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Tag:Torii Hunter
Posted on: July 9, 2009 2:10 pm
 

Texas BBQ

Angels get their wings clipped by Rangers, dropping 2 of 3

Andruw Jones isn't quite done yet, apparently. That or he was saving whatever was left in his tank to hammer the Halos in Wednesday night's finale between the Angels and Rangers. Seriously Andruw, three bombs? Just ridiculous. But the real star was Vicente Padilla, who held the Angels to a single run and didn't hit anyone in the head with a 94 mph fastball. Ervin was terrible again. His fastball velocity and depth on his breaking pitches was pretty solid, but he had NO IDEA where any of them were going. I'm really not too concerned with John Lackey's recent struggles, but Ervin scares me. He is not mentally tough enough to battle through things like this. Maybe some time off at the All-Star break will do him good. So much for the rotation rounding into shape, huh?

So after last night's a$$ whipping, the Angels are 2-7 vs. the Rangers and 11-16 vs. the AL West as a whole. Not good, people. I'm beginning to think the team's fortunes against the NL West were a mirage and that we may not be as good as I thought. I'm not sure. We're probably good enough to contend for the West with Texas (M's will fade...at some point), but not much else. And now with more injuries to Vlad, and more importantly, Torii Hunter, things aren't looking too good. All that said, we're only a game out of first and it's early July. Should be interesting the rest of the way, at the very least.

You've probably heard that the Blue Jays are "listening to offers" for Roy Halladay. According to Steve Bisheff of the LA Times, the Angels may be players, or at the very least, have the Major League talent and prospects needed to make a deal. It would obviously cost A LOT. Bisheff is guessing Napoli or Mathis, Aybar and Howie Kendrick, Sean O'Sullivan, Brandon Wood and Trevor Reckling. A lot, indeed. I don't see the Halos as players in the Halladay talks, and really, I don't think the Jays move him at all.



Posted on: June 15, 2009 3:01 pm
 

Flawed and Feisty

The Halos are hanging around, but are they going anywhere?

After a road trip that saw the Angels play their worst ball of the season (and that's saying something), the club headed home for a three-game set with the Padres. Thank God for the Padres, huh, Halos fans? A visit from Buddy Black's club proved to be just what our sputtering offense needed, as extra-base hits were flying around the Big-A like it was 2002 all over again. In the series, a struggling Chris Young was the only bona fide big league pitcher the Angels had to face, as before his start on Saturday, Pads ace Jake Peavy was placed on the DL. Still, these are the Angels, and the team has had a knack for making Triple-A scrubs look like Cy Young, so it wasn't quite a foregone conclusion that the bats would come alive. But come alive they did!! The Halos slugged 9 HR and scored 26 runs in the three-game sweep, highlighted by Torii Hunter's 3-HR game on Saturday and Juan Rivera's pair of round-trippers in Sunday's finale.

With the Angels sweep and the Rangers dropping 2-of-3 to the Dodgers, the Halos climbed to within 2.5 games of the AL West-leading Rangers. The AL West remains a very winnable division, and it looks like it's going to go down to the wire with the Angels and Rangers duking it out all summer. The Mariners are hanging around as well, but their offense makes the Angels' look like the Red Sox. The M's just don't seem like contenders to me, but Felix and Bedard should keep them around .500. Billy Beane's probably already begun seeing what prospects Matt Holliday will bring, as the young (and old) A's look at another disappointing season.

The main reason the Rangers are tops in the division is their complete dominance within it. Texas is 13-3 against the AL West this season. Conversely, the Angels are 9-12. If the Halos don't do something to turn this trend around, they will most likely be watching Nolan Ryan and the Rangers celebrate a division title. As the old saying goes, there is a lot of baseball left to play.

In researching some stats for this blog entry, I came across some pretty interesting numbers. Let's look at offense. The common thought is that the Rangers have a top flight, explosive offense and the Angels, well, don't. This really isn't the case this year unless you're only looking at HR totals. The Angels currently lead the AL with a .279 average and sit 9th in runs scored with 296. The Rangers (albeit without Josh Hamilton for much of the season) are 7th in the AL with 310 runs scored. That's it, 14 measly runs separating the powerhouse Rangers from the slap happy Halos. This isn't to say that everything's all good offensively in Anaheim. While the club has hit .280 with RISP, far too many of those hits have been singles. The Angels don't hit a lot of home runs, but it seems when they do hit one, no one's on base. Ever. They also haven't hit a ton of doubles this year either, meaning the Angels need three hits in an inning oftentimes to score a run. This needs to change. If it's a case of bad luck, they may be in line for a nice offensive boost very soon, but if it's a case of lack of clutch hitting, which is how it appears, the Angels mediocre offense will remain just that.

Scot Shields' season is over, and I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing for the club. Scotty just didn't seem to have it this season. If he was coming back, however, the club might have been OK with standing pat while the bullpen continues to struggle. With Shieldsy done, the club is now forced to look at bringing a good arm or two into the bullpen before the trade deadline. We'll have to wait and see who's available and just what the Angels are willing to give up.

A quick look at some HOT Angels:

Chone Figgins is now 5th in the AL with a .326 batting average. Figgy's hitting line drives all over the place from both sides of the plate and he's scoring runs too. He's currently tied for third in the AL with 47 runs scored. When Figgy scores, the Angels usually win.

Torii Hunter's 3-HR day on Saturday punctuated what's really been a two month hot streak. Hunter has really carried the club offensively and his 16 HR and 51 RBI are both 5th in the AL.

With Jered Weaver's CG shutout yesterday, the righty is now 7-2 with an ever-shrinking 2.08 ERA, good for second in the AL behind Zack Greinke's 1.72. Weav has been unbelievable lately, and looks like a lock for his first All-Star appearance.
Posted on: May 11, 2009 3:58 pm
Edited on: May 11, 2009 6:52 pm
 

Halos streaking, reinforcements coming

The Angels won their fourth straight game (and 6th of last 7) yesterday in completing a sweep of the Kansas City Royals. They are now 16-14 and just a half game behind the Rangers for the top spot in the AL West. The makeshift starting rotation has been one of the best in the AL all season without studs John Lackey and Ervin Santana, who are both set to make their debuts later this week. Fill-ins Shane Loux, Matt Palmer and Anthony Ortega have performed very capably, especially Palmer (pictured left) who has gone 3-0 with a 3.06 ERA. His solid work has probably earned him a chance to remain in the rotation when Lackey and Santana return, with Loux probably heading back to the bullpen and Ortega, who got roughed up by the Blue Jays in his last start, heading back to Salt Lake.

While the youngsters have been doing their part, it's been mainstays Joe Saunders and Jered Weaver who have led the way. Both sport tidy 2.66 ERA's with Saunders going 5-1 and Weaver 3-1. These two were counted on to hold the rotation together with Lackey and Santana out, and both have answered the bell. It's beginning to look like Saunders' All-Star 2008 season was not the fluke many made it out to be. He's beginning to remind me a bit of Mark Buehrle, a guy who's not everpowering, but just knows how to pitch and get guys out. On Saturday night, he outdueled Zack "Cy Young" Greinke, matching him pitch-for-pitch and making a single Angels run hold up in a complete game shut-out. Greinke had all the headlines coming in, and he was as good as advertised, but Joe did what top of the rotation guys need to do. It was an impressive start to say the least. Weaver is also coming off a CG, his perhaps even more impressive than Saunders's, as he surrendered only 1 run to the scorching hot Blue Jays in a 6-1 win. All the Blue Jays did the previous night was score 13 runs on 15 hits. Weaver cooled them off in a hurry.

The bullpen has looked better as of late, but still not the rock-solid, lock-down pen of past Angels teams. Closer Brian Fuentes has looked better of late, though he got bailed out big time yesterday by Torii Hunter, who snatched what would have been the game-tying HR off the bat of Miguel Olivo 2 feet over the centerfield fence. If you haven't seen it, YouTube that action...it was AWESOME. Fuentes has 9 saves in 11 chances, and while his 15 K's in 11.2 innings is nice, his .298 BAA is not. He hasn't walked a ton of guys, but his location isn't quite where it needs to be. Closer-in-waiting Jose Arredondo has looked better lately as well. He's K'd 19 in just 13.2 innings of work, but also has an Saunders and Weaver have led the way.uncharacteristically high BAA of .288. His ERA has been slowly shrinking, but still stands at a putrid 5.27. It looks like Arredondo will be just fine, though. Scot Shields, on the other hand doesn't look fine. He had a nice outing yesterday, but has not shown any semblance of consistency. In 11.2 innings, he's issued 12 BB while striking out 8 batters. His .195 BAA suggests he still has the stuff to get guys out, when he's not issuing walk after walk, after walk. Jury's still out on Shieldsy, and the team desperately needs him to turn it around.

With Seattle coming back to reality and the A's not hitting, the Rangers have emerged as the Angels chief competition in the division. While not entirely unexpected, the offensive powerhouse Rangers have gotten solid work from starters Kevin Milwood (hello, contract year) and Vicente Padilla, along with Matt Harrison. They've also been without slugger Josh Hamilton, who returns this week. Look out.

Along with the returning pitchers, the Angels offense should get a shot of Vlad in a few weeks. He's going to be the team's full-time DH when he returns, it appears, which is the right play in my opinion. Keep Vlad as healthy as possible. The offense continues to be OK without him, as Torii Hunter and Mike Napoli have been hot. Also, there's been a Gary Matthews sighting...he's playing very well lately and will probably continue to start somewhere in the OF when Vlad returns.

So the Angels weathered the storm of injuries and are playing the best ball they've played all season. If the return of the starters can help to settle the bullpen, with Loux and Palmer heading down, the team should look like the Angels teams we've seen the last few seasons. It won't be a cakewalk, however, as the Rangers don't look like they're going to fade anytime soon and the A's bats have woken up a bit lately. The AL West is more up for grabs than it has been the last few seasons, and it could be a 3 or 4 horse race all season.                                                                                                                                     

Posted on: April 30, 2009 12:19 pm
 

3 wins in a row, headed to the Big Apple

The Angels completed a mini-sweep (2 game series) of the Orioles yesterday behind a pretty gutty performance from Shane Loux. The righty was in trouble a bit early, but was able to minimize the damage and give the Halos' bats a chance to come around. The O's Uehara kept the Angels bats pretty quiet till Torii Hunter and Kendry Morales went back-to-back in the 7th inning. Hunter's power stroke has been nice (his 8th HR already) but Kendry has been the Angels best hitter the last week or so, driving in runs and coming through with big hits. He's now hitting .288 with 3 HR and 14 RBI and a .534 slugging %. Kendry's obviously not going to put up Mark Teixeira numbers, but I thought going into the season that he would out-produce Casey Kotchman. Kendry can hit, and he's starting to show it.

Now the club heads to the new and improved Yankee Stadium for a 4-game set with the bombers. A split would be just fine with me, but we'll see what happens. The bullpen's starting to coming around a bit (knock on wood) and the middle of the order guys continue to hit. The biggest concern right now for the offense is Chone Figgins. The Halos' lead-off man has looked terrible at the plate lately, and the club desperately needs Figgy to get on base. He can be streaky, so let's hope he gets a streak going in the opposite direction - soon.

Angels have a tough test today, facing A.J. Burnett, who has the ability to shut down any lineup. Anthony Ortega gets the ball for the Halos coming off a shaky but not horrendous first start against the M's.
Posted on: February 25, 2009 3:49 pm
 

2009 Angels Season Preview

The Angels won a franchise-record 100 games last season before their annual ousting from the playoffs by the Boston Red Sox. They didn't go down near as easily as they did in '07, but down is down. Too few extra base hits and hits with RISP - it's a pattern we Halos fans have come to almost expect.

Last season was a little different than the previous few, as the team made a big deadline deal to land "the big bat" to hit behind Vladimir Guerrero in Mark Teixeira. To land Tex, the Halos had to part ways with talented first baseman Casey Kotchman, and even though the trade didn't bear the results Angels fans hoped for, I still think it was a good deal. They had to roll the dice with the team they had, especially the way the pitching staff was performing. Now with Tex donning pinstripes and Kotch across the country in Atlanta, the team looks to Kendry Morales to hold down the fort at 1B. Kendry only got a handful of AB's at the Major League level last season, but has had enough time with the big club the last few seasons to not be considered a complete question mark. He can handle the bat. Even though he hit just .213 last season (in just 61 AB's) he was never over matched. He's hit better than .340 each of the last few seasons at AAA Salt Lake, and, even though AAA's not the bigs, .340 is still impressive. Kendry will hit. His glove may be the biggest question.

The Angels also parted ways with some guy named Rodriguez...the kids called him K-Rod, I think. Yes Francisco Rodriguez saved a Major League record 62 games last season, but if you watched him day-in, day-out, you know he was less than dominant. In reality, he probably was barely a Top 5 closer last season. He blew 7 saves and ended the season with a 1.29 WHIP. He walks WAAAY too many batters and allows more base runners than a top-flight closer should. His replacement, Brian Fuentes, should be just fine. I honestly don't think the loss of Franky will affect the team at all. Thanks for the memories, though.

One of the greatest Angels of all time played his last game with the club last season. Aging left fielder Garret Anderson had another solid season (also his healthiest in years) but the crowded Angels outfield left no room for GA to return. Juan Rivera was re-signed, and looked to be team's every day LF until the club signed veteran Bobby Abreu to a 1-year, $5 million deal. A steal, really, considering Raul Ibanez got 3-years/$30 million from Philly earlier in the off season. Abreu will be a good addition to the Halos' lineup. He is a high on-base guy, has some pop with mostly gap power and can still run a little bit. He should fit right in. Speaking of the Halos' lineup, let's take a look. I'll include last year's relevant stats and what I expect this season.

1. Chone Figgins 3B: 2008-.276/.367OBP/72RUNS/34SB (116 gms). 2009 Proj.-.290/.380/105RUNS/55SB

2. Howie Kendrick 2B: 2008-.306/3HR/37RBI (92 gms). 2009 Proj.-.310/10/55/85RUNS/15SB

3. Bobby Abreu LF: 2008(NYY)-.296/20/100/100. 2009 Proj.-.300/18/90/80/20SB

4. Vladimir Guerrero RF: 2008-.303/27/91. 2009 Proj.-.315/28/110

5. Torii Hunter CF: 2008-.278/21/78. 2009 Proj.-.275/20/80

6. Juan Rivera DH/RF: 2008-.246/12/45 (256 ABs). 2009 Proj.-.285/22/65 (475 ABs)

7. Kendry Morales 1B: 2008-.213/3/8 (61 ABs). 2009 Proj.-.280/13/60

8. Mike Napoli C: 2008-.273/20/49 (227 ABs (WOW!)). 2009 Proj.-.250/25/55 (350 ABs)

9. Erick Aybar SS: 2008-.277/3/39/53RUNS (346 ABs). 2009 Proj.-.275/5/40/65

 

Of course, all these "projections" are assuming fairly healthy seasons. I still see Naps splitting time with Jeff Mathis, and you can't expect him to keep up last year's HR rate. Aybar will be spelled by Izturis a little bit, but I don't think Aybar did anything last season to not come into '09 as the starter at SS. If Rivera gets more ABs, look for him to sniff 30 HR. We'll see.

If things just go according to plan and the young guys grow up a bit, I think the Halos will score enough runs to win 90-plus games. Now, they're no offensive juggernaut, but Abreu's OBP ability in front of Vlad makes the team much better than it was before his signing. They'll probably finish in the middle of the pack of the AL in runs scored.

I'll take a look at the pitchers in a different post and make a prediction on how the AL West shakes out.

 

Posted on: May 28, 2008 3:14 pm
 

Angels Checklist

Starting pitching: Check.  What was supposed to be a weakness in the early part of the season with John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar missing time has been anything but. Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana have been two of the better pitchers in the AL, and now that Lackey's back and Jered Weaver is pitching better of late, the Halos have one of the top rotations in all of baseball.

Bullpen: Check.  One of the Angels biggest strengths over the last several seasons was a major liability in the opening weeks of the season. Scot Shields opened the year on the DL and Justin Speier, Darren Oliver and company were just plain horrendous in the early going. Speier is still a bit of a mess, but D.O., Darren O'Day and the return of Shields got the pen going again and Franky has been getting the job done, albeit in shaky fashion.

Defense: Check.  Trading a Gold Glove shortstop and having a young, unproven kid try to fill his shoes, you'd expect some growing pains. I did. But Erick Aybar has been very good defensively and, to this point in the season, better than O.C. with the bat. Uh, that Torii Hunter guy IS pretty good, isn't he? Having another plus defender in Gary Matthews roaming left or right field has been a luxury. Casey Kotchman is one of the best in the league, and the kids (Brandon Wood, Sean Rodriguez) haven't hit a lick but have been solid with the leather.

Offense: What's the opposite of a check? After getting off to a blazing start, to say the offense has fizzled out would be a massive understatement. There really hasn't been any offense to speak of. To be fair, one-third of our lineup should be playing in Salt Lake and missing our lead-off guy and catalyst Chone Figgins has really hurt. All that said, we should still be better than this. Vlad - Hunter - GA is a decent middle of the order but it seems like we can't get two or more of those guys going at once. Kotchman has been the team's most consistent offensive player, but after an early HR tear, hasn't hit one in a while. Mike Napoli's early power stroke has been fun to watch, hopefully it continues. I'm honestly not worried about the offense, or lack thereof. When we get healthy and have Figgy, Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar back, we'll have a much more balanced attack and we all know Vlad won't stay down for long.

The good news has been that the team is winning even through this drought. We went through a similar stretch last season, but we dropped a bunch of games then. The pitching has been so good, it's like they won't let us lose right now.

 

Posted on: April 21, 2008 6:42 pm
 

Early Season Test for the Halos

Not that the Angels schedule so far has been easy, but it is about to get much tougher as they embark on a roadie that has them playing three in Fenway against the scorching hot Red Sox and three in Detroit against the resurgent Tigers, who are starting to hit the ball.

I think this is a nice test to see where we stand right now while putting our somewhat depleted team up against some of the best the AL has to offer. We have obviously had our troubles at Fenway, so I'm just hoping to get one game there and then maybe steal two in Detroit if we get a couple quality starts (I haven't really checked the pitching matchups yet). All in all, I'd be happy with a 3-3 trip.

Just want to see the club play some good baseball...and see how Hunter and Garland repsond to helping their new team beat our nemesis...the hated Red Sox. Should be interesting.

 
 
 
 
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