Wednesday, September 30, 2009

(AP Photo)

By David Saltzer - Columnist

After clinching a playoff berth for the 5th time in 6 years, the Angels celebrated. But, before they celebrated, they heard Mike Scioscia give some poignant words about their fallen teammate, Nick Adenhart. Scioscia told the team that the victory belonged as much to them as it did to Nick Adenhart.

While considered an ironic act by some, and in poor taste by a few, the team celebrated with Nick Adenhart. In the clubhouse, they sprayed his jersey with beer and champagne. And then, as they came out to the fans in the stadium, they ran en masse out to centerfield to touch Adenhart and remember him in an even more physical manner. They honored him as if he were there in person to share in the moment.

As a long-time Angels fan, watching the team run out to centerfield brought back an important aspect to being an Angels fan: the family connection of the team. We really haven’t seen that sentiment in Anaheim since the days when Gene Autry ran the team.

Growing up, it wasn’t always easy being an Angels fan. We didn’t have the storied history and traditions of the Dodgers. By and large we were the forgotten step-child of Southern California Baseball. But, what the Angels lacked in baseball tradition, they more than made up with a great owner and a family connection between all of the players, the owner, and the fans.

Unlike the Dodgers, the Angels’ players from the 70s and 80s acted like a team. We had Gene Autry who was a great owner for both the fans and the players. He created a positive environment for the players and a welcoming environment for the fans. I once talked to Mr. Autry about it and he told me that not only did he want the best athletes on his team, he wanted the best people on his team.

During the Autry era, the Angels were known for their charitable work. But, unlike most athletes at the time, they did their work in relative silence. They didn’t do these things to rehab their image as so many celebrities do today. They did it because it was the right thing to do.

In fact, in many cases, specific players made it abundantly clear that if anyone revealed their activity that they would actually stop performing the services as they believed that such publicity would detract from their efforts. As a recipient of many of those charitable acts, I deeply appreciated that the players were doing it because it was the right thing and because they cared—not because they wanted to use me for an ulterior purpose.

Additionally, it was very common to see the players and their families acting as one big Angels’ family. I used to sit over in what was known as the “players’ wives’” section and it was always amazing to see how the families all helped each other out. Under Mr. Autry, it was expected that the players and their families would be a part of the community and part of the team’s family. They would help the new players and minor leaguers find places to live and show them around the community. They helped minor leaguers, who often arrived with little more than a suitcase, get settled in. They treated each other as family. And then they got them all connected with some charitable activity to do. That was part of their Angels’ family connection.

In today’s era of free agency, it’s hard to imagine what it was like to be a fan of the team back then. It had a different feel. Sure, we had our free agent signings. But, once they got here, the players became part of our family. They all talked about wanting to win one for the Cowboy, and the fans all felt connected to the team. The Cowboy knew them and wanted them to succeed. He often spent time just talking and listening to the players.

Last night, watching the players run out to celebrate with Adenhart, newer fans got a chance to see what the Angels of yore were like. They played with heart and they celebrated as a team. They weren’t a collection of individuals and they didn’t leave anyone out. Like in the old days, the players included the owner in their celebration as well. And they didn’t forget their injured comrades—they brought out Scot Shields’ jersey too.

Arte Moreno has done a lot to bring the Angels family back together—he’s been a player’s owner just like Gene Autry. We as fans have been lucky to have him. Artie made the long overdue peace with Brian Downing and inducted him into the Angels’ Hall of Fame. He’s signed the players and made the stadium a fun and exciting place to be. And, he’s brought us a winning tradition.

Last night, seeing the Angels celebrate with Adenhart brought back a feeling that had been absent for many years. For one moment the team celebrated in the raw emotion and shared it with the fans. Once again, they were a family united to win it all.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

By Zach Stoloff - Columnist

I have been an Angels fan since about 1992—when I was 7 years old.

I went to Dodger games during my youth, as well, but despite their greater success on the field, the Dodger Stadium atmosphere was a bit off-putting, and there was something more intriguing about the Angels’ brand of baseball. Vin Scully was (and is) the only thing I liked better about the Boys in Blue.

However, the Dodgers did go to the playoffs a couple times during the mid ‘90s, and while the Angels floundered in relative futility under the reins of men like Bill Bavasi, Marcel Lacheman, and Terry Collins through that entire decade, suffice it to say I got some odd looks when I told people I was an Angels fan.

Well, that is no longer the case.

After decades of toiling as a second rate franchise, the 2000s have thoroughly belonged to the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim). With a World Series Championship in 2002, and now an incomparable five American League Western Division Championships over the past six years, the Halos have thoroughly established themselves as one of the perennial powers in baseball.

In writing about the Angels, I have been criticized for overly-lauding the team, or not often enough criticizing the decisions of the personnel (Tony Reagins) or player (Mike Scioscia) management. Well, as much as I believe he stands for all that is wrong in sports journalism, I’m going to quote Jim Rome:

“Scoreboard, baby.”

Looking at the standings, pure wins and losses, what exactly do I have to criticize about this team? Say what you will about their futility against the Red Sox during October, but realistically the 162 game schedule is a far better test of a team’s makeup than a 5-game set where, quite frankly, anything can happen. However, I must give credit where credit is due, and Boston, like the Angels, have put together a very good, consistently winning franchise.

The two ought to provide another exciting matchup.

All in all, when a team puts together a run like the Angels have over the past 8 seasons, it means that the people who run the organization are doing something right on a consistent basis. Division Championships and playoff appearances don’t just fall out of the sky like they do in sports with 16-team playoff structures. In baseball a postseason berth is earned in a daily grind unlike any other.

Since the advent of the Wild Card, the Angels’ success puts them in an elite company in terms of winning year in and year out: only the Braves, Yankees, and Red Sox can claim playoff runs which best Los Angeles. But despite all the regular season winning, there are a growing number of fans who claim they’re not “satisfied” with Angels baseball. My reply:

Try rooting for the Pittsburgh Pirates!

I want this team to win another World Series title as much as anyone, but just because I have perspective on how difficult it is to maintain success in baseball over such a long haul does not mean I don’t have ‘passion’ as a fan. Just because I realize how rare it is to have 162 plus meaningful baseball games to watch every single season does not mean it doesn’t pain me to see them exit in the first round of the playoffs.

For right now, however, and for the next days, as fans let’s all just be satisfied with what we have been privileged to watch this season. At this moment there are 17 (nearly 19) teams who have been eliminated mathematically from playoff contention—and many of those were doomed from day one. Conversely, the Angels give their fans an entire season of opportunities to tune in, show up at the ballpark, and care about the outcome of a game.

The Angels have just captured the American League Western Division Championship after a hard fought season.

How about enjoying it? Until next week, that is…

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sean Scanlon from spent a leisurely 20 minutes with Bill McDonald in the press dining area as the Angels were putting it to the Texas Rangers. And I must say, in person he's a lot like he comes off on the broadcasts. Enthusiastic guy who really loves the game. If you had meet him on the street, instead of in the stadium with the immaculate suit (and SANUK sandals) would think you had just run in to another diehard fan.

Without quotes because it was a back and forth conversation and I can't read my are is a rough summary of our conversation.

the job....

Bill has been a lifelong Angels fan even before they moved here from LA. He can remember the first game in the stadium against the Giants with Mays and McCovey (exhibition game I'm going to assume). So this job is a dream come true for him. He gets to see the Angels, Lakers, college football...and even the Ducks are pretty cool. When pressed to name his favorite sport...he demurred...each sport has a different flavor.

his Angel memories

Bill, Rory and the others were just talking about 2002, and how unexpected it was. The energy was just amazing, one of his favorite sporting memories. As compared to 82 and 86...which was absolutely his worst sporting memory as he had one leg over the wall and was ready to jump the field when Donnie delivered his fateful pitch. He agreed, this was definitely the golden age of Angels baseball (if he uses that on the broadcast tonight...he better give me credit!)

about the NFL

Another shared moment as we reminisced about the Rams playing at the commenting I could care less if they came back while Billy Mac was pissed at the NFL and couldn't wait for a team to return.

about Angel fans

A shared laugh as we recalled seeing fans stream out of Camden Yards during a blowout (much like they do in Fenway as well). Angel fans get a bad rap, the environment has completely changed since Arte has taken over the franchise. (of course, it's a lot easier to convince ourselves of that as we listen to the Halos take a 7 run lead and move 6 innings away from clinching). Then again as I type my notes the Angel fans are now doing the wave 4 innings from clinching the AL West and going wild for free Buffalo wings.

about the Boston jinx

Is there a jinx? Billy Mac would like to think not, and we both agreed it's probably more in the fan and media's heads than it is the players. Look, if the Angels show up, they can win...if they don't show up they lose. They match up with everyone, do you really think the Angels are in the Yanks head Billy Mac asks? Not likely, though we as fans would like to think so is my response. Exactly. And Fenway isn't impossible, it's not like it's overly intimidating when you are's just a ballpark.

his final thoughts on the playoff run

Angels have the starters to match up with anyone 1-4. They may not have the stopper, but they have the depth. Billy expects Kazmir to be bullets in the series and that Ervin knows he's going to the pen and is ready to give them team what it needs. What is the key?

Billy Mac looked at me..."you know what is missing, I know, Scioscia knows...the bullpen".

my final thoughts

Either Billy Mac is just an incredibly cool person, or was very bored (though I'm sure it was a bit of both). He knew everyone and took great pride in to rubbing it in to Randy Youngman that he was talking to the Enemy (an evil blogger like me). I probably could have talked to him for an hour. The personality you see on tv is real, he loves the game and talking about the game. He didn't just want to tell me what he thought, but was interested in what I thought, if we were seeing the same things (or, was that a test? hmmm). Thanks for helping make my first foray in to the press box a memorable one.

By Adam Dodge - Senior Writer

With their magic number down to two and a match-up versus the second place Rangers set to begin this evening, the Angels can clinch their third consecutive American League West title by beating Texas just once in the next four days. For manager Mike Scioscia and the players sooner would definitely be better.

It has been an emotional season following the tragic death of top prospect Nick Adenhart in April, whose jersey has been hung in the Angel dugout for each of the team’s games since his passing.

The season has been physically exhausting as well. Days off have been few and far between for the Halos in the second half, which is a likely cause of the struggles faced by several of the Angel hitters. Vladimir Guerrero, Torii Hunter, Juan Rivera and Bobby Abreu all continue to struggle in September. Kendry Morales and Mike Napoli appear to have broken out of their month long slumps this past week.

If the Angels do win tonight and clinch their birth in the post-season it would secure just more than a week before they have to play another meaningful baseball game. That would mean plenty of rest for a tired group of Halo veterans. Recent results suggest that the wear and tear of the season have hit this group particularly hard.

Expect Mike Scioscia to manage tonight’s game like a playoff game.

It's time to put a bottle of champagne in the refrigerator as the Angels are now just one win away from capturing their third straight AL West Championship as they welcome the Texas Rangers to Anaheim.

Despite being shut out by the A's on Friday and blowing a 9-2 lead on Saturday the Angels bounced back to defeat Oakland on Sunday. Coupled with Tampa Bay's come from behind victory against Texas the magic number currently stands at two.

Mike Scioscia must have said the right things in his closed door meeting with the club after Saturday nights ugliness. Hopefully for the Angels, Saturday was rock bottom and they can get on a hot streak that carries them to second World Series title.

Angels director of scouting Eddie Bane talks about Cuban free agent Aroldis Chapman.

Rangers @ Angels

Tommy Hunter (9-4, 3.64) vs Ervin Santana (7-8, 5.46)
Scott Feldman (17-6, 3.90) vs Scott Kazmir (9-9, 5.06)
Derek Holland (8-12, 6.14) vs Jered Weaver (15-8, 3.84)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

By Chuck Richter - Executive Editor

Angels' fans who followed Sean Rodriguez career through the minors have come to love the way Rodriguez played the game and were hopeful he'd be a part of the future with the club at some position on the field for many years.

The Angels having the luxury of a deep crop of talented middle infielders already, combined with a need for a starting pitcher, traded Sean to the Tampa Bay Rays on August 29th. Joe Maddon's Rays seem poised to hand Sean the starting second base position in 2010. Sean clubbed 30 home runs this season, driving in 98 runs, while posting a 1.005 OPS in Triple-A for both the Salt Lake Bees and five games at the end of the season with the Durham Bulls, including a home run for Durham in the Triple-A Championship Game a couple nights ago.

Mike Scioscia was quoted as saying in a pregame chat with reporters in the Angels dugout before the club took on the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field, just a day after Sean Rodriguez was announced as the PTBNL in the Scott Kazmir trade that "They got a really good ball player in Sean Rodriguez, a young man that should help their ball club significantly next season and for many years to come".

Sean Rodriguez was selected by the Angels in the third round (90th overall) of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft out of G. Holmes Braddock (Miami, Fla.) High School.

I have made it no secret that Sean Rodriguez was one of my favorite players in the organization over the last few years. After interviewing Sean back in the spring of 2005 in Tony Reagins' office in Mesa, Arizona, I grew to know a humble, hard working ball player and a man of faith that is thankful for his gift to play the game he loves at such a high level.

On behalf of myself and (especially Chonito), we wish many blessings, health and prosperity to the Rodriguez family going forward. We'll be rooting for you in a Rays uniform whenever you're not playing the Angels.

I was able to get some quick comments from Sean Rodriguez over the weekend. Here's what he had to say about his time with the Angels and the trade that brought him back to the state of Florida, just a few hours north of Miami where he spent the majority of his life growing up.
Q: - What was it like being a part of the Angels organization from the time you were drafted until the time you were traded?

A: Sean Rodriguez - Awesome! Nothing but great things happened there. I improved a lot as a player being with the Angels organization.

Q: - Who had an impact from the Angels organization on Sean Rodriguez from the minor league players, major league players to coaches?

A: Sean Rodriguez - I can't really single out one person because a whole lot of people helped me out. Getting through the minors leagues a lot of people see it like climbing a ladder to get to the big leagues and there was always someone at each step trying to help me get to the next step or to the next level.

Q: - What is your finest moment as a member of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim?

A: Sean Rodriguez - My first day in the big leagues.

Q: - Finally, what are your feelings about being traded and your new team?

A: Sean Rodriguez - Bittersweet. I'm gonna miss all my friends but if this is what God wanted for me then it's probably what's best for me.

Bittersweet indeed! So I leave you all with this song. Go get'em in Tampa, Sean.

Seanbig.jpg picture by chuckster70
Sean Rodriguez with a tag on Giants catching prospect Buster Posey.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Angels magic number has fallen to four as they start a weekend series with the Oakland Athletics. Los Angeles can clinch their third consecutive AL West division championship as soon as Saturday.

Personally, I wouldn't mind if the Angels waited until Monday so they could tell the Rangers Ian Kinsler to "Get the (heck) off our field!" while the Angels celebrate their elimination.

Bill Shaikin writes that the Angels post-season hopes are going to hinge on the right arms of Kevin Jepsen and Jason Bulger. takes a look at the Angels roster and how the organization has built winning teams powered by homegrown talent.

It's possible that catcher Bobby Wilson could make the Halos post-season roster. He says he is up to the challenge. With the offensive and defensive slump Mike Napoli has been in, it's certainly possible Jeff Mathis will be getting the bulk of the post-season starts behind the plate. This also means Mike Scioscia may need to pinch hit for the light hitting catcher.

Howie Kendrick says he's "having fun again". His stats would back that up. The "Other Howard" has been on a tear since he returned from AAA.

Kendry Morales appears to have busted out of his September slump.

I appreciate OC Register columnist Randy Youngman's confidence in the Angels. He says we should expect to see the Yankees visit again soon.

Athletics @ Angels

TV: FS-W (Fri & Sun) KCOP (Sat)

Gio Gonzalez (5-6, 6.15) vs. Jered Weaver (15-7, 3.87)
Dana Eveland (2-3, 6.50) vs. John Lackey (11-8, 3.56)
Edgar Gonzalez (0-3, 5.22) vs. Joe Saunders (14-7, 4.63)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

By Chuck Richter - Executive Editor

Klima is the author of Willie’s Boys: The 1948 Birmingham Black Barons, The Last Negro League World Series and The Making of a Baseball Legend (John Wiley & Sons, 2009). His story, Deal of the Century, about Paul Pettit, who in 1950 became baseball’s first $100,000 bonus baby, appeared in the 2007 edition of The Best American Sports Writing.

He has also written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Yahoo! Sports and His writing has been honored by the Associated Press Sports Editors. Klima also wrote Pitched Battle (2002), Scouting the Heart (2010), and a collection of his baseball writing appears at his personal website, He graduated from California State University, Northridge, with a degree in anthropology. As a baseball writer, he has covered several major league games.

As a baseball broadcaster, he covered Pepperdine University for two years and spent 2003 as the radio announcer for the Yakima Bears. He has informally scouted for several seasons, with numerous contacts in baseball scouting and player development throughout baseball.

So, with introductions out of the way, as promised, lets move on to the Q&A with John Klima.

Q: - Hello John, for starters how about a little background on John Klima the writer, Baseball historian and sabermetric analyst?

A: John Klima - Hi Chuck. Well, this sounds like my life story. So I'll break it down. As a player, I was NP. (No Prospect). I could, however, write. So that was the genesis way back when. Started in high school, made a detour as a minor league radio play-by-play guy, went back to newspapers for a while, and saw the writing on the wall in that industry. Before I got out, I managed to publish a story called Deal of the Century, which was about Paul Pettit, who in 1950 was the first $100,000 bonus baby. That got me in Best American Sports Writing in 2007, which gave me the writing credit that I needed to help me get signed to write the Mays book.

My background comes from being around the game at all levels. I don't think you can be a complete baseball person if you only spend every day of your career at the big league level. I had a number of veteran scouts influence me: George Genovese, Bob Zuk, Gene Handley, Spider Jorgensen. Those were my guys. All of them, save for Zuk, had played in the big leagues before expansion. So they had seen baseball from the end of World War II until now. George, for example, was greatly influenced by Branch Rickey. And I have basics that guide me in the game from George. Spider was quick and to the point and had the best scouting instincts of any of us. Gene was a yes or no man. Zuk was a clever sniper who didn't care who he pissed off to get a player he wanted. He also understood power hitters better than any evaluator I've ever known.

I don't know that I would put 'sabermetric analyst' on me, because I'm not a math guy. I'm a SABR member, but I'm more of the research type who turns the research into narrative prose. I respect all the statistical analysts, but it’s not where my talents are.

Q: - What prompted you to write this book?

A: John Klima - I loved the idea that there was an entire part of an iconic baseball figure’s career that was completely undeveloped. In fact, the story had massive historical value because the story of how Mays became a Giant influenced virtually every major transaction around it for about a decade and helped shape the game as we know it.

Q: - After talking to Willie Mays, what was your impression of the man?

A: John Klima - Willie is a ballplayer. He may not play anymore, but he’s never lost that feel. When we talked, I told him, your big league career belongs to you. I hope you’ll help me shed some light on this other part of your career. He helped me clarify some things I needed and he helped validate some of the ideas I had, but he also told me I knew this story better than he did. And that was a huge compliment. I was writing about what was going on when he was 17-18-19 years old, before he ever got to “White Folks Ball” as black players called it. I don’t think he was as aware as I became of what was going on around him while he was simply playing ball and praying to get signed out of Birmingham. Just because Jackie Robinson had made it, don’t automatically assume that baseball as a whole was generally kind to black players in that era.

It was a tough research road and it took somebody with a wide range of knowledge on a lot of subjects in both black and white baseball. I didn’t expect Willie to be the source to carry this; you can’t go to a ballplayer and say, ‘Carry me,’ because his first priority has to be to carry himself. It wouldn’t have been fair to him or to the readers. I was on my own.

Q: - What was Willie's reaction to the book after he received his first copy and read it?

A: John Klima - I don’t know. I’m sure I’ll see him in Scottsdale. I am certain that we both have a great deal of affection for his player-manager, Piper Davis, who later played for the Los Angeles Angels in the PCL.

Q: - To the Baseball fan audience on the net, what will the fan of the game discover after completing the book?

A: John Klima – You’ll learn how Willie Mays became Willie Mays. You’ll learn what he had to go through to get to a stage where he could let all his talent shine. You’ll learn about what obstacles he had to overcome. And you’ll be entertained in the process.

Q: - You interviewed Angels' centerfielder Torii Hunter to get his take on the book. Without comparing Torii to Willie Mays, do you see a little Willie Mays in Torii Hunter's game and personality?

A: John Klima - Torii and I have had a lot of conversations about race and baseball over the years. We talked about the Mays book while I was doing it, about the Negro Leagues, about society and baseball then and now and in the future. I also expressed to Torii that I felt his passion and joy for the game was very similar to Willie. He is a humble guy and wondered if he was worthy to be with Mays. I told him, basically, trust me. In many ways, you are. I think Torii and Willie can be mentioned in the same breath as far as game personality goes.

Q: - What statement stood out the most when interviewing Torii Hunter about Willie Mays?

A: John Klima - I was describing things I found accounts of Mays doing as a teenager, things Joe Torre told me he saw Mays do as a young player. I told him, “Picture you, two levels above you.” And I remember how he said in admiration of Mays, “daaaaaaaaaaaamn!” Things Hunter does, Mays did better. He knew it. He still remembers the time he spent with Mays at the All-Star game a few years ago.

Q: - Besides Willie Mays, who are some John's favorite players in the game of Baseball?

A: John Klima - Most of the guys I have liked over the years I never saw play. Minor Leaguers who influenced me later in my life, such as a catcher named Chuck Staniland, who hit 126 minor league home runs. I love Piper Davis. I still wish I had been able to talk in detail with Gene Mauch. I have a left-hander I admire and a right-hander who just wanted one measly big league inning. Just little guys who are grinders and competitors. I did, however, love Brian Downing.

Q: - What team does John Klima pull for?

A: John Klima – I don’t really root for teams anymore; as much as I pull for individuals I’m close to within the game.

Q: - As an unbiased sports writer, how do you like the Angels' chances in postseason play this season, should they hold onto their 6 1/2 game lead over the Rangers going into this weekend's series in Texas?

A: John Klima - I don’t want to see Fuentes pitch to right-handers with power. This team reminds me an awful lot of the 1982 Angels – by far the best group of position players Scioscia has ever had, good starters, and bullpen inconsistency – just like Mauch had.

Q: - Back to the book "Willie's Boys", will you be doing any book tours, signings? If so, where and when?

A: John Klima - I will be at the Barnes&Noble in Huntington Beach on Sunday Oct. 18th, so hopefully if the Angels are in the playoffs it will be a night game and I won’t get buried by the NFL during the day. I’ll also be at the Birmingham Public Library on Tuesday, Sept. 29th.

Q: - Lastly, what can we expect to see next from John Klima?

A: John Klima - I’m getting settled on the next book idea. In the meantime, readers and fans can always swing by our website which is about scouting professional prospects and identifying future major leaguers. It’s a good place to come see and read about future players that you’re bound to see in pro ball and in the big leagues a few years down the road.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

By Carl Gregory - Contributor

April 26, 2002

Ever notice one win can change your mind? The Angels won the final game of their series Wednesday, and suddenly I have had a spring in my step, and a smile on my face. My mood before wasn't so nice. Especially those two games against Oakland they should have won.

With the losses mounting, I've started to wonder why I became an Angel fan. My parents were indifferent to baseball, and my friends were mainly Dodger fans. It took sometime to remember.

It was back in the mid-seventies.

I was walking home from school one day when this older kid saw me and started angling over to me. I tried to change my course hoping to avoid him, but it was to no avail. He started walking with me, and by his ear was a small radio blaring an Angel game. The announcer doing the play by play, and most of the players I had never heard before. Every time the Angels got a hit or made a good play, he would announce to me "did you hear that?"

It didn't take me long to realize that he was mentally retarded. The announcer would warble that what's his name got a single. And now there were runners on first and third.

"Did you hear that?!!"

I told him yes, since it was impossible not to, and we walked a few more paces. I asked him questions about the players, and he was quite knowledgeable. Finally when we got to my house we said goodbye and he walked away, and suddenly he turned and nodded to his radio.

But even if this year the Angels slide out of contention, I will still be there for them. And as the new unknown announcers do the play by play, any time a good play is made or a solid hit, I will turn to anyone that will listen and remark:

"Did you hear that?!!"

Yes, I shouted back. Even though I was totally out of earshot of the radio.

Been an Angel fan ever since. I liked the Dodgers for a while, but quickly lost interest. I kept coming back to that team that always found a way to lose.

I saw my friend several times over the years, and he moved with his family to Texas. I hope he is still an Angel fan.

Someday the Angels will be in the World Series. Doesn't matter if they win or lose (OK it does J ). And there I am way up in the nosebleed seats looking down in wonderment. Sure people will tell me that they were always Angel fans, although every year they root for the team that wins the World Series.

That's my dream.

Can this be the year? Every April I believe so, and this year is no exception. If our pitchers can keep the balls in the park, and hitters can hit it out of the park, we have a chance. Of course that is easier said than done.

But even if this year the Angels slide out of contention, I will still be there for them. And as the new unknown announcers do the play by play, any time a good play is made or a solid hit, I will turn to anyone that will listen and remark.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Los Angels Angels return home from a somewhat frustrating 3-4 road trip through New York, Boston and Texas. Frustrating due to lack of offense and yet another screwy game in Fenway Park. However, the Texas Rangers are in a free fall and the Angels took advantage, lowering their magic number to 7.

The Yankees come to town with a chance to clinch a playoff spot. Los Angeles leads the season series 4-3 with the home team coming out on top in 6 of those 7 games. The Angels swept NY aside when the Bronx Bombers visited the "Big A" in July.

With their win on Sunday the Angels set a franchise record with 46 come from behind wins.

Steve Bisheff makes the argument that Howie Kendrick has earned his starting job back. Kendrick has made a strong case for himself, however Macier Izturis hasn't exactly played his way out of a job either. Nice problem for Mike Scioscia to have.

Despite the struggles of Brian Fuentes, Mike Scioscia is not ready to hand over the closer's role to Kevin Jepsen.

Yankees at Angels

Joe Saunders (13-7, 4.75) vs. Andy Pettitte (13-6, 4.14)
Ervin Santana (7-8, 5.43) vs. Chad Gaudin (5-10, 4.81)
Scott Kazmir (9-8, 5.08) vs. A.J. Burnett (11-9, 4.22)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Photo By Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Haerther tied a team record and set a career high with seven RBIs as the Owlz captured their third championship in five years Saturday, holding on for a 13-10 triumph over the Missoula Osprey. The Owlz 21-year-old third baseman faced former UCLA teammate Charles Brewer and slugged a three-run homer in the first inning. Missoula tied it in the bottom half, but Haerther hit an RBI single in the third.
Brewer was gone by the fifth, when Haerther's three-run double highlighted a six-run outburst that extended Orem's lead to 11-3. The cushion was up to 13-4 heading to the bottom of the ninth, but the Osprey did not go quietly. They strung together four hits off David Carpenter to close within three runs and had the potential tying run on deck when Jae Yun Kim struck out to end the game.

After losing the opening game of the Finals at home, Orem stayed alive Friday by hitting a league playoff-record six homers, including two from catcher Carlos Ramirez.

The title capped a remarkable stretch run for the Owlz, who went 31-7 to run away with the second-half South Division title, then swept Ogden in the semifinals.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pioneer League Championship Series
Orem 10, Missoula 0 - Series tied 1-1

Stephen Locke: 9 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, BB, 5 K
Carlos Ramirez: 5-5, 2 HR, 2 doubles, single, 3 RBI
Kevin Ramos: 1-5, HR, 2 RBI, 2 K
Michael Wing: 1-5, HR, RBI
Justin Bass: 2-5, HR, triple, RBI, K
Casey Haerther: 2-5, HR, single, 3 RBI, K

(AP Photo)

Not sure what to make of them exactly, but I was curious so I looked up the following stats:

Fuentes has appeared in 59 games this season, allowing earned run(s) in 14 of them. (45 scoreless appearances.)

Of the games where he has allowed runs, he allowed one run 8 times, two runs 3 times, three runs twice and four runs once.

Earned runs allowed during saves: 2
Earned runs allowed during blown saves: 16
Earned runs allowed during non-save situations: 6

Saves in games entered with a 4-run lead: 4
Saves in games entered with a 3-run lead: 12
Saves in games entered with a 2-run lead: 6
Saves in games entered with a 1-run lead: 20

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Will Smith's season ended on a high note, despite losing to Burlington in the final playoff game

September 17th, 2009

California League Playoffs
Rancho Cucamonga 6, High Desert 11 - High Desert wins series 3-2

Romine: 2-5, 2 singles, K
Moore: 1-3, single, BB, K
Brossman: 2-4, HR, single, 2 RBI
Estrella: 1-3, double, K
Fuller: 3-4, double, 2 singles, 2 RBI
Rosario: 1-3, single

The Quakes had a tremendous run going 4-3 in the playoffs, falling just one game shy of the Cal League Championship series.

Midwest League Playoffs
Burlington wins series 3-2

A two run home run by Jason Taylor in the top of the first inning was all the Burlington Bees would need as they defeated the Cedar Rapids Kernels by the score of 2-1 in the decisive game three of the MWL Western Division Finals. Burlington will advance to play Fort Wayne in the MWL Championship series starting Tuesday.

The Kernels scored their run in the bottom of the third inning on an RBI groundout by Alexi Amarista to score Matt Crawford. The Kernels out hit the Bees 8-4, but stranded 11 runners in the game and were 1-14 with runners in scoring position. Tyson Auer went 3-5 and Darwin Perez was 2-3 as Crawford went 1-4 with a triple and Angel Castillo was 1-2 with a double, two walks and two stolen bases.

Kernels starter Will Smith (0-1) pitched a great game, allowing three hits and striking out nine over 8 IP with his only mistake the two run homer in the first inning. Reliever Nick Pugliese allowed a hit and struck out one over an inning of relief. Burlington starter Ivor Hodgson (2-0) allowed a run on four hits, walked four and struck out three and Blaine Hardy allowed a hit and struck out one over 1.1 innings for his second save of the series.

Pioneer League Playoffs
Orem 6, Missoula 7 - Missoula leads the series 1-0

Ramos: 2-3, triple, single, RBI, 2 HBP
Baird: 3-4, 3 singles, RBI, BB
Wing: 3-5, 3 singles, RBI, K
Bass: 2-3, 2 doubles
Missoula leads series 1-0

Orem and Missoula will face-off in game two of the series Friday night at 7:05 p.m. from Ogren Park in Montana. The game may be heard live at with the Voice of the Owlz Matt Gittins.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Where oh were did our offense go. Where or where can it be?

Los Angeles is batting .242 with a league low 44 runs scored since September 1st. This isn't exactly the way you want to see the Angels playing as October gets closer and closer. The Angels do seem to have the AL West locked up baring a complete disaster. Texas would have to go 15-3 and the Angels 9-9 the rest of the way to force a tie in the standings.

However, the question has to be asked "Is this the offense the Angels will bring with them to the playoffs?" if it is, the Angels will be looking at a quick exit yet again unless the starting pitching and bullpen can throw up nothing but zeroes.

Manager Mike Scioscia isn't concerned. When he's got starters Juan Rivera (5 for last 43) and Mike Napoli (4 for last 50) in horrid slumps, zero home runs from Bobby Abreu (in last 20 games) and Kendry Morales (in last 15 games) along with Vlad Guerrero (3 HR in last 22) and Torii Hunter (4 HR in last 27) also struggling to reach the seats he should be.

Have some fun and vote for the best "Starting 9" in Angels history.

Angels at Red Sox

Joe Saunders (13-7, 4.81) vs. Paul Byrd (1-1, 6.08)
Ervin Santana (7-8, 5.52) vs. Josh Beckett (15-6,3.82)

Angels at Rangers
TV: FS-W (Fri & Sun), KCOP (Sat)

Scott Kazmir (8-8, 5.32) vs. Tommy Hunter (8-3, 3.23)
Jered Weaver (15-6, 3.85) vs. Scott Feldman (16-5, 3.65)
John Lackey (10-8, 3.47) vs. Derek Holland (7-11, 6.01)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

By Zach Stoloff -- columnist

Whatever has happened up until now in 2009 is irrelevant. The Angels’ season starts today.

Opening a three game set in Boston at imposing Fenway Park, the team finds itself in a position of power, six games up on the Texas Rangers in the AL West with 19 to play. However, this is still palpable tension in the standings, as the Rangers have refused to go away, impressively hanging around for what now feels like an eternity. Moreover, their schedule is significantly easier than Los Angeles’ in September, which brings us to why this today is the apex point of the Angels’ season.

Beginning with this series with Boston, the Halos have a stretch of nine games against the Red Sox, New York Yankees, and Rangers. So, while the team seems to have a comfortable lead in the division, it is a tenuous hold at best. If Mike Scioscia and his bunch do not play well against Boston and New York—and Texas continues to keep the heat on—then that gives the Rangers an opportunity to control their own destiny head-to-head against LA.

Right now, the Angels hold all the cards; realistically all they have to do is tread water for the rest of the season, and with a magic number of 14 only have to hope that Texas doesn’t go virtually undefeated. However, if they can’t maintain their lead against the likes of the Yankees and Red Sox, then the AL West will essentially be decided in a best-of-seven series between the Rangers and Angels, a matchup which the Halos don’t necessarily want.

So with 19 games left in the season, the next 9 against the best in the American League, and an additional four against Texas, what do the Angels have to do to maintain their lead, and capture their fifth Western Division Championship in the last six years?

1. Keep the rotation rolling.

As I recently wrote, it’s no secret that the starting pitching has been disgustingly good as of late. There’s a real sense that the members of the five man rotation are feeding off each other’s energy, pushing their teammates to new heights. This has enabled LA to continue about their winning ways while the lineup has reverted to a relatively anemic state. This is a trend that needs to continue.

Though the offense carried the team for most of the season, the Angels have no chance of matching up with the loaded lineups of Boston, Texas, and New York without the pitching to keep those bats down. And if the rotation continues to be as good as it has, then quite frankly the Halo hitters don’t need to be nearly as good as they were in July and August. That being said…

2. Be patient with the offense.

In late April into early May the Angels’ hitters looked completely listless outside of Bobby Abreu and Torii Hunter. However, it was clear that a number of the lineup regulars had not hit their stride at that point, performing far below their career averages.

All of a sudden, it seemed as if every hitter day-in and day-out got absurdly hot. A big surprise for a team that was known more for its National League style of baseball than for its home run hitters in recent years, the offense picked the team off its butt and carried it for nearly two months. However, the bubble was sure to burst.

Since basically every bat in the lineup got hot at the same time, then it was almost a certainty that, at some point, they would all go cold together, too. And that is where the Angels find themselves now. However, because of Mike Scioscia’s small ball philosophy, the team has continued to manufacture just enough runs to keep winning. So, the moral of the story is that baseball seasons are filled with peaks and valleys, and right now the only remedy for the Halo’s stalling offense is patience.

3. Solidify the defense

Whether it be Bobby Abreu last weekend, or Mike Napoli and Chone Figgins last night, the Angels have committed a number of costly defensive mistakes of late. There is not much to say about this trend except for that it must stop, immediately. For a team that takes many comeback and one-run victories, runs cannot be given away.

4. Trust the bullpen

If someone had said in early May that, by September, LA’s bullpen would be a strength and roles would be well-defined, they would have been called crazy. Now, the Angels have a well-established bridge to a well-established (if recently shaky) closer. At this point in the season, there are no reinforcements coming, and Bulger and Jepsen seem to have taken to their seventh and eighth inning roles, respectively.

With all the talk of the need for veteran relievers, what gets lost is the fact that during the 2002 season, the team relied on an entirely unproven relief corps linking to closer Troy Percival. K-Rod was a rookie, and Brendan Donnelley and Ben Weber were unproven journeymen, yet somehow that trio provided a rock solid lead-in to an elite closer. Kevin Jepsen, Jason Bulger, and Darren Oliver look to mirror that success.

5. Don’t watch the scoreboard

This probably need not be said with General Scioscia in charge, whose one-day-at-a-time philosophy has made the Angels the most politically correct, least-quotable team in sports. Remember, this was the man who denied that there was anything “imminent” a mere minutes before the team acquired Scott Kazmir.

But the upshot of this eyes-ahead attitude is that nothing ever seems to faze this team. Ultimately, Scioscia knows that the only thing that his team can control is how they play, a vaguely zen or stoic state of mind. However, this has also, undoubtedly, been a large part of the reason the team has been so consistently good this decade, putting the late-season freefalls that characterized Angels teams of the ‘90s in the past.


By all rights, the Angels should be fine. All they have to continue to do is play the way they have all season, and draw on their experience and pedigree in the heat of a pennant race. And as for the fans, whatever happens over the next 19 games, the Los Angeles Angels have given them a full season of meaningful, exciting baseball games into September.

You’ve got to love a pennant race

Monday, September 14, 2009

Willie’s Boys: The 1948 Birmingham Black Barons, the Last Negro League World Series, and the Making of a Baseball Legend (Wiley, September 7, 2009)

By John Klima - Baseball

Nancy Mazmanian, the Angels media relations manager was kind enough this afternoon to put me in touch with local reporter John Kilma from the website John has written a book entitled "Willie's Boys", a book about Mays' rookie year in the Negro American League team. It has a few tenuous Angels' connections which may be of interest to our readers.

Next week, we'll post a Q&A session with John about his book, the Angels' and more, so look for that on our Blog this Friday. Here's a summary of what the book entails and Willie Mays connections with some of the Angels'.

Angels Connections to Willie Mays
Lyman Bostock Sr. was one of Willie Mays’s coaches when Mays played in Birmingham as a teenager. Later, he told Lyman Jr. his stories and Lyman Jr. considered the Black Barons a vital part of his baseball past.

Willie Mays’s mentor was player-manager Piper Davis, who later played for the 1956 PCL champion L.A. Angels alongside first baseman Steve Bilko and second baseman Gene Mauch.

Piper Davis and Gene Mauch were good friends. Mauch considered Piper one of the best baseball minds he ever knew.

Angel center fielder Torii Hunter is featured on the back cover of the book with a quote reading: “John Klima discovered a terrific story of overcoming all the odds to achieve your dreams. The dreamer was a dream player – Willie Mays. I loved this story and this book.

Willie Mays hit the first home run in Angel Stadium history in 1966.

Mays played in the All-Star game in 1967 at Angel Stadium, going 0-for-4.

The story of Willie Mays rookie year with the Negro American League's Birmingham Black Barons, the Last Negro World Series, and the making of a baseball legend.

Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays is one of baseball's endearing greats, a tremendously talented and charismatic center fielder who hit 660 career home runs, collected 3,283 hits, knocked in 1,903 runs, won 12 Gold Glove Awards and appeared in 24 All-Star games. But before Mays was the "Say Hey Kid", he was just a boy. Willie's Boys is the story of his remarkable 1948 rookie season with the Negro American League's Birmingham Black Barons, who took a risk on a raw but gifted 16-year-old and gave him the experience, confidence, and connections to escape Birmingham's segregation, navigate baseball's institutional racism, and sign with the New York Giants. Willie's Boys offers a character-rich narrative of the apprenticeship Mays had at the hands of a diverse group of savvy veterans who taught him the ways of the game and the world.

Here's some more details you can find in the book.

· Sheds new light on the virtually unknown beginnings of a baseball great, not available in other books.

· Captures the first incredible steps of a baseball superstar in his first season with the Negro League's Birmingham Black Barons.

· Introduces the veteran group of Negro League players, including Piper Davis, who gave Mays an incredible apprenticeship season.

· Illuminates the Negro League's last days, drawing on in-depth research and interviews with remaining players.

· Explores the heated rivalry between Mays's Black Barons and Buck O'Neil's Kansas City Monarchs , culminating in the last Negro League World Series.

· Breaks new historical ground on what led the New York Giants to acquire Mays, and why he didn't sign with the Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Yankees, or Boston Red Sox.

Packed with stories and insights, Willie's Boys takes you inside an important part of baseball history and the development of one of the all-time greats ever to play the game.

Pick up your copy of Willie's Boys at here

Thursday, September 10, 2009

(AP Photo)
Angels starting pitchers have allowed fewer than 3 earned runs in 13 of the team's last 15 games.

By Zach Stoloff -- columnist

It’s been a funny season in Anaheim. The first month and a half of the year the Angels looked dead in the water, struggling to find an identity, an offense, and relying on a patchwork rotation to get by. Then, when healthy arms returned and were expected to carry the team, the offense came alive to do just that, but the starting pitching stayed cold. The entire lineup, one through nine, continued on a torrid pace through August but has since inexplicably gone south again. Luckily, the pitchers have finally started to pick up the slack.

It’s no secret that the starting rotation has been on an absolute roll of late. This run started (not so) coincidentally around the time the club pried Scott Kazmir away from the Rays. However, the roots of the turnaround go back further than that.

Ervin Santana has probably been the best example of someone who has been getting healthy and slowly returning to the level expected of him. The former All Star was clearly not 100 percent earlier this year, his ailing elbow first delaying his season debut until mid May, and then sending him to the DL again for three weeks in late June. But even after he returned, he was completely ineffective, at one point giving up at least five runs in seven of ten starts.

However, Santana’s velocity, movement, and control have all come back with a vengeance in recent weeks, putting up quality starts in five of his last six games. Moreover, at times he has looked dominant, hitting 98 MPH in his last start against Kansas City.

Joe Saunders has taken even longer to round in to form, finally admitting last month that his shoulder had never been quite healthy at any point in 2009, then receiving a cortisone shot and some much needed rest. That prescription has paid off, apparently, as Saunders has now given up only 4 earned runs in the 17 and 1/3 innings since returning from the DL.

Kazmir, too, has followed a similar path as those two, struggling mightily for most of the year with the Rays before finally beginning to look like his former self in his last couple starts before the trade. Continuing that upward trend since, he’s inserted himself as an integral cog in the rotation already, looking every bit the up-and-coming ace by throwing 13 and 1/3 innings of two run ball with 12 strikeouts since joining the Halos.

Despite the reemergence of those three, it is probably just as important that John Lackey has reestablished himself as the unquestioned ace of the rotation. Though Big John also missed the first month and a half of the season with elbow issues, once he returned his health was never in question so much as his consistency. Infamously tossed two pitches in to his return to the mound against the Texas Rangers, it really took him about half a dozen starts to start regularly working deep into games and holding down opponents.

After a couple rough outings to end the month of August, Lackey has reasserted himself and been absolutely dominant in his last three starts, and at just the right time. In those games, he has thrown eight innings of one run ball against the Athletics, nine innings of one run ball against the Royals, and capping off the run by shutting out the Mariners. That’s two runs in his last 26 innings.

And of course, in a discussion of all the reclamation projects this year, Mr. Consistency, Jered Weaver, goes unmentioned. Well, no longer, for Weaver has been the one starting pitcher the Angels have been able to count on all season. As a reward, he has set a career high in wins with 15, and locked himself a spot in a potential postseason rotation.

Though the Angels have built their recent AL West dominance on a foundation of pitching and defense, the team that’s shown up so far in 2009 has given the fans a much different look. But while chicks may still dig the long ball, there is no question that to hold down the Boston Red Sox and finally get that Rally Monkey off their backs, the Angels need dominant starting pitching to match up with the likes of Beckett and Lester, and hold in check what is still the deepest lineup in baseball.

With a 1-2-3 punch of Lackey, Kazmir, and Weaver, this may finally be the year they do it.

(AP Photo)


(DENVER, COLO) Torii Hunter, star centerfielder of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, has been named the winner of the 2009 Branch Rickey Award. Roland Thornton, president of the Rotary Club of Denver, made the announcement today at the Denver Athletic Club.

Hunter, 33, will be inducted as the 18th member of the Baseball Humanitarians Hall of Fame during a banquet on Saturday, Nov. 14 at the Marriott City Center Hotel in downtown Denver.

Created by the Rotary Club of Denver in 1991, the Branch Rickey Award honors individuals in baseball who contribute unselfishly to their communities and who are strong role models for young people. Each year, Major League Baseball teams nominate a player, coach or executive for this nationally acclaimed award. All of the nominees personify Rotary International’s motto, “Service Above Self.”

Hunter was chosen by a National Selection Committee, comprised of 300 members of the sports media, past award winners, baseball executives and Rotary district governors. All 30 Major League teams submitted a nominee for the award.

Partnering with the Heart of a Champion Foundation and the Angels, Hunter created the “Torii Hunter Project Education Initiative” to provide college scholarships and character development to students in California, Arkansas, Nevada and Minnesota. He is particularly active with the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas, along with Derek Jeter of the Yankees and Derrek Lee of the Cubs. Last year, he helped fund construction of a youth softball field (Torii Hunter Field) in Placentia, CA. To honor the legacy of Jackie Robinson, Hunter supports Major League Baseball’s “Breaking Barriers” program. He established the Torii Hunter Project, partnering with Little League Baseball’s Urban Initiative to help maintain and improve baseball diamonds in urban cities. He is also involved with Big Brothers and the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

Hunter was selected as the 2007 Marvin Miller Man-of-the-Year, given annually to the player whose on-field and off-field performances most inspires others to a higher level of achievement.

Last year, Hunter helped guide the Angels to their fourth division crown in five seasons in his first year with the club. He received his eighth consecutive Gold Glove after not committing an error in 137 games in center field (354 total chances). He has not committed an error since August 31, 2007. He has been voted to the American League All-Star Team twice. In 2002, Hunter was named by as the Player-of-the-Year.

The late Branch Rickey, known to millions as “Mr. Baseball,” is credited with breaking the color barrier in the Major Leagues in 1945 when he signed Jackie Robinson, the first modern day African-American player. He also hired the first Hispanic player, Roberto Clemente.

Rickey helped develop the farm system in baseball and stimulated the sport’s expansion into more cities. Always an advocate for underprivileged children, he spearheaded the development of the famous “Knot Hole Gang,” to allow kids to attend big league games.

Previous recipients of the Branch Rickey Award include: Dave Winfield, Toronto Blue Jays; Kirby Puckett, Minnesota Twins; Ozzie Smith, St. Louis Cardinals; Tony Gwynn, San Diego Padres; Brett Butler, Los Angeles Dodgers; Craig Biggio, Houston Astros; Paul Molitor, Minnesota Twins; Al Leiter, New York Mets; Todd Stottlemyre, Arizona Diamondbacks; Curt Schilling, Arizona Diamondbacks; Bobby Valentine, New York Mets; Roland Hemond, Chicago White Sox; Jamie Moyer, Seattle Mariners; Tommy Lasorda, Los Angeles Dodgers; John Smoltz, Atlanta Braves; and last year’s winner, Trevor Hoffman of the San Diego Padres.

Winfield, Puckett, Smith, Molitor, Gwynn and Lasorda, as well as Branch Rickey, have also been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The Branch Rickey Award is a 24-inch bronze sculpture, The Player, created by internationally prominent sculptor George Lundeen. A 13-foot tall bronze sculpture was dedicated in front of Coors Field at 20th and Blake on June 2, 2005 in celebration of Rotary International’s Centennial Year.

Tickets for the Branch Rickey Award banquet are $200 per person and may be reserved by calling the Rotary Club of Denver office at 303-893-1919. For more information about the Branch Rickey Award, visit

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

(Photo by Jacob de Golish/Getty Images)

By Adam Dodge - Senior Writer

For once, I will set aside my rose colored glasses and play the role of Negative Nancy. With the Angels currently up 4.5 games in the American League West, it would appear that their chances of making the playoffs are extremely good. However, the Texas Rangers simply refuse to go away. They’ve swept two double headers in the last week! What a tremendous accomplishment for a team missing two of their three best players. Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox maintain a 2 game lead over those Rangers for the Wild Card.

Two of these three teams – the Angels, Rangers and Red Sox will make the postseason.

So, what would hurt Angel fans worse? Losing the division to the Rangers, the wild card to the Sox and missing the playoffs altogether? Or, facing those Red Sox in the first round of the playoffs for the third consecutive year, only to lose to Boston yet again?
Let us know on our message board

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Despite an offense that sputtered on the road trip, the Angels return to Anaheim with a 4-3 record and improving their lead over Texas to five games. The Halos received six strong starts from their rotation over the seven game trip. The Angels need to see the offense pick it back up and the pitching to stay strong so they can knocked Texas out of contention and head into the post-season clicking on all cylinders.

The schedule does not get easier for the Angels either as they will also be facing some formidable teams the rest of the season.

3 vs. Seattle, 6 vs. Oakland, 7 vs. Texas, 3 vs. Chicago, 3 vs. Boston and 4 vs. New York.

Los Angeles will have their work cut out for them.

The Angels recalled four more players as the minor league season ended for the Salt Lake City Bees. Terry Evans, Ryan Budde, Rafael Rodriguez and Freddy Sandoval have all joined the club.

Steve Bisheff of the LA Times calls Erick Aybar the "most improved Angel". It's hard to disagree.

Mariners at Angels

Felix Hernandez (14-5, 2.65) vs Scott Kazmir (8-8, 5.68)
Ian Snell (6-9, 5.21) vs Jered Weaver (14-5, 3.79)
Ryan Rowland-Smith (3-2, 3.88) vs John Lackey (9-7, 3.74)

Alexi Amarista wins the Midwest League batting title with a .319 batting average

By David Saltzer - Columnist

Hot Prospects September 8, 2009

By and large the regular season for the Minor League came to an end on Monday, September 7th (only the Orem Owlz will continue regular play through Friday 9/11/09). The following are the records for our affiliates: Single-A (short season) AZL-Angels 38-18 (.679) lost a 1-game playoff; Single-A (short season) Orem Owlz 48-24 (.667) qualified for the playoffs beginning this weekend; Single-A Cedar Rapids Kernels 78-60 (.565) qualified for the playoffs beginning Wednesday; Single-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes 61-79 (.436) qualified for the playoffs beginning Wednesday; Double-A Arkansas Travelers 61-79 (.436) eliminated from the playoffs; Triple-A Salt Lake Bees 72-71 .(503) eliminated from the playoffs.

1. Alexi Amarista, 2B, Class A Cedar Rapids Kernels
Past 10 Games: 15/38 (.395), 6 Doubles, 0 Triples, 0 HRs, 6 Runs, 1 RBI, 4 SBs
Overall: .319/.390/.468 with 4 HRs and 38 SBs

What’s Up: In our “Organizational Best Baseball Tools Feature” published earlier this season, one player who appeared in two categories was Alexi Amarista. We tabbed him with our “Best Strike Zone Judgment” and “Best Defensive 2B”. We now have a new title to give to him: 2009 Batting Champion for the Midwest League. With a strong finish at the end of the season, Alexi beat out the competition. He also finished amongst the league leaders in OB%, SLG, OPS, Doubles and SBs. He’s an exciting 20 year old who plays solid defense. His emergence, along with Jean Segura’s may have made trading Sean Rodriguez a bit easier for the organization to swallow. Congratulations Alexi on winning your first batting title!

2. Chris Scholl, RHP, Class A Cedar Rapids Kernels
Past 10 Games: 0-0, 0 Saves, 1.31 ERA, 20.2 IP, 5 H, 9 BB, 31 K, 0.68 WHIP
Overall: 3-2, 0 Saves, 3.42 ERA, 84.1 IP, 64 H, 37 BB, 90 K, 1.51 WHIP, .213 BAA

What’s Up: When making the Hot Prospect List, it’s not always easy to include relievers. They tend to play in more games than starters but post fewer innings. A slight setback in a game, such as giving up 1 run, has a bigger effect on their numbers. This week’s list features 2 relievers, and for them we’ve posted their numbers over 10 games to show how dominant they’ve both been. Chris Scholl hasn’t given up a run in almost a month, and has only allowed 5 hits in his last 10 games! He’s been on fire since the All-Star Break cutting his ERA nearly in half for the second half while striking out 63 batters in 42.0 IP. Next year could be a bit of a challenge for Scholl as he is a fly-ball pitcher who will be moving up to the California League—a league not too forgiving to fly-ball pitchers.

3. Michael Kohn, RHP, High A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes
Past 10 Games: 1-0, 2 Saves, 0.00 ERA, 12.2 IP, 5 H, 8 BB, 20 K, 1.03 WHIP
Overall: 6-1, 9 Saves, 1.64 ERA, 65.2 IP, 33 H, 26 BB, 103 K, 0.90 WHIP, .153 BAA

What’s Up: Our other top reliever this week, Kohn has been posting some sick numbers. Normally, pitchers see their stats rise in the California League. After all, there are several small ball parks and several ball parks at altitude. Kohn, however, saw his numbers drop during his stint in the California League and didn’t give up any HRs while logging 28.2 innings in the league. Kohn brings upper 90s heat with great control that has held hitters at bay for his entire time in the Angels’ organization. At 23, he could easily sail through to the majors next year and could get a crack at the pen by the end of the year.

4. Hank Conger, C, Class AA Arkansas Travelers
Past 10 Games: 11/36 (.306), 1 Double, 0 Triples, 2 HRs, 7 Runs, 4 RBIs, 1 SB
Overall: .295/.369/.424 with 11 HRs and 4 SBs

What’s Up: Hank finished up strong in the Texas League. Like his teammate Mark Trumbo, Conger finished the season with a much improved bat. That bodes well for next year. But, unlike Trumbo, the big question with Conger this year was how he would play defensively behind the plate. With a full season catching, we now know the answer: Conger plays well behind the plate. He threw out 33 of 110 runners (30%) and posted range factor between Napoli and Mathis. He’s still at least a year away, but, definitely in line for a major league job as a catcher.

5. Carlos Ramirez, C, Class A Orem Owlz
Past 10 Games: 12/36 (.333), 4 Doubles, 0 Triples, 3 HRs, 7 Runs, 7 RBIs, 0 SBs
Overall: .369/.486/.624 with 7 HRs and 0 SBs

What’s Up: In our last Hot Prospect List, we said that Ramirez was posting some Mauer-like numbers. Well, Mauer hasn’t let up and neither has Ramirez. Ramirez is still showing the power and the plate discipline that make him a rare commodity—a hitting catcher. In his last 10 games, Ramirez has more BBs than Ks (9:6). Additionally, he’s been very solid behind the plate. This year, Ramirez threw out 12 of 38 runners (32%) and has a .992 Fld%. He’s definitely one to watch next year.

6. Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Class A Orem Owlz
Past 3 Games: 0-0, 0 Saves, 0.00 ERA, 8.0 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 10 K, 0.75 WHIP
Overall: 0-0, 0 Saves, 0.00 ERA, 8.0 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 10 K, 0.75 WHIP, .172 BAA

What’s Up: One of our last draftees to sign this year, Skaggs is showing that he was worth the wait. After pitching 6.0 innings for the AZL-Angels, Skaggs was promoted to Orem where he has held his own. Considering the last batters he faced were in high school, that’s quite an achievement! Skaggs features a plus fastball and curve. Definitely keep an eye on him next year!

7. Mark Trumbo, 1B/RF, Class AA Arkansas Travelers
Past 10 Games: 14/40 (.350), 3 Doubles, 0 Triples, 1 HR, 9 Runs, 3 RBIs, 0 SBs
Overall: .291/.333/.452 with 15 HRs and 6 SBs

What’s Up: With the emergence of Kendry Morales, Trumbo needs to find a new place on the field in order to make it to the majors. That new home may be Right Field. Over the past few weeks, Trumbo has made 10 starts in RF and an occasional start at 1B. In our “Organizational Best Baseball Tools Feature” we listed Trumbo as our “Best Power Prospect”. With continued improvement in plate discipline, Trumbo could become a powerful replacement for Rivera or Abreu in 1-2 years. With his strong finish, Trumbo should move up to Salt Lake next year. But, he may spend a little more time at Arkansas at the start of the season to work on the transition to RF.

8. Tommy Mendoza, RHP, Class AAA Salt Lake Bees
Past 3 Games: 2-0, 0 Saves, 2.04 ERA, 17.2 IP, 12 H, 10 BB, 7 K, 1.25 WHIP
Overall: 9-8, 0 Saves, 3.29 ERA, 150.1 IP, 148 H, 42 BB, 96 K, 1.26 WHIP, .256 BAA

What’s Up: Sometimes when we make this list, we’re struck by the similarity of numbers between two players such as Mendoza and Chatwood. How do you rank one over the other? At just 22, Tommy Mendoza got his first taste of Triple-A. After 2 rough, Mendoza has bounced back and hasn’t allowed an earned run in his past 2 starts. Mendoza is a control specialist who doesn’t blow hitters away with his heat. But, he should start next year at Salt Lake where he’ll become part of a very talented staff with Bell, O’Sullivan, and Reckling and will wait for his shot at the majors.

9. Tyler Chatwood, RHP, Class Cedar Rapids Kernels
Past 3 Games: 3-0, 0 Saves, 2.04 ERA, 17.2 IP, 11 H, 11 BB, 15 K, 1.25 WHIP
Overall: 8-7, 0 Saves, 4.02 ERA, 116.1 IP, 99 H, 66 BB, 106 K, 1.48 WHIP, .237 BAA

What’s Up: One of the things we look for when evaluating prospects is how they are developing from year-to-year. With Chatwood, there is progression. He’s won his last 5 starts. While he’s still given up too many walks, the rate at which he’s giving them up is decreasing. Last year, as an 18 year old rookie, he gave up 8.5 BBs/9 IP. This year, as one of the youngest players in the Midwest League, he only gave up 5.1 BBs/9 IP. While there is still room for improvement, it’s worth noting how much he has improved this season, especially considering how much older his opponents are. Chatwood’s future is still bright, and, as he refines his control, his stuff will definitely keep him rising throughout the organization.

10. Darwin Perez, SS, Class A Cedar Rapids Kernels
Past 10 Games: 16/39 (.410), 2 Doubles, 1 Triple, 1 HR, 6 Runs, 6 RBIs, 1 SB
Overall: .261/.352/.693 with 2 HRs and 11 SBs

What’s Up: Amarista’s double-play partner, and fellow Venezuelan, Darwin is another player who had a tale of two seasons. Prior to the All-Star Break, he posted a paltry .196/.307/.239 line. After the All-Star Break, he posted a 317/392/429 line. The good news is that like Amarista, he’s got good plate discipline. He posted an 84:49 K:BB ratio. At just 20 years old, he and Amarista should move together up to Rancho next year where they will continue to form a MIF tandem.

Honorable Mention

Gabriel Jacobo, 1B, Class A Cedar Rapids Kernels
Past 10 Games: 14/39 (.359), 2 Doubles, 1 Triple, 1 HR, 10 Runs, 4 RBIs, 0 SBs
Overall: .257/.317/.427 with 10 HRs and 6 SBs

What’s Up: Like many of the Angels’ prospects, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish” applies to Jacobo. Before the All-Star Break, Jacobo was posting a measly .222/.302/.351. Since the All-Star Break, he’s been slugging away to the tune of .285/.330/.488 line. As a former 3rd baseman, we tabbed Jacobo with our “Best Defensive 1B” label earlier this season. He finished the season with just 5 errors and a .995 Fld% in 1035 chances. He’s very adept at digging balls out of the dirt and has a strong arm. How far he will rise will depend on how his plate discipline and power develop.

Angel Castillo finished up the season going 2-3 and hit his 12th home run.

Sutton: 2-4, triple, single, RBI, K (.250) (AAA)
Pettit: 1-3, double, RBI, K (.321) (AAA)
Diaz: 7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, HR, HBP (3.65) (AA)
Smith: 3-4, double, 2 singles (.262) (AA)
Trumbo: 2-4, 2 singles, 2 RBI, 2 K (.291) (AA)
Colmenares: 2-4, 2 singles (.298) (A+)
Navarro: 1-3, single, BB (.287) (A+)
Moore: 2-4, 2 singles (.279) (A+)
Correa: 8 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, K (4.47) (A)
Perez: 3-5, 2 doubles, single, RBI (.261) (A)
Brooks: 2-4, double, single, RBI, BB, K (.248) (A)
Jacobo: 2-4, 2 singles (.257) (A)
Crawford: 2-4, 2 singles, RBI (.285) (A)
Castillo: 2-3, HR (12), single, RBI, BB, K (.242) (A)
Ramos: 2-6, 2 singles, RBI, K (.300) (Rookie Orem)
Cates: 2-4, 2 singles, 3 RBI, BB, K (.305) (Rookie Orem)
Bass: 2-4, double, single, BB (.288) (Rookie Orem)
Eichelberger: 3-4, double, 2 singles, 2 RBI, HBP (.273) (Rookie Orem)
Sumi: 2-4, 2 singles, HBP (.240) (Rookie Orem)

Prospect of the Day: Darwin Perez went 3-5 with two doubles, finishing up the season on fire, hitting .410 in his last ten games.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Chris Scholl hasn't given up a hit in the last month for the Cedar Rapids Kernels.

Sandoval: 2-4, triple, single, RBI, BB (.304) (AAA)
Pettit: 2-5, double, single, K (.321) (AAA)
Evans: 2-3, 2 singles, RBI, 2 BB (.291) (AAA)
Pavkovich: 2-4, double, single, 2 RBI, BB (.244) (AAA)
Figueroa: 2-5, 2 singles, 3 RBI (.250) (AAA)
Salmon: 5.2 IP, 5 H, ER, BB, 6 K (4.56) (AAA)
Bourjos: 2-4, triple, single, RBI, K (.282) (AA)
Smith: 2-5, HR (8), single, 3 RBI, K (.258) (AA)
Trumbo: 1-3, single, RBI, 2 BB, K (.289) (AA)
Statia: 2-3, double, single, BB (.243) (AA)
Kenney: 6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, HR (5.54) (A+)
Nieves: 2-2, 2 singles, 2 BB (.270) (A+)
Scholl: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K (3.42) (A)
Amarista: 2-3, double, single (.319) (A)
Trout: 1-2, single, 2 BB, K (.352 at two levels) (A)
Locke: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, BB, 2 K (4.02) (Rookie Orem)
Ramirez: 2-4, HR (7), single, 2 RBI, BB (.362) (Rookie Orem)
Mann: 2-4, HR (2), double, 2 RBI, BB (.282) (Rookie Orem)
Witherspoon: 2-4, double, single, RBI, BB (.223) (Rookie Orem)
Demperio: 2-3, double, single, BB (.125) (Rookie Orem)

Prospect of the day: Chris Scholl hasn’t given up a run in almost a month, and has only allowed 5 hits in his last 10 games! He’s been on fire since the All-Star Break cutting his ERA nearly in half for the second half while striking out 63 batters in 42.0 IP.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sandoval pushed his Triple-A batting average up to .301 on the season after his 4 hits last night

Denham: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K (4.97) (AAA)
Sutton: 2-2, 2 singles, 3 BB (.243) (AAA)
Evans: 2-5, HR (26), single, RBI, 2 K (.288) (AAA)
Sandoval: 4-5, 4 singles, RBI (.301) (AAA)
Pavkovich: 2-4, 2 singles, BB, K (.241) (AAA)
Budde: 3-5, HR (7), 2 singles, 2 RBI, K (.229) (AAA)
Conger: 3-5, 3 singles (.298) (AA)
Trumbo: 2-5, HR (15), single, 3 RBI, 2 K (.289) (AA)
Mount: 3-5, double, 2 singles, 2 K (.259) (AA)
Statia: 2-4, 2 singles, RBI, K (.239) (AA)
Contreras: 2-4, double, single (.268) (AA)
Moore: 2-3, 2 singles, BB (.279) (A+)
Colmenares: 2-4, double, single, RBI, 2 K (.295) (A+)
Rosario: 1-2, single, 2 BB (.232) (A+)
Castillo: 2-4, double, single, K (.238) (A)
Amarista: 1-3, single, BB (.316) (A)
Ramos: 3-4, 3 singles, BB, K (.304) (Rookie Orem)
Bass: 2-4, HR (4), single, 2 RBI, BB (.286) (Rookie Orem)
Wing: 2-5, 2 singles, RBI, K (.314) (Rookie Orem)
Mann: 3-5, double, 2 singles, RBI, 2 K (.273) (Rookie Orem)
Karcich: 2-5, 2 singles, K (.246) (Rookie Orem)

Prospect of the day: This was a tough one to decide on after a good night for several Angels' prospects, but we're going to give it to Freddy Sandoval. Freddy went 4-5 with an RBI, pushing his batting average up to .301 on the season with the Salt Lake Bees.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

By David Saltzer - Columnist

The Angels got Scott Kazmir and the Rays got Sean Rodriguez, Matt Sweeney and Alex Torres. Many fans have been a bit upset at the loss of Sean Rodriguez, a versatile, powerful, and speedy MIFer who can also play the OF. They considered this price a bit too steep to pay.

Looking at the Kazmir trade, I’m excited by it—even with giving up Rodriguez (especially seeing how he pitched in his first start). Unlike some pundits and fans, I’m not going to create a list of possibilities that need to occur in order to call the trade “successful.” Trades aren’t made with hindsight; they are made at the time with the information on-hand.

At the time of the trade, the Angels had a 4.5 game lead over a surging Texas team (the lead has now shrunk to 3.5 games). Unlike past seasons, the Rangers didn’t appear to be fading. The Angels’ starting rotation was stretched beyond its ability to perform (with Saunders on the DL and Bell and O’Sullivan no longer getting the job done). With at least 6 starts left for our 5th starter, and 7 head-to-head games against the Rangers, the Angels’ chances of making the post-season were in serious doubt without a serious upgrade to their starting rotation.

In Kazmir, the Angels received a top-end pitcher who is signed to a reasonable contract over the next two years. In his career, Kazmir an 8-7 record against Boston with a career 3.59 ERA against them. Additionally, against the Yankees, Kazmir has a 6-4 lifetime record with a 2.53 ERA. Against both teams, he has struck out more than 1 batter per inning. That will be useful if we end up facing one or both teams again this year in the post season.

In making this trade, the Angels did not rob from their future by trading key prospects to get the deal done. Looking at the Angels’ organization as a whole, the players that were traded were all essentially blocked on their way to the majors and did not figure significantly into the Angels’ long-term plans.

In the case of Matt Sweeney, he was expendable because he was blocked by both Chone Figgins and Brandon Wood. While he has a potent bat, he was still at Single-A Rancho Cucamonga, and was coming off another injured year. He was at least 2 years away, and 2 players down on the depth chart.

As for Alex Torres, he too would have to leapfrog over Trevor Reckling (a comparable lefty with probably a higher ceiling) as well as Sean O’Sullivan and Trevor Bell. And, this doesn’t even include all the current starters in our rotation as well as Scott Kazmir—the object of the trade. Like Sweeney, Torres was at least 2 years away and many players down on the depth chart.

The only player that the Angels traded who might have played a role next year was Sean Rodriguez. With his ability to play both MIF positions and the OF, Rodriguez could have been a bench player for the team. But, with GMJr as the 4th OFer, and Maicer Izturis as the MIF backup, the opportunities for him to get any serious playing time were limited.

Meanwhile, behind him, the Angels have 2 very talented MIFers in development: Alexi Amarista, who posted a 313/385/464 line with 38 SBs at Cedar Rapids and Jean Segura, who posted a 346/421/512 line with 11 SBs. By the time Rodriguez would have an open shot to challenge for a starting job with the Angels, he would be challenged himself by one or both of these players.

After so many years of not making a trade to bolster the team, it’s good to see Tony Reagins making another bold move to improve the team for both now and the future. If anything, this trade should be considered a “win-win-win” trade. The Angels got a quality starter who can help them through the stretch drive and beyond. That is a win for them. The Rays got 3 talented prospects and the salary relief they needed to keep their core players intact. That is a win for them. And, Rodriguez, Sweeney, and Torres all got a shot in an organization where their paths to the majors aren’t as blocked. That is a “win” for them.

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