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March 12, 2009 at 4:47 pm ET
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Time to panic? Probably not, but maybe

Any excuse for a Napoleon Dynamite reference is a good one.In the past week, it was revealed that Ervin Santana will likely start the season on the DL, and Joe Saunders had some shoulder tightness, though he says he’s OK.

Here’s what the Angels’ roation looks like without Santana and with Saunders:

John Lackey
Jered Weaver
Saunders
Dustin Moseley?
Nick Adenhart?

Notice the big dropoff at the end? That looks like it could be the weakest rotation in recent Angels history. Santana is only supposed to miss April at the most, but if he misses more than that, the Angels could be in trouble.

So do the Angels improve their pitching staff. The only free agent left who could be ready to start the season would be Pedro Martinez. While Pedro is not the player he used to be, he might have something left. And given the current market and economy, it wouldn’t take a whole lot of cash to sign Pedro right now. I hope GM Tony Reagins and Arte Moreno are looking into it, at least.

————–

This was my last post about the Angels here at Bugs & Cranks, and I’ve enjoyed my time here and hope you join me in continuing to read this blog. For the 2.5 of you who enjoyed my coverage, I’ll keep blogging about the Angels at my personal blog, Obscure Sports Quarterly.

(Photo from thorinside’s flickr.)

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February 11, 2009 at 5:34 pm ET
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Angels steal Abreu for only $5 million

The newest Angel.Bobby Abreu isn’t as good as he used to be, but he still drove in 100 runs last year and had an OPS+ of 120. So how did the Angels just sign a player like that for one year, $5 million as Jon Heyman is reporting?

The Angels didn’t have a big need for an outfielder with Vlad, Torii and Juan Rivera already on the roster. They just needed to add another good bat somewhere. You’re telling me there wasn’t another team out there that needed Abreu more and could pay him $6 million? $7 million?

This economy is really taking a toll on baseball’s offseason, and the Angels are benefiting greatly from this. Abreu is not good on defense, but will likely mostly DH except when giving Vlad a day off from playing the outfield. Abreu’s at bats, even if a bit worse than last year’s production, almost certainly means Gary Matthews Jr. will not get any regular playing time, which may be the best part of the signing.

When guys like Abreu are getting low one-year contracts, it’s been a weird offseason.

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February 10, 2009 at 3:23 pm ET
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79 wins? Come on!

This team is supposed to win only 79 games this year? Really?Baseball Prospectus projects the Angels to win 79 games this year, even though they won 100 last year. David Chalk already blogged about how BP disrespected his Devil Rays, but at least BP and Nate Silver think the Devil Rays are going to be good.

So has Baseball Prospectus made a huge mistake?

To go from a powerhouse to a losing team would be unfathomable, like the strongest economy in the world going into a depression, baseball’s best player talking openly about cheating, an undefeated NFL team missing the playoffs the following season or a baseball team that had never won over 70 games in its history making it to the World Series.

Oh. Truthfully, I’m a bit worried.

BP has a track record of being eerily accurate when going against conventional thinking. As much as Chalk likes to make fun of PECOTA, they had the Devil Rays doing better than anyone other than Chalk last season. And the guy who made PECOTA, Nate Silver, is really good at making models that predict things. You political geeks already know that Nate correctly predicted 49 of the 50 states in the Presidential election in November.

Still, the Angels won 100 games last year, can they really fall all the way to 79 wins? I don’t see it as the most likely of scenarios, but it can happen. Let’s say Vladimir Guerrero gets hurt or declines. The Angels wouldn’t really have any great hitters left in the lineup. The Angels don’t have the starting pitching depth they used to, with only four good starters now. If they never find a fifth starter and one or two of their main four struggle or get hurt, they could be in trouble. In the bullpen, while unlikely, I could see Brian Fuentes struggling in the tougher AL, Scot Shields pitching like an old guy and Jose Arredondo struggling like a young pitcher.

But the Angels were great last year and have almost everyone back. Mark Teixeira was only on the team for two months (and they were in first place before he got there), and they’ve replaced Francisco Rodriguez with a closer that’s almost as good.

The Angels will probably still be good this season, and should be the favorites to win the AL West. The chance that they’re bad does exist though. And if the Angels finish with a losing record, the legend of Nate Silver and PECOTA will continue to grow.

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February 9, 2009 at 2:44 pm ET
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Angels’ biggest threat: Ichiro pitching?

Ichiro pitching? Why not?The common wisdom about the Angels’ chances to win the division again in 2009 is that they will be challenged by the A’s and possibly the Rangers.

The Mariners, who lost over 100 games last year, weren’t supposed to be a serious threat.

Until now.

Ichiro has been working out as a pitcher while preparing with Japan for the WBC (hat-tip to the Press-Enterprise).

According to NPB Tracker, Japan manager Tatsunori Hara has suggested that Ichiro would only be used in emergency situations. But I think he’s trying to fool us all and hide his wild card.

The scary thing is that Ichiro has pitched before, in the 1996 All-Star game in Japan, and looked dominant. In this YouTube video, Ichiro comes into the game in the ninth inning with his team only up four, so while not a save situation, it’s not a blowout either. And doing the math, 145 km/hr is the same as 90 mph:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoOnzwJOAFM[/youtube]

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January 6, 2009 at 6:45 pm ET
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The never-ending contract extension

So earlier today, I wrote that Mike Scioscia was getting a contract extension through 2012, linking to the Angels’ official site. Then I found an OC Register story saying the extension was through 2014, then an LA Times story saying through 2015.

Just a few minutes ago, the official site has a story saying the extension is through 2018.

2018!

I like Scioscia, and he’s a great manager. But an extension for 10 years? A lot can happen in a decade.

And at the rate that contract extension keeps getting longer, it will be 2030 in an hour.

Maybe Scioscia can turn into the next Joe Paterno and coach forever.

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January 6, 2009 at 4:11 pm ET
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Scioscia to manage Angels forever, Fuentes signs

Yesterday, the Angels extended Mike Scioscia’s contract through 2012. UPDATE: LA Times says extension is through 2015, OC Register says through 2014, official site says through 2012. This means more bad commercials, which Angels fans are bombarded with in every TV and radio broadcast:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9YKzG0e_gc[/youtube]

Scioscia’s been managing the Angels since 2000, the longest tenure of any AL manager. He’s only 50 — he could be around forever, given that he is easily the most successful manager in franchise history. That means more exciting baserunning and squeeze plays.

Last week, while most of us were out on New Year’s, the Angels signed Brian Fuentes, who will likely replace Frankie Rodriguez as closer. His signing looks good, since he’s put up good numbers and will be paid about half as much as K-Rod. Fuentes has funnier commercials than Scioscia too:

Continue reading »

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December 29, 2008 at 6:21 pm ET
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Angels New Year’s Resolutions

Since I can’t follow my own New Year’s Resolutions, maybe someone else will listen to them.

Mike Scioscia: Resist the temptation to put Gary Matthews, Jr. in the lineup. Ever.

Vladimir Guerrero: You’re not 25 anymore, stop trying to run the bases like you are!

Arte Moreno: When Angel fans are upset at the team, remind them that it could be worse. Frank McCourt could be the owner.

Tony Reagins: Sign Adam Dunn and convince him to play first base sometimes. Please? Pretty Please?

Jose Arredondo: Remember everything Frankie taught you, both in terms of pitching and celebrating wildly after a three-run save.

John Lackey: Update your blog more often than the loser at Bugs & Cranks.

Mike Napoli: Continue to hit for power and baffle idiot sportswriters who think you should be benched for someone who hit .194/.275/.318.

Torii Hunter: Make more “Hanging with Mr. Hunter” videos. They’re all great, but the first one is still my favorite:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnzILBhthIw[/youtube]

Howie Kendrick: Find a witch doctor, palm reader, fortune teller or crazy person that can cure you of getting injured over and over again.

Darren Oliver: Remember to stay away from coconut oil.

Jered Weaver: Consult brother for pitching advice, and continue doing the opposite.

Only 99 days left until Opening Day. We’re down to double digits!

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December 1, 2008 at 6:03 pm ET
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Sign Sabathia? Why not, it’s the American way

When you already have four great starting pitchers, why not go after a fifth? It's the American way.The common wisdom is that the Angels need to go after a big bat, and the logic is there, given that the Angels have great pitching and mediocre hitting.

So why should the Angels spend their money on C.C. Sabathia? It’s the American way. Why settle for four great starters when you can have five?

This is America, the land of capitalism. Did Microsoft, Exxon-Mobil and Walmart say to themselves, “Well, we’ve already made billions, let’s stop now, that’s good enough”? Of course not. There’s always room for more in America.

There are two ways to improve your baseball team — get better at scoring runs, or get better at allowing fewer runs. The Angels are better at pitching, but if the big name free-agent hitters like Mark Teixeira and Manny Ramirez fall through and go somewhere else, wouldn’t it make sense to sign Sabathia? Even noted Angel-basher Rob Neyer thinks C.C. Sabathia would help the Angels.

This is America. We don’t settle for TV, we watch it in HD and on a big screen. We don’t settle for just a phone, we need one we can carry with us all the time. So why settle for four great starting pitchers when you can have five?

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November 14, 2008 at 2:07 pm ET
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K-rod gone, Angels targeting Manny?

I’m a day late on this one, but yesterday, Angels’ owner Arte Moreno said this about Francisco Rodriguez: “I think as a whole, we’re probably turning the page on this one.”

It had been expected that Frankie would be leaving the Angels in free agency, and this seemingly confirms it. K-Rod was never the top priority for the Angels this offseason, still, there was still a part of me that hoped they could a get a deal done. But if not going after Frankie means the Angels are more likely to keep Mark Teixeira, I’m all for it.

From that same interview where Moreno talked about Frankie was another bit of news. There’s speculation that because Moreno had good things to say about Manny Ramirez, the Angels are going after him now too.

Really? I know Manny’s a great hitter, but do the Angels really want someone who was disliked in Boston so much that they tried to get rid of him? Ramirez would likely help the team, but I’d rather get Teixeira, or even Adam Dunn if they can get him for a lot cheaper (and spend the remainder somewhere else).

It’s easy for me to say this (it’s not my money), but with the A’s trading for Matt Holliday, the Angels need to try to improve themselves. The A’s think they can contend, and winning the AL West in 2009 won’t be as easy as in 2008.

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November 10, 2008 at 3:23 pm ET
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Which Angel free agents do other teams want?

The Frankie Rodriguez experience could be coming to a city near you.It’s common at this time of year to look at the list of available free agents and figure out which ones your team should sign. But first, let’s take a look at which Angels are free agents, and whether other teams should be going after them.

Francisco Rodriguez: Yes. I’m not going to go as far as Jeff Rosenfield and say K-Rod should win the Cy Young. Despite his 62 saves this season, even I’ll admit he wasn’t the best reliever in the league.

But he’s still a very good closer, and has been reliable throughout his career. Sure, he has a habit of creating “nervous saves”, loading the bases before getting the next three batters to pop out, strike out and ground out to end the game. Still, he gets the job done, even if he turns your mental health into a mess and makes you collapse in your seat in relief and exhaustion after every single save.

Mark Teixeira: Yes. Teixeira single-handedly improved the Angels’ lineup from mediocre-at-best to a legitimately good offense. If your team can afford him, you want him, even more than Manny Ramirez because Teixeira won’t push your team’s traveling secretary to the ground.

Garret Anderson: No. There was a time when Anderson was a consistently great hitter every season and under-rated by most. That era is long gone.

I love the guy. He’s one of the best Angels of all time, if not the best. But he can’t be counted on anymore to do anything better than league average, if that. If a team other than the Angels signs GA, it will definitely be odd seeing him play somewhere else. He’s been on the Angels since 1994, when the Blue Jays were defending champions. That’s a long time with one team.

Jon Garland: Only if desperate. Does your team need a fifth starter or an innings-eater? If so, Garland’s your guy. He’ll throw a lot of innings for you while not completely sucking. He usually won’t be good either, which is frustrating because at times Garland will look like he has great stuff. But the hitters always figure him out eventually.

Darren Oliver: Yes. On this list of big names, it’s easy to forget Oliver is available as well. That’s basically been the story during his two years as an Angel. The bullpen has been great, with K-Rod, Scot Shields, and Jose Arredondo (or Justin Speier in ’07) being the three main guys, and Oliver relegated to middle relief, mop-up duty or being a lefty specialist. But Oliver’s been great and very valuable when needed. He’s a lefty, and I’m guessing you’ll be able to get him for fairly cheap if the Angels don’t re-sign him.

Juan Rivera: Maybe. He had a great 2006 season, but broke his leg the winter after that and hasn’t been the same since. Rivera might end up being productive again if he had the opportunity to play every day. But that’s only a maybe. If you sign him, you’re taking a gamble, I wouldn’t count on him for consistent, everyday production.

If all these players leave, the Angels could be a very different team next year. It will be a very interesting off-season to watch.

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