Monday, June 18, 2007

Business as usual for the Angels this weekend as they took two of three from their cross-town "rivals" the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Is this really a rivalry though ? They are not in the same division and the odds of the Angels and Dodgers making the World Series in the same year is remote. I say it's not a rivalry. It's the Angels showing the Dodgers and their fans how baseball should be played and what franchise is headed in the right direction.

How have things gone so right for the Angels and so wrong for the Dodgers ?

If you were listening to Vin Scully during Friday night's game he summed it up this way.

"Kevin Malone told Mike Scioscia to his face that he had no future in the organization."

The rest as they say is history. In 1999 the Dodgers started the Davy Johnson era that lasted two seasons. It took the Dodgers five seasons and two managers to get back to the post-season in 2004.

The Angels on the other hand hired Mike Scioscia after the front office house cleaning of 1999.

Scioscia is now the All-Time Franchise leader in wins for the Angels. Mike has lead the Angels into the post-season three times including of course, winning the franchises sole World Series Championship in 2002.

What happened ? It's easy to blame Malone or FOX on the downfall of the Dodgers organization.

However, it wasn't Malone that allowed Adrian Beltre to walk away and it wasn't the FOX ownerships minor league system that hasn't produced any everyday players outside of Russell Martin. The Dodger rotation also does not feature any home grown talent. While it appears the Dodgers may be getting back to building from within, they do have some talented prospects in James Loney and Chad Billingsley, but this is not the same farm system that produced Eric Karros, Mike Piazza, Raul Mondesi, Todd Hollandsworth and Hideo Nomo like they did in the 90's.

What changed with the Angels ?

Bill Stoneman and Mike Scioscia
knew the best way to turn the Angels into a winner was from building from within and preaching the importance of strong pitching and defense. Sound familiar ?

That's what the Dodgers had been known for. However, it's the Angels that have taken that baseball philosophy to heart. The 2002 team featured 17 players that came directly from Angel drafts, let alone the minor league pick ups that turned into big contributors like David Eckstein and Brendan Donnelly. Of those 17 players, four of them were in the starting rotation, Ramon Ortiz, Jarrod Washburn, Scott Schoeneweis and John Lackey.

Fast forward to today and the Angels still have the majority of their roster dependent on their farm system. 20 players used by Scioscia this year came directly from the MLB draft to the Angels, this does not include players like Chone Figgins, Dustin Mosely, Terry Evans and Nathan Haynes who were traded for during their minor league careers and made their MLB debuts with the Halos.

If the Angels stick to this way of building teams (build from within, sign free agents to fill holes) I believe the Angels will be the team to dominate the Southern California baseball landscape. The Dodgers still have a lot of history on their side, but the farther away they get from their glory days, the more opportunities the Angels will have to become the area's most successful MLB franchise.
Love to hear what you think!


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