Thursday, March 26, 2015

By Glen McKee, Junior Prognosticator - 

One of my favorite parts of spring training is looking to the season ahead and seeing how many predictions I can make that will totally miss the mark.  It’s a hallowed tradition that ranks right up there with giving up on the season after a two-game skid in the second week of April.  There are as many different methods of prediction as there are people making predictions.  Some use statistics to project future performance.  Some rely on instinct.  Still others, like me, just pull stuff out of their Puig and hope it comes true.  Each method, I might add, is equally valuable.  My predictions are no worse or better than what you get from Fangraphs, or from the homers for any other team.  Here is what I think will happen for the Angels and the rest of baseball in 2015.

I don’t know who will be the starting 2B on opening day.  However, I do know that the starting 2B after the All-Star break won’t be the same player.  Scioscia loves platoons and 2B is the most ripe platoon situation the Angels have had since Napoli and Mathis were “tastes great!” and “less filling!” In other words, nobody will run away with the job.

Albert Pujols will hit fewer than 25 HR.  I’ve gone back-and-forth on this prediction a few times.  It’s so hard to say what we’ll get from Pujols this year.  His stats from last year seem OK, but when compared to his first year here – which was widely considered to be a disappointment – they’re down almost across the board.  Some decline is to be expected as he continues to get Dominican older, but how much is normal for him?  I think this year is gonna be the year we really feel the weight of his contract as his numbers continue to decline.  I hope I’m wrong.    

Something will happen with Josh Hamilton.  He might be suspended for the season, or it might be 20 games.  He might return in the middle of the season and go on an absolute tear, or he might suck like a jet engine.  I don’t know what it will be, but by God something will happen with him.  Mark my words.

Trout will steal more bases than he did last year.  Without a doubt.  He’ll steal way more than last year’s paltry 16, and he’ll continue to steal my heart.  How can you steal what is already stolen?

Mike Scioscia will spend a lot of time looking vaguely confused.  This one is too easy.

Kole Calhoun will have a breakout year.  The ginger is gonna kick ass like he’s wearing butt-seeking boots.  This will be the year that everybody learns his name.  He’ll be so good that he’ll get two promotions in 2016.  Kole Calhoun “Ginger Hair Dye Night” and Kole Calhoun Something Something Night.”  I hope the second give-away comes in my size.

The starting pitching will be a strength throughout the year.  I know that Heaney and Tropeano have yet to show us anything in ST, and Wilson is already looking sorta like end-of-last-season Wilson.  However, Shoe is rounding into form, Richards is close to being back, and Weaver will continues to lose speed on his fastball but pitch well (in Anaheim).  That’s a nice 1-2-3.  Wilson will bounce back to be a good #4 starter and somebody (Drew, I’m lookin’ at you) will eventually lock down the #5 spot.    Next year looks even better, when we have Duke Newcomb competing for a spot and that dude who had TJ surgery – you know, Skaggs, lives upstairs – back in the fold as well.
Our defense will be bad.  Losing Howie is a big part of this.  Nobody scheduled to replace him can match his fielding, and for the first time in about 25 years Aybar will have somebody different to start the double-play with.  Aybar will continue to be awesome, but Freese will be Freese, LF will be average, Trout will pick up a bit from last year (I hope), and Calhoun will be solid.  Catcher, from a defensive aspect (i.e. throwing out attempted base-stealers and framing pitches) will continue to be a weak spot.  Get ready for some errors and quite a few unearned runs.

Mike Trout will be somewhat forgotten by casual baseball fans this year.  Joc Pederson and Kris Bryant are gonna be the new shiny objects for MLB and as Pederson is a Dodger, look out.  Bryant will be a large part of the story of the resurgence of the Cubs, along with Joe Maddon, so he’ll get a lot of attention too (and rightfully so, if his spring training is any indication).  

Predictions for the rest of the league

Surprisingly good team: Miami Marlins.  They’ve been putting together some pieces for a while now and will make the big jump to the playoffs this year.  It’s their reward for that god-awful sculpture that may or may not still be in their stadium; I’m a bit afraid to check to see if it’s still there. 

Surprisingly bad team: The Boston Red Sox.  This is also karma because of all the slobbering over them right now, and forever in the past.  Forget last-to-first-to-last-to-first; they’re gonna go last-to-first-to-last-to-last and I will enjoy every last game of their continued suckitude.  Runner up: The Oakland As.  Billy Beane’s temper-tantrum will doom them to finish below the Astros (but still above the decimated Rangers).  More karma.
Surprisingly good player (non-Angels edition): Matt Kemp.  Yes, I know he’s playing in Petco.  I also know he was on fire at the end of last season and he has a lot to prove.  Plus, fuck the Dodgers. Matty K is gonna challenge for MVP this year.  

Surprisingly bad player (non-Angels edition): Jayson Werth.  Dude is gonna tank this year, because the Nats will need somebody to blame for not living up to expectations. 

Who will win the divisions and wild cards? Division winners: Blue Jays, Tigers, Angels, Marlins, Pirates, Dodgers.  Wild cards: White Sox, Mariners, Cubs, Padres.

Self-serving World Series prediction? Marlins versus Angels.  Angels in six.  Hell yeah.  

Monday, March 23, 2015

There's something about Don Baylor that makes teams win. Almost everywhere he played, success followed. Not only was he the first Angels MVP in 1979, he helped the club win its first-ever pennant. Later in his career, he again showed his leadership and success by leading three different teams to the postseason in three consecutive years (1986-1988).

Known as "Groove," Baylor was a fearsome hitter who crowded the plate and is 4th all-time in getting hit by the pitch. As a player, Baylor knew how to command the strike zone. In a career that spanned 19 years in the Majors, Baylor only had 1 season in which he struck out more than 100 times. During his MVP season, he walked more times than he struck out (71 BBs to 51 Ks) while slugging 36 homeruns and driving in 139 RBIs.

With all of his success on the field, it was not surprising when the Angels - a team that he still wants to help win a World Series - brought him back to be the Hitting Coach. And, for long-time fans, it wasn't all that surprising that in his first year back that success and the postseason returned to the Angels. was very pleased to welcome Don Baylor as our special guest during the Fanfest Dinner this year. Covering topics from how he got his nickname, to his mentors, to memories from his time as a player, and how he works as a coach, this is a must-watch interview where we asked the questions that you, the fans, wanted asked.

Please click below to watch the interview with the Angels Hitting Coach Don Baylor.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Interview Conducted by Dave Saltzer, Senior Writer - 

If you're an Angels fan and missed our #AWFanFest15 in Tempe, AZ, you need to watch the below video of our hour with Los Angeles Angels GM, Jerry Dipoto. 

Jerry eloquently answers several questions from our staff and fans in attendance, delivering rich insightful information that every Angels fan abroad should hear. 

When you're finished watching the video your baseball IQ will skyrocket. We're lucky to have Dipoto behind the helm. 


By Glen McKee, Hater-In-Residence - 

Let me preface my decision by first examining what hate is, before I get complaints.  The very first definition of hate on is “to dislike intensely or passionately.”  See, hate is about passion!  Ergo, hating a baseball team is not only healthy, but indicative of those feelings things that women profess to love.  Everybody wins when you hate a little bit.  

With that out of the way, there are certainly plenty of choices for the most hated team of 2015.  The Yankees are perpetually a solid choice, and the Red Sox have come up right next to them after 10 years or so of utter obnoxiousness.  Dodgers?  Check.  Definitely worthy of hate.  You could find a reason to hate any team, but which team is #1?

Of course it’s the Red Sox 

 photo HATE1_zps4ukm3d2z.png

Is there any doubt at all?  No, there isn’t.  Back before 2004 when Boston finally won their first World Series, they were right there with the Cubs in the “loveable losers” club.  Sure, their self-deprecation was a bit cloying but they had reason for misery.  Then, they won the World Series and the arrogance crept in.  It didn’t take long for their self-pity to turn into self-glorification.  They repeated as champions in 2007, and then again in 2013.  It’s been a great last 11 years for their obnoxious, idiotic fans.  2015 is particularly dangerous if you hate the Red Sox like you should, because there’s the potential of them going from last-to-first-to-last-to-first, something that has probably never happened before in baseball.  Jobu help us all if that happens.  Just imagine how much worse ESPN (I know, we don’t listen to/watch that station, but still) would be if that happens.

Even my beloved MLB Network would be unbearable for a while.  And imagine the Sox fans.  I’ll give you a moment to do that and then throw up.

OK, you’re back?  Good.  See how horrible that would be?  Just the thought of it possibly happening, months in advance, makes you like you just ate five Taco Bell burritos (or whatever vaguely Mexican name they’re calling the crap they now serve) in a row.  That’s not just bad, it’s hideous.  It’s repulsive, unspeakable, ghastly, and about seven other synonyms that popped up in Microsoft Word.

It must not happen. 

Are you with me?  Good.  What we need to keep that from happening is to concentrate our hatred on the Red Sox, and if we get enough people to do that, they’re bound to fail.  It’s simple physics.  Ya know that old guy we all know, the one who smokes and drinks and bitches about everything, and yet is still alive?  He’s alive because he’s seething with hatred, and hatred keeps you alive.  It’s unfinished business, and our collective unfinished business (hated) with/of the Red Sox will keep them from achieving that dreadful plateau.  We can’t let that happen.  I’d rather see the Dodgers win the World Series, playing against the Yankees, than see the Red Sox win this year.  

Still not with me yet?  OK, look at this picture.  Look at it!

 photo HATE2_zpswyyuqlm1.png

First off, there’s that oh-so-carefully sculpted facial hair.  He probably doesn’t even do it himself, he just hires a man-boy wearing a loincloth to touch him up before every game or public appearance.  

What a douche.  Second, there’s the fact that he tested positive for steroids in 2003 and nobody seems to care.  For the record, I don’t much care about steroids either way, but since they’re a big deal shouldn’t Ortiz get some of the heat?  Fucking chowd.  Finally, there’s his nickname: Big Papi.  If you want to despair for humanity just watch/listen to the broadcast of any game he’s in, and count how many times that sobriquet is used.  Our announcers do it to, and I hate them just a little bit for doing it. 

Want more reasons to hate Ortiz?  Glad you asked.  This gif shows you everything you need to know about him, in three seconds: 

How could you root for a team with this guy?  That’s not being competitive; that’s being a giant, colossal douchebag.  Nothing could excuse that kind of behavior.

I could give you many more reasons to hate Boston – Dustin Pedroia the rat-boy (who will outperform by far whomever we have at 2B this year and god, I wish he was on the Angels, but he’s on the Sox so he’s rat-boy) is waiting on-deck, and the constant over-hyping of Boston prospects is in the hole – but if I haven’t convinced you already, you’re beyond convincing.  Go waste your hate on some other team that isn’t as worthy of it.
So I’m not convinced about the Red Sox.  Who is the #2 team to hate?

Well, guess what, buttercup – the #2 team is also the Red Sox.  They’re that bad.  Trust me on this.

OK, who is the next team after the Red Sox?

Fair question.  In just about any other season the Yankees would be the #1a team but they’ve had a few down years and look to be down even more this year.  The Jeets is gone, and they don’t have any notable star players.  I’d say they’re rebuilding but they’re too old for that.  They’re just deteriorating and thus not worthy of hate.  They’re not worthy of pity either, so don’t even think about that.  No, look no further than a few miles north on the 5 freeway.
 photo Hate3_zpsflmoayk6.png

Yep, it’s the Dodgers.  My hatred for them had simmered off over the last decade or so, while the Angels were doing well and the Dodgers were sucking goat knobs.  It was great.  Then, suddenly, the Angels declined for a handful of years and the Dodgers got new ownership and decided to become the Yankees of the west coast.  That was all their dopey fans needed to crawl out from under their bridges (or get parole) and start bragging again.  Here’s how insufferable their fans are: last season, the Angels had the best record in baseball but choked in the division round of the playoff series, getting swept by the eventual AL champs.  The Dodgers won their division but also lost in the divisional round, but managed to put up one win in the series.  This led to their fans claiming the Dodgers did better than the Angels last year.
Yeah, I know.  What a bunch of dopes.  

During the offseason they remade their team, and part of that remake was trading for Howie Kendrick, one of my favorite Angels.  It’s gonna suck seeing Howie in Dodger blue, just like it did when GA went up north.  I can’t wish ill luck on Howie but I can hope that he is the one shining star in an otherwise disastrous year for the Dodgers.  I hope the Dodgers are terrible and that they tie the Red Sox for the worst record in baseball this season.  I never wish injury on a player but outside of Howie I hope everybody on their team has a complete meltdown and puts up the worst numbers of their career.  And I hope this guy is on hand to witness every miserable inning of their meltdown:

 photo Hate4_zpssfam1rzb.png

I could never wish personal ill on Lasorda because I respect a guy who roots for his team no matter what.  It’s just a shame that for him that team is the Dodgers, so yeah, I want him to be baseball miserable for the rest of the year.  I’m petty enough that I would derive some pleasure from his pain.


So there ya go – three teams to hate this year.  You know you want to do it.  Rooting for a team is fun, but rooting against a team has its own pleasures.  Life calls for balance.  Don’t neglect your hate.

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