March 4, 2011

Baseball is in the air

The way I see it the 2011 season has a very different feel to it. It feels as if we are on the verge of some sort of turning point in Angels' baseball history. It’s more than just the 50 year anniversary for me; it’s about turning a significant page. I can’t really put my finger on it. Let’s just say that I get a strange vibe when I think about where the Angels are and where they are going.

It all began when Scot Shields announced he would retire after the 2010 season. Granted, Shields had not been anything like his “old self” of late and it was time; but it was more than that. We are seeing player after player from the 2002 World Series team hang up their cleats for good. It’s as if an era is coming to an end and a new destiny is being forged.

This week Garrett Anderson announced his retirement. David Eckstein and Troy Glaus are without contracts. Bengie Molina has basically retired; although I have not heard of any official announcements from him. They’re joining Tim Salmon, Darin Erstad, Jarrod Washburn, Troy Percival and a host of others from the 2002 team that are no longer playing baseball.

A handful of guys are still out there; guys like John Lackey, Francisco Rodriguez, Chone Figgins and Jose Molina, but the list is dwindling and none of the remaining players are a part of the current Angel team.

At the same time – there are a few new faces on the roster; most notably, Vernon Wells. Other players like Brandon Wood and Jeff Mathis are at a turning point in their careers. It’s do or die time for them. To a lesser degree the same might even be said for guys like Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar.

Bobby Abreu and Torii Hunter are in the twilight of their careers. Young players like Hank Conger, Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo are trying to make their mark and then there’s the prospects like Mike Trout and Tyler Chatwood both of whom loom big on the horizon.

It’s as if the team is going in a million different directions and I’m not sure what to expect. Maybe that’s a good thing. I haven’t really decided yet.

I know my blog has been relatively quiet lately. Mostly because of just being busy, but also because I’ve just been thinking; thinking about this team and trying to wrap my mind around what I might expect. I haven’t really come to any conclusions yet.

A lot of focus in the AL West seems to be on Texas and Oakland. In some ways, I like that. Even though I’m optimistic about this team’s chances, I am also waiting for an identity to emerge that I can embrace.

My hope is that this team plays the game with a bit of a chip on its shoulder. This team has something to prove and I believe they will get down to the business of winning the AL West again. I expect them to grind to and to play hard in an effort to make things happen as opposed to watching things happen.

I get the sense that this is becoming Jered Weaver’s team and I like that notion quite a bit. I have a feeling that a couple players will emerge from the shadows and shine brightly when it matters most. I expect Vernon Wells to silence his critics and for Danny Haren to return to being an all-star caliber pitcher.

When all is said and done, I believe people will once again marvel at the job Mike Scioscia has done and many will be ashamed for ever doubting this organization.

It’s spring and I want desperately to believe. After all, this is what fans are supposed to do. Writing this post has helped me sort some things out in my head. Putting words on paper once again has given me some renewed energy.

Baseball is definitely in the air and I’m ready for some. Are you?

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