Friday, July 31, 2009

By Geoff Bilau, Senior Editor

The 2009 trade deadline has passed, with the Angels electing to stand pat as they move into the final 62 games of the season. The good news is they're 20 games over .500, lead the American League West by three games over Texas and have scored more runs per game than any team in the Major Leagues. But there's plenty of bad news, too; among the Angels top-4 starting pitchers, only John Lackey looked good in July, the bullpen has shown flashes, but remains erratic and generally untrustworthy in front of Brian Fuentes (who himself got hammered in his past two outings) and the schedule for next 12 games (at Minnesota, at Chicago, Texas and Tampa Bay) ratchets up a notch from the previous two weeks.

Looking ahead to the final two months of the regular season, the following are the five biggest questions facing the Angels in the stretch and beyond in 2009:

1) Will an eighth-inning set up-man emerge from within?

There are plenty of candidates from whom manager Mike Scioscia can choose, but not one that has shown the kind of consistency necessary to earn the ball each time the Angels hold a close lead late. Darren Oliver (4-0, 2.62) has been the most solid, earning 12 holds so far this season, but his success is more often the product of favorable match ups and he's not really a strikeout pitcher. After dismal starts to the season, Jason Bulger (4-1, 3.88) and Kevin Jepsen (2-2, 7.04) have both rebounded well, but still have their share of hiccups. Veteran Justin Speier strings a few great appearances together and then erases all the progress with a complete meltdown. Jose Arredondo (10-2 with 16 holds and a 1.62 ERA last season) could be the answer, but he's rehabbing an injury and still struggling to dominate AAA hitters.

2) Will Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana regain their 2008 All-Star form?

With General Manager Tony Reagins unable to consummate a deal for another starting pitcher, the Angels are going to ride the struggling All-Stars as long as they can in the hope they'll rediscover what made them a combined 33-14 last season. Santana's troubles are somewhat explainable by the forearm injury that delayed his season into mid-May, but he is supposedly healthy and throwing pain free, so his inconsistency seems more mental than physical. Saunders, on the other hand, started the season very strong, going 5-1 with a 2.66 ERA through his first seven starts. In 14 starts since then, however, Saunders is 3-5 with a 5.51 ERA, and his 22 home runs allowed are one fewer than league leader Jeremy Guthrie of Baltimore.

When the offense inevitably cools down, the success or failure of these two starters will dictate a great deal about the Angels record in the final 62 games considering they're likely to start around 24 of them.

3) Will the Angels figure out how to beat the Rangers?

The Angels and Rangers have met nine times this season, with Texas already having won seven games. With 10 more games head-to-head, including seven of the season's final 16 games, the Rangers will have ample opportunity to shave games from any Angels lead -- if they've got one.

4) Will Torii Hunter pick up where he left off?

While the Angels offense has actually been better since the first-half MVP (.305, 17 HR, 65 RBI) went on the disabled list on July 10 (123 runs in 17 games, 7.24 per game), the team will likely need a quick return to form from their gold glove center fielder if they're going to continue to dominate offensively. Hunter, tentatively expected back during the next home stand, will return to the heart of the order and a slow start upon his return could quickly derail the offensive continuity that developed during his absence.

5) Does Vladimir Guerrero have anything left to give?

Placed on the disabled list the same day as Hunter, Guerrero was not producing anywhere near his typical All-Star levels, batting .290 but with only four home runs and 21 RBI after already missing 35 games in April and May. With his injuries mounting and skills seemingly eroding quickly, the future Hall-of-Famer's status for 2010 is certainly in doubt, but so is his effectiveness in 2009. A huge second half, however, would not be unprecedented. Guerrero batted .330 and slugged .580 in the second half last year after going .286 and .483 in the first half, but he's at least two years older now (thanks to a birth certificate disclosure) and has barely shown glimpses of his MVP form so far this season.

When he returns, Hunter will take at-bats from Gary Matthews Jr. It's not so clear, however, where Guerrero will get his; likely at DH and from Mike Napoli, Howie Kendrick and Maicer Izturis, all three of whom have excelled during Guerrero's absence. Scioscia is certain to give Guerrero some leash to get things turned around; the question will be how much.

Sean Rodriguez is on his way back up to Anaheim. To play left field?

Rodriguez: 2-4, 2 singles, 3 RBI (.290) (AAA)
Pavkovich: 2-4, 2 singles (.239) (AAA)
Patchett: 2-4, 2 doubles, 2 K (.249) (AAA)
Walker: 3-4, HR (5), double, single, 2 RBI, BB, K (.291) (A+)
Romine: 2-6, 2 singles, K (.272) (A+)
Estrella: 2-5, double, single, 2 RBI, BB, K (.262) (A+)
Navarro: 2-3, 2 singles, RBI, 2 BB, K (.304) (A+)
Chaffee: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 K (2.95) (A)
Jones: 2-3, 2 singles (.269) (A)
Amarista: 1-4, triple, 2 RBI (.314) (A)
Ramirez: 1-1, double, 3 BB (.370) (Rookie Orem)
Cabrera: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, BB, 4 K (2.53) (Rookie Orem)
Pena: 6.2 IP, 6 H, ER, 2 BB, 7 K (4.23) (AZL Angels)
Grichuk: 2-4, triple, single, 4 RBI, K (.318) (AZL Angels)
Mallard: 2-4, 2 singles, RBI, BB (.308) (AZL Angels)
Trout: 3-5, 3 singles, K (.317) (AZL Angels)
Oliver: 3-5, HR (2), 2 singles, 4 RBI (.323) (AZL Angels)

Postponed: Arkansas

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Q: How does it feel to be leading the Majors in hitting this month?

A: I feel really good and one thing that I'm very aware of is that I'm healthy. All of those hand injuries I had in the past, they're in the past. I feel I belong more. I feel like a more confident hitter. And overall the one thing I don't feel is complacent; there's more to do.

Q: What's been the reason? Any one thing in particular you've been working on?

A: It's a combination of things. Working early, from the gym to soft toss to the cage, and watching video of the guys I'm going to face or have faced in the past. I'm also studying myself. The influence of the players here, too, the veteran players who have taken me aside and pretty much taught me to become a better player every day.

Q: Has there been one guy who's had the greatest influence?

A: Not one guy overall. From Figgins to Vlady to Bobby Abreu and Torii Hunter; those guys are always on me to make sure I'm doing the things I need to do to get ready, perform well and have confidence.

Q: How great does it feel to finally be performing at this level?

A: It feels good to be playing at a high level and doing something that I love, which is playing the game of baseball. Being able to get results is a lot of fun. I thank God, No. 1, that I've been able to get the opportunity to play and I don't want it to even cross my mind that this is it. I want to continue on and keep playing at the same level now.

Q: How do the trade rumors affect you?

A: It doesn't affect me. I have a job to do. I can't really worry about my name being thrown out there. I think it's flattering that teams think that I'm playing very well, that teams might want me, but it also makes me feel sad. Just the possibility that some other team wants me and I can't control that, it makes me feel sad sometimes because I have so many friends here. But I don't want to let that affect my game.

Q: Is it flattering that this team doesn't seem to want to give you up?

A: It feels good from my side because they have confidence in me, I want to show it back to them.

Trevor Reckling tops the #1 spot in our mid-term top 30 prospect list

By Chuck Richter, David Saltzer & Jason Sinner

We’re past the halfway point for the minor league season, and, we’ve had the opportunity to see our minor leaguers play for another season. Additionally, we’ve had the opportunity to see many of our players from the class of 2009 play professional baseball for the first time.

So far our organizational records are: Triple-A Salt Lake Bees 53-51 (510); Double-A Arkansas Travelers 39-62 (386); Single-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes 46-57 (447); Single-A Cedar Rapids Kernels 57-43 (570); Short-Season Orem Owlz 18-15 (545); Short-Season AZL Angels 20-11 (645).

Beneath those records, though, are many notable performances, and unfortunately some struggles and injuries. It’s with that in mind that we present our Top 30 Mid-Season Prospect List. This list is a snapshot of how the players are performing over the course of this season. The rankings do include an evaluation of a player’s major league potential as well as the likelihood of achieving that potential. However, this list is not as definitive as our Top 50 Prospects List that we present annually in the offseason and rankings may still change between now and then.

With that in mind, we present our Top 30 Midseason Prospects as of July 29, 2009.

1. Trevor Reckling, Class AA Arkansas Travelers
Born: 05/22/1989 - Height: 6' 1" - Weight: 195 - Throws - L
Season Stats: 2.40 ERA, 120 IP, 95 hits, 95 K's, 58 walks, .223 BAA

What's not to like about the type of season Reckling has had? Was promoted to Double-A as a 19-year old after posting a 0.95 ERA through three starts with the Quakes. Trevor has held his own since and is the youngest pitcher in Double-A and second youngest to recently promoted top prospect Mike Stanton of the Marlins.

2. Peter Bourjos, Class AA Arkansas Travelers
Born: 03/31/1987 - Height: 6' 1" - Weight: 180 - Bats: R
Season Stats: .291/.364/.443, 2 2B's, 11 3B's, 4 HR's, 19 SB's

Bourjos only flaw last season was his plate discipline and he's worked hard to improve that by posting a .364 on base pct., walking 31 times already despite missing a handful of games this season due to a sore wrist. Bourjos walked just 19 times over a full season in 2008. He's a bonifide centerfielder and looks to be a fantastic leadoff hitter in the future.

3. Sean O'Sullivan, Class AAA Salt Lake Bees
Born: 09/01/1987 - Height: 6' 2" - Weight: 230 - Throws - R
Season Stats: 7-5, 5.58 ERA in the minors, 3.72 ERA and 3-0 in the big leagues

While Sean O'Sullivan's minor league #'s aren't so hot, he sure has looked good in the big leagues. Combine that with a throwing a gem of a game, no-hitting the Sacramento River Cats last night -- the first ever no hitter by a Salt Lake Bees pitcher, Sean has all the makings of being a solid major league pitcher for many years to come. He's younger than Trevor Bell and he beat him to the big leagues.

4. Hank Conger, Class AA Arkansas Travelers
Born: 01/29/1988 - Height: 6' 1" - Weight: 220 - Bats: S
Season Stats: .296/.361/.426, 8 HR's, 47 RBI, 33 walks, 52 strikeouts

The best two things about our #1 prospect going into the season was the fact that he's seen considerable time behind the plate and the fact that his plate discipline has improved. Case and point, Conger has walked 9 times vs. 3 strikeouts in his last 10 games. Conger's home run power was sapped early on due to a lingering wrist injury, but not to worry, he's got tremendous pop from both sides of the plate and we're seeing it a lot more as the season goes on.

5. Trevor Bell, Class AAA Salt Lake Bees
Born: 10/12/1986 - Height: 6' 2" - Weight: 180 - Throws: R
Season Stats: 2.35 ERA, 126.1 IP, 97 hits, 85 K's, 31 walks, .210 BAA

Trevor Bell the Angels #1 pick in '05 has recorded two complete game shutouts since his promotion to Salt Lake, while recording another seven inning scoreless contest in his second start in Triple-A. Bell's low to mid 90's fastball, curveball and changeup -- and ability to command the strike zone with all three pitches, while working quickly on the mound - has given opposing hitters fits.

6. Alexander Torres, Class A Ranch Cucamonga Quakes
Born: 12/08/1987 - Height: 5' 10" - Weight: 175 - Throws: L
Season Stats: 10-3, 2.74 ERA, 121.1 IP, 124 K's, 63 walks, .217 BAA

The Angels southpaw leads the organization with the most strikeouts for a pitcher. After last night's game, Torres has fanned 124 California League hitters while posting a solid 2.74 ERA. The impressive stat here though is the amount of HR's given up. Torres has given up just 4 home runs, despite playing in a league where the ball flies out of the ball park with regularity.

7. Michael Kohn, Class A Ranch Cucamonga Quakes
Born: 06/26/1986 - Height: 6' 2" - Weight: 200 - Throws: R
Season Stats: 5-1, 7 saves, 2.10 ERA, 51.1 IP, 82 K's, 18 walks, .163 BAA

Are you kidding me? A .163 batting average against? Michael Kohn has opposing batters baffled by his sharp breaking ball and mid to high 90's heater. Look for Kohn to move quickly through the system, possibly earning a September callup.

8. Chris Pettit, Class AAA Salt Lake Bees
Born: 08/15/1984 - Height: 6' 0" - Weight: 195 - Bats: R
Season Stats: .347/.399/.510, 4 HR's, 22 2B's, 15 SB's, .910 OPS

Chris Pettit was on a roll before he broke his hamate bone in June, hitting close to .400. Offers solid on base skills, good stolen base potential and some pop from the top of the order going forward. Profiles as a future .300 hitter hitting somewhere at the one or two spot in the lineup.

9. Matt Sweeney, Class A Ranch Cucamonga Quakes
Born: 04/04/1988 - Height: 6' 3" - Weight: 215 - Bats: L
Season Stats: .307/.377/.513, 7 HR's, 16 2B's, 21 walks, 31 strikeouts

Sweeney has been out since early June with a hip injury and currently there is no timetable for his return. Be that as it may, Sweeney showed enough through 50 games to earn a spot in the top 10, showing power, plate discipline and improved defense at the hot corner. He's definitely a slugger to keep an eye on going forward.

10. Jean Segura, Class A Rookie Orem Owlz
Born: 03/17/1990 - Height: 5' 11" - Weight: 155 - Bats: R
Season Stats: .379/.420/.547, 3 HR's, 12 2B's, 3 3B's, 9 SB's, .966 OPS

Segura, though barely 19 years old, has been a man among the boys in the Pioneer League. Segura has shown good power, speed and the ability to make solid contact, while showing an impressive eye at the plate (11 walks vs. 10 strikeouts with the Owlz). You can never have enough future middle infielders who can put some hurtin' on a ball like Segura.

11. Will Smith, LHP, Class A Cedar Rapids Kernels
Born: 07/10/1989 - Height: 6' 5" - Weight: 215 - Throws: L
Season Stats: 8-3, 0 Saves, 3.29 ERA, 90.1 IP, 84 H, 19 BB, 75 K, 1.14 WHIP, .247 BAA

Will is tied for 6th in the Midwest League for wins and 12th for ERA. Since the All-Star Game, Smith is 4-0 with a 2.33 ERA and could see some time in Rancho before the end of the season.

12. Alexi Amarista, 2B, Class A Cedar Rapids Kernels
Born: 04/06/1989 - Height: 5' 8" - Weight: 150 - Bats: L
Season Stats: .306/.380/.439 with 2 HRs and 28 SBs

Batting 2nd for the Kernels, Amarista has a nearly 1:1 K:BB ratio (41:38). He has the patience and speed to bat at the top of the order guy. Could be a future role player like Maicer Izturis but with more speed.

13. Mike Trout, CF, Class A AZL Angels
Born: 08/07/1991 - Height: 6' 1" - Weight: 200 - Bats: R
Season Stats: .293/.408/.414 with 0 HRs and 6 SBs

After signing with the Angels, Trout is showing every reason why he was a first round draft pick. He has power, patience, and speed, and everything the Angels will need from a future center fielder defensively.

14. Fabio Martinez Mesa, RHP, Class A AZL Angels
Born: 10/29/1989 - Height: 6' 3" - Weight: 190 - Throws: R
Season Stats: 2-1, 2.67 ERA, 30.1 IP, 19 H, 20 BB, 48 K, 1.14 WHIP, .174 BAA

This is a pitcher to watch. He’s leading the Arizona League in Ks and 7th in ERA and only 19 years old. This kid has some big league velocity, hitting the mid 90's already, touching 98 MPH.

15. Ryan Chaffee, RHP, Class A Cedar Rapids Kernels
Born: 05/18/1988 - Height: 6' 2" - Weight: 190 - Throws: R
Season Stats: 6-4, 0 Saves, 3.17 ERA, 82.1 IP, 49 H, 46 BB, 86 K, 1.15 WHIP, .178 BAA

When Ryan cuts down on his walks, watch out. He’s a future ace in the making. He generates lots of Ks and groundballs, and part of the great rotation at Cedar Rapids.

16. Terry Evans, OF, Class AAA Salt Lake Bees
Born: 01/19/1982 - Height: 6' 3" - Weight: 205 - Bats: R
Season Stats: .293/.337/.542 with 22 HRs and 22 SBs

A definite late bloomer, Evans has been providing a good portion of the offense for the Bees this season. He could make a good corner 4th OFer for the Angels or could start on several teams and provide 20/20 offense.

17. Andrew Taylor, LHP, Class A Cedar Rapids Kernels
Born: 08/18/1986 - Height: 6' 2" - Weight: 190 - Throws: L
Season Stats: 3-0, 0 Saves, 2.38 ERA, 41.2 IP, 28 H, 22 BB, 67 K, 1.20 WHIP, .163 BAA

After a brief stint at Rancho, Andrew has been on fire with the Kernels. With Cedar Rapids, he’s posted a 1.25 ERA in 36.0 IP, with 59 Ks and a 0.94 WHIP. This lefty could zoom through the system as he can give the club more than 1 inning pitched and can get guys out late in the game.

18. Jordan Walden, RHP, Class AA Arkansas Travelers
Born: 11/16/1987 - Height: 6' 5" - Weight: 240 - Throws: R
Season Stats: 1-5, 0 Saves, 5.25 ERA, 60.0 IP, 72 H, 29 BB, 57 K, 1.68 WHIP, .301 BAA

Injuries. Walden’s season has been marred for forearm tightness that has limited his duration and effectiveness. A move to the pen may be in order when his high heat and slider would be more effective.

19. Randal Grichuk, Class A AZL Angels
Born: 08/13/1991 - Height: 6' 1" - Weight: 195 - Bats: R
Season Stats: .312/.353/.448 with 1 HR and 4 SBs

Our 1st overall selection in the 2009 draft is off to a hot start. He projects to be a corner OF with 25+ HR power as he fills out.

20. Pil-Joon Jang, Class A AZL Angels
Born: 04/08/1988 - Height: 6' 3" - Weight: 190 - Throws: R
Season Stats: 4-2, 0 Saves, 3.59 ERA, 47.2 IP, 39 H, 6 BB, 32 K, 0.94 WHIP, .224 BAA

Our 2nd high-profile Korean signees (signed in December of 2008), Jang has been living up to the hype. He’s got excellent control and a low 90s fastball, solid breaking balls and a decent change to keep the hitters off balanced.

21. Mark Trumbo, 1b, Class AA Arkansas Travelers
Born: 01/16/1986 - Height: 6' 4" - Weight: 220 - Bats: R
Season Stats: .272 avg, 22 2b, 11 hr, 61 rbi, .747 OPS

A slow first half knocks him down the list from his preseason top 10 ranking yet he seems to be finding his power stroke as of late which could boost him back into the upper echelon.

22. Tyler Chatwood, SP, Class A Cedar Rapids Kernels
Born: 12/16/1989 - Height: 5' 11" - Weight: 175 - Throws: R
Season Stats: 4.33 ERA, 79 ip, 75 h, 44 bb, 71 k, .261 BAA

Has shown tremendous stuff at times yet as with many young players, he is still finding his control. Has the ability to be a top 5 prospect in a system deep in pitching talent.

23. Terrell Alliman, RF, Class A Rookie Orem Owlz
Born: 10/15/1988 - Height: 6' 3" - Weight: 185 - Bats: R
Season Stats: .337 avg, 9 doubles, 8 rbi, 10bb/13k, 6 sb, .850 OPS

Picked up where he left off after an excellent 2008 in the AZL. On pace to more than double his bb total from a year ago while cutting his K’s nearly in half. Good extra base power so far as well.

24. Robert Mosebach, RP, Class AA/AAA (Currently in the Majors)
Born: 09/14/1984 - Height: 6' 4" - Weight: 195 - Throws: R
Season Stats: (combined AA/AAA) 4-1, 1.47 ERA, 10 sv, 49 ip, 36 h, 19 bb, 31 k, .212 BAA

In his first year as a reliever he started the season in AA yet has worked his way up to the big club. His fastball is tremendous and his strikeout numbers may improve as he becomes more comfortable coming out of the pen.

25. James Mallard, 1b/DH, Class A Rookie AZL Angels
Born: 08/23/1990 - Height: 6' 0" - Weight: 265 - Bats: R
Season Stats: .295 avg, 4 hr, 16 rbi, 6bb/15k, .840 OPS, 61 ab

An instant fan favorite he has already started to show the HR power that the Halos saw when they drafted him in the 18th round recently.

26. Tommy Mendoza, SP, Class AA Arkansas Travelers
Born: 08/18/1987 - Height: 6' 2" - Weight: 195 -Throws: R
Season Stats: 7-6, 3.36 ERA, 109.2 ip, 113 h, 29 bb, 71 k, .263 BAA

A nice bounce back season so far after getting the Rancho treatment last year has put him back on the radar.

27. Jeremy Moore, LF, Class A Ranch Cucamonga Quakes
Born: 06/29/1987 - Height: 6' 1" - Weight: 190 - Bats: L
Season Stats: .297 avg, 15 2b, 12 3b, 9 hrs, 51 rbi, 23 bb/113 k, .824 OPS

He’s “toolsy”. Good power/speed combo having a solid campaign yet still working on limiting those strikeouts and improving his plate discipline.

28. Jon Bachanov, P, Class A Rookie AZL Angels
Born: 01/30/1989 - Height: 6' 4" - Weight: 210 - Throws: R
Season Stats: 14.1 ip, 14 h, 3 BB, 23 K's, .246 BAA

Still building arm strength after Tommy John surgery, his most recent and longest outing included 3ip, 1h, 6k. The 2007 compensation pick could be a fast riser on the prospect list.

29. Dillon Baird, 1b, Class A Rookie Orem Owlz
Born: 01/13/1988 - Height: 6' 3" - Weight: 190 - Bats: L
Season Stats: .423 avg, 7 2b, 2 3b, 1 hr, 14 rbi, 9 bb/9 k, 1.120 ops

A recent 11th round pick off to a tremendous start for the Owlz. He led the pac-10 in hitting (.472avg), hits (51), doubles (13), and RBI (32) in his first and last year at the University of Arizona.

30. Baudilio Lopez, SP, Class A Rookie AZL Angels
Born: 11/20/1990 - Height: 6' 1" - Weight: 190 - Throws: R
Season Stats: 2-1, 2.48 ERA, 29 ip, 32 h, 8 bb, 25 k, .281 BAA

Terrific for the Halos DSL team last year and off to a strong start in Arizona this year. Had a 10k, 2h performance over 6.2ip on July 21st.e

Just outside the top 30: Manual Flores, Brad Coon, Michael Anton, Jayson Miller, Ryan Mount, Bobby Wilson, Gabe Jacobo, Carlos Martinez, Angel Castillo, Luis Jimenez, Steven Geltz, Jake Rife, Andrew Romine, Roberto Lopez, Vladimir Veras.

By David Saltzer - Columnist

If I were setting my lineup for the greatest baseball team of all time, there’s no doubt in my mind who would be leading off: Rickey Henderson. I remember him on the base paths just terrorizing Angels pitchers and making the game bend to his will. Much like how a mountain or glacier makes its own weather, Rickey Henderson made his own game out of the offense.

For all of his feats on the field, Rickey Henderson belongs in the Hall of Fame. And, as far as I know, there’s no moral reason why he should be barred from the Hall of Fame. He definitely led the class of potential players this year, and should have been a nearly unanimous selection for the Hall. But, as much as he belongs in there, I didn’t fell compelled to watch his induction into the Hall this past Sunday.

For me, Rickey Henderson will always be synonymous with player greed and arrogance. Between his numerous contract disputes and his self-proclamation about being the greatest, the luster of his baseball feats wore dull.

There are 2 incidents that best typify the Rickey Henderson that I remember. The first came prior to the start of the 1991 season when he was holding out from Spring Training for more money. The second came later that same year on May 1st, 1991.

In 1989, Rickey Henderson signed a 4-year $12 million dollar deal in 1989 making him the highest paid player at the time. He said the deal was about his pride—and he was known for having a lot of it. After all, he had framed one of his 6-figure bonus checks framed rather than cashing it .

But, two years later, in 1991, after Jose Canseco signed a 5 year $23.5 million deal, Rickey was a holdout for Spring Training and issued an ultimatum that the Athletics had until the end of Spring Training to renegotiate his deal or else. “It’s pride, period . . . I don't think my contract is fair. I don't think I'm 40th or 50th on the list. If nothing happens by the end of spring training, then I will have a decision to make. . . If they want to pay my like Mike Gallego I’ll play like Mike Gallego.”

Pride may be pride but contracts are contracts. The time to deal with pride was when he signed the deal in the first place, not 2 years later when it had been surpassed. No one forced him to sign a 4 year deal. He should have known that salaries would continue to go up. That’s what happens with inflation and a robust economy. If he always wanted to be the highest paid player in the game, he shouldn’t have signed such a long deal. The tactic he used had more in common with extortion than with legitimate negotiation.

The second incident became quite clear to me during college. In a religion course, I had to write a paper in which I either proved or disproved the existence of G-d. For extra credit, I could also prove or disprove a specific divine attribute.

As I thought about that paper (and procrastinated in writing it) I picked up the sports page. I just couldn’t come up with anything original to say about G-d. But, when I looked at the Sports page, the answer I needed was staring me right in the face: the answer was Rickey Henderson.

On May 1st, 1991, Rickey Henderson broke Lou Brock’s all-time stolen base record. For days Rickey brought Lou Brock to every game with him so that Lou could be there in attendance when Rickey broke his record. When Rickey finally did break the record, Rickey Henderson stopped the game in the middle of the game, took the bag out of the ground and said at the end of his speech “Lou Brock was a great base stealer, but today, I am the greatest all-time.”

Arrogance is the opposite of humility. It comes from pride and not knowing one’s place in the universe. In that statement, Rickey Henderson’s demonstrated arrogance on a level rarely seen. It was bad enough that he was a well-known illeist (constantly referring to himself in the third person). And even worse that Rickey disrupted the game for about 20 minutes during the game while a microphone was setup for him to give a speech in which he upstaged his predecessor instead of waiting to be interviewed after the game like every other baseball player. But the self-proclamation took arrogance to an insurmountable level.

If you do a Google search for May 1, 1991 and add the word baseball, the first entries that you will find do not talk about Rickey Henderson. In fact, the Sports page that I read that day barely mentioned him on the front page and only had minimal coverage of him on page 7.

Like in the story of the Tower of Babel, on May 1st, 1991, G-d took notice of Rickey Henderson’s arrogance and responded by causing confusion for baseball historians forever. For on that day, Nolan Ryan pitched his 7th career no-hitter. And, unlike Rickey Henderson, Nolan did not stop the game in progress to give a speech. He did not proclaim himself the greatest pitcher of all-time. He did not focus all the attention on himself. Instead, he talked about his teammates and the incredible plays they made during the game to allow him to pitch the no-hitter. In almost every way, Nolan Ryan demonstrated the exact opposite of Rickey Henderson. He showed humility. G-d is a baseball fan, and G-d does not like arrogant players.

As a lifelong Angels fan, I will always remember Rickey Henderson. While he briefly played for us, what I will remember most is how dangerous he was as an opponent. His unique crouch at the plate, his leadoff homeruns, his confidence and swagger are incomparable. He’s on my all-time team, and rightfully belongs in the Hall of Fame.

But, as a lifelong baseball fan, I didn’t feel the need to watch his Hall of Fame induction ceremony. I wouldn’t want to enlarge his ego any more than it is. The good news is that Rickey appears to have learned a thing or two from 1991—at the end of his speech he gave the classic quote a twist saying that "I am now in the class of the greatest players of all time, and at this moment, I am, very, very humbled. Thank you." At least this time he chose not to slide across home plate as he rounded the bases for his 3000th hit.

As for my paper, I got an “A”. Apparently my professor was a baseball fan too.

Sean O'Sullivan threw a no hitter last night for the Bees. The first ever in Bees history.

O'Sullivan: 9 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, BB, 7 K (5.66) (AAA)
Coon: 3-4, 3 singles, RBI, BB (.278) (AAA)
Wilson: 1-3, double, BB (.283) (AAA)
Reckling: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 9 K (2.67) (AA)
Bourjos: 0-3, 2 BB (.291) (AA)
Trumbo: 1-4, HR (11), 4 RBI, K (.272) (AA)
Conger: 1-1, single, 2 BB, HBP (.296) (AA)
Sutton: 2-3, double, single, BB, K (.298) (AA)
Torres: 8 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K (2.74) (A+)
Romine: 2-4, 2 singles, RBI (.269) (A+)
Moore: 3-4, triple, single, K (.294) (A+)
Brossman: 2-4, double, single, RBI (.268) (A+)
Amarista: 3-5, 3 singles (.310) (A)
Brooks: 2-3, 2 singles, BB (.276) (A)
Castillo: 1-3, single, RBI, K (.235) (A)
Segura: 2-5, double, single, RBI (.373) (Rookie Orem)
Ramirez: 2-4, 2 singles, BB (.429) (Rookie Orem)
Witherspoon: 2-4, 2 triples, RBI, K (.209) (Rookie Orem)
Gomez: 1-3, single, 2 BB (.278) (AZL Angels)
Oliver: 2-4, 2 singles, RBI, K (.307) (AZL Angels)
Grichuk: 2-4, 2 singles, RBI, BB (.312) (AZL Angels)
Almanzar: 3-5, 3 singles, K (.373) (AZL Angels)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mike Scioscia - Photo by Geoff Bilau (

By Geoff Bilau - Senior Editor
Reporting from Angel Stadium

It took simultaneous disabled list visits by the team’s would be MVP and perennial MVP, but since July 10 Angels fans have learned once and for all who is the 2009 Angels’ MVP — there can no longer be any question that person is Mike Scioscia.

From the strength he showed as the team’s guide through the Nick Adenhart tragedy just three days into the season to the patience he has shown time and again, often flying in the face of his most vocal critics, Scioscia’s touch has proven every bit as calculated and precise as any time during his 10 seasons in Anaheim. Not so much a Midas touch, but more like that of a master painter, whose brush strokes are often best appreciated after one has had time to take a step back and view them as a whole.

Scioscia stuck with a talented, but enigmatic Erick Aybar at shortstop when so many wondered what he saw in him. There was the botched squeeze play to end the 2008 postseason, a less flashy yet consistently clutch veteran challenger in Maicer Izturis and the franchise’s top prospect, shortstop Brandon Wood, murdering the baseball in AAA.

But now with his .439 batting average, 16 runs and 17 RBI in July, Aybar has turned himself not just into the team’s No. 1 shortstop, but also a guy the team seems hesitant to trade for much needed pitching help.

When Robb Quinlan was batting .125 on May 21, people wondered what he had done to deserve the occasional starts Scioscia continued to give him. But since being pressed into regular duty by the injuries to Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero, Quinlan has batted .412 with two home runs and six RBI in his last six starts.

When Howie Kendrick’s batting average dipped to .231 on June 11, the usually patient Scioscia had finally seen enough and sent the struggling star-in-waiting back to AAA. After three weeks during which Kendrick seemed to regain his stroke, Scioscia recalled him, ensuring he’d face the Yankees, a team Kendrick has tormented during his young career. During the 16 games without Hunter and Guerrero (and eight without Juan Rivera), Kendrick has batted .415 with four doubles, a home run, nine runs scored and nine driven in.

On July 8, the Angels lost to Texas, falling to 46-37 and a game behind the division-leading Rangers. Following an off day, the Angels welcomed the Yankees to Anaheim, placed Hunter and Guerrero on the disabled list — and inexplicably won 12 of the next 13 games, beginning with a sweep of the Bronx Bombers right before the All-Star break.

Scioscia predictably deflects any credit for the hot streak that saw the Angels score 100 runs in those 13 games and reclaim first place in the Western Division.

“I think we have a deep club,” he said. “We look to guys like Gary Matthews; Mike Napoli’s had a chance to swing the bat every day; a guy like Howie Kendrick rebounding and getting back to his game since he’s come up or Bobby Abreu with his consistency. We’ve got a solid core with a deep bench of guys who had been battling for at-bats and are now getting them. They’ve managed to keep our offense going.”

Scioscia’s careful handling of that battle, of course, has a lot to do with the success bench players like Izturis, Matthews, Quinlan and Reggie Willits are now enjoying since being pressed into regular action.

“I’ve always thought that being manager of a team like this would be extremely hard,” Willits said. “I mean, look at the outfield from a standpoint that he’s got like five All-Stars out there; so much depth in the outfield, so much depth in the infield with Howie, Izturis and Aybar. Even at catcher with Mathis and Napoli. He’s got a tremendously tough job, but I think he does a great job getting us our at-bats.”

Willits, however, doesn’t think Scioscia is doing anything this season differently than he has in the past. And that, ultimately, is the unspoken secret to Scioscia’s success.

“He’s just the same as he’s always been,” Willits said. “He keeps us loose. It’s a clubhouse where we have a good time and enjoy ourselves, but when it’s time to get down to it we play the game hard. He’s always prepared, even keeled and laid back. I think the team just feeds off that vibe.”

In July, they’ve been feasting.

By Bruce Nye - Columnist

For the second time this year, an contributor has been granted a full press credential for a regular season game. Senior Editor Geoff Bilau will do the honors on July 28, 2009, for the Angels game against the visiting Cleveland Indians. On July 5th, Chuck Richter became the first blogger to be given a full access press pass by Angels organization. A move Tim Mead acknowledged on July 3rd at our Summer Fanfest.

"We're always looking for new ways to communicate with the Angels fan base and this is another venue for that communication," said Tim Mead, Angels vice president of communications. "This is the first time we've done this and Chuck and have earned the opportunity."

Southern California Angels fans have been accustomed to hearing on the airwaves and in the media in the past. Back during the name change news and trials in 2004-2006, KNX 1070 news radio contacted Chuck Richter to represent the fans and be featured live on the radio on two different occasions throughout the 2004 campaign. Richter was told by the KNX 1070 host that the fansite was viewed as "the voice of the fans".

After the name change trial was all but wrapped up in favor of the Angels ruling to include the name "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim" -- ESPN caught the news after Richter was interviewed in January of 2006 by the associated press.

Angels' broadcasters Rex Hudler & Steve Physioc have also taken notice of With the tagline of the website ringing true. "An Angels Web site of the fans, by the fans, for the fans".

During the telecast right after the seventh inning stretch in Seattle during the Angels vs. Mariners game on April 16th, 2009 - Rex Hudler and Steve Physioc pointed out founder and executive editor Chuck Richter in the stands sitting next to contributor Eric Notti. Steve Physioc was very complimentary of the website live during the telecast. "They got some very good writers, some very good information on the Angels. Not only of the major league system, they will break down the minor league system as well".

Rex Hudler took notice of the large community of Angels fans on the net during a live radio broadcast in Spring Training vs. the Oakland A's on March 15th. "Man I had no idea they have a city, a virtual city of Angels fans at". has enjoyed a close relationship with the Angels front office and especially with the Angels flagship station KLAA AM 830. The Website has delivered content to KLAA for more than a year and a half, through both articles and on-air contributors, and earned accolades from Angels President Dennis Kuhl, who commented, “the content, it’s great. It just enhances everything. I like the idea. The big thing now for a Website to work is that it needs content – and good content – and that’s what you have supplied for us. It helps both of us out.”

During the week, KLAA listeners enjoy “The Richter Scale,” an weekly overview of Angels minor league prospects’ performances aired each Wednesday evening with founder Chuck Richter, and also frequent on-air appearances from contributors Adam Dodge, Eric Denton and Bilau.

Tonight, Geoff Bilau will be granted full access to players, front office officials and coaches on the field during the pre-game and post-game activities and during the game will work alongside the “mainstream media” in the press box, which has traditionally been reserved for print media types only.

Check the Website during and after the game for Bilau’s up-to-the-minute observations and a feature article written from the press box with player/manager comments collected down on the field.

Peter Bourjos is back in action with the Travelers. Went 2-4 with a triple and RBI last night

Coon: 2-4, 2 singles, RBI, BB, K (.272) (AAA)
Wilson: 1-4, double, 3 RBI (.283) (AAA)
Mendoza: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, BB, 3 K, HR (3.36) (AA)
Bourjos: 2-4, triple, single, RBI (.294) (AA)
Trumbo: 1-4, single, RBI, BB, 2 K (.272) (AA)
Smith: 3-5, double, 2 singles, RBI (.257) (AA)
Moore: 3-4, 3 singles, BB, K (.292) (A+)
Brossman: 2-3, double, single, RBI, BB (.261) (A+)
Phillips: 3-5, HR (8), 2 singles, 3 RBI, K (.218) (A+)
Chatwood: 5 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K (4.33) (A)
Brooks: 2-4, 2 singles, K (.270) (A)
Crawford: 2-4, 2 singles, RBI (.295) (A)
De Los Santos: 1-3, HR (4), 2 RBI, HBP (.214) (A)
Segura: 1-4, single, BB (.372) (Rookie Orem)
Baird: 3-5, HR (1), double, single, 2 RBI, 2 K (.439) (Rookie Orem)
Wing: 2-4, triple, double, RBI, BB, 2 K (.312) (Rookie Orem)
Ramirez: 3-4, double, 2 singles, 3 RBI (.412) (Rookie Orem)
Witherspoon: 2-4, 2 singles (.190) (Rookie Orem)
Jang: 7 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K (3.59) (AZL Angels)
Mallard: 1-4, single, RBI, BB (.295) (AZL Angels)
Grichuk: 2-5, double, single, K (.306) (AZL Angels)
Almanzar: 3-5, double, 2 singles, RBI, K (.357) (AZL Angels)

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Angels eight game winning streak came to an end on Sunday against the Minnesota Twins, but the club will try to start a new one starting tonight as the Cleveland Indians come to town.

Joe Saunders looks to put his personal skid to an end as well. Saunders is 3-5 with a 6.34 ERA in his last 13 starts. Additionally the southpaw has an 8.18 ERA in four starts in July.

With the struggles of Saunders and Ervin Santana the Angels will be searching for pitching help as the July 31st trade deadline approaches. Top on their list is the Toronto Blue Jay's Roy Halladay. Fox is reporting the Jays have asked for Joe Saunders, Brandon Wood, Erick Aybar and a minor leaguer, either pitchers Trevor Reckling, Sean O'Sullivan or outfielder Peter Bourjos.

Mike Napoli is making the most out of steady at bats.

Chone Figgins talks to about the career of Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson.

Torii Hunter blogs that he was upset that he didn't get to meet President Obama at the All Star Game in St. Louis. His new goal is to meet the President at the White House with his teammates after they win the World Series.

The OC Register's Jeff Miller writes that this current Angel team is playing so well it has Mike Scioscia having flashbacks to 2002.

Up Next - Indians at Angels

Monday - Carl Pavano (8-8, 5.48) vs. Joe Saunders (8-6, 4.94)
Tuesday - David Huff (5-4, 6.39) vs. Jered Weaver (10-3, 3.57)
Wednesday - Aaron Laffey (4-2, 3.71) vs. John Lackey (6-4, 4.22)

By Coral Marshall - Columnist

Relief pitching has been an important baseball strategy since Firpo Marberry made the position relevant in the early 20th century. And when one considers how the game has evolved, the advent of the reliever is one of the most significant changes.

When there were two man rotations relievers weren’t necessary, but as time has progressed and starting pitchers arms have become increasingly more valuable so has the role of the reliever. The numbers tell the story best; Randy Johnson leads all active players in complete games with 100, but he has pitched in a total of 613 games. The obvious conclusion is that relievers have come into play in 513 of Randy Johnson’s games — making them absolutely necessary in the modern era.

In recent years, Angels fans especially have become accustomed to the relevance of relievers, particularly because the club has boasted some of the best in the game — with a special emphasis on the position of the closer.

For 10 years, Troy Percival was a member of the Angels bullpen. Watching Percy was always a pleasure, especially during the stretch from 2001 to 2004 when he had 39, 40, 33, and 33 saves, respectively; numbers that can’t be overlooked. And his saves in the 2002 World Series were

Percy was possibly the most fun to watch when Frankie Rodriguez was setting up for him from 2002 to 2004. And after Percy left and K-Rod came into his own, he too was fun to watch — in spite of (or perhaps because of) his erratic delivery. K-Rod’s pinnacle of pitching success may not have been his 2002 World Series appearances, but his 62 save season.

Besides being great Angels closers, Frankie and Percy had something else in common: they came up with the club. They were true Angels. They helped win the first and only World Series title.

So when Frankie left, many were fans were upset, despite the fact the club signed a three-time All Star, who recorded a 30-save season in 2008, as his replacement. Brian Fuentes may have had fewer walks and more strikeouts than Frankie in 2008, but he has never had anywhere near a 62-save season, has never won a World Series and, most importantly, was coming from another team. For many Angels fans, this was a lot to swallow, along with the slow start to Fuentes first season with the Angels.

But as the season has progressed it has become clear that Fuentes deserves a spot in the hearts of the fans. Fuentes has seven more saves than Rodriguez and has allowed 14 fewer bases on balls through Sunday's game.

But numbers alone don't really tell the whole story of why Fuentes has become a real Angel. He made the All-Star Game with his league-leading 26 saves in 34 appearances. Despite not making an appearance in the game, his election by his peers and coaches is nothing to be ignored. And In the weekend series before the All-Star Game, Fuentes helped the club complete a sweep against the powerful Yankees. After an abysmal appearance by Justin Speier, Fuentes came in and made the save, getting Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez out in true Angel form.

Fuentes, now up to 30 saves after going 4-for-4 in save opportunities after the All Star Game break - has continued to make it clear he deserves his spot as the Angels closer, since he doesn’t leave much for Angels’ fans to miss. As a result, Angels' fans around the country have popped less over the counter antacid pills heading into the ninth inning when Fuentes toes the rubber.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Brandon Phillips little brother Patrick hit his 7th home run of the season last night

Conger: 1-3, single, BB (.292) (AA)
Trumbo: 2-4, 2 singles, 2 RBI (.272) (AA)
Statia: 1-4, double, K (.221) (AA)
Kohn: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K (1.59) (A+)
Phillips: 2-4, HR (7), double, 2 RBI (.215) (A+)
Navarro: 2-4, double, single (.304) (A+)
Segura: 2-5, 2 singles (.387) (Rookie Orem)
Bass: 2-5, 2 singles, RBI, K (.297) (Rookie Orem)
Haerther: 2-4, double, single, RBI (.339) (Rookie Orem)
Baird: 2-4, triple, single, RBI (.411) (Rookie Orem)
Karcich: 2-4, HR (1), single, RBI (.236) (Rookie Orem)

Off-day: AZL Angels
Postponed: Salt Lake, Cedar Rapids

Friday, July 24, 2009

Mark Trumbo hit his 10th HR of the season last night for the Arkansas Travelers

Bell: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, BB, 6 K (2.50) (AAA)
Wilson: 2-4, 2 singles (.268) (AAA)
Reckling: 6 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 5 K, HBP (2.87) (AA)
Statia: 1-4, double, BB (.221) (AA)
Conger: 1-5, single, RBI (.291) (AA)
Trumbo; 1-4, HR (10), 3 RBI (.270) (AA)
Torres: 6.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K (2.94) (A+)
Estrella: 2-4, double, single, 2 RBI (.252) (A+)
Fuller: 2-3, double, single (.233) (A+)
Amarista: 3-5, triple, 2 doubles, 3 RBI, K (.311) (A)
Auer: 2-5, 2 singles (.302) (A)
Jacobo; 1-5, single, RBI, K (.251) (A)
Castillo: 1-4, double (.235) (A)
Crawford: 2-4, 2 singles (.293) (A)
De Los Santos: 1-4, single, 2 K (.211) (A)
Segura: 3-6, 3 doubles, RBI (.387) (Rookie Orem)
Haerther: 2-5, double, single, 2 RBI (.328) (Rookie Orem)
Ramirez: 2-3, 2 singles (.333) (Rookie Orem)
Cates: 3-5, double, 2 singles, RBI (.275) (Rookie Orem)
Grichuk: 3-5, double, 2 singles, 3 RBI, BB (.315) (AZL Angels)
Trout: 0-3, RBI, 2 BB (.326) (AZL Angels)
Alvarez: 3-4, 3 singles, RBI, BB (.300) (AZL Angels)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Angels return home after abusing the Oakland Athletics and Kansas City Royals on their seven game road trip. Halo offense is off the charts right now even without mainstays Torii Hunter, Vladimir Guerrero and Juan Rivera. Currently Los Angeles is first in MLB in batting average (.284) second in runs scored (509) and fourth in OPS (.790).

The biggest issue for the Angels right now has got to be the performance of starting pitcher Joe Saunders. Saunders suffered the only loss on the road trip in Oakland and was pummeled by the lowly Royals. LA Times blogger Steve Bisheff asks the question "How much longer can Saunders stay in the rotation"? With no viable options other than Matt Palmer, Shane Loux & Sean O'Sullivan within, the answer is probably "the foreseeable future" unless GM Tony Reagins pulls off a trade for a starting pitcher.

Terry Evans has been recalled from Salt Lake City to give the bench some added outfield depth. O'Sullivan has been optioned back to AAA as the Angels wont need a 5th starter again until August 8th and he will not be available to pitch on four days rest this coming Saturday. That start will likely go to Matt Palmer but nothing has been officially decided. Evans is batting .290 with 19 homers and 66 RBI in 93 games for the Bees.

Bobby Abreu is getting it done with 47 RBI in his last 45 games. Abreu may be the steal of the winter free agent signings in MLB. The Angels might be wise to keep him around for another season.

Today the Angels unveiled the 2010 All Star Game logo. 2010 will mark the first time since 1989 that Anaheim has hosted the All Star festivities. The team sent a group of front office officials to take in the 2009 game last week in St. Louis to take notes.

"We're bringing this thing west now to Southern California, and we're looking forward to putting our signature on the 81st All Star Game" said Angels VP of Communications Tim Mead.

"Arte Moreno: Angels not out of Halladay/Lee sweepstakes according to Bill Shaikin from the LA Times.

Angels owner Arte Moreno said today that the club remains interested in acquiring an ace starter and has not heard anything that would preclude the pursuit of the likes of Toronto's Roy Halladay and Cleveland's Cliff Lee.

"We're keeping all our options open," Moreno said. "If we can see a fair deal for someone we believe can help our team, we're going to compete there. We don't have any financial constraints." More

FSN is adding Gar "The Batting Stance Guy" Ryness to the Angels broadcasts.

NYJets rookie quarterback and 2009 Rose Bowl Champion and MVP Mark Sanchez, who is a supporter of the Hollenbeck Youth Center, will throw out the first pitch on July 23rd.

UP NEXT - Twins at Angels
TV: FS-W (Thurs & Fri) FOX 11 (Sat) KCOP (Sun)

Thurs - Scott Baker (8-7, 5.10) vs Jered Weaver (10-3, 3.48)
Fri - Francisco Liriano (4-9, 5.33) vs John Lackey (5-4, 4.39)
Sat - Nick Blackburn (8-4, 3.44) vs Undecided
Sun - Anthony Swarzak (2-3, 4.15) vs Ervin Santana (3-5, 6.79)

Chris Pettit is back with the Bees. Went 2-4 with 2 RBI last night. Hitting .368 on the season

Pettit: 2-4, 2 singles, 2 RBI (.368) (AAA)
Wilson: 1-3, single, RBI, BB (.264) (AAA)
Conger: 0-2, 2 BB (.293) (AA)
Trumbo: 2-4, HR (9), single, RBI, K (.270) (AA)
Mount: 1-4, single, RBI, 2 K (.265) (AA)
Phillips: 2-4, 2 singles (.212) (A+)
Rosario: 2-3, double, single, K (.212) (A+)
Navarro: 2-3, double, single, RBI, BB (.302) (A+)
Fuller: 2-4, triple, single, RBI, K (.229) (A+)
Romine: 2-3, 2 singles (.274) (A+)
Jacobo: 2-4, triple, single, RBI (.252) (A)
Correa: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, HR (3.96) (A)
Jang: 7.1 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, BB, 3 K (3.76) (AZL Angels)
Mallard: 1-3, single (.296) (AZL Angels)
Jimenez: 2-4, 2 singles (.232) (AZL Angels)
Long: 3-4, 3 singles (.312) (AZL Angels)

Off-day: Rookie Orem

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dillon Baird seen above with the UOA earned the top spot in this weeks' Prospect Hotlist

By David Saltzer – Columnist

This was a tough week for the Hot Prospect team. There were many good performances to highlight--both at the plate and on the mound. So, there’s no doubt that we’ve left some stellar performances off the list. But, we’re taking it as a good sign that the organization has the talent to make our job tough. As Angels fans, we’re never going to complain about that!

1. Dillon Baird, 1B, Class A Orem Owlz
Past 7 Days: 10/17 (.588), 5 Doubles, 0 Triples, 0 HR, 3 Runs, 7 RBIs, 0 SBs
Overall: .429/.508/.571 with 0 HRs and 1 SB

What’s Up: After leading the Pac-10 in BA, Hits, Doubles, Total Bases, and RBIs this year, Dillon Baird has continued his hot-hitting ways. The left-handed hitting (right-handed throwing) 1B has been hitting .485 for the month of July, and may be yet another sleeper in the deep 2009 draft. John Gracio, an Angels scout who has followed Baird since high school said “He showed all the qualities of a good infielder with good actions, he showed an above-average arm at third base, he needed to mature as a hitter, and going down to the University of Arizona ... he did mature as a hitter. And that's one of the reasons why we took him." During our post-draft chat, Eddie Bane said “Plate discipline has always been a play in our system, but yes it is an extra look now. Baird led the Pac-10 in hitting. Last guy I drafted that won that crown was Paul LoDuca. Hope the same happens with Dillon.” We couldn’t hope for more.

2. Jake Rife, LF, Class A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes
Past 7 Days: 11/21 (.524), 3 Doubles, 2 Triples, 0 HR, 4 Runs, 5 RBI, 2 SBs
Overall: .422/.486/.667 with 1 HRs and 6 SBs

What’s Up: Possibly a late round steal for the Angels (48th round) out of the University of Washington, Jake has been on the fast track since signing. He’s jumped from AZL through Orem and all the way up to Rancho this week. He skipped right over Cedar Rapids. Facing tougher competition hasn’t slowed him down though. One of Jake’s doubles and SBs came on a pinch hitting performance in the 10th inning. With 1 out and a man on first, Jake doubled and took 3rd on a throwing error (no RBI). He then stole home to give the Owlz a 2-run lead and the win. Long term, Jake profiles as a speedy LFer with patience at the plate.

3. Fabio Martinez, RHP, Class A AZL Angels
Past 7 Days: 0-1, 0 Saves, 1.80 ERA, 10.0 IP, 7 H, 4 BB, 20 K, 1.10 WHIP
Overall: 2-1, 0 Saves, 1.86 ERA, 29.0 IP, 17 H, 16 BB, 47 K, 1.14 WHIP, .167 BAA

What’s Up: A 19 year old prospect out of the Dominican Republic, Fabio Martinez has been just dominating the competition since signing with the Angels as a 17 year old. Last year, Martinez posted a 6-1 record with a 1.53 ERA and a 93:32 K:BB ratio. This year, he’s on the same pace. He throws a mid-90s fastball and a plus slider. Baseball America had him on their “Helium Watch” for July 17th, and said that his “upside makes him one of the Angels’ most promising young.” With players like Chatwood, Chafee, Reckling, Smith, Torres and Walden ahead of him in the organization, that is a lofty comparison.

4. Jean Segura, 2B, Class A Orem Olwz
Past 7 Days: 12/33 (364), 2 Doubles, 0 Triples, 0 HR, 5 Runs, 5 RBIs, 3 SB
Overall: 386/427/545 with 3 HRs and 8 SBs

What’s Up: The rave reviews for Jean Segua keep coming in. The latest is from one of our fans Stevestevens “I have seen him play three times and he is good. Great approach each AB. He is the best hitter on the team by far.” Segura is riding a 15-game hitting streak at the moment and earlier in the week set an Orem Owlz franchise record by collecting 5 hits in 1 game. As Mike Eylward, the Owlz hitting coach said after Segura’s 5-hit day “[Segura] is really locked in right now . . . He has the power and the speed which makes him a very tough out. This is a day that doesn't happen very often in baseball."

5. Randal Grichuk, OF, Class A AZL Angels
Past 7 Days: 9/22 (.409), 2 Doubles, 0 Triples, 1 HR, 2 Runs, 9 RBIs, 0 SBs
Overall: .306/.327/.459 with 1 HR and 3 SBs

What’s Up: Like the Beach Boys hit, Grichuk is real fine at .409 this week. His biggest production came Monday night when he went 4 for 5 with 7 RBIs against the AZL Dodgers. He collected his 6th double of the season that night along with his first HR. Grichuk still needs to work on his plate discipline. He has only 3 walks on the season along with 30 Ks in 98 ABs. But, the makings to be a power-hitting OFer are clearly there.

6. Terry Evans, OF, Class AAA Salt Lake Bees
Past 7 Days: 8/25 (.320), 2 Doubles, 0 Triples, 2 HRs, 5 Runs, 6 RBIs, 0 SBs
Overall: .290/.333/.528 with 19 HRs and 20 SBs

What’s Up: What a nice week for Terry Evans. Aside from tearing up the Pacific Coast League, he just got promoted up to Anaheim. While he has the power and speed to be an ML OFer, he still needs to improve his plate discipline (he has a 106:24 K:BB ratio). Evans profiles as a role player for the Angels, with some speed and pop to come off the bench and can provide depth in the event that Rivera’s injury limits his activity on the field.

7. Will Smith, LHP, Class A Cedar Rapids Kernels
Past 7 Days: 2-0, 0 Saves, 3.46 ERA, 13.0 IP, 14 H, 2 BB, 8 K, 1.23 WHIP
Overall: 8-3, 0 Saves, 3.29 ERA, 90.1 IP, 84 H, 19 BB, 75 K, 1.14 WHIP, .247 BAA

What’s Up: It’s been a few weeks since we’ve seen one of the Kernels’ rotation on our Hot Prospect List. That has a lot to do with the timing of the list, as there were several times when they were pitching well, but, unfortunately had an off game right before the list came out. Overall the Kernels starters (Chaffee, Chatwood, Correa, Flores and Smith) are a combined 29-21 with a 3.69 ERA and a 340:152 K:BB ratio in 463.2 innings. All potentially have high ceilings, and all should continue to advance through the organization.

8. Jayson Miller, LHP, Class A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes
Past 7 Days: 0-1, 0 Saves, 2.05 ERA, 13.2 IP, 12 H, 1 BB, 8 K, 0.95 WHIP
Overall: 5-7, 0 Saves, 3.80 ERA, 111.1 IP, 130 H, 18 BB, 76 K, 1.33 WHIP, .292 BAA

What’s Up: Miller is a left-handed control specialist who continues to get hitters out. Drafted out of Washington State University in the 30th round of 2008, he had the most wins for the Cougars since 2004. Miller mixes speeds well and keeps hitters off balance. At the same time, he can expand the zone and still throw pitches for strikes. He’s the kind of pitcher who can give a team a chance to win most games. Long term, though, a move to the pen may make some sense for Miller as his control could be much more useful in a critical situation and would give him his best chance for rapid advancement to the majors.

9. Pil Joon Jang, RHP, Class A AZL Angels
Past 7 Days: 1-0, 0 Saves, 1.13 ERA, 8.0 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 9 K, 0.50 WHIP
Overall: 3-2, 0 Saves, 4.05 ERA, 33.1 IP, 24 H, 5 BB, 24 K, 0.87 WHIP, .200 BAA

What’s Up: One of our 2 South Korean pitchers, Jang has been having a Jekyll and Hyde season so far. In his 4 home starts, he has only given up 1 run per start, for an ERA of 1.44 in 25.0 innings. In his 2 road starts, he’s given up a combined 11 runs for an 11.88 ERA. This could be explained by adjusting to a new country and a new league. Jang’s control appears to be quite good: he has yet to allow more than 2 walks or 6 hits in any of his starts. Jang sports a mid-90s fastball and should continue to get better as his comfort level improves.

10. Brad Salmon, RHP, Class A Cedar Rapids Kernels
Past 7 Days: 1-0, 0 Saves, 0.00 ERA, 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 3 K, 0.71 WHIP
Overall: 4-2, 0 Saves, 4.09 ERA, 55.0 IP, 58 H, 30 BB, 47 K, 1.60 WHIP, 269 BAA

What’s Up: This journeyman pitcher was signed as a free agent to help provide depth when all of our starters went down at the start of the season. Salmon has seen some time in the majors with Cincinnati in 2007, owning and 0-1 record, 4.13 ERA in 24.0 IPs, and a 22:10 K:BB ratio. At Salt Lake, Salmon has split time between the bullpen and the starting rotation. This past week he got the start and ended up being named pitcher for the week for the Pacific Coast League.

Photo By - Alan Hawes/The Post and Courier - Michael Kohn fans 5 through 2 innings of work

Rodriguez: 2-4, 2 singles, RBI, BB, K (.287) (AAA)
Evans: 2-4, 2 singles, RBI, K (.290) (AAA)
Wilson: 1-5, HR (8), 3 RBI (.263) (AAA)
Sutton: 3-3, 2 doubles, single, RBI, BB (.268) (AAA)
Conger: 0-2, 2 BB (.294) (AA)
Mount: 1-3, single, K (.266) (AA)
Colmenares: 2-4, triple, single, K (.310) (A+)
Perez: 2-3, 2 singles, K (.265) (A+)
Kohn: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, BB, 5 K (1.80) (A+)
Segura: 1-4, single, BB, 2 K (.389) (Rookie Orem)
Bass: 2-5, 2 singles, RBI, K (.309) (Rookie Orem)
Baird: 2-3, double, single, 2 RBI, K (.429) (Rookie Orem)
Lopez: 6.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, BB, 10 K (2.45) (AZL Angels)
Gomez: 3-5, 3 singles, 2 K (.286) (AZL Angels)
Alvarez: 2-4, 2 singles (.284) (AZL Angels)

Off-day: Cedar Rapids

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Angels 48th pick in the '09 draft Jake Rife has been on fire in the minors with a .450 BA

Evans: 2-5, HR (19), double (.287) (AAA)
Wilson: 2-4, 2 singles, RBI (.264) (AAA)
Statia: 1-4, single, RBI, BB (.223) (AA)
Conger: 1-4, single, BB, K (.296) (AA)
Trumbo: 2-5, 2 singles, RBI, K (.271) (AA)
Navarro: 2-5, 2 singles, RBI (.300) (A+)
Rife: 2-4, 2 singles, RBI (.450) A+
Phillips: 2-4, double, single, RBI (.208) (A+)
Chatwood: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K (4.38) (A)
Amarista: 2-5, 2 singles (.310) (A)
Castillo: 2-4, double, single, RBI, K (.238) (A)
Segura: 2-5, 2 singles, 2 RBI, BB (.394) (Rookie Orem)
Haerther: 2-4, 2 singles, RBI, BB (.327) (Rookie Orem)
Baird: 3-5, 2 doubles, single, RBI, BB, K (.413) (Rookie Orem)
Alliman: 2-4, 2 singles, 2 BB, K (.346) (Rookie Orem)
Cates: 2-4, triple, single, 4 RBI, BB (.242) (Rookie Orem)
Grichuk: 4-5, HR (1), 3 singles, 7 RBI, K (.319) (AZL Angels)
Trout: 2-4, double, single (.455) (AZL Angels)
Bachanov: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, BB, 3 K (4.76) (AZL Angels)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

By Chuck Richter - Executive Editor

While there is a lot of talk about the Blue Jays shopping Roy Halladay, perhaps the Angels should approach the Diamondbacks about a possible Dan Haren trade.

Today, the Diamondbacks who are clearly out of it in the NL West traded a productive young 2B in Felipe Lopez. Knowing the Diamondbacks minor league talent and depth, I can tell you they don't have anyone in the near future that's neither talented enough to wait on or ready to fill in now and be productive at the 2B spot. Interesting move by Arizona because they didn't get a 2B or middle infielder back in the deal with the Brewers today. Lopez is making just 3.5 million this season, though he was a free agent at the end of the season. I'm surprised Josh Byrnes didn't approach Felipe Lopez with a contract extension.

Maybe there is something coming down the Arizona to California pipeline. The hometown state of Angels owner Arte Moreno who still has connections inside the Diamondbacks organization.

The Angels have an enormous amoung of depth and talent at the middle infield positions and have the young pitching to give up to acquire a Dan Haren, who arguably is having a better overall season than Halladay, is younger and has an incredible contract for a player of his stature. Dan Haren's contract is at 4 years/$44.75M (2009-12), plus 2013 club option.

Through a little more than half a season, Dan Haren has posted a 1.96 ERA 0.80 WHIP, is 10-5 on a bad team and has fanned almost a batter an inning (137 K's in 138 innings).

Playing GM for today, this would be my offer.

The Angels send either second baseman Howie Kendrick or Sean Rodriguez - giving the Diamondbacks a productive young 2B who can start now for the club and provide some offense. The Diamondbacks would probably favor Howie Kendrick in the deal, which could give Sean Rodriguez more seasoning at the position this season in Salt Lake, putting Sean in a position to take over as the primary second baseman in 2010. The Angels could either move Figgins from third-base to second base and insert Brandon Wood at third-base, or just have Izturis take over as the primary second baseman for the rest of the season.

The 2nd player in the deal would be LHP Joe Saunders. This would give the Diamondbacks a pitcher they could insert immediately into their rotation. The Diamondbacks have expressed interest in Joe in the past. The Angels could easily get the same type of current production they've received out of Saunders from O'Sullivan going forward. Like Saunders, O'Sullivan has the type of confidence on the mound that Saunders has with an assortment of pitches which saw Sean win two consecutive ERA titles in the minors.

The third player of the deal could be either RHP prospect and former #1 pick Trevor Bell (7-5 2.26 ERA and .210 BAA in '09) or LHP prospect pitcher Trevor Reckling (6-5, 2.36 ERA, just 20 years old in Double-A) who was the lone representative from the Futures Game last week. Either one of these young arms are talented and top tier prospects in my opinion. Bell could probably start right now in the big leagues while Eddie Bane said in a recent chat with us that Trevor Reckling has what it takes to pitch in the big leagues NOW.

Finally, we could ship Jordan Walden as a PTBNL (he's on the DL) to complete the deal with the Diamondbacks, giving them either a future potential closer or frontline starter down the road.

That's a load of talent to give up for one player, but considering the Angels may lose John Lackey to free agency, Kelvin Escobar is finished as a starting pitcher and their is uncertainty about Ervin Santana going forward, it's a move worth making. Especially when you consider you would have Haren through 2014 if you picked up his option at the backend of his contract and you'd still retain top prospects' Brandon Wood, Hank Conger, either one of Trevor's, Sean O'Sullivan, Alex Torres and boast an impressive group of young hurlers from Low-A ball for the future.

The rotation for the dog days of summer and AL West pennant race would be a nightmare to face, especially in October having to face Haren, Lackey and Weaver in the playoffs.

Dan Haren
John Lackey
Jered Weaver
Ervin Santana
Sean O'Sullivan or Trevor Bell (if Reckling is traded for)

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Friday, July 17, 2009

The Angels are back after a few days off for the All Star Game and festivities.

Reliever Brian Fuentes and third basemen Chone Figgins were both selected to participate in the mid-season classic. Neither player got into the game. Figgins the literal last minute addition has fond memories. Meanwhile, Fuentes is disappointed he didn't get in the game after being told he'd pitch the 6th inning.

The Angels front office was also in St. Louis to take notes for the 2010 game which will they will host.

Last night the Angels got back at it against division foe Oakland. Ervin Santana returned to form pitching a stellar 8 innings for the win. This is a big boost for the club that hasn't seen the kind of consistency from the rotation or bullpen. Mike DiGiovanna takes a look at the team that seems to have reversed it's troubles from anemic hitting to anemic pitching.

Kendry Morales finally hit his first home run from the right side last night absolutely crushing a ball to deep center field in Oakland.

Torii Hunter blogs about being on the disabled list and having to miss the All Star Game.

Angels at Athletics

TV: FS-W (Fri), FOX (Sat), KCOP (Sun)

Fri : Joe Saunders (8-5, 4.65) vs Trevor Cahill (5-8, 4.67
Sat : Jered Weaver (10-3, 3.22) vs Vin Mazzaro (2-5, 3.59)
Sun: John Lackey (4-4, 4.93) vs Brett Anderson (5-7, 4.64)

Jacobo went 2-4 with an RBI and walk in last night's contest for the Kernels

Coon: 2-5, 2 singles, K (.269) (AAA)
Evans: 1-5, double, RBI (.286) (AAA)
Arredondo: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (2.00) (AAA)
Rodriguez: 0-2, 2 BB (.287) (AAA)
Miller: 7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K (3.98) (A+)
Romine: 1-3, double (.271) (A+)
Rosario: 1-3, single, RBI, BB, K (.299) (A+)
Auer: 3-5, 3 singles, 2 RBI, K (.311) (A)
Amarista: 1-5, HR (2), 3 RBI (.309) (A)
Castillo: 2-5, 2 singles, RBI, 2 K (.229) (A)
Jacobo: 2-4, 2 singles, RBI, BB (.248) (A)
Segura: 1-2, double, RBI, BB (.386) (Rookie Orem)
Grichuk: 2-6, double, single, 2 RBI, K (.294) (AZL Angels)
Mallard: 2-3, HR (4), single, 3 RBI, BB (.361) (AZL Angels)
Trout: 1-4, single, BB (.476) (AZL Angels)

Postponed: Arkansas

Thursday, July 16, 2009

(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

By Bruce Nye - Columnist

The Mid-term Disappointments

You can call me Charlie Brown because I think Lucy one time will not lift up the football when Charlie Brown runs to kick it. And, I think one of these days the Chicago Cubs will achieve what I thought they would all along. They break more hearts than the cheerleader we were secretly in love with only to see her run off with the Harley guy from the competing high school. There oughta be a law.

Then there is the New York Mets. At mid-term in 2009 they are a MASH unit and noting seems to be working right. They have guys playing all over the field in the wrong positions, but there is little they can do.

Finally there are the Cleveland Indians, I thought they were the best team in the AL Central. I thought that also last year, even though the general consensus was the Tigers would score more than Brad Pitt at the Homely Girls School in New Hampshire. They didn’t then and look strong now, but what about the Indians? Even though they lost CC Sabathia, they looked poised to step it up and win the Central. One of the baseball talking heads at ESPN predicted that the Indians would win the World Series.

The Mid-term Surprises

No question, the Seattle Mariners are this year’s biggest surprise. After losing more than 100 games last year, the Ms have come back and are impressing a lot of people. Their pitching staff has been more than solid and they are getting great contributions from Branyan, Gutierrez and, of course, Ichiro.

The Texas Rangers have been very strong all year and history buffs will tell you that their pitching staff will melt in the August and September Texas heat. I’m not so sure. Their hitting is off the chart and appears to be loaded for many years to come and if their pitching can hold up they will give the Angels all the pennant race they want.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are a mild surprise in the NL West. Many people expected their team to be strong, but I don’t know anyone who thought at the mid-term they would enjoy the MLB’s best record. The Dodgers are very strong in all aspects and now have Manny back for the second half, but I think their starting pitching is not as strong as it could.


Here are my predictions for the races and the post-season in 2009:

American League

AL East
Winner – Boston
Wild card – New York

AL Central
Winner - Detroit

AL West
Winner – Los Angeles

National League

NL East
Winner – Philadelphia

NL Central
Winner – St. Louis

NL West
Winner – Los Angeles
Wild Card – San Francisco

American League
Boston over Detroit
Los Angeles over New York
Los Angeles over Boston

National League
Los Angeles over Cardinals
San Francisco over Philadelphia
San Francisco over Los Angeles

World Series
Los Angeles Angels over the San Francisco Giants – a 2002 repeat

Alexi Amarista pushed his BA up to .311 after a 3-4 performance last night

Brasier: 7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, BB, 5 K, HR (4.62) (A+)
Navarro: 4-4, 4 singles, 3 RBI (.299) (A+)
Chatwood: 5 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, HR, (4.57) (A)
Amarista: 3-4, triple, 2 doubles, RBI (.311) (A)
Brooks: 2-4, 2 singles, 3 RBI, K (.274) (A)
Jacobo: 2-4, HR (5), single, 2 RBI, K (.244) (A)
Segura: 2-6, 2 singles (.384) (Rookie Orem)
Wing: 4-5, triple, 3 singles, RBI (.338) (Rookie Orem)
Mann: 2-4, 2 singles, 3 RBI (.265) (Rookie Orem)
Mallard: 1-3, HR (3), 2 RBI (.333) (AZL Angels)
Trout: 1-3, single (.529) (AZL Angels)
Grichuk: 2-3, 2 singles (.291) (AZL Angels)
Bachanov: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (5.79) (AZL Angels)

Off-day: Salt Lake, Arkansas

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