Saturday, January 10, 2015

By Glen McKee and Nate Trop, - 

If you love baseball and you’re as old as we are here at PCP headquarters – somewhere between 30 and 50 – then you’re probably familiar with the Peanuts comic strip and Charlie Brown’s love of baseball.  Angels fans can relate to Chuck’s eternal struggles on the mound as they mirrored the Angels for so many years.  Charlie Brown was like the Joe Blanton of comic strips, without the “successes” that Blanton had.  From those Peanuts strips came the concept of “hero or goat.”  Charlie Brown would be on the mound in a crucial situation and would give himself a pep-talk, saying he would be either the hero or the goat.  He always wanted to be the hero, but this would inevitably happen:

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…followed by this:

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Man, there was such a period of greatness for that strip and these panels just hint at it.  But we digress; back on topic.  Every year there is a hero and there is a goat.  It’s easy to pick a potential hero when Mike Trout is on your team, and as much as we love the easy way out here at PCP headquarters we’re gonna look for the stealth hero.  It’s also easy to pick a potential goat when Josh Hamilton is on your team, but we’re not above that  - one of us almost has to pick him.  It’s low-hanging fruit.  With that in mind, here are our PCP picks for the heroes and goats of 2015.

Glen McKee 

Hero: Erick Aybar.  This was easy for me because Aybar is my hero every year.  Are you kidding me?  Mike Trout doesn’t even come close.  Has Mike Trout ever put his weenie in a hotdog bun to entertain the locker room?  Aybar has.  That’s the breadstuff that heroes are made of.  Has Albert Pujols ever had dreadlocks, or a grill?  Aybar has.  Aybar is like Liam Neeson in the “Taken” movies, except he’s smaller, ethnic, and has put his weenie in a hotdog bun.  I guarantee you Liam Neeson has never done that (insert foot-long bun joke here).  

I hear all you nay-sayers out there nay-saying me by saying “yeah, that’s all great and stuff but what’s Aybar gonna do ON the field to be a hero?”  Fair question, that.  This is sort of a career year for Aybar.  Two years left on his current deal, which means next year he’s gonna be in the “Howie Kendrick position.”  There are a lot of ways I could go after that last sentence but I’ll stick with what I actually meant: he’s a good/very good player with a reasonable contract, and he has a definite possibility of being traded after this season (which will break my heart, but I’ll soldier on).  He knows he needs to put up good numbers, perhaps even a career year, to increase his trade value and his chances of ending up on a better team.  I predict he’s gonna avoid his usual slow start and surprise us right out of the box, and he’ll actually minimize the dumb baserunning errors (I said minimize, not eliminate) that drive us nuts.  In short, he’ll put it all together this year and I’ll shed a tear when he’s not starting for us at SS next year.  I’m gonna enjoy him as much as I can this year.  RIP in advance, Erick.  I knew ye as well as I needed to.

Goat: Mike Scioscia.  Mike had a very good year last year, for the most part.  The Angels put up the best record in the regular season and that counts for something.  According to my stats from last year, over 75% of the time when I questioned his judgment I was wrong, as opposed to an average of 35% over the previous four seasons.  Congrats, Scioscia!  You have the begrudging approval of a lowly baseball blogger.  I’m sure this made your day.

Now that the niceties are out of the way, I fully expect him to return to form this year.  Why?  Well, last year he was playing for his life.  Rumors were strong at the end of the 2013 season that either Scioscia or Dipoto would go, and they both pulled a performance out of their hoo-hahs that reminded us of why they were hired in the first place.  Dipoto has continued that hot streak, and since I have to pick somebody to suck and I’m saving Hambone for my writing partner, it’s time for a Scioscia regression.  As always when I predict something bad about the Angels , I (90%) hope that I’m wrong and I hope that Sosh manages like he did last season, with the exception of the playoffs.  You can do it, Scioscia!  I sorta believe in you.

Nathan Trop

First, Glen just got married - Mazel tov!  Second, let’s get this straight; Glen is old, a lot older than I am, so he has a better and subsequently worse (because he is so old) memory of the Peanuts comic strip.

Hero: Mike Sc… Hah I couldn’t even finish typing it.  I think the hero will be Huston Street.  Street came in and made an immediate impact on the team last season and propelled the Angels to the best record in baseball, locking down what was a surprise strength for the team - the bullpen.  For the Angels to be successful again this year they will have to have a dominant bullpen and Street will have to have a very high save percentage.  The Angels are poised to go into the season with a young back end of the rotation and an aging Weaver and a basket case in CJ Wilson Mazda or CJ Fullcount or CJ Walk or whatever he is called now.  I think they will have fewer leads going into the late innings and because of that it will be even more important that they preserve the leads they do have to lock up the W.

The pen lost a few key performers from last season, on and off the field.  They lost Kevin “buddy Jesus” Jepsen and his gigantic parody of a head and also Jason Grilli and his beer belly.  They will be leaning on the likes of Mike Morin, Cam Bedrosian, Cory Rasmus, Fernando Salas as well as a couple new comers in Tropeano/Heaney.  You also have to figure that a couple of those guys will be starting at some point during the season.  What does all of this mean?  Well first of all even though it is the off season I remembered all of these names without having to Google the roster, and also that I am not so sure I spelled Tropeano correctly.  It also means that the pen is very young, and potentially very good, but the most important part of the pen will be the two old guys (like Glen) anchoring the back end (like Glen) – Smith and Street.  I think Street has another dynamite season and also signs an extension with the Angels before the whole thing is over making him a hero to the fans.

Goat:  CJ Wilson Mazda.

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I just Googled Smith and Street and found out I am older than both of them, don’t tell Glen… Back to CJ Wilson Mazda – It blows my mind that he also likes racing cars.  He must be the slowest driver on the track… “Oh no I got within two hundred feet of that other car, I better slam on the brakes to avoid any sort of risk!” Nothing about him pitching is enjoyable, he takes forever between pitches, and he never attacks hitters and is always behind in the count.  After the game he does an interview with his stupid hair and says something like “I have to get better, blah blah blah improvement blah blah blah.”  
After three seasons now we know it is all lip service.  He still throws too many pitches and ultimately puts the bullpen and the Angels in a bad spot every five days.  I think that if a couple of the kids the Angels picked up in the off season pitch well, CJ is a prime candidate for one of those phantom DL stints because of “arm fatigue” to keep him out of the rotation for a while.  Especially if Richards comes back healthy and dominant like he was last season.
Love to hear what you think!

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