December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

If you’re a baseball fan, there’s a good chance that at some point in time you uttered the phrase “there’s always next year” (usually after your team just fell short of expectations). Well, next year is tomorrow and even though the year came and went in the blink of an eye, there were times when many of us may have thought “tomorrow” would never get here.

This whole time thing had me thinking; if time really does fly, why do some weeks seem like they’re never going to end? How many times have you come home from work and said to yourself or your wife, “it’s been a long day”? And then when December hits, you wonder; “where did the time go?”

Think about all the song lyrics written about “time” like “Time in a bottle,” “Time keeps on ticking, ticking into the future…” or “Time is on my side,” etc., etc. One thing’s for sure, we can’t ever seem to get enough of it.

Time is that mythical thing that heals all things. An event isn’t big enough or important enough unless it has the word “time” involved; like “winning time” or “hammer time.” It’s that thing that frequently escapes us, but at the same time, we can never run from it.

Time has also always had a special relationship with baseball. Some of us mark the years by the teams who won the World Series that year. It’s that thing that makes us crazy when there’s too much of it between pitches. And let's not forget that baseball is America's favorite pastime.

Well, now it’s time to put 2009 to bed.

The 2009 Angels baseball season was a long one. Granted, I would have preferred it to be a tad bit longer and had a better outcome, but it was long just the same. There were times when I couldn’t wait for it to be over (although rarely) and when it did end, I couldn’t wait for it to start again.

Well, in about six weeks it will all start again when the sweetest five words ever invented are heard around the world… “Pitchers and catchers report today.” I can’t wait. It will be here before we know it and when it does arrive, we’ll probably say, “I thought it would never get here.” Go figure.

And with that, I wish you all a Happy New Year! I am looking forward to blogging more about Angels' baseball in 2010. Trust me; I’m just getting warmed up.

December 30, 2009

True Grich's All-Decade Team Part 2

Time for the True Grich Angels All-Decade Pitching Squad. Like the previous picks for the position players, these picks are based on the best single season of a pitcher in a given year, as opposed to a comprehensive look at who did what over the last ten years.

Occupying the #5 spot in the All-Decade rotation is a personal favorite of mine and my wife Cheryl’s in Joe Saunders. Saunders was a solid performer in 2008 when he led the team in both wins (17) and had the lowest ERA among the starters (3.41). Saunders was one of three Angel pitchers to be selected to the all-star game that year. Saunders threw his first complete game that year and managed 103 strikes outs. Saunders; who relies on his defense (by pitching to contact), really came into his own as a starter in 2008.

The #4 starter for the decade goes to the pitcher who shares my birthday (April 11) and that would be Kelvim Escobar and his 2007 season. Escobar had his finest season in the majors that year, going 18-7 with a 3.40 ERA. His strikeout to innings pitched ratio was a solid 7.4 (he struck out a total of 160 batters). Escobar also had three complete games, including a shut out. Early in the season, he was among those being discussed as a possible CY Young candidate, but never factored into the voting by season’s end.

Ervin Santana’s 2008 performance gave the Angels reason to sign him to a 4 year, $30 million (with a club option for a fifth year). That year he went 16-7 with a 3.49 ERA and 1.119 WHIP. He also had an impressive 214 strikeouts in 219 innings for an 8.8 strikeouts to innings ratio. He joined Saunders on the all-star team and finished 6th in the CY Young balloting. He threw two complete games, including a shut out. His performance earns him the #3 spot on the True Grich Angels All-Decade squad.

Interesting tidbit about “El Meneo” (Shaker) is that he seems to pitch best in even numbered years. Hopefully, 2010 will be a good one for Santana.

The #2 spot is occupied by an old friend of the Angels in Jarrod Washburn, who’s 2002 season ranks as the second best performance of the decade (in my opinion). Washburn was 18-6 with a 3.15 ERA, 1.175 WHIP, and 139 K’s. Washburn didn’t make the all-star team, but finished 4th in the CY Young voting. He was clearly the ace of the staff during the Angels championship season, even though he went 0-2 in the World Series.

The top dog on the All-Decade squad goes to a player who is now "dead to me." Yes, “you know who” had an amazing 2007 season, going 19-9 with a league leading 3.01 ERA, 179 K’s and two complete game shut outs (both against Seattle). The pitcher, forever to be now known as “Judas” made his first and only all-star performance and finished 3rd in the Cy Young voting.

If I still sound bitter, it’s because I am. Never-the-less - John Lackey (cough) gets the top spot on the True Grich Angels All-Decade Pitching staff.

Jered Weaver did not make the cut, but had a short, but fine 2006 season and a solid 2009 campaign. He just didn’t have the numbers to crack the top five (in my opinion), but could/should dominate in the next decade.

The closer of the decade is between two pitchers who will go down as two of the all-time best for the Angels; Troy Percival and Francisco Rodriguez.

Rodriguez saved an astounding 62 games in 2008. He finished 3rd in the Cy Young Voting, made his third all-star team (at the time), and even finished 6th in the MVP voting. All that being said, I believe his best season was 2006 when he lead the league with 47 saves. In 2006 his ERA was lower (1.73 to 2.24), his strike outs to innings ratio was higher (12.1 to 10.1) and even his WHIP was better (1.096 to 1.309). He also only blew 4 saves in 2006 as opposed to 7 in 2008.

“K-Rod” was known to give Angel fans a roller-coaster ride during his last couple seasons in Anaheim, but he was easily the most successful closer in Angels' history. But the question is - was his 2006 season the best of the decade?

Before we get to that, let’s look at Troy Percival.

Even though “Percy” made the all-star team four times, his best season (in my opinion) came in a year when he didn’t make the mid-summer classic; 2002. That year Percy had a career best (as a closer) 1.92 ERA. He saved 40 of 44 games and averaged nearly 11 K’s per nine innings. He also racked up seven saves in the post season, including the most important one (game 7 of the World Series) in Angels' history.

So, who was better? Who gets the nod on the All-Decade squad?

They both do. Only Percy wins the closer award and K-Rod wins as the best set-up man of the decade.

With apologies to Scot Shields, K-Rod’s 2004 season cemented him as one of the game’s elite relievers. That year he had 12 saves to go along with 27 holds. He averaged an incredible 13.2 K’s per nine innings. Shields has never hit double digits in that category.

K-Rod had a 1.82 ERA which better than any season by Shields and only gave up two homeruns (oh for the good ol’ days) the entire season. He is the True Grich Angels All-Decade Set-up Man.

If you want to make a case for Rodriguez as the Angels’ best closer of the decade, you won’t get much of an argument from me; however, I am picking Troy Percival as the closer and Francisco Rodriguez as the top set up man (remember this is based on a single season performance).

As we close this decade and the all-decade selections, you may have noticed (like my friend and 514 fanatic, Jeffrey did) that I neglected to pick a top DH. For the most part, that role has been a revolving one Mike Scioscia has used to give some of his players rest. I chose not to include it for that reason. Brad Fullmer was purely a DH, but he was average, at best.

My pick of Darin Erstad as the best player of the decade (based on a single season performance) doesn’t really provide us with a true picture of who the best Angel player of the decade was. I chose to do that on purpose, believing my criteria made for a more interesting list.

Had I gone the route of who was best based on statistics alone, the award would have come down to two players. One, who made my all-decade team (Vladimir Guerrero) and one who ironically did not (Garret Anderson).

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that both players drove in more than 100 runs four times during the decade, but it probably will surprise you to know Anderson actually drove in more. He drove in 479 in those four seasons (2000-2003) to Guerrero’s 475 in his four (2004-2007). Anderson was a machine for the first four years of this decade and vastly under-rated. Guerrero was everything that was advertised and highly celebrated.

Who was better? An argument could be made either way. Anderson’s impact was over a much longer period of time (9 seasons) and included a World Series title. Vlad’s six years were very impressive and included an MVP title. If you pushed me to pick one, I’d give the edge to Anderson, simply because of his longevity.

The irony of all this shouldn’t be lost. I guess in some ways it’s a reflection of GA’s career and the perception that surrounded him. Anderson was very much under-appreciated as a member of the Angels, but holds almost every statistical record for the franchise. Some even thought Anderson to be “lazy,” while my friend and fellow 514 Fanatic, Bo simply called him “Mr. Smooth.”

Also ironic (probably only to me) is that I was never a huge Erstad fan and yet he ended up as my Angel of the Decade (again based on specific criteria). In any case, I hope you enjoyed this exercise as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you.

December 29, 2009

True Grich's Angels All-Decade Team

As the decade comes to a close I thought it would be a fun exercise to pick the Angels All-Decade Team. As I started this process, I found myself picking players mainly from the 2002 squad, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, that team had a nucleus of players who were a part of the organization for a good part of the decade and contributed to the team’s overall success to start the new millennium.

To make things more interesting, I thought I would pick a team based on the best single season performance of a given player. What’s the big deal? Well, it means Darin Erstad’s performance as a left fielder in 2000 trumps any season by Garret Anderson, who gets left off the all-decade team. Now any knowledgeable Angel fan knows Anderson is one of the all-time Angel greats; however, based on my criteria he’s being left off the squad.

So here we go…

At first base – Kendry Morales. Morales put up monster numbers in 2009. Morales’ 34 homeruns, 108 RBI’s, .306 batting average with a .924 OPS were absolutely stud-like. It even beats Mo Vaughn’s 2000 season even though Vaughn had more homeruns and RBI’s; Vaughn struck out 64 more times than Morales and actually led the league with 181 strike outs. Ouch. His OPS was also 70 points lower.

To tell you the truth, I don’t think I could live with myself if Mo Vaughn ended up on my list. More ammo for Morales - he had a slightly better fielding percentage in 2009 than Vaughn did in 2000 and to top things off Morales finished 5th in the AL MVP voting. That’s good enough to get the top spot at first base for the True Grich Angels All-Decade Team.

At second base – Adam Kennedy gets the nod for his 2002 season; easily his best as an Angel. That year Kennedy hit .312 with a career best .795 OPS. His three homerun performance in the ALCS that year doesn’t hurt his case either. Kennedy’s competition - Howie Kendrick is a fine player and may ultimately have a better career, but for this decade Kennedy is The Man.

Third base is a contest between two contrasting players in Troy Glaus (who was known for his power) and Chone Figgins (who is known for his speed). True Grich gives the nod to Troy Glaus for his 2000 season. There’s an old commercial touting “chicks dig the long ball” and well, True Grich digs them too. In 2000 Glaus lead the league with 47 homeruns and had an outstanding 1.008 OPS. He also made his first all-star team and captured his first of two Silver Slugger Awards.

I suppose one could make a case for Figgins’ 2005 season when he lead the league with 62 stolen bases or his 2009 season when he scored 114 runs and lead the league in walks with 101, but Glaus’ overall performance in 2000 still beats him in my opinion. Glaus even walked 112 times (which bests Figgins' 2009 total) in 2000 and didn’t even lead the league.

This past decade gave us three shortstops in David Eckstein, Orlando Cabrera and Erick Aybar. No question, the sentimental favorite is Eckstein, but who had the best single season? Erick Aybar’s 2009 season pales by comparison to both Eckstein and Cabrera’s best years; however, it’s very close between the latter two. Cabrera’s best season as an Angel was clearly 2007. He posted his best OPS as an Angel at .742, scored 101 runs, drove in 86 and won a gold glove. Cabrera made three fewer errors than Eckstein while handling 47 more opportunities.

Eckstein’s 2002 season bests Cabrera’s OPS with a .752, and he scored more runs 107 while driving in a respectable 63 runs from the lead off spot. Then there are the intangibles… Yeah, that’s right; I’m playing that card and giving the edge to Eckstein. Eckstein was the catalyst in the Angels drive for a world championship. Eckstein had a knack for getting on base when the Angels’ needed him to do exactly that. Known for his ability to make pitchers throw a lot, he saw 3.69 pitches on average per at-bat compared to Cabrera’s 3.39. True Grich’s Angels All-Decade Shortstop is David Eckstein.

When comparing catchers, you almost have to compare Bengie Molina to the tandem of Jeff Mathis and Mike Napoli. For the record I compared the 2008 season of Mathis/Napoli to Molina’s 200e season.

Offensively, Napoli alone bests Molina in most categories; however, defensively neither holds a candle to Molina who won gold gloves in 2002 and 2003. In 2003 Molina made only 5 errors compared to 13 by Mathis and 7 by Napoli. Molina threw out 44% of those attempting to steal a base against him. That’s a number that neither Mathis nor Napoli has ever come close to matching.

In 2003, Molina hit14 homeruns with 71 RBI and a .281 batting average. Molina drew fewer walks than Napoli/Mathis, but didn’t strike out nearly as much.

Molina was #1 in our programs and #1 in our hearts and is easily the True Grich Angels Catcher of the Decade.

Right field was the home of Mr. Angel, Tim Salmon for many years and although Salmon had some fanatic seasons his best of the decade (2000) pales to Vlad’s 2004 MVP season. Had I been able to include Salmon’s 1997 season in this analysis, the decision might have been closer, but Vlad was absolutely huge in 2004.

Vlad lead the league in total bases with 366. He also led the league in runs scored with 124. He was an all-star and a Silver Slugger Award winner. He pounded 39 homeruns and drove in 126 runners. He even stole 15 bases. (Salmon’s career high was 9). He will best be remembered for putting the Angels on his shoulders during the last two weeks of the season and propelling them past the Oakland A’s for their first division title this decade.

I’m sure Range fans still have nightmares about what he did to their team that year.

Tim Salmon may be the best player in the Angels’ history, but the best Angels right fielder of this decade was Vlad Guerrero, hands down.

Centerfield is a position for the rock stars of baseball. It’s the position most likely to make ESPN’s “web gems” and a place where legends are made. The Angels have a long history of great centerfielders going back to Devon White, Chad Curtis, Jim Edmonds, Gary Pettis and others. This decade started with Garret Anderson in CF in 2000, and then saw the emergence of Darin Erstad as a Gold Glover, the debacle that was Steve Finley, the return of Anderson to CF in 2004 and the arrival of the incredible Torii Hunter.

Sorry Ersty fans, but one of the grittiest players to ever wear an Angels' uniform doesn’t make the cut here. Erstad’s offensive numbers just weren’t impressive enough and his intangibles didn’t quite make up the difference either.

The competition for centerfielder of the decade comes down to Anderson’s 2000 season and Hunter’s 2009 season. As good a season as Hunter had this past year, it could have been even better had he not been injured for part of it. That being said, he did win a gold glove and was getting MVP mentions early on.

Anderson had a wonder campaign in 2000 with a career high 35 homeruns, 117 RBI and .286 batting average. He also scored 92 runs, but his on base percentage was only .307 (he only walked 24 times). In 2009 Hunter walked more than twice that in far fewer games and had an OBP of .366 and a superior OPS of .873 to .827. In 2009 Hunter added an all-star appearance and a Silver Slugger Award. He continued being a human highlight film and covered centerfield with authority.

The True Grich Angels Centerfielder of the Decade is none other than Torii Hunter.

Anderson’s 2000 season was far from his best (he had better years in left field); but ironically 2000 was Erstad’s best, only he was playing left field. Even though Anderson had some great years in left field, especially in 2002 and 2003 when he lead the league in doubles, no other Angel performance compares to what Erstad did in 2000.

Erstad not only wins the True Grich Angels Leftfielder of the Decade award, he also wins the True Grich Angels Player of the Decade Award for his 2000 performance.

Erstad did it all in 2000. He won a Gold Glove, Silver Slugger Award, was an all-star and finished 8th in the MVP balloting. He led the league in hits with 240. He stroked 25 homeruns and drove in 100. He had a career best .409 OBP and a career best .951 OPS. He also hit an astounding .355. He had 366 total bases (the same number Vlad had in 2004). He stole 28 bases and scored 121 runs. He probably also helped old ladies cross the street and pulled a cat or two out of a tree. If he had more time, he might have done some brain surgery as well.

Erstad was a one man wrecking machine. He could beat you with his bat, his glove or his legs and was far more compelling than the guy in the Dos Equis commercials.

There you have it. The True Grich All-Decade Team (based on their best individual single season):

1B – Kendry Morales
2B – Adam Kennedy
3B – Troy Glaus
SS – David Eckstein
C - Bengie Molina
RF – Vladimir Guerrero
CF – Torii Hunter
LF – Darin Erstad

Next time, we’ll take a look at the True Grich All-Decade Pitching staff.

December 28, 2009

End of the year inventory time

There are currently 37 players on the Angels’ 40 man roster. Three players need to be added by the beginning of the season. Of this group of 37, let’s see who might, should or will make the 25 man roster on Opening Day.

What we know…

Opening Day locks (assuming no one is traded or injured): Kendry Morales, Howie Kendrick, Erick Aybar, Brandon Wood, Maicer Izturis, Jeff Mathis, Mike Napoli, Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, Juan Rivera, Gary Matthews, Jr., and Hideki Matsui. That’s 12.

Opening Day pitching locks: Joe Saunders, Ervin Santana, Jered Weaver, Scott Kazmir, Brian Fuentes, Kevin Jepsen, Jason Bugler, Fernando Rodney, Scot Shields, and Matt Palmer. That’s 10 and brings the total to 22.

That means three others will make the team. One will likely be a pitcher; most likely Sean O’Sullivan or Trevor Bell with the edge going to O’Sullivan (after all, the Angels might need his dancing skills in October).

Two others need to make up the rest of the roster. Leading Candidates: Freddy Sandoval and Reggie Willits.

On the outside, looking in would include Terry Evans and Bobby Wilson; both of whom would be lost to free agency if they do not make the 25 man roster. Also on the bubble are pitchers Rich Thompson, Anthony Ortega, and Rafael Rodriguez. All three are likely to head back to Salt Lake City and be used as depth for the major league squad during the season.

Some interesting notes…

If you take a look at the official roster on the Angels web site, you’ll notice that Terry Evans will be wearing Darin Erstad’s old number 17. Kendry Morales has a new number and it’s 8. The #17 could be good luck for Evans, but let’s hope the #8 is not a jinx for Morales, as this is the number last worn by Dallas McPherson and Josh Paul.

Joe Saunders is now the oldest pitcher among the four locks for the rotation at 28. Should Palmer become the fifth starter, he would be the oldest at 31 (by Opening Day). Scot Shields will be the oldest member of the pitching staff at 34 beating Brian Fuentes by less than a month.

Sean O’Sullivan is the youngest pitcher on the 40 man roster at just 22 years of age and Peter Bourjos is the youngest position player also at 22, but will be 23 by Opening Day.

Two of the Angels best pitching prospects Trevor Reckling and Jordan Walden are not yet on the 40 man roster and will likely start the year at Salt Lake City. Keep your eyes on these two; they could make their way up to the big club soon.

Basically the Angels lose Lackey, Oliver, Quinlan, and Figgins and replace them with Palmer (or Kazmir depending on how you look at it), Rodney, Sandoval and Wood.


If the Angels don’t add any players, youth will definitely be served and some Angel fans will be more than a little nervous and/or skeptical. Personally, I think the Angels could still make a few moves.

I believe the Angels will try to add to their rotation. They may not get a top of the rotation guy, but they’ll try to find an upgrade at the fifth starter over Matt Palmer. Best free agent pitchers still on the market include Joel Pineiro, Jon Garland, Doug Davis, Todd Wellemeyer, Jarrod Washburn, Vicente Padilla, Pedro Martinez, Noah Lowry, Rich Hill and two guys coming off injuries – Ben Sheets and Erik Beddard. You can mix in a few veterans in John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Paul Byrd. Not an impressive list based on their recent history; however, we’re talking about a possible #5 starter here.

Of that group, Pineiro or Garland would be the most likely targets for the Angels in my opinion; although, neither one excites me very much. The popular choice is Sheets because of his upside, but the injury risk isn't something I believe the Angels can tolerate.

A trade is also a possibility; however, the best option, Josh Johnson – doesn’t appear to be available. Perhaps the Angels could take a look at Aaron Harang of the Reds, who was last being pursued by the Dodgers. Harang is inconsistent, but can be pretty good at times.

On the offensive side of things, I believe Mike Napoli could be traded. I believe it is Mike Scioscia’s intention to make Mathis the #1 guy. If that’s the case, Napoli becomes expendable and a nice trade chip. The arrival of Matsui basically makes Napoli’s days as a DH a distant memory and again, expendable. Bobby Wilson would probably do a nice job as a backup to Mathis and could also provide a little bit of pop for the offense.

The other guy still on the block is Matthews with his remaining two year, $23 million contract. Where he ends up (if anywhere at all) is anyone’s guess. Chances are he will still be on the Angels opening day roster.

I’d still like to see the Angels sign Chad Tracy as a back up for first, third and LF. Yes, I'm still beating that drum.

Will the Angels do more? ESPN’s Rob Neyer asks the question: Are the Angels finished dealing

Moving on...

It’s been pretty quiet on the hot stove lately. I imagine things will pick up after the first of the year. Plenty of free agents still looking for jobs including the two biggest names in Jason Bay and Matt Holliday.

Some interesting names still looking for contracts include former Angels Bengie Molina, Garret Anderson, Jarrod Washburn, Adam Kennedy, Orlando Cabrera, Vlad Guerrero, Rob Quinlan, Alfredo Amezega, Darin Erstad, Scott Schoenweis, Justin Speier, Jeff Weaver, Brendan Donnelly, Bartolo Colon, and Kevin Gregg. That’s a lot of ex-Halos looking for work.

Other names still out there include Johnny Damon, Adrian Beltre, Hank Blalock, Adam LaRoche, Miguel Tejada, Joe Crede, Jermaine Dye, Jim Thome, Khalil Greene, Jose Valverde, and Randy Johnson.

For a complete list, visit

I am trying to remain optimistic about 2010. I don’t want to go back to the way things were pre-2002. My expectations have changed dramatically. There are some bright spots to focus on and I will try doing that.

First of all, I want to see what Scott Kazmir can bring to the table. Here’s a guy who has shown tremendous upside at times and could possibly be as good as or better than Lackey. His 2009 post-season wasn’t very good; in fact it stunk. I’m willing to give him a pass on that, but I want to see some lights out kind of pitching from him in 2010. If he’s as good as he can be it will make a world of difference. He was pretty darn good in 2005 (3.77 ERA), 2006 (3.24 ERA), 2007 (3.48 ERA with 239 K’s) and 2008 (3.49 ERA) and if he can come close to those years, I’ll be very happy.

As I said in a previous post, I’m excited about Brandon Wood and Kendry Morales. There are lots of things to be enthusiastic about. That might be hard for some fans to grasp.

Face it, Angel fans have gotten a bad rap in the past. We’ve been accused of having a lot of “bandwagon” fans. I think that’s basically true of just about every fan base and quite frankly, I hate labeling fans one way or another. There are all kinds of fans. All I ask is that when you come to a game you come to cheer and have a good time.

No question the upcoming season is full of question marks, but if you really love Angels baseball – you’ll see this as an opportunity to shock the world to a certain degree. No one saw 2002 coming and it could happen again. I don’t want to miss out. Do you?

December 24, 2009

Time for some last minute shopping

Dear Santa,

I’ve been a good boy. Okay, I admit I’ve said a few foul things about the Oakland A’s, Alex Rodriguez, Johnny Damon and a few others. I guess I showed poor form when I said John Lackey was dead to me after he signed with the stinkin’ Red Sox. Oops, did I say stinking? Sorry about that.

No really, I’ve been so good, that I don’t even need anything for myself. My wish is for the Angels to land a top of the rotation pitcher. I know it’s a tall task, but I’ve heard your elves do some pretty amazing things. I mean Sony, Apple and the like have nothing on your dudes.

And just to show you I'm not unreasonable, your posse doesn’t even have to build one. You can just go get one. You see, there’s this guy in Florida named Josh Johnson and he’d look really good in an Angels' uniform. I’m just saying…

I might also suggest an alternative by way of Dan Haren in Arizona. I’d be willing to overlook the fact that he played for the A’s at one time. I’m accommodating that way, don’t you know?

Then there’s this super pitcher in Kansas City named Zach Greinke. If you put him on the Angels, he’d probably think he was the one getting the gift. You’d get double points on that deal. Think about it; I mean talk about win-win.

Look, people have been trying to push you out of the spotlight for quite some time now. You don’t even hear people saying “Merry Christmas” very often. I mean come on dude, helping the Angels out could really give you some good PR. You’d be bigger than Mickey Mouse. You might even get invited to Letterman.

Heck, they might even make a movie about you instead of that Grinch character. I mean you have much nicer skin than he does and everyone likes a jolly guy more than a grouch.

And think about this; the Angels owner Arte Moreno is in the billboard business. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Imagine your picture plastered along side every freeway from here to the North Pole. Boo-ya. You’re liking this aren’t you?

Now, I know this request is coming to you at the last minute and you’re probably already air born, but I figured you might check your blackberry or iphone now and then. Isn’t technology awesome? By the way, do you have a twitter account? I’d love to follow you because I bet you could tell us some crazy stories, but I digress.

Back to my request. Remember it’s not about me; it’s about the Angels. Okay, maybe I get a little bit of a benefit out of this as well; after all, I am an Angels fan. But don’t think about me here; think of the kids, Santa. It’s all about the kids. Think of how their little faces would light up if they learned that next year’s opening day starter was going to be Justin Verlander or a healthy Brandon Webb.

Seriously, tis the season for dreaming really, really big, I say and that doesn’t mean C.C. Sabathia. Not that the idea of him in Anaheim would be a bad one, mind you. It’s just that he’s probably right where he belongs and when I say “big” – I’m thinking a marquee kind of pitcher and not necessarily one that’s physically big.

Are you feeling me yet? I mean come on – Christmas came early for Seattle and even earlier for the White Sox when they got Jake Peavy. By the way, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that one. Did you lose A.J. Pierzynski’s check list? No way, that guy was good all year and yet he gets to catch Peavy. Go figure.

I’m telling you Santa we can regain your market share during this time of the year, but you need to work with me. Remember, the Angels wear the same color as you do and I’m fine if you want to make this a “red” thing. That way, no one can accuse you of playing favorites.

I guess I’d better get some sleep now. My wife Cheryl put some cookies out for you. They’re homemade and trust me, they’ll better than anything you will find in a Red Sox or Yankee household, guaranteed bro.

Thanks and Merry Christmas, big guy.

December 23, 2009

Optimistic, but concerned

I’ve become accustomed to the Angels way of doing things; to the way they fly in the face of conventional wisdom as dished out by the so-called “experts” and simply do their own thing. It’s hard to argue with the results given the overall success of the franchise since 2002.

This is without any question the golden era of Angels' baseball. There’s never been a better time to be an Angels fan and I’m thankful for their success. I’ve bought into how they do business over the past several years and believe the Angels have the best owner and a manager who is second to no one.

Never-the-less, I have hard a very hard time understanding this off season. Now mind you, this is coming from someone who can be accused at times of drinking the company kool-aid and wearing rose colored glasses.

If you listen to enough sports talk radio – you will hear a lot of Angel apologists telling anyone who has a complaint or concern to be patient and trust what the team is doing because their track record has been so good. It’s as if it’s become some sort of sin to question anything the Angels are doing. Our concerns are often labeled as being “silly” and some believe to question is to panic and we shouldn’t ever do that.

The thing is even though the Angels have been highly successful, that doesn’t mean they’ll continue to be good to great every year. Let’s face it, they’ve stumbled here and there with some of their signings of players like Shea Hillenbrand, Steve Finley, Justin Speier, Jeff Weaver, J. C. Romero, and Gary Matthews, Jr. to name a few. Granted, no team is perfect and the Angels have been able to overcome some mistakes for the most part.

That being said, you have to figure that some of these mistakes are finally catching up with them. Clearly the Angels would have more flexibility in their payroll if they didn’t have to pay Matthews $23 million over the next two years and still had to pay Speier’s contract even though he is no longer on their roster.

These mistakes become magnified when Angel fans watch players who have been cornerstones of the organization leave via free agency only to be replaced by players who seem older, slower and even in decline.

This brings me to their latest free agent acquisition in Fernando Rodney. In my last post, I outlined some of my reasons for believing he was not the best option. Granted, the Angels front office know more about baseball than I could ever possibly imagine, but that doesn’t mean I can’t question this move.

My understanding was that the Angels didn’t offer Darren Oliver arbitration because they believed he would become too costly and weren’t willing to go above the $3.655 million he made in 2009. They gambled that they’d be able to re-sign him at a good price and they lost. They then go out and sign Rodney for two years and $11 million, despite numbers that would seem to indicate he might be in decline.

On one hand I would like to trust Tony Reagins and Mike Scioscia on this matter, but quite honestly; I’m having a hard time with it.

One of my favorite sites – ranked Rodney 47th on their list of the top 50 free agents. They even predicted that "no one would want to pay a premium for his 37 saves."

I really can’t recall reading anything positive about Rodney and instead read many times that he wasn’t likely to land a closer job with another team. When the Phillies were reported to be interested in signing him for two years and $12 million there appeared to be some snickering going on.

So… what’s a fan like me supposed to think when the Angels come around and give the same guy $11 million?

It’s a ways away from April 5, 2010 (opening day) and I’m certain that when that day rolls around, I’ll be as gun-ho as any fan about the Angels chances because that’s what we fans do. I know games aren’t won on paper and anything can happen in baseball. I’d simply like my team’s chances a little more if they would do some things that actually made sense to me.

Don’t mock me because I have concerns and please don’t spout the mantra that we should blindly trust the Angels front office because of their success. If you do, I’ll accuse you of being complacent and over confident; two attributes that can easily lead to disaster.

At the end of the day I trust the Angels and believe they’ll compete again in 2010, but I refuse just blindly follow and not question some of the things they do.

For the record, I’m very excited about Brandon Wood, delighted that Joe Saunders is off the trade rumor circuit and I can’t wait to see what Kendry Morales will do in 2010. I’m also thrilled that Torii Hunter plays on my favorite team and that Mike Scioscia will be leading this team for many, many years.

It’s also important to note that for me, 2002 is starting to become a distant memory and I fully expected the Angels to have won another title by now. My expectations have been raised and even though I appreciate what they’ve accomplished, I expect better.

December 22, 2009

Angels need to look elsewhere for bullpen help

At one point during this hot stove season, Arte Moreno was quoted as saying he wanted to add a power bat, another starting pitcher and a relief pitcher. So far, the Angels have landed one of those in Hideki Matsui. Not ideal, but he does fill a need for a left handed run producer.

Today, we learned the Angels are in serious discussions with Fernando Rodney

What do we know about Rodney?

Rodney is projected as a possible set up guy; however, it should be noted that he saved 37 games in 38 opportunities for the highest save percentage in the league this past season. He did this despite a 4.40 ERA; not exactly the kind of number you’d want from a guy who’s supposed to shut down the other team when it really matters.

Was he lucky? Perhaps.

Consider this; in 2007 and 2008 he had more strike outs than innings pitched. Last year his strike outs per nine innings reached a career low 7.3 (against a lifetime ratio of 8.6). He also gave up a career high 8 homeruns. Quite a big number for a “stopper.” It should also be noted that Rodney will be 33 when the 2010 season begins. He’s also coming off a season where he pitched a career high 75.2 innings.

When you look at his numbers and factor in his age, it’s easy to conclude Rodney may be in decline. The Angels would be wise to pass on this free agent.

Given the inconsistency of last year’s bull pen, Rodney doesn’t seem like a good fit. He raises a few too many questions for me.

Now where is that starter Moreno wanted? John Lackey is gone and two players the Angels reportedly had interest in are no longer targets. Halladay has moved on to Philadelphia and Javier Vazquez is now a Yankee. And just for the record the Derek Lowe rumors make no sense what-so-ever. He’s too old, too costly and just not that good.

And that big bat? There is talk the Angels are among four teams supposedly "interested" in Jason Bay, but given the log jam already in their outfield, this too makes very little sense; unless they plan to move one or more of the current batch of outfielders. Also, Bay appears to be out of the Angels price range.

If Moreno is to achieve his hot stove goals, the Angels clearly need to get busy; more importantly, they will need to get creative. The free agnet pool lacks depth and doesn’t meet the Angels needs or budget.

As I said in a previous post, it appears the Angels have moved on to plan B, C, D or worse. Not exactly what most of us expected and not the kind of thing that builds confidence.

Stay tuned.

2010 Headlines

Even though 2009 is not quite over yet and there are bound to be a few headlines here and there, I thought it would be interesting to predict some headlines for the coming year.

Okay, some of these aren't likely, but use your imagination any way.

Milton Bradley is bound to dominate the headlines. Here are a couple you might be seeing next season:

Milton Bradley’s latest meltdown responsible for "global warming" in Pacific Northwest

Milton Bradley’s latest flare up makes Mt. St. Helen's eruption look like a burp

Milton Bradley traded to Japan where he won’t understand the reporters (or anyone else’s) questions or comments

The Dodgers will continue to make more news off the field than on it...

Dodgers announce peanut vendors being replaced by vending machines to save costs

Frank McCourt increases Dodger parking to $50 to pay for divorce

No team makes more headlines than the Yankees, right?

Mariano Rivera blows a save; hell freezes over

Yankees sign Lebron James; rent him to Knicks
(Because their payroll isn’t big enough)

Two of my favorite players to make fun of:

Johnny Damon quits baseball; signs on as new front man for the Rolling Stones (because after the Yankees rebuffed him, he couldn’t get any satisfaction and let's face it, there's no bigger rock star than Damon)

Jonathan Papelbon gets a tan; is dropped from lead role in "Casper the Friendly Ghost" movie.

A few others just because...

Mark Reynolds to fix national deficit, will donate $10 every time he strikes out to government in 2010

Royals double their payroll, trade entire team for Alex Rodriguez

Hundreds of cattle turn up missing after Prince Fielder gives up vegetarian diet

And since this is an Angels centric blog:

Angels continue to get older; sign Rickey Henderson to a three year deal
(Henderson is latest acquisition by Angels who are trying to replace Chone Figgins)

Last, but not least - this blog wouldn't be the same if I didn't poke fun at the Oakland A's:

New movie, “Moneyball” fails at the Box Office, Billy Beane claims high “butts in seats percentage” a victory; BISP is born

“Moneyball” fails at the Box Office; Billy Beane blames low budget marketing campaign

December 20, 2009

All the cool kids are leaving

Darren Oliver is cool. I’ve thought that ever since he put on an Angels uniform. His stroll from the bullpen to the mound, late in a game is a picture of absolute coolness. You would never guess he’s heading into a fire to tame the flames. Instead, he looks like he’s just taking a stroll to pick up the paper off the drive way.

He pitches with a quiet confidence and stays cool under pressure. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear he doesn’t even sweat. However, I do know better because this past spring training when Cheryl and I asked him to stop and pose for a picture, he was worried that he was a little too sweaty. We convinced him he was fine and he obliged us for photo.

Like I said; Oliver is just plain cool. What isn’t cool is the news coming out of ESPN via Jerry Crasnick, who claims Oliver is close to signing a deal with the Texas Rangers.

Excuse me while I scream because I’m clearly not as cool as Oliver.

The nightmare that is the Angels’ off season continues. It’s bad enough the Angels are losing Oliver, but to compound the issue, they’re losing him to a team within their own division. To make matters even more “peachy” – the Angels will not receive any compensation for Oliver since they did not offer him arbitration.

The Angels decided that they didn’t want to pay more for Oliver in 2010 than they paid for him in 2009 (which would have been a certainty had they offered and he in turn accepted arbitration.

There were rumors that Oliver might retire after last season. Word was that if he didn’t retire, he’d want to come back to Anaheim. It sounded good and I was sucked in.

Clearly, things aren’t as they seem. I don’t know, but it seems to me like Anaheim is not the premiere destination many people might have thought it was; unless, you’re heading to Disneyland for a family vacation. Then again, maybe that’s not even a sure thing.

Before you pack up the kids and head on over to the Magic Kingdom, you might want to make sure Mickey hasn’t left town. At the rate in which people are leaving town, anything is possible. Come to think of it, I think I might have actually seen Donald Duck heading south for the winter.

Maybe the Angels took Oliver for granted. Maybe they’re… well… like I said in an earlier post… too complacent.

There certainly wasn’t any news or reports that I’m aware of announcing any contract negotiations or even news of interest from either side.

This is not exactly what I wanted for Christmas. Clearly somebody messed up. I want to know which Angel fan out there was bad this year? I’m blaming you; whoever you are because you ended up on Santa’s poopy list and the rest of us are being made to suffer.

Good, left handed relievers don’t grow on trees. Apparently, they prefer the flat land that is Texas. Maybe Oliver is a bass fisherman. The reservoirs aren’t nearly as crowded there and they’re lakes are bigger and more abundant. Whatever the reasons are don’t really matter. All I know is the hot stove just got a little colder.

December 18, 2009

Don't blink

These are anxious times for Angel fans. The not-so-wild American League West landscape has changed. Seattle has improved (well up until they added Milton Bradley anyway). Texas continues to get better and Oakland… well, let’s just say they’ve still got a ways to go. Actually, let’s just say they're horrible. I mean why bother trying to sugar coat it?

So where was I (you have to forgive me, I can bash the A’s all day long)? Oh yeah, the dynamics of the AL West…

It all seemed to change in the blink of an eye. You know the saying about how some people watch things happen, others make things happen and some wonder out loud… hey, what just happened? Well, right now, I feel like the Angels are scratching their heads and wondering how in the heck, they ended up focusing on plan B, C or even D.

Gone off the Angles’ 2009 40-man roster are John Lackey, Chone Figgins, Vladimir Guerrero, Robb Quinlan, Matt Brown, Dustin Moseley, and Jose Arredondo.

Speaking of Arredondo, his year has gone from bad to crazy. First he learned he would have to have elbow surgery, then he was non-tendered by the Angels and then reports came out that he was stabbed. That’s on top of a bad season and the tragic loss of his mentor Preston Gomez. I mean the only guy who might have it worse right now is that golfer dude… what’s his name?

Anyway, back to the Angels’ status report.

The Angels are still up in the air about Darren Oliver who is a free agent (more on him in a bit).

They also have decisions to make regarding Terry Evans, Bobby Wilson, and Brandon Wood. All three will either make the 25 man roster come opening day or head off to other teams as free agents. Sending them to the minor leagues is no longer a viable option because they’re out of options. Hopefully this situation will sort itself out in the spring.

Inbound for the Angles is Hideki Matsui (more on him in a bit too).

To say the Angels have a lot of work to do is like saying that golfer dude is in a little bit of trouble. Duh. Right now the Angels are looking a little vulnerable.

There are serious question marks. Will this pitching staff perform to expectations? If each manages to pitch to their potential or some semblance of that, they should be fine; however, they still need a fifth starter, preferably a top of the rotation guy. That’s a tall task to tackle, especially with Roy Halladay off the market.

The other pieces in place at the moment don’t seem to fit together very well. Bobby Abreu would be better served if he could spend some time at DH; however, that role figures to be occupied by Hideki Matsui. The big question and it’s really key, is whether or not Matsui can spend some time in the outfield, allowing Mike Scioscia to rotate some guys through the DH spot. Abreu (who will be 36 next season), Torii Hunter (who is 35) and even 31 year old Juan Rivera could really benefit from a bit of a rest from time to time.

Right now there are simply too many outfielders. Hunter, Rivera, Abreu, Gary Matthews, Jr., Reggie Willits and Terry Evans are all in house. Throw Matsui into that mix and there are seven guys in the outfield. I mean is this a casting call for an “Angels in the Outfield” sequel? Ideally only five (six if Matsui can’t play the OF) will be on the 25 man roster.

The infield could be solid with Kendry Morales, Howie Kendrick, Erick Aybar, Brandon Wood and Maicer Izturis, but it suddenly lacks depth. Who’s going to replace Quinlan and serve as a back up to Morales and/or Wood? As I said in an earlier posting, the answer could come in the form of Chad Tracy, who can play first, third and left field. He would essentially replace Quinlan and in my opinion be a slight upgrade. He does have some risk attached to him because of injuries, but the upside looks pretty good.

What’s going to happen with the Mathis/Napoli tandem? Mathis seemed to separate himself from Napoli with his post season performance, but is that something the Angels can bank on? Is it time to move Napoli in a trade in order to fill a hole and can Bobby Wilson perform as a serviceable back up? The arrival of Matsui may have a huge impact on Napoli, who many believe would be best served as a DH. Matsui hits lefties better than he does right handed pitchers, so a platoon with Napoli is highly unlikely. If Napoli’s bat isn’t going to be in the lineup, there really isn’t much use for him.

The bull pen needs some serious work, especially if Oliver is not re-signed. Brian Fuentes, Kevin Jepsen and Jason Bulger will be back and Scot Shields will attempt to return to form after sitting out the season following knee surgery. At least Shields’ arm should be fine and given all the innings he’s logged over the years, it might have been a benefit to have him rest it for a year. The Angels need to find at least two more pitchers for the bull pen. Will that come by the way of Sean O’Sullivan and/or Trevor Bell? Or perhaps it will be Matt Palmer, if he isn’t asked to fill a rotation spot.

Clearly, the Angels would be better off (or at least more comfortable) with a proven veteran or two rather than a couple of question marks. In my opinion, Oliver is a must sign and the Angels may regret not offering him arbitration. Losing him could have serious ramifications. I don’t understand the money issue here. It’s as if Oliver is being punished for the bad contract the Angels game Matthews.

Tony Reagins is playing it cool right now, claiming he’d be comfortable going into 2010 with the team as is. At the same time he admitted during the Matsui press conference that the team has “some work to do.” I am hoping he’s thinking the latter.

Other than Wood there aren’t any players in their system that are ready to step up and contribute on a regular basis. None. Zilch. That’s kind of scary. The list of candidates are too old (by prospect standards) and unproven. Freddy Sandoval (a 27 year old switch hitter) is the most likely candidate to get a shot, if anyone does at all.

Let’s face it the Angels have been living off the success of the Vlad Guerrero contract for some time now. They were fortunate to sign Vlad for what was considered a below the market price tag in 2004. They got a deal last year in Abreu, but they over spent on Matthews. The GMJ contract was so bad; Bob Barker would have laughed at that bid and probably would have even suggested the GM be neutered.

They are getting great value and production out of Torii Hunter, but Dustin Speier was a bust and so was Jeff Weaver before him. Let’s not forget the debacles that were Shea Hillenbrand or Steve Finley either. In a world where people ask “what have you done for me lately?” the Angels haven’t been the smartest shoppers of late. They continually seem to get out bid for key players and are even getting beat to the punch in trade opportunities.

The Angels, whose domain is supposedly all of Los Angeles, are acting like a small market team. They seem a little too relaxed right now and I don’t see a sense of urgency. There was a time when the Angels were willing to take some risks and when they had to eat a bad contract they just did it and chalked it up to a “bad investment.” Apparently, they’re not looking to get burned again (who can blame them?) and are a little more gun shy these days.

I’m usually very optimistic and I almost always give the front office the benefit of the doubt, but I have concerns. Some fans, radio talk show hosts, etc. keep saying it’s only December and to look at the Angels track record. Heck, I may have even said some things along those lines myself at one time or another, but this off season has a totally different feel to it. I’m getting a sense of complacency from the team and that’s not good.

For a team that came very close to getting back to the World Series, they feel miles away from attempting that again. Sure, they appear to be good enough to win the west, but that won’t be easy and going beyond the ALDS or ALCS looks to be harder than before at this point in time.

In the mean time, buckle up you never know what’s going to happen (good or bad) next. Don’t even blink because if you do, you may find that the world that is the AL West looking very different.

December 16, 2009

Jeff "The Pot" Miller calls the kettle, black

Jeff Miller thinks some of us are "idiots." His column is addressed to Angel fans who believe that John Lackey is a "traitor" for going to Boston. Miller wrote "Calling Lackey a traitor is juvenile and comical..."

That’s really funny when you think about it. He’s calling Angel fans names and yet, we’re the ones who are juvenile? What’s really comical is his inability to relate to what Angels fans are going through.

Miller also wrote that Angel fans believe "Lackey is now a miserable you-know-what because he took more money to pitch for a franchise that has been more successful playing in a community that is more passionate."

I wonder if Miller has ever been to Boston. I wonder if he saw the Johnny Damon t-shirts being worn by Red Sox fans after Damon went to the Yankees that read “Looks like Jesus, acts like Judas and throws like Mary.” I wonder if he thinks they were being juvenile as well?

Miller might not be an idiot, but he appears to be very ignorant.

Here’s a newsflash for Miller. If Angel fans weren’t passionate, they wouldn’t give a rip about Lackey going to Boston. Angel fans are upset because they care. Do you think Red Sox fans act any differently?

Miller also claims that "loyalty in pro sports died about the time kids stopped putting baseball cards in their bicycle spokes." I guess Miller didn’t hear that Randy Wolf made it known he would have taken less money than what he signed for in Milwaukee to stay with the Dodgers. I guess he also didn’t know that Tim Salmon took less money to stay with the Angels for his whole career.

Miller also asks the question "How come no one is whining about the Angels' lack of loyalty to Vladimir Guerrero?" Miller must not get out much because I’ve met plenty of people who would love to see Guerrero finish his career in Anaheim. And just for the record, having an opinion and being passionate does not equate to "whining."

Miller goes on to say about the Guerrero situation, "scarcely has been a bitter word uttered. Why? Because wherever Guerrero goes he won't have the impact Lackey will have. Guerrero, in other words, has been mostly wrung dry."

Well Jeff, if Guerrero ends up in Boston I’m sure you’ll see more "idiots" complaining about that too. But let me clue you in on something… Guerrero came to the Angels from another organization. Lackey was drafted and developed by the Angels organization. He will always be "one of us." Lackey also helped bring us a World Series Championship; you better believe many Angel fans have a deeper affection for Lackey than they do Guerrero.

Miller goes on to ask why the Angels aren’t part of creative deals like the one Seattle, Toronto and Philadelphia just pulled off. He goes on to call the Angels front office “ham-handed and reluctant” to do deals “in part because of how they hoard their prospects. The people running this team believe in themselves to a fault.”

I’d like Miller to tell me when the last time Seattle won a title or when the last time Toronto made the play-offs? It’s funny, only the ignorant judge a front office by the moves they make in the off season or at the trade deadline and not by the number of times they get their team to the post season. Miller doesn’t understand the big picture and like others of his mindset, judges moves individually rather than collectively.

Perhaps Miller wrote this column to simply get a reaction from Angel fans; which would be quite juvenile, but not surprising.

Maybe we’ll all get lucky and Miller will get lured away to another publication in a different market for more money. Then again, I must really be an idiot to think that’s even remotely possible.

If you'd like to contact Mr. Miller - his email address is

December 15, 2009

The day after

I took a deep breath. Actually, I took several deep breaths and even manage to exhale a couple of times. Then I began reading all the opinions and rantings and slowly developed some conclusions and thoughts of my own regarding Judas Lackey’s voyage to the dark side.

It’s kind of funny how easily my opinion about a player I’ve always liked can change ever so suddenly. Deep down inside, I kind of expected this outcome (Lackey going elsewhere) and although I thought the Yankees were a more likely destination, the fall out of his going to the Red Sox instead is basically the same.

My initial reaction to the news was disbelief. I just couldn’t believe it. Then anger began to take hold, followed by disappointment and then a return to anger. As I said yesterday, I felt like Lackey had given the Angels the finger on his way out of town. Perhaps holding on to that feeling makes it easier for me to part ways with him.

Never-the-less, I keep going back to game five of the ALCS when Mike Scioscia took Lackey out of the game and how angry Lackey was as he left the mound. This wasn’t anything new and if he had reacted any other way, I would have been stunned. Part of me wants to believe that Lackey made the decision to leave the Angels right then and there and nothing they could do would change that. Lackey would never have admitted to as much because like so many other free agents in the past, he needed the Angels to drive up his asking price.

That’s speculation on my part, but I think it might have some merit. I also wouldn’t be surprised that at some point, Lackey takes a parting shot at the Angels, the decision in game 5 and his time in Anaheim. Lackey tends to wear his heart on his sleeve and again, if he let be known why he left, I wouldn’t be surprised.

So now we (well, at least me anyway) begin the process of justifying the loss of one of the best pitchers in Angels history. It’s actually not a hard process to go through (especially when you have this vision of Lackey flipping us the bird).

Gulp… here it goes.

John Lackey lived off his game 7 performances in the 2002 World Series for seven years. During that time, he was a solid performer and evolved into the ace of the staff; however, many would argue that he was a tick below some of the other so-called #1 starters in the league. He finished as high as third in the Cy Young Award voting (2007), but only made the list of top vote getters just the one time.

On one side of the coin, we can point to the fact that of the 121 pitchers who made their debut in 2002, Lackey ranks first in wins with 102. No other pitcher from that year has more than a 100 and that list includes Jake Peavy (95), Cliff Lee (90), Erik Bedard (51), and Aaron Harang (75).

Despite all of that, since 2002 Lackey didn’t win another post season game until this past ALDS. In fact, his game one win over Boston in the 2009 ALDS is his only post season victory since 2002. He’s actually 1-4 since 2002 and 3-4 over all. Hardly stellar. And yet, Angel fans often labeled John as a “big game pitcher.” Now that he’s leaving, we might venture to say he was “over-rated.”

He started the 2008 and 2009 season on the disabled list. A red flag? Perhaps. His 3.83 ERA in 2009, while very good, was his highest since 2004 and represents a two year trend of it going up.

Then there were the public outbursts. He has been known to show up his players on the field when they make an error, complain about the lack of offense and argue about being taken out of the game. While he was an Angel, these things were likely to be viewed as signs of leadership. Now that he’s leaving, it’s easy to label them as jerk-like behavior.

Remember, we’re trying to justify his departure and that requires us to take off the gloves.

He was frequently called the “big dog” and the guy who set the tone for the entire staff. Was he really? Or was he the guy most likely to gravitate towards a microphone?

To be fair, Orange County Register columnist Mark Whicker paints a broad picture of Lackey in his latest column. He says, "We haven't always noticed when he holds up his fist in support of the players who do make plays. We haven't been around when he's taking young pitchers to the bistros and picking up the check. We haven't always heard his West Texas brogue in a clubhouse that slowly became his."

To that I say it’s easy to be the good guy when things are going well and while he had his good days, he was also volatile. Again, you have to remember that I’m a tad bit bitter about his departure.

Trying to gain some perspective in the aftermath of his departure is not an easy task. There are lots of great memories associated with the guy who wore #41.

His leaving is compounded by the arrival of one Cliff Lee in Seattle. It becomes even more difficult to swallow knowing that another Angel target – Roy Halladay is now in Philadelphia. It becomes nearly unbearable when we think that Scott Kazmir might be considered the answer as his replacement. No offense to Kazmir, but his post-season performance in 2009 did not strike a great deal of confidence into the hearts of Angel fans.

On the bright side (at least for Cheryl and I) is that Joe Saunders will be back and the trade rumors that included his name can be put to rest.

Perhaps this is the time when Jered Weaver will emerge as the pitcher we all envisioned he would become when he was drafted out of Long Beach State in 2004. He certainly showed signs of this in 2009. Weaver seems to have the temperament and qualities to become the leader of the staff. Like Lackey, Weaver has more wins than any other pitcher who made their debut in the same year (2006) with 51. More than Cole Hamels, Jon Lester, Chad Billingsley and 129 others. Weaver is 2-1 in the post-season with a 2.61 ERA and those numbers give us cause for hope.

And then there is Ervin Santana. Should the 2006 or 2008 version of the player show up, he could be something special. Maybe he likes pitching in even years and 2010 is just what he needs.

I will miss John Lackey, but come the start of the 2010 season, I will try to not give him a second thought. It will be time to move on and Lackey just became public enemy #1.

514 Fanatics react...

One 514 Fanatic named Bob wrote me and said, "In October during the playoffs, I told Stephen (his son) that we may not recognize the Angels team next spring. Unfortunately, I fear that is coming true, one step at a time. As if we needed another reason to despise the Red Sox."

Long time Angel fan and 514 Fanatic Bo (Mr. Yes We Will) wrote, "The word lackey means 'to act in a servile manner' in other words a bootlicker. Be gone with you to the gates of Fenway - you lackey. Or maybe his name should be what I had for dinner tonight... a latke. Look at it this way; Big John went for the big payday and we all knew it. To give him 5 years would have been insane... We have a young pitching staff and let's hope they pay off. Pitching basically sucks in the big leagues so it is really time for a youth movement."

Perhaps the best way to gauge the impact of Lackey’s leaving is by asking some kids what they think.

According to 514 Fanatics Jeffrey and Lauren’s nine year old twins Josh and Jake – their words are "BOO BOSTON!"

As I close this chapter in Angel’s history, I can’t help but think of my friend Scott’s 8 year old son, whose favorite player is John Lackey. I emailed Scott because I wondered how Evan was taking the news. Scott wrote, "To say that he's unhappy is putting it mildly. I had to take his Lackey T-shirt away or else he might have cut it up. He gets the playoff rivalry with the Sox, but doesn't get why a player would want to go to a team he just beat."

Evan, I don’t get it either.

December 14, 2009

Angels become older, slower and are now without an "Ace"

John Lackey just punched me in the stomach. Worse yet, he punched every little kid who wears his jersey or t-shirt in the stomach as well.

Okay maybe that’s a tad bit over the top and maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but word is Lackey is in Boston for a physical, which points to the likelihood that he will be a member of the Red Sox in 2010. Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated takes it a step further and says Lackey has agreed to a five-year, $85 million deal.

The Boston Red Sox? Really, John? I thought you were "old school." I guess I was wrong. Old School doesn’t sign on with a hated rival. No way, no how.

I didn't see this coming. You had me fooled, John. I guess I was a real sucker.

If I sound bitter it’s because I am! Hello? We’re talking about the best Angels pitcher since Chuck Finley not just leaving, but leaving to go to the team that has been more than just a thorn in the side of the Angels; they’ve been a spear for goodness sake.

I don’t fault Lackey for going for the biggest pay day; after all, most people would do the same… but Boston? Come on, that’s like making a deal with the devil and I doubt too many people would do that. In my mind, Lackey no longer has a soul; he just sold it. Can you picture Lackey and David Ortiz in the 2010 post season pouring champagne on one another and hugging like long lost brothers?

I didn’t want to believe the reports when they first came out. When the rumor first appeared as being "twitter-worthy" I had to chuckle. I was even ready to blast Ed Price of AOL for being irresponsible. Turns out he got it right.

Now my wrath is just going to be aimed at John Lackey. Again, I don’t blame him for taking the money, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I said as much in a previous post titled: An Open Letter to John Lackey.

I guess part of me is still 12 years old. Part of me wants to believe there are still players in the game that aren’t all about the money. Randy Wolf was willing to re-sign with the Dodgers for less than Milwaukee offered him. Tim Salmon took less money to stay with the Angels his whole career. I thought Lackey might do the same. Boy was I wrong.

Just goes to show you how little we know about what a player thinks and finds important. Just goes to show you how shallow loyalties run these days. That’s not a judgment; just an observation. And yes, I know loyalty goes both ways and I have no idea what the Angels offered or didn’t offer. I’m just reacting here.

I mean we’re talking about leaving the Angels. We have an awesome fan base and Southern California is a great place to live with an ideal climate. On top of that, the Angels have a world class owner and manager. I know Boston is a great sports town, but I never would have pictured Lackey in a Sox uniform. Then again, what do I know?

I feel like Lackey just gave the Angels the finger and I don’t like it much.

In other not-so-good news, the Angels appear to have a one year, $6.5 million deal in place with 35 year old Hideki Matsui. Great. Whoopee.

Don’t worry Matsui makes up for his lack of youth (he will be 36 next June) with bad knees. That’s right… both of them are bad. He’s really going to be a force on the base paths or is that a road block? I really thought the Angels were past the point of signing players past their primes to contracts. I mean I know the whole retro thing is cool these days, but this is crazy. I assume Bobby Abreu made them believe they can continue to find lightning in a bottle.

While the Angels definitely needed to add a left handed power bat, I was hoping for better than this.

I guess this also means Abreu isn’t going to DH and will continue to be somewhat of an adventure in right field. I like Abreu, but I like him as a force in the batting order and for what he can teach about hitting to the rest of the team. As for his fielding…well, not so much.

But wait, there’s more…

The news keeps getting better. Word is that Roy Halladay is heading to Philadelphia and Cliff Lee to Seattle as part of a three team block buster. Up to the minute details can be found on


Lackey to the Red Sox. Halladay to the Phillies. Lee to the Mariners. I don’t know about you, but this off season just became a downer for me. Not only did the Angels lose an all-star third baseman and their ace, but Seattle just added one of each.

Let’s recap. The Angels just got older, slower and no longer have an ace. Beautiful. What’s even funnier is that it’s time to renew my season tickets too.

I'm a very optimistic guy. I can even be accused of wearing rose colored glasses when it comes to the Angels. That being said, I'm not happy today. The good news is that it's only December and Tony Reagins and Arte Moreno still have time to do something, but that doesn't take away from the fact that I don't like what I've seen so far.

December 13, 2009

Angels non-tender three

The Angels non-tendered three players yesterday; Jose Arredondo, Dustin Moseley, and Matt Brown. The players become free agents, free to sign with any team. Each has an interesting story and history with the Angels and Angel fans.

Jose Arredondo had an incredibly bright future. After his astounding 2008 season with the Angels, many Angel fans were ready to anoint Arredondo as the Angels next closer. Francisco Rodriguez was about to become a free agent and despite saving a record 62 games in 2008, many Angel fans were ready for a change. Mostly because many chose to focus on the seven blown saves and the countless times he put their hearts through roller-coaster-like finishes.

When the Angels signed Brian Fuentes as their new closer, some fans gave pause and wondered why? Arredondo clearly looked like he was ready to step in and become the next big thing. Well, baseball is a funny game. One season a player looks invincible and the next he looks like he doesn’t belong at all. Such was the case for Arredondo who struggled mightily in 2009.

Turns out, Arredondo may not have been healthy, thus explaining his poor season. On Friday the Angels announced that Arredondo would have Tommy John surgery and miss the entire 2010 season. Adding insult to injury, he was then non-tendered.

This is why you can never have too much pitching and also goes to show that Angel fans don’t make the best general managers. A once bright future now appears to have a black cloud hovering over it.

Matt Brown is another curious Angel with an interesting history. In 2008 Brown had a solid AAA season with the Salt Lake Bees; hitting .320 with a .953 OPS. Many fans saw him as the heir apparent to Robb Quinlan’s role on the team and in some cases saw even a bigger role for him. Brown even had impressive Spring Trainings and did everything asked of him.

Then 2009 happened. Unlike the previous two seasons, Brown never got a call up and struggled in Salt Lake City; hitting just .245 with a .748 OPS. Now 27 years old, Brown no longer looks like a promising prospect and his window for a career in the majors looks to be all but closed. Perhaps he became frustrated about not getting an opportunity, despite solid minor league numbers. Perhaps we simply saw the best we were ever going to see in 2008. In any case, Brown will most likely have to prove himself elsewhere in 2010.

Dustin Moseley is one of the most well spoken young men I have ever seen. When his friend and teammate Nick Adenhart died tragically, Moseley stepped in front of the cameras and delivered an emotional tribute to his buddy

The video is a permanet link on my list of favorites. It's moments like the one in the video that make baseball players more than just names and numbers to me. I root for players not only because of their statistics and what they can do on the field, but also because many of them are fine young men. I will miss Moseley.

No matter what Moseley does or doesn’t do moving forward, I will always remember him for the way he honored Nick. You hate to see young men of such character leaving your favorite team. Moseley spent parts of the last four seasons in the Angels rotation, but also spent most of the last two on the disabled list. We probably never saw the best he could do and that’s unfortunate.

All three are now footnotes in the Angels history book. Each showed some promise; however, in two of the cases (Moseley and Arredondo) injuries got the better of them. Baseball can be a cruel game and an even meaner business. Sometimes good guys just don’t make it.

I wish all three the best. Perhaps they’ll find their way back on the Angels roster down the road; although that’s unlikely.


December 11, 2009

Gammons gave us the good stuff

Peter Gammons stiffed me.

It’s not as bad as it sounds. I mean it’s not every day that you can say you were stiffed by a Hall of Famer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dissing Gammons or Hall of Famers in general. I guess what I’m really saying is that it’s not every day that you even run into a “legend.”

They’re not moments you can necessarily anticipate. They just kind of happen and such was the case for me this past spring. Cheryl and I were in Tempe (just like always), when I saw a familiar sight moving from the practice fields to the stadium; Peter Gammons. He looked like a professor on his way to teach a class, clutching a notebook with papers sticking out (at least that’s how I remember it now).

I thought to myself, "that’s Peter Gammons; I should ask him for his autograph." So, I grabbed a baseball and caught up to him as he was walking through the parking lot that connects the practice fields to Tempe Diablo Stadium. I politely asked for his signature and he politely said he had to be some place and was running late.

Oh well… I wasn’t mad at him for not stopping. Disappointed; yes, but not upset. He had a job to do and I understood. Maybe he thought I was one of those guys who gets autographs and then sells the stuff on eBay (I’m not). It doesn’t really matter. At the time, I thought to myself that maybe I’d get another shot. Unfortunately I never did see him again and I may never get that chance back.

Peter Gammons said goodbye to ESPN today. He’ll be working for the mlb network and NESN in Boston.

I don’t know if he’ll be making any more trips out west and even if he does, the chances of seeing him in person again are slim. I wish I had taken a picture with him or shook his hand; something, anything that would have served as a nice memory. He always seemed like the kind of guy who would be fun to just sit and talk baseball with. He usually had good stuff to say about baseball players; things that revealed who these players really were. I admire that.

I remember when Milton Bradley had one of his “episodes” and Gammons came on ESPN and shed a different light on the volatile player. He told viewers that when he went through his health issues (he had a brain aneurysm), Bradley was the first ball player to call him and see how he was doing.

I appreciate stuff like that. I know Gammons is known for breaking stories about trades, signings, etc., but I liked him for his ability to share something about a player’s personality or character; something unique and sometimes even up lifting.

For many years, Gammons was our connection to the inside of baseball. He was the guy who knew the things we wanted to know more about. He was a pioneer and now there are dozens of reporters and media types who have followed in his footsteps.

Gammons has always conducted himself with a great deal of class. You can tell that he has a great deal of respect for the game and for the people involved in America's favorite passtime. He has never been the story; making sure baseball is always the focal point. Perhaps the coolest thing about him is you can tell he is truly a baseball fan.

I wish Gammons well in his new endeavors.

December 9, 2009

Moving on without Figgy

I’m not going to kid you. I’m going to miss Chone Figgins. I’m going to miss that infectious smile of his. I’m going to miss thinking every time he gets on base, he is going to score. I’m going to miss seeing him play third base like a gold glove infielder. Yes, I’m going to miss just about everything about Figgy.

It’s going to be very strange seeing him in a Mariners uniform when they come to town. It’s going to be weird cheering against him. But this is what happens in baseball.

So be it. I will move on. We will all move on. But how? Well, the best way I believe to do that in this case is by focusing on Brandon Wood.

Brandon Wood is the kind of player who inspires a great deal of hope. We’ve seen glimpses of his potential. His 2005 season in Rancho Cucamonga is still pretty fresh in our memories. That year he put the baseball world on notice with 43 homeruns, 115 RBI, and a.321 batting average.

Ever since that year, visions of Roy Hobbs have been dancing in our heads (or at least mine). Baseball fans and experts have been talking about Brandon Wood for five years now. Any time some fan from another team posts a trade idea on a baseball message board, Wood is the guy they want back. I’m betting every time another team’s GM calls the Angels, Wood is the guy they want too. Every fan base wants a special player to come through their organization that they can call their own. Brandon Wood represents that guy for Angel fans every where.

He’s our Matt Wieters; our Ryan Braun. He’s the next big thing; the chosen one, if you will. He’s had enough acolades to give him a big head and yet, he’s got the right attitude.

Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times interviewed Wood recently and Wood told him, “I'm going in to spring training to win a job. That keeps you on your toes. If you think that job is yours, you might get lazy. I've got to be ready to work, rather than sitting back and saying I paid my dues, I waited for my time."

It looks like he will get his chance. From Kevin Baxter of the LA Times: As for Wood, Scioscia said "he has to have the mind-set to come in there and win a position, and realistically that's what has to happen. He has to come out and win a spot, and we do have some depth that we'll use if it's going to make us a better team. But we definitely want to give Brandon every opportunity to show his talent, because he's a very, very talented young player."

I say it's time to let that talnet shine. Brandon, it’s time for you to get to work. Angel fans have been waiting for you. Kendry Morales showed you how it’s done. The two of you can make history and become a force together. I have visions. Visions of Morales and Wood becoming the best one-two punch in baseball. I know, I’m getting way ahead of myself here, but that’s part of being a baseball fan. In fact, it’s a fun part of being a fan.

I say let the Brandon Wood/Kendry Morales era begin. Some may mock the idea. Others may even laugh, but some of us are ready to believe. I can’t wait to see what Wood can do with regular at bats. In many ways this is what baseball is all about. It’s about youth being served and hard work finally paying off.

It’s about Garvey, Russell, Lopes and Cey. Say what? Yes, I know they were Dodgers, but they were staples in the Dodgers infield for years. Dodger fans knew every time they went to the ball park or tuned in to a Dodger broadcast, they were going to see those four guys in the lineup every day.

Next year, the Angels could have an infield that is completely home grown. Morales, Howie Kendrick, Erick Aybar and Wood. It would be an entire infield drafted and developed by the Angels. They could be together for year to come. That’s way cool, don’t you think?.

So, even though I will miss Chone Figgins (as will my wife), there is a bright side and that my friends will be in the form of a guy wearing #3.

Hot Stove Update: According to Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun the Angels have offered Joe Saunders, Erick Aybar and Peter Bourjos to Toronto for Roy Halladay. I said it before and I'll say it again. I'm not buying it. Just sign Lackey. Why give up players and create more holes in your lineup on top of having to sign Halladay for more money than it would take to sign Lackey? The cost is simply too high.

One off season update: Jose Arredondo isn't looking so good. He's having elbow trouble again and appears to be in the dog house, per Bill Plunkett of the OC Register.

December 8, 2009

Godzilla and Rally Monkeys don't mix

So I’ve read via the LA Times the Angels have some "interest" in Hideki Matsui. Matsui is a left handed hitter who spent 2009 as the Yankees’ DH. My mother is a Matsui fan. Then again, she pretty much likes all the players from Japan. Me? I’m not much of a Matsui fan. It’s not that he’s a bad player or anything. It’s just; well... he’s a Yankee.

I know, I know, Bobby Abreu was a Yankee at one time as well. Well, to be honest with you, it took me nearly a full season to warm up to the idea of a former Yankee wearing an Angel uniform. To Abreu’s credit, he won me over. He not only transformed an entire baseball team’s approach to hitting, he also was an engaging personality, who clearly loved being in Anaheim. I learned to embrace Abreu by season’s end. Asking me to do it for yet another soon-to-be ex-Yankee might be more than I’m capable of doing.

Besides, Godzilla (Matsui’s nickname) and rally monkeys just don’t mix. Giant lizards probably view monkeys as their meal of choice and that would make for some ugly video.

I just can’t flip the switch when a player on a team I really don’t like ends up on a team I do. When Karl Malone signed with the Lakers in 2003 I hated it. How could I cheer for a guy whose previous mission in life was to destroy my favorite team? Adding insult to injury, he was seeking to pass Laker great Kareem Abdul Jabbar as the all-time leading scorer (thankfully, that didn’t happen). I hated Karl Malone with a passion. In fact I feel like booing him right now! I thought he was a dirty ball player and I wanted the Lakers to humiliate him every time they played his Utah Jazz. I never got over his signing with the Lakers and that was one of the things that eventually lead to my not watching the NBA at all (along with many other reasons – which I might articulate in a future blog).

All that being said, I will flip the switch on John Lackey if he goes to the Yankees or some other specific destinations. Don't do it John.

Now, Hideki Matsui does not spark the same kind of emotion that Malone did, but it still wouldn’t sit well with me to see him in Angel red. I know these things happen; especially this day and age. I just don’t have to like it when it does.

Now, if you’re trying to keep up with what’s going on with the Angels this off season, you’ve no doubt noticed that rumors continue to fly around.

One of John Lackey’s most serious suitors (because they have money) is the Mets. Word from Jeff Fletcher of AOL is that the Mets are not likely to go five years (which is what he wants) and that’s good news for the Angels. The list of teams that have interest and can afford Lackey is shrinking. If Lackey comes down in the number of years he's looking for, I believe the Angels have a good shot of re-signing him.

According to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports, Lackey wants a contract that’s longer and bigger than that of A.J. Burnett’s. I would too if I were Lackey because Lackey is clearly better than Burnett. Problem is Burnett signed with the Yankees and they usually operate in their own stratosphere. Lackey may find his demands unrealistic. Then again, no one saw the Barry Zito contract coming when it did.

One other late rumor comes from Ed Price of AOL, who claims the Angels are exploring the possible trade of an infielder; most likely Maicer Izturis or perhaps Howie Kendrick. Who knows if that's true. The majority of these things never pan out.

I guess the Baseball Winter Meetings are officially in full swing...

The news coming out of Indianapolis, has the Yankees, Diamondbacks and Tigers completing a three-way trade today. The Yankees received Curtis Granderson from the Tigers, while sending Ian Kennedy to Arizona, Austin Jackson and Phil Coke to Detroit. The Diamondbacks obtained Edwin Jackson from Detroit (along with Kennedy) and the Tigers make out like bandits by acquiring Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlerth from Arizona (along with Jackson and Coke).

The good news for Angel fans is that the rumors of Granderson to the Angels in a trade are now history. Granderson can’t hit lefties to save his life. He hit .183 vs. lefties and .275 against right-handers. Even though he’s an all-star, who hit 30 homeruns this past year, I think the Angels are better off exploring other options. Thankfully, they won't be sending any prospects to Detroit. The Tigers did well to sell high on this one.

Speaking of selling high – the Tigers were wise to move Edwin Jackson, who’s second half numbers were pretty ugly. Jackson went from a 2.52 ERA in the first half to a whopping 5.07 in the second half. I'm no math genius, but his ERA doubled! Diamondback fans have to be scratching their heads on this one (and probably want to scratch the eyes out of their GM). I’d rather have Scherzer over Jackson any day. It’s not even close. I really like Scherzer’s 174 strike outs in 170.1 innings. Scherzer is a potential ace. Jackson may end up being okay, but his ceiling appears to be much lower.

This is the kind of annoying trade proposal people in fantasy baseball leagues try to make and get laughed at for suggesting (okay, maybe not that bad). Say, I wonder if D-Backs GM Josh Byrnes plays fantasy baseball? If he does, I might want to join his league. Heck, I wonder if GM's all around baseball picked up the phone to make a trade offer after this one? Quick, someone get Tony Reagins to offer up Gary Matthews, Jr. for Justin Upton. I'm just saying.

Speaking of annoying...

Remember those "predictions" I made earlier in the off season about where I thought players would end up? If you don’t remember, that’s good. I think I’ve only predicted one correctly (so far) and haven’t come close on the rest. Note to self... don’t make free agent predictions next year.

One late update...

I'm not buying the Halladay to the Angels rumors. It just doesn't fit with how the Angels operate. Trading Aybar and a current starting pitcher would just create more holes for the team. They really don't like to do that. I think that as Lackey's demands on the number of years he wants comes down, they'll be more likely to just re-sign him. Halladay would cost at least as much, but probably more money and require as many, if not more years and would take away some of the team's depth. It doesn't make sense.

December 4, 2009

Figgins couldn't be further from home

One of the first things I do each morning is log on to It’s kind of a one-stop shopping place for all things related to the Hot Stove. This morning, I was delighted to see that the Angels have not given up on signing John Lackey. More on that in a bit…

But first, the big news of the day was Chone Figgins. Following we learned that one minute he was on the verge of signing with the Seattle Mariners. A little while later, they were reporting the Angels were still "hanging in there." He was signing, then he was "maybe" signing. It was kind of a roller coaster.

Then as the evening unfolded it was becoming more and more clear that Figgins was indeed heading to Seattle. Per Greg Bell of the Associated Press, Figgins and Mariners have a preliminary agreement on a four year, $36 million dollar deal, with an option that could push the contract to $45 million.

Earlier Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown tweeted that "Angels officials had conceded that Figgins was as good as gone to the M’s."

The deal is expected to be announced Monday at the Winter Meetings.

Good for Figgy. Sucks for us.

It’s going to be strange seeing him in a Mariners uniform and I’m not going to like it one single bit. The Angels usually play the M’s 19 times in a season. Nineteen games I will be a lot less likely to enjoy. Nineteen games where I will have to cheer against Figgy.

Like I said; it sucks for us.

There was some talk that signing Figgins to a contract of four or more years would be a bad idea... Some surmised that his skills would start to decline and that players who rely on speed (like Figgins) are bad investments as they get older. I don't necessarily agree. Bobby Abreu is 35 and he managed to steal 30 bases this year. Rickey Henderson was 39 when he stole 66 bases in 1998. Figgins will only be 32 years old next season.

Reports had the Angels offering Figgins three years for $24 million. I am disappointed that the Angels didn’t offer more years. I know all about the reports about the Angels budget for 2010, but we’re talking about a very good player in Figgins.

Figgins reinvented himself this past year. He became the ultimate lead off hitter with a .395 OBP; leading the league in walks with 101.

Some soured on Figgins after his lack luster post-season. He is a career .172 hitter in the play-offs with an anemic .223 OBP. Some assumed he would never become the kind of post season performer the Angels need. I didn’t necessarily feel the same way.

The sad thing is that now that he’s in Seattle, Figgins might not get a chance to disprove his critics. I can’t see Seattle in the post season next year or any time soon. Granted, it’s only December – but the M’s have lots of work to do before they can be considered legitimate contenders in the west. That being said, signing Figgins is a nice start.

The bright side and there is a bright side is that Brandon Wood should finally get his shot; at least I hope so. Some have begun to speculate that the Angels could sign Adrian Beltre, who was last seen under-performing in Seattle.

I may not know as much about baseball as the so-called pundits, but I’d be willing to bet that Brandon Wood could do better than a .265 batting average with just 8 homeruns and a .779 OPS, which are the numbers Beltre put up this past season.

I don’t want Miguel Tejada either. I mean talk about a player in decline. In fact, none of the remaining free agent third basemen appeal to me over Wood. Not Melvin Mora, Joe Crede or even Troy Glaus.

It’s time for Brandon Wood and seeing him get his chance is the best way to get over the loss of Figgins.

The funny thing about this is that I had believed Figgins might want to play close to home. I couldn't have been more wrong. You can't get much further away from Florida than Seattle, Washington. I think it's safe to say that my ability (or lack of) to predict where free agents might end up basically stinks. I've been wrong on most of my predictions thus far.

I also have to wonder; will Figgins be happy in Seattle? Adrian Beltre was the last So. Cal third basemen to sign a big contract with the M's. He had five uneventful years there. Yes, he was paid well, but if he could have done it over would he have gone to Seattle? We'll see if money buys Figgins happiness.

Now, let’s get back to John Lackey.

According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, "Club officials had all but decided to part with Lackey during the team's organizational meetings at the end of the regular season, according to multiple major-league sources."

Rosenthal adds - "But Moreno, after watching Lackey pitch well in his three postseason starts against the Red Sox and Yankees, decided that the Angels should renew their efforts to sign him, the sources said."

Rosenthal notes that the main reason for this "change" (per Rosenthal, Reagins says Lackey has been a priority all along) is due to the steep price (in players) to acquire Roy Halladay, the rocky performance of Scott Kazmir in the post season and the Mariners big push to sign Lackey. Lackey’s post season performance didn’t hurt either.

As I noted in my Open Letter to John Lackey, the thought of him pitching within the division is more than I can take. If Lackey ends up in Seattle, I’m not going to be happy. I won’t be able to let it go. It’s bad enough that Figgins will be there, but if they add Lackey as well, I will have a new team to hate.

The Angels need to get a deal done. The two sides need to find some common ground. I don’t know what Lackey’s demands are (he reportedly turned down a four-year $72 million extension), but he needs to meet the Angels part way. $72 million is a lot of money. Granted, it’s not A.J. Burnett money, but just because the Yankees overpaid for Burnett, it shouldn't equate into someone else also over paying for a player.

I don’t want Roy Halladay. I’m afraid of what it might cost the Angels in the way of players to get him. Besides, there's something that doesn't sit well with me when a guy says he's only willing to go to Red Sox, Yankees, Angels or Phillies. It just feels wrong. Hallady is also imposing deadlines now (says he won't agree to a trade once Spring Training starts). Again, this kind of stuff just doesn't make me comfortable.

Besides, the Angels can't afford to trade for Halladay. Brandon Wood is no longer an option to be moved in my mind. We know the Angels aren’t going to part with Erick Aybar and parting with one of Joe Saunders, Ervin Santana or Jered Weaver would still leave the Angels with a hole in their rotation.

Just sign Lackey.

So here we are. Figgins is gone, but the Angels are still in the hunt for Lackey. I’m not a happy camper right now, but I'll be extra cranky if Lackey goes. My wife Cheryl is not liking the Figgy deal either. Figgins is one of her favorites. She's going to miss him. We're all going to miss him.

What can you do, right? Time to turn the page...

Get ready Brandon Wood. Cheryl and I (not to mention countless other Angel fans) are counting on you. We know you can do it.