June 30, 2011

The good, the bad and the costly

I’m not sure how to handle the Angels’ recent success of late (although I could find a way should it continue). After going an impressive 8-4 on the road; they come home to sweep the Washington Nationals and go 11-4 over their last 15 games. Boo-ya, right? On one hand, a win is a win and I’m jazzed that they’re playing so well. On the other hand, of the five teams they just won series’ from only the Mets are above .500 at the moment. Hmm.

So I guess you could say that I’m delighted that they’re winning, but I’m not going to get too excited because they really haven’t beaten any teams of significance. Again, I’m excited that they’re taking care of business; I’m just not going to get overly pumped up (just yet).

I guess you could say; that’s what the 2011 season has done to me thus far.

Every time I get a little excited, I find myself disappointed a short time later. Maybe there’s something to the way Scioscia goes about his business with that “one-game-at-a-time” attitude. Then again, I’m a fan I’m allowed to let my emotions run the gamut.

So… here we are just past the half way point of the season and the Angels are 1.5 games behind Texas with the trading deadline is getting closer. What are the Angels to do? Will they acquire a “big bat?” Will they add more pitching? What? What in the world will they do, if anything?

The good news is that the Angels are in the hunt and we can actually bring up the trading deadline for all the right reasons (buyers as opposed to sellers).

Okay, so this is the point where you’re probably expecting me to tell you what I think they should do, right?

Well, I’m not going to do that. Nah, it just seems like an exercise I’m just not prepared for and do you really want to hear the rambling of a mad man?

Instead, I’m going to focus a little bit on what the Angels have done over the past several years. I must warn you; this isn’t necessarily going to be pretty. I know, I know – why bring this up now when the team is playing well, right?

Well, I’ve been meaning to do this since Scott Kazmir was released and haven’t had the time to get to it; so now is as good a time as any.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane to explore some of the downright horrendous moves this team has made. I hate to do it now, but again – I wanted to do this at some point. Perhaps you know all of this; however, I’m betting there’s a chance you haven’t seen it all laid out just the way I’m about to.

Let’s start with 2002. Yes, it was a magical year; a year that will forever represent one of if not the greatest time ever to be an Angels fan. It also happens to be the year the Angels signed Aaron Sele to a 3-year, $24 million contract. In those three seasons, Sele posted ERA’s of 4.89, 5.77 and 5.05. His signing represents one of the many bad decisions by the Angels front office since that time.

The last decade (through 2009) has been tremendous; however, as we continue down this road – you might wonder how this team ever managed to do as well as it has and also wonder what they might have done or will do if they had made better decisions. I mean we’re talking about a great many decisions that has involved spending a ton of good money on bad players.

Let’s get to it…

The 2003 team didn’t change much from the prior year personnel wise, as they seemed to have a hang-over from their wildly successful 2002 season. It was also the year that Arte Moreno took over as the owner of the Angels. As great as Moreno has been for the Angels; one can’t help but wonder how much greater the team would have been had they made better decisions under his watch.

In 2004 the Angels struck gold with the Vladimir Guerrero signing; however, it’s important to note that Bartolo Colon was also signed prior to that season and while Colon did win a CY Young – he only had two productive years out of four. In his last two years he managed to start just 29 games and had a 5.11 ERA in 2006 and a 6.34 ERA in 2007. In my opinion, the Angels didn’t get anywhere near the return on their investment of 4-years and $51 million (which was a lot of money for a pitcher at the time).

In 2005 the crap that hit the fan came in the form of Steve Finley. Finley made $6 million and for that investment, the Angels received a .222 batting average. Finley was then traded to the San Francisco Giants for Edgardo Alfonzo (prior to the 2006 season), who made $8 million in 2006 and was released on May 21 after playing in just 18 games. I should note that Finley made $7 million while playing for the Giants that same year. A total of $14 million was wasted over those two years.

In 2005 the Angels also acquired J.C. Romero from the Minnesota Twins (for the 2006 season) for Alexi Casilla, who is currently the starting shortstop for the Twins. Romero earned $2.25 million in 2006 while posting a 6.70 ERA. Casilla has basically been on the Twins major league roster for the past five years. Romero became a free agent prior to the 2007 season. Who got the better of that deal? You really don’t answer that…

2006 brought us Jeff Weaver at the cost of an $8,325,000 contract. Weaver was traded to the Cardinals on July 5 of that year after compiling a horrible 6.29 ERA in 16 starts. Weaver would go on to help the Cardinals win a World Series and the Angels went on paying his salary.

2007 was especially bad. It was the year that one Gary Matthews, Jr. signed a 5-year, and nearly $50 million contract that still haunts the Angels today. Matthews ended up being traded to the Mets after three miserable seasons with the Angels (with the Angels picking up most of his salary), where he floundered and ended up out of baseball. Matthews played his last game on June 2, 2010 while costing the Angels $22.3 million the last two years (including this one).

2007 also brought us Shea Hillenbrand. Remember that one? Did you just grimace? If you did, it’s because you probably remember that he signed for $6 million and ended up being released on July 9 after hitting .254 with 3 homeruns. More good money after bad.

Wait 2007 gets even better. That year also brought us Justin Speier and a 3-year, $12.75 million contract. Speier had one good year (his first) out of three. His final two years? Well it included a 5.03 ERA in 2008 and a 5.18 ERA in 2009 and ultimately his release on August 11, 2009.

I’m not done with 2007 yet. That year marked the season the extension of Kelvim Escobar kicked in. Escobar’s extension was for 3-years and $28.5 million. Shields also signed an extension for 3-years and $14.6 million.

Escobar had a fantastic 2007; however, he only managed to pitch in one game in the following two years while earning $19.5 million during those final two years. Shields’ extension didn’t kick in until 2008, where he had a stellar season; however, he proved to be utterly useless during the final two years of his contract with a 6.62 and 5.28 ERA in those years. Ugh.

I’m not making this stuff up folks. The numbers are fairly staggering, aren’t they?

In 2008 the Angels traded Orlando Cabrera (and his $10 million contract) to the Chicago White Sox for Jon Garland and his $12 million contract. Garland did win 14 games that year; however, he boasted a hefty 4.90 ERA that season as well. The move did pave the way for Erick Aybar to take over at shortstop; however, it is yet another example of the high cost of mediocre talent in Garland.

2009 brought us somewhat of a mixed bag in Brian Fuentes. Fuentes signed a 2-year $17.5 million deal and ended up leading the major league baseball with 48 saves, but he also blew 7 other opportunities and gave up a key homerun in the ALCS to Alex Rodriguez and the rest is as they say… “History.” Even though he led the league in saves, he was arguably the worst reliever to ever do that. In 2010 he was traded to the Minnesota Twins.

2009 also brought us the trade that sent Alex Torres, Matt Sweeney and Sean Rodriguez to the Tampa Bay Rays for Scott Kazmir (whose recent release prompted this whole post) and his mega contract that included salaries of $6 million in 2009, $8 million in 2010 and $12 million this year. His departure, while costly would have been even more costly had he stayed another year. Rather than paying him $13.5 million in 2012, the Angels will have to shell out $2.5 million in a buy-out. He will end up costing the Angels $22.5 million for the kind of production one would expect to get out of a mannequin.

The string of bad decisions continued in 2010 when the Angels signed the guy with the crooked hat. Yes, I’m talking about Fernando Rodney and his two-year, $11 million deal. Has he been worth it? I think we both know the answer to that, although I would entertain an argument either way.

Add to all of this the string of low cost, low risk signings like Andres Galarraga, Raul Mondesi, and Shane Halter (none of which panned out) and you have reason for skepticism (for what they might do next) regarding their entire decision process.

I didn’t do any calculations regarding the net loss of all the moves mentioned above, but I’m sure we can all agree that the number is substantial. I have to ask myself, what could the Angels have done with the money they spent on Kazmir and Matthews?

Think about it. Just don’t focus on it too much because your head might explode.

All of that being said, I know that the Angels have also made some very good moves via trade and free agency and that no front office is perfect. I just think that all of the decision mentioned above had to have had a negative impact on the product currently on the field and in the Angels' ability (or lack of) to continue to be major players in the free agency market. It also has hindered their ability to make any and all moves necessary to get them back to having a 2002-like season.

Did the combination of events make them gun shy on Carl Crawford? Will it hinder their ability to make a move at the deadline this year? Could the Angels have made a different move or two over the years that would have put them back in the World Series?

These are legitimate questions, don’t you think?

Look, I think Moreno is a great owner and I think Mike Scioscia is the best manager in the game. Do the math. What’s the problem? Is it Tony Reagins or even Bill Stoneman (from prior years)? I’m not going to point any fingers, but it’s a question that begs an answer in my opinion.

I know that some of the problems the Angels have had are related to injuries and are totally unpredictable, but some of them – such as the Gary Matthews, Jr. signing raised eyebrows around the country at the time.

I just think it’s foolish to ignore the history here. I have to question the analysis process that goes into some of the moves the front office has made. The Angels have the luxury of an owner with fairly deep pockets, but let’s face it – there has to be a limit to the kind of wasted money this team can lose. It might be time to pay the piper. It had to come to this eventually.

So… what’s next?

Well, for now – there are games to be played. More specifically, the Dodgers are coming to town and I’m looking forward to seeing the freeway series yet again. This never get’s old for me. The other stuff… well, it definitely does.

So let’s get after it. Anyone notice how well Vernon Wells is playing? Is he going to be a good investment after all? I sure hope so.

Go Angels!

June 24, 2011

Escape from Dodger Stadium... Snake Plissken where are you?

Heading to the Angels/Dodgers game tonight at Dodger Stadium.

Check list for tonight’s game:

Jersey √
Hat √
Eyes in the back of my head √
Pepper Spray √
“W” √

More Friday fodder....

So.. .the bad guy they caught in Santa Monica and returned to Boston wasn’t Frank McCourt?

If I see Snake Plissken in the stands tonight, I’ll know things are about to get interesting… It’ll be time to “Escape from Dodger Stadium”

Turns out Eric Gagne was ahead of his time when he played "Welcome to the Jungle" when he came out to close.

I wonder if I'll see McCourt at the freeway off ramp with his "need money for payroll" sign

Tonight is BYO Fireworks night – McCourt can’t afford the fancy kind. (I might need to stop and buy some sparklers)

Question… Dodger Dogs = Hot dogs or police dogs?

Instead of “Take me out to the ball game” in the 7th inning, the Dodgers will have Michael Buffer announce… “Let’s get ready to rumble” instead.

Oh this will be fun….

June 13, 2011

You know you're in trouble when you envy the Royals

How can I possibly put what happened in Anaheim during the last home stand into words? On one hand I can’t believe this team is this bad; on the other, I find myself doing a lot of head shaking. It’s about all I can do when Torii Hunter or any number of Angels hit into an inning-ending double play not to lose my mind.

Most Angel fans are frustrated right now. Many others have become something worse… apathetic. Looking around the stadium on any given night and it’s clear that attendance is down and the mood goes from sad to angry. There’s no buzz, no excitement, no life among the faithful.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. This is the franchise’s 50th anniversary. We should be celebrating and instead we’re becoming more and more focused on what’s wrong with this franchise.

Watching the Royals this weekend I felt a little envious. Crazy, right? I mean we’re talking about a team that has only had one winning record in the last fifteen years. And yet, when I see young guys like Eric Hosmer (will be 22 in October) and Mike Moustakas (turns 23 in September), I get a little jealous. These are legitimate prospects with huge upside and bright futures. They have quantifiable skills that translate into actual major league talent.

That’s not to say the Angels aren’t without young talent because they are – but other than Mike Trout; none are at the same level as Hosmer or Moustakas.

In any case – this is what I end up focusing on when the team is doing so poorly. Instead of talking about the pennant race and who the Angels might acquire at the deadline, I find myself looking at what’s in the farm system and I start doing some more of that head shaking I talked about earlier.

When I look at the Salt Lake City Bees roster, I see one guy with power; Jeff Baisley, but good grief; he’s 28 years old. If you’re 28 years old and still in the minors, you’re really not much of a prospect and your ceiling is pretty low. The rest of the team lacks punch and has a lot of players who are similar to the team of smurfs already up with the big club.

There seems to be this huge gap between the young players up with the team now (Mark Trumbo, Hank Conger, Peter Bourjos, Tyler Chatwood) and the next wave of talent that could have in impact at the major league level.

There are no Hosmer’s or Moustakas’ the Angels can call on. There is Mike Trout, but as I have said before, he’s only 19 and there’s no sense rushing him.

So… what’s a team to do? What’s a fan to do?

Look, here’s the deal. I want another world series. It’s plain and simple. I want my team to get back to winning and competing. I don’t know how they get to that point and quite frankly, it’s not my job to figure that out.

What I do know is that a lot of good pitching is being wasted. This offense stinks. They lead the league in strike outs and hitting into double plays. Nothing kills a rally more than those two things. Nothing is as deflating to watch from a fan’s point of view as those two things.

Okay, so it’s at this point that some of you are probably thinking… sheesh, it’s only June. Well, forgive me, but the season is slipping away and that’s just not some feeling I have in my gut; it’s real. We heard the “It’s only… name your month…” last year and quite frankly, I don’t want to hear it again. Don’t tell me I shouldn’t panic. I’m beyond panicking. I’m at the point of utter frustration.

Losing isn’t fun. Sitting at every game in this past home stand wasn’t fun. Watching the team lose six games in row is the furthest thing from fun. Watching the pathetic offense is demoralizing. Nothing is fun about losing and call me selfish, but I want to have fun at the ball park.

I hate this post. I hate ranting like this. I’m an optimistic guy and I don’t like being pessimistic at all. It’s to the point where I’m glad they’ll be out of town for two weeks. I don’t want to take the time to show up at the stadium to watch. I need a break from being at the stadium.

All I ask is that you (The Angels) don’t do anything rash; like trade Mike Trout and I won’t do anything crazy like not show up for the next home stand. That being said, you need to give me something to hope for. I need you to make a move or show some life (Hello Torii and Vernon) or at the very least fire Mickey Hatcher (yeah, I said it)…. Give me something.

I need to see some people being held accountable. When Scioscia tells the media “we need to get our house in order” – I need to see something that makes me think he’s doing that.

Scioscia has asked his players to be more patient and selective and yet – he moves Torii Hunter, who has to be the biggest free swinger on the team into the #2 hole. Picture me shaking my head again.

Yeah, okay – let’s not move a player who is struggling down in the order, let’s have him move into the second slot in the batting order, a spot that really requires being able to move runners along. Hello? What’s up with that? Since the team can’t score runs with runners in scoring position, let’s put Hunter in the two hole so that he can ground into double plays and take away any scoring opportunities all-together.

I am no longer shaking my head… I’m pounding it on my desk. Please make the losing stop before I lose my mind.

End of rant.

June 3, 2011

Jeff Mathis makes me laugh

When I say the name Jeff Mathis how do you react? Do your eyes roll back in your head and you feel like you might pass out? Does your brow furrow and your lips get tight? Profanities start flying from your lips?

Has there ever been a player in the Angels organization who evoked more emotion and passion (usually the angry kind) than Jeff Mathis? I don’t think so; not even Mo Vaughn or Jose Guillen made an Angel fan as crazy as Mathis does.

Many have tried to understand what it is that makes Mike Scioscia so pro-Mathis and all have failed to grasp what makes Scioscia continue to write his name into a lineup on any given day. I venture to guess that we could summon the most brilliant minds in science and engineering and even they would be perplexed.

Sam Miller of the Orange County Register did a guest appearance on the Baseball Prospectus’ web site and took a stab and trying to make sense of it all. Miller sheds some light on the issue, but I would venture to guess that even he would admit that this whole Scioscia/Mathis relationship is of the great mysteries of our time.

So… what do us as fans do about this? Laugh? Cry?

If you don’t know whether or laugh or cry when you see Jeff Mathis on the field, I invite you to laugh and perhaps this blog post will help you do exactly that. Besides, laughing is therapeutic.

Here are my thoughts (many of them totally random) on Jeff Mathis. None of these thoughts are based in science or metaphysics or the supernatural or anything else that you can put a finger on. They’re simply a compilation of the various thoughts that run through my head whenever I think of Mathis. It’s my way of amusing myself; because the alternative is a path to insanity.

So without further ado, here we go…

I’d really like to see Mike Scioscia try to explain why he plays Jeff Mathis to Judge Judy. I have to believe Scioscia would get his lunch handed to him by Judy. I can picture here shaking a finger at Mike, can’t you? The exchange would certainly be funnier than those Howard’s ads we hear on the radio.

Batting practice isn’t practice for Mathis – it’s an exercise in futility.

Two words players in the outfield never hear when Mathis takes batting practice… “Head’s up.”

Two words that are never used in conjunction with a Mathis at-bat… “Clutch hit.”

Good news; bad news. Good news – Mathis is hitting higher than his career batting average. Bad news – he’s only hitting .216

Years after Jeff Mathis is done playing baseball… none of this will be funny. And the Mendoza Line will be replaced with the Mathis line. FYI: The Mendoza Line takes its name from the shortstop Mario Mendoza's lifetime batting average of .215. It is baseball slang for the threshold of incompetent hitting. AngelsWin’s Steve Haston got this one right – check out his article here.

Jeff Mathis swings a bat like Charlie Brown kicks a football; however, unlike Charlie Brown (by way of Lucy), Mathis has no one to blame but himself.

When Jeff Mathis comes to bat with the game on the line, the Rally Monkey goes home.

Jeff Mathis probably won’t hit his weight (200) this season. Heck, he might not hit Alexi Amarsita’s weight (150).

If Mathis’ bat had On-Star it would never get activated because there has to be some sort of impact/contact for that to happen.

When Jeff Mathis was a kid, he hated going to birthday parties that had piñatas. Why? Do you really need to ask? Think about how you get the candy out of those things.

When I think about the Mathis/Scioscia relationship, I think of the old TV show - “Courtship of Eddie’s father.” Watch the clip below and tell me you can’t picture Mike and Jeff together. G’head.

I’m willing to bet that even Mathis’ mother doesn’t think he’s good enough for the major leagues. Face it, he has a game that only… well, Mike Scioscia can love.

Mike Scioscia is so enamored with Mathis that if he were a judge on Dancing with the Stars and Mathis was a contestant, Scioscia would be making comparisons between Mathis and Fred Astaire.

Jeff Mathis makes up for his lack of offense with his inability to throw out runners. Wait, how does that work?

Imagine Jeff Mathis as a peanut vendor – the peanuts would never reach their destination; fans sitting two sections over would find a bag of peanuts landing in their lap; beers would be knocked from the hands of thirsty fans and little kids would have to wear helmets.

Mathis’ arm is so bad, he couldn’t even throw out the kids who do the on-the-field “steal-third” promotion at Angel games.

Let’s just say that Jeff Mathis’ arm is so bad; he can’t even throw in the towel.

I’m telling you he’s so bad that there is actually a conspiracy among the other 13 teams in the American League to keep him in the lineup. Watch this clip of Ian Kinsler at mlb.com telling the world that Mathis is the hardest player for him to steal against. It blows my mind and Kinsler should get an Oscar for that acting job, don’t you think? By the way, this is one more reason for me to hate Kinsler. Just saying.

CSI has investigated Jeff Mathis’ playing time and they’re dumbfounded. One thing they did agree on; it’s a crime that Mathis wears a major league uniform.

NCIS also investigated and came to the same conclusions with this added observation… he should never be allowed to throw hand grenades for obvious reasons.

When Jeff Mathis comes into a game, Angel fans start dialing 911 on their cell phones.

Seeing Jeff Mathis in the lineup makes about as much sense as one of Charlie Sheen’s rants.

The best thing about an off day is that we are assured that Mathis won’t be in the lineup.

One more bit to share… and this isn’t a rant, but a little nickname I have for Mathis. If you’re a Mathis apologist, relax – it’s nothing derogatory – it’s something I imagine ESPN’s Chris Berman would say… Now batting… Jeff “English isn’t my favorite subject, but Math-is.”

And on that note… I say, bring on the Yankees.

June 2, 2011

All things considered...

Fifty eight games into the 2011 season and the Angels have lost as many games as they’ve won (29-29). It’s kind of funny how “even” they’ve been of late. In their last ten games, they’re 5-5. They’re 16-16 on the road and 13-13 at home. Their season so far can sort of be described as simply treading water.

All things considered; I say that beats the heck of out sinking like a rock. Sure, there are times when they frustrate me to no end and yet, there’s something about the way they go about their business that gives me a sense of peace and feeling that they’ll be there in the end.

I always feel that that they’re just on the verge of going on a run and are about to peel off several victories in a row. At the same time, just when I think they’re on their way, they stumble. Again, think treading water.

Even when they blow a game in an unnatural way (like the time Kevin Jepsen threw a wild pitch on an intentional walk to give a game away), they do something special; like come from a 5-0 deficit to win. They continue to find ways to overcome adversity and stay in the hunt; the hunt for a return to the top of the American League West.

So as a tribute to their .500 season, I thought I’d list five things I like about the team so far and five things I don’t…

Things I like:

Mark Trumbo who is “country strong” (to borrow a phrase from Stuart Scott of ESPN who usually says that to describe Adam Dunn) and his ten homeruns to lead all AL rookies has been a pleasure to watch. I love his attitude and his desire to get in the batter’s box and compete.

Peter Bourjos on the fly is a beautiful thing to watch. He has electrifying speed and when he runs you can’t help but stare. He makes your jaw drop and he’s just one of those players you have to watch whenever there’s a play that involves him.

I never, ever get tired of watching Torii Hunter play baseball. He has had his struggles and yes, he does make a base running boo-boo every now and then, but he still has that infectious smile and attitude and there’s no questioning his desire to win and compete on a daily basis. When he’s done playing this game, I will truly miss him. So, in the mean time – I’m going to continue to soak in every moment that he’s on the field.

Every single time I see Hank Conger’s name in the lineup I smile. It’s not just that his being in the lineup usually means Jeff Mathis is not; it’s more than that. It’s seeing the fulfillment of the promise we hoped for when he was drafted in the first round in 2006. It’s seeing a young man who really seems to be enjoying his time. He never seems overwhelmed of overmatched. He just seems ready and I get the sense that he will only get better and better with time.

Jered Weaver and Dan Haren are studs. You can’t help but love it when they’re on the mound; however, I have really enjoyed watching Tyler Chatwood do his thing thus far. He’s the youngest starting pitcher in the majors and he’s shown incredible poise and “swagger.” Say it with me – Tyler Chatwood has swagger. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Things I don’t like:

Jeff Mathis. Need I say more? Well, I am still working on a good old fashioned True Grich rant about Mathis, but let’s just say that I still don’t get it. I don’t understand why Mike Scioscia loves this guy so much. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to understand what it is that Mathis has that Scioscia admires so much, but I just don’t see it. Perhaps I have to reach a certain level of enlightenment to understand or maybe Mathis is some sort of catching idiot savant – but then again, I think that’s a stretch. More on Mathis at a later time.

Kevin Jepsen. I know; I know Fernando Rodney is just about every Angels’ fan’s whipping boy, but for me – no one frustrates me more than Jepsen. Call me crazy, but a guy with a 9.00 ERA just doesn’t work for me. And it’s not like he comes in when there isn’t anything on the line; no sir, he comes in with men on base or in critical situations and as soon as he does – my head hits the palm of my hand. He makes me scream at the TV even though I know the TV can’t hear me. Let’s just say that when he comes in the game my blood pressure rises, my eyes squint and my ears probably turn red.

This next post is about the only player who appears on both my “like” and “don’t like” list. Peter Bourjos striking out makes me crazy. He has struck out 60 times in 199 AB’s. That’s roughly 30 % of the time. Despite his upside in other areas of his game, this one thing absolutely drives me nuts. He needs to find a way to get on base more; that .292 OBP isn’t cutting it. I don’t care if he’s batting 9th; Bourjos needs to get on base because when he’s on base, he’s dangerous. In fact, he just needs to find a way to put the ball in play more. He’s no threat and can’t make things happen when he’s simply walking back to the dugout.

The #4 thing I don’t like is this team’s lack of punch. The Angels are 10th in the American League in homeruns (17th overall). Chicks aren’t the only ones that dig the long ball. Nothing is as deflating as seeing the other team hit a three-run homerun and nothing feels better than seeing your own team do the same. This team which is mostly made up of smurfs still needs to add a big bat or two… and getting Vernon Wells back isn’t the kind of “splash” I’m thinking about either. Just saying.

Last, but not least I really don’t like all the talk about bringing Mike Trout up to the major leagues, like… oh… well, like - yesterday. Baseball fans are very impatient and Angels’ fans are no exception. The idea that he can come in and transform the team into some sort of super power is just too much. He’s 19 years old and should be handled with caution, in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong – I can’t wait to see him on the major league roster, but I am willing to wait until the time is right. When might that be?

I have no idea – perhaps Mark Saxon’s piece on ESPN LA will give us some clues. Then again, once you read this piece, you’ll probably be one of those fans who will also start clamoring for his arrival now. Resist the urge – he’ll get here when he gets here.

So, there you have it.

I’m sorry if you’ve been checking regularly for an updated post from me. Let’s just say that I’ve been so busy, it didn’t realize that Russell Branyan was on the team until last Friday when I finally had time to tune into a game (He played in his first game, two days earlier). Hey, it happens.

I hope to get back to more regular postings and owe you all a post about my trip to see the Inland Empire 66ers and my Jeff Mathis rant (I promise you it will be funny... at least I hope it will be). Please stay tuned; those posts are coming.