Halos Daily

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Focusing on the Future?

July 2nd, 2013

The calendar has turned to July and suddenly the Angels are grinding out some tough wins. A perfect 6-0 road trip against familiar foes Detroit and Houston allowed the Halos to complete June with a 15-14 record, making it two straight months that the Angels have played better than .500. However, they still find themselves four games under the .500 mark, nine games out of first place in the AL West.

July 31 and the days leading up to it will be an extremely interesting time for the Halos. General Manager Jerry Dipoto certainly finds himself in a peculiar situation. When asked if he would categorize his team as “buyers” or “sellers” heading towards the MLB trade deadline, Dipoto dodged the question:

We are not a buyer. We are not a seller. We’re the Angels.

The Angels will soon be faced with a series of decisions that will tip their hand as to what kind of team the front office actually believes they have.  At this point, nobody really knows what kind of team this, or what it can do over the next 80 games.

Injuries to key contributors have soured what might be a much better team.  Jered Weaver, Erick Aybar, Peter Bourjos, Kevin Jepsen, Tommy Hanson, and Jason Vargas have all been bit by the injury bug, making it difficult to determine what kind of team the Angels really are.  Can they be good?  Can they be great?  Or are they just poorly assembled and incapable of being an elite squad?

Nearly every prognosticator, including lines makers in Las Vegas, believed that the Halos were a World Series contender before the season began.  Perhaps Dipoto thinks the club can get healthy, Josh Hamilton will begin swinging the bat, and the club makes a historic run into October. There’s a chance that things could go right, but it’d be a tremendous gamble on Dipoto’s part to head into August with 25 current players from the Angels organization and hope for the best.

Or Dipoto could further dilute the organization’s farm system to add a key piece for a playoff push.  The Angels have a depleted minor league system, and tapping further into it to add pieces to a team that hasn’t been at .500 since the first week of the season would (in most circumstances) be considered nothing short of crazy.  But is this team starting to find its stride? If so, would a bullpen arm, a proven bat at third base, or a quality rotation arm be enough to catapult this team into the postseason?  Maybe, but not definitely.  Rock, meet hard place.

This team has  neither thrown in the towel nor has it made itself into a force to be reckoned with.  A payroll that shouts contender, but an overall record that screams pretender.  There isn’t a clear cut route to take and Dipoto is probably rooting for the next few weeks to tell him something definitive about his club.  Keep winning as they have done over the past week and the decision gets easier.  Or continue losing as they have done a ton of throughout the season and that too makes the decision clearer.  Chances are, neither of those will happen and the Angels will play closer to the 15-14 mark they amassed in June. So at that point, what’s next?

Ryan Madson and Sean Burnett were brought in to shore up a bullpen that needed fine tuning.  Madson has yet to take the field for the Angels.  Chalk that one up to bad luck.  Sean Burnett, on the other hand, has been an enigma. He is close to turning into the second coming of Ryan Madson.  As in man-down, for good.  So does Dipoto rely on Jepsen, Richards, Downs, and Frieri?  Or does he sacrifice minor league talent for relief help?  Someone like Jesse Crain from the Chicago White Sox could be an upgrade.

Is Alberto Callaspo good enough at third?  An upgrade appears to be available in Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez.  Ramirez packs some top notch pop in his bat,  but is that worth the price of unproven talent?  We all remember the Greinke deal and how that ended up.  The 2012 Angels didn’t get a seat at the playoff table, and now former Angel Jean Segura is playing an All Star caliber shortstop for those same Brewers that could dangle Ramirez.  Oh, and let’s not forget that Greinke didn’t re-sign with the Angels and now pitches for the rival Dodgers. Ouch.

So you want to be a General Manager in Major League Baseball?  Are you sure about that?  Jerry Dipoto will undoubtedly lose some sleep in the coming days.  Is trading a potentially power bat like C.J. Cron worth the return of a Matt Garza or a starting pitcher of his ilk?  To the fans it very well might be, but how about to a front office that could very well face the music if this season doesn’t eventually pan out as ownership and prognosticators expected?

Don’t take your eyes off of this team yet. There’s plenty more to see as two of the best teams in baseball roll into Anaheim this week.  First a 3 game set against the St. Louis Cardinals and then the Boston Red Sox come into town.  A successful performance against those elite clubs would further hope for the 2013 Angels.  This is the route the Halo faithful hope this team takes.  No Angels fan wants to see Howie Kendrick finally win a batting title for a different team, or Scott Downs pitching out of the bullpen in a playoff game donning a color that isn’t Halo red.

Make it easier for Jerry and stay hot, Angels.

Game 51: The Battle for LA Begins

May 28th, 2013

CJ Wilson had a rough night on the bump for the Halos.

Final Score: Dodgers 8, Angels 7

Halos Daily Player of the Game: Albert Pujols (3-for-4, two 2Bs)

Game one of 2013′s “Battle for LA” did not disappoint from an entertainment perspective.  In a game that saw both teams combine for 27 hits and 15 runs, the home team Dodgers came away with a much needed 8-7 victory.  On the other side, the Angels had their eight-game winning  streak snapped and limped away from this one feeling like a winnable game had snuck away.

Your Move, Mr. Moreno

May 9th, 2013
Mike Scioscia hasn't had much to smile about in 2013.

Mike Scioscia hasn’t had much to smile about in 2013.

Arte Moreno should have known better.  This was never going to end well.  For the second straight season the Angels are off to their worst start in franchise history and the respected owner has no one to blame but himself.  The time has come for Arte to right his own wrong.

We all feel it.  The Angels’ season is slipping away, only six weeks after it began.  Unthinkable just a few months ago, but this team now appears broken.  A rash of injuries to starters Erick Aybar, Alberto Callaspo, Peter Bourjos and the staff ace Jered Weaver have no doubt contributed to the awful start.  Add to that the myriad of injuries to members of the Angels bullpen and on the surface it would be easy to blame health, or the lack thereof, for the grotesque 11-22 record.  Injuries are a part of the game, though, and teams with championship fabric overcome them.  This team clearly has not done that and there is a reason for it.  The fact is, fractures within the culture of the organization are mostly to blame for this mess, not broken elbows or pulled hamstrings.

Game 5: Pujols Shows His Power

April 7th, 2013

Final Score: Angels 8, Rangers 4

Halos Daily Player of the Game: Albert Pujols

It took until the fifth game of the 2013 season, but the power-laden bats of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have arrived.  The Halos muscled up on the offensive side and also received solid support from their pitching staff to earn their second victory of the year today against the Texas Rangers.

Game Friggin’ On!!

December 15th, 2012

Allow me to handicap these two fist fights for the fans. The Rangers are Manny Pacquiao and the Angels are indeed last week's Juan Marquez. Night night sleepy Ranger. The Dodgers are Mike Tyson and the Angels are Buster Douglas.  Ah, excuse me Mr. Dodger Blue but you've got some canvas stuck in your teeth.  Do you need some help up?

Lets get one thing straight, Arte Moreno and his fat cat counterparts over at Guggenheim Hedgefunds are having Major League Baseballs' version of a pissing contest. Mr. Moreno just took the lead.  Josh Hamilton is an Angel? Are you kidding me?

We'll get back to the Lonestar state to measure their bumps and bruises in a moment, but for now lets stick to Southern Cali and clear up any confusion.  This isn't just a battle for market share in Los Angeles.  It's an all out turf war between two financial behemoths that's net result is the greatest baseball players in the world making their way out to the west coast. It's fantasyland for baseball enthusiasts and the closest thing to the old "Wild Wild West" that players and their agents could have ever dreamed of.

The Guggenheim group and their Magic man roll with the deepest pockets in the game right now and certainly had to believe before Thursday's heist that they'd slipped a knife between Arte's ribs.  Hauling away Zack Greinke in a limo and heading about 35 miles up the 5 freeway had to have the suits popping corks, clinking glasses, and sticking their Armani covered chests out.  They'd staked their claim to supremacy in the Southland and dropped over $200 million on starting pitchers Greinke and Ryu to do it.  Their massive chip stack was just supposed to fold Arte right out of the game.  But it didn't.

Note to Magic and the hedge fund crew: You're dealing with a lone wolf that's so competitive that, for all we know, he's only all by his lonesome because he ate the rest of his pack. You may have thought you had him cornered off way down there in Anaheim, but make no mistake: he's still out stalking your sheep.  His paws have never left your doorstep and this time he dropped his latest kill right on your front porch.  Game friggin ON!

Both these MLB heavyweight teams are backed by massively lucrative television deals that seem to provide an endless flow of revenue.  And boy oh boy do these boys know how to spend it.  Kemp.  Pujols.  Greinke.  Hamilton.  Gonzalez.  Weaver.  Ryu.  Wilson.  Crawford.  Ethier.  That's just a little 1.3 billion dollar taste of the player purchases these two teams have made in the past year.

Back in Texas, Mr. Ryan and Mr. Daniels are trying to put the pieces back together.  They've lost 1/3 of their lineup and the free agent market is drying up quickly. The trade market seems to be their best option now but that means weakening their farm system to strengthen their big league club.  That's something they'd hate to do, and Alpha Arte is grinning like a cat watching them squirm.

This is for real.  Arte and the Angels are in a two front war and like a true superpower, they're holding their own just fine on both fronts. 

Please follow Drew Mumford Jr. on twitter @jrjantreshunt.

Halos Daily

Dedicated to bringing you top-notch Angels analysis!