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.


  1. AnonymousJune 03, 2011

    Couldn't agree more about Trout. Don't rush the kid, let him develop into the superstar that he might some day become. The Angels need a consistent bullpen, a healthy Howie and a performing Wells a lot more than they need to rush Trout.
    Free Hank Conger!

  2. AnonymousJune 03, 2011

    Good recap. Very happy this team is staying afloat. We're trying to find our groove.