November 30, 2009

Talking Turkey - Post Thanksgiving

Okay, so this is probably the longest I have gone without posting something to this blog. I guess I needed a break and Thanksgiving was the right time to do it. Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone and the Hot Stove season hasn’t really been cooking up anything special thus far. Never-the-less the big question is always what’s going on?

Things should start to develop this week. Tomorrow is a big day; it’s the last day teams can offer their free agents arbitration.

In the Angels case, they have to decide whether or not to offer arbitration to John Lackey, Chone Figgins, Darren Oliver and Vladimir Guerrero. The Angels are likely to offer arbitration to Lackey, Figgins and Oliver. All three have Type A status and if they choose not to accept arbitration, the Angels will receive a compensation pick(s) (in most, but not all cases from the team’s that sign them) should any of them sign elsewhere.

Should any of the three accept arbitration they would be foregoing the free agent market and accepting the salary they will be offered via the arbitration process. Lackey and Figgins are highly unlikely to accept; however, there’s a chance Oliver will (as he did last year).

If the Angels don’t offer arbitration, teams are free to sign Type A players without losing any draft picks. In Guerrero’s case, it’s not likely the Angels will offer him arbitration; however, since he’s a Type B free agent any team that signs him will not lose a pick. The reason the Angels aren’t likely to offer him arbitration is because they would either like to move on without him or make him part of a back up plan and bring him back at a reduced salary.

It’s always a telling sign when a team offers or doesn’t offer a player arbitration. It’s usually an indication as to whether or not the team wants the player back. Last year Jon Garland and Francisco Rodriguez were both offered arbitration and both refused; a move that ended up costing Garland some money as he signed for less than what he most likely would have received had he accepted.

Again, tomorrow is the deadline and Type A players not offered arbitration become a little more appealing to teams since they won’t lose any draft picks. This happened with Troy Glaus after the 2004 season. The Angels were ready to move on without Glaus and didn’t offer him arbitration (he might have accepted had they offered it). Glaus went on to sign with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Players who refuse arbitration and have Type A status can be less appealing to some clubs. This happened to Orlando Cabrera last year – who found signing with a team harder because of his Type A status. This year Cabrera made sure his contract included a clause prohibiting a team from offering him arbitration in hopes it would make him more appealing to teams looking for a shortstop.

Hopefully, that all makes sense. Okay, so now what, right?

Well according to Mike DiGiovanna and Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times it looks like the Angels only have about $12 million to spend. That’s if you believe the Angels will stick to roughly the same budget as they had in 2009. According to the LA Times article – Reagins claims the Angels have money to spend in free agency, but may have to be creative to really fill out their roster.

Translation – the Angels will spend above their budget if the situation is one they deem beneficial to the team.

At this point in time all we can do is wait and see. Obviously, Lackey and Figgins are key to what the Angels do next. Signing or not signing one or both is going to dictate what the Angels do next. That may not play out until December 7-10, 2009 when the winter meetings take place in Indianapolis, Indiana. Historically, this is when activity (signings and trades) really heat up for all teams.

If you’re like me, it’s hard to figure out what’s going to happen. That being said, it doesn’t necessarily stop us from trying. Depending on who you read and when you read them, you could believe just about any number of scenarios taking place. Even still, if history repeats itself, the Angels will do something unpredictable.

If John Lackey resigns, the rotation will be set with Saunders, Kazmir, Weaver and Santana filling out the rest of the rotation. If Lackey departs, the Angels will either look internally to one of Dustin Moseley, Sean O’Sullivan or Trevor Bell. Trevor Reckling is a remote possibility as well – but he’s only pitched as high as AA ball. The other option would be for the Angels to either sign a free agent (possibly Randy Wolf) or make a trade (the Roy Halladay rumors are still out there). If I’m the Angels I have to believe the best route to take is to simply resign Lackey (even though that may not be all that simple).

If Chone Figgins returns, it will mean that Brandon Wood will either be traded (which could be a more distinct possibility if Lackey doesn’t return and the Angels need chips to trade), relegated to the a utility role of some sort or we could possibly see Figgins moved to the outfield, Abreu moved to a DH role and Wood given a shot at third base.

There is also the curious predicament of Gary Matthews, Jr. and the $23 million owed him over the next two years. He will be difficult to trade. Perhaps the Angels should make him the every day left fielder, move Rivera to right and have Abreu DH. Stranger things have happened and this scenario could play out should the Angels not resign Figgins.

If neither Lackey nor Figgins return – any number of things could happen. The Angels could make a serious play for Jason Bay, but are more likely to focus on pitching. In my mind they have to maintain a rotation that is solid 1-5 and they also need to replace what Vlad Guerrero used to provide them. Kendry Morales had a great year in 2009 and Hunter was on his way to doing the same, but they are not enough.

And…. what about the bull pen? Brian Fuentes, Jason Bulger and Kevin Jepsen appear to be locks. Matt Palmer most likely has a role as well. Scot Shields will be back. The rest will depend on whether or not Jose Arredondo can rebound from a sub par 2009 and whether or not Darren Oliver will be back. That’s seven names in the mix as of now. If the Angels add some bull pen help – someone would have to be moved or demoted to the minors.

Changes aren’t likely at center field (Torii Hunter), first base (Kendry Morales), second base (Howie Kendrick), shortstop (Erick Aybar), catcher (Mike Napoli and Jeff Mathis) and Maicer Izturis is sure to serve in his super utility role again. Also - Juan Rivera is a pretty solid bet to be in one of the corner outfield spots.

The 2010 Angels have the potential to look very much like the 2009 version on one hand and on the other, look like a very different team. Other than Brandon Wood there isn’t anyone looming to make an impact from within.

Terry Evans is the only other possibility and he’s likely to become the 4th or 5th outfielder. The Angels are out of option on Evans and he will either occupy a 25 man roster spot or take his talent elsewhere. Evans is an interesting prospect. He has tons of speed and the ability to hit the long ball, but for whatever reason doesn’t appear to be high on anyone’s list. A former 47th round draft choice of the St. Louis Cardinals, he came to the Angels for Jeff Weaver in 2006. When Spring Training camps open in 2010 he will 28, which is considered "old" for players still trying to find their way on to big league rosters.

In 2009, Evans put up monster numbers in Salt Lake City; hitting .291 while belting 26 homers and driving in 90 runs. He also had 33 doubles and stole 28 bases. He had a .860 OPS, but struck out a whopping 146 times and that last stat may be the one thing that has the experts limiting his potential.

Hot Stove Update... Elsewhere:

You know it’s a slow day when the biggest Hot Stove news includes the Mets interest in Henry Blanco per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Mets signing Alex Cora, the Pirates signing Will Ledesma and the Cardinals resigning Jason LaRue.


Andruw Jones signed with the Chicago White Sox last week. I had predicted the Cubs.... so I had the right city, but the wrong team. Jones signed for $500,000 despite hitting just .214 last year. Just for the sake of fun, let's say Jones has now set the market for outfielders.

If you believe Jason Bay is 50 times better than Jones (Of course you do), it would mean that Bay will receive a contract for $25 million a year. Shazam!

Elsewhere, Alex Gonzalez signed with the Toronto Blue Jays (I had predicted the Houston Astros); possibly signaling the end of any speculation that Marco Scutaro stays in Toronto. The rumors of him going to Boston still seem to be "hot;" although, it appears the Dodgers are also a possibility.

November 25, 2009

Not a good thing

Yesterday, I was extremely disappointed to hear that Rex Hudler would not be back in the Angels broadcast booth for 2010. I first read about this on the LA Times Blog.

I blogged about Rex last month and asked fans to "Embrace the Wonder Dog."

I wrote then that Rex is one of us. I meant what I said then and I still believe that today. He is an Angels fan through and through. I feel like I just lost a member of my family – my Angels family. What makes this even sadder is that we didn’t even get a chance to say thank you or good bye.

I know most people either love Rex or hate him. There usually isn’t any middle ground. Personally, I loved his unbridled enthusiasm and always positive outlook. Quite frankly, we could all use a little more of those things. I believe he was a great ambassador for the Angels and baseball as a whole. He’s the kind of guy who gets kids hooked on baseball because he gives them his time and shows them how much fun the game is. Kids flock to a guy like Rex for a reason. He’s simply a joy and isn’t baseball supposed to be all about having a good time?

Did he offer up the best analysis and insight? No, not really. He did bring a certain perspective and I appreciated what he had to say. He was spontaneous and never scripted and in this day and age, I find that refreshing.

Rex was known to venture out of the broadcast booth and into the stands from time to time to deliver a baseball to a kid or to hug to a fan. There were no walls with Rex. He was an open book and what you saw, is what you got. He was an original, one-of-a-kind personality.

Steve Physioc will also not be back. I can’t say that I’ll miss him much. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike Physioc per say; I could take him or leave him.

Next year Rory Markas and Mark Gubicza will team up to do the television broadcasts and Terry Smith will team with Jose Mota on the radio. Ugh. I’m not a fan of Mota. I know he’s a nice man and I’ve heard he’s a great individual. I just don’t care much for his style and find him hard to listen to. I’m someone who brings a radio to the games and with this change, I’m afraid my fan experience isn’t going to be the same next year.

I’m going to miss Rex. I’m going to miss running into him outside of the stadium and seeing him pump up the crowd. Rex always left fans feeling great about Angels baseball. He had that kind of impact.

I’m sure Rex will land on his feet some where; never-the-less, I’ll miss him just the same.

God bless you Rex Hudler. You enhanced my experience as a fan and I appreciate that more than you will ever know.

November 24, 2009

Tis the season

Tis the season for optimism…

According to Nick Cafardo of , 41 year old Gary Sheffield is ready to make a comeback and would be willing to DH. Nice of Gary to be so "willing" isn’t it? He’s quoted in the article as saying "I’ve never worked so hard in the offseason as I have this one. I’m 100 percent dedicated to my training." Excuse me while I yawn. Isnt' that what they always say when they get to this point in their careers?

Jerry Crasnik of ESPN reports Dallas McPherson is supposedly 100% healthy (according to his agent, a reliable source I’m sure) and has been invited to compete for the starting job at third base for the Oakland A’s. Does 100% "healthy" really mean he’s just eating better? I'm just asking. In any case, some Fantasy Baseball "managers" are licking their chops and making notes on their draft sheets as we speak.

"Everyday" Eddie Guardado wants to pitch in 2010. Per he feels strong after knee rehabilitation program. Of course you do Eddie. Guardado is 39. He is also a lefty. Translation: He will have a job until his arm falls off or he turns 65, which ever comes first.

While were at it... let’s send Spring Training invites out to Steve Finley, Luis Gonzalez and anyone else who might be working out this off season.

Other news, thoughts, ramblings

Apparently, not everyone is optimistic this time of yea... The Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti made it clear today that any speculation about the Dodgers sending Chad Billingsley to Toronto for Roy Halladay is nothing more than speculation per the LA Times blog. Huh? If it was speculation to begin with - did we really expect it to be anything more than tha later on?

Speaking of Roy Halladay, Mike DiGiovanna reports that the Angels are back in the hunt for Roy Halladay. Really? Does this mean Lackey is as good as gone? I hate this...

Giovanna writes - Lackey, who sat out the first six weeks of the 2008 and 2009 seasons because of arm injuries, is believed to be seeking a contract comparable to the five-year, $82.5-million deal A.J. Burnett signed with the New York Yankees last winter. Some team executives believe Halladay, who is a year older than Lackey, could be signed to a similar deal.

If the contracts are going to be similar – why not just keep the guy who came up through the Angels system? That way the Angels don’t have to part with any other talent. I’m not a rocket scientist, but that shouldn’t be too hard to figure out, right?

And if you really want to make a trade – go get Josh Johnson of the Florida Marlins. He’s only 25 and is looking for a four year deal - which the Marlins have decided not to give him. Seriously, Josh Johnson is an ace and again, he’s only 25. Last year was his first full year in the bigs and he posted an impressive 3.23 ERA. He also struck out 191 batters in 209 innings. His career ERA is 3.40. Did I mention that he’s only 25?

Speaking of trades... this talk about the Angels interest in Curtis Granderson is making me nauseous. Granderson is a nice player (an all-star even), but he can't hit lefties to save his life. Granted the Angels could use a left handed bat in their lineup and I know Scioscia loves a good platoon, but please just say no to Granderson. I have a feeling he's going to cost the Angels too many good prospects and their system really needs the depth. I think the Angels would be better off saving any prospects for a better deal down the road. Unless, I'm wrong about the cost, I'll bet this doesn't come close to getting done.

The LA Times reported today that Rex Hudler and Steve Physioc will not be back with the Angels in 2010. For the record, firing the Wonder Dog just stinks. Rory Markas and Mark Gubicza will handle the TV coverage and Terry Smith and Jose Mota will be on the radio. I really liked the teaming of Rory and Terry and will miss that combo. I am not looking forward to Jose Mota on the radio, at all. The Angels "brand" just got a little weaker in my eyes.

Last, but not least - John Sickels has a blog and he has ranked the top Angels prospects. It’s definitely worth investigating.

November 23, 2009

Pay Johnny good

In a surprise development free agent outfielder Johnny Damon wants more money. No friends, that’s not a mistake, Johnny wants more. I know, I know… I’m as shocked as you are.

My favorite mercenary is looking for the highest bidder again and with Scott Boras as his agent, he’ll probably get what he wants. He will then have the nerve to tell us all that (fill in the blank) was always where he wanted to play; his first choice all along.

Sure Johnny. Whatever you say Johnny.

According to the NY Daily News, Damon prefers to stay with the Yankees, and while he has made that wish very public, sources say he isn't about to give the Yankees a big discount to stay there.

Of course not. We’re talking Johnny Damon, who would sign up to play for Cuba in the World Baseball Classic if he could get enough money from Castro.

The Daily News also reports Damon has told friends all year he would take a shorter deal from the Yankees than he would elsewhere… but it is believed he would want a higher average annual salary if he were to take less years.

Translation - pay me four years worth of salary for two years worth of work because "I love New York."

Johnny made $13 million in 2009. Granted he had a fair offensive season, but let’s not forget that 17 of his 24 homeruns came in the band box known as Yankee Stadium. I guess the Yankees and Damon deserve each other. Where else can he continue to command more money than say…? Bobby Abreu and put up mediocre numbers.

Per Ken Rosenthal – Boras will use Bobby Abreu’s contract as a starting point and Boras will argue that Damon deserves more. Abreu is signed for two years and $19 million.

I have to say the thought of Damon being compared to Abreu makes my skin crawl. The Angels wanted Abreu back. Abreu wanted to come back. They got a deal done… no testing the open market, etc. Deal done. Again, the Yankees and Damon deserve one another.

He’s quoted in the NY Daily News as saying… "I want to continue to be on a team that can win and to play in front of great fans - and we know that the Yankees fill both of those," Damon said. "I think everyone knows my desire to come back. Still, every time I've been a free agent, I've ended up switching teams. It's the nature of the beast. If people are interested, I'm going to listen."

Translation… money talks and Johnny walks.

Johnny can bank all the money he wants; that’s his prerogative. It’s just time people realized that he’s all about the money. Come on Johnny… just say it. You could actually care less where you play as long as that team offers you the most money; you’re as loyal as a dog in heat.

Johnny’s not the kind of guy you’d want dating your daughter. Johnny’s the kid in elementary school who pinky swore with one hand and had his fingers crossed on the other. He’s the kid that swindled other kids out of their lunch money and became the teacher’s pet by bringing her an apple that he picked off a neighbor’s tree.

I can’t wait to see Teixeira, A-Rod and Johnny posing together for photo next year. We’ll get to see three of the phoniest smiles in all of sports.

What’s the world coming to? Next thing you know Paul Loduca will think he can come back and play in the major leagues next year.

Hot Stove Predictions Final Installment - Pitching

For my last installment of Hot Stove Predictions, I am taking a look at pitchers. All categories are covered here – be it starters, relievers or wanna-be’s.

Before, I get started, I have to correct an early prediction I made. In true bone-head like form, I predicted the Angels would sign Tony Pena, thinking Pena was the same one that once pitched for Arizona before being traded to the White Sox. Turns out that he’s not a free agent and the one that is a free agent is Tony Pena, Jr. the Kansas City Royal who was converted from shortstop.

In any case – I have no idea where Junior will end up and I can’t say I care much eith... and with that, I will now revise my Angels pick to 30 year old Rafael Soriano, last seen pitching for the Braves. Hopefully, there’s not a Rafael Soriano, Jr. out there to make me more confused than I already am.

Soriano has the kind of power arm the Angels always seem to covet. Soriano would give the Angels bull pen a huge boost.

As for the rest… there are so many pitchers on the open market, I thought it would be easiest for me to just list them. It’s not a comprehensive list, but there are still a lot of names here:

Starting pitchers
Miguel Batista (39) - Diamondbacks
Erik Bedard (31) - Type B - Braves
Daniel Cabrera (29) – Cardinals
Aroldis Chapman (22) – Yankees
Doug Davis (34) - Type B – Mariners
Justin Duchscherer (32) - Type B – Cubs
Jon Garland (30) - Type B – Twins
Rich Harden (28) - Type B – Mets
John Lackey (31) - Type A – Angels
Braden Looper (35) - Type B – Royals
Jason Marquis (31) - Type B – Yankees
Pedro Martinez (38) – Dodgers
Brett Myers (29) – Rangers
Vicente Padilla (32) - Type B – Dodgers
Carl Pavano (34) - Type B – Diamondbacks
Brad Penny (32) – Giants
Andy Pettitte (38) - Type B – Yankees
Joel Pineiro (31) - Type B – Nationals
Horacio Ramirez (30) – Reds
Ben Sheets (31) – Astros
John Smoltz (43) – Rockies
Jarrod Washburn (35) – Brewers
Todd Wellemeyer (31) – Cubs
Kip Wells (33) - Nationals
Randy Wolf (33) - Type A – Mets

Mike Gonzalez (32) - Type A - Tigers
Kevin Gregg (32) - Type A – Astros
Fernando Rodney (33) - Type B - Phillies
Rafael Soriano (30) - Type A - Angels
Jose Valverde (32) - Type A - Rays
Billy Wagner (38) - Type A – Orioles

Right-handed relievers:
Rafael Betancourt (35) - Type A – Red Sox
Kiko Calero (35) - Type B - Rays
Octavio Dotel (36) - Type A - Yankees
LaTroy Hawkins (37) - Type A - Astros
Jason Isringhausen (37) - Rays
Brandon Lyon (30) - Type B - Tigers
Guillermo Mota (36) - Type B - Dodgers
Chan Ho Park (37) - Type B - Phillies
J.J. Putz (33) – Red Sox
Justin Speier (36) - Giants
Russ Springer (41) - Type B - Rays
David Weathers (40) - Type B - Reds
Jeff Weaver (33) - Dodgers

Left-handed relievers:
Joe Beimel (32) - Type B – Mets
Will Ohman (31) - Type B - Padres
Darren Oliver (39) - Type A - Angels

November 21, 2009

Hot Stove Predictions - Part 3 (1B, C, OF)

Amazingly (or maybe not) there aren’t any Type A free agents among the available first basemen. The top guys are Carlos Delgado, the oft injured Nick Johnson, Adam LaRoche, and a couple of guys who should get a good look from teams in Russell Branyan and Hank Blalock.

I’ll start with Blalock, who I see going to Cleveland. Here’s a team that desperately needs some power in their lineup (they finished 10th in the AL last year in homers) and Blalock can provide that. He’s not great at hitting lefties, but he will give a team 25-30 long balls. He could even platoon with Andy Marte, who is coming to the point in his career when he’s either got to put up the numbers or find his way to the bench or worse. Blalock is only 29 years old and still has some upside and would be a nice piece for the Indians to add.

If ever there was a player that fit the Billy Beane mold, it’s Nick Johnson. Johnson has a career OBP of .402. He’s a walk machine. Problem is he has a hard time staying healthy. It’s the “if he’s healthy” label that intrigues people and I can’t see Beane passing up an opportunity to sign a guy like this. He’s made for Oakland. It doesn’t hurt that he’s also a Sacramento native.

As for the others out there, I believe Carlos Delgado will return to the Mets, Adam LaRoche will head back to Atlanta and Russell Branyan will resign with the Mariners. Pretty boring… I know. Other free agents include Eric Hinske and Ross Gload. Either one could end up in a backup role in Atlanta or Florida, but are more likely to head to the AL where they can also DH some. I’ll pass on predictions for Kevin Millar, Dmitri Young, Doug Mientkiewicz and others like them…

As for catchers… I can’t figure out why anyone in the world would be interested in Jason Kendall. He can’t hit very well, doesn’t throw out runners and is now 35 years old. In my opinion, the best he can hope for is a back up role at this point in his career. I can see him replacing Brad Ausmus for the Dodgers.

I love Bengie Molina. He’s one of my all-time favorite Angels. I really would have never of imagined him being as productive as he has been the last couple years. Now that he’s 35, he’s probably only going to get a one year deal some where. It could be the Giants, but I have a feeling he’ll end up catching for the Mets – which seems to be a popular predicted destination for Molina. He’ll make that pitching staff better and I think he’s an excellent fit.

Miguel Olivo had a pretty good 2009, all things considered. He managed to crank out 23 homeruns while hitting .249. He just doesn’t walk very often and has a low OBP. Never-the-less there is a place out there for Olivo and I believe it will be in Detroit where he will put up more solid numbers.

Yorvit Torrealba will be heading to Milwaukee where he will be an upgrade over Kendall and be “the” guy. Rod Barajas will resign with Toronto. The Blue Jays can’t afford to let him get away.

Next up, outfielders…

If you’re buying what the media is selling about Hideki Matsui, he’s headed to Seattle. That doesn’t make sense to me since they have Ken Griffey, Jr. I see Matsui in Texas as their DH.

I’ve already predicted Dye to Oakland, Bay to the Angels and Guerrero to the White Sox.

Next up... Marlon Byrd, who will become a Giant replacing Randy Winn. Byrd is one of those guys who is probably not as good as his statistics would show. He had a solid season last year in Texas, but how will he do outside of Arlington Stadium? We’ll see, but I wouldn’t expect too much. Garret Anderson will join him in San Francisco as a slightly better option than John Bowker in left field.

Look for Xavier Nady to find his way back to his original team the San Diego Padres, replacing Brian Giles who may be forced to retire and Rick Ankiel will return to the Cardinals

Andruw Jones will head to the Cubs because the Cubs seem to have a propensity of making bad decisions and because they’ll believe he can play center field. I’m kidding; then again maybe not. After the debacle that is Milton Bradley, I can see the Cubs doing this. He’ll be reunited with his hitting coach from Texas, but it won’t matter much; Jones’ best days are behind him.

The big prize of the free agent class – Matt Holliday will play for the Mets. I’m not alone in this prediction, that’s for sure.

As for the mercenary that is Johnny Damon, I’ll go out on a limb and predict his destination will be the White Sox. Damon would probably sign with just about any place willing to pay him enough.

This prediction thing is a lot of work… but I’m having a little fun with it. I did kick a kick out of the news that Vizquel is likely to sign with the White Sox – which is something I predicted the day before the news broke. Yeah, I know… I’m that blind squirrel people talk about…

November 20, 2009

An open letter to John Lackey

Dear John,

I have a problem and I’m not afraid to admit it. If you end up signing with the Yankees, I’m not going to be happy. Let’s just say that if you wear pinstripes next year, you’re dead to me. If you go to Boston, I'm done with you. If you stay within the Western Division (Texas, Oakland, or Seattle) in the AL you’re history. If you go up the freeway to the Dodgers, you’re gone. It will be as if you never even existed. I will wipe you from my memory. I know you could probably care less about what I think and feel, but I have to vent just the same.

No, I haven’t forgotten who the starting pitcher was in Game 7 of the 2002 World Series. And no, I haven’t forgotten who’s been the lead dog and the anchor on a pitching staff that has been among the best in baseball year after year. I haven’t even forgotten the times you took time to stop and sign a photo or a baseball at Spring Training. I remember all of it; every single thing and then some. Even still, none of it will matter because you will have gone against the family and make no mistake about it; the Angels and their fans are a family. Your going to the Yankees would be like Sonny Corleone joining the Tattaglia family. Angel fans would take it personally. Now that doesn't mean someone would go out and chop off a horse's head and put it in your bed... but you never know. I'm just saying.

Yes, I know I forgave Adam Kennedy for going to the hated A’s this year. Difference is Kennedy is a guy who is trying to hang on at the end of his career. You, John are not. You’re still considered to be in your prime and if you go to a team that stands in the way of the Angels reaching the World Series, I won’t forgive you. Not next year, the year after or 1,000 years from now. Same goes for the Dodgers because I don’t want to be watching the local news and hear about how you helped the squatters from Brooklyn win a game, a division or worse… Please, not in my own back yard John. Have some respect.

John, you’re supposed to be different. You’re a throw-back to guys who took the mound with an attitude. These guys hated their rivals and would rather have had their arm fall off than give into them. Can you imagine if Don Drysdale had become a Giant or if Bob Gibson had become a Cub? It’s like that John. Don’t take the "if you can’t beat them, join them route." That’s for guys like Johnny Damon and Roger Clemens. Guys I have no respect for what-so-ever. You’re better than that, man.

I really have to ask; could you really live with yourself if you were a Yankee or a Red Sox? Wouldn’t a small part of you die inside? Would you be able to look Mike Scioscia in the eyes? What about your Angel teammates? Could you honestly separate the business part of baseball from the fun? What about the camaraderie and sense of family you’ve known for your career as an Angel? I need to know John. I really need to know. You can't just turn the page on this one.

I know beating the Boston’s and the New York’s of baseball is challenging. I know it’s hard, but that’s the kind of thing that gets you up in the morning. Challenge are good. The tough road is the rewarding way to go.

Going to the dark side would eat at you John. You’re more of a patriot than you are a mercenary aren’t you? For goodness sakes, you’re from Texas - remember the Alamo? Remember the 2009 ALCS? Didn’t the post season leave a bad taste in your mouth? Don't you want another shot at the Yankees? Don’t tell me, you’d rather just slip over to their side and hope no one saw it happen. I just can’t see wanting to beat the living daylights out of a team one day and then being on that same team the next. I just can’t fathom that. It ain't right. It's just wrong.

I’m asking you to take sides John. We’re on one side and the Yankees, Red Sox and the like are on the other. What will I see when I look across the field? It’s time to dig in. Angel fans have your back. Do you have ours? Those other fans don’t know you like we know you. You’re one of us. That’s right, "us." You can change your uniform, but you can’t change what’s inside, can you?

I know you may still be angry that Mike Scioscia didn’t leave you in to finish game 5 of the ALCS. I’m mad too. I hated seeing Scioscia take you out. The thought of that possibly being the last time I might see you in an Angels uniform hurt like heck. I wanted to scream. I hated seeing you come out of that game in the worst possible way. Don’t let it end like that John. You have unfinished business with the Angels. Angel fans felt like they were punched in the stomach when the season ended. We want some pay-back and I'm betting you do too.

I have to tell you, I’m really tired of seeing your name linked to the Yankees or Red Sox every where I turn. Say it ain’t so John. Tell me that you’d rather fight these guys than sit in their dugout. You can't possibly want to spend your summer with freaking' Alex Rodriguez or that cheater in Boston (David Ortiz) over Torii Hunter. Tell me there isn't any amount of money in the world that would make you wear their colors. I need to hear it.

If you do go to New York or Boston; do us all a favor and don’t tell us that it wasn’t about the money. Don’t insult us. If you go to the Yankees because they simply offered you the most money – just say it. If that's the way you want to roll, so be it. Be up front about it. Come clean. We’ll respect you for being honest (but you'll still be dead to me).

Know this John: when you come back to Anaheim in pinstripes or in a Red Sox uniform, I will want the Angels to beat you down in the worst possible way. I will want Reggie Willits to take you deep for his first ever major league homerun, walk off style. I will want you to be humbled and humiliated. You will be the enemy and I will not know you for anything other than the name on the front of your jersey. And if by some remote chance we should pass one another on the street some how, I will look through you as if you don’t exist because it's like I keep telling you; you will be dead to me.

Maybe fans aren't supposed to care this much. But I'm guessing they care this much in places like St. Louis. Things were much easier when I was a kid. It was much more common to follow the same guys on a team year after year. Tim Salmon shouldn't be the exception to the rule. You need to stay in Anaheim.

Perhaps you’ll end up as a Met. I suppose I could live with that. But I have to ask you, do you really want K-Rod closing games for you again? I might even understand if you signed with the Astros so that you could return to your home state. Although in that case, you'd have to kiss the post season good bye. I guess I could tolerate just about any team in the National League (other than the Dodgers) as a possible destination for you. I won’t like it much, but I won’t dwell on it either. I won't even shed a tear. I'll just move on. I'll be a little more jaded, but I will move on.

I hope I’m writing this letter for not. I hope nothing comes of the rumors and you’re back on the mound, in Anaheim for Opening Day in 2010. You know I'll be there wearing my Lackey shirt.

The Angels can get back to the World Series John. I know they can. You know they can. Let’s do this. Come back home John. You were born to play for the Angels.

514 Fanatic and Die Hard Angels Fan

BallHype: hype it up!

November 19, 2009

Hot Stove Predictions - Part 2, Middle Infielders

The free agency pool of middle infielders is pretty bleak, but there are a couple of interesting players.

Khalil Greene is one of them. Here’s a guy who has never really lived up to his potential. He’s shown flashes here and there (like in 2007 when he belted 27 homers), but for the most part, he’s lived off his reputation as a defensive stand out. Last year he had some issues with some social anxiety disorders and suffered through a horrible statistical season. His career batting average and OPS are well below average, but again it’s all about his glove.

I see Greene going to San Francisco to be reunited with Bruce Bochy. I can’t figure out who’s going to play where in the Giants infield, so I’ll confuse the issue some more by adding Greene to the mix. He could possibly play more than one position there and being reunited with his first manager might be just the thing to get Greene on track.

I’m not sold that the Dodgers will go with Blake DeWitt or resign Ronnie Belliard. I predict the AL 2009 gold glover Placido Polanco will replace the 2009 NL gold glover (Orlando Hudson) at second base in Los Angeles. Polanco is a year younger than Belliard (whoo-hoo) and is definitely better defensively. Personally, I think the Dodgers should resign Hudson, but I don’t see it happening.

Speaking of the “O Dog” – I have read that the Mets desperately want to move Luis Castillo and make room for Hudson. Sounds good, but I predict he ends up playing for the Cubs. Move over Mike Fontenot, the “O-Dog” is going to take your job and solidify the middle of that infield. He’s just the kind of dynamic presence that could give Cub fans the little bit of hope they need to gear up for yet another season.

Orlando Cabrera faced a tough off season last year. A Type A free agent, he found the job opportunities slim out there, as no one seemed to want to part with a draft pick to sign him. He took care of that in his last contract as he made it so that his team couldn’t offer him arbitration. That makes him a little more attractive, but at 35 he may be best suited to play second base some where. I see him signing with the Mets as they settle for this Orlando as opposed to the one who’s last name is Hudson. O-Cab will back up Reyes and allow the Mets to move Castillo out of town for good.

The rest… Felipe Lopez will sign for too much money to be a utility guy with the Yankees. Jamey Carroll is rumored to be of interest to the Marlins. I’ll say he resigns with Cleveland. Ronnie Belliard will head to Detroit to serve as a back up plan for Ramon Santiago, Jerry Hairston, Jr. will head back to Cincinnati where he began the 2009 season, Mark Loretta will return to the Dodgers, Alex Gonzalez heads to the Astros, and Adam Everett will take over for Marco Scutaro in Toronto. Last, but not least Omar Vizquel will seek a backup role with the Chicago White Sox. As for Eric Bruntlett and Nick Green… does anyone really care? I'm just saying...

That’s all I have for this round. Things should start to get interesting starting tomorrow as the exclusive negotiating window for teams and their free agents ends and the players hit the open market.

Update on the Angels Hot Stove:

Arte Moreno has told Bill Shakin of the LA Times that they “are not looking at Holliday at all.” He also claims Bay remains a possibility. I’m thinking Moreno is done with Scott Boras (at least this year – because let’s not forget that Jered Weaver is also a Boras client) and that last year’s negotiations for Mark Teixeira has left a bad taste in his mouth.

On Lackey and Figgins, Moreno hints that they can’t afford both based on what they’re asking for. I had a feeling this would happen – that’s why I predicted they would sign Lackey and not Figgins; however, he also said "We'd like to have a power bat, a starter and another bullpen guy." If I am to read into that, it would appear the Lackey will be gone and Figgins is the more likely to be resigned. I mean why else would they be looking to add a starter?

Good news

Bud Seling is listening. Per the OC Regisrer Blog: Commissioner Bud Selig said Wednesday that Major League baseball will heed Angels manager Mike Scioscia’s advice (it was more like constructive criticism), and tighten up the baseball playoffs with fewer off days.

November 16, 2009

Hot Stove Predictions. First up 3rd Base...

There’s a whole lot of talking going on, but not much action of late (unless you’re following the Dodger divorce). All of that will change on November 20 when teams no longer have exclusive negotiating rights to their free agents and the players hit the open market.

As I hear and read all things Hot Stove, it occurred to me that there are three kinds of teams out there.

One is just looking for a warm body to occupy a position. They have a hole to fill, but it’s not necessarily about getting the best player to fill that hole and it’s more about just getting a body in place. Sometimes this guy is just holding the position until a prospect is ready or simply because they have no one else who can play there.

Next are teams actually looking to not only fill a hole, but to find a quality replacement when someone has left via retirement, free agency, trade, etc They need someone who can step in and do the job at least as well as the previous guy. They might not the best available player, but they represent the best they can do based on their budget, while still filling a need. These teams aren’t looking to rock the budget and will mix and match roles and players if necessary.

Then there are those teams looking for someone that can make a significant difference in their team and help them improve. These players might even displace someone on the roster that is occupying a position. These are teams that are looking for ways to improve and return/get to the play-offs and go further next year.

It’s like when the Angels signed Torii Hunter. It wasn’t an expected move because they had Gary Matthews, Jr. already in center field. Hunter was signed to help take the team to the next level. He brought the Angels another much needed offensive bat, a superior glove and top shelf leadership qualities. Another example would be the Red Sox pursuit of Mark Teixeira last year. They did so already having a first basemen. Teixiera would have created the need to move people around or completely out of the organization. Never-the-less, you make room on your roster for guys like this and that’s an important thing to keep in mind as we move through the Hot Stove.

This year’s candidates to be that kind of player include Matt Holliday, Jason Bay and Chone Figgins; although none of them are on the same level as Teixeira (no matter what Scott Boras says).

There are also three kinds of players in the market every year as well. There’s the guy who will tell you that it’s not about the money and then sign with a team that gives him the best offer. There are guys who are just looking to prolong their careers and then there are guys are who looking for a chance to win. Of course sometimes those things overlap, but you get the idea.

Ok, so I’ve already made a few predictions in previous posts but I’m now ready to take the big leap and really think about and venture a guess as to where more free agents will land.

I’ll take it one position at a time. First up, third basemen.

I’ve already predicted Chone Figgins to the Braves to fill a hole soon to be left by the departure of Garret Anderson. Figgins would also provide the Braves with some much needed speed a the top of their lineup and would also represent an upgrade both offensively and defensively. The Braves will look to compete in the NL East next year and Figgins could help them make some noise. I’m hoping the Angels resign Figgins, but if I were a betting man, I’d pick him going to Atlanta.

There is a caveat though; I predict if the Angels fail to resign Lackey, Figgins will be back in Anaheim. No way the Angels let both players walk. By the way, I’m very intrigued by Figgins' foray into free agency. I believe Figgins wants to be close to his family, but I also believe he wants to win. I’ll be surprised if he simply goes for the best offer.

Adrian Beltre is the kind of player that will probably keep GM’s up late at night. They have to be asking themselves; can he be a difference maker or is he simply a guy who can fill a hole and/or possibly upgrade a position? His defense will probably represent an upgrade to most any team. In any case, I see Beltre going to St. Louis, where there is a chance hitting in a lineup with Albert Pujols would elevate Beltre into a significant run producing role. Beltre should be looking to get back to the NL where his numbers could improve just by changing leagues. The Cardinals are a team you can’t ever count of the play-off hunt and Beltre would be just the kind of risk the Cardinals could afford to take.

Now I’ve also read that the Angels could pursue Beltre if they don’t resign Figgins. Personally, I can’t see that happening. I’m fairly certain Brandon Wood could put up better numbers than Beltre had in 2009.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Joe Crede has two strikes against him. He’s oft injured and his agent is Scott Boras. While I predicted he wouldn’t return to Minnesota, I didn’t offer up a prediction as to where he might go at the time of that post. Well, I see Crede in Baltimore. Crede will probably be keeping third base warm for Orioles prospect Josh Bell who could be making the leap to the big leagues very soon, but not likely to start 2010. Crede isn’t going to cost anyone draft picks and even though he’s represented by Boras, he should come at a discounted price. Crede fills the hole created by Melvin Mora’s departure into free agency.

Speaking of Mora, he will be hard pressed to find work in 2010. The 38 year old had one of his least productive seasons even though he’s only one year removed from a 23 homerun, 104 RBI season. There could very well be a team that believes he can be the player he was in 2008, but that team would be fooling itself. Mora is a Type B free agent, which is a plus for him as he’s looking for work since any team signing him isn’t going to give up a draft pick. Look for Mora to return to the team that drafted him in 1991, the Houston Astros. Playing in Minute Made Park could potentially help Mora’s power numbers and help off set the loss of Miguel Tejada, who also ventures into free agency.

Pedro Feliz had a better offensive year than Adrian Beltre. He’s just as good, if not better defensively. The Mariners would do well to sign Feliz in place of Beltre. He will cost less and give them more production, even at 35 years of age. That’s my prediction and I’m sticking to it.

I never thought I’d see the day when Mark DeRosa would actually be in demand. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a nice player, but he seems to be on the radar of quite a few teams. Philly has often been linked to him, but I can see him signing with Detroit, where he would end up playing second base. I will admit, this pick is more about being contrary than anything else.

Speaking of Philly, who’s going to replace Feliz? The Phillies are definitely one of those teams looking for another piece to help them return to the World Series. That’s why I don’t see them signing DeRosa. That being said, there’s not a lot left to pick from. There’s Miguel Tejada… but I don’t see that happening; so, I’ll throw a somewhat wild idea out there.

I predict the Phillies will sign Marco Scutaro and move him to third base. Some experts are picking the Red Sox to land Scutaro. Well, like I said earlier, I like to be somewhat contrary and when it comes to predicting where free agents land, why not? Scutaro had his best offensive year ever. Problem is he’s a Type A free agent and will cost the Phillies a first round pick. I say they do it anyway, after missing out on Chone Figgins and Adrian Beltre.

Miguel Tejada is going to find the market pretty tough this off season. He’s aging, he’s regressing and he’s a Type A free agent. Ouch. I don’t have a prediction for him just yet; besides, he’s technically still a shortstop.

Others… Look for Adam Kennedy to return to the A’s, Juan Uribe to return to the muddied infield that is the San Francisco Giants and Bobby Crosby to find work with the Cardinals where he will compete for a job as their shortstop. This would reunite Crosby with Mark McGwire (the new batting coach) who Crosby worked on his swing with this past off season.

Those are my picks and they’re always subject to change. I'll take a look at another position next time around.

November 15, 2009

I like it

"I don't care if the Yankees go out and spend $350 million next year, we're going to beat them because we have the team," Scioscia said. This was Mike Scioscia as reported in the O.C. Register. Scioscia was at a fundraiser with about 300 people in attendance for KidWorks on November 12 when he made the comment.

That last time I heard Scioscia speak with such bravado is when the Angels were down 2-0 in the 2008 ALDS to Boston. He basically guaranteed that the Angels would not lose game 3 and they didn't.

Will it back fire? Jimmy Rollins wasn't too successful in his post season predictions this year and any time you hear someone making statements like this, you have to think of Pat Riley's guarantee of back to back wins for the Lakers back in the 80's (which worked out quite well).

Does Scioscia know something we don't know? Probably. Or maybe he's got a fire in his belly. Either way, I like it.

Personally, I think it's great when the skipper puts something like this out there. In some ways it takes the pressure off his players and puts it squarely on his own shoulders. I have a feeling the Angels failure to get back to the World Series for the seventh straight year is not sitting well with Scioscia. I am betting he can't wait to get to Spring Training to start the next campaign. I can't wait either.

November 14, 2009

Gag me

Some guys don’t know when to quit. I guess when playing baseball is basically all you’ve ever known, it’s hard to walk away. Diamond Leung says in his column Diamond Notes that Eric Gagne is going to try and make a comeback, possibly with the Dodgers. I wonder; can Kevin Brown be far behind? What’s Gagne’s theme song going to be when he comes out of the bull pen? How about Steve Miller Band’s "Take the money and run?"

I can hear it now...

This here’s is a story about Eric Gagne and Dodger Blue
A dirty old pitcher with nothing left in the tank
He wants to come back and prove us all fools
Problem is last time he pitched, he really, really stank

He’s headed to Glendale for Spring Training
Where he’ll try to make his way back
With a little luck it’ll be raining
And some team can be suckered into a big fat contract

Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run

Speaking of comebacks, Edgardo Alfonzo wants to come back as well. So says, Kevin Kernan of the New York Post.

Alfonzo is basically quoted as wanting to still follow his dream. Truth is he was a nightmare in his last big league season of 2006, part of which he spent with the Angels. He hit a whopping .126 with an on-base percentage of .200. Dreamy numbers, don’t you think?

Alfonzo is 36 years old. He wants to retire as a Met. Perhaps the Mets can do him a favor, sign him to a one day contract and let him go out wearing blue and orange. As long as he doesn’t come back to Anaheim, I’m good.

You have to forgive me. I’m still bitter about the time Steve Finley spent in Anaheim in 2005, where he hit .222 and had an OPS of .645. So when I hear about a guy who wants another shot after a miserable season in the twilight of the careers, I get a little testy.

It’s just that the Angels give too many old warriors one too many chances and then ask me to buy tickets and sit in the stands and watch. Remember the Andres Galarraga experiment in 2004? Thankfully, he only got ten at-bats in his final go around. Even Cecil Fielder spent part of his last season in 1998 with the Angels.

This next year’s list of candidates for guys over the hill looking for a job include Jim Thome and Jermaine Dye. Please, please, please… just say no to both of these guys. The Angels already have 36 year old Bobby Abreu. He’s the exception to the rule. Let’s not apply the Abreu model to any other acquisitions this off season.

And don’t think I didn’t notice the Angels giving a minor league contract this past season to Rudy Seanez (albeit, it was during a stretch when it looked like no one in the bull pen could get an out). Thankfully, the forty year old never made it out of Salt Lake City; otherwise, my head might have exploded.

Trust me; this fan isn’t asleep at the wheel. I notice things...

More Vlady

As is always the case this time of year, rumors continue to fly around as to where players might sign, who’s interested in whom, who’s being traded, non-tendered, etc., etc.

One rumor that has popped up is that the Texas Rangers are "interested" in Vlad Guerrero. The popular notion is that Vlad would be a great fit in Texas because he hits so well there. His career numbers are off the charts. I just wonder if the people who throw this fact around have ever stopped to think that Vlad hits well there not because of the stadium, but because he’s feasted off Ranger pitching all these years. So… unless we’re talking batting practice, there’s no real reason to think Vlad would excel in Texas (although that’s always possible).

In any case Joey Matschulat of Baseball Time in Arlington does a great job of shooting down this rumor.

Interesting note… Got a “thank you” email from OC Dugout for coming to their Vlad Guerrero signing. The note included this… Vlad shook hands, talked with fans in both Spanish and English, and gave out a personal bat and game-used ball (both of which he signed). He even played catch with one lucky fan – go to and search “Vladimir Guerrero OC Dugout” for the clip.

Given one of my previous posts about Vlad, I just found the emphasis on Vlad speaking both Spanish and English a little too coincidental. It’s as if there was some sort of Vlad PR Machine in effect. I’m just saying...

In any case, keeping up with the Hot Stove can be crazy at times. If you're interested in staying on top of the latest, you should check in on and (which is kind of like mlbtraderumors on steroids) for all the latest.

November 12, 2009

Going incognito

Now that the baseball season is over, the players (and others associated with the game) are out and about. You might not recognize them at first, but if you take a closer look you’ll find them.

You know that guy who comes to homecoming at your high school still wearing his letterman’s jacket, even though he graduated 20 years ago? Doesn’t he look ridiculous? Well, that’s Jason Giambi. Turns out you really can’t go home again.

You know that guy that wins a beer chugging contest, high fives everyone in the place and then walks into a corner to throw up just before passing out? That’s Ian Kinsler. Go ahead and say it… Hey Kinsler, get out of my bar!

You know that guy who is the life of the party until someone finds out he pee’d in the pool? Not cool, right? That’s Manny Ramirez. He’s still smiling, but everyone knows his dirty little secret now.

You know that lady who has the job she doesn’t deserve and only has it because she’s married to the boss? That was Jamie McCourt. Turns out there’s an opening for a CEO in Chavez Ravine. Go for it. The pay ain’t great, but you can eat all the Dodger dogs you want and the parking is almost free.

Ever get one of hose emails that tell you they need your help distributing the wealth of some leader from a foreign country you’ve never heard of and all you have to do is put up some of your own money to help with the transaction? Warning… that’s also Jamie McCourt. She’s trying to round up enough money to buy Frank out.

You know that guy who lives in your neighborhood, has a very nice house, multiple luxury cars, but never goes to work? That’s Jason Schmidt. I bet you saw him hosing down his drive way even though there’s a water shortage, right?

You know the jerk that races in out of traffic as he passes you by only to end up next to you when you get to a stop light? That’s Frankie Rodriguez. He was in such a hurry to leave Anaheim, he hasn’t slowed down yet. Problem is – that hurry up and wait thing has become his life. He spent a year being all revved up with no games to save. Be careful what you wish for.

You know that guy with the really bad sun burn, shorts and black socks? That’s Jonathan Papelbon. Turns out he took my advice and went to Australia to work on his tan. Problem is he fell asleep in the sun and now he looks like one giant, red tube sock.

You know that guy who is walking along and trips over his own feet and then looks at his shoes like they’re to blame? That’s Dustin Pedroia. Turns out he’s not getting a Christmas card from the Red Sox ground’s crew.

You know that guy sitting on the bus bench staring off into space with his mouth open? That’s Casey Kotchman. He’s wondering what happened to his career. One day he was the Angels prized prospect, the next day he was backing up a guy who sounds like he’s getting booed every time he steps up to bat.

You know that guy who’s sure that once he leaves the company the whole dang place will fall apart? Then low and behold, he gets fired and the business does better than ever? That’s Clint Hurdle. He might be joining Casey Kotchman on that bus bench soon.

How about that guy you saw trying to tie down the mattress in the back of his pick up truck along the freeway? That was Alex Rodriguez. Alex doesn’t over analyze things any more and that might be good when he’s in the batter’s box, but when he’s hauling stuff in a truck, he needs to exercise some common sense. That look you saw on his face was him trying to figure out how to tie a knot.

Did you see the woman on the talk show that is in a bad relationship, but is the only one on the show who doesn’t realize it? That’s going to be Kate Hudson, who is on the verge of going from movie star to reality-TV celebrity.

You know that guy who answers his cell phone in the grocery store and grimaces when he hears his wife screaming at him and his only response is “yes dear, yes dear?” That’s Mark Teixeira. Do I really need to say any more?

Do you remember that guy on TV doing the ads saying “Larry Parker got me $2.1 million?” Well, that’s Milton Bradley; only now he’s saying Jim Hendry gave me $30 million dollars! He is represented by the Levinson brothers. And you thought Scott Boras was good!

You know that annoying guy that talks through the whole movie? It’s obvious he really likes the sound of his own voice. You know that’s Tim McCarver, right? Watch out, he’s coming to a theater near you.

Ever see that gruff looking guy, who looks like he needs a shower; the one at the race track? He’s the guy who doesn’t look like he has a nickel to his name, but is betting like crazy. That’s Pete Rose. No, really that’s Pete Rose. I’m telling you that’s really Charlie Hustle.

Be on the look out folks. These guys are every where.

BallHype: hype it up!

November 11, 2009

A Salute to the Veterans and a Hot Stove Update

My father was a career Marine. He gave nearly thirty years of his life to serving this great country and he was honored to do so. He did two tours in Vietnam, spending a year away from his family each time; once when I was seven and then again when I was twelve.

When a soldier goes away to serve, his family stays behind to do the same. Soldiers and their families both make sacrifices. So on this Veteran’s Day, I’d like to thank the men and women who are serving at home and abroad and I’d also like to thank their families as well.

Back when my father went to Vietnam, the world was a bigger place and news traveled much slower than today. The internet wasn’t around and staying in touch was difficult. The best way to stay in touch was by writing letters; something I did regularly when I was 12. What does a kid write to his dad about? I used to send him the scores from ball games with updates on team standings. Keeping up with sports was something we shared through the years.

I really don’t think my dad was a fan of any one team. He was sort of a Detroit Tigers fan and definitely admired Mickey Lolich, a left handed pitcher. I seem to remember him also being a fan of Wilbur Wood a knuckle ball pitcher with the Chicago White Sox. Wood was most likely the inspiration for his teaching me how to throw a knuckler. Something I never even thought of until writing this blog.

When I think about it, my dad was basically a fan of any team I was a fan of. It’s funny, it’s usually the other way around for many fathers and sons, but that wasn’t the case for us. We always rooted for the same team. You could say, we were always on the same team and I'm glad that was the case.

I lost my dad to cancer in 2007 and I miss him dearly. I miss a lot of things about him; including talking baseball. I probably did most of the talking though, as my dad basically followed the game through me. He loved to hear about Cheryl and my trips to Spring Training and to other stadiums around the country. He took pleasure in knowing we were doing something we enjoyed together. The day he passed away, the Angels were in the midst of sweeping the Los Angeles Dodgers in an inter-league series. I’m sure he would have enjoyed that a great deal.

I guess it’s only natural that on this day; Veteran’s Day, I think about my dad. Truth is I think about him all the time, but today is special. My dad served his country to make sure I would have the freedom to enjoy things like baseball. When I think back, I don’t think I ever thanked him enough for that. Thank you father. I miss you.

Well, at least I can thank those men and women currently serving in the armed forces. Thank you for your courage and your dedication. Thank you for making it possible for all of us to enjoy great traditions like America’s favorite pastime. I will never take you for granted.

This past season, we had the pleasure of sitting next to a young couple who had Angels season tickets for the first time. There names are Bobby and Ashley. Bobby just completed his tour of duty with the U.S. Marines. Bobby, if you’re reading this… Thank you for your service! I know I’ve thanked you before, but I don’t think I can do that nearly enough. And thank you Ashley for your role in serving as well.

During the season we also got to meet some other young marines who would come to games when Bobby and Ashley could not. They were all outstanding individuals and great baseball fans. Heck, one of them was even a Yankee fan! Thanks again to all of you. I'm sure the stadium was a nice refuge far away from some of the places you've been to during your tours of duty.

Bobby and Ashley are expecting their first child any day now. They’re going to have a little girl and that child has a very blessed future. She’s going to grow up in the freest country in the world. She’s also going to have great parents and will come to know baseball. Every kid should be so lucky to get to experience baseball. We can’t wait to meet her next season, if not before.

So again, on this Veteran’s Day, I thank those who are serving here and abroad. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart - Thank you.

Hot Stove Update:

Joel Sherman of the New York Post doesn’t get it. He’s reporting that the Angels have shown a real lack of interest in John Lackey. I don’t think Sherman plays poker. He’s probably used to going all in – since he covers the Yankees. The Angels have a history of playing their cards close to the vest. I am guessing they’ll let Lackey field offers from any number of teams and then decide if they’re going to match. As long as the dollar amount isn’t totally insane, I believe they have an excellent chance of keeping him.

Negotiating with Lackey now is pointless. He’s going to test the market. No sense in bidding against themselves. Also, making it look as if they’re not interested could also be a nice ploy. If GM’s are nervous about the prospect of signing Lackey because they believe the Angels aren’t trying to sign him for reasons only they know; that’s a good thing. Let them think that.

Don’t count the Angels out of the John Lackey sweepstakes and don’t believe everything Sherman writes; at least when it comes to the Angels. Unofficial word is that Sherman found some left over champagne in a shoe of Nick Swisher’s from the Yankees celebration and was having some when he wrote that piece about Lackey. Eww.

More on Figgins. Joel Sherman is at it again. According to Sherman, the Mets are "absolutely" in on Figgins. One problem... The Mets would have to unload Luis Castillo and the $12 million he has left on his contract. According to the article, other options have Figgins in left field. Apparently, Mets GM Omar Minaya met with Figgy's agent Seth Levinson recently.

I think the Mets have bigger issues with their pitching staff, among other areas. If Figgins likes winning as much as he says he does, he'll stay clear of the Mets. They're a long ways away from being good and don't have much of a plan to change any of that, in my opinion.

Late Update:

Scott Miller of CBS Sports confirms that the Angels have made both Chone Figgins and John Lackey high priorities. Reagins confirmed discussions with both camps.

This makes more sense than the notion that the Angels have not made a significant offer to Lackey.

November 10, 2009

Figgy Watch 2009

I am blogging to you live from the Big "A" in Anaheim, where I am on Figgy Watch 2009. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but following Chone Figgin's journey into free agency seems like a major news event.

For those fans hoping he stays in Anaheim (myself included), there is some good news coming out of the GM meetings in Chicago today. Kenny Williams the general manager of the White Sox said they won’t be pursuing Chone Figgins. Details of his statement can be found on Inside the White Sox, the Chicago Sun Times blog. The White Sox have been the most popular destination for those predicting where Figgins might go. We've heard for a couple years now how much they covet Figgins. Well, unless Williams is playing poker here, it looks like we can cross them off the list.

Couple that report with the one from Jon Heyman of SI who claims Tony Reagins and Chone Figgins have been talking for two months and Reagins is "hopeful" something can get done. This doesn’t really tell us a whole lot, but it is very encouraging to hear they’re trying to get something done and that the interest is mutual. We'll see what happens.

More good news. The price for a team other than the Angels to acquire Figgins just went up. As noted in Yahoo’s baseball blog – Big League Stew, Figgins has been ranked as a Type "A" free agent (Figgins was previously ranked as a Type "B" free agent). That means if someone other than the Angels (who would have to offer Figgins arbitration) signs Figgins, they’ll forfeit their first round pick to the Angels (unless that team’s pick falls within the first 15 picks of next year's draft – in which case they’d lose their second round pick). Teams that lose a Type "A" free agent are also awarded a supplemental pick between the first and second rounds. Had Figgins stayed ranked as a Type "B" - the compensation to the Angels would only be a sandwich pick to the Angels between the first and second round. Supplemental picks do not cost teams that sign them any picks.

Mark Whicker of the OC Register ran down some possible destinations for Figgins, including Atlanta – which is where I predicted Figgins would land in my Let's get cookin’ in Anaheim post. Whicker notes about Atlanta: "It's close to home for Figgins, and the Braves sense they can contend next year. Figgins could succeed Garret Anderson in left field and would get some third base time on Chipper Jones' nights off. The Braves didn't have a 20-steals guy last year."

Matthew Pouliot of NBC Sports' Circling the Bases quotes Jon Heyman as now saying the Philadelphia Phillies are serious about Figgins. Poulit also lists the Cubs and Yankees as destinations to become their centerfielder. Personally, I don't see Figgins as a center fielder. Even though Figgins is very versatile; I see him as being limited to third base, second base, left field and/or right field. Again, Figgins just isn't a centerfielder.

Although he Phillies did not exercise the option for third basemen Pedro Feliz and are now in the market for his replacement. Bill Conlin of the Sports doesn't believe Philly will attempt to sign Figgins. He believes Mark DeRosa is their #1 target (even though some others believe they'll pursue Adrian Beltre) Conlin says "(Ruben) Amaro more likely will pursue Mark DeRosa... Charlie Manuel is said to love the versatility and intensity of the former Penn quarterback."

Conlin's colleague - David Murphy offers all kinds of scenarios for the Phillies third base needs, but lists Figgins as the best of the bunch. Even still, Murphy also emphasizes the Phillies fondness for DeRosa.

Let’s cross the whole state of New York off the list.

Per the New York Post, there is some chatter taking place claiming the Yankees are "plotting" to resign Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui and Andy Pettite. I would think if they do that, they would not pursue Chone Figgins. Not that New York has been mentioned a whole lot, but any time you can take the Yankees out of the equation, the better the results might be.

The Mets don’t look like a good fit for Figgins either. According to Newsday Omar Minaya is looking for a "power hitter." The article also points out the Mets needs for first base, catcher and starting pitching.

Things are definitely cooking out there. Any team looking for a third baseman can pick from among Figgins, Beltre, Melvin Mora, Troy Glaus, Feliz, DeRosa, and perhaps Miguel Tejada (who would move from shortstop) among others. So keep your fingers crossed Figgy fans.

BallHype: hype it up!

November 9, 2009

Lackey not lacking for suitors

I know it’s only talk, but I’m not liking what I’m hearing in the Hot Stove round ups taking place around the internet and within the media as a whole. I have read a few too many instances of pundits and the like predicting that John Lackey will end up in New York wearing pinstripes. According to SI’s John Heyman he is definitely on their radar.

It was one thing to have rent-a-player and current mercenary Mark Teixeira go from the Angels to the Yankees, it’s a completely different animal to think that Lackey could be following in his footsteps. The mere thought of such an event is enough to make me crazier than Al Hrabosky. If Lackey follows the money (and he’s entitled to do exactly that), I will be more than a little disappointed and I will enjoy baseball a little less in 2010.

The odd thing about the Angels Hot Stove season so far is that they haven’t come out publicly about what they might do. Last year we heard over and over again that their number one priority was Mark Teixeira. Maybe they learned a lesson from that? That being said, Tony Reagins has been quoted on Sirius XM radio as saying that there was a "likeliness" that Lackey would return. That kind of statement gives me a little bit of hope, but I’m not ready to relax just yet.

One thing is clear, the Angels aren’t going to sign Lackey during their exclusive window. Perhaps they’ll go the route that White Sox and Paul Konerko went a few years back and have Lackey go out and get the best offer and bring it back to the Angels to match. Seems like the Angels have been used plenty of times to drive up the price for free agents in the past. Maybe it’s their turn to use the same tactic with the rest of major league baseball. I would rather it didn’t come to that, but it’s not like I have any choice in the matter.

This got me to thinking; is a player’s loyalty to a team in baseball gone? Cheryl and I went to the Orange County Youth Sports Foundation’s (OCYF)Sportsman of the Year dinner in 2006 which honored Tim Salmon. One of the things I will never forget about that night was how Salmon’s brother – Mike told us about Tim’s first contract opportunity after putting in his initial service time. Tim instructed his agent to “take the first offer.” I’m sure he got a reaction or two from his agent, but I’m betting he doesn’t regret that decision one single bit. I now think about that every time the hot Stove Season rolls around and I can’t help but wonder if that kind of attitude is dead now.

I don’t know what makes me more nervous, the uncertainty of the Hot Stove season or Brian Fuentes coming in to close a game. At least there are plenty of other players and scenarios to think about.

Which brings me to Chone Figgins. I see Figgins as the key cog in the Angels entire off season plans for their non-pitching needs. If Figgins resigns, I believe the Angels would be done (for the most part) with that part of their plans. It would most likely mean that Figgins would be going to the outfield and Brandon Wood would be playing third base. I can see Figgins moving to RF, with Bobby Abreu getting the majority of the DH duties and an occasional start in the outfield. If Figgins doesn’t resign, I believe the Angels will land Jason Bay or possibly (although less likely in my opinion) Matt Holliday. So the question begs – who would you rather have Figgins, Bay or Holliday? I don’t see a scenario where they have two of the three because I strongly believe Wood is going to get his shot. I don’t believe any of the talk that has the Angels trading Wood. If he was going to be gone, he’d already be somewhere else. Wood is the kind of player who can become the face of a franchise. His ceiling is that high. He’s only 25 – even though it seems like we’ve been hearing about him for as long as he is old.

Now for some other predictions... I guess I’m feeling my oats since Tim Dierkes of predicted Vlad Guerrero will sign with the White Sox, just like I did in my Let’s get cooking in Anaheim post, where I also predicted the Angels signing Bobby Abreu to an extension. What's that saying about a blind squirrel?

First up: Rich Harden. Rich Harden will turn 28 later this month. When I realized how young Harden was, I was actually kind of surprised. Here’s a guy who made his major league debut (albeit with the hated A’s) in 2003. Despite his injuries over the years, he looks like a player with tremendous up side. The Red Sox have taken on a few of these kinds of guys (see John Smoltz and Brad Penny); however, I think he’ll be headed to the Mets. In a word the Mets starting pitching is simply awful. When your team ends the year with your #2 guy being the likes of either Nelson Figueroa or Mike Pelfrey, Harden becomes the kind of risk, you need to take.

Randy Wolf has been a nice innings eater for the Dodgers, but with all that’s going on in divorce court these days, one has to wonder if the Dodgers will be players in the free agent market. Even if they are, it’s doubtful they’ll be able to afford the likes of Wolf. There is that remote possibility that he’ll give them a home town discount, but I have a feeling he’ll be another piece of the Mets pitching puzzle in 2010. Wolf is going to get a nice pay day after a solid season where he posted a 3.23 ERA. He’s the kind of guy (a lefty) the Mets need to throw against a left handed hitting dominant Philadelphia Phillies team.

If you’re wondering who might DH for the Yankees next year (assuming they don’t resign Hideki Matsui), you might consider Jim Thome. Let’s do the math. Thome is a big left handed bat and the ball flies out of Yankee Stadium to right field. It’s a match made in… well, some place. Thome is a big post season performer and would most likely shine in the Yankee spot light.

Jermaine Dye finally gets to go home. Born in Oakland and a graduate of Will C. Wood High School in Vacaville, Dye will become Billy Bean’s latest attempt to find an aging veteran with a little something left in the tank. He struck gold with Frank Thomas in 2006 and has been looking for that kind of magic ever since. It didn’t work out so well for Mike Piazza in 2007 or Jason Giambi in 2009, but that won’t stop Beane from trying again.

Joe Crede has two strikes against him. First of all, he’s had chronic back problems and secondly, his agent is Scott Boras. That means he’s not going back to Minnesota in 2010. Instead the Twins will look at a guy who could come at a reasonable price, as he is coming off some injury problems of his own. I’m talking Troy Glaus, who is one year removed from a 27 homerun season. The Twins will be breaking in a new outdoor stadium and Glaus could regain his power stroke playing there. At 32 years of age, he’s not ancient and just might have solid season in 2010. He also could be the kind of post-season performer the Twins need.

BallHype: hype it up!

November 8, 2009

Small moments with Big Daddy

I’ve said this before… sometimes it’s the little things you remember about a person. Yesterday, Cheryl and I went to see Vladimir Guerrero who was doing a paid autograph session at Hobby City in Anaheim.

We weren’t sure what to expect. Would the cost ($70 for small items, $100 for large ones) keep people away or would people show up in huge numbers because of who Vlad is? We arrived a couple hours early and found a small line in front to the OC Dugout Sports Card/Collectibles store.

As we waited, the line grew some, but never got to be very long. It was interesting to hear some of the conversations taking place. Some wondered if he would be back. Some joked about the big strike zone of his and his propensity to swing at anything. All in all people were excited that Big Daddy Vlady was making an appearance.

We had a baseball and an 8x10 (his 2004 MVP photo) of Vlady ready for his signature. I wasn’t sure what I would say to him. I wasn’t sure if he’d understand anything I had to say, so I kept it simple. I basically said “hello” and “thank you.” Vlad smiled and asked “how you doing?” It was brief, but it was nice. He shook Cheryl’s hand and smiled when she said, “I hope you come back.”

It wasn’t much, but it was plenty for me. Cheryl told me he had a nice "firm" hand shake and claims she hasn't washed her hand since.

Several days back, I posted a piece called “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” It was basically my way of saying, good bye Vlad, I hardly knew you. Much to my surprise, it was picked up by the Baseball Think Factory web site, which drew some 49 comments (although not all the comments were even about my post) I even had some here. Most of the people didn’t like what I had to say and I believe they took my words way beyond what I intended. I guess that’s the risk you take when you put your opinion out there and the opportunity for a verbal dialog isn’t part of the process.

Anyway, as I look back on that post of mine, I found it a little ironic that Vlad made a public appearance yesterday. I never would have expected him to do it, but I’m glad he did.

Even though it cost us some cash; even though he was a half hour late and even though we only had a few minutes with him, it was nice and I’m glad we went. Small moments like these are special and provide lasting memories for many years.

When I said, “thank you” to him yesterday, it was as if I was in some way not only thanking him for his autograph, but I was also thanking him for his six years as an Angel and for simply making himself available to the public on this day. I just hope he enjoyed it a much as we did.

It's actually kind of sad to think he might not be back. If this is truly good bye, I’d like to say I will always remember him for his old school approach. He never wore batting gloves or body armor. He always swung hard and when he made contact, he could put a charge in the ball like no one else. It’s sad that we don’t have a World Series title to share together, but we did have six action packed years and I believe he gave it his all every time he stepped on the field.

I still don’t feel like I know much about him, but I’m fine with it now. In any case, I’ll always have yesterday and that’s enough for me.

November 6, 2009

Calling on the Angels to call on Chad Tracy

While Matt Holliday, Jason Bay and John Lackey are clearly the headliners in this year’s version of the Hot Stove League, I would like to talk about a guy who will fly under the radar (for the most part) and yet have the potential to be a nice pick up for someone (hopefully the Angels).

I’m talking about none other than Chad Tracy. Tracy is just 29 years old and has had more than his share of injuries the last three years. Those injuries have hindered his ability to fulfill his potential, the same potential that convinced the Arizona Diamondbacks to sign him to a three year, $13.25 million contract in 2006. At the time he looked like a bargain having come off a 2005 season where he hit .308 (6th best in the NL) with 27 homeruns and a .911 OPS (16th best in the NL). In 2006 he hit 20 homeruns and his OPS slipped to .794; however, he had become a solid run producer before succumbing to injuries to his knee and oblique over the next three seasons (including 2009).

The Diamondbacks did not pick up his $7 million 2010 option yesterday and instead bought him out for $1 million. Tracy is now a free agent and I’d like to see him in Anaheim. I see him as a low risk, medium to high reward investment. He’s a left handed bat with a little pop. His career OPS is significantly higher versus right handed pitching (.840 vs. .614), suggesting he might be a solid platoon guy. I know platoon guys don’t usually make the headlines in the Host Stove League, but I think Tracy could make some noise.

He also seems to do his best hitting late in the year with a career best .931 OPS in September/October. He's also hit more homeruns during that time period as compared to other months. I love guys who can play at a high level that time of the year.

Why the Angels? He could be an insurance policy for Brandon Wood (assuming Wood becomes the 3B next year). I don’t necessarily see him as an every day guy, but could flourish in a platoon situation with Wood (at least until Wood gets his feet wet). Scioscia loves to platoon young guys. He did this with Casey Kotchman and he’s done with Howie Kendrick and Kendry Morales.

Tracy is versatile. He can play 1B, 3B or LF. The Angels are going to need some additional pop from the left side. Outside of Kendry Morales (who is a switch hitter), they really don’t have another left handed power threat. Abreu can drive in runs, but has never been a huge long ball threat. Aybar and Izturis are solid switch hitters, but neither have hit digit homeruns in a season – even in the minor leagues (other than the one year Aybar hit 14 homeruns at Rancho Cucamonga).

He’s not the sexy choice people most people want to talk about, but I think he could help a team. Don’t get me wrong, the Angels #1 priority should still be John Lackey. I’m also hopeful Figgins and Oliver will be back and that the Angels can some how manage to sign Jason Bay. Tracy isn’t going to invoke comparisons to Troy Glaus or even Doug DeCinces, but could be added as a complimentary piece of the puzzle for next year. At the very least he could be a new and improved version of Robb Quinlan; albeit from the left side.

I know some might see Freddy Sandoval as the logical replacement for “Q.” Not me. Sandoval is only two years younger than Tracy and has had an average minor league career, in my opinion. Tracy is a “young” veteran and would likely fit the role better.

Another choice might have been Matt Brown. This past spring – some were hoping to see Brown take Quinlan’s place. Brown had a good spring, but didn’t follow it up with a solid minor league season. He hit a mere .249 with a .749 OPS with Salt Lake City. In fact Brown has a career .267 average in the minors. I’m afraid the window is closing on both Sandoval and Brown. Neither has the upside of Tracy.

I know it’s been three years since Tracy was last productive. I know he’s been injured a lot. Those are the downsides of Tracy. The upside is that Tracy hopefully has something to prove and sometimes guys who have that kind of attitude can pay off big time. The potential is definitely there and he would be a nice story if he comes through.

November 5, 2009

Got ear plugs?

It was nice while it lasted; real nice.

We had gone nearly nine years since the Yankees last won a World Series and during that time we could say with confidence that “you just can’t buy a championship” and that Alex Rodriguez was the biggest “post season choker of all time.” It was the best of times.

Last night, all of that changed and baseball as we know it may never be the same. The period between 2001 and 2009 will now be referred to as the good ol’ days and I couldn’t be more irritated.

I hate the Oakland A’s, but the last team I ever wanted to see win a World Series this year or any year was the New York Yankees. The A’s are the Angels’ divisional rivals, but the Yankees are basically public enemy #1.

Now, it’s as if all is lost. Pfffft. Gone.

The reign of terror is about to begin. If you thought Yankee fans were obnoxious before all of this; you ain’t seen nothing yet. They’ll be coming out of the wood work now, dawning crisp new Yankee caps and World Series t-shirts. They’ll have smug looks on their faces and their voices will be louder than ever. They will be in your stadium and mine. Nothing any of us can say or do will shut them up now. Instead of acting like they’ve been here (celebrating a championship) before, they will act like they never left.

We are all going to be made to suffer. It isn’t going to be pretty. Soon we’ll be reading about how the Yankees are on the verge of a dynasty. Congress will view the Yankees as an important business and divert tax payer money and stimulus payments to their payroll.

We’ll hear about how brilliant Brian Cashman is and he’ll be put in charge of the Federal Reserve. They will expound how deep down inside, everyone supposedly wants to be a Yankee – even Jonathan Papelbon. Nick Swisher will get his own sports talk show (but lose his job in RF next year to a healthy Xavier Nady).

The Supreme Court will rule that LeBron James is the property of the New York Knicks because he’s a Yankee fan. Billy Crystal will be inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame because he’s a Yankee fan. John Sterling will become the voice of every commercial in America.

Yankee fans will invade sports talk radio and internet message boards across the country where they will begin to propose lopsided trades netting them Albert Pujols, Joe Mauer, Roy Halladay and even Cliff Lee (who they’ll say isn’t good enough to crack their rotation, but will be a nice bull pen guy) and they will actually get their way.

Our computers will be spammed with pop up ads saying, “Yankees rule and your team sucks.” Microsoft will be come a Yankee asset and Warren Buffet will become a private investor in the club.

Matt Holliday will wear pinstripes next year and some how, some way, Major League Baseball will steal the all-star game away from the Angels and move it to New York. The Yankees won’t have to play any road games and they will actually receive revenue sharing from small market teams. Only Yankee games will be broadcasted to the public and Christmas will only come to New York.

We will pay for their victory, we will most definitely pay.

I guess there are worse things that could happen, right? Anyone? Please? Oh what the heck… congratulations New York, but know this; we’ll get you next year.

November 4, 2009

And you thought Parker Brothers invented the game “Risk”

How many times do you get to make a first impression? Stupid question, right? Well, apparently – Milton Bradley has had the opportunity to do this several times. Why else would anyone be interested in him? According to Ken Rosenthal, multiple teams are in contact the Cubs about outfielder Milton Bradley, with one source saying, "You would be shocked at the level of interest."

Let’s do the math. Milton Bradley has played for Montreal, Cleveland, the Dodgers, Oakland, San Diego, Texas, and the Cubs. That’s seven teams in ten seasons. I can understand the allure for the first couple teams, but what were the Cubs thinking when they signed him prior to the 2009 season?

Now, I don’t know Milton Bradley, but I have met Milton Bradley. He showed up at a bookstore in Long Beach last off season when his former teammate – Josh Hamilton was doing a book signing. Bradley was reserved, even cool. He signed autographs for fans surprised to see him, he smiled and didn’t say much and just hung out waiting for Hamilton. He seemed liked a nice guy. He seemed like a humble guy. Not what you would expect based on his persona.

I’ve also seen him after games at Angels Stadium, walking to the parking lot with his mom and stopping to sign autographs for fans; again – keeping it cool. My wife Cheryl and I have even commented to one another that he seems like a nice guy. It’s easy to see why some people might actually think he’s misunderstood and maybe, just maybe he’s not so bad.

Wrong. Remember the math class? Let’s ask the question why has he been so many places in such a brief period of time?

Which brings me to a discussion I’ve seen here and there on message board and heard on radio shows. There is some crazy trade proposals surfacing for the Hot Stove season. It has Milton Bradley coming to the Angels for Gary Matthews, Jr. Some people think the two teams could swap “bad” contracts and hope for the best.

Hello? Is anyone home? Tell you what - let me interview Milton before you go that route. I’ve got a plan.

On the night of the next full moon, I’ll invite him to dinner and we’ll go to a nice place away from the public spotlight and then I’ll put him to the test. First, I’ll have the server get his order wrong. Not just a little wrong – completely wrong and then have that person insist it’s exactly what Bradley ordered.

Next, I will have them spill some wine on Bradley and have them ask him if he’d like to pay for another glass. We’ll make sure there’s a well placed roach or two in his meal and when he complains, they’ll ask him to take his coat off so they can inspect it because this is the most likely source of the bug. As the restaurant staff go through his pockets, they’ll keep any cash or personal belongings they find.

During the meal, I’ll throw in a couple of “your mama” jokes, and have people continually interrupt him and ask him if he knows the Parker Brothers. I’ll ask him how it feels to be the fifth best baseball player to ever come out of Long Beach Poly (behind Tony Gwynn, Chris Gwynn, Randy Moffit, and Chase Utley).

When it’s time to leave, valet will bring him the wrong car and insist that this is the car he drove up in. They’ll eventually bring him his real car, but will let him know someone took it out for a joy ride and had a minor fender bender with it. On top of that, the accident was so upsetting the driver had to retch in the passenger seat. They’ll tell him they tried to clean it up, but the bleach seemed to do some damage to the leather seats.

As he leaves the restaurant, a motorcycle cop will pull him over. We’ll make sure he’s a Lou Piniella look-alike. He’ll tell him someone car jacked a vehicle just like his and that he fits the suspect’s description.

I’ll call him collect the next day to let him know that if he comes to the Angels, he won’t be able to bring his mom to the stadium to watch him play. I’ll then set him up to be interviewed by one of the regulars who call in every stinking day on the local Angels talk show because he thinks the show is his own personal forum. That would be sure to break him. Heck some of those people would make me snap.

I wonder what would happen? If by chance he keeps his cool through all of that, then and only then… no wait. I still can’t see it. Not even then would I want him in an Angels uniform. You can fool some of the GM’s some of the time, but you can’t fool this fan.

Let’s face it… somewhere along the line; Milton Bradley is going to make you regret he’s on your team. Unless of course the Yankees’ obnoxious announcer John Sterling says something derogatory about Bradley. In that case, the gloves are off and Bradley can do his thing. But seriously, I don’t think Dr. Phil can even help this guy (or Sterling for that matter).

Then again… there is one thing I would want Milton Bradley for and that’s the post season. Bradley is the kind of guy who isn’t afraid of the spotlight. Guys like Bradley play with a chip on their shoulder. He’s always got something to prove. He doesn’t care who’s on the mound. When he steps into the box, he’s not afraid. He wants to punish you. Guys like Bradley were made for the post season. We got a glimpse of that in 2006 when he hit a homerun from both sides of the plate against the Tigers. He was 9 for 18 in that ALCS.

Bradley isn't the kind of guy who gets that "deer in headlights" look. He's the thing you fear lurking in the dark. When your lights meet his eyes, you're liable to lose your lunch.

There's no questioning the talent. That’s why GM’s will call the Cubs. That’s why he’ll end up on someone’s roster. Watching Bradley in the post season could be a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, it’s getting to the post season with Bradley that would be the nightmare. For someone, it's going to be worth the gamble.

Parker Brothers may have invented the board game called "Risk" - but Milton Bradley took it to a whole new level.