Just a few notes.

Mark it on the calandar, the Angels have won 2 in a row.  I’m not quite sure if the Halos have turned a corner, but they’re definitely on the right track. With that, there are quite a few interesting developments happening or bound to come up with this team.

First off, Jeff Weaver. Jeff had a decent start today. There still was a home run hit off of him, as well as two shots that probably would have been if the wind hadn’t been in Jeff’s favor. Going by this start, you can’t justify removing him from the rotation. It was a start you’d expect out of a number 5 starter. I still believe that he’s on a short start-by-start leash, because he’s gotta do more than have one decent start. His next start is against the Twins on Tuesday. It’s a lesser lineup, but the staff is better than the competition Texas put out. Hey, at this point I’m just hoping for an effective start. Not $9 mil effective, but just effective.

Next, Kendry Morales. In our desperation, lets not be too quick to hail him as the savior of the lineup. Yes, I think he’s going to be a good hitter, maybe even a great hitter, but he’s going to go through the ups and downs that most rookies go through. The difference will be his experience with the Cuban National Team, in my mind. At 22, he’s probably more apt to deal with the pressure than alot of people his age in his position. In the near future, maybe by August or next year at the latest, he’s going to become viable protection for Vlad, along with Mike Napoli. Next year, I project that you have Garret batting 3rd, with Vlad hitting behind him as protection, followed by Morales and Napoli. Garret to benefit more by having Vlad behind him as opposed to having Morales.

Next, Darin Erstad. He’s probably 2 or so weeks away from returning. For better or for worse, he’s going to get his spot in the lineup back. The question is; what happens around that? His return is going to affect 3 people mainly; Figgy, McPherson, and Murphy. The most likely scenario is Figgy moving back to third base on a more full-time basis, with McPherson becoming a DH against righties, and Murphy going back down to the minors. This all depends on McPherson’s performance. If he keeps hitting, like he has been, then his value far exceeds what Murphy has. However, if D-Mac starts to struggle again, Murphy becomes the better option. McPherson’s only asset is his power bat. He’s an average fielder, and baserunner. If he doesn’t provide power, then his use is lost. Murphy on the other hand, can be used as a defensive replacement in the outfield, a pinch-runner, and a bunter. I like Murphy, as a utility outfielder, I like him more than Juan Rivera.

Next, Jered Weaver. The kid is just on right now. He is as hot has anyone can be at the moment. Is he ready to be called up?  Most likely. Is he going to be called up? Maybe. The situation has to be right. If Jeff struggles in his start against the Twins, then yes, we will see Jered strike a blow for little brothers everywhere sooner rather than later. Alot of people say to call him up into Bartolo Colon’s spot in the rotation as opposed to Kevin Gregg. I don’t quite agree with that approach, given this "What if". We already know that Colon is going to come back, probably within the next 3 or 4 starts. What if Jeff Weaver picks it up during that time? What are we going to do with Jered once Bart comes back? Sending him back down is going to be a break in his rhythm. If he’s going to come up, lets have it be for good. If older brother Jeff falters, yes, bring him up. If (god forbid) a pitcher has a serious injury, bring him up. But not -right now-.

Finally, Bill Stoneman. I was listening to my favorite sports talk radio show out here in LA, the Big Show with Steve Mason and John Ireland, and Mr. Stoneman was getting tore up by the callers. My word to those callers is ‘ease up’. You don’t just call for the head of a GM who’s brought you a world series and back to back division championships just because of the start we’ve had. Look at the standings, we’re only 4 1/2 out as of right now. Sure, ok, he couldn’t get Paul Konerko. To be honest, Paul made the best decision he could have. A comparable offer to ours to go back to the the world champs? Why turn that down? Ok, he didn’t trade for Manny Ramirez. The Red Sox wanted names like Santana, Kendrick, Wood, and Morales. No effin way. Sure we’re going to have to part with one or two of these prospects to get a power bat at the deadline, but at least now we have a gauge on them. Besides, I’ve mentioned it before, I think the problem has been Hatcher’s approach to hitting. Now, he’s finally preaching a little bit of patience, and guess what, they’re hitting. It’s all going to come in time. Now that they are hitting, the pressure going to start coming off of everyone to hit that 5-run homerun. It should snowball (in a positive way) from there. And if that happens, there’s no reason we can’t take this division.

An end to the madness?

I think the Angels have reached step 1 towards recovery. Aside from the final game of the Dodger series. They’ve been getting a fair amount of hits, the problem is they’re getting them with nobody on or a guy on 1st. Then when it counts, with RISP, they’re regressing into the ultra aggressive style that got them in this slump in the first place. Case and point, about 30 seconds ago, Robb Quinlan had a 3-1 count against Francisco Cordero with 2 on, who was struggling with his control. He proceeded to swing at 2 eye-level fastballs and struck out. They, at this point in the game, have left 9 people on the bags. That is completely unnacceptable. While we’re talking about Robb, 5 of those runners were stranded including a base-loaded double-play. 1st base is becoming a liability. Euribiel Durazo has been available, but the Yankees have picked him up.

On a positive note, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with Mike Napoli. If he continues this pace, he probably becomes the leading candidate for AL Rookie of the year. He’s been the most patient hitter in the lineup and has some pop. He isn’t bad behind the dish either.

Its now 3-2 in the top of the 9th with one out and one on. Vlad is on deck. So, barring a double play, we just might have a chance.

The freeway series

Ok, the Freeway series is upon us. I personally will be attending Saturday’s game. As my step-brother, a Dodger season ticket holder, has a wedding to attend. Just in case you are wondering, yes, I will be wearing my Angels gear. Yes, I will be wearing a bullet proof vest under my jersey. No, I do not intend to get drunk and start gloating if we’re ahead.

This will be the 4th time I’ve ever been to Dodger Stadium. The first was back in 1990 I think, against the Cardinals, where I got my first autograph. . .from Tom Pagnozzi.  The second was in 2000 against the Mets from the right field bleachers, which was highlighted by the world’s worst attempt at having the world’s largest Mambo (during the height of Mambo #5 popularity) a Mike Piazza home run which bounced over my head while I was checking my pager to see who paged me, and Benny Agbayani giving me the classic "I’m scratching my neck with my middle finger." treatment after I told him he ran funny. The third and last trip was on Easter of this year against the Giants, which was highlighted by Jeff Kent getting slammed in the head by a Brad Hennessy fastball.

The keys to the series for the Angels?

Find someone else to pitch tonight. This isn’t exactly the prime situation to see if Weaver can redeem himself. He’s going against his childhood favorite team a year after departing their roster, pitching at -their- house. With Weaver’s tendencies to overthrow pitches and try to do to much. Things don’t look too hot for tonight. Especially going against one Mr. Aaron Sele. Sele, prior to his stint with the Angels, had always dominated us. Of course, this isn’t the Aaron Sele of old, as we found out while he was in an Angels uniform. You never know what’s going to happen.

Situational hitting. . .It killed us last night, its been killing us all year. Sure we can put up 11 hits, but when we have only 4 runs to show for it, what’s the use?

We’ll see what can happen. These next few weeks are pivotal for the Angels. If they can go into June within smelling distance of the A’s and Rangers, which they can, then I think they’ll be able to pull it off. If they keep fading, then I don’t think things are going to turn out so good. Time will tell.

Bad game management? I think so.

Ok,

I have a few bones to pick about last nights debacle in Anaheim. First off, the game was mis-managed in the last few innings. Why was Mike Napoli squeezing? Why would you have a rookie catcher who was just peppering the ball drop a bunt down in a crucial situation? The pitch that Nap popped the bunt up on was a line drive waiting to happen. If you really want to squeeze right then and there, why not pinch hit with Jose Molina? Sure, every human being in the stadium would know what was up, but the way Aybar came flying down that line, he would have scored easily.  Then, the next inning. Why, when you have two of your best bunters up at the plate do you not squeeze? Sure, Kennedy’s last sac attempt didn’t pan out, but the Blue Jays played it perfectly. Cabrera is probably your best bunter aside from maybe Jose Molina, why not then either? Sure, when it comes down to it, no one executed. But better decisions could have been made to begin with.

After a long absence

Ok, so its been a few weeks. And my absence has corresponded with the Angels current nose dive. So, like a good fan, I have returned after a slew of mid-term papers and now have the ability to write again. So. . . .a few notes.

I believe Barry has been stuck on 713 since my last post. I just wish he’d just hurry up and hit 714 and 715 so we can get out of this Bonds induced purgatory that is taking away from so much of the game. Of course not that Bonds cares of course, because in his mind , he’s bigger than the game.  In a related topic. I’m thinking for starting the Russ Springer fund to pay any fines that might be levied against the pitcher in the wake his plinking of Barry. In another related topic, thumbs down to ESPN radio for covering each and every Barry Bonds plate appearance, when their own radio hosts are saying that -they- don’t care, its time to re-evaluate their definition of a ‘historical moment’ or a ‘significant moment’ Because Bonds passing the Babe is obviously not in the fans average eyes. Big Mac’s 62nd homerun was a historical moment. Dale Earnhardt’s death was a significant moment.  Bonds passing Ruth hasn’t the feel. Next year, I’m not going to remember where exactly I was when it happened or when I heard about it.

The Yankees came back from a 9-run deficit. AGAINST TEXAS PITCHING. Let’s remember all facets of the situation before we consecrate this moment into baseball lore. I’m not sure of what to make of the Yankees this year. All I know is that if I had to choose between the Red Sox and the Yankees to win the division, I choose the Blue Jays. And don’t think they can’t do it either. I don’t want to hear the ‘no experience’ argument. They’ve got 4 rings on their team so they have to personnel to lead them in the latter stages of the year.

Is it me? Or do the Tigers have the best record in baseball right now? And I wouldn’t be too quick to say that they might fade down the stretch either, they’ve got just enough of a veteran presence to keep them in line for an entire year too.

Meanwhile, my team the Angels. Are having hitting woes. Major hitting woes. Their lineup is alot like the Cubs lineup. Guys who have ok averages with absolutely no on base capability that are put around one upper echelon hitter. The difference is that the Cubs have lost that hitter in Derrek Lee, and the Angels still have him in Vladimir Guerrero. The Angels problem, in my mind, is Mickey Hatcher. Teams around the league have adapted to the Angels style of hitting by not throwing strikes. Hatcher, who was not exactly a patient hitter during his days as a utility man with the Dodgers, hasn’t preached to his guys the necessity of taking pitches and taking walks. Consequently, the Angels have gone out and picked up guys that aren’t patient hitters added to the fact that they’re stunting the growth of some hitters that have had better pitch selection in the minors. Kotchman is the big one. Kotchman was a contact hitter who could take walks. This year, he’s swinging at anything and everything, because the ‘aggressive’ hitting approach the coaches have instilled as ‘Angel baseball’. Well, it doesn’t work for everyone, this year is the perfect example. The staff needs to just let their hitters be themselves.