November 29, 2011

Catch this

Maybe it’s just me, but I have found the Angels’ Hot Stove season a bit interesting (albeit slow) so far. If you follow or twitter or any number of web sites, you may have heard about the Angels search for a catcher.

Adding fuel to the "catcher speculation fire" was Scott Miller of CBS Sports who wrote “With ex-Angel Mike Napoli's October exploits for the Rangers serving as a sledgehammer reminding everyone how short Los Angeles is behind the plate, the Angels are hoping to fill the void this winter. They do not view Hank Conger as being close to a finished product yet, and Bobby Wilson is a backup. The Angels are expected to non-tender Jeff Mathis.”

Miller also tweeted “Angels are casting a wide net and being very aggressive in looking for a catcher, multiple sources say.”

It’s become very clear that replacing Jeff Mathis behind the plate has become a priority and quite frankly that’s a good thing. We’ve seen names like Ryan Hanigan of the Reds and Chris Iannetta of the Rockies as possible trade candidates.

Both are options that have some potential. Iannetta is 28 years old and had a .370 OBP last season and .357 for his career. Hanigan is 31 years old and had a .357 OBP last season and .371 for his career. It's funny how each player’s career OBP matches the other’s performance from 2011.

I assume both are temporary solutions until Hank Conger is ready; although, Hanigan isn’t eligible for free agency until 2015 and Iannetta in 2013. Personally, I like Iannetta a little bit more because of his age and the idea that he wouldn’t block Conger’s path in 2013.

In any case - I find this whole shopping for a catcher thing fascinating on many levels. While most Angels fans are on C.J. Wilson watch, I’m waiting to see what happens with the catching situation. I actually start to smile and my eyes light up when I think about 2012 without Jeff Mathis. I am trying very hard not to get too excited because nothing has happened just yet; however, the possibility of it all makes me happy and maybe even a little giddy.

I also have to wonder what is going through Mike Scioscia’s mind. The domino effect of what happened with Mike Napoli almost blows my mind. It’s as if the Angels have admitted (without actually doing so publicly) that trading Napoli was a mistake and that they are now scrambling to fix that error.

One thing seems obvious to me – the free agent catchers don’t appear to be of any interest to the Angels and that’s probably a good thing. I mean look at who’s out there. Kelly Shoppach has a career .315 OBP and Ramon Hernandez is 35 and will be 36 next May… and those two are among the best available. Yikes.

I’m also very curious to see if Jeff Mathis is actually non-tendered and not resigned. As much as I want to believe this going to happen, I will only believe it when it becomes a reality.

November 11, 2011

Grand slams and unbridled joy

Today's post has absolutely nothing to do with the Angels, but has everything to do with the baseball.

Please indulge me as I talk about my other baseball blog - The Baseball Docent.

I started The Baseball Docent a while back in hopes that it would be outlet for me to talk about baseball in general and not necessarily about the Angels. I knew going in that it was an ambitious idea because it's hard enough trying to keep up with one blog, let alone two.

My goal with the blog has really been to engage others - be it friends, colleagues, acquaintances, other bloggers, baseball fans, etc. to tell their stories. What kind of stories? Just about anything goes... but things like why you love baseball, a favorite baseball memory or just about anything fun, inspiring or even off the wall.

So why do I bring it up now?

Well, I re-launched Baseball Docent today and I'm going to ask that if you enjoy True Grich, that you also give The Baseball Docent a try. It's not a site that people regularly visit - so I'm trying to jump-start some traffic to it by inviting you (and hopefully your friends) to check it out.

So jump on over and let me know what you think. Today's entry is about grand slams and unbridled joy. Now, how can you resist that?

November 10, 2011

R-E-S-P-E-C-T find out what it means to me

I’m an old fashioned guy. When I was growing up I always addressed my parents’ friends as Mr. and Mrs. (insert last name here). It didn’t matter if their kids called my parents by their first names, I just didn’t do that. It’s how I was raised and throughout my life I have always maintained that decorum.

For me it’s a matter of respect and I think that’s something that is severely lacking in society today. A lot of people don’t seem to respect a whole heck of a lot these days and it bothers me.

The world has changed so much during my lifetime and while some people may say it has “evolved” – I’m not so sure that’s the right description. It seems to me we’ve become world of “getting” and not “giving” and this even true when it comes to respect.

Even in the world of sports that’s become painfully obvious in my opinion.

I grew up in an era when sports were filled with classy individuals; athletes I respected and admired like Bart Starr, Jerry West, and Nolan Ryan. I always liked tough, no-nonsense guys and if they their game had a bit of a flare to it; even better. Guys like Barry Sanders, Pete Maravich, and Ozzie Smith caught my attention because their game was exciting and their play did all the talking for them.

Now-a-days they call that being “old school.” Well, that’s me.

So why do I bring any of this up in an Angels baseball blog? Good question.

As soon as the season ended and quite frankly probably even a little before that – I started thinking about the off-season and what the Angels should/might/could (take your pick) do. Like most fans, my mind has gone a million different directions.

Inevitably names start to pop up in all the usual places – message boards, columns, blogs, sports talk shows, etc. Most of the talk about players, center around their statistics; both old school stuff and sabermetrics.

While all of that is interesting and important, I don’t think enough time is spent talking about a player’s character or “make-up” if you will. Some will argue that stuff like that doesn’t matter and yet – “character” probably had something to do with the demise we witnessed in Boston this year.

I would imagine a player’s character is something front office personnel and baseball managers actually do consider, but I also get the impression that if the statistics are good enough, the “intangibles” don’t seem to matter as much. I mean how else can you explain why guys like Milton Bradley and Jose Guillen received multiple opportunities at the major league level?

I started thinking about all of this (at least more than usual) after I read something (and unfortunately, I can’t remember where) about the way the Texas Rangers front office goes about their business. I can’t remember if it was an interview with Jon Daniels or Thad Levine, but what I read got my attention.

I read something to the effect of how much a player’s “make-up” goes into their decision process. I don’t remember the specifics, but I know that I liked what I read. In fact – I’ve read a lot of stuff about these two that I found to be impressive and even refreshing.

Obviously, I don’t know Jon Daniels or Thad Levine. All I have are impressions of who they are and what they’re like based on what I’ve read, heard or seen. Never-the-less I’ve seen enough to draw my own conclusions.

It seems to me that these two respect the game of baseball a great deal and they want to surround themselves with people who do the same.

Which brings me to the Angels front office; after all, this is an Angels' blog.

I like what I’ve seen so far from Jerry Dipoto; in fact, I like it a lot. From the moment Dipoto spoke to the media as the Angels new GM, he has come across as a professional in every sense of the word. I like the fact that he sounds like a man with a strategy for getting the Angels back to where they should be.

A lot has been said and written about the Angels former GM Tony Reagins. I’ve often heard the phrase “over-matched” or “in over his head” when he’s being described or evaluated. Reagins came through the Angels’ organization as an intern and for better or worse; he was never really given any respect. At the same time, I always thought that Reagins didn’t give any respect either. Funny how that works.

The way he answered questions and generally communicated with the media made me think he didn’t have much respect for others. He didn’t respect the fans and tried to sell us the idea that the Angels made their big splash with the signings of Hisanori Takahasi and Scott Downs.

Most everything he did – seemed unprofessional. I’ve ranted about how he has handled things on this blog many times and rather than rehash all of it; let’s just say; I’m glad it’s a new day.

With Jerry Dipoto, I have a newfound confidence in the future of the Angels. There’s a new, fresh attitude that’s apparent. I have no doubt that he and his staff will be able to clearly evaluate what needs to be done and then go about the business of making it happen.

Like Daniels and Levine – I don’t know Dipoto. However, watching, listening, and reading about these folks gives me a sense of things. I never got the sense that Reagins knew what he was doing. I get the opposite impression with Dipoto.

Whether I’m right or wrong is anyone’s guess.

You see I want to like everything and everyone associated with the Angels. I find being a fan much more enjoyable when I actually like the people associated with my favorite team. I never cared much for Frankie Rodriguez and I was happy to see Jose Guillen leave town.

At the same time, I know that I have no control over who the Angels will acquire, but it’s my hope that this doesn’t include players I would rather not cheer for.

In case you’re wonder, that means that I’m less than enthusiastic about the team going after someone like C.J. Wilson – whose mouth grabs a lot more headlines than his arm does.

Maybe I have it all wrong and Wilson is just funny and not the jerk I’ve made him out to be in my mind. Maybe I’m just jealous because his team has had the kind of success I am used to seeing in Anaheim and have now missed for two years.

I mean here I am talking about how great Daniels and Levine are and yet I’m bashing one of their players, right? Well, Wilson was in the Rangers’ organization before Daniels and Levine arrived and if they don’t resign him, I’ll make note of it and think back to what I’ve written here.

I know I took the long way to tell you that my hope is the Angels don’t sign C.J. Wilson, but it was a journey I really wanted to share with you.

Oh and for the record – if and when Ian Kinlser becomes a free-agent, I hope the Angels pass on him too.

As for whom I hope the Angels do sign… I haven’t made up my mind yet. As to whom I think they will sign – I really have no idea. There’s this new guy in charge named Dipoto and I’m just going to respect the idea that he’s going to make the moves that puts the Angels back where they belong – a top of the AL West.