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Category Archives: Los Angeles Angels

Five Teams to Watch In the Second Half

The second half is underway and there are a handful of teams looking to get back to the post season, some waiting longer than others.

The National League features a pair of teams who find themselves shockingly in first place. Meanwhile, the American League has an early three-team race for the Wild Card with one newcomer in the second half post season race.

Here are a list of five teams to watch heading into the second half of the season.

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Season Preview: NL West

Expectations: San Francisco’s payroll may top $130 million in order to pay for Brian Wilson’s beard dye.
Key Addition: OF Melky Cabrera (acquired from Kansas City)
Key Loss: SP Jonathan Sanchez (traded to Kansas City)
Projected Record: 93-69
Summary: The Giants are looking to get back on top of the National League after a disappointing 2011 campaign. The Giants went 86-76, missing the wild card by four games to the Cardinals, who won the World Series.

The Giants are hoping Madison Bumgarner fills in big as the number three pitcher after the Giants dealt Jonathan Sanchez for Melky Cabrera. They still have Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain at the front of their rotation, boasting one of the best pitching staffs in baseball.

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Season Preview: AL West

Expectations: The Rangers ditch all of their Braves’ World Series tapes that they’ve studied from the past two years.
Key Addition: SP Yu Darvish (signed from Nippon of the Japanese League)
Key Loss: SP C.J. Wilson (signed with LA Angels)
Projected Record: 93-69
Summary: The Rangers, coming off of their second straight World Series appearance, have one of the best lineups in baseball.

They had four players with 25+ HRs (Adrien Beltre, Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz, Josh Hamilton). Beltre, Hamilton and Michael Young all hit over .295 while Kinsler and Elvis Andrus added the speed (30 or more steals each).

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Around the MLB 7/27/11

METS, GIANTS CLOSE ON BELTRAN –Well, I think it’s time to let go of the possibility of trading for Carlos Beltran. That’s not so much of a bad thing seeing as the

Phils didn’t want to part with any good prospects for a 2 1/2 months rental player.

Carlos Beltran (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The New York Mets and San Francisco Giants are close on a deal that would send Beltran to the NL West leading Giants.

The deal is said to send Giants right-handed pitcher Zack Wheeler to New York for Beltran and cash. Wheeler, the sixth overall pick in the 2009 First Year draft, is one of San Fran’s top pitching prospects.

Wheeler, 21, is 7-5 with 3.99 ERA for San Francisco’s Class A Advanced San Jose affiliate this season.

The trade will instantly improve the 25th offense in the Major Leagues. Beltran, 34, is hitting .289 with 15 homers and 61 RBIs. He also had a major league leading  30 doubles.

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Five teams to watch in the 2nd half

Atlanta catcher Brian McCann (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

With the second half of the 2011 season underway yesterday, division races, Wild Card races and the push for the best record in baseball begin to heat up. With just under 100 games out of the way, five teams jump out as the favorites to make the playoffs and do some serious damage in their respective leagues.

There really are no new teams in this year’s hunt. The Reds have stumbled in the first half of the season but are still four games out of first place in the NL Central. The Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants are riding their pitching to the best two records in the league.

In the American League, the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays are back at their three-way fight for the division and Wild Card while the Central and West are up in the air for two teams each: Cleveland/Detroit and Texas/Los Angeles.

The Wild Cards for each league will also present some interesting match-ups. Atlanta will have to battle with the NL Central if they can’t overcome Philadelphia and the Yanks/Sox/Rays may have some competition.

So with that, here are five teams to watch. This is not a Top 5 post but five teams who could make some serious noise in the second half of the regular season.

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Season Preview: AL West

Well, where do I begin? The AL West is considered to be the weakest division in baseball among many baseball experts and fans alike. This division is the smallest in baseball, having only four teams (which is probably four to many), and only one team finished above .500 last year.

However, that team was the Texas Rangers, who represented the American League in the World Series last year. If that make you think this division is relevant, you’re wrong. This division still sucks and is probably worse than the NFC West.

Unfortunately the teams in this division actually have to play games, so here is what I think the standings will look like in October.

Texas Rangers

Expectations: Team will continue to say Michael Young trade rumors aren’t a distraction, even though they are.
Key addition: 3B Adrian Beltre
Key loss: SP Cliff Lee (HAHA)
Projected record: 92-70

The Texas Rangers were the only team in the AL West to finish above .500 last season and rode AL MVP Josh Hamilton and then starting pitcher Cliff Lee all the way to the World Series. The Rangers were dismantled by the San Francisco Giants in five games in the World Series, and lost their ace Cliff Lee to our Philadelphia Phillies. The Rangers offseason has also been filled with distractions because of trade rumors about an unhappy Michael Young who gets moved to a different position every day

However, the Rangers still have key pieces Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young (for now) and Nelson Cruz on their team. They also added third basemen Adrian Beltre this offseason who batted .321 last season and knocked in 102 RBI’s, so the offense should still be great. Despite losing Cliff Lee, starting pitcher C.J. Wilson and the rest of their staff should still be good enough to help this team survive in this feeble division. I expect these guys to take this division fairly easily, but not go very far in the postseason.

Oakland Athletics

Expectations: Will have an average attendance of 849 per game.
Key Addition: RF David DeJesus
Key loss: CF Rajai Davis
Projected record: 85-77

The Oakland Athletics ended last season with a record not below .500 for the first time in four years, finishing 81-81. Their pitching staff was the best last year, posting a league leading 3.47 ERA. Unfortunately for the A’s, you need to score runs to win baseball games. The A’s failed to do that, and that prevented them from having a serious shot at the playoffs.

This offseason the A’s addressed their weakness and got some bats to hopefully help out their stellar pitching staff. The A’s added Designated Hitter Hideki Matsui to the lineup to help give them some much needed RBI’s. Last year he batted .274 with 21 home runs and batted in 84 runs. Right Fielder David DeJesus also signed with the team over the winter. Last year he batted .318, but his season was cut short because of a thumb injury. With these offense additions, I will go out on a limb and say they will be over .500 this year. They are my “sleeper” team, if you will. With that said, I don’t think they will reach the wild card because I expect the AL East to send two teams to the playoffs.

Anaheim Angels (they play in Anaheim, screw that LA crap)

Expectations: Will be on National TV a lot despite sucking a lot.
Key addition: LF Vernon Wells
Key loss: DH Hideki Matsui
Projected record: 80-82

The Angels last year failed to win the AL West for the first time since 2006, finishing 80-82. After such a disappointing season, the Angels failed to get any big free agents, most notably losing out on the bidding war for Carl Crawford. In fact, the biggest move for these guys was trading for Vernon Wells, which if you consider the fact he STILL has $86 million on his contract, the move isn’t that great. Yes, he hit 31 homeruns last year, but frankly the Angels just settled on this guy because they failed to get Crawford.

With very little improvement, and the fact that the other teams in their division are getting better, (besides the Mariners, of course) I don’t expect this season to be any different for the Angels. This team has a lot of notable names, (Kazmir, Abreu, Haren, etc.) but just as the Mets know, names don’t win baseball games. They didn’t get substantially worse this offseason, but didn’t get better either, so I’ll call it a push and give them the same record as last year.

Seattle Mariners

Expectations: LMAO
Key addition: DH Jack Crust
Key loss: 1B Russell Branyan
Projected record: 63-99 (yay not 100 losses)

The Mariners had high hopes before last year. The team acquired ace Cliff Lee, and had future CY Young winner Felix Hernandez. They were going to win because of good pitching and good defense said a few “experts.”

But then the worst possible thing happened.

The season started.

The Mariners went on to reach 101 losses and make a little history. That’s right, the Mariners became the first team with a payroll over $100 million to reach 100 losses. Congrats guys. Luckily for us, these guys are only on national tv once every 165 years when the planets and moons line up, so most of us did not have to witness this train wreck they call a baseball team.  This offense scored the fewest runs by any team since 1972, so GM Jack Zduriencik went out and made a big splash this off season and acquired DH Jack Crust. The “big splash” part was sarcasm.

Not much else to say here. My brain is telling me this team should lose every game this season, but I’m a generous guy, so I’ll go on record and say this team will defy all odds, and lose LESS than 100 games. Way to go boys.

5 Teams to Watch in the AL

Yankees – They’re the 2009 World Series champions and still kept intact the solid nucleus that got them there. They traded top prospects to land centerfielder Curtis Granderson, a much better defensive asset than Johnny Damon. They also traded Melky Cabrera to the Braves for Javier Vazquez to bolster the starting rotation. With guys like C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Brunett, and Andy Pettitte, the Yankees boast a very good pitching unit. Mariano Rivera is still the best closer in the game and the aging offense led by Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira can still put a ton of runs up on the score board. If things go right, they could have another parade down Broadway.

Red Sox – The pitching is truly phenomenal. Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Daisuke Matsuzaka form the best top-four in baseball. The offense is led by top young stars Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia. Marco Scutaro is hoping to end the revolving door at the short stop position and Adrian Beltre is an offensive upgrade at third. Offensive depth is the only thing that should concern the Sox but they have the pitching to get the job done. David Ortiz is a shell of his old self but it still the DH.

Twins – It’s safe to say that Joe Mauer is the scariest hitter in the AL. The reigning MVP is one of the reasons Minnesota is buzzing prior to the 2010 season. Along with a new outdoor park and a very dangerous lineup featuring Mauer, Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel, and Michael Cuddyer, the fans and Twins have high expectations for this year. The only problem with them this year though is pitching. If their starters can have decent years, they could beat out Detroit for the division.

Mariners – Seattle is truly going to be a serious contender in the AL. The addition of Cliff Lee, Chone Figgins, and Milton Bradley will revamp a pitching staff and offense in need of fire power. Lee became a hot pitcher again after his last season transformation with the Phillies and will look to create a formidable 1-2 punch with Felix Hernandez. Figgins will add speed and Bradley will look to add power to a Mariners lineup that hit 160 homer (12th in the AL) last season.

Angels – Surely they make their case for a serious playoff contender every year but there has to be a breaking point. They improved an already solid lineup with Hideki Matsui and bolstered their bull pen with Fernando Rodney but the team still doesn’t jump out at anyone. The core of the offense is aging in Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, and Matsui and they lost Figgins to the division rival Mariners. Jared Weaver, Joe Saunders, and newly acquired Joel Pineiro will need to have season like 2009 to give the Mariners a fighting chance in an AL crowded with contenders.

East: Yankees
Central: Twins
West: Mariners
Wild Card: Red Sox

Pennant: Yankees over Mariners

Phillies Draft Two in Rule 5

The Phillies took two pitchers in the 2009 Rule 5 Draft today. They first selected right-hander Kenneth Herndon with the 17th pick. Herndon, 24, went 5-6 with a 3.03 ERA and 11 saves in 50 appearances last season with Double-A Arkansas, which is the Los Angeles Angels affiliate. He’s not a great pitcher and like Todd Zolecki said, his chances at making the Opening Day roster are slim due to the Phillies wanting a lucrative off season but he could be a mid-season promotion.

Their second pick was AAA prospect Angelo Sanchez, a right hander. Sanchez, 20, went 5-1 with a 5.52 ERA in 12 starts with rookie-level Elizabethton, which is a Minnesota Twins affiliate.

Selig to Compress Playoffs

All I have to say is about damn time. Bud Selig stated that he plans to tighten the playoff schedule so that teams won’t be playing into November. It all stemmed from when Angels coach Mark Scioscia complained that both the Yankees and Angels played only eight games apiece in 20 days before game 6 of the ALCS which the Yankees won.

Selig also said he would continue to discuss instant replay. This is good because officiating was awful in the post season, namely the ALCS and World Series.

Phillies/Rockies Only Undecided Series

No magic. No dramatic come backs. Well for the Red Sox I mean. They were up 5-1 going into the 6th when the Angels were able to get a run there and then two in the 8th to make it a 5-4 game. Boston got Jonathan Papelbon some breathing room by tacking on a run in the bottom of the 8th. With two outs and a man on base, the Angels strung together some key hits to get three runs in the top of the 9th to take a 7-6 lead. Brian Fuentes secured the game and the Angels swept the Sox to move onto the ALCS to face the Yankees, who swept the Twins tonight.

NLCS: Dodgers versus Phillies/Rockies (series tied at 1)
ALCS: Angels versus Yankees

UPDATE: Game 4 will be tomorrow at 6:07 EST. Game 5 still TBA.