April 14th, 2014
The bride to Trout’s bridesmaid.
After a week of facing teams that aren’t expected to contend for the playoffs deep into the summer, the Angels will take on two of the best teams in baseball this week in the A’s and Tigers. Shocking absolutely nobody, both teams currently sit in first in their respective divisions, yet the paths both teams took to their current forms could not be more different.
The A’s have won two division titles in a row, and will battle with the Rangers and Angels* for another AL West crown this year. Yet, they still feel like a fluke, especially to the more casual baseball fan. Who is the biggest star on the team? Yoenis Cespedes? Coco Crisp, because “Coco” and because hair? Their best player last season was third baseman Josh Donaldson, who posted the 7.7-win season from nowhere. If you asked a random baseball fan who Josh Donaldson was and what position he played — don’t do this because that would be weirdly specific — I assume most would guess he was a utility infielder for like the Padres.
* Ha ha just kidding the Angels will not be in the race in September.
April 10th, 2014
Game 1: Mariners 5, Angels 3 | Game 2: Angels 2, Mariners 0
Runs Scored = 5
Runs Against = 5
YTD Record: 4-5 | 3rd in AL West
Up Next: Friday vs. NYM
On Wednesday the Angels won their first game of the season against Not The Astros, earning a split against the division rival Mariners. The big news of the series, though, was Josh Hamilton losing a thumb war to first base when he slid into the bag rather than run through. You’re not supposed to do that. Hamilton, enjoying maybe his first hot streak as an Angel, will miss 6-8 weeks while recovering from thumb surgery. The Angels are not very deep, so left field will be managed by JB Shuck and Colin Cowgill, which in terms of platoons will likely be as successful as Willem Dafoe.
Don’t worry, he comes back and fathers Jame Franco.
What follows are my stray thoughts while watching the games:
April 7th, 2014
Justin Smoak swinging a bat. Because he plays baseball for a living.
It’s Optimism Week for the Angels, as they face off against two clubs with signs of improving in the near future. As for the Angels…hey that Mike Trout is pretty good!
First, the Angels look to avenge their embarrassing opening series against the Mariners when they take on Seattle for a quick two-game set in Safeco Field this week. The Mariners probably won’t contend for the AL West this season, but if the revamped lineup scores provides enough offense for Felix Hernandez & Friends they could hang around in the Wild Card race for the summer. And, really, Seattleites just need a bridge until Seahawks season starts.
March 27th, 2014
Trout and the Angels will look to…CATCH the top of the AL West in 2014.
6-6 tie 6-2 win Wednesday afternoon against the A’s, the Angels wrapped up the Arizona portion of their exhibition season with a 17-10 record, second best in the Cactus League. The club also posted a +54 run differential, best among all teams. Of course, this means nothing — a ripe Spring Training grapefruit could rot once the first pitch is thrown on Opening Day. But succeeding in exhibition games is still preferable to failing, especially for a team that has struggled out of the gates in each of the last two seasons. Any confidence that can be gathered and carried over to games that matter is a boost for the perennially-frustrating Angels.
Only three Freeway Series games against the Dodgers separate the Angels from their date with Felix Hernandez on Monday night in Anaheim. Before we dive into the regular season, let’s take a quick look at how some key Angels performed over the last few weeks. All stats were gathered from Baseball-Reference. For all the players I listed, I also noted what B-R has dubbed “OppQual.” Since Spring stats are difficult to decipher, this is a helpful little tool. For example, if a player’s OppQual is 10, it means he faced all MLB-caliber players — this never happens due to all the non-roster invites getting looks from clubs. If a player’s OppQual is 8, it means he faced an average of Triple-A talent. A 7 equates to Double-A, a 5 High-A, et cetera.
These stats should be taken with a gigantic grain of salt. Also, please note that all stats are through games on March 25. Onward to overreactions.
February 26th, 2014
While we all eagerly await confirmation of a contract extension, Mike Trout and the Angels whetted our appetites this morning by agreeing to a 2014 contract worth a cool $1 million, per multiple MLB reports. The raise is relatively large, as the Angels paid Trout “only” $510,000 last year, a $20,000 raise following his Rookie of the Year 2012 campaign.
Given that Trout is still pre-arbitration eligible, Arte Moreno didn’t have to give Trout a raise at all if he didn’t feel like it. He could have said “no,” chuckled to himself and stroked a pet kitten, and there’s nothing Trout or his agent could do about it until a year from now. But, with extension negotiations ongoing, why risk ill will? Employing Mike Trout for 3+ seasons for roughly $2 million total should still be a felony. What’s another five hundred grand?
Trout’s 2014 salary will break the record for the largest one-year, pre-arb contract for a ballplayer — Ryan Howard held the previous record at $900,000. Some fans may panic and assume this means a Trout extension is off the table. However, Trout’s extension was never going to count for 2014 anyway, as the Angels still want to come in under the $189M luxury tax line. A Trout extension would have shot them well past that, so the Angels needed to figure out Trout’s salary this season before an extension was finalized. Expect Trout’s extension, if it happens, to begin in 2015.
For now, Trout is officially a million-dollar ballplayer, and there are many more zeroes in his very near future. The lesson as always kids: be a professional athlete.