Friday, February 29, 2008

By Eric Denton, Senior Writer


In 1986, the tenure of long-time All-Star first baseman Rod Carew came to an end and Angels fans finally had a home grown star to call their own.

Wallace Keith Joyner burst onto the scene and nearly won the 1986 Rookie of the Year Award. Joyner, with his free and easy left handed swing, put up some impressive numbers batting .290 with 22 home-runs and 100 RBI while the Angels as a team conquered the AL West for their third division title.

It wasn't only California Angels fans that embraced Joyner. Wally was just the second rookie ever voted in as a starter for an MLB All-Star Game (Vida Blue with the A's was the 1st), beating out the Yankees Don Mattingly, who'd driven in 145 runs and been named the American League MVP the year before. Joyner enjoyed the honor of batting third for the American League squad, which won the game, 3-2, at Houston's Astrodome.

Joyner also thrilled fans by tying New York Mets phenom Daryl Strawberry in the All-Star Home Run Derby.

Joyner followed up his rookie campaign with an even better season in 1987. His home run totals went up to 34 and he drove in 117 runs. Joyner continued to man first base for the Angels until the 1991 season, during which he had his last big year in the big leagues, hitting .301 with 21 homers and 96 RBI.

After the '91 season, Joyner left the Angels as a free agent for the Kansas City Royals. He also played for the San Diego Padres and Atlanta Braves. But in 2001, Wally returned home to the then Anaheim Angels.

On June 14, 2001, Joyner played the final game of his career and retired from the game as an Angel. Joyner is now the batting coach for the San Diego Padres, but he will forever be one of ours in the hearts and minds of Angels fans.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

By Geoff Bilau, Angelswin Editor

No Angels draft pick arrived with more notoriety and instantaneous fan support than Jim Abbott. Even before the team made the lefthander its first-round pick (No. 8 overall) in the June 1988 amateur draft, Abbott was already known outside of strictly baseball circles. And when he led the 1988 U.S. Olympic team to the gold medal at the Summer Games in Seoul, Korea, he became a household name.

His exploits on the baseball field, of course, lent to Abbott’s celebrity, but not as much as the fact he accomplished all of them without a right hand. Born with a genetic defect, Abbott overcame his disability and became an inspiration to thousands of children and adults living with disabilities around the world.

Following the 1988 draft and Olympics, Abbott arrived at Angels spring training in Palm Springs, Calif., having never thrown a pitch as a professional. There was some question entering camp as to where Abbott, 26-8 in three years at the University of Michigan, would begin the season: in the minor leagues or in the Angels rotation?

When the Angels broke camp, they took Abbott with them to Anaheim, making him the 15th player to make his professional debut in the Major Leagues. Abbott lost his first start, 7-0, April 8 at home to future teammate Mark Langston and the Seattle Mariners. He earned his first victory April 24 at home against the Baltimore Orioles.

Heading into his May 17 match up in Anaheim with two-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, Abbott had experienced mixed results, entering with a 2-3 record and 4.50 ERA. Had the Angels misjudged the lefty’s preparedness for big league hitters? Did he need more seasoning in the minor leagues?

Abbott answered both questions with a resounding “No.”

The Red Sox went down in order in the first and Clemens retired Angels leadoff hitter Claudell Washington on a strikeout to start the Angels half. But then Johnny Ray and Devon White singled and Wally Joyner drew a two-out walk to load the bases for Chili Davis, who doubled down the left field line to clear the bases. Catcher Lance Parrish followed with a blast to deep left field, giving Abbott and the Angels a 5-0 first inning lead.

Clemens began the third inning by issuing a walk to Brian Downing and single to Joyner before being pulled for reliever Dennis Lamp. The outing was the shortest of Clemens’ career to that point.

Abbott, on the other hand, was dominant. He got into a two-on, one-out jam in the fourth, but Jim Rice lined into a double play to end the inning. Only two Red Sox reached base the rest of the game.

As Abbott came out to pitch the ninth inning, the Anaheim Stadium crowd of 31,230 stunned fans rose to its feet to cheer the rookie on. Not only had the mighty Roger Clemens been rudely dispatched in the third inning, but also the kid for whom everybody liked so much to cheer was three outs from his first complete game and shutout.

The inning began with a Wade Boggs come backer that Abbott was unable to field cleanly for an infield hit. The crowd briefly stirred, wondering if the miscue would throw off Abbott’s concentration. Their fears were soon quelled, however, as Abbott used his cut fastball to induce Marty Barrett into a 5-4-3 double play.

And when Ellis Burks grounded out to third, the crowd erupted. Abbott (9 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 4 K) had the shutout, Clemens lost for the first time at Anaheim Stadium and the Angels improved to 26-13 on the year. With the shutout, the Angels’ ninth of the season, Abbott lowered his ERA almost a full run to 3.56.

For Abbott, it was the best game of a rookie season that saw him post a 12-12 record with a 3.92 ERA, good for fifth in A.L. Rookie of the Year voting. The 21-year-old had proven he belonged in the big leagues and would soon cement his status as a fan favorite with his infectious smile, selfless personality, inspirational attitude and, oh yeah, some pretty darn good pitching in subsequent seasons with the Angels.

But for this fan, the night Abbott beat Clemens will always be one of the greatest moments in Angels history.

Chuck Richter - Senior Editor

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program and bring you news from Eddie Bane in our February edition of "The Bane Connection". The regular scheduled program (The Top-50 Greatest Moments in Angels Baseball) will be published on time tonight, with #32 taking center stage. For now, let's get on to the first edition of our monthly feature of 2008 with Eddie Bane, Director of Scouting of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Q: (Angelswin) - Today the full squad reports to spring training, but catchers and pitchers have been around for over a week now, what have you seen or heard in camp of who's making a good impression on the mound, behind the dish and at the plate?

A: (Eddie Bane) - Hi folks, nice to talk with you again. My job almost insures that I will know almost nothing except what I read and hear about spring training. We have great pro scouts led by Gary Sutherland who watch everything in Tempe. Tony is also a really good scout and he is watching everyday as is Bill Stoneman and Ken Forsch. We have plenty of eyes in Arizona. In addition, the coaches and Mike are evaluating every day. Lastly, it is much too early to put a value on what is going on right now. As an old friend and scout of mine, Moose Johnson said, "I'm going to wait until the blocking and tackling starts before I make a choice."

Q: (Angelswin) - With all of the Francisco Rodriguez contract talks worrying some fans about him potentially walking at season end, who in the minors if that happens, do you think has the mentality, as well as the skills, to be a future closer or set up guy for the Angels?

A: (Eddie Bane) - Frankie's deal is way over my pay grade. Let's see how that comes out over time.

You always are looking at minor league pitchers and what roles they can fill in the big leagues. Stephen Marek is the name everyone talks about because he did that job at San Jacinto. Darren O'Day has a feel for pitching in relief. Even Jordan Walden's name gets thrown in because he throws so darn hard, but it is far too early for Walden's name to be in any discussion like that. We would like to see a big year out of a pitcher like Ryan Aldridge also.

Q: (Angelswin) - Do you see anyone skipping a level to start the 2008 minor league season? Some have said Walden may skip Cedar Rapids and start in Rancho Cucamonga. What can you tell us about that and who is on the "fast track" to Anaheim in your opinion?

A: (Eddie Bane) - We have a lot of guys that could be on a so-called fast track, but in this organization we have good players at every level so you have to earn your way. If say, Sean O'Sullivan wants to get to Arkansas this year then the opportunity is there, but he will have to pitch better than the other guys in Rancho. Pretty simple process.

Q: (Angelswin) - Ervin Santana finished the season strong out of the bullpen which included some successful spot starts, while having a very good winter ball showing in the Dominican. What has Ervin done to improve his game from September of 2007 until now?

A: (Eddie Bane) - Ervin Santana is still a young man. He gets penalized because he had success in the major leagues at a young age. Fair or not that is the way it is. Look how many games Ervin has won at his age. Then look at some of the Baseball America sweethearts in the minor leagues. The "sweethearts" on other teams minor league rosters are often older than a pitcher like Santana. The Angels do not shy away from signing college players, but the younger the player, the more time we have to get the player to be an "Angel baseball player".

Believe me the baseball industry certainly recognizes what an "Angel baseball player" looks like. We are thrilled to have Ervin Santana in our organization and I wish we could sign 10 more just like him on the international market.

Q: (Angelswin) - What plans are ahead for Kendry Morales? It seems like he has no position to play with the big league club and the DH spot is being filled by 4-5 outfielders.

A: (Eddie Bane) - Kendry Morales is as good a hitter as the Angels have. Guys like Morales will play. No doubt about that. Kendry still has work to do and needs to do those things with the bat and with the glove. He will. Nobody in the major leagues has so many hitters that they cannot find a spot for a hitter with this type of plus plus power and the plus bat that Kendry has. He is still really young and somewhat like Ervin Santana, seeing it appears that he has been around a long time, but that is only because he was playing at a very high level at a very young age. We are thrilled with Kendry and see him progressing nicely for us and we look forward to him getting plenty of at bats this season.

Q: (Angelswin) - Speaking of winter ball, Erick Aybar had a tough time both on offense and more importantly for him, on defense in the Dominican. What's going on with Erick and do you think he should be the front runner for the starting SS job, or would you prefer Brandon Wood or Maicer Izturis for the opening gig at SS? Is Brandon Wood defensively up to par with Aybar and Izturis right now?

A: (Eddie Bane) - My preferences on who I like will be known only to other Angels employees, unfortunately for our readers. Wood can play defense at shortstop with anyone. Brandon will benefit from advance reports greatly because his positioning on each player will be really important. The ball gets on the defender quicker at the big league level because a big man is the one hitting the ball. When Vlad Guerrero hits a ball it gets on the hitter quickly.

Macier Izturis can play SS in the major leagues. Erick Aybar will be evaluated on how he plays this spring and how he has played for the Angels in the past. Alfredo Griffin is a true infield genius and Rob Piccilo in the minor leagues give Erick as much help as he will ever need. Scouts should have to pay money in order to sit and listen to Griffin and Rob talk about infield play. I certainly trust our infielders with those guys and anything they come up with good enough for me.

Q: (Angelswin) - With the talented group of prospects at Rancho Cucamonga this year, do you think you'll make it out often to see the Quakes in 2008? What a team the Quakes are going to have this year, I'm predicting good things from the farmhands that assemble at the Epicenter.

A: (Eddie Bane) - Our Rancho club is going to be the place to be this season. Players like Mount, Phillips, O'Sullivan, Trevor Bell and others would be in this amateur draft if they had not signed. They would all be 1st round players if in this draft. But, they also to a man are happy they signed with the Angels and got their career started. Mark Trumbo may be in Rancho and if we can get tap into his power potential this year then people in Rancho will see some of the longest Home Runs they have seen in awhile. Matt Sweeney and Hank Conger should also be in Rancho and they are 2 players that would not even be in this situation if they had went to college.

I like the way Arte lets us develop players. We are allowed to take HS players and let them progress. Some other teams will take college players and let them get to the big leagues quicker than the Angels will. Our philosophy is that the new players have to get in line and beat out the guys in front of them. Look at the rotation in Rancho this year and a prospect will be pitching every single night. I don't see any other organization being able to do that.

Q: (Angelswin) - When you talk to opposing teams' scouts, what Angels prospect is mentioned with glowing reports the most from them?

A: (Eddie Bane) - Teams usually start paying extra attention to your players when they get to the Cal League level. But, they already know about the obvious guys like Adenhart, Conger, Sweeney and a few others. Obviously, the good teams like the Twins nabbed Alexi Casilla from us a few years ago when Terry Ryan scouted him in Cedar Rapids. Scouts are everywhere and they know where the good players are and in what organizations they play in. One of our good problems is that we are starting to get some backup and guys are going to have to beat out another good player to make it to the show. Good problem to have, but we need to make good choices and put the right guys on the field.

Abe Flores only has so many innings in the minor leagues and the right players need to get those innings.

Q: (Angelswin) - Eddie, what can you tell us about the amateur draft and what a day in the life of draft day for Eddie Bane and the Angels is like?

A: (Eddie Bane) - The other day in Houston, Texas was typical from what I want in our Angels scouts and myself. Kevin Ham knew about a HS pitcher throwing at 10:30. The game started at 10, but we made it because our guys are always early. At 12 noon I was able to get Robbie Grossman, a HS hitter at Cy Fair in Texas, in batting practice. A couple innings of that game and then a HS match up of pitchers at 3:30.

Fortunately, the 3:30 game was close to the Bush Airport in Houston. The flight to Phoenix left on time and when I drove by ASU after landing in Phoenix I noticed the lights were on. I walked into ASU's ballpark at 9:30 and Miami of Ohio was playing Oregon St. I noticed that most all of the scouts were gone except Bo Hughes, our west coast supervisor. Bo was still at the game and still working. Other clubs may do this type work, but I am sure that our Angels scouts work like this each and every day.

I wish there were more days like these where you got 6 players in one day, but sometimes you have to hunt and peck to see just one draft.

Q: (Angelswin) - Following up that question, has Tony Reagins communicated to you any changes as far as who to draft in this years' 2008 amateur draft. Do the Angels go for best available, HS over College? Positional need, or closest to the big leagues?

A: (Eddie Bane) - Tony has communicated to me that he wants us to get it "right". I understand what that means. Find the player, sign the player and then go do it again and again. That is what I love and Tony knows that. I look forward to it and also look forward to getting into Latin America more often and helping Clay Daniel with some of the big time guys in Latin America. Also want to see if we can find more Young Il Yung's in Asia. He was hurt last year, but this young man, if healthy has a huge future.

Q: (Angelswin) - What player or players do you predict has a break out year in 2008 (Like Brok Butcher, Nick Green, Chris Pettit and Sean O'Sullivan did in '07) and why?

A: (Eddie Bane) - That is all up to the players themselves. The players in Rancho have been able to play together for quite awhile now. Orem, Cedar Rapids and now Rancho. This will be the last time that will happen in my opinion. 5-6 of these guys in Rancho are going to have huge years and will be knocking on the door in Orange County real soon. The players need to understand how really close they are now to being major leaguers ball players.

As far as big years I would think Pettit wants to prove last year was for real. Green is being shown a golden opportunity and O'Sullivan could be on the door step in no time because he has feel for pitching unlike any of our other guys. Sean just does not throw strikes. Sean throws the ball where he wants just like really good major league pitchers do. Sean has to get in(he has) good shape and stay there. The game comes easy for Sean and sometimes that can be a hindrance. I know scouts in SoCal are kicking themselves for talking themselves out of O'Sullivan when he was an amateur.

Q: (Angelswin) - Injuries in camp, are there any players that have been shut down due to injuries and will get a late start heading into the 2008 minor league season?

A: (Eddie Bane) - Not that I know of, but then again that is more of an Abe Flores question. One thing on Abe Flores. Abe was my asst for my first years with the Angels. With the changes Abe become our minor league director. I had no idea all the things that Abe did to make my job easier. He will do a great job, but he is missed. His job is being taken now by Tory Hernandez with some of the stuff in Justin Hollander's camp. Tory is really really good. He even is able to help with our arbitration stuff while still knowing what is going on will all of my scouts on the road. Pretty incredible stuff.

Q: (Angelswin) - Finally, on a personal note, this was a long off-season, what did Eddie Bane do during the off-season?

A: (Eddie Bane) - Eddie Bane does not have an off-season and none of my scouts do either.

Somebody plays baseball almost every day of the year now. Guys organize camps that run on Christmas Eve for heavens sake and a guy like Bear Bryant in Alabama will always leave me a message that he saw some kid play in Mississippi on Christmas Eve. That is his way of topping our other guys and showing how hard they work. It is a good thing to have guys trying to outwork each other and our guys do it every single day.

The only thing that really happened baseball and personal-wise in the off-season was that I was informed that I am a finalist for the College Baseball Hall of Fame and that my youngest daughter Veronica had a big year at Chapman GPA-wise. She is a great kid.

The inductees will be announced shortly so we shall see what happens with that. Just being a finalist is an overwhelming thought for me. People for some reason have a long memory from my playing days at ASU. It also helps working for Arte Moreno and the Angels, it keeps your name in the limelight.

Lastly, good luck to the readers. I really love the fact that so many people care about the Angels. That is a great feeling. Thanks a lot folks and good luck to all in the upcoming baseball season.

This concludes our time with Eddie Bane for this month's feature. Check back with us in March for the next edition of "The Bane Connection". Also, feel free to send questions to us that we may be able to pass on to Eddie for future columns at:

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

By Adam Dodge, Angelswin Senior Writer

If 2004 was the “Year of Vlad,” then June 2 was Independence Day, Christmas morning and New Years Eve all rolled into one. Vladimir Guerrero won the 2004 American League MVP in large part due to his monstrous performances down the stretch, but there was no better day for Bad Vlad than the one he gave the Angels against the Boston Red Sox in early June.

With Red Sox ace and future Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez on the mound, runs would certainly seem to be at a premium. Unfortunately for Pete and the Sox, no one told Vladdy, who torched Boston, driving in nine runs, a Angels franchise record at the time, to lead the Angels to a 10-7 victory.

Guerrero got started early, hitting a two-run homer to left field in the first.

With the score knotted, 2-2, in the bottom of the third, Guerrero stepped to the plate with two men on and laced a double into left, scoring both Chone Figgins and David Eckstein.

Down, 7-4, in the fourth inning, Guerrero came up with the bases loaded and lined a ball sharply to Red Sox right fielder Kevin Millar. Bengie Molina scored on the sacrifice fly. It was Boston 7, Guerrero 5.

With the Angels still trailing in the bottom of the sixth inning by the same 7-5 score, Guerrero once again entered the batter’s box, this time with two men on, and ripped a Mike Timlin offering just over the green wall in left center field. Guerrero’s three-run shot and second home run of the game gave the Angels an 8-7 lead. Guerrero had driven in all eight Angels runs.

An inning later, after an Eckstein hit-and-run double into right center field scored Bengie Molina from first base — one of the game’s other miraculous events — Figgins singled, setting the table for Guerrero to drive in his team-record ninth RBI of the game. Guerrero delivered with a sharp single just out of the reach of Boston shortstop Pokie Reese to push Eckstein home for the fourth time in the game.

As a fan in attendance at the Big A that night, I can honestly say it was the single greatest performance I’d ever seen on a baseball field. I was glad to share the moment with my father from the right field terrace section.

A little later in the list, we’ll feature the man who broke Guerrero’s record.

Stay tuned.

By Geoff Bilau and Eric Denton, Angelswin Editors

When the Los Angeles Angels were born in 1961, home was a more transient notion than a place for them to call their own.

They spent their inaugural season at tiny Wrigley Field, a former minor league ballpark ill suited for Major League play with its 345-foot power alleys and paltry 20,457 seating capacity. The next year, the Angels moved into newly constructed Dodger Stadium, or Chavez Ravine as the American Leaguers called it, where they appeared as sub lessees who got to use the field while the “real” tenants were away.

The Angels needed their own home.

In the ensuing years, Angels owner Gene Autry was courted by many southland cities, including a strong wooing from Long Beach, but eventually settled on Anaheim, which offered a 160-acre parcel near the intersection of three freeways. Ground was broken Aug. 31, 1964, on the $24 million facility, and 19 months later it was ready for the Angels to move in.

The new stadium featured 43,204 seats and outfield dimensions derived from a scientific study intended to insure offensive balance. But the real calling card was the $1 million “Big A” scoreboard in left field. At 230 feet, it was the tallest structure in Orange County at the time and featured a state-of-the-art video display that could not only show fans the score and lineups, but also lead cheers and highlight statistical milestones.

The Angels hosted the San Francisco Giants for a pre-season exhibition at their new stadium on April 9, 1966, during which Willie Mays hit the “unofficial” first home run in Anaheim Stadium history.

Ten days later, the stadium officially opened Major League play, with Tommy John and the White Sox facing off against Marcelino Lopez and the Angels. Outfielder Rick Reichardt connected for a solo home run, the stadium’s first, in the second inning, giving the Angels a lead they’d hold until the sixth. But the Sox tied it on a Tommie Agee solo homer in the sixth and took the lead with two in the eighth to hand the Angels a 3-1 defeat in their home opener. Jim Fregosi’s first inning double was the stadium’s first hit.

The Angels notched their first Anaheim home victory the next night, defeating the White Sox, 4-3, in 11 innings.

The new location and facility were both a hit with fans. The Angels drew only 566,727 fans during the 1965 season at Chavez Ravine, but nearly tripled that figure to 1.4 million their first year in Anaheim.

Since that first season, the venue has hosted the 1967 and 1989 MLB All-Star Game and the 2006 World Baseball Classic. It has also witnessed Hall of Fame achievements such as Don Sutton's 300th victory, Rod Carew’s and George Brett's 3000th hits, and Reggie Jackson's 500th home run. While tenets in Anaheim/Edison Field/Angels Stadium, the Angels have won six division titles and one World Series Championship.

Monday, February 25, 2008

By Geoff Bilau - Editor

Nolan Ryan pitched far more than one man’s fair share of dominant games while wearing an Angels uniform, including all of those games with 10 or more strikeouts, six one-hitters and, of course, four no-hitters — none, perhaps, more dominating than this game in Detroit.

Two months to the day after tossing his first no-no in Kansas City, Ryan again seemed up to the task from the get-go. He struck out seven of the first 10 Tigers he faced, including fanning the side in the second inning.

A Vada Pinson sacrifice fly in the third inning gave the Angels an early 1-0 lead, but it would be all Ryan would have to work with for most of the game. On this day, it was plenty.

Ryan fanned the side in the fourth and added two more strikeouts in the fifth. In the seventh, he struck out the side again.

In the top of the eighth, the Angels erupted for five runs and the drama over who would win the game was mostly gone. But by this point, the focus had shifted to the zero in the Tigers’ hit column and the 16 in their strikeout column.

Detroit went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning, the middle out coming on Ryan’s strikeout of shortstop Ed Brinkman. It was Ryan’s 17th strikeout of the game, the highest total of any of his no-hitters and one short of Bob Feller’s American League record at the time.

After retiring Mickey Stanley on a groundout and Gates Brown on a soft liner to start the ninth, Ryan needed only to get 15-year veteran first baseman Norm Cash to seal the deal. Having struck out in each of his previous three plate appearances, Cash strode up to home plate carrying not his bat, but rather a table leg he’d grabbed from the Tigers clubhouse.

The umpire immediately ordered Cash to return with a regulation bat, an order to which he begrudgingly complied, telling the umpire it wasn’t as if it mattered anyway.

With his regular bat, Cash hit a harmless pop up to Angels shortstop Rudy Meoli and Ryan completed the second no-hitter of his career.

"This was definitely a bigger thrill than the first one,” Ryan said after the game. “I had better stuff today and I knew what a no-hitter meant. I was a little more nervous, but I probably had as good as stuff today as I've had all year."

Ryan thoroughly tamed the Tigers in 1973, finishing the season 4-0 with a 1.15 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 39 innings.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

By Chuck Richter - Executive Editor

A year after putting some hurtin' on Pacific Coast League pitchers, hitting .347 with 29 home runs, 105 RBI and a ridiculous 1.141 OPS for the Edmonton Trappers, the Kingfish headed upstream to Anaheim and won a unanimous vote for the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 1993 .

Salmon, a notorious slow starter who holds the unique distinction of having the most home runs of any player never selected to an All-Star team, was no different during his rookie campaign as he started the '93 season in the shadow of rookie sensation J.T. Snow, who got off to a tremendous start. The second half was always much kinder to Salmon, as it seemed that his bat heated up with the weather and, boy, did he put a pounding on the Texas Rangers.

Salmon, not Snow, wound up winning the award, representing a first for the California Angels. He batted .283 with 31 home runs and 95 RBI, along with 35 doubles, 93 runs scored and a slugging percentage of .536. He was also tied in A.L. outfield assists with 12. Snow started the 1994 season in the minors after struggling badly in the second half of Salmon's ROY campaign.

Salmon quickly became a favorite of the Angels organization and a household name among the team's fans thereafter. Timmy played a crucial role in the Angels' playoff and World Series run in 2002, hitting two key home runs in Game 2 of the World Series against the San Francisco Giants, a moment in Angels history that fans will never forget.

The King Fish was hampered by injuries late in his career and was forced to retire in 2006. Salmon played his final game on Oct. 1, 2006, against the Oakland Athletics. He is the Angels' all-time leader in home runs (299), runs scored (983), walks (965) and slugging percentage (.499). He finished his career second in franchise history with 1,012 RBI, behind only Garret Anderson.

To this day, Tim Salmon remains the only Angels player that has won a Rookie of the Year Award, though when Angels fans remember him, it won't be just the stats, big home runs or awards that they think of, but Tim Salmon the person. Tim Salmon was the quintessential gentleman of the game of Baseball.

Career Highlights, Awards, and Accolades:

* Named 1992 Minor League Player of the Year by Baseball America
* Named 1992 Minor League Player of the Year by The Sporting News
* Named 1993 AL Rookie of the Year by Baseball Writers of America
* Named 1993 AL Rookie of the Year by The Sporting News
* Named 2002 AL Comeback Player of the Year by The Sporting News
* Named outfielder on The Sporting News AL All-Star Team in 1995 and 1997
* Named outfielder on The Sporting News AL Silver Slugger Team in 1995
* Member of the World Series Champion Anaheim Angels in 2002
* Hit 30 or more home runs in five seasons
* Compiled a lifetime .883 OPS

By Victor Varadi - Columnist

#37 - April 11, 1961: Big Klu leads Angels to first victory

It was a great story. Gene Autry had purchased an expansion baseball franchise, naming it the Los Angeles Angels. Then the reality set in.

The Angels would have to field a team and then go out and compete. Without free agency, the odds were against any team in that era being able to start from scratch and compete. This is not the part of the story where the young scrappy team goes on to win itself a championship in its inaugural season — again, a great story, but not part of the reality.

Not only were the Angels expected to compete in the tough American League, where the mighty Yankees and the M and M boys, Maris and Mantle, were perennial favorites for the Word Series crown, but their first game would be against the Baltimore Orioles, a team that would contend every year until finally winning it all in 1966.

The Angels were led by big Teddy Kluszewski, a .298 career hitter and 4-time All-Star who once cut off the sleeves of his uniform to alleviate the restrictions on his large biceps as he took rips with the bat. But Kluszewski, who had 3 times hit more than 40 homers and 8 times batted at least .300, was at the end of his career and had been so plagued by injuries that he was left unprotected in the expansion draft. The Angels made Big Klu their first baseman.

Kluszewski was true to form in the curtain lifter of what would turn out to be is final season. In the first inning of the Angels inaugural game at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium, Kluszewski came to the plate with two outs and a young Albie Pearson on first. The big lefthander hit a homer down the right field line, quickly giving the Angels their first ever lead. But Klu wasn’t done. In the second inning, he came to the plate again, this time with two men on, and hit a blast to deep right field that put the Angels up 6-0. Bob Cerv would later add a solo homer and the Angels went on to an easy 7-2 victory.

Kluszewski finished the game 2-for-4 with two home runs and 5 RBI. He would finish the season batting .243 with 15 homeruns. The 1961 Angels won 70 games, the most ever by an expansion team in its first year.

By Kevin Mark Salt Lake Scout & Columnist

Spring training is now in full swing and the realization the baseball season has finally arrived brightens the cold, snowy, dreary Utah winter. This will be the first entry of the season about my favorite team, the Salt Lake Bees. I am a passionate fan of Major League baseball and I root for both the Angels and the Royals. But the team I am most interested in is the Salt Lake Bees. I attend 60+ Bees home games each season and I listen to the radio broadcasts of the road games. The Bees open the season on April 3 in Las Vegas and the home opener is Friday, April 11 against the Portland Beavers.

According to a report on, top pitching prospect Nick Adenhart will begin the season here in Salt Lake. Adenhart is regarded as a top prospect and a key part of the Angels future plans. Over the past winter, Adenhart's name was mentioned in several trade rumors. According to Angels owner Arte Moreno, Adenhart was part of an offer the Angels made for Marlins slugger Miguel Cabrera. I was in favor of including Adenhart in the package to obtain Cabrera but the Marlins chose an offer from the Tigers and Adenhart remains part of the Angels organization.

When discussing Adehnart, it is important to keep in mind that he will only be 21 on opening day this year and will not turn 22 until August. Young pitchers working their way from the low minor leagues to the majors will struggle from time to time. The good news is the Angels organization has demonstrated the ability to develop young arms into quality Major League pitchers.

In three minor league seasons, Adenhart has pitched 361 innings with an ERA of 3.12. He has struck out almost 8 hitters per nine innings pitched while walking a little more than 3 batters per nine innings. His career K/BB ratio of 2.44 is solid and Adenhart hasn't given up a lot of homeruns.

Adenhart's 2007 numbers were solid but not overly impressive. He pitched 153 innings for the AA Arkansas Travelers posting a 3.65 ERA. He strikeout rate declined while at the same time he walked more hitters. His 2007 K/BB of 1.78 is not good at all. When it comes to pitchers, I put more weight on the opinion of scouts than statistics. Pitching in the minor leagues is refining process and changes that are made in a young pitcher's approach to hitters or mechanics and cause a decline in his stats. Hopefully, Adenhart's declining numbers in his 2007 AA season were a bump in the road and he will put it all together in 2008.

This blog entry is also posted at is the BEST website for Los Angeles Angels news, opinion, and discussion. I encourage all readers of this blog to check it out.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

By Geoff Bilau – Editor

Sept. 17, 1984: Reggie hits No. 500
Aug. 4, 1985: Carew collects No. 3,000
June 18, 1986: Sutton wins No. 300

For three consecutive seasons, one each year, Angels fans were treated to a player reaching a Hall of Fame milestone while wearing an Angels uniform. More impressively, each accomplished the feat at Anaheim Stadium.

First up was Reggie Jackson. The self-proclaimed “straw that stirs the drink” arrived in Anaheim two years earlier, signing as a free agent and bringing with him 425 home runs in 14 previous seasons.

Jackson immediately delivered to his billing, whopping 39 home runs in 1982 and helping the Angels clinch their second division title. Jackson slumped badly in 1983, batting .194 and hitting only 14 home runs. But he was now just 22 home runs shy of 500.

In the waning days of the 1984 season, with the Angels in a pennant chase with the Twins and Royals, Jackson’s pursuit of No. 500 gave the season some additional drama. In the seventh inning of a foggy Monday night game against the Royals, with the Angels trailing, 7-0, Jackson connected, driving Bud Black’s first pitch deep over the right field fence. (It was one of only three hits Black would allow the Angels on the night.)

“My first thought was, ‘That's it,’ “ Jackson told reporters after the game. "My second was, I wish we could be winning. I wished it could've been a seven-run homer to tie the score."

The home run came 17 years to the day that Jackson hit his first homer, as a member of the Kansas City Athletics against the Angels at Anaheim Stadium in 1967.

Jackson would hit 123 of his 563 career homers for the Angels, none more memorable than this one.

The following August, Rod Carew was also chasing baseball immorality. A seven-time batting champion in 12 seasons with the Twins, Carew came to the Angels in 1979 with 2,085 hits.

Though he was never a great run producer for the Angels as he had been with the Twins, Carew could still bat .300 in his sleep and his .339 average in 1983 was a team record that held up for 17 years.

As the 1985 season, and his career, wound down, Carew landed himself in the exclusive 3,000-hit club. With his patented slap swing, Carew lined No. 3,000 to left field off Minnesota Twins lefty Frank Viola. Most Angels fans can vividly recall the image of Carew reaching up to secure his helmet as he trotted to first base under a bright Sunday afternoon sky.

"He threw me a tough pitch (a slider down and away)," Carew said. "If I hadn't stayed with that pitch and taken it, I would have been called out on a third strike. Fortunately, I was able to get the bat on the ball and place it in left field."

Carew retired following the 1985 season with 3,053 hits. His .314 average with the Angels is second only to Vladimir Guerrero’s .327.

And finally, Don Sutton, in the midst of his 21st Major League season, was closing in on his own place in baseball history.

Acquired during the Angels ultimately fruitless stretch run in 1985, Sutton came to Anaheim having already won 293 games. He won two more in 1985 and entered the 1986 season five shy of the milestone.

On a Wednesday night against the visiting Texas Rangers, sitting on 299 victories, Sutton pitched like a man half his age. Through six innings, he’d allowed only one hit and carried a three-hitter (one run) into the ninth.

More than 37,000 fans climbed to their feet as Sutton took the mound for the ninth inning. He quickly retired Scott Fletcher and Oddibe McDowell on flyouts. In a fitting finale, Sutton struck out Gary Ward to end it. Sutton had pitched a complete game, three-hitter to win his 300th game.

"It's remarkable how time after time it's been proven how special people do special things," manager Gene Mauch said. "I imagine that Don is proud that No. 300 was this kind of game rather than just another win."

Sutton won 15 games in 1986 and 11 in 1987 before finishing his career back with the Dodgers in 1988, retiring with 324 victories.

Carew was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1991, his first year of eligibility. Jackson was enshrined in 1993, also his first eligible year, and Sutton in 1998. And though none of these players went in representing the Angels, their milestone moments will forever be part of Angels lore.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

By Adam Dodge Senior Writer

Despite the dynamic runs of Nolan Ryan and Frank Tanana in the '70s and the marvelous Angels careers of guys like Mike Witt, Chuck Finley, Mark Langston and Jim Abbott in the '80s and '90s, it had been 41 years since Dean Chance took home the Angels franchise's only Cy Young award in 1964.

The Angels had quite possibly their busiest off-season before the 2004 campaign, signing four of the most highly touted free agents, including Jose Guillen and Kelvim Escobar, and top prizes, Vladimir Guerrero and Bartolo Colon.

Guerrero did not disappoint in 2004, taking home the American League MVP award. A year later, after earning a league best 21 victories against just 8 losses, Colon became the second Angel to win a Cy Young award, easily beating out Yankee closer, Mariano Rivera and Twins ace, Johan Santana.

Without the statistical dominance of Cy Young winners past – Colon was eighth in the A.L. with a 3.48 ERA, tenth in complete games, seventh in innings pitched and eighth in strikeouts – it was Colon's consistency and ability to win that propelled him to the A.L.'s top honor for pitchers in 2005.

While a bad back and shoulder limited Colon to just 8 innings in the 2005 ALDS, and kept him out of the ALCS altogether, his 2005 regular season will go down as one of the greatest in Angels history.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

By Sean Dodds - Contributor

When I think about great Angels defensive plays, three come to mind: Jim Edmonds' over-the-shoulder catch in Kansas City, Darin Erstad's diving catch to save the game against the Yankees, and this one — Molina to K-Rod in a no-look play for the ages.

Here's the set-up: it's September and the Angels trail the first-place A's by three games. Clinging to a tenuous 2-1 lead in Cleveland, the Angels send Francisco Rodriguez to the mound for a rare eighth inning appearance; and he struggles. Ronnie Belliard is on third base with two outs.

Rodriguez throws his patented slider in the dirt and catcher Bengie Molina gets a piece of it, but it still rolls about 10 feet away. Seeing this, Belliard dashes toward home for the apparent tying run.

It seemed hopeless, but Molina, still in Gold Glove form, got to the ball and, without even looking back toward home plate, backhanded a throw to Rodriguez, who had charged from the mound to cover home plate. Still on the move, Rodriguez nabbed Molina's toss and made a sweeping tag that caught Belliard just in time for the amazing third out of the inning.

“That play was flat out unbelievable,” said Angels manager Mike Scioscia and starting pitcher John Lackey remarked, “It’s got to be one of the best plays I’ve seen.”

The play was great no matter what followed, but the Angels held on to win the game making it that much more dramatic. I remember watching the game from home and screaming at Frankie and Bengie simultaneously about blowing the game and then screaming for joy seconds later. To me, this is an iconic play that will always be remembered and I am thankful I got to watch it happen. I will never forget it.

Monday, February 18, 2008

By Craig Malone - Contributor

Sexy! Daring! Bold! Risk-Taker! Words you will not see used when describing Bill Stoneman’s reign as general manager of the Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels. Stoneman didn’t need fancy words or daring risks; the former pitcher, who finished his career with the same Angels 25 years earlier, needed to rebuild a franchise from the ground up. He inherited a team rich with turmoil, coming off a 70-92 record good enough for a solid grasp on fourth place.

With the hiring of Stoneman, the Angels were looking to put a horrible decade of baseball behind them, and looking hopefully toward a brighter future. That future started with the hiring of Mike Scioscia, who has now become the all-time winningest manager in Angels history.

Stoneman, working with limited Disney resources, looked to build up a farm system that consistently ranked near the bottom of MLB. His first draft was not as successful as many would have liked, with top pick Joe Torres barely making it out of A-ball. But then along came a guy named Mike Napoli and things were looking a little better. Over the years, with improved scouting, Stoneman was able to draft guys like Casey Kotchman, Jeff Mathis, Joe Saunders and Howie Kendrick, a group that forms the young nucleus of the current team. More importantly, Stoneman was able to open up scouting in the Dominican Republic and convinced the accountants at Disney it was worth the money to sign players like Francisco Rodriguez, Ervin Santana and Erick Aybar.

His 2000 team surpassed expectations, thanks mostly to unprecedented power from Troy Glaus, Mo Vaughn, Tim Salmon and Garret Anderson, and an unbelievable season from Darin Erstad. In 2001, however, the Angels slipped back to their losing ways and finished 41 games out of first place.

Heading into the 2002 season, Stoneman’s biggest moves were signing serviceable starter Aaron Sele and swapping Mo Vaughn’s huge contract for Kevin Appier’s. But it was the smaller moves that illustrated Stoneman’s discerning eye for talent: picking up David Eckstein, Ben Weber and Brendan Donnelly off waivers; trading Kimera Bartee for Chone Figgins.

It’s funny in a way that Stoneman’s legacy will undoubtedly be centered around the World Championship in 2002, though it is the accomplishment in which he perhaps had the smallest hand. In reality, Stoneman’s presence was most felt during the run of three division titles in four seasons from 2004-2007 (and, no doubt, for the next two or three seasons to come.) It is the signing of Vladimir Guerrero, Bartolo Colon, Kelvim Escobar and Jose Guillen in one eye-popping offseason; the staring contest he won against Scott Boras in the Jered Weaver negotiations; and the development of a farm system that is the envy of baseball year in and year out.

Often chided for his refusal (or inability) to pull off trades perceived to be necessary to the club’s success, Stoneman’s record speaks for itself. During his eight-year tenure, the Angels compiled a 703-593 (.542) record and appeared in the postseason four times — the team made just three playoff appearances in the 39 years that preceded him.

Stoneman took the Angels from obscurity and mediocrity to being recognized as one of the elite franchises in all of baseball. He built a model that many subsequent clubs have chosen to follow. And he leaves behind some might big shoes for Tony Reagins to fill.

Sexy or not, Stoneman slowly, methodically, conservatively and above all else successfully served as the architect of the greatest era in Angels history and will always hold a special place in the hearts and minds of Angels fans.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

By Geoff Bilau, Editor

#42 – July 14-15, 2003: GA steals the All-Star show

If the Angels were to retroactively come up with a slogan for the 2003 season, it might have been “Come bask in the afterglow of 2002.”

As April rolled around, and pennants were hoisted up gold painted flagpoles, Angels fans were still drunk on World Series emotion. Only trouble was the players seemed to be, as well.

The team sleepwalked through April, May and June and arrived at July with a perfectly mediocre 40-40 record. But with fans flocking to Edison Field in record numbers (attendance would surpass 3 million for the first time ever in 2003), most of them wearing something bearing the words “2002 World Champions,” it was difficult to be too disappointed.

Heading into the All-Star break, however, the team finally seemed to recapture a little bit of the 2002 magic of which it was constantly reminded on the scoreboard in right field. They won nine of their first 12 games in July, including five straight before the break. Sure, they were still 8.5 games out of first, but it was better than the 12.5 deficit they faced when the month began.

And for two amazing days at Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field, it was like October all over again. The Angels had three players selected to the American League squad: Garret Anderson, Troy Glaus and Brendan Donnelly, the latter of whom was in the midst of one of the best relief seasons in franchise history. He hit the break with a 0.38 ERA, having given up only two runs in 48 innings pitched.

On top of that, as American League champions the previous season, Mike Scioscia was the A.L. manager, bringing his entire coaching staff along with him. The Angels presence in Chicago was already assured, but this contingent seemed determined to be seen and heard.

The most improbable of events actually occurred first; in hindsight a harbinger of things to come. Garret Anderson, who hit 22 home runs in the first half of the season, beat out former teammate Jim Edmonds in the semifinals and then 23-year-old phenom Albert Pujols in the finals to win the Home Run Derby.

“I don’t look at myself as a home run hitter, but I know I'm capable of hitting the ball out of the park,” Anderson said. “It’s just another platform to go out and show America what I can do.”

The GA show wasn’t done, either. The next night, with the American League trailing, 5-1, in the sixth inning, Anderson smoked a two-run homer to right-center on Woody Williams’ first pitch to pull the A.L. within two runs.

Donnelly pitched a perfect top of the eighth to hold the N.L. lead at 6-4. In the bottom half, Anderson’s one-out double off the Dodgers Eric Gagne, his third hit of the night in four at-bats, started a three-run rally that was capped by Hank Blalock’s game-winning two-run home run.

The A.L. won, 7-6, Donnelly was the winning pitcher, Scioscia the winning manager and Anderson named the game’s MVP, his second trophy in as many nights.

It was an outstanding night and the perfect denouement to the championship season. But, of course, all good things must come to an end, and those two nights in Chicago were indeed the end of the afterglow. The Angels lost their first five games after the break and finished the season 77-85, in third place, 19 games behind the A’s.

For a couple of days, however, the defending champs looked every bit the part.

By Kurt Swanson, Contributor

#43 – July 6, 1983: Lynn simply grand in the All-Star Game

For the first 40 years of the Los Angeles/California/Anaheim Angels history, the 1982 season was arguably the franchise’s best – albeit one with a real stinker of an ending.

Preceding the collapse in Milwaukee, however, was a fine campaign. The Angels won their second division title with a 93-69 record; Reggie Jackson led the league in home runs with 39; and Fred Lynn, acquired the year before, but sidelined by injuries, had his best season with the Angels, batting .299/.374/.517 with 21 home runs and 86 RBI.

Though the Angels blew a 2-0 lead in the ALCS against the Brewers, Lynn was still named series MVP after batting .611 (11-for-18) in the five games.

On the heels of the 1982 season, 1983 was a season of great promise for the Angels. It was not to be, however, as the team slumped badly to a 70-92 record and a fifth-place finish in the division.

One bright spot was Lynn. The USC graduate, who had longed to play for a team in Southern California after beginning his career in Boston, was voted to start the All-Star Game in Chicago. Old Comiskey Park played host to the 50th anniversary of the mid-summer classic. The nod represented Lynn’s ninth consecutive All-Star game appearance.

In the third inning, with the National League trailing 3-1, San Francisco ace Atlee Hammaker elected to load the bases by intentionally walking Milwaukee’s Robin Yount, taking his chances instead with Lynn, who hadn’t seen the batter in front of him intentionally walked since becoming a professional. Big mistake.

Lynn took a 2-2 slider from the lefty and deposited it into the right field bleachers for the first grand slam in 54 All-Star Games. (And to this day the only such home run.)

The American League scored seven runs in the inning and cruised to a 13-3 victory, snapping an 11-game losing streak for the junior circuit.

“I hadn’t won a single All-Star Game in eight years up until that point,” Lynn would later say. “That grand slam put us up 7-1, and I knew we wouldn’t blow that lead. I didn’t care that they walked Robin to get to me. I wanted to win.”

It was Lynn’s final All-Star appearance. He finished with four home runs and 10 RBI in 20 career All-Star at-bats. At the time, only Hall of Famers Stan Musial and Ted Williams had more home runs and RBI, respectively. Musial finished with five homers and 10 RBI in 63 at-bats, Williams with four homers and 12 RBI in 46 at-bats.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Seattle's new ace

By J. Northrop, aka "Angelsjunky"

With the recent acquisition of Erik Bedard, the Seattle Mariners have earned talk of contention in the AL West. Before Bedard, the commonly held viewpoint was that all the Angels have to do to win the West was play (relatively) well and stay (relatively) healthy. While the Angels aren’t stacked with stars, they have remarkable depth—and thus can withstand the usual assortment of injuries that a major league team inevitably copes with during the season.

So the question is: are the Mariners serious contenders? They are certainly head-and-shoulders above the Rangers and Athletics, with both teams in different phases of rebuilding (a baseball euphemism which means that a team realizes it sucks and needs to drop its over-priced veterans in favor of prospects). But how do the Mariners stack up against the Angels, player for player?

Let us take a look…

Even (0), Slight Edge (+1), Solid Edge (+2), Strong Edge (+3)

I’m rating the nine positions, five starters, closer, and the bullpen and bench as one player each, for a total of seventeen rated positions. I’ll leave “intangibles” to your imagination.


Kenji Johjima and Jeff Clement.
Angels: Mike Napoli and Jeff Mathis.

Johjima is the only sure thing among the above four players—solid, if unspectacular. Clement is a decent prospect who should get some DH at-bats. Napoli might surprise if he stays healthy for a whole season (or at least 120-130 games) and hit 25 HR with some walks; Mathis looks good behind the plate, but hasn’t shown much next to it—until he does he’ll be a coveted back-up, but nothing else. This means a...

Slight Edge to Mariners (+1 M)

Richie Sexson
Angels: Casey Kotchman

Kotchman is 25 and on the rise, while Sexson is 33 and coming off a season in which he hit .205/.295/.399 in 121 games. Sexson might improve, but Kotchman definitely will, giving a...

Slight Edge to the Angels (+1 A)

Jose Lopez
Angels: Howie Kendrick

Lopez has the advantage of experience and defense, but was terrible with the bat last year (.252/.284/.355). The jury is still out on whether Kendrick will be a star or not, but no matter how good he is he will hit—whether .330 or .300 remains to be seen (and probably depends upon if he can lower his strikeouts). If he does, this edge could be “solid” or “strong,” but until then I’m going to only give a…

Slight Edge to the Angels (+1 A)

Adrian Beltre
Angels: Chone Figgins

This was a hard decision to make: Beltre has more power and won the Gold Glove last year, but Figgins is coming off a career year and his speed and versatility make him a very valuable player. Still, Beltre is a terrific fielder and evened out with the bat last year, so I’m going to give a…

Slight Edge to the Mariners (+1 M)

Yuniesky Betancourt
Angels: ? Erick Aybar, Maicer Izturis, and/or Brandon Wood

This one could even out if Izturis lands the job (a superior hitter to Betancourt, but an inferior fielder), if Wood suddenly blossoms, or if Aybar actually fulfills the Jose Reyes Lite potential. But until any of those happen, Betancourt’s all-around solid play gives a...

Slight Edge to the Mariners (+1)

Raul Ibanez
Angels: Gary Matthews Jr

Ibanez has been an underrated and unnoticed player over the last seven years, consistently solid with the bat. Yet he is going to be 36 and is due for a decline. Matthews is the superior defender but aside from 2006 has been mediocre with the bat; still, he could improve and repeat last year’s first half numbers. I’m calling this one…


Ichiro Suzuki
Angels: Torii Hunter

Suzuki and Hunter are similar in that they are both better than their OBP and SLG would imply, yet both are also somewhat over-rated because of their relatively low numbers in those categories. Who is better? Got to give to Ichiro, but only a...

Slight Edge to the Mariners (+1 M)


Brad Wilkerson
Angels: Vladimir Guerrero

A few years ago Wilkerson looked like he was breaking out as a star. Then he dropped off the face of the earth. Yet even with something of a resurgence, this is a clear winner for the Angels—and by a significant margin, thus a…

Strong Edge to the Angels (+3 A)

Jose Vidro
Angels: Garret Anderson

Two aging has-beens, with different strengths but similar overall value. Vidro gets the edge in OBP last year (.381 to .336), but Anderson in SLG (.492 to .394). Many Angels fans might disagree with me, but I’m going to call this one…


Jamie Burke, Miguel Cairo, Mike Morse, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Reed
Angels: Reggie Willits, Juan Rivera, Kendry Morales, Maicer Izturis, Erick Aybar

The Angels have a deep bench, filled with players that could start on some other teams. This is a…

Solid Edge to the Angels (+2 A)


Erik Bedard, Felix Hernandez, Jarrod Washburn, Carlos Silva, Miguel Batista
Angels: John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar, Jon Garland, Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana, Joe Saunders

This is closer than you would think. I’m going to pair them in terms of similarity, if not place in the rotation. Lackey and Bedard are about even, both possible Cy Young candidates (0). Hernandez has tremendous upside but suffered a “sophomore slump” last year, and Escobar is injuried, so I’ll call that even as well (0). Washburn and Garland are virtually the same pitcher, so that is close to even (0). Batista was good last year and has proven himself a solid league average pitcher, but Weaver was slightly better and should continue to improve, so I’ll give him a solid edge (+2 A); Silva is a decent, reliable pitcher, perhaps slightly better than Joe Saunders, but Santana could build upon his potential, so I’ll give the Angels a slight edge (+1 A).

Overall Slight to Solid Edge to the Angels (+3)


J.J. Putz (31, 1.38 ERA, 40 saves, 13-82 bb-k in 71.7 IP)
Angels: Francisco Rodriguez (26, 2.81 ERA, 40 saves, 34-90 bb-k in 67.3 IP)

Usually youth is a bonus, but perhaps not in this case as Putz is well past the “blow out” phase of his career. There are few closers that I’d rate higher than Rodriguez, but Putz is one of him: his ERA was a run and a half lower, and he walked 21 less batters in 4 more innings. Rodriguez is a roll of the dice every time he walks to the mound: both in terms of whether he’ll give up a three-run homer and if he’ll (finally) blow out his arm. Still, he’s one of the top five closers in the game, just not quite as good as Putz has been over the last two years.

Slight Edge to the Mariners (+1)

Brandon Morrow, Mark Lowe, Chris Reitsma, Horacio Ramirez, ???
Angels: Scot Shields, Justin Speier, Dustin Moseley, Rich Thompson, Chris Bootcheck, ???

A traditional strength for the Angels, although with some recent difficulties, they are still stronger than the Mariners, at least until Morrow and Lowe stabilize.

Solid Edge to the Angels (+2)


The Angels win, 12 to 5. The trade for Bedard probably decreased that win total a point or even two, but it is still more of a significant margin than I thought going into this piece. While you could argue with any number of my distinctions, they would probably even out in the end, or at least no wider of a range than 10-6 to 14-3, making the Angels a safe--although not definite--bet to win the AL West in 2008.

By Adam Dodge - Senior Writer

#44 – April 3-Oct. 1, 2000: Angels become first AL franchise with four 30-home run hitters


Over the past few seasons, the Angels have entered Spring Training with seemingly just one concern — a general lack of home run power throughout the lineup. Some fans, specifically those who jumped on the 2002 bandwagon, may forget that just eight short years ago the Angels, in manager Mike Scioscia’s first season with the club, fielded an historic group of sluggers.

In 2000, Angels third baseman Troy Glaus led the American League with 47 home runs. Glaus became only the third Angel ever to lead the league (Grich, 1981; Jackson, 1982) and at the time set the record for most home runs by an AL third baseman (tied by Alex Rodriguez in 2005 and surpassed by Rodriguez last season.)

To complement Glaus, the Angels had not one, not two, but three others who hit more than 30 home runs, becoming the first team in the American Leagues' history to have four players hit 30 or more round trippers.

Mo Vaughn clubbed 36, Garret Anderson walloped 35 and Tim Salmon rounded the bases 34 times. (And if that wasn’t enough power for you, Darin Erstad added 25 homers from the leadoff spot, just for good measure.)

The 2000 club’s power fit hand in glove with the newly born Rally Monkey, as a significant chunk of the Angels’ 82 victories were of the come-from-behind variety, due in large part to the team’s power surge.

While the 2000 Angels fell short of the postseason, the team did inject hope into a suffering fan base, a hope that would be realized just two years later when the Angels won the World Series.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Brok went a combined 6-9 with a 3.36 ERA between two levels in 2007

By Chuck Richter - Senior Editor

Brok Butcher was atop our Angels Prospect Hotlist more than any other farmhand in 2007, after dominating a tough league and several good hitting clubs in the California League. A promotion to Double-A came at mid-season and he didn't disappoint, blanking his first two clubs in a pair of 6 innings outings. Brok experienced pain in his throwing arm which was the result of his poor performances in his next 4 outings. The Angels shut him down in early August, but Brok says his arm feels fine and he's good to go this spring.

With that said, let's introduce you to Brok as he sets to build upon another successful campaign in '08..

Q: (Angelswin) When did you start playing baseball?

A: (Brok Butcher) I started as soon as I could remember, I believe I began in a league at five years old because that was the youngest they would allow.

Q: (Angelswin) Who was the most influential in your pursuit to the big leagues?

A: (Brok Butcher) My dad, no doubt about it. He’s been there for me from coaching little league teams to building a baseball field in the front pasture of our ranch in Santa Ynez. I would also say my older brother Jason, I always looked up to him and was fortunate to see a couple of his games when he played for the Bakersfield Dodgers.

Q: (Angelswin) What baseball player was your favorite growing up?

A: (Brok Butcher) Bo Jackson, he could do it all, I still have the baseball card of him breaking a baseball bat over his leg. It was his charisma and confidence that caught my attention, an absolute wrecking machine.

Q: (Angelswin) Team you followed growing up?

A: (Brok Butcher) Not to sound like a front runner, but my father played for the Angels so I always followed them growing up. When my brother started playing for the Dodgers I became a Dodgers fan. I’ve followed both teams.

Q: (Angelswin) Best 1-game performance in your career to date?

A: (Brok Butcher) Complete game shutout in Rancho Cucamonga against the Lake Elsinore Storm.

Q: (Angelswin) Who impressed you both on the mound and in the batters box in your stint with the Quakes and the Travelers last year, and why?

A: (Brok Butcher) On the mound I would have to say Darren O’Day, upper eighties with that much movement is hard to catch let alone hit. He has a big league attitude and I believe once the change up is mastered, he will be a successful big league pitcher.

At the plate, I would have to say Brad Coon. He does not look like a threat stature wise, but you would not believe the havoc he creates on the base paths. It is a pitchers worst nightmare, you can not underestimate a hitter like that.

Q: (Angelswin) What part of your game needs the most improvement?

A: (Brok Butcher) Ultimate commitment to each pitch

Q: (Angelswin) What aspect of your game do you take the most pride in?

A: (Brok Butcher) Hard Worker and open for criticism

Q: (Angelswin) What was the off-season like for Brok Butcher?

A: (Brok Butcher) Relaxing and being able to spend time with my loved ones. I was also able to run a lot at the beach and practice yoga, I truly believe in elongating muscles in order to gain maximum velocity while preventing injuries.

Q: (Angelswin) What type of velocity does Butcher get off his fastball and what is your repertoire of pitches?

A: (Brok Butcher) I sit anywhere from 88-93 on my fastball, which is my best pitch because I’ve been able to locate it very well. I’ve just recently learned that my change up is going to be my go to pitch, but I have to throw it like a fastball and believe in it. My slider and sinker have always been my bread and butter, not much is going to change except for the change up.

The lighter side of Brok Butcher

Q: (Angelswin) If there is one thing people should know about Brok Butcher the person, it is?

A: (Brok Butcher) Open minded person who believes in the possibility of possibilities

Q: (Angelswin) What’s your favorite food?

A: (Brok Butcher) I love Teriyaki chicken

Q: (Angelswin) What kind of music do you listen to? What’s in your CD player right now?

A: (Brok Butcher) I love every kind of music, more of a rock/punk rock kinda guy

Q: (Angelswin) What’s your all time favorite movie?

A: (Brok Butcher) Lord of War, Gladiator, Lord of the Rings

Q: (Angelswin) Most visited website?

A: (Brok Butcher) &

Q: (Angelswin) What do you like to do besides play baseball, what’s your hobby?

A: (Brok Butcher) Love playing ping pong and practicing yoga

Q: (Angelswin) What person are you going to call first when you get promoted to the big leagues?

A: (Brok Butcher) Dad and the rest of family

That's it for now, thank you for your time Brok. We'll be sure to catch up Hank again in Tempe in a few weeks.

Send comments or questions to

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thomas Crow - Contributor

A reasonable argument can be made that 2005 was the second-best season in Angels history. The team won 95 regular season games and again defeated the favored New York Yankees in the American League Division Series. They might just have made it back to the World Series, too, if not for a now infamous umpiring call that certainly won’t be referenced anywhere else on this list.

The team formerly known as the Anaheim Angels was the Los Angeles Angels again. (Well, almost.) Fitting that in order to win this standout September game against the Chicago White Sox, Vladimir Guerrero and the Angels had to steal a scene straight out of Hollywood.

The play brings immediate comparisons to the climax of the 1989 film “Major League.” In the film, the perennially lousy Cleveland Indians, comprised of a bunch of washouts and no-names, somehow forces a one-game playoff against the division rival Yankees (Remember when the Indians and Yankees were in the same division?) for the AL East pennant. The ending features bad-kneed catcher Jake Taylor calling his shot before laying down a bunt on which speedster Willie Mays Hayes scores from second base to send the Indians to the playoffs.

In the Angels version, the team was clinging to the slimmest one-game lead over Oakland and locked up in an extra-innings donnybrook with the White Sox. In the 11th inning, the White Sox appeared poised to win the game, but Juan Rivera nailed Aaron Rowand at the plate to preserve the 5-5 tie.

Leading off the 12th, Guerrero scorched an 0-1 pitch from Dustin Hermanson to deep center field. Believing he’d just given the Angels the lead with one swing, Guerrero was slow out of the box and barely got into second ahead of the tag once he realized the ball had remained in the park. Frustrated at himself for his mental blunder, Guerrero seemed determined to score by any means necessary.

Up stepped catcher Bengie Molina to lay down a sacrifice bunt and move Guerrero to third. (Molina did not call his shot and, sadly, unlike Taylor he didn’t get the girl, either.) Molina bunted to third baseman Geoff Blum, who threw to first where Tad Iguchi was covering. Guerrero, who will never be confused with a great baserunner, charged straight through third base coach Ron Roenicke’s stop sign and galloped, as only Vlad can, toward the plate.

“I never got to the yes part,” Roenicke said. “I was ‘No, no, no.’ I didn’t hold my hands up but I said ‘no’ a couple of times. When his mind was made up to go, he got going in a hurry.”

Iguchi’s throw home got there well ahead of Guerrero, but was offline, leaving catcher A.J. Pierzysnski (Booo!) out of position. Guerrero awkwardly shifted his momentum to avoid Pierzynski’s tag and fell down with his hand landing on home plate to score the go-ahead run. Stunned by the play, Angels broadcaster Steve Physioc instinctively called Guerrero out before seeing that home plate umpire Ron Kulpa had indicated safe.

“You look back at the last 150 years of baseball and you can probably count on one hand how many times that play has worked,” Blum said. “So you can call it luck, you can call it savvy, you can call it whatever you want.”

The Angels held on to win the game, 6-5, with Frankie Rodriguez striking out the side in the bottom of the inning.

All of his home runs and clutch hits not withstanding, this play captures so much of Guerrero’s almost certain Hall of Fame career in a nutshell. Even blessed with such immense talent, he still plays the game how most of us imagine we would: with joy, passion and occasional recklessness that remind us why we love the game so much.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

By Geoff Bilau - Editor

“Yes! No way! YES!”

Three reactions to three grand slams. More specifically, three grand slams hit over a six-week span of the 2002 season by diminutive shortstop David Eckstein, the first two coming in consecutive games.

Ultimately, these home runs would be justifiably overshadowed by some slightly bigger wallops by Eckstein’s teammates later in the season, but if 2002 is remembered as a magical season for the Angels, this is where the magic started.

Starting the season 6-14 on the heels of a 2001 campaign that saw the Angels finish 41 games out of first place, Anaheim seemed anything but magical as 2002 began. A 10-6 win at Seattle on April 24, snapped a four-game losing streak and the Angels headed home with at least a small puff of wind in their sails.

Back home again, Kevin Appier and three relievers combined on a 9-hit shutout over Toronto to provide a little more momentum. What happened the next two days, however, is the stuff people tell their grandkids about.

In the second game of the Toronto series, the Angels went to the bottom of the fifth inning tied, 4-4. RBI-hits by Troy Glaus and Brad Fullmer, and a run-scoring groundout by Bengie Molina gave the Angels a three-run lead. And following a walk to Scott Spiezio, Eckstein put the game away.

On a 1-2 pitch from Scott Cassidy, Eckstein snuck one just over the short wall in left field, near the foul pole, for a grand slam and an 11-4 lead. It was the Angels biggest inning of the season to that point, Eckstein’s first home run and only the fifth of his career.

A day later, things went from surprising to just plain silly. A back-and-forth game saw the Angels and Blue Jays tied, 4-4, in the 14th inning. Toronto finally broke the deadlock with a run in the top of the inning, however, and the Angels run of bad luck appeared to have returned. But Glaus led off with a single and Salmon doubled him to third. A one-out intentional walk to Molina loaded the bases, but Kennedy struck out, leaving it up to Eckstein.

The 5-foot 6-inch shortstop took a 1-1 offering from Pedro Borbon Jr. to nearly the same exact spot in left field for a second grand slam in as many days, this one a walkoff shot that gave the Angels their first three-game winning streak of the season and, finally, some serious swagger. Two days later, they’d defeat the Indians, 21-2, in Cleveland and not look back in winning 21 of 24 games following their 6-14 start.

With the Angels magic in full swing now, it was only fitting that Eckstein had one more trick up his sleeve. On June 9, in the second inning of an interleague game against the Cincinnati Reds, Eckstein again came to the plate with the bases loaded. No sooner than you could think, “He couldn’t possibly do it again, could he?” he did it again.

“I don’t know if one time is better than another for a home run,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, “... but (Eckstein) has hit them at three times which have been incredible and have won three games for us.”

Eckstein became only the second Angel ever to hit three grand slams in one season. Joe Rudi did it in both 1978 and 1979. Of course, Rudi hit 179 home runs in his career. Eckstein has 30.

That thing they say about big things coming in small packages — in 2002, David Eckstein proved it.

The 3rd ranked prospect looks to stay healthy and put up big #'s in Rancho in '08

By Chuck Richter - Senior Editor

Hank was kind of enough to sit down and relay a little bit about himself to us at yesterday, a day before the #3 ranked prospect heads to Tempe, AZ to show he's healthy and why the Angels made him their #1 pick 2 years ago. Conger battled injuries that have slowed his development, suffering a broken hamate bone in his right hand in his pro debut, sapping his power in '07, followed by missing 6 weeks mid-season with a lower back problem, followed by a hamstring injury entering fall ball. Be that as it may, the Angels have themselves a legitimate switch-hitting power threat from the catching position, which is a rare find.

Well, let's dig in shall we and get to know Hank Conger, a little better.

Q: (Angelswin) When did you start playing baseball?

A: (Hank Conger) I started playing baseball when i was 8

Q: (Angelswin) Who was the most influential in your pursuit to the big leagues?

A: (Hank Conger) My dad was and still is my most influential to me

Q: (Angelswin) What baseball player was your favorite growing up?

A: (Hank Conger) I always like following Alex Rodriguez's career, along with Chan Ho Park

Q: (Angelswin) Team you followed growing up?

A: (Hank Conger) After I moved to Southern California, I became a big Angels fan

Q: (Angelswin) Best 1-game performance in your career to date?

A: (Hank Conger) In Little league, I hit 4 Home Runs- 3 left, 1 right, and I hit 2 in the same inning from both sides of the plate

Q: (Angelswin) What part of your game needs the most improvement?

A: (Hank Conger) I think everything, because in baseball no one is perfect

Q: (Angelswin) What aspect of your game do you take the most pride in?

A: (Hank Conger) I try to make the catching game solid, as handling the pitching staff is the most important thing for me and what I try to pride myself in

Q: (Angelswin) Who impressed you both on the mound and in the batters box while you were with Cedar Rapids last year, and why?

A: (Hank Conger) Our whole pitching staff was awesome last year, and Sean O'Sullivan was an awesome treat to watch pitch

Q: (Angelswin) What was Hank Conger's off-season like?

A: (Hank Conger) It consisted of rehab, weightlifting, all the baseball activities, Yoga, Pilates and as much golf as possible

The lighter side of Hank Conger

Q: (Angelswin) If there is one thing people should know about Hank Conger the person, it is?

A: (Hank Conger) You really have to spend time to get to know me, I'm pretty shy

Q: (Angelswin) What’s your favorite food?

A: (Hank Conger) Any kind of Korean food my mom can cook for me. (Laughs out loud)

Q: (Angelswin) What kind of music do you listen to?

A: (Hank Conger) I like Rap, R & B and anything that sounds good

Q: (Angelswin) What’s your all time favorite movie?

A: (Hank Conger) There's too many to chose from really

Q: (Angelswin) What's your most visited website?

A: (Hank Conger) (Laughs) it consists of (blank)- book and (blank)- space

Q: (Angelswin) What do you like to do besides play baseball, what’s your hobby?

A: (Hank Conger) I love to golf with my pops and play poker with my friends

Q: (Angelswin) What person are you going to call first when you get promoted to the big leagues?

A: (Hank Conger) My parents will definitely get the first call, hopefully their line wont be busy

That's it for now, thank you for your time Hank. We'll be sure to catch up Hank again in Tempe in a few weeks.

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