Friday, August 22, 2014

By Rob Goldman, Historical Writer - 

When people ask me about Mike Scioscia, the first thing I say is that he runs a great clubhouse. The atmosphere is so conducive to winning; it is unlike any I have ever experienced. From the player personnel to the coaches on his staff, it all seems to jell inside the inner confines of the ballpark. Make no mistake, it is all a part of his master plan. Every spring the seeds of team chemistry are sown in what most players would say is the best-run training camp in the game. Just about anyone new to the Angels comments on how much fun that morning meeting is and how it sets the tone for the days work. Scioscia creates a mood of excitement that really builds team unity and camaraderie.

My favorite memory of Scioscia occurred in one such Spring Training morning meeting. But first I have to give some background about the situation. Sosh is big on player introductions and getting to know some of the new or younger guys on the team. Humor is usually the icebreaker, and a player’s ability to play along with it is key. Often a player’s favorite hobby or activity provides the fodder necessary for his comic genius. Typically, the result will be a “project” for the player to bring back to the team meeting on a later date.

To use an example, a player from Texas, John Lackey’s home state, might be required to put together a chart featuring all the current Angels players from Texas and any pertinent information about them. Sosh usually finds a way to make the situation hilarious. He is a prankster—and he won’t get bent out of shape when the joke’s on him. One spring training, Sosh dispatched a couple rookies to the local renaissance fair. Their assignment was to give an investigative report and videotape the medieval festivities for the team. Unbeknownst to Sosh, the rookies had a little support from some of the veterans, looking to turn the tables on the manager. Taking one of Sosh’s jerseys with them, these guys were able to recruit a renaissance actor to team up with them in their ploy. 

The actor weighed about 350 pounds and sported long hair and a shaggy beard. Squeezing him into Sash’s jersey, they made sure he was in the background of every scene, doing subtle but weird things. During a sword-swallower demonstration, the 350-pound behemoth was in the background simulating the feat with a turkey leg bigger than a Louisville Slugger. The background effect wasn’t noticed immediately, but when it was, it was priceless. There were several similar scenes, and as the video ran, everybody picked up on it—except for one person. Sosh was oblivious that the joke was on him. 

The final shot featured Shakespearean actors performing in front of a giant Trojan rocking horse. After several moments the camera gradually panned  up the rocking horse, and the huge guy in the Scioscia jersey was rocking away on it like a little kid, and yelling “Wheeeeee!”

After the roar of laughter, Sosh finally caught on to the prank,demanding to know what was so funny. When his hefty screen counterpart was pointed out wearing his jersey, nobody laughed harder than Sosh. In fact the tape was rewound so Sosh could see what he had been missing  out on all along. Seeing Mike’s hysterical response was almost as funny as the video. You can learn a lot about people who can laugh at themselves. When the Angels hired Mike Scioscia as manager in 2000, there were some questions about what they were getting in a rookie manager. The previous coaching staff had been cleaned out from top to bottom, so Scioscia had to come in and clean up the mess. Names like Jim Fregosi and other veteran managers had been thrown around, so I was a little bit surprised when they went with a first-time manager. As history would have it, he ended up being the wise choice. He gave the team a transfusion of Dodgers blood: the tradition of excellence, the philosophy of doing things right from top to bottom.

Love or hate them, the Dodgers have always played a style of ball that includes manufacturing runs and a reliance on great pitching and defense. An emphasis on stable pitching and sound defensive play was ingrained in Sosh, and he brought it with him across town to Anaheim. He figured that with the right kind of hitters, runs can be manufactured, but good pitching and defense are mainstays that require constant emphasis. The Angels, on the other hand, had enjoyed some great offensive clubs and solid defenses, but holes in pitching were a constant problem. From day one, the manager’s main focus was pitching and defense.

One reason Mike is such a successful manager is his preparation. With the help of his coaching staff, there is not one aspect of the game that is overlooked. A master planner, he has every conceivable drill, scenario, and option available to him covered by the time he gets to spring training. In the last couple of years I’ve had the privilege of sitting in Mike’s spring-training staff meetings. I have always come away impressed with his sound input in every facet of team preparation. He is a micromanager at times, but it is because he understands what needs to be done in every aspect of the game. This is the reason he’s rarely caught off guard. He has planned for every possible scenario far in advance.

Mike was a gritty, hard-nosed player in his day and understands what players respond to. He also possesses a sophisticated understanding of the game. It is in the finer points of the game where he is most impressive. Countless times I have passed by his office and seen him sitting at his desk scouring the stat sheets or reading the MLB rules handbook. He analyzes complex numbers and on-base percentages, thinking beyond the box and translating it into a game-day strategy. He can break down these 21st-century stats like very few other managers can. And how about all the times Sosh runs on the field to argue a call? Those poor umpires are in for an education. I guarantee that he knows more about the rules in the book than most of those umpires do. Often you will see Sosh question the most innocuous play and think there can’t possibly be anything to argue about. But trust me, he is always looking to stretch the boundaries of the rulebook, taking advantage of any gray area that might benefit him. On the rare occasions when he is wrong, you can find him after the game, flipping through his worn-out rulebook and looking for a loophole.

He is consistently able to see the whole picture. The game is not a sprint but a marathon, and that concept is central to his managerial decision-making. Many times managers get caught up in the mindset of Win today and worry about tomorrow when it comes. If this is done without planning and discretion, it can cause all kinds of problems over the course of a season. While winning is always a priority, Sosh isn’t afraid to rest a key player or hold off rushing someone back from the DL in favor of guaranteeing their long-term health and production. It is his patience and perspective that keep him from making rash decisions. Sure, it helps to have a deep bench or good minor league talent from which to draw, but those are other aspects of his preparedness. Coming out of spring training, he knows exactly which players can help him on the bench or in the minors, and he makes sure that they are ready to contribute when called upon. It is a message that is heard loud and clear throughout the organization: Be ready, because he’s not afraid to use you if needed.

Most people don’t know that Sosh is a bit of a master psychologist. Just ask any player or newspaper reporter who has sat on his couch in his office. Anyone who has been on that couch usually finds himself walking out the door having agreed to something but not exactly sure what it is they agreed to or why. It is Sosh’s unique ability to sway just about anyone to his position. I can’t tell you how many times I walked into his office determined to do one thing and came out wondering how I’d just been talked into doing just the opposite. Many a player has stormed into his office hell-bent on rejecting a day off only to leave his office convinced that he probably could use one.

The man has a golden tongue. As a motivator, he’s in touch with the inner workings of his personnel, and he knows what makes them click. Part of his process involves breaking down the old-school barriers that kept the veterans and the rookies in their “proper” places. Under Sosh, the playing field is level—and that includes the clubhouse. Egos are checked at the locker room door. Young guys still need to rely on the veteran leadership, but they need to know they are respected and accountable for doing their part, just like the veterans. Having that comfort level is something that has helped build team unity and chemistry.

I believe it is a combination of all these attributes that provided what the Angels organization needed to get over the hump and win our first-ever world championship in 2002. Mike’s focus on the little things leaves nothing to fall between the cracks. His mantra of “one game at a time, one inning, one at-bat, one pitch,” has narrowed everyone’s approach down to the smallest controllable detail. His managerial prowess is no better bolstered than by the fact that two of his former coaches are now big-league managers. I’m sure that there will be more to come as organizations seek to tap into his methodologies and pluck those disciples out from under him.

Sosh’s influence has not gone unnoticed in me. I have had the opportunity to be around him as a player and now in retirement as a guest coach in spring training. As I become more involved in my own kids’ lives, coaching their Little League teams, I often find myself quoting Sosh’s mantras to the kids. Managerial trends are part of all professional sports. Every decade or so, someone comes up with a new style of coaching that sets a new trend. Without a doubt, the Angels were lucky to land a manager like Mike Scioscia and get on the front end of that wave. I’m convinced when it is all said and done, he will go down as not only one of the all-time great managers in Angels history but in the history of the game as well.

© 2006, Always an Angel, Playing the Game with Fire and Faith by Tim Salmon and Rob Goldman

Thursday, August 21, 2014

By Toby Hunt, Staff Writer -

I've only written a few short articles for in my time as a contributor, and as most of you know, my articles are based on satire. When Garrett Richards went down last night I thought about writing a funny article to lighten up the mood a bit. But to be honest, I'm not really in a "humorous" mood right now. How could I be? The Angels just lost their best pitcher in the middle of a pennant race. I'm sure most Angels fans will sympathize with me. Losing G-Rich for what will likely be the remainder of the season is a kick in the gut. It feels like the Angels just blew a 4 run lead in the 9th inning of game 7 of the World Series. An already thin pitching staff just lost their ace, their leader, and their best pitcher. At this point, any hopes of making the postseason, let alone winning the division, have been completely destroyed, right? I mean the pundits are already writing off the team as we speak and the words "derail" and "free-fall" are being thrown around sports sites and message boards.

We like to use the word "demoralizing" a lot on AngelsWin. And honestly, never has there been a more appropriate time to use it than now. The Angels have to be completely demoralized , like the wind just got knocked out of them. Garrett is not only seen as a leader on the field for the team heading towards the promised land, but as a great friend and teammate to many of the players. I'll bet the team is more concerned about Garrett the person right now than Garrett the baseball player. This injury has taken the wind out of their sails, and there is simply no way for them to recover from this, right?

Well, let's talk about "demoralizing" again. We as fans are completely demoralized right now. For many of us, the world just ended. Our hopes and dreams for this season have been dashed and things just aren't looking good for us right now. But you know what is funny about that? While we sat at our computers and used our phones to begin writing the eulogy for the 2014 Angels baseball season, something else was happening: The Angels were winning. The team that was obviously so demoralized came back after being down 3-0, after losing their ace, after having their hearts in their throats, and scored 8 unanswered runs to win the game. So I gotta ask, is it the team that's demoralized, or just the fans? You would think that a team so obviously shaken up would have just put their heads down and accepted their fate, kind of like we did here on Angelswin. I suppose the Halos aren't quite ready to do that just yet.

Let us once again talk about that word. "Demoralizing". The Angels' nemesis, the Oakland A's, have made some huge trades this season. They brought in Jeff Samardzija, and more recently Jon Lester. Their rotation is now arguably the best in the bigs. When the Lester trade went down, many fans here were, once again, demoralized. How could the Angels compete with Oakland now?

Just 11 days ago, the Angels had lost a lot of ground on the A's. They went from being just 1 game back to 4 games back in just a few days. Things were looking pretty bleak for this team. The fans were demoralized. This looked to be the point where the A's pulled away from the Angels and buried them for good. And obviously, the team felt demoralized as well. Or, as history would like to put it, the Angels fought back and in just 6 days had a share of first place for the first time since 2011. Early 2011. The A's have now lost 8 of their last 10, and are now looking up at the Angels instead of behind. You want to talk about "demoralizing"? How about going from having a 4 game lead to being down by 1.5 games in 11 freakin' days!

So now we talk about the future, the final 37 games of the season. How can the Angels maintain and even expand their lead in the division after what happened? The A's are licking their chops as we speak. In their minds, the Angels are "demoralized". They just got kicked in the nuts, and are now ready to "derail" as the pundits are putting it. But you want to know what would be truly demoralizing? The Angels going into Oakland's house and f**king bitch slapping them. The proverbial finger wag would tell the A's that the Angels aren't giving up this division. They aren't going down that easy. The A's would have a lot of doubts in their minds after that.

We will continue using the word "demoralizing" often here, but in the end, it may honestly just be the fans who are the ones who are demoralized. Just look at last night as an example. The team on the field didn't look too down to me. In the end, the Halos know exactly what they need to do. So let's just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Monday, August 18, 2014

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By Adrian Noche, Staff Reporter - 

1. Dennis Raben, 1st Baseman, Inland Empire 66ers
Past 10 games: .417 AVG  15 H  1 Double  1 Triple  6 HR  3 SB
Overall: .296/.368/.586

Dennis Raben is playing like a man possessed out there in the California League. The hulking first baseman’s slash line currently sits at .296/./.368/.586. However, his numbers were not always this strong. On the first day of July, Raben’s slash line was an unimpressive .217/.308/.435. By the end of July, Raben was able raise his numbers to .264/.335/.504 thanks to a .350 batting average to go along with 7 home runs and 6 doubles. Somehow, Dennis has been able to make his July look like nothing compared to what he has done to the baseball in August. In 16 games this month, he is hitting .431 with 28 hits in 65 at-bats. Raben has already hit 10 home runs to go along with 1 double and 1 triple to give him an unreal .938 slugging percentage in August. Raben has what you would say, "light-tower power" from the left side of the plate and has 27 home runs on the season (T-3rd in Cal League). 

2. Bo Way, Center Fielder, Burlington Bees
Past 10 games: .425 AVG  17 H  0 Doubles  1 Triple  1 HR  1 SB
Overall: .353/.407/.537

Upon being drafted, Way got off to a hot start in Rookie League Orem. His final slash line with the Owlz before being called up was .354/.397/.554. Since reaching Low-A Burlington, Way has done more of the same with the Bees. So far in 15 games with Burlington, Way has a slash line of .350/.426/.500. Way also hit his first Low-A home run on Wednesday, part of an impressive 4-hit game. The center fielder has also shown a solid glove with no errors so far for the Bees this season.

3. Sherman Johnson, Second Baseman, Inland Empire 66ers
Past 10 games: .447 AVG  17 H  2 Doubles  3 Triples  2 HR  2 SB
Overall: .266/.375/.438

Sherman Johnson exploded with a huge week for the smoking hot 66ers. Sherman, once again, did it all and proved his versatility in the 66ers offense. As a leadoff hitter, Johnson managed to reach base a whopping 23 times. Johnson had 15 hits in 23 at bats (.652 AVG) and also walked an additional 8 times (.741 OBP). Once Johnson got on base, he was able to score 13 runs. Johnson also smacked 2 doubles, 2 home runs and 1 triple this week to go along with 8 RBIs in what should be a memorable week.

4. Eric Stamets, Shortstop, Arkansas Travelers
Past 10 games: .382 AVG  1613H  4 Doubles  0 Triple  1 HR  3 SB
Overall: .241/.306/.305

Eric Stamets’ average kept on climbing this week and is now at .241 on the season. Exactly a month ago, Stamets’ average was at a disappointing .193 on the season. Stamets has a slash line of .423/.434/.615 in 15 games so far in August. Eric’s glove is said to be enough to get him to the Major League’s alone and now a solid hit tool can distinguish Eric from being an everyday player or a defensive specialist.

5. Tyler DeLoach, Starting Pitcher, Arkansas Travelers
Last two starts: 1-0  12.0 IP  2.25 ERA  8 H  3 BB  19 SO  0.91 WHIP  .186 BAA
Overall: 12-4  3.00 ERA  129.0 IP  97 H  56 BB  145 SO  1.18 WHIP  .208 BAA

Tyler DeLoach has handled his promotion to Double-A about as well as you could have hoped. In three starts for the Travelers, DeLoach has won twice and has held opposing hitters to a .169 batting average. Tyler’s strikeout numbers have remained strong as well, as he boasts a K/9 of 12.2. The southpaw’s most recent start on Friday was a good one. DeLoach struck out 9 batters in 7.0 innings pitched and only gave up 1 hit and 2 walks. 

Minor League Affiliate Report:

Triple-A Salt Lake Bees

Despite going 5-2 this week, the Salt Lake Bees were officially eliminated from the playoffs. Their current standings has them with a record of 54-75. Roberto Lopez collected 9 hits in 25 at-bats this week, one being his 11th home run of the season. Newly acquired Ryan Wheeler has started off hot with his new team. Wheeler has batted .340 in 13 games with the Bees. Wade Leblanc won both his starts this week, giving up a combined 2 earned runs in 13 innings pitched while striking out 12 and walking 2. Cam Bedrosian notched his first AAA save on Sunday, giving up 1 earned run in 1.0 inning pitched.

Double-A Arkansas Travelers

The Travs went 2-4 this week but still lead the Texas League North by 6.0 games with a current record of 32-23. Third baseman, Kaleb Cowart, hit his 6th home run of the season on Friday (his first since June 19). 1st baseman, Brian Hernandez continued his solid campaign with a .375 for the week, raising his season average to .300. Hernandez has also homered in back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday, his 6th and 7th of the season. Buddy Boshers pitched 5.0 shutout innings while striking out 7 in a start on Wednesday. Boshers has done well bouncing in and out of the rotation when need be for the Travelers this season, with a 2.84 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 50.2 innings pitched. Jairo Diaz gave up his first earned run since July 20. Diaz currently has a K/9 of 12.6 for the Travelers this season.

High-A Inland Empire 66ers

The 66ers kept on rolling this week, going 6-1 and putting themselves in a tie for first place with a current record of 29-27. Outfielder, Chad Hinshaw, launched 3 homers this week (2 on Sunday) and collected 11 hits in 24 at-bats for the 66ers this week. Third baseman, Angel Rosa, has been playing well since receiving the call from Burlington earlier this season. Rosa has a slash line of .322/.364/.441 in 15 games played with the 66ers. Austin Wood made his return from his rehab assignment in the AZL on Wednesday. Wood struck out 1 in 3.0 shutout innings while giving up just 2 hits and no walks.

Low-A Burlington Bees

The Low-A Bees had a record of 3-3 this week and now sit 9.0 games behind with a current record of 26-29. Outfielder, Mike Fish, slugged his 9th home run of the season on Friday and collected 7 hits for a .318 average on the week. Sean Newcomb pitched in 2 games for the Bees this week. His first game was solid, as Newcomb struck out 3 in 3.1 innings pitched while surrendering 1 earned run on 2 hits and 1 walk. Newcomb struggled in his second game, Newcomb struck out 1 in 2.2 innings pitched while giving up 4 earned runs on 5 hits and 2 walks. Daniel Hurtado continued to pitch well this week with 5.0 innings of 1-run ball with 3 strikeouts. In the pen, Ben Carlson did not surrender a single hit in 4.2 innings pitched this week (4 K  2 BB).

Class-A Short Season Orem Owlz

The Owlz struggled and won only a single game this week (1-5) and currently sit in last place with a current record of 8-12 (5.0 GB). 1st baseman, Fran Whitten, carried the Owlz offense this week. Whitten collected 11 hits to go along with 2 home runs and 10 RBI’s  in 6 games for the Owlz. 4th round pick, Jeremy Rhoades, threw 3 shutout innings on Thursday (1 H  1 BB  1 SO). Eduardo Parades continued to be lights this season. The 19 year old currently boasts a 1.80 ERA and a 15.6 K/9 for the Owlz.

AZL Angels

The AZL Angels went 1-4 this week and sit 3.5 GB with a current record of 9-9. Ricardo Sanchez gave up 1 earned run in his start on Thursday. The southpaw pitched 4.0 innings and gave up 4 hits and 4 walks while striking out 5. 2nd round draft pick, Joe Gatto, gave up 5 hits, no walks and struck out 2 while surrendering 3 earned runs in 2.2 innings pitched on Monday. Eduar Lopez struck out 6 in 6.0 shutout innings on Wednesday. Lopez gave up just 3 hits and 2 walks.

Friday, August 15, 2014

AngelsRBI needs our help!   

As you probably know, Angels RBI has provided over 8,000 kids who would not otherwise have the chance, the opportunity to play baseball and softball.  Their goal is to get all the kids sponsored within this 2014 year, and we at want to help them achieve this goal!

One Child Sponsorship is only $250.00, which allows the child to play baseball or softball all year long.  Because Angels RBI reaches underserved kids within underserved communities, their goal is to keep the fee to play FREE to the child and their parents.  Once a child is committed and involved within Angels RBI, the league stresses education and continued education - graduating high school, going on to college, getting a job, and being a game changer within there communities.

We are going to establish a donations pool.  We will combine donations from everyone in the community who are interested in contributing to this wonderful organization, and then present a lump sum donation to Angels RBI.  We hope you’ll consider donating.  $5, $20, $100, $1000 … whatever amount you feel comfortable with.  No amount is too small.  

If you are interested, please send your donation via PayPal to:  In the notes section, please indicate “Angels RBI donation.”  

Please join us making major impact in these kid’s lives!  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

By Adrian Noche, Staff Reporter - 

Triple-A Salt Lake Bees
The Bees snapped a 5-game losing streak on Sunday, giving them a record of 1-5 this week. The Bees now own an overall record of 49-73 (19.5 GB). Shawn O’Malley collected 8 hits this week and raised his average to .332 on the season. Third baseman, Luis Jimenez, launched his 19th home run of the season on Tuesday while Brennan Boesch hit his 22nd home run of the year on Sunday. 

Double-A Arkansas Travelers
The Travelers kept on rolling and went 5-1 this week, having won 9 of their last 10 games. The Travelers are currently in first place of the Texas League North and are 6 games ahead of the 2nd place Northwest Arkansas Naturals. 2nd baseman, Alex Yarbrough, is batting .341 in his last 10 games to go along with 2 doubles and a triple. Shortstop, Eric Stamets, continued to raise his average after going 8 for 21 on the week. Stamets is now batting .219 on the season. Tyler DeLoach battled in his second AA start. The lefty surrendered 3 earned runs on 7 hits while walking 1 and striking out 10 in 5.0 innings pitched. Michael Roth continued his excellence in the Texas League, pitching 7.0 innings of 2-run ball while surrendering 3 hits, 2 walks and striking out 3. Out of the pen, Jairo Diaz earned 2 saves this week while striking out 4 in 3.0 innings pitched (2 H  2 BB). Trevor Gott earned a save on Friday, pitching a perfect inning with 2 strikeouts.

High-A Inland Empire 66ers
Inland Empire went 6-1 this week and currently own a second-half record of 23-26 (3.5 GB). No one in the Angels organization has been as hot as 1st baseman, Dennis Raben. The power-hitting lefty smashed 6 home runs this week, giving him 23 on the year. Raben is hitting .484 so far in August and slugging 1.030, giving him a season slash line of .291/.361/.570. On the pitching side, Raymond Hanson has been hot as well. Hanson’s start on Monday was a complete game shutout, surrendering 5 hits and 2 walks while striking out 2. His second start on Sunday had Hanson carrying a no-hitter all the way into the 7th inning. Hanson ended his line with 11 strikeouts in 7.1 innings pitched while giving up 1 hit, 1 earned run and 3 walks.

Low-A Burlington Bees
The Low-A Bees sit 6.0 games back of first place after going 5-3 this week. 2nd baseman, Kody Eaves, collected a hit in every game played this week and also chipped in 6 runs and a triple. Victor Alcantara lowered his season ERA to 3.72 after giving up just 2 earned runs in 2 starts made this week. Alcantara struck out 14 in a combined 11.0 innings pitched and gave up just 8 hits and 1 walk. Daniel Hurtado struck out 10 batters in 6.0 innings pitched on Friday, giving up 6 hits, 1 earned run and 3 walks. Alan Busenitz and Ben Carlson pitched a combined 6.2 scoreless innings, striking out 5 batters while giving up just 3 hits and 2 walks.

Class-A Short Season Orem Owlz
The Owlz went 3-4 this week and own a second-half record of 7-7 (2.0 GB). Catcher, Wade Wass, went deep for the 5th time this season on Wednesday. Outfielder, Miguel Hermosillo, collected 7 hits this week (.318) and his batting .256 on the season. Keynan Middleton pitched a fantastic game on Thursday, striking out 7 in 5.0 scoreless inning while giving up no hits and 1 walk. Arjenis Fernandez gave up just 1 run (0 earned) in 6.0 innings pitched on Wednesday. Fernandez gave up 5 hits and 2 walks while striking out 3.

AZL Angels
The AZL Angels went 3-2 this week and sit 2.0 GB with a record of 8-5. Jake Jewell struck out 2 and pitched 5.0 scoreless innings on Saturday, giving up 4 hits and no walks. Ricardo Sanchez gave up 1 earned on 2 hits and 4 walks on Friday, striking out 3. Sean Newcomb gave up 1 earned run on 2 hits and 1 walk on Thursday, striking out 2 before earning a promotion to Low-A Burlington Bees. 

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