Halos Daily

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Halos Paying Tribute to Jim Fregosi (Finally)

August 12th, 2014
Better late than never, I suppose.

Better late than never?

The Angels will finally honor one of their all-time greats on Tuesday, nearly six full months after his passing. Jim Fregosi, 71, died on Valentine’s Day of this year from complications following a stroke, bringing his 50+ years in Major League Baseball to a sudden and tragic end.

A member of the inaugural 1961 Angels, Fregosi is one of just three former Halos players to have his number (#11) retired by the team, and was the first manager to lead the club into the postseason, in 1979. Despite spending only 10 seasons in an Angels uniform, he remains the franchise WAR leader (45.9) among position players, more than five wins ahead of the next guy — Tim Salmon, at 40.5 WAR. He was elected into the team Hall of Fame in 1989, and had his number retired in 1998.

While the Phillies and Braves, for whom Fregosi worked after his playing and managing tenures with the Halos came to a close, honored the six-time All-Star at a Spring Training game in Florida three weeks after his death, the Angels were oddly silent on the matter. Other than this single paragraph written within hours of Fregosi’s death, the organization made no official moves toward paying tribute to its first real star. Until now.

A pre-game ceremony to honor Fregosi on Tuesday will include a video tribute, an on-field presentation to members of his family, and a first pitch thrown by his oldest son, Jim Jr. Additionally, both the Angels and Phillies will wear a Fregosi patch on their uniform sleeves, and the #11 will be stenciled into the outfield grass.

Many fans have widely expressed their disdain for how the front office has more or less ignored Fregosi this season, so while Tuesday’s tribute will likely be very nice, the ceremony is unlikely to bring an end to those feelings of contempt. Scheduling a tribute to someone half a year after they’ve gone seriously smacks of damage control, especially when said ceremony isn’t announced until the week before. There is absolutely no reason the team couldn’t have worn a memorial patch the entire season, or, at the very least, made an announcement regarding his tribute at the start of the year.

There is no word on whether the Halos plan to wear the memorial patch for the remainder of the season, but I sincerely hope they do. Fregosi meant a hell of a lot to the organization for more than a decade, so making an effort to commemorate that, even if only for a month and a half, is pretty much the least the club can do.

Let’s Get to Know Vinnie Pestano

August 8th, 2014

The Angels bullpen has been pretty much stuffed to the brim with quality arms for a few weeks now, but don’t tell that to Jerry Dipoto. When you’re on a roll, you’re on a roll, ya know? Dipoto continued his recent spate of reliever stockpiling on Thursday with his first-ever August waiver trade as GM, acquiring sidearm righty Vinnie Pestano from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for minor league right-hander Michael Clevinger.

Pestano, 29, was one of the Tribe’s most reliable relievers from 2010-2012, but hit a rough patch last season and never really got an opportunity to right the ship in Cleveland this year. The Anaheim native has spent most of 2014 with the club’s Triple-A affiliate in Columbus, where he’s posted a stellar 1.78 ERA and 11.0 K/9 in 30⅓ innings. With numbers like that–not to mention his track record of success–it’s worth investigating what it was that might have kept the Indians from giving him more than nine innings in the Show this year.

The first thing to note is that Pestano has experienced a not insignificant drop in his velocity between 2011 and the present that seems to correspond nicely with his diminishing returns. Correlation is not always causation, of course, but the loss of nearly 3 MPH off his average fastball (from 93.5 to 90.8) can’t just be ignored either. When his four-seamer averaged more than 92 MPH (’10-’12), batters hit .182 and slugged .281 against the pitch, essentially turning them all into John McDonald. At < 92 MPH (’13-’14), though, which is admittedly a smaller sample, big-league batters have hit .276 and slugged .505 against the pitch. That’s not so good.

It would be easy to lay all the blame on the velocity and just move on, but I believe there’s more to the story than that.

Like every other sidearm pitcher ever, Pestano is tougher on same-side hitters (RHBs) than guys who have the platoon advantage (LHBs). Pestano, for instance, has a rather extreme split of 528 OPS-against vs RHBs and an 829 OPS-against LHBs in his career. With most right-handed slingers (see: Darren O’Day, Brad Ziegler), this known deficiency against lefties isn’t too big of a deal because their teams utilize them primarily with a string of right-handed batters coming up. For whatever reason, though, this has not been the case with the Indians and Pestano. He has faced a total of 485 MLB batters over the last three seasons, and roughly 52% of them have been left-handed. As you might imagine, this has had some serious adverse effects on his results.

It’s not just the drop in velocity that has hurt Pestano of late, then, it’s also his team’s strange proclivity toward using him in situations where he’s set up to fail. While guys like O’Day and Ziegler have thrived by facing upwards of 60% RHBs, Pestano has been left to toil against a majority who have a natural advantage over him. This is a mind-boggling approach for any team, but especially so for the Indians when you consider how important platoons have been to the team’s success on the offensive side of things.

When you add together Pestano’s velocity issues, his ROOGY-ness, and Cleveland’s already-solid bullpen, it becomes easier to understand why the Tribe stowed Pestano at Triple-A for much of the year, and why they were willing to give him up for a low-ceiling pitching prospect like Clevinger. Pestano might have been the organization’s “closer of the future” at one point in time, but it is pretty evident he was no longer part of their long-term plans.

None of this means he can’t help the Halos down the stretch, of course. With Mike Morin and Joe Thatcher on the shelf indefinitely, the club could use another reliable mid-innings guy who doesn’t come with training wheels attached (i.e. Cam Bedrosian). So long as Mike Scioscia is sure to use him predominantly against RHBs, Pestano should be a good addition to the ‘pen, if he’s called upon. For now, he’s been assigned to Triple-A Salt Lake.

Oh yeah… to make room on the 40-man for Pestano, the Angels DFA-ed Tommy Field, who I honestly had no idea was still around.

Happy Birthday, Mike Trout!

August 7th, 2014
Even mom and dad sent a cake.

Even mom and dad sent a cake.

Hey, whaddaya know! Mike Trout is another year older today.

Mike turns the big 2-3 today, which is remarkable on several levels. It’s remarkable in that he’s already accrued nearly 2,000 MLB plate appearances to this point, that after all this time he’s still one of the youngest players in the game — not to mention younger than 12 of MLB dot com’s Top 100 prospects — and that despite all his success, he’s only now entering his “prime.”

Trout, like everyone else in the world ever, shares his birthday with several people of note, including Charlize Theron, Sidney Crosby, and bygone Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory, whose profession is listed as “Most Prolific Female Serial Killer in History.” So that’s terrible.

Anyway, we here at Halos Daily didn’t want to let Mike’s big day pass without commemorating it in some fashion. The folks at MLB dot com already devised a solid list of 23 fun facts about Mike Trout, so rather than duplicate that we decided to make a non-exhaustive list of notable 23s that Mike Trout is better at baseball than:

- Dr. Pepper

“Skidoo”

This terrible Jim Carrey movie

This Buzzfeed list

- Vanadium

This song

- Stable sodium

This X-men character

- Chromosome pairs

- Michael Jordan

 

***

 

And now, a stupid poem I totally made up:

1 Mike Trout is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to sit down near green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of “playing the game the right way” for baseball’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of Oakland, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy glove and thy bat they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest an MVP campaign before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my MLB.tv feed with spoils; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life: so I will dwell in the house of the Trout for ever.

Feel free to set that to music.

How Collin Cowgill Makes the Freese Trade Work

August 6th, 2014
Cowgill

Peter who?

I’ve been looking for an excuse to write at length about Collin Cowgill for a while, and his return to the starting lineup after a month on the DL seems as good as any. That’s a pretty terrible hook, so let’s try adding a hint of intrigue:

 

Player A: .277/.354/.407 in 200 PA, +9 DRS, +3.8 BRR

 

Player B: .219/.284/.342 in 218 PA, +5 DRS, +2.6 BRR

 

Those are the 2014 lines for Cowgill, who you certainly guessed, and former Angels fan-favorite Peter Bourjos, who you probably haven’t thought about since April. A lot has been made of the David Freese trade in the nine months since it went down, but not much has been said about the role Cowgill might have played in making Bourjos fungible and, thus, less valuable to the Halos than what his perceived market price could have dictated.

Angels Get Best of Rays, Move to a Game Back in AL West

August 4th, 2014

Game 1: Angels 5, Rays 3 | Game 2: Rays 10, Angels 3 | Game 3: Angels 7, Rays 5

Runs Scored: 15
Runs Allowed: 18

YTD Record: 66-44 | 2nd in AL West

Up Next: Monday @ LAD

RaysSeries2

The Angels haven’t played their best baseball since returning from the All-Star break, but they’ve still fared well enough to keep pace with Oakland in the battle for the division lead. While the A’s continue to put post massive margins of victory in their triumphs — their eight second-half wins have come by an average of just over five runs — the Halos have come to claim their wins in nail-biting fashion: thus far, their biggest margin of victory post-ASB is a measly four. Eight of their nine wins have been by two runs or fewer, and six of those eight have been one-run games. Even their defeats have come in close contests of late: Saturday’s 10-3 whooping at the hands of the Rays was their first loss by more than two runs since the Midsummer Classic, and just their second since June 16 (!!).

This recent bevy of close games could be seen as a worrying trend, but given the big discrepancy in competitors over the last two weeks — the A’s have faced the two worst teams in the AL nine times, the Angels have faced division leaders 10 times — I’d choose to look at it as a good sign. The club is holding its own against some of the best teams in the league, which flies in the face of the “the Angels aren’t good, they’ve just had an easy schedule” story some have propagated. A solid series against the Dodgers this week should put that particular narrative to bed for good.

Halos Daily

Dedicated to bringing you top notch Angels analysis!