Monthly Archives: May 2009

Home is Where the Halo is

big a haloWell after a long delay between posts (thanks to finals, moving back out to California, a quick weekend in Arkansas, and just straight up enjoying being lazy and doing nothing), I’m finally back to posting. I must admit that I’ve just been lazy lately so I haven’t posted much. I was planning on doing a post on the recent 10-game road trip that the Angels went on, but I didn’t ever get around to it, it’s old news now.

But after getting swept at Texas, the Angels rebounded to take 3 of 4 from Seattle and more importantly 2 of 3 from the “cross-town” Los Angeles Doyyers. Que bueno.

Now that I’m finally back and settled back in sunny Southern California, I had been able to do everything I had wanted to do right when I got back… well, almost everything. I had hit my favorite local food spots, gone to the beach, etc. The one thing left on my to-do list was go to an Angel game.

So, mother dearest and I hit up the Angels/White Sox game Tuesday night, fresh off a 17-3 ass whooping the previous night. You can only go up from there right?

The Angels were throwing out their early season ace Joe Saunders who had been magnificent of late, and the ChiSox were sending out former Angel and Cy Young award winner Bartolo Colon, who for lack of a better word, got absolutely raped by the Minnesota Twins in his last outing (the game the White Sox lost 20-1).

Traffic was smooth all the way through the Orangewood exit and right on in to good ol’ Angel Stadium.

It was a beautiful 70 degrees as we walked in to the Big A and man had it been a while since I had seen a baseball game in Anaheim. It had been roughly 10 months between games at Angel Stadium, far far far too long if you ask me.

And of course, whenever you hit up a baseball game, you’ve got to grab yourself some hot dogs. I copped two of those bad boys, and to my delight, they finally reverted on back to having their hot dogs be Wienerschnitzel dogs. After I found this news out, I really didn’t care about the outcome of the game, the Angels answered my Farmer John-for-Wienerschnitzel hot dog swap prayer. Don’t get me wrong, the Farmer John dogs they had for the last 3-4 years weren’t bad, but there’s nothing like the ‘Schnitz. Derlicious.

Anyways, I grabbed a small bag of peanuts and an ice cold Dasani and was ready for the first pitch.

As the Angels do before all home games, they played a nice video collection of all the great former Angel players and great moments in Angel history to the tune of Train’s “Calling All Angels.” Some of the noteworthy clips were of Nolan Ryan moving into 1st place on the all-time strikeout list, Rod Carew picking up his 3,000th career hit, Reggie Jackson blasting his 500th career home run and of course, the final out of the memorable 2002 World Series in which Troy Percival got Kenny Lofton to fly out to Darin Erstad in center to capture the ballclub’s first ever World Championship.

The Angels put in a new piece at the end, a quick 8-10 seconds of Nick Adenhart’s final start and closing with a shot of Adenhart’s back facing the camera with his head down, showing the last name “Adenhart” and the number 34 on the back of his jersey. The crowd roared and applauded as it faded to black, but I had to look away from the still frame for a moment; it’s still so surreal that he is no longer living. Me and a lot of other Angel fans were really looking forward to what this kid could have done this year and throughout his big league career, but it all vanished in the blink of an eye on April 9th.

I then turned my attention to center field, where Adenhart’s image is depicted, to find starting catcher Mike Napoli approach the wall, touch his image briefly, and then write something in the warning track dirt about 3 feet from the wall for a good 10 seconds before returning to meet with tabbed starter Joe Saunders.

The PA announcer went through the starting line-ups and then it was game time, the moment I had been waiting for. Being out in Arizona, they don’t show Angel games out there obviously. I got to see the Opening Day game on ESPN, but that had been it until I had returned home a good month and a half later. It was nice to finally get to see my team in action again.

Scott Podsednik laced a single into left to start the game. Not the way you want to start, considering that between the 2003-2006 seasons, he stole 212 bases, or roughly 53 a year in that time frame. He even stole 70 back in ’04. Napoli hasn’t been able to throw out baserunners for anything this year. Hell, he probably couldn’t throw out Big Papi on the basepaths at this rate, but that’s another story. Thankfully Alexei Ramirez would follow up Podsednik’s single with a nice double play, Figgy to Howie to KMo for the DP. Jermaine Dye would fly out to end the inning.

By this time, I would be absolutely mowing through my 2 hot dogs, just like Saunders and Colon would be mowing through their opposing line-ups for most of the night.

The next 3 half-innings would be 1-2-3, including a Kendry Morales fly out to left, which would end in Torii Hunter trying to advance to 3rd on the play, only to be gunned out by 2 steps by Scott Podsednik (since when does Scott Podsednik have a cannon?).

Saunders was all about damage control in this game. In the 4th, Alexei Ramirez would single and Jermaine Dye would walk. 1st and 2nd with no outs, and a powerful lefty in Jim Thome coming up. Thome would take ball 1, swing and miss on the next pitch, and then ground one to short where Erick Aybar would turn the double play himself with Ramirez advancing to 3rd. Now he has a runner on 3rd with 2 down, with Paul Konerko up. Konerko would work a full count, but Saunders would reach back and K Konerko. Still no score through 3 1/2.

During the middle of the inning, the luring scent of Panda Express right behind our section began to take over my nostrils. My God did Panda Express sound appetizing but I hadn’t yet hit up the sack of peanuts yet. I figured I’d wait till later in the game to hit up my Chow Mein with double Orange Chicken order. This would come back to bite me in the you know what.

Meanwhile, Bart continued to mow throw the Angel lineup while keeping a low pitch count, channeling his ’05 Cy Young stuff that he had with the Halos in that memorable year where he went 21-8. No score through 4.

Then the 5th inning would roll around, which would change the Angels’ fortunes as well as those of the people of section 226.

Two drunk, sloppy hoes, one brunette donning a Jermaine Dye jersey and a blonde rocking a white Konerko jersey, moved in a couple seats down and row below us. Great. Oh, I forgot to mention their plastered boyfriends, neither of which would probably be tall enough to ride 50% of the rides at Disneyland as far as I could tell. You could just tell that we were in for a “treat” (using the expression incredibly loosely) when these 4 mobbed on up to 226. (It’s just like the feeling that you get whenever you’re sitting next to a Boston or New York fan… you know what I mean).

The drunken women proceeded to start saying “LET’S GOOOO WHITE SAAAAWWWWCKSSSSSS!!!!!!” after virtually every pitch during an at-bat for both teams, and also asking people what the score from last night’s game was. We all knew it was a 17-3 pillaging in the White Sox’ favor, but who wants to admit that? Hell, it’s not like they’d shut up anyway.

In the 5th, Jayson Nix would jack a solo homer to left to break the scoreless tie and make it 1-0 Sox. Of course, the ladies were thrilled, and let everyone know it. The brunette would yell out, “WAIT… DID YOU SEE THAT? OH MY GOD, I TOTALLY JUST SAW THAT! LET’S GOOOOO WHITE SAWWWWWWXXXXXXXXX!!!!! (5 claps following).” She’d throw in a couple “WOOOOOOOOOOOO”s and “OWWW OWWWWWWW”s to compliment the let’s go chants, just for good measure.

We weren’t exactly fed up yet, but God would we get to that point soon.

The inning would end at the score of 1-0 Chicago in front.

The Halos would go down 1-2-3, and in the following half-inning, Paul Konerko would single home a run to make it 2-0 White Sox. Everyone was thinking it… “ohhhh s***. Paul Konerko just singled. That damn girl is wearing a Paul Konerko jersey… cover your ears.”

The blonde stood up and started talking to “Pauly” as she affectionately refers to him, saying, “Pauly I love you! Owwww owwwwwwww!!!!! I love youuuuuuu!!!!!!!” over and over and over and over. Everyone’s looking around at each other like, “Great, 4 more innings of this.”

Mother, with the line of the night quite audibly says, “Yeah, I remember my first beer, too.” That’s why I love you, Mom. True champ right there let me tell you.

Nix would homer again in the 7th to make it 3-0 Sox and the women got louder than ever again.

Thankfully in the bottom half of that 7th inning, Bobby Abreu would jack a solo shot to center field for his 1st home run of the year, making it 3-1 Chicago. Bobby finally got that goose egg out of his home run column, and now I feel that his power numbers will start coming, considering the fact that I can only imagine how much that 0 was bugging him.

After the inning ended with the same score, I figured I’d try to go up and get me some Panda, but of course, they already have cleaned it out and closed it for the night. I guess the Big A treats Panda Express sales just like alcohol sales, none after the 7th inning. They don’t want people who want that “one for the road” or any of that mumbo jumbo. Dejected and pretty damn hungry, I decided to watch the rest of the game from the concourse level, mainly to get away from those damn Sox fans. I sure as hell hope they took a cab back to wherever they were staying, because all 4 were incapable of driving period. I can only hope they got back safely, but to think that 1 of them potentially would be getting behind the wheel is scary. I mean look what happened to Nick Adenhart, he wasn’t the one driving drunk, but ended up losing his life because of someone else’s mistake. I pray they made the right choice and chose to take a taxi home, otherwise God knows what may have happened.

Matt Palmer made his 1st relief appearance this season in the 9th, and boy was it hard to watch. It’s as if the strike zone was playing hide-and-go-seek with him, he just couldn’t seem to throw a strike for the life of him, which prompted mother and I to head out.

The White Sox and Halos would each tack on one more run by the time the game was over, and the White Sox would come away victorious 4-2.

Props to Bart, he pitched great and kept the offense at bay the entire night. Saunders did well, but not well enough to get the win, dropping him to 6-3 on the year.

As much as I could not stand the fans next to us, there really is nothing like being at a game and rooting on your team. It had been so long since I was last able to hit up a home game to cheer on my Halos, and top-to-bottom, I was very happy with my stay at the Big A that night (except for the fact that they lost, of course).

I now felt like I was officially back home. And oh what a great feeling it was.

More in-person Halo game stories to come in the near future, hopefully there’ll be some funny stories to tell along with Angel victories.

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Halos Complete Sweep of Blue Jays, Start to Gain Momentum

hunter robThe Angels played host to the (first place?) Toronto Blue Jays for a 2-game series this past Wednesday and Thursday as well as the (first place?) Kansas City Royals for a 3-game set from Friday to Sunday. The Halos would split with Toronto and would then go on to earn their first 3-game sweep of any team this year (the Angels swept both Baltimore and Oakland in 2-game sets on their recent 8-game road trip however), with that team being the Royals.

Wednesday’s contest against the Blue Jays was dominated by Toronto’s ace Roy Halladay (6-1), who has been nothing short of spectacular this season. Doc would throw 8 innings of 1-run ball en route to a 13-1 thrashing of the Angels. Anthony Ortega would only last 1 1/3 innings for the Angels, giving up 6 earned runs. The bullpen would finish it out by giving up 7 runs in 7 2/3 innings of work (nothing out of the ordinary, right?). Howie Kendrick would be the only Angel to record multiple hits in the game, while the Blue Jays would have 5 players with 2 or more hits, and belt 3 total home runs on the game.

After Wednesday’s contest, it seemed like the Angels were in need of making a statement. At 12-14 on the year, decimated by injuries and still feeling the loss of Nick Adenhart, the Angels had a lot of bad breaks go their way, but Mike Scioscia‘s ballclub has never been one to make excuses. Their performance from top to bottom needed to step up and contribute in one way or another.

On Thursday, it was all about Jered Weaver, who was absolutely dealing in the series opener. In a 6-1 Angel win, Weav (3-1) would throw his first complete game, giving up only 1 earned run on 3 hits while striking out 8 Blue Jays. The thing that I was most impressed with was his ability to keep his pitch count low so he could go later into the game, something that he’s struggled with in his career thus far. It always seemed like Weaver was good for 6 innings per outing max, no more than that. In his last outing prior to Friday’s game, Weaver threw 102 pitches, lasting 6 innings. On Friday, Weaver would throw 1 more pitch than his last outing and go a full 3 more innings. 24 of the 30 batters he faced saw 4 or less pitches in their at-bats. His command was outstanding, and was just mowing down Toronto’s hitters (Toronto currently ranks 1st in all of the MLB in hits, runs scored and RBI, so this isn’t any cupcake lineup).

Mike Napoli and Kendry Morales would each hit their 5th home runs of the year, with each going 2-for-4 with 2 runs scored.

Figgy would go 3-for-4, and Maicer Izturis would collect 2 hits and 2 RBI.

The Angels now move to 1 game within .500 (13-14).

Friday’s contest would pick up right where Weaver left off (this would become a recurring theme for the weekend).

Matt Palmer got the start for the Angels, and would end up throwing 5 1/3 innings of 1 run ball, only allowing 2 hits, while striking out 5 and walking 3. Palmer (3-0) set the tone early and has been the one starter I least expected to be without a loss on the Angels’ staff more than a week in to May.

The bullpen would do a great job of closing it out, something Angel fans haven’t seen much of now that we’re more than a month into the season. Darren Oliver, pretty much the lone bright spot in that Angel ‘pen threw 1 2/3 innings of scoreless ball, followed up by 1-2-3 innings by Jose Arredondo and Brian Fuentes (SV-8).

Howie Kendrick would hit an inside-the-park home run (thanks to a terrible route that Jose Guillen took to the ball), which would help pad the Angels’ lead, en route to a 4-1 win. Izzy, Nap, Rivera and Kendrick would each have 2 hits on the game.

The Halos are now at an even .500 (14-14) for the first time since they were 3-3 through their first 6 games.

On Saturday, the ace of the Angels’ staff Joe Saunders would face off against the most dominant pitcher in the early goings, with that pitcher being Kansas City’s Zack Greinke.

Greinke was 5-0 with a 0.40 ERA (meaning he had allowed only 2 earned runs in 45 innings). He had thrown 3 complete games with 0 earned runs in 3 of his 4 previous starts leading up to Saturday’s match-up with the Halos.

The match-up would turn out to be a spectacular pitcher’s duel, with both pitchers throwing complete games. Greinke (6-1) would go all 8 innings, giving up 1 earned run on 4 hits, while striking out 5 (a season-low for him). Despite another brilliant outing from Greinke, he would get zero run support in return.

Saunders (5-1) would get the better of Greinke, throwing a dazzling complete game in which he allowed no runs on 5 hits, earning his 5th win of the season. Saunders would also strike out 6 and walk only 1 batter.

The only run of the game came off the bat of Chone Figgins, as he hit a sacrifice fly which scored Gary Matthews Jr. back in the 3rd inning. That’s all the offense Joe Saunders would need as he continues to show his critics that his 2008 All-Star season was indeed no fluke.

The Angels are now above .500 (15-14) for the first time since they won their Opening Day contest against the Oakland A’s, way back on April 6th.

And in the series finale on Sunday, Shane Loux and Kyle Davies were the starters for the Angels and Royals respectively, and had a lot to live up to following a brilliant pitcher’s duel from the night before.

Davies would pitch quite well, throwing 6 innings of 1-run ball, while allowing only 3 hits.

Loux didn’t look so hot on Mother’s Day, lasting only 3 2/3 innings while surrendering 3 runs on 7 hits before being replaced by Darren Oliver.

The Angels trailed the Royals 3-1 entering the bottom half of the 7th inning, when Jamey Wright would enter the game for Kansas City. Wright would make a critical throwing error on a tapper off the bat of Howie Kendrick, airmailing the ball into center field and allowing Mike Napoli to take 3rd base with 1 out. Kendrick would proceed to steal 2nd base with Jeff Mathis up, and Mathis would then knock a 2-run single into right field, scoring both Nap and HK to knot the game up at 3 apiece.

Erick Aybar would follow that single up with a single of his own, allowing Mathis to advance to 3rd on the play, setting up a 1st and 3rd situation with 1 out for leadoff man Chone Figgins. Figgy would lay down a beautiful sacrifice bunt down the first base line on the first pitch he saw from Wright, allowing Mathis to score, and giving the Angels a 4-3 in typical Halo fashion. Angel smallball at its finest.

The play of the day and one of the most spectacular catches I have ever seen would come in the 9th inning. With Brian Fuentes facing Miguel Olivo with a 4-3 lead in the 9th, Fuentes would leave one hanging over the middle of the plate, and Olivo would jump all over it, sending it to deep left center. Torii Hunter, who had been shaded towards right center field, got on his horse and bolted to left center, not taking his eye off Olivo’s blast once. His field awareness kicked in, measured out where he was, leapt up at the wall and brought back what would’ve been a game-tying home run, and displayed nothing but passion and intensity after the grab. Angel fans were on their feet and roaring in both praise and disbelief following Hunter’s magnificent home run robbery.

Fuentes would then allow a walk and a single, bringing up a struggling David DeJesus with 1 out and runners on 1st and 2nd. DeJesus would then hit into a game-ending double play, securing the Angels of a 4-3 victory, and pushed their record to 16-14 on the year.

I cannot fail to mention the stellar job the bullpen did Sunday, they were absolutely crucial to the game’s outcome. Darren Oliver put forth another great outing, only needing 20 pitches to complete 2 1/3 innings of work, pushing his ERA to an impressive 1.42. Scot Shields, who had been erratic all season long, threw 2 innings of scoreless ball, followed up by Fuentes’ 9th save of the year (which in all likelihood would have been his 3rd blown save of the year if any other person on this planet was playing center field at that time in the 9th).

Either way, the Angels are 2 games over .500 for the first time all season, and seem to be picking up steam as they have won 7 of their last 8 games.

John Lackey will be returning back to the Angels’ staff soon, and Ervin Santana may join the Halos on their upcoming road trip.

These are encouraging signs because the Angels can only get better with those 2 All-Star hurlers back in the mix, and the Angels are finally beginning to play like the way I knew they could coming into this season.

The Angels have a 3-game set with the Boston Red Sox from Tuesday through Thursday, and then take to the road for a 10-game road trip where they’ll face the 1st place Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, and the freeway foe (and now Manny-less) Los Angeles Dodgers.

Go Halos!

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Hall of Fame* and a Tarnished Game

mannyWell, it’s official, another high-profile superstar is “linked” to steroids. This time, it’s just Manny being Manny.

Manny Ramirez of the Los Angeles Dodgers, tested positive today, not for a Performance Enhancing Drug like HGH, but for hCG, a women’s fertility drug….

WHAT?

Yes, Manny Ramirez tested positive for a women’s fertility drug.

There’s more to it, though. The drug he tested positive for is used by steroid users who are coming off of a steroid cycle to restart their body’s natural testosterone production. It is a very similar drug to Clomid, a drug that Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi (both linked to steroid use) used as BALCO clients.

Hmmm, is that Manny being Manny, or is that Manny trying to mask being a cheat?

That’s up in the air, but Manny has never had his name come up in steroid investigations, I’ll give him that. But to use a drug that is used by steroid users, and to not take a look to see if it’s on the MLB’s banned substances list, is it just Manny being a blind idiot?

Could be, but Jose Canseco got busted for the same thing that Manny tested positive for. I just don’t even know what to think about these positive tests regarding high-profile big leaguers. Some players and coaches are thinking the same way.

Astros manager Cecil Cooper said, “Today, you’re not really surprised by anything.”

Lance Berkman of the Astros said, “When people make the game look as easy as some do, I’m not surprised.”

David Eckstein of the Padres said, “Nothing shocks me anymore.”

But Atlanta Braves 3rd baseman Chipper Jones brings up a great point, a point that is more than just Manny.

“You can’t have arguably the greatest pitcher of our era, arguably the two greatest players of our era and now another very, very good player be under this cloud of suspicion and not feel like it’s ruined it for everybody.”

The pitcher he’s referring to is Roger Clemens.

The “arguably” two greatest players of our era are Barry Bonds and Alex Rodgriguez.

And the “very, very good” player he refers to is now Manny Ramirez.

Roger Clemens was an 11-time all-star, 7-time Cy Young award winner and a 1-time MVP. Let’s not forget to mention his career record of 354-184, good enough for the 9th most wins in a pitching career in MLB history (2nd in the modern era behind Greg Maddux), and his 4,672 career strikeouts is 3rd all-time. Clemens was one of the most dominant pitchers to ever take the mound, and was a force year after year throughout his illustrious 24-year career*.

Barry Bonds was a 14-time all-star, 7-time MVP, 8-time Gold Glover, and oh yeah, he’s the all-time leader in home runs with 762. His 7 MVPs are the most by any player in baseball history, the next closest total is an 8-way tie with 3 career MVP awards. All-time, Bonds is #1 of all players who have ever played the game in home runs and walks, 2nd in extra-base hits and times on base, 3rd in runs scored and 4th in RBI and total bases. No doubt one of the best to ever play the game*.

Alex Rodriguez, considered one of the best players ever and still only 33 years of age, is a 12-time all-star, 3-time MVP award winner and 10-time Silver Slugger award winner. “A-Rod” has 553 home runs, and became the youngest player ever to hit 500 home runs, a mere 8 days after his 32nd birthday. He debuted as a major leaguer with Seattle before he even turned 19! He has 11 straight seasons of 35+ home runs and 100+ RBI and is still one of the most feared hitters baseball has ever seen*.

Manny Ramirez has been an offensive force ever since 1995 in Cleveland, and is still slugging at an incredible rate, even though he is due to turn 37 at the end of May. Manny is a 12-time all-star, 9-time Silver Slugger, and was the MVP of the 2004 World Series when the Red Sox broke their 86-year World Series drought. He has 533 career home runs, and has one of the most pure, compact strokes I have ever witnessed. It’s like art in motion every time he swings the bat. He’s always been one of the goofier guys in the MLB, but there’s no questioning that Manny Ramirez is one of the best hitters of his generation, and of all-time*.

The * denotes the question: can you take their career numbers seriously?

Did they earn those statistics and accomplishments or did they have to cheat the system and cheat themselves to go from great to incredible?

The question remains to be answered for Manny. A-Rod admitted to steroid usage between the years of 2001-2003. Clemens and Bonds… not so much.

When you describe Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez, a few words for me that come to mind are incredible and unbelievably good.

Incredible is defined as, “not credible; astonishing; hard to believe; so extraordinary as to seem impossible.”

Unbelievable is defined as, “having a probability too low to inspire belief; too dubious to be believed.”

Since these 4 have been linked to cheating, it’s kind of ironic to think of how we’ve described them the whole time, don’t you think?

Here’s what I say: strip them of their careers. Everything. Home runs, MVPs, Cy Youngs, every statistic, everything.

Let’s take a tally of what’s lost between these 4 players:

– 11 MVP Awards

– 49 All-Star selections

– 7 Cy Young Awards (just Clemens)

– 10 Gold Gloves Awards

– 31 Silver Slugger Awards

– 1,848 Home Runs

That’s a lot to lose, but their actions deserve consequences. Let’s not fail to mention other steroid users like Jason Giambi, Rafael “I have never used steroids… period” Palmeiro, Mark “I’m not here to talk about the past” McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Jose Canseco. Between the 5 of them, you’re taking away another 3 MVP awards, 34 All-Star selections, 15 Silver Slugger Awards, and a whopping 2,620 home runs.

These 9 players take away a total of 14 MVPs, 7 Cy Youngs, 83 All-Star selections, 46 Silver Sluggers, 14 Gold Gloves, 354 wins and 4,672 strikeouts (from 1 player), and 4,468 home runs, and more importantly 9 potential Hall of Fame ballot positions.

Since 1990, 18 of the 38 players who won MVP awards have been linked to steroids.

The entire league hit 4,458 home runs in the 1987 season, 10 fewer than those 8 hitters did in their careers.

After the league had its highest total of home runs ever back in the 2000 season with 5,693 total home runs league-wide, the home run total has dropped in each of the past 3 years, hitting a 15-year low in ’08, most likely due to the recent spike in harsher drug testing and consequential suspensions from positive tests.

As much as I am disheartened by what has arisen regarding Manny Ramirez, I’m with Eckstein on his response, “nothing shocks me anymore.”

What I fear what is yet to be said. Although Manny did not test positive for steroids, he tested positive for something that is used to mask the effects of steroids. You could put 2 and 2 together, and let’s face it, what in God’s green earth is a man doing taking a woman’s fertility drug? Yeah, exactly. You can’t be that stupid to take a drug that’s prescribed for one sex (which is not the one that Manny falls under), let alone to have a doctor prescribe it to you, could you? Yeah, yeah apparently you can be.

The game of baseball has lost so much credibility in the past decade, and I’m not quite sure if the game can ever get it back.

And so help me God if a player like Albert Pujols gets linked to steroids… that’ll be the end of the game of baseball altogether.

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(So Far), the Angels Look Like They Made the Right Moves

kendry moralesIt may be too early to tell at this point, but so far, the Angels kept their most productive 1st baseman that they had, even though he was sitting behind Casey Kotchman and Mark Teixeira for the duration of the season.

As Angel fans remember, the Halos acquired the talented and powerful switch-hitting Mark Teixeira from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for then-Angel 1st baseman Casey Kotchman and a pitcher in Steve Marek. First-year GM Tony Reagins did what Bill Stoneman never did, which was make a big mid-season offensive splash. I thought this was going to be the move that would put the Angels over the top and win a World Championship. As it turns out, the Angels would win 100 games for the 1st time in the franchise’s history, and secure the best overall record in the majors, only to get bounced in the 1st round by the Red Sox… again.

Make no mistake about it, Tex put up great numbers in his breif stay as a Halo, before he bounced for the pinstripes… and a $180 million contract.

In 54 games as an Angel, Teixeira hit .358 (69-193) with 13 home runs, 43 RBI, 14 doubles, 39 runs scored, 32 walks, and 23 strikeouts.

Now let’s compute this out to what those numbers would have looked like if he had played all 162 games with the Angels at that pace.

Teixeira has averaged 569 at-bats in his 6 full MLB seasons, which equates to stats of:

.358 avg./204 hits/38 home runs/127 RBI/41 doubles/115 runs scored/94 walks/68 strikeouts

That’s a damn productive year, a type of year that the Angels hadn’t had outside of Vladimir Guerrero in quite some time.

Casey Kotchman didn’t exactly fare to well in the end of the ’08 season with the Braves.

In 43 games, Kotch hit .237 (36-152) with 2 home runs, 20 RBI, 4 doubles, 1 triple, 18 runs scored, 18 walks, and 16 strikeouts.

If Kotchman had 569 at-bats in a season at that rate, he would’ve put up numbers that look like this:

.237 avg./7 home runs/75 RBI/15 doubles/67 runs scored/67 walks/60 strikeouts

Just a little bit of a difference between Tex and Kotch last year.

But enough about then, let’s focus on the here and now.

Tex has been struggling mightily with the bat since he’s put on the Yankee pinstripes.

Kotchman is hitting for a higher average, but has only driven in 4 runs in 25 games.

And then there’s Kendry Morales, the 25-year-old switch-hitting 1st baseman who the Angels have coveted for years, who finally gets his chance  in ’09 with Kotchman and Teixeira out of town. The Cuban native was nothing but raw talent when the Angels signed him to a 6-year deal back on December 1st of 2005. Morales had many troubles getting out of the Dominican Republic initially, facing problems with needing a passport to gain citizenship after deferring to the Dominican Republic back in August of ’05. After developing his game and waiting in the wings for his chance to come, when Mark Teixeira signed that fat old 9-year, $180 million contract with the Yankees, Morales was instantly pinned as the Opening Day starter at 1st base. After a decently slow start, Morales has picked it up since and has been rolling of late.

Here’s a little side-by-side comparison of what the 3 1st baseman have done so far this year entering today:

Kotchman (25 games)- .289 avg./.366 OBP/.398 SLG/0 HR/4 RBI/9 2B/0 3B/9 XBH/8 runs/9 BB/9 K

Teixeira (22 games)- .182 avg./.354 OBP/.338 SLG/3 HR/10 RBI/3 2B/0 3B/6 XBH/12 runs/19 BB/13 K

Morales (22 games)- .280 avg./.330 OBP/.537 SLG/4 HR/ 16 RBI/7 2B/1 3B/12 XBH/13 runs/6 BB/18 K

Kotchman is the top man in 4 categories (batting average, on-base perecentage, doubles, and fewest strikeouts).

Teixeira is tops in terms of walks.

Morales has the best stats in the other 6 categories (slugging percentage, home runs, runs batted in, triples, extra-base hits, and runs).

The Angels took a few steps back in terms of defensive production they’re getting out of their 1st baseman, considering the fact that Teixeira was a 2-time Gold Glover back in ’05 and ’06 with the Rangers, and Kotchman is currently one of the soundest defensive 1st basemen in all of the MLB. Morales’ biggest weakness is no doubt his defense. He only has 1 error on the year, whereas Kotchman and Teixeira are yet to make an error, but what you can’t point out is the amount of potential extra-base hits that Kotch and Tex are knocking down and turning in to outs that Morales just doesn’t have the ability to do.

On the bright side, there’s no doubt that he’s been the superior offensive player compared to the other two. He has more home runs and RBI than Kotchman and Teixeira have combined.

Morales is the youngest of the three at the ripe age of 25, and has an incredibly high ceiling in terms of potential to be reached. You are hard-pressed to find switch-hitters who hit for power consistently, and Morales has the capability to become Mark Teixeira-esque, but without as good of an eye at the plate. Morales is a free-swinger, which is what the Angels lineup is full of.

If Morales can be a productive #6 hitter, with guys like Howie Kendrick, Bobby Abreu, Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter hitting 2-3-4-5 in front of him (when all are healthy), he’ll have plenty of RBI opportunities.

The future has a lot in store for KMo, and I truly believe that he could become one of the most productive offensive first baseman in the game in only a matter of years.

So far in the early goings of this 2009 season, hats off to Tony Reagins and company; they picked the most productive and least expensive player of the 3 to be their everyday 1st baseman: Kendry Morales.

Not to mention the fact that they are saving about $19 million dollars this year alone in comparison of Teixeira’s ’09 salary and Morales’ 2009 salary.

Keep it up, Kendry, don’t make me and the whole Halo front office for that matter, look stupid for thinking that they made the right choice, both present and long-term.

This kid’s gonna be something special, make no mistake about it.

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