Tuesday, May 3, 2016

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By Ellen Bell, AngelsWin Feature Writer - 

Next to baseball, history is one of my passions. 

I love it so much that I host a weekly radio show about Orange County history on KUCI 88.9FM, the campus station here in Irvine. 

So when I had a chance to blend my love for baseball with my love for history, I jumped at the chance.

To celebrate the beginning of another baseball season, I interviewed author and fellow AngelsWin.com writer Rob Goldman about the Angels’ inaugural season in 1961. We also talked about Rob’s own relationship with the team, from attending the very first game at Wrigley Field to his experiences as a bat boy in the 70’s. 

I really enjoyed hearing Rob’s perspective so I thought you might like it too..

Monday, May 2, 2016

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By Glen McKee, Senior Staff Writer - 

I had to do some actual research for this edition of Foe Fodder.  Did you know that Milwaukee is truly a city in the United States? I didn’t even know that until this morning. I thought it was like Atlantis or something, but apparently it does exist and the Angels are going to play three games there, and my PCP buddy Nate Trop is gonna attend all three.  That, coupled with my prediction of 3-0 against the Brewers spells DOOM, but yeah, Milwaukee…

- The only reason people know about Milwaukee is because of seminal sitcom “Happy Days” (more on that in a bit), one of that show’s god-awful spinoff shows “Laverne & Shirley” and because of Alice Cooper in the most excellent “Wayne’s World.”

- Because anything is more interesting than talking about Milwaukee, let’s talk about “Happy Days.” It was an amazing show.  It was a spinoff from “Love, American Style” and it beget the aforementioned spinoff “Laverne & Shirley” as well as five other spinoff shows, two animated spinoffs, and a series of books.  “Happy Days” convinced us that the Fonz was the height of cool, even though he lived above an old couple’s garage, wore a leather jacket no matter what the weather, kept his office inside a bathroom, and his only goals in life were to fix hotrods and bang underage poon.  That was the Fonz.  He also gave us “jumping the shark,” so that’s cool, I guess.

- The Brewers have one famous player, Ryan Braun, and he’s famous mostly for getting popped for PEDs and trying to blame it on a courier, thereby causing that courier to get fired for something he didn’t do.  Total dick move.  

- The Brewers used to have former Angels prospect Jean Segura.  Segura did well in Milwaukee in 2013, and then in 2014 and 2015 the team dragged him down.  He got traded to the Diamondbacks and suddenly he’s having a career year, batting .333, .362 (take a few more walks, dude), .523, .885, all career highs.  That’s how bad and how boring the Brewers are: I have to talk about ex-Angels who did time in Milwaukee and got better as soon as the left.  

That’s all I have.  The Milwaukee Brewers.  Oh yeah, and they used to have a cool and unique logo:

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and then, much like the Padres, they went as bland as they could and gave their team this:

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It’s an M over a grain of wheat, because wheat and beer and stuff!  My god, that’s boring.  It had to be designed by a committee whose only goal was to make a logo that nobody could ever possibly get excited about.  It’s no wonder they suck.
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By Glen McKee, Senior Staff Writer - 

Let me start out by stating the obvious: losing in Texas always blows and each loss there, or even against the Rangers at home, is magnified.  However, every game against Texas counts the same as every other game against a division rival.  It just feels bigger in Texas, particularly the losses. Sometimes, you have to get some perspective.  And on the bright side, at least Napoli is no longer with Texas and punishing us every game there.

The Bad.  Let’s get Texas out of the way.  We lost two games there, and then salvaged a game against their ace.  That’s an Angels baseball microcosm for ya right there: struggle against the end-of-rotation pitchers, slam the ace.  

- The DL.  It got far too crowded this week.  Andrew Heaney getting a PRP injection, not due back until July.  Craig Gentry due back mid-May.  Daniel Nava due back sometime soon.  Huston Street might be back this month.  CJ Wilson is still MIA and might be back in June.

- Did I mention the DL?  Because other than that, upon further examination that’s just about all of the bad for the week.

The Good.  Despite two losses in Texas and the rash of injuries, there was plenty of good last week.  No really, there was!

- The Angels swept the Royals, averaging 6.33333333 runs per game.  For once, we could beat Royals, Royals.

- 4-2 for the week.  I’ll take that any time.  

- The Angels averaged 5.33333333 runs per game last week, against a pair of good teams.  The offense might finally be waking up.  Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the Angels offense slumbers through April and wakes up with a bang in May.  

- Last week’s whipping boys, Pujols and Giavotella, improved their statistics.  I’m not going to post them because they’re still sad, but they’re not as sad as they were last week.  That’s progress.

- Our backup catcher who is making the case to stop being a backup, Geovany Soto.  .344, .382, .656, 1.039.  If this keeps up, he’s gonna be the Napoli to Perez’s Mathis.  

- Kole Calhoun.  This team is much like Kole Calhoun.  Streaky, ginger, and lacking a soul.  Well, maybe just the first part.  He actually dipped a bit last week but finished strong in Texas.  

- The bullpen.  Salas has a 2.57 ERA.  Mahle is chubby, entertaining, and has a 1.13 ERA.  The Angles just called up A.J. (not to be confused with C.J. Cron or C.J. Wilson) Achter and if he sticks with the team, you’re goddamned right I’ll be using this guy when I talk about him:

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- And since I mentioned him, C.J. Cron.  Batting .533 in the last seven days.  C.J. Cron, fuck yeah!

The rest.  There is no “the rest.”  That covers it.  

What’s next.  Three at the Brewers, a day off, and three at home against the Rays.

My predictions versus last week.  I predicted 1-2 against the Royals and 1-2 against the Rangers for a 2-4 week.  Actual results: 3-0 versus the Royals and 1-2 versus the Rangers.  I was half correct but still way wrong.  2-4 predicted versus 4-2.  Cumulative total: 9-10 predicted versus 10-9.

My predictions for this week.  First, I have to look up the records for the Brewers and Rays to see how they’re doing.  9-15 and 11-13, respectively.  Fuck it, it’s May, the Angels will go on a tear.  3-0 versus the Brewers, 2-1 versus the Rays, 5-1 total.  Injuries be damned.

Friday, April 29, 2016

By Christian Ilten, AngelsWin.com Staff Reporter - 

Thursday's late night revelation of the Miami Marlins second baseman's 80 game suspension for the use of two different performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) has forced many more questions when it comes to what is known about steroids in the game of baseball. Gordon, 28, is a career .291 hitter that would not be accused of being a power hitter on any day, and yet, the news broke late Thursday night (early Friday morning on the East Coast) that he failed a drug test administered by Major League Baseball. Gordon is just the latest in the list of players that have failed the test, but his failing has raised a lot of questions regarding steroids in the game.

Fifty and sixty home run seasons were nothing out of the normal for sluggers like Sammy Sosa (CHC), Mark McGwire (OAK, STL), and Barry Bonds (SF) during the steroid era. In 2004 Major League Baseball started random drug testing for players, and there would be consequences in place if a player tested positive, and gradually numbers declined when it came to home runs. Gone are the days of sixty home run seasons.

The current Joint Drug Agreement (JDA) which is set to end on December 1st, along with the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that Major League Baseball has with the MLB Players Association (MLBPA), has been highly regarded in the sports world as the best testing program to this point, and due to that, the amount of PEDs has decreased significantly. There have been some cases, most significantly Ryan Braun's failure and denial of failure with his drug test in 2011.

Braun, and other players (including Gordon in 2016) show a new face to PEDs though, as it is no longer the giant arms and huge home run numbers that had been seen some 10+ years ago. Now there are different types of Performance Enhancing Drugs that do not change a player's physical appearance, yet still can have an effect on their play. Players like Bonds, Giambi, Sosa, and the like's physical appearance would change so much so that they almost looked super human. Dee Gordon, not so much. The slender second baseman would never have been accused of using PEDs due to the size of his body compared to those who are most known for using.

Dee Gordon's statistics in 2015 were definitely something to be proud of, as he hit with a Batting Average of .333, the highest of his Major League career. He also had 58 stolen bases in the year as well. While Gordon's power in his bat may not have been affected, as he only hit 4 home runs (a career high), it is unknown if Gordon's speed or hitting ability were affected by the performance enhancing drugs that he tested positive for or not. The new face of Performance Enhancing Drugs is a hidden face, as it is not as easily pointed out just looking at a player anymore.

Gordon, on his testing positive and the suspension: "Though I did not do so knowingly, I have been informed that test results showed I ingested something that contained prohibited substances. The hardest part about this is feeling that I have let down my teammates, the organization and the fans. I have been careful to avoid products that could contain something banned by MLB and the 20+ tests that I have taken and passed throughout my career prove this. I made a mistake and I accept the consequences."

Jason Giambi was praised for coming out and saying that he was guilty, that he made a mistake, and that he was sorry. Meanwhile it is seen more and more that players, instead of owning up and admitting, are in the habit of denying it and saying things will be proven innocent, and then aren't. Ryan Braun (MIL) promised that he would never do such a thing, and that there must be a mistake in the system when he tested positive in 2011, only for it to come to light that he did in fact test positive. Braun was scrutinized for his denial, and it has been seen since with other players as well.

With the JDA coming to an end in December of this year, it can be expected that the repercussions for failing drug tests in Major League Baseball will be looked at by both Major League Baseball and the MLBPA. The current consequences are as follows: First Offense; 80 Game Suspension... Second Offense: 162 Game Suspension (Full Season)... Third Offense: Lifetime Ban.
The Lifetime Ban has only been issued once to Jenrry Mejia (NYM) in February of 2016.

It has been argued that the consequences should be heightened, because despite the threat of being suspended, there are still players that are willing to risk suspension to make sure they can make some extra money and have bigger numbers.
Another argument is that teams should have the ability to option out of some of all of a contract if a player tests positive for banned substances. While getting an agreement from the players association on this would be difficult, it could begin to rule out anyone still thinking that PEDs are their best option.

It remains to be seen if things will be changed to help strengthen even more the consequences for failing a drug test for Major League Baseball, but look to Major League Baseball to enforce such an issue more and more until the discussions of performing enhancing drugs are a thing of the past.

Statistics found at Fangraphs.com.

 (Tyler Carpenter, SP for the Inland Empire 66ers)

By David Saltzer, AngelsWin.com Senior Writer - 

Even casual Angels fans have heard the story: The Angels farm system is the worst in the Major Leagues. While that is a hard point to argue, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t any prospects in the system worth following or are doing well. On any given night, about 150 Angels players are out, working hard, developing their skills, and trying to climb their way up to the Major Leagues. 

At AngelsWin.com, we believe that all Angels players deserve our attention and accolades when doing well. Already we have seen some of our top prospects, such as Greg Mahle, come up to the Majors and do well. With an injury to Huston Street likely resulting in a DL stint, another replacement will need to come up from the Minor Leagues.

Twice a month, AngelsWin.com will highlight and promote the success of players across all the Angels organization. We encourage everyone to follow all the Minor League affiliate’s successes and to go out to see them play. The local club, the Single-A Inland Empire 66ers, are easily reached by all in Southern California, and provide great entertainment at a very affordable price. The same is true for all of the other affiliates, starting with the Arizona Angels and Orem Owls (for short-season), the Burlington Bees (Single-A), The Arkansas Travelers (Double-A), and the Salt Lake Bees (Triple-A).

Hutton Moyer, 2B, Burlington Bees (Low-A)
.353/.421/.588 with 2 HRs and 1 SB

Hutton is off to a hot start for the Bees, showing more power at the plate than he has in the past. The son of former Major Leaguer Jamie Moyer and brother of Dillon Moyer, Hutton was a 7th round pick by the Angels in 2015 out of Pepperdine. The switch hitting infielder has been moving all around the diamond, getting starts at 2B, SS, and 3B, all while mostly hitting 3rd in the order. 

Grayson Long, SP, Burlington Bees (Low-A)
1-1, 1.80 ERA, 20.0 IP, 14 H, 8 BBs, 21 Ks, 1.10 WHIP with 0 Saves

Drafted in the 3rd round last year, Grayson has gotten off to a good start in the Bees rotation. Grayson is a big-bodied workhorse (6’5”, 230) who projects as a middle of the order starter. His fastball sits mostly in the low 90s, and has a good changeup and developing slider. At just 21, there’s no need to rush Grayson, but a continued strong start could result in a midseason promotion.

Caleb Adams, RF, Inland Empire 66ers (High-A)
.346/.407/.487 with 1 HR and 3 SBs

Drafted in the 10th round of the 2014 draft, Caleb is a hard working player with an all-around good skill set. He’s capable of playing all three outfield spots, but most likely will end up one of the corners. He’s got a strong arm, has more pop than his career numbers suggest, and decent speed. So far, he’s been an under-the-radar type player, who has been working on cutting down his strikeouts. As he improves his ability to control the zone, he should become a solid OFer.

Tyler Carpenter, SP, Inland Empire 66ers (High-A)
2-0, 0.69 ERA, 26.0 IP, 15 H, 3 BBs, 22 Ks, 0.69 WHIP with 0 Saves

This year will be a year of transition for Tyler Carpenter. Having always been a reliever, since being drafted by the Angels in the 25th round of the 2014 draft, this year, the Angels have him in the rotation. Last year, Carpenter earned a midseason promotion to the 66ers, so he’s familiar with league. And, with his strong control (23 BBs in 108.1 career IP along with 93 Ks), he could make for a middle of the order pitcher. With his fast start, Carpenter may earn a mid-season promotion to the Travelers once his strength is developed to be a regular starter.

Bo Way, CF, Arkansas Travelers (AA)
.319/.365/.362 with 0 HRs and 5 SBs

No way, it’s Bo Way (again!). Yes, Bo Way has graced the AngelsWin.com’s Hot Prospect List many times. He’s a fleet-footed centerfielder who can leadoff and hit from the left side. He’s working his way up the system. He still needs to pick his spots better for stealing (he’s been caught 3 times this year), but if he gets that down, he could put himself more in the mix for the Angels future outfield spots.

Alex Blackford, SP, Arkansas Travelers (AA)
2-1, 1.27 ERA, 21.1 IP, 10 H, 7 BBs, 27 Ks, 0.80 WHIP with 0 Saves

Taken by the Angels in the 37th round of the 2013 draft out of Arizona State, Alex Blackford has mostly been a reliever as a pro. But, the Angels have tinkered with him as a starter (7 career starts going into 2016), and that appears to be the strategy going forward. His fastball appears to have gained a little zip to sit low 90s, and he matches that with a slider, curve, and occasional changeup. He has swing and miss stuff, with a career 219:59 K:BB ratio.

Nick Buss, OF, Salt Lake Bees (AAA)
.342/.400/.592 with 3 HRs and 2 SBs

Last year, left field was a disaster for the Angels. So, Eppler went out to provide lots of options and depth for the position in case it became a problem in 2016. One of those pieces was Nick Buss, a player from the Dodgers organization who brings a good mix of speed (136 career SBs) and power (career .431 SLG with 66 HRs). While mostly a great insurance option for the Angels, there’s a chance that we will see Nick Buss in Anaheim at some point this season.

A.J. Achter, RP, Salt Lake Bees (AAA)
1-0, 3.00 ERA, 9.0 IP, 6 H, 2 BBs, 4 Ks, 0.89 WHIP with 0 Saves

Angels fans should recognize A. J. Achter after his brief callup to the Majors earlier in April where he pitched a scoreless inning in the bullpen. But, if he’s unfamiliar to most fans, that’s because the Angels acquired him from the Phillies when they designated him for assignment. Prior to that, Achter had spent his entire career with the Twins who signed him in the 46th round of the 2010 draft. Achter throws a low-90s fastball with a good changeup. He has good command, and with the injury to Huston Street, is likely to get the call back up to the Angels in the near future. 

By Glen McKee, AngelsWin.com Staff Writer - 

First, let’s discuss the coked-up elephant on the diamond: Josh Hamilton.  Actually, he won’t be on the diamond because he’s injured again, something about his ovaries, I think.  I’m severely disappointed he won’t be on the diamond because now Arte Moreno will be paying him to not play against us, instead of paying him to play against us and commit a critical error and whiff every time he comes up with runners on base.  And honestly, look at that picture: he figured out the only way he could possibly be more annoying, by growing a shitty beard.  I wish he was playing; I wish it so much.  Ah well.  Onto the rest of this team.

The Texas Rangers:  In the last handful of years they’ve done more choking than Adam Lambert at an Elton John party.  So close to winning the World Series a few times, and then nada.  Yeah, I know, at least they got to the World Series, but that makes their choking even more memorable.  Seeing their annual choke-job is slim consolation for when the Angels choke even sooner.  You know it’s gonna happen, and this year for the Rangers it will start with this series.  

The Rangers have a player named Rougned Odor.  I ran that name through google translate and it said “the smell of your farts.”  They also have Adrian Beltre, the guy the Angels should have signed about five years ago but were afraid of.  He’s also an ex-Dodger.  That’s the only thing bad I have to say about him.  And then there’s Prince Fielder:

Dude claims to be a vegetarian.  If that’s true, he’s a few tofurkey burgers away from fitting into Pablo Sandoval’s uniform.   The Rangers also have a player named Delino DeShields, whose name reminds me of one of the coolest mfer’s ever, Delroy Lindo:

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Finally, these games are taking place in Texas.  What an awful state.  It gave us George W. Bush, current presidential candidate Ted Cruz and AngelsWin.com board member, RallyMo. The state motto is “Everything is Bigger in Texas!” as if that’s something to be proud of.  It’s always hot there, the state has thousands of miles of nothingness, it borders Mexico, and the Cowboys play there. It also borders most of the other worst states in America: Oklahoma (the only thing anybody knows about OK is that dumb play), Louisiana (more corrupt than Chicago) and Arkansas (thanks for the Clintons, assholes). It’s worse than California, and it’s not even close.  Eff Texas, and eff the Rangers. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

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By Christian Ilten, AngelsWin.com Writer - 

It is no secret that in at least one position so far this season, the Angels definitely have gotten stronger defensively. The acquisition of shortstop Andrelton Simmons in exchange for shortstop Erick Aybar and top pitching prospects Sean Newcomb and Chris Ellis (sent to the Atlanta Braves) has truly paid off for the Angels defense so far, as Simmons has brought his highlight-reel play to center stage in Anaheim, California.

Angels fans might have been hesitant when the team traded away Aybar (32), who had spent ten years in Anaheim before being dealt to Atlanta. Since the trade, though, the 2014 All-Star has struggled in his transition to National League Baseball. Through nineteen games in 2016 Aybar is batting .155 in seventy-five plate appearances, with just three doubles and one run batted in.

Simmons, 26, has been known as one of the best defensive shortstops in the game since his debut with Atlanta in 2012. Just twenty-one games into his Angels career, Simmons has put on quite the show on the field as well. The most impressive of his plays so far under the halo might have taken place on Saturday, April 23rd, as the Angels hosted the Seattle Mariners. With a man on third and two outs, Nelson Cruz skied a bloop fly ball into mid left field, and with Raphael Ortega playing the slugger deep in left, Simmons had to cover some extra ground on the fly ball, basically becoming a fourth outfielder. Simmons then made an over the shoulder catch for the ages. Then, Simmons did it again... this time to Salvador Perez of the Kansas City Royals three days later. The catch forced Fox Sports West (TV home for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) play-by-play broadcaster Victor Rojas to beg the question: "Are you serious?" While his glove is to be credited for most of his highlight-reel plays, the cannon he has for an arm assists as well, making throws from deep in the hole to first base.

From his debut to the end of 2015, Andrelton Simmons had 113 DRS, or Defensive Runs Saved. Aybar's defensive runs saved in that same span (2012-2015)? -10. Simmons' best year in that time period was 2013, when he had a DRS of 41, while Aybar's best year in that same time period was 3 in 2012 in that category. All of a sudden, the numbers start making it clear why the Angels decided to make this big move. In 2015 Aybar's DRS for the Angels was -3, while Simmons for the Braves was 25. So far in 2016, Aybar has posted a -1 DRS for the Braves, while Simmons already has put up a 6 for the Angels.

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Even when Andrelton Simmons does not have the ball, he still is able to play great defense. On April 24th, with a man on first (Leonys Martin) and no one out, Ketel Marte of the Seattle Mariners flied a ball to center field. While although the ball was clearly on a route to center fielder Mike Trout, Simmons pretended as if he was fielding a ground ball and fooled Martin who would eventually be doubled up when Trout threw the ball to first baseman C.J. Cron. With Simmons' fake ground ball pick up, Martin had no idea where the ball was. While although it will not show up on any statistics sheet, Simmons clearly does not need the ball to have an effect on the game.

Andrelton Simmons' biggest thing to work on is still his offense. A career .255 hitter, Simmons will not be accused of being a slugger in any definition of the word. While although he has only driven in four runs to this point, he has saved six runs from going up on the board against the Angels. With a WAR (Wins Above Replacement, measuring how many more wins a team will get using a player instead of any other player in that position) in his career is 17.6. Simmons WAR, which has been highly touted by the sabermetric minds of the sport as the best evaluation of a player, still has him at the top of the list of shortstops, despite his offensive woes.

The Angels will definitely look to improve his offense, in a lineup that is desperate for some extra bats, throughout 2016 and beyond. Having players like veteran Albert Pujols and super-star Mike Trout in the same lineup would pose an opportunity for Simmons to learn a few things on offense to possibly better his game. If Simmons were able to improve his batting average even just to somewhere between .270 and .280, along with his defense, the 26 year old shortstop could become an extremely vital piece of the Angels lineup.

The acquisition of Andrelton Simmons could definitely continue to benefit the Angels, who have control of Simmons for the four years following the still young 2016 season. The Angels have many questions still surrounding them when it comes to their team in 2016 and beyond, but the shortstop position is clearly not one of them as Andrelton Simmons continues to make highlight-reel plays.

Statistics found at Fangraphs.com, Baseball-Reference.com.

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