AL West

Angels Report: Can the Angels compete in 2017?

While I have been down on the Los Angeles Angels heading into 2017, Scotty Allen of Angels Win (associated with Sports Daily) believes that the team will be better than many project. While I enjoyed reading the article and believe Allen made some good points, I’m not as optimistic. Check out his article and some of my points that either support or counter those made by Allen.

Rotation

Allen notes that the rotation will be strengthened through the return of Garrett Richards and a potential breakout season from Tyler Skaggs. With Matt Shoemaker, Ricky Nolasco and any of the potential #5 starters that are in camp, Allen sees the rotation as a potential strength, not a weakness.

I like Nolasco, but his best days seem to be behind him. In fact, he was never even that good. While he could serve as an innings eater, he won’t be any better than a .500 pitcher, which he has not been since 2013.

Bullpen

When it comes to the bullpen, a healthy Houston Street is the key cog. Allen suggests that Street, along with Cam Bedrosian and a resurgent Andrew Bailey, could anchor a serious ‘pen.

Bailey has not had a productive year since 2013, and sported a 5.36 ERA last year.

Bedrosian is a great point, and could be a productive arm for years to come. The young righty struck out 51 batters in 40.1 innings last season.

While Street and Bedrosian could be counted on, I think hoping for anything productive out of Bailey is a bit of a stretch.

Offense

Allen believes that the offense, which produced the 17th most runs in the Majors last season, will receive a boost from Cameron Maybin, Danny Espinosa and others. Turning this offense into one that could be “flat out good” however would be a miracle, in my estimation.

Allen believes that Maybin had a “breakout” year last year, but I find that difficult to believe considering he only had 349 AB’s last season. While I have always been a fan of Maybin, I do not believe that he can be the difference between an average and “good” offense.

While there is more pop than last year, I don’t think they will finish above 15th in the MLB in runs scored. If the Brewers thought Martin Maldonado was worth anything, they would have held on to him after dealing Lucroy.

Defense

These guys can flash the leather. Allen cited the newly acquired Espinosa, who is paired up the middle with two-time Gold Glove award winner Andrelton Simmons. With Maybin in the outfield with Trout and Kole Calhoun, the shaky pitching staff will be well supported.

Conclusion

While I appreciate the article (man, I love baseball) I do not think the Angels will reach the .500 mark at the end of the year.

AL West Wednesday: Trouble in Anaheim, promise in Houston and a new home for Matt Joyce

Los Angeles Angels: After reading the “2017 Season Primer” (a four-part series  from Angelswin.com) it is clear that the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are caught between a rock and a hard place. The team has major financial obligations for 2017, issues surrounding the stadium, and the looming issue of trying to retain Mike Trout after the 2020 season. Robert Cunningham, who authored Part I of the series for Angelswin.com, believes that General Manager Billy Eppler is the right man to lead the Angels through this difficult off-season.

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Angels GM BIlly Eppler by Arturo Pardavila III

Check out Part II and Part III of the series to read David Saltzer’s musings about the options that Eppler has (cheap, strategic or big spending) and what pieces are the building blocks of the franchise. A recent addition examines the 2017 starting rotation.

https://angelswinblog.blogspot.com/

Houston Astros: The charmingly sarcastic AstrosCounty.com published “Somethings a-happenin’ in Astrvoille” that details the club’s activity in the early parts of the off-season. Josh Reddick, Brian McCann, Nori Aoki and Charlie Morton will all be in Houston next season.

Astros County also envisions the Astros adding a power bat, suggesting the acquisition of a major bat via free agency (Jose Bautista or Carlos Beltran) or maybe a trade (Jay Bruce is now SUPER available).

http://www.astroscounty.com/

Texas Rangers: Jamey Newberg of the Newberg Report, a blog that “Covering the Texas Rangers from Top to Bottom” wrote a piece highlighting the tremendous change that the  roster in Arlington has undergone in the recent years. Only  11 players that were in the 2014 media guide are still remaining on the team. Newberg also cites MLB Network Radio’s Casey Stern who believes that the Rangers will make the biggest impact this off-season.

http://www.newbergreport.com/default.asp

Seattle Mariners: Marc W. with the U.S.S. Mariner shares his insights on the recent trade of the former first round pick, outfielder Alex Jackson, to the Atlanta Braves. The Braves sent Rob Whalen and Max Povse back to Seattle. Neither player will contribute with the 2017 club, but in the opinion of the writer, it gives the M’s a decent return. Check out the full article for a detailed analysis of both prospects.

http://www.ussmariner.com/

Oakland Athletics: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports is reporting that the A’s have signed Matt Joyce to a 2 year, $11 million deal. Joyce hit .242/13 HR/42 RBI last year in his lone season with the Pirates. This will be Joyce’s third team since leaving the Rays at the end of the 2014 season. He is definitely an Oakland type of guy. Low cost (relatively speaking) and high OBP, .403 last season and .341 over his career.

 

The best player of the 21st century

In Denver this afternoon, Ichiro Suzuki became the 30th player in MLB history to join the 3,000 hit club. With many other media outlets covering his accomplishments both before and after he came to the States, we at BoT will take a different approach.

Ichiro is the most complete baseball player of the 21st century. 

10 consecutive gold gloves. 3,000+ hits. 10 all-star games. 507 stolen bases (36th all-time). And only one trip to the DL (an ulcer after representing Japan in the 2009 World Baseball Classic).

He has been consistent at the plate, in the field and on the base paths for nearly his entire career.

Sure, Miguel Cabrera is a better hitter. But he can hardly move.

Mike Trout? Too young.

Bryce Harper? Same story.

Bonds? Rodriguez? No juice boxes allowed, this is a beer and baseball site.

Ichiro has been the best player of the 21st century.

In 2000, Bobby Valentine, then the manager of the New York Mets, said that Ichiro was one of the best five players in the world. The mad-hatter was right. Ichiro has been a pleasure to watch over the last 16 seasons and there may not be another like him for a very long time.

Oh, and this…Terrance Long agrees with me.

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via GIPHY

Sunday Morning Six Pack: Top pitching performances, walk-offs and one beer for a few tears

Two Beers: Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers

Verlander had an interesting day yesterday at home against the Astros. Verlander was straight dealing for the first eight innings and entered the 9th with a 1-0 lead. Verlander would quickly surrender the lead and stood to take the loss as the Tigers took their turn at-bat in the bottom of the 9th. However, his teammates picked him up and scored two to give Verlander the win and propel the Tigers to their fifth straight win. After such a stressful day, we at BoT believe that Verlander should go home to his fiance, supermodel Kate Upton, and enjoy a couple of cold brews.

One Beer: Wade Miley, Seattle Mariners

Miley was dealing yesterday against the powerful Cubs offense in Wrigley. Miley did not allow a hit until the bottom of the 7th when Kris Bryant singled. The southpaw struck out nine en route to his 7th win on the year.

One Beer: Matt Kemp, San Diego Padres –> Atlanta Braves

Matt Kemp’s life kind of sucks today. He woke up playing for a team that is 14 games under .500, but at least he had the chance to live in one of the most beautiful cities in America, San Diego. Now, Kemp and his albatross of a contract, are headed to Atlanta, Georgia to play for the AAA Braves. Listen, Atlanta is a nice city, but when the team is 32 games under .500 and 25 out of first, the 92% humidity isn’t that enjoyable. Grab yourself a beer on the plane, Matt Kemp.

One Beer: Adam Rosales, San Diego Padres

In the bottom of the 10th, with the score tied at 1, Adam Rosales sent a 96 MPH fastball from Jumbo Diaz deep into left centerfield to give the Padres the win. Rosales was 2 for 4 on the night.

One Beer: Mitch Moreland

In Texas, Moreland slammed a walk-off homer on a night where Michael Young was inducted into the Texas Rangers’ Hall of Fame. The homer was Moreland’s 17th and the Rangers now sit five games above the second place Astros in the AL West standings.

Piazza hits one more home run with Hall of Fame speech

Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza were inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame this afternoon and Piazza gave a speech for the ages.

Piazza thanked a number of coaches, his close family-friend Tommy Lasorda, his father Vincent and the New York Mets fan base.

In what was one of the most touching and real tributes in recent memory, Piazza thanked the police, firemen and first-responders that acted heroically on September 11th, 2001.

“Many of you give me praise for the two run home run in the first game back on September 21st, but the true praise belongs to the police, firefighters, first responders that knew that they were going to die, but went forward anyway.”

As we continue to slog through an ugly election season and tumultuous summer, Piazza’s grace and gratitude was sincere and refreshing. I am not one who believes all athletes need to be role models, but Piazza stood tall today on what was a special day in Cooperstown.

Hall of Fame Weekend: “The Kid” joins the Hall

Ken Griffey Jr. is going to be a Hall of Famer. But that can’t be true…it just can’t.

As a now 29-year-old married man, with a house and a dog, I just can’t get my head around the fact that he is going into the Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is for old people. Tom Seaver is a Hall of Famer. Rollie Fingers is a Hall of Famer. Yastrzemski, Stargell and Killebrew are Hall of Famers. Not my Griffey.

Griffey is the guy I started to idolize in the first grade. The kid with the perfect swing, long strides and a body that was just meant to wear a baseball uniform.But Griffey will become a Hall of Famer on Sunday.

The best player I ever saw, will become a Hall of Famer on Sunday.

Ken Griffey Jr. dazzled with his play. He hawked down baseballs that were home runs if any other human was in the outfield. Hitters became dejected when they saw number 24 glide to the fence, leap, stick one foot into the wall with his right arm extended, take back the home run and jog back towards the field with a smile and some luggage. That luggage was a baseball and almost always a teammate jumping on his back, in near disbelief as to what he had just witnessed.

He also had a swing that went seemingly went unaltered after its collision with the ball. That effortless swing blasted baseballs over the light blue, right-field fence at the King Dome on what seemed like a nightly basis. That swing gave us 630 home runs, clean home runs.

And then there was that smile, that beaming smile under the backwards hat with the northwest green brim that was on full display during a Home Run Derby for the ages in Baltimore. Griffey famously bounced a ball off of the warehouse that stands in right field on Eutaw Street that night, shocking the “Kid” himself. Griffey didn’t win that day, Juan Gonzalez did, but all I can remember from the summer night in 1993 is a young man that went by “Junior” owning the night.

Even though Griffey ended up with the highest percentage of votes to ever be elected to the Hall of Fame, has left many feeling a bit cheated. Not because he cheated, but because it was cut a bit short.

In his last ten professional seasons, Griffey only played in 130 games or more twice. Those were during his age 37 and age 38 seasons, when he was a much different player and not even a full-time starter. Before the injuries it had seemed to be a foregone conclusion that HE would be the one to break Aaaron’s record, not an overinflated Barry Bonds. But don’t feel cheated, he gave us some of the best baseball we ever saw.

From 1993-2000 (aside from an injury shortened season in 1995), Griffey dominated the game. He averaged over 47 home runs per year, was an all-star in each season and won six gold gloves. He made baseball, a leisurely game, the most exciting sport to watch for many. Young and old. Black and white.

He also gave young kids hope, that a normal looking human being, not one with 40″ biceps, could play baseball at the highest level. We walked around with our hats on backwards and often swung for the fences. If we ever got a hold of one, we would try to copy Griffey’s patented skip and stare as we watched the ball fly over a chain-linked fence, pond or sidewalk.

In the Summer of ’98 Griffey hung tough with Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa as they falsely attacked the single-season home run record and Maris’ “61”. The newspapers always kept Griffey on the top of the sports page, like they knew his pursuit was pure, as he fell behind the two imposters. Griffey fatigued as the year went on while the bionic bastards tore up the record book. Looking back, we all kind of feel cheated about that too.

But when reflecting on Griffey’s career, there is no reason to think about what could have been. What was on the field was nothing short of beautiful. Griffey played our National Pastime in a manner in which only a few others ever have. Griffey was exciting, extraordinarily talented, and on Sunday, he will be a Hall of Famer, enshrined in front of tens of thousands of people in a small New York town.

I guess the Hall of Fame isn’t just for old people anymore.