Aybar: 1 / 2
Maicer Izturis: 6 / 6

DH/Bench
Brandon Wood: 1 / 4
Terry Evans: 1 / 2
Shea Hillenbrand: 3 / NA
Kendry Morales: 4 / 9
Robb Quinlan: 3 / 0
Dallas McPherson: NA / 7

2007 Total: 123
2008 Estimate: 177

Biggest Contributions over last year: Kotchman adds 7, Kendrick adds 7, Hunter adds 26 (over Willits), Napoli adds 6.

2) The Bullpen

- Last year, Justin Speier missed a considerable amount of time early on...to what I can only assume was the result of inappropriate post-game festivities with Casey Kotchman.  This illness resulted in an increased work load for both Scot Shields and Francisco Rodriguez.  Without the injury, both work less time and are in better shape to pitch later in the season.  This would work perfectly for the Angels, because the two of them, particularly Shields, have rough patches in the second half.  Darren Oliver proved to be a more-than-capable reliever and was, in fact, probably the biggest pitching surprise of 2007 for the team.  He was nearly lights-out in the second half, when he put up a 2.23 ERA and a .177 BAA against in 36 1/3 innings, striking out 29.  If we even get a glimpse of that for the year, the bullpen will be better.  Ervin Santana could see time in the bullpen, which could have mixed results.  I would be optimistic about such a movie, however.  Ervin has a great fastball and could be dominant in a late-inning role if he doesn't work out in the rotation.

1) The Depth

-
This sort of goes along with everything I've said earlier, and is so, so important to the depth of this team.  If Howie Kendrick goes down, super-subs Maicer Izturtis and Chone Figgins step-in and superb tools.  If third base doesn't work out for us, Brandon Wood, Dallas McPherson, and Figgins can again fill in...the former two offering an unlimited upside in the power department.  If Casey continues to be plagued by bad luck, Kendry Morales and his sky-high ceiling are waiting for a chance to produce.  Our rotation is deep.  Lackey, Escobar, Weaver, Saunders, Garland, Santana, Moseley, and Nick Adenhart all have the ability to fill in at a moment's notice.  Even Darren Oliver is capable of spot-starts.  And not a single one of them is worse than the average #4 starter in the league.

Piece it all together, and we're in great shape in 2008.  And for all the talk of us being wiped out in the playoffs once more?  It's all meaningless.  This team can compete with the Red Sox, Indians, or Yankees with ease.  We have the talent, the depth, and the well-roundedness of one of the best teams of the decade.
About this Entry
Dec. 8th, 2007 @ 05:43 pm What a huge fuck up I am
After my last post, I got locked out of my own account for some unknown reason (hacked?, password changed?).  Rather than fix the problem, I forgot about it, and never updated until...well, now.  Today, someone out there sent me a nudge advising me to update this thing, and I'm happy to say that I shall now be able to do so on a fairly regular basis once more.  Seeing my blog end up in the Halos Heaven graveyard of blogs was certainly not nice.  It's been a hectic semester (graduation in May), so I've fallen way behind on everything.  Later on today, or early Sunday, there will be an update coming, Re: The Top Ten Reasons You Need to Shut Your Mouth and Start Being Optimistic About the Angels in '08.

Because, frankly, there's too much whining going on for a team poised to win their 4th division title in four years...especially when said team wasn't winning anything for the FOUR DECADES prior.
About this Entry
Aug. 28th, 2007 @ 01:05 am I Apologize
As little sense as this makes, it's actually going to become easier to update this blog once summer is over and I am back in school for my last year of college.  Starting September 3rd (I go back the 2nd), be ready to expect daily updates on the Angels.  The next week will be hectic in preparation, but rest assured we'll have a 5 or 6 game lead on the Mariners by then and most of my September posts will be about all the rookies we get to test out in September as we burn away games until the postseason.

In the meantime, I have to whore out this amazing video: http://youtube.com/watch?v=WGoi1MSGu64


-S.K.
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Aug. 21st, 2007 @ 05:23 pm Angels vs. Yankees: 1996-Present
As we all know from hearing it roughly 9,000 times over the last 11 years, the Angels are the only team in Major League Baseball to have a winning record against the Joe Torre managed Yankees.

During this period of time, the Angels own a 60-54 (.524) record.  If you include the two playoff match-ups, the record goes up to 66-57 (.537).  Not exactly dominating, but a modest edge on a team that has otherwise not known defeat.  I ran some numbers using baseball-reference.com, and retrosheet.org, and have compiled the meaningful stats of all 114 games between these teams since 1996.  A special thanks to Robb Wolf for helping me accumulate all the stats.  It wasn't easy, and it took a ton of time to go through each box score.  Here we go, through last night's game:

*Note that none of the following stats include post-season play*

Total Runs Scored
Angels: 553
Yankees: 577

10+ Run Games
Angels: 12
Yankees: 10

Blowout Wins (6 runs or more)
Angels: 10
Yankees: 13

Shutouts Thrown

Angels: 7
Yankees: 3

Average Runs/Game

Angels: 4.85
Yankees: 5.06

Extra Inning Wins
Angels: 7
Yankees: 7

1-Run Wins
Angels: 16
Yankees: 8

I think the most interesting stat here is the number of one-run wins for the Angels.  Considering how heavily vaunted the Yankees bullpen (particularly Mariano Rivera) has been for a long time, it's definitely worthy of note that the Yankees have gone 8-16 in these one run contests.  Of course, as any Angels fan knows well, the Angels' bullpen has been one of the most unheralded units in baseball, consistently protecting leads, or holding deficits to small margins until the Angels could come back.

And now some numbers, just on behalf of the Angels.  From 1996-2007, the Angels have compiled the following stats:

All Non-Yankee Opponents:
Batting Average: .273
ERA: 4.36
Runs Scored/Game: 4.84
Runs Allowed/Game: 4.71
Hits/Game: 9.44

Against the Yankees
Batting Average: .274
ERA: 4.56
Runs Scored/Game: 4.85
Runs Allowed/Game: 5.06
Hits/Game: 9.61

So, for all of the Angels' success against the Yankees in the 11 years Joe Torre has managed them, there has been very little discrepancy between their numbers against the Yankees and their numbers against other opponents.  Although the Yankees have outscored the Angels over this period of time, the evidence shows that the Yankees have an "all or nothing" tendency against the Angels; that is they have blown out the Angels on several occasions, but also have been prone to complete shut-downs of their offense.  The Angels have had a marginal step-up in both hits per game (up 1.8%), but also in runs allowed per game (up 7.4%).  This, of course, is to be expected: the Yankees have had some of the most potent offenses over the last decade or more, while having roughly average pitching during that same stretch (going back and forth between some seasons in which they were near the top of the league, and seasons where they were below average).

Playoffs

Of course, you can't have a conversation about the Angels and Yankees match-up over the last several years without mentioning the playoffs.  The two teams have met twice (2002 and 2005) in the division series, with the Angels winning both times (the first 3 games to 1, the second 3 games to 2).  In 2002, the Angels went on to win the World Series against the San Francisco Giants.  In 2005, they lost to the Chicago White Sox (the eventual World Series Champions) in the American League Championship Series.  For the sake of my blood-pressure, we won't go into why they lost that series.

The Numbers (9 total games, Angels lead series 6-3):

Total Runs

Angels: 56
Yankees 45

Runs/Game
Angels: 6.22
Yankees: 5.00

Batting Average
Angels: .323
Yankees: .266

Earned Run Average

Angels: 4.90
Yankees: 6.12

Hits/Game
Angels: 11.33
Yankees: 8.89

Well, as you can see, the two teams are pretty offense-oriented once playoff time comes around.  Offensive numbers are way up across the board, and pitching numbers become rather high as a result.

That's a wrap for now on this Angels vs. Yankees entry.  Seeing as it is one of the most talked about match-ups for Angels fans over the last decade, I hope you enjoyed the breakdown.  It's certainly been a lively and exciting series to watch, and should continue to be so for years to come.

Small Ball: 1
Mashers: 0




About this Entry
Aug. 21st, 2007 @ 01:18 am This Angels Domination Against the Yankees
Has gone on forever now, and I'm loving every minute of it.  Check back tomorrow afternoon for a breakdown of their success against the Pinstripes in the Joe Torre era.  It'll be a stat-filled mess, I assure you.
About this Entry
Aug. 16th, 2007 @ 10:03 pm A.L. Cy Young Race and "Expected Wins"
I know you all missed my daily update yesterday.  Well, I'm back.  This time around, I'm looking at the American League Cy Young race for 2007.  Listed below are the top six candidates as I perceive them currently (Josh Beckett, Erik Bedard, C.C. Sabathia, Dan Haren, Kelvim Escobar, and John Lackey), as of the morning of August 16th, 2007.  I've included the following stats in this order: wins, losses, ERA, ERA+, Ks, K/9, WHIP, and one special category that I created myself.  I call it the "expected wins" category. 

It works like this: for every start in which the starter went 5 or more innings with an ERA of 4.00 or below, he got a win.  For every start in which his ERA was higher than 4.99, he got a loss.  Every start, regardless of innings pitched, in which the ERA fell between or on 4.00 or 4.99, he was given a no decision.  If the pitcher failed to complete 5 innings, but had an ERA under 4.40 for the innings he did pitch, he received a no decision.  If the pitcher allows 3 earned runs, and two or more unearned runs per game, he is given a loss.  This adjustment is meant to be reflective of a pitcher's ability to pitch around errors when they occur and work their ways out of jams. 

The method was a bit arbitrary admittedly, but its basis lies in the statistic of "quality starts".  In the last few years, "quality starts" have been used to define the number of times that a starting pitcher has had a start good enough to keep the team in the game.  It is defined as any start in which the pitcher gives up 3 or fewer runs in 6 or more innings pitched.  That sets the maximum possible ERA for a quality start at 4.50 (although the quality start stat for some reason is not quite forgiving to pitchers who go 8 or 9 innings and give up 4 earned runs, for a 4.50 and 4.00ERA respectively).  From this 'maximum quality start ERA', I have a half-run cushion on both sides to encompass a moderate range outside of 4.50, thus 4.00-4.99.  This allows for minor fluctuations in run support from one game to the next.  The 'quality start' is not so much a measure of a pitcher deserving to win as it is an indicator of whether or not they kept their team in the game.  The broader range I have created is to allow for starts in which the starter reasonably kept his offense in the game.  Over all, the end product should be far more indicative of how much a starting pitcher did to keep his offense in a game than the current wins and losses do.  I fully acknowledge the system is flawed, but I do it in order to be fair to all pitchers concerned.  In a perfect world, with more time on my hands and more statistics to easily work into the system, I would make a few adjustments.  For now, behold my six Cy Young candidates.

Josh Beckett: 15W-5L, 3.24ERA, 139ERA+, 140Ks, 8.55K/9, 1.11WHIP, 14XW-5XL
Erik Bedard: 12W-4L, 2.98ERA, 148ERA+, 207Ks, 11.02K/9, 1.08WHIP, 18XW-5XL
C.C. Sabathia: 14W-6L, 3.48ERA, 126ERA+, 162Ks, 8.06K/9, 1.20WHIP, 16XW-6XL
Dan Haren: 13W-4L, 2.54ERA, 170ERA+, 138Ks, 7.17K/9, 1.13WHIP, 17XW-4XL
Kelvim Escobar: 13W-6L, 2.68ERA, 160ERA+, 124Ks, 7.06K/9, 1.18WHIP, 18XW-3XL
John Lackey: 15W-6L, 3.07ERA, 140ERA+, 126Ks, 7.03K/9, 1.24WHIP, 16XW-3XL

There you have it.  The six Cy Young candidates broken down statistically, using the essential indicators along with a new, adjusted indicator that I am using for myself.

Looking at the numbers, I find it hard to vote right now for anyone other than Erik Bedard.  Not only has his W-L record been cheated significantly (second only to Kelvim Escobar on this list), but his ERA+ 3rd out of the list, while he completely dominates Ks, and K/9 while holding a slight edge in WHIP over everyone else.   Notice that, of the six, Josh Beckett is the only pitcher to have gained wins from his offense's production, while all others lost at least one win.  Escobar and Lackey, both Angels have received the most undue losses (surprise, surprise) of the pitchers on the list, whereas most of the others simply ended up with no decisions when their offense failed them.  If I had to draw up a ballot today, Bedard's got my vote.  The six would go as follows:

1) Erik Bedard
2) Dan Haren
3) Kelvim Escobar
4) John Lackey
5) Josh Beckett
6) C.C. Sabathia

Tune in next time for the National League, folks!
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Aug. 14th, 2007 @ 08:15 am Derek Jeter
This guy is going to come up in my blog a LOT over the span of its existence.  I just can't get over how much I fucking loathe him and the coverage he receives.

Last night, the guy came up in the bottom of the 9th of a tie game (Rivera blew the save in the top half of the inning, FYI).  1 out, runner on third.  He accidentally hits a little squibber back towards the mound, just to the first base side.  It goes under the pitcher's glove, and the winning run comes home on a late throw from the second baseman.  It wasn't even a 'ground ball to the right side' with intent to bring home the run.  It was accidental contact on strike zone protection (not that Jeter has a strike zone as far as umpires go, but that's another story).  So ESPN of course, jumps on the highlight.  During the highlight, they celebrate the clutchness of Jeter's career and discuss the multitude of walk-off hits he's had in his career.  Yeah, bullshit.  It was an accidental comebacker that he was LUCKY didn't turn into a rally killing play at the plate that would have fucked over his team.

Oh, and for an 11 year career, Jeter has apparently had a surprisingly low 9 career walk-off hits.  I guess the ESPN coverage has led me to falsely believe that he gets about one a week.  Fuck this guy and the coverage he gets.
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Aug. 12th, 2007 @ 07:16 am 2006 Angels vs. 2007 Angels, Position-by-Position
We are now 115 games into the 2007 regular season, with the Angels holding a record of 68-47 (.591), and a lead of 3.5 games on the second place Seattle Mariners.  With this improvement of 9 games over our standing at this point last year (59-56, .513), I've decided to take a position-by-position breakdown of the team and see what has led the Angels to have the second best record in all of baseball this year.

First Base

-2006: Casey Kotchman/Kendry Morales/Robb Quinlan/Howie Kendrick vs. 2007: Casey Kotchman/Robb Quinlan

This match-up should be no contest.  In 2006, after spending about a month struggling to secretly overcome the effect of mononucleosis and batting an anemic .152 with a .436OPS, Casey Kotchman finally went to the disabled list for the year, allowing Quinlan and Morales to spend time at the position.  Morales brought a brief flash of his potential to the game before slumping considerably and losing playing time to Triple-A and to Quinlan.  Quinlan brought a lack of patience, but a good average and solid pop to the position.  Howie Kendrick, playing out of position and seeing the Major Leagues for the first time, brought an expected amount of streakiness, but showed glimpses of his upside.  However, 2007 has seen Casey Kotchman break out of his shell and show why he earned the praise of scouts for so many years in the organization.  His .307 average and his .860OPS have been tainted only by a slump following a concussion sustained in June that led to his departure from the lineup for about a week.  Quinlan's drop in production has been more than offset by Kotchman's emergence.  On defense, Kotchman's consistent 2007 playing time has led to a definite improvement at the position.  Edge: Strong 2007

Second Base


-2006: Adam Kennedy vs. 2007: Howie Kendrick and Maicer Izturis

The greatest attribute Adam Kennedy has been able to bring to the offensive game is his ability to hit for average.  When he's unable to do that, his worth rapidly declines.  His trademark uppercut swing seemed to fail him frequently throughout 2006, as he struggled to produce with any kind of consistency.  On defense, his glove was once again greatly overlooked as he presented himself as a solid second baseman.  In 2007, Howie Kendrick has struggled to stay off the disabled list, taking two lengthy trips there for two separate broken bones in his left hand.  During a recovery period after rejoining the club, he went through a slump, but emerged from it to begin contributing again before going back to the D.L.  When healthy, Maicer Izturis has been one of the most clutch bats in the game.  Batting .407 with runners in scoring position, he has been essential to the club's success in tight games.  Although Kendrick and Izturis don't quite yet match Kennedy in the field, their offensive contributions offset this difference.  Edge: Weak 2007

Shortstop

-2006: Orlando Cabrera vs. 2007: Orlando Cabrera

In 2006, the most memorable aspect of Cabrera's season was his 63 game on-base streak (via walk, hit, or hit-by-pitch).  On defense, he became somewhat shaky, being merely an average contributor at shortstop.  2007 began extremely hot, with Cabrera batting .328 at the all-star break.  Although he has since found himself in a slump, his long hot streak to open the season, in conjunction with his resurgence at the shortstop position (with improvements in both range factor and fielding percentage), make 2007 his better campaign.  Edge: Strong 2007

Third Base

-2006: Maicer Izturis and Chone Figgins vs. 2007: Chone Figgins and Maicer Izturis

Chone Figgins' 2006 offensive campaign was his worst to date.  Marred with inconsistency at the plate and a shoddy glove in the field, he became a liability on both sides of the game.  Statistics would say that he suffered from a stroke of bad luck in which he would put the ball in play, but have nothing to show for it.  What matters most, however, is that he just wasn't contributing.  Maicer Izturis, however, was.  As a pleasant surprise both in the field and at the plate, Izturis gave Angels fans reason to be excited when his name was in the lineup card.  2007, however, has seen a complete turnaround for Desmond DeChone.  After a terrible start that had fans screaming for a trade, Figgins has turned it on for the last 2 1/2 months, and no one has found the off-switch.  Batting .133 through his first 25 games, Figgins has since hit .413 in his next 61 games, and has notched 31 stolen bases (as many as Ichiro, despite Figgins missing a month).  Figgins has continued to play a marginal defense, but what he has done on the offensive side has more than offset this.  Izturis, as stated previously, has been a clutch performer for the team.  Edge: Strong 2007

Catcher

-2006: Mike Napoli/Jose Molina/Jeff Mathis vs. 2007: Mike Napoli/Jose Molina/Jeff Mathis

Mike Napoli proved to be the surprise player of 2006 for the Angels.  Despite finishing the season with a .228 batting average, his ability to draw walks and hit the long ball made him a key offensive contributor.  Napoli filled in that season for Jeff Mathis, who took little time in getting sent back down to Triple-A due to his poor offensive performance.  Jose Molina was a predictably solid game caller and defensive catcher, with an equally predictable black hole of a bat in the lineup.  2007 has seen Napoli continue to put up good power numbers, while also bringing his batting average up to .253.  However, injuries have kept him from playing full time, and the trade that sent Jose Molina to the Yankees has forced Jeff Mathis into a regular role, in which he has had only marginal improvement over his production from a year ago.  Due to these injuries, and the increased playing time of Mathis/absence of Molina, this position has become an ever-so-slightly larger liability, even if it does have room to improve.  Edge: Weak 2006

Right Field

-2006: Vladimir Guerrero vs. 2007: Vladimir Guerrero

I won't need a terribly long summary for this one.  People will tell you Vlad's power has dropped off (don't listen to the pundits, it's not the Home Run Derby, as his homer-less streak pre-dated it) in 2007, but they would be overlooking the large increase in doubles (37 already in 2007, compared to 30 in all of 2006), and the directly comparable slugging percentages (2006: .552, 2007: .542).  Guerrero, however, has increased his on-base percentage by 27 points and continues to be the biggest piece of the offense.  This is to say nothing of his ~130 RBI pace.  Then again, he wasn't exactly a liability in 2006, either.  Edge: Weak 2007

Center Field

-2006: Chone Figgins vs. 2007: Gary Matthews Jr.

Chone Figgins, as stated in the second base summary, was a liability on both offense and defense in 2006.  Not surprisingly, speed alone did not make Figgins a viable center field option.  As for 2007, I have one question for you: When was the last time you heard anyone say "Garbage Matthews Jr."?  In fact, when was the last time anyone complained about him being in the lineup at all.  Matthews has been a pleasantly surprising offensive contributor.  His solid .786OPS and 65 runs driven in have only been half of his game.  In the field, Matthews has turned a grand slam into a long third out, made shoestring catches look routine, and sprawled out to turn gappers into just another line out in the box score.  Edge: Strong 2007

Left Field

-2006: Garret Anderson/Juan Rivera vs. 2007: Reggie Willits/Garret Anderson

The deference to veterans that Mike Scioscia has been known to give during his Angels' tenure was on show in 2006.  Despite merely average offensive production (and if you listen to the Garret Anderson haters, 'terrible' production), Anderson received consistent playing time with the team.  His one bright spot on offense was his ability to drive in a lot of runs, regardless of playing time.  His above average level of play in left field was often looked at as being lazy and horrid, despite statistics to the contrary.  However, the amount of playing time he received was just not warranted by what he did at the plate.  Juan Rivera turned out huge for the Angels, slugging .525 in 116 starts.  He batted .310 for the team, and had 13 outfield assists to his resumé.  2007 has seen something of a resurgence from Garret Anderson, with an increase in production at the plate when he has been healthy, as well as solid coverage of left field.  Anderson, however, has not been the story for the Angels in left-field this year.  After Juan Rivera broke his leg playing baseball in the offseason, Reggie Willits became a regular fixture in the lineup, starting on April 16th.  Despite a midseason slump that threatened to bring him to the bench for a time, Willits has managed to make himself a .300 hitter who is a threat to steal any base at any time.  He brings passion to the team, and hustles on every single ball hit his way in left.  He is as much the story in left field in 2007 as Rivera was in 2006.  It's tough to call either one of them a more important fixture.  Edge: Toss-up

Designated Hitter


-2006: Tim Salmon/Garret Anderson/Vladimir Guerrero vs. Shea Hillenbrand/Vladimir Guerrero/Garret Anderson

Once again, the designated hitter role in 2007 has been primarily used for Mike Scioscia to rest tired outfielders or give a spot in the order to a player who can't field well enough to get in the lineup as a glove and bat.  The major difference, however, is that in 2007 that bat was Shea Hillenbrand.  In 2006, it was Tim Salmon.  I don't think I need to say another word on the topic to know where this is going.  Edge: Strong 2006

Starting Rotation

-2006: John Lackey/Ervin Santana/Kelvim Escobar/Jered Weaver/Jeff Weaver/Joe Saunders vs. John Lackey/Kelvim Escobar/Jered Weaver/Ervin Santana/Bartolo Colon/Joe Saunders

The one thing everyone remembers best about the 2006 rotation was the tale of two Weavers.  Mediocre veteran Jeff Weaver was supposed to be the arm that would help shore-up a solid starting rotation.  Instead, he was woefully awful, going 3-10 with a 6.29ERA and bringing nothing to the team other than a stud hitting prospect named Terry Evans in a midseason trade.  The man who replaced him, his at-the-time 23 year old brother Jered, won as many games as Jeff did for the Angels (3) in his first 3 starts with the team.  He finished at 11-2 with a 2.56ERA, and would have been a major candidate for Rookie of the Year, if not for his relatively late permanent call-up.  John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar continued to be studs in 2006, putting up mid-3 ERAs, but not getting the win-loss records they may have deserved.  Ervin Santana proved himself to be a solid contributor, leading the team in wins (16) with a steady 4.28ERA.  Joe Saunders was a viable go-to option, if somewhat inconsistent.

The 2007 season has been an incredibly mixed bag for the Angels.  On the one hand, they have two Cy Young candidates in Escobar and Lackey, who have been nothing short of flat-out brilliant.  John Lackey is tied for the Major League lead in wins with 15, while Escobar is second to only Dan Haren in ERA in the American League with a 2.74 mark.  Jered Weaver has had a solid season with the Angels after missing the first two weeks of the season.  His 7-5 record would be better if not for his fluctuating run support, and his 3.94ERA has been somewhat inflated by a small handful of rough starts.  Joe Saunders has stepped in beautifully when asked to throughout the season.  He has gone 6-0, with a 3.46ERA in nine starts, and has taken his big league call-ups and Triple-A send-downs better than you could have possibly expected him to.  The mixed bag comes courtesy of Ervin Santana and Bartolo Colon.  Santana, despite flashes of brilliance throughout the season, became unbearably burdensome by July 17th, when the Angels had to send him down to Triple-A to figure things out.  His home and away splits (4-2, 3.42ERA at home, vs. 1-9, 8.79ERA on the road) underlie a confidence and poise issue for the youngster, who is likely to figure things out since he is only 24 years old.  Bartolo Colon, on the other hand, started the season giving Angels fans hope that he would rebound from 2006 injury issues to again become a solid starter.  However, after going 5-0 with a 3.69ERA in his first six starts, he proceeded to go 1-6 with a 9.26ERA in his next ten starts before going on the disabled list, perhaps to never pitch as an Angel again (this is his last year under contract with the team, although if he recovers from injury, it may give room for management to give him one last shot).  However, with the absence of Jeff Weaver, and the emergence of Lackey and Escobar as potentially the best 1-2 punch in baseball, this rotation has shown marked improvement.  Edge: Moderate 2007

Bullpen

-2006: Kevin Gregg/Hector Carrasco/J.C. Romero/Brendan Donnelly/Scot Shields/Francisco Rodriguez vs. Chris Bootcheck/Dustin Moseley/Darren Oliver/Justin Speier/Scot Shields/Francisco Rodriguez

No fan of the 2006 Angels wants to be reminded of how big of a disaster J.C. Romero was.  Not only did he get hit harder than Bobby Cox's wife, but he was traded in exchange for a solid infield prospect in Alexi Casilla.  Hector Carrasco was a solid, inoffensive middle relief arm, as were Donnelly and Gregg.  The back end of the bullpen offered Scot Shields and Francisco Rodriguez as the best set-up man/closer combination in baseball during the 2006 season.

It didn't take long for Hector Carrasco to find his way out of a job with the Angels in 2007.  He was hit hard, and promptly released.  Darren Oliver, a free agent acquisition during the offseason, started the year slow (and, in this writer's opinion, rather unduly criticized).  However, since giving up a run during a May 31st apperance, Oliver has had a 2.39ERA over 26 1/3 innings.  Moseley, after starting off the year as both a bullpen arm and spot-starter that could get men out with regularity, has been hit hard recently, relegating himself to a much smaller role, despite Carassco's absence.  Chris Bootcheck has filled in well, showing the ability to get tough outs when needed, and taking on mop-up duty as well as a reliever can.  The real story however, has been the back end of the bullpen once more.  Justin Speier has joined the bullpen, turning baseball's best 8th and 9th inning tandem into arguably baseball's best 7th, 8th, and 9th inning trio.  Shields has been a stud (with, as expected, the occasional hiccup) and even with Francisco Rodriguez's increased ERA, he has not given fans reason to worry for long, as he still closes games out regularly  Edge: Moderate 2007


Coaching Staff

-2006: Mike Scioscia/Bud Black/Mickey Hatcher/Dino Ebel/Alfredo Griffin/Ron Roenicke vs. 2007: Mike Scioscia/Mike Butcher/Mickey Hatcher/Dino Ebel/Alfredo Griffin/ Ron Roenicke

Mike Scioscia is more of the same, which means more small-ball, and more games in the win column than most any Angel manager in history.  He's perhaps learning lessons from the Steve Finley and Edgardo Alfonzo saga, however, after putting both Shea Hillenbrand and Hector Carrasco on short leashes before cutting them out of the team.  Mike Butcher, if he is to be blamed for Ervin Santana's struggles on the mound, must also be given some credit for keeping Jered Weaver as a solid contributor and for keeping John Lackey as one of the best in the league while also overseeing Kelvim Escobar's incredible emergence.  Hatcher continues to be loathed by fans for his swing-first, ask-questions-later teachings at the plate, but the team's offense continues to be a solid year-in, and year-out contributor to the well being of the ballclub.  Ron Roenicke and Alfredo Griffin are fan favorites and longtime mainstays with the franchise, bringing both a positive influence and a steady hand to Scioscia's clubhouse.  Dino Ebel continues to be more exciting to watch as third base coach than half of the leadoff men in the game today.  Edge: Toss-Up/Weak 2007

Overall: Strong Edge to 2007 club

Projected record: 96-66
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Aug. 11th, 2007 @ 06:58 am Dodgers to fans: "Fuck You!"
According to dodgers.mlb.com, the Dodgers have signed IF Shea Hillenbrand to a Triple-A contract with Las Vegas.  I know the first thought of a lot of people is going to be "but it's just a minor league contract".

Blah blah blah.

This man is a vile piece of human waste.  I call him human because I'm in a good mood, too.  The mere fact that the Dodgers want anything to do with this disgusting malcontent says volumes about what they must think of their current Major League offense.  Being shut out three days in a row must do some wickedly awful things to one's head.  Shea Hillenbrand?  Are you fucking kidding me?  Why not sign me instead.  The guy is a career 97 OPS+ loser.  The hardest hit ball he ever hit with the Angels ended up being chased back to the screen by an opposing catcher before falling back out of play.

No, wait...I take that back.  He hit 3 home runs with the Angels.  I think their combined distance in feet was about half of Bartolo Colon's weight in pounds.  Good lord.  There's just not enough space in here to ridicule this guy.  Not enough words to describe him.  What do the Dodgers possibly want with him?  Has the slump of future star James Loney really been that difficult to weather for the front office?

Major League Baseball...I beg of you.  Boycott Hillenbrand.  Never offer this man another contract, ever again.  Please.
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Aug. 9th, 2007 @ 08:23 pm Paging Tonya Harding. Paging Tonya Harding.

From angelsbaseball.com:


Health updates:
Bartolo Colon is about to test his right elbow throwing from a mound in a bullpen session scheduled for Friday, a "touch and feel" session, Scioscia said.

Colon has been on the disabled list since July 24. He has been throwing long toss on flat ground and, "Still needs to test his arm aggressively in the bullpen with all his pitches, and that's going to take some time," Scioscia said.

There is no target date yet for his return to game action, but Scioscia said he'll have rehab outings in the Minor Leagues before rejoining the Angels.


I hope that I don't need to tell you all why this can't be allowed to happen.  Please, for the love of God, someone do something to make this not happen.  Why is it even being discussed?  Why are we talking about letting the Bartolo Colon to come off the disabled list and back into our rotation?  Do the Angels not like first place or something?

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