On Halloween, the Angels decided to conclude the often-nightmarish tenure of Angel starter Ervin Santana by trading him to the Kansas City Royals for lefty reliever Brandon Sisk.
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A decade ago I started to get it. I was nine years old and baseball was it. I watched the Yankees all summer. Then I watched the Yankees lose to a team that Joseph Gordon-Levitt rooted for*. That team was stacked with odd names, gritty players, and, above all, crazy talent.
*In Angels in the Outfield Christopher Lloyd played the role of Mike Trout.
Ten years ago today, the Angels won Game 6 of the 2002 World Series. For a more detailed look at that game you can go here. In this post, Andrew Karcher and I are going to share our memories of the evening, and hopefully prompt other Angels’ fans to do the same. Here’s Andrew’s account:
Save the potential Yankees-Cardinals World Series that looked possible about 10 days ago, you could do worse than a Giants-Tigers World Series. Sure, neither team has quite the history of their LCS brethren* but the Giants and Tigers are undeniably rich in history. Expect to see plenty of grainy photos of Willie Mays, Al Kaline, John McGraw, Ty Cobb, Robb Nen, and Jeremy Bonderman. If “The Catch” isn’t replayed at least once during every pregame show, I owe you a dollar.
* Nor the self-gratifying fan bases. “We’re the best fans in baseball!” “No we’re the best fans in baseball!” “And so knowledgeable!” “Look at all the championships we won before the game was integrated and before we had a vaccine for polio! So relevant now and why we’re better than everyone!” Ugh.
The question for Angels fans this last week of October is what team they should root for. Neither can really be qualified as an underdog: the Giants just won the 2010 Series and the Tigers dropped a ton of Little Caesar’s money this past offseason for Prince Fielder ($214M to be exact, which is a lot of Crazy Bread). And, for Angels fans, there isn’t an obvious team to root against like say division-rival Texas or the always-hated Yankees.
So if you’re a bitter Angels fan like myself and need help deciding which team to heap scorn upon, I thought I would break it down.
When Kevin Jepsen was drafted 53rd overall in the 2002 draft out of Bishop Manogue High School, he was seen as a future power arm, and was likely to be relegated to a relief role once he reached the higher levels of professional baseball.
Baseball America had this to say about Jepsen following the 2002 season:
After signing for $745,000, Jepsen topped out at 94 in the Arizona League but was just getting his arm back into top shape as the season ended. He’s primarily a two-pitch power arm, and his delivery borders on maximum effort. Jepsen is a project, as his slider, changeup and command all need to improve, but his arm strength is intriguing. His future could be in the bullpen, but he’ll stay in the rotation for now to build stamina and hone his arsenal.
Jepsen pretty much has been everything he was advertised as. He did end up in a relief role, and he was a project. In fact, Jepsen had a 4.73 ERA in 147 appearances from his big league debut in 2008 through the end of the 2011 season. He finished with a negative WAR in 3 of his first 4 seasons. He was an enigma.
But did he finally turn the corner this season?
I’d say so.
On Friday, the Angels extended Chris Iannetta, giving him a three-year deal worth $15.5 million. Iannetta and the Angels had a mutual option for 2013, and his return was somewhat a mystery. This might spell the end of Hank Conger’s days as the club’s future catcher, and we might see him used in a trade at some point this winter.