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Weaver Snubbed & A Solution to Prevent Future Unwanted Snubbage

I’ve been all for having each team being represented in the All-Star Game… until today.

Today just made me realize that the under-qualified and under-represented took priority over the clearly qualified, and that is an absolute shame.

You know the story by now.

Angels’ ace Jered Weaver was left off the All-Star roster despite his numbers giving him a fantastic shot of reaching his 1st All-Star Game… let alone with it being in his home stadium.

It’s not like Weaver was  “on the fence” to begin with.

He should be in the game.

Here are Jered Weaver’s statistics on the 2010 season:

8-3 record/2.82 ERA/124 K/26 BB/1.06 WHIP/.217 BAA

He ranks 1st in the American League in strikeouts, 3rd in WHIP (Walks + Hits / Innings Pitched), and holds the AL’s 6th best ERA.

Looking at his 17 starts on the season, in his 8 wins, he has been great in each, going more than 6 innings in each win (going 7 or more in 5 of those 8 wins), and in his 3 losses, you could say he had a better chance to lose rather than win on that given day (allowed, 4, 4, and 6 runs in those respective losing decisions).

But looking at the games where he was given a No Decision shows that Weaver’s 8-3 record doesn’t do his half-season performance total justice.

In Weaver’s 6 No Decisions, he had given up 2 runs or less in 5 of those 6 starts, outings by Jered that definitely should have given him a W compared to a ND.

His record could potentially be 13-3 at this point if all happened to go right on those days (it usually doesn’t work out that way but let’s just roll with it).

So which starting pitchers did get in to the All-Star Game? Let’s run down the list here.

Clay Buchholz, Boston Red Sox. Deserving. The kid’s been fantastic this year. 10-4 record with the 3rd lowest ERA in the American League at 2.45, Buchholz no doubt deserves his 1st All-Star nod, but as we’ll get into later, the key to Weaver’s potential last chance of an All-Star game appearance lies in the hamstring of Clay Buchholz.

Trevor Cahill, Oakland Athletics. Deserving. Oakland was one of 3 American League teams to have just 1 player represent their team, but Cahill represents the A’s well. The 3rd youngest player on the American League roster (the 2 youngest are Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus [21] and Rangers closer Neftali Feliz[22], the 22-year-old Cahill got a deserving selection into the All-Star Game and should have been in regardless of whether or not each team had to be represented. 8-2 record, sub-2.75 ERA, the kid is where he belongs, on the roster for the first time in his incredibly young career.

Phil Hughes, New York Yankees. Deserving. Hughes has faltered of late, allowing 19 of his 40 earned runs on the season in his last 4 starts alone, so it’s safe to say he stumbled into the All-Star Game roster. He stands at 10-2 with a less than impressive 3.83 ERA for an All-Star, but before the string of ERA-inflated outings, he was 8-1 with a 2.71 ERA, a little more telling of how his season had been going. Still a deserving 1st-time bid.

Cliff Lee, Seattle Mariners. Deserving. He joined Ichiro as the other Mariner to be selected to the All-Star Game, and he’s been downright filthy since the start. Lee’s got the lowest ERA in the AL (2.34) as well as the lowest WHIP ratio (0.95!). If that wasn’t enough, Cliff Lee has been as accurate and as tough to hit as any pitcher out there. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is an otherworldly 14.83… that’s more than 3 times as good as the American League’s next-best qualified starting pitcher… Jered Weaver. Lee is up there as one of the league’s top arms, he was an All-Star shoe-in.

Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox. Deserving. Lester’s 2010 season got off on the wrong foot. After his first 3 starts, he had an 0-2 record with an ERA of 8.44 (15 earned runs in 16 innings pitched). Since that atrocious start, Lester has won 10 of 11 decisions, and cut his ERA down by more than 5 1/2 runs to be at 2.76. A top-5 American League pitcher in ERA, WHIP, strikeouts, and innings pitched, Lester deserved his 1st All-Star appearance.

David Price, Tampa Bay Rays. Deserving. David Price has been living up to his #1 overall draft pick potential in 2010. He currently has an AL-leading 11 wins, and the 2nd best ERA (2.42), there’s no way that someone should have gotten this All-Star spot over Price. He has been outstanding this year and is completely deserving of heading to the Mid-Summer Classic. Oddly enough, of the American League’s 8 starting pitchers, Price is one of 6 to be making their first career All-Star appearances.

CC Sabathia, New York Yankees. Deserving. Joe Girardi made this an easy choice, but let’s not have that take away from what Sabathia has meant to the Yankees. The guy’s been a straight horse for Girardi’s bunch. He’s thrown the 2nd most innings pitched in the AL and is tied for the 2nd most wins with 10, as well as having the AL’s 7th best WHIP mark of 1.13. A worthy 4th All-Star selection for the hefty lefty.

Which brings us to our final All-Star starter…

Fausto Carmona, right-handed pitcher of the Cleveland Indians making his first career All-Star appearance.

The only player on the roster from the Cleveland Indians (it should have been outfielder Shin-Soo Choo to be the Indians representative if anybody). So this was really the “have-to-put-somebody-in” pick for the AL.

On the season, Carmona’s 7-7 with a 3.69 ERA, and a 1.29 WHIP ratio. Carmona’s 7 wins is the lowest of the AL All-Star starters. His 7 losses is the most of the AL All-Star starters (the next lowest is 4). His 3.69 ERA is the 2nd worst of the AL All-Star starting pitchers, and by a slim margin.

Let’s compare Carmona’s 2010 numbers to Weaver’s 2010 numbers side-by-side:

Weaver-      8-3 record/2.82 ERA/124 K/26 BB/1.06 WHIP/.217 BAA

Carmona-   7-7 record/3.69 ERA/57 K/39 BB/1.29 WHIP/.250 BAA

Who has more wins? – Weaver

Who has fewer losses? – Weaver

Who has a better ERA? – Weaver

Who has been tougher against hitters? – Weaver

Who is clearly the more deserving pitcher here? – Weaver

In conclusion, Weaver has won more, lost less, held a lower ERA by close to a full run, struck out over 60 more batters, walked 13 fewer batters, allowed fewer baserunners, and allowed allowed fewer hits to opposing batters.

No-brainer, right?

Wrong, buddy.

Because of the “everybody gets represented” rule, Carmona, the clearly inferior pitcher in this comparison gets the All-Star nod because his team had nobody else to put in. Let’s be clear here, the Indians are not what you’d call an above-average baseball team (32 wins is tied for the 3rd lowest in all of baseball). The Indians would need way more than Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn, Willie Mays Hayes, and Pedro Cerrano to even be considered a middle of the pack ballclub (but shipping off Cy Young winners CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee as well as All-Star catcher Victor Martinez in the past few years kind of put them in this spot).

This representation rule lets fans know that it’s about quantity over quality.

Statistically speaking, was Fausto Carmona more deserving than Jered Weaver? No.

But representatively, he was “more deserving” because the Indians had no one from their team selected while the Angels already had Torii Hunter penciled in as a reserve.

It’s ridiculous to me, but hey, it is what it is. Me writing this won’t tell Joe Girardi to get up and erase Fausto’s name out and throw that lanky kid Weaver’s name in there instead.

So as it stands, Jered Weaver is left out of the All-Star Game… for now.

But back on June 26th, BoSox’ All-Star right-hander Clay Buchholz injured his hammy while running the bases, and this injury might just set him on the Disabled List, potentially paving the way for Jered Weaver to be his All-Star replacement. If this indeed happens (it appears likely Buchholz will miss his next start), don’t sleep on Felix Hernandez, though. His 6-5 record doesn’t quite do him justice, but when you look at the numbers, the scales tip in Jered’s favor if you had to pick between him or King Felix for the spot.

Update: Andy Pettitte selected through player voting to replace Buchholz

The “every team needs to be represented” rule isn’t just negatively affecting the American League (I could also get into the snubs of deserving guys like Kevin Youkilis, Michael Young and Andy Pettitte, Alex Rios even?), it’s just as prevalent if not even more so in the National League.

Let’s first look at the case of Cincinnati Reds’ first basemen Joey Votto (a first-half National League MVP candidate, I might add). Despite being in the top-5 in the National League in batting average (.312), home runs (19), RBI (57), runs scored (53), on-base percentage (.412), slugging percentage (.572), and OPS (.984)… Votto is still not on the team. It’s tough to make the squad when you’re competing against guys like Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard and Adrian Gonzalez (all who made the team), and it wouldn’t make much sense to carry 4 first basemen, but in this case, it would have.

You’re telling me outfielder Michael Bourn of the Astros, hitting a not-so-eye-popping .260 with 20 RBI is more deserving than Joey Votto because he didn’t have another player on his team worthy of being an All-Star? I know they don’t play the same position and hence couldn’t fill the same roster spot but still, come on, really?

Let’s also take a look at Mat Latos, the talented 22-year-old starter for the San Diego Padres. The youngster’s been unbelievable for the Pads this year, putting together a 9-4 record with a 2.62 ERA and a league-best 0.96 WHIP ratio. The guy’s had 5 outings of 7 or more innings without allowing a run this year and has been instrumental in vaulting the Padres to the National League’s best record as it currently stands.

He didn’t make it either. However, Brewers’ hurler and All-Star-elect Yovani Gallardo injured an oblique muscle… which may just lead to a more than deserving All-Star nomination for the youngster Latos (a similar case could easily be made for the Mets’ Mike Pelfrey as well).

The biggest snub in my mind is Miguel Olivo, catcher for the Colorado Rockies. How in God’s beautiful green earth he isn’t the starting catcher for the NL is beyond me. Fan voting put Yadier Molina (really? … the guy isn’t even hitting .230!) in for his 2nd career All-Star appearance (another part of the All-Star game that needs to be altered somehow is the usage of fan voting… read on to see my solution). And the reserve catcher nomination went to the Braves’ Brian McCann. I can deal with McCann being an All-Star, but not Molina. Here’s why.

Here are the statistics of those three backstops: (bold indicates the best mark among the 3 players)

Molina-    .229 avg./3 HR/31 RBI/12 XBH/16 R/.309 OBP/.302 SLG/.611 OPS

McCann- .265 avg./10 HR/34 RBI/23 XBH/38 R/.381 OBP/.449 SLG/.830 OPS

Olivo-       .307 avg./11 HR/39 RBI/22 XBH/37 R/.363 OBP/.538 SLG/.901 OPS

It’s safe to say that this year, Yadier Molina isn’t quite in McCann or Olivo’s class. But yet, there he is. Starting in the All-Star game despite hitting 78 points lower than a guy who isn’t even on the squad. Of those 8 statistical categories, Olivo is best in 5 of them amongst the three listed catchers, and loses 2 of those categories by only 1 extra base hit and 1 run scored.

Fact: there will always be snubs. Somehow, someway there will always be at least 1 All-Star snub.

Problem: fan voting, while necessary to give baseball fans a feeling of importance that they can potentially select the starting lineups all by themselves, is not implemented in the best possible way.

Quick and easy two-part amendment/solution to avoid roster snubs and to just plain “get it right”:

#1.) First, get rid of the “each team gets represented rule.” If you’re deserving, you’re in. If you’re the best player on a bad team and you don’t meet the qualifications for an All-Star bid, too bad. Some form of equal representation will not unfairly help you get in over someone else whose team already has somebody into the All-Star Game.

Case in point: if you’re good enough, you’re in. Doesn’t matter if you already have a player from your team on the roster or not, if your season’s numbers should earn you an All-Star appearance, you’ll be rewarded for your performance fairly.

#2.) Second, to select All-Star starters, you take a little bit of both in regards to the current system. What I mean by this is that you effectively combine how All-Star starters are selected (fan voting) and how reserve All-Stars can be appointed (All-Star manager’s selection). What you do is you allow fan voting to take place, but once voting ends, you take the top-3 vote-getters at each position, and the manager will choose the most deserving of those 3 to be the starter at that particular position. You still allow fans to have a say in who could start in the All-Star Game, and with the manager’s approval, you just about eliminate the chance that an oft-injured fan-favorite who has spent most of the season on the DL will start in the All-Star Game, leading to at least 1 fewer snub if that were the case.

Case in point: who the All-Star team’s manager views as the best player of the fan-voted top-3 at each position will be appointed a starting job in the All-Star game. It keeps the fan in a position of power without completely stripping fans of their individual vote’s significance, and by the manager selecting 1 of the top-3 vote-getting players at each position, I feel that this could be a reasonable and realistic solution for the All-Star Game and its rosters to be almost as right as they could possibly be

Enough of hearing about the snubs, it’s time for the All-Star game to get a face-lift.

Heck, if the All-Star Game can change it’s rules to where the outcome of the game decides something unbelievably important (who gets home field advantage in the World Series), why can’t it change its rules to where the Mid-Summer Classic rewards baseball’s best players, regardless of team, instead of rewarding a decent player on a team that can’t seem to rack up more than 8 wins in a month over a guy who is clearly deserving but already has his club represented in the game?

We all know that something has to change. There’s nothing worse than seeing a guy you pull for being snubbed in favor of some middle-of-the-road guy on a last place team… the sentiment Angel fans are currently feeling.

It’s just not right.

And it’s time that that changed.

If you have any resolutions that you’d like to see implemented into the All-Star Game, feel free to comment or let me hear it on Twitter by replying to @TheHalosBlog!

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Angels Acquire Scott Kazmir From Tampa Bay

scott kazmir

Seeing that the Angels had lost 6 of their last 8 games entering Friday night’s contest with the Oakland Athletics, GM Tony Reagins felt that the Halos needed to shake it up a bit.

Starting pitching has been the Angels’ weak link of late, and if the Halos couldn’t pull anybody up from within, then a deal had to be made.

Friday night, that deal was made.

The Angels looked to the American League East division for hurlers who had cleared waivers, and found that Tampa Bay Rays’ lefty Scott Kazmir had cleared waivers, which prompted the front office to pull the trigger on landing a quality arm.

The Halos were able to bring in Kazmir in exchange for minor league pitching prospect Alex Torres, infielder Matt Sweeney, and right-hander Jordan Walden.

The 25-year-old Kazmir, who was a 1st round draft pick (#15 overall) of the New York Mets back in 2004, was shipped to the Rays with Joselo Diaz (back when they were the Tampa Bay Devil Rays) in 2006 in exchange for pitchers Victor Zambrano and Bartolomé Fortunado.

In 2006, Kazmir was tabbed as the Opening Day starter for Tampa Bay, becoming the youngest Opening Day starter (22 years, 2 months, 10 days old) since Dwight Gooden was the starter for the New York Mets in the 1986 opener.

Kazmir led the American League in strikeouts in 2007 with 239 punchouts.

In his Tampa Bay career, Kazmir compiled a respectable 55-45 record to go along with a 3.92 ERA (prior to an injury-plagued 2009 season, he had an ERA of 3.50 or lower in each of the 3 previous seasons).

At one point during his high school career, Kazmir threw 4 consecutive no-hitters (yes, that’s right, 4 straight no-hitters). After allowing a hit in his bid for his 5th no-hitter, he’d finish the game, and then throw 2 more no-hitters in his next 2 starts (add it all up, and you get 6 no-hitters in a span of 7 outings… that’s pretty good if you ask me).

In his senior year of high school, Kazmir set a Texas high school record formerly set by current Red Sox ace Josh Beckett by striking out an incredible 175 batters in 75 innings… that’s over 2 batters per inning (about 2.33 per inning to be exact)! He verbally committed to the University of Texas, a college baseball powerhouse before opting to go to the pros.

Kazmir was elected to the American League All-Star in both 2006 and 2008 (helped lead Rays to World Series in ’08).

He is in the 1st year of a 3-year deal, so this is no Mark Teixeira 1 1/2 month rental that we came to see last year, folks.

As long as he can be a dependable middle-of-the-rotation guy, I don’t think there’s anything else that we as Angel fans can ask of him. He was not brought in to be any “savior” of sorts, but to be a quality arm to compliment the rest of the Angels’ struggling yet promising rotation (he’s even been rumored to have been brought in as a bullpen arm, but I’d confidently put my money on him having a spot in the starting rotation).

Not only do I welcome the addition of Kazmir as a fantastic short-term addition, but to have him inked for the 2 following years as well seems like a steal of a deal at the present time… I mean he’s only 25, he’s yet to even hit his prime!

For the Rays, it gives them salary cap relief for the upcoming few years, but for the Angels it guarantees them of a pitcher that they know will be under their control for the next couple of seasons (considering John Lackey will get plenty of money thrown at him this offseason due to his contract being up following the end of this season).

Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing what Mr. Kazmir can do for the Halos, so let’s all welcome in the newest member of the Los Angeles Angels… welcome aboard Scott!

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4/8-Oakland Rallies for Six Runs in Final Two Innings, Angel Bullpen Falters Again

nomarIf only this one could’ve ended after 7 innings. The A’s were held scoreless through the first 7 frames, but found a way to manufacture 6 runs in the final two innings to come out with a 6-4 win, moving to 2-1 on the season.

The Halos, meanwhile, would take a 4-run lead into the 8th inning, only to have Oakland put up 3 in the inning to move it to 4-3.

Brian Fuentes would come in to try to close it out in the 9th and would get two outs relatively quickly. Kurt Suzuki would tap a little dribbler down the first base line, but Napoli did not call off a charging Brian Fuentes, leading to no out on the play. Nomar Garciaparra would pinch hit and single in the game-tying run. Mark Ellis and Matt Holliday would follow Garciaparra’s lead and hit back-to-back run-scoring singles, to give Oakland a 6-4 lead heading into the Halos’ final AB’s.

The Angels would be unable to muster up a noteworthy rally and drop the game by a score of 6-4.

It’s unfortunate because Angels starter Nick Adenhart rebounded from a shaky 1st inning, and would throw 6 innings of scoreless baseball, scattering 7 hits, walking 3 batters and striking out 5. I was impressed with the way of how he performed under pressure situations, especially when he dug himself into some pretty deep holes. But, he got out of them and remained composed, and overall I was really impressed with the way he performed, and I’m looking forward for what the future has in store for this kid.

Scoring Recap

4th inning- With no outs, Juan Rivera knocked a base hit into right center, scoring Torii Hunter who led the inning off with a base knock, and also advancing Kendry Morales to 2nd base. Angels up 1-0.

Following up Rivera’s knock, Mike Napoli would club one into right center for a double after center fielder Rajai Davis couldn’t quite glove the deep knock. Kendry Morales would score on the play, and Juan Rivera would end up on 3rd. Angels now make it 2-0.

Erick Aybar would bat next and hit a sacrifice fly to center field to bring in Rivera. The Halos would be done scoring for the inning, but lead the game 3-0.

7th inning- After Chone Figgins walked to start the inning, he then stole 2nd and advanced to 3rd on a throwing error by catcher Kurt Suzuki, Bobby Abreu would lift a sacrifice fly into right field to score Figgy, making it a 4-0 Halo advantage.

8th inning- From here on out, it would be all Oakland. Following two singles against Jose Arredondo to start the inning, Scot Shields would come in to the game, strike out the first batter he faced, and then allow Mark Ellis to ground into a run-scoring fielder’s choice to 3rd base. Chone Figgins chose to throw home when he could’ve gone across the diamond to get an out but elected not to. This would bite the Angels in the behind later on.

With two outs, leadoff man Ryan Sweeney, who would go 3-5 for the game, would lace a single to center field, scoring both Kurt Suzuki and Mark Ellis, cutting the Angel lead to 1, by a score of 4-3 after 8 innings.

9th inning- Brian Fuentes would come in to try to get the save, and would end up recording two outs until Kurt Suzuki would tap one down the first base line for an infield single. This was a ball where Mike Napoli should have called off Fuentes and thrown to first, but instead neither player would be able to get a clean grip and Suzuki would be safe. Nomar Garciaparra would pinch hit for Travis Buck and promptly knock a clean single into left field to knot the game up at 4.

The next batter was Mark Ellis who would hit an infield single to a diving Erick Aybar, who would have no chance of throwing out Ellis. Kurt Suzuki would score on the play, and Garciaparra would move to 2nd, giving the A’s their first lead of the game, 5-4.

Following up Ellis was big offseason splash Matt Holliday, who knocked a long single to center field, scoring Kurt Suzuki, and giving the A’s their second straight 6-4 victory over the Halos.

Player-by-Player Recap

1- 3B Chone Figgins – 1-3, 0 RBI, 1 R, 0 K, 2 BB, 1 SB, 0 LOB

Figgy would reach base in 3 of his 5 plate appearances, but still does not look like his normal self with the bat. He’s 2 for 10 to start the season, has 2 stolen bags in his first 3 games, so he’s still making the most of his limited on-base opportunities. Defensive decision-making in the 8th inning on the throw home was a horrible decision. With a 4 run lead, you get the sure out and let the run score, the Halos got neither, and that would just prolong the inning and ultimately, end up in a loss.

2- 2B Howie Kendrick – 1-5, 0 RBI, 0 R, 1 K, 0 BB, 4 LOB

Kendrick still couldn’t get anything going today, making him 1 for 9 in his past 2 games. Had that big Opening Day game where he was the offensive spark, but in the past 2 he hasn’t been able to spark up anything offensively.

3- RF Bobby Abreu – 1-4, 1 RBI, 0 R, 1 K, 0 BB, 1 LOB

Abreu has a hit in each of his first 3 games as a Halo, but is batting just 3 for 13 overall. He’s doing a good job of sacrificing runs in for the Angels who have not looked all that impressive through their first 3 games, but give Abreu more time, and if Figgy and Howie can start to get on base and give Abreu RBI opportunities, he will come through as he has year after year throughout his career.

4- DH Vladimir Guerrero – 0-4, 0 RBI, 0 R, 2 K, 0 BB, 2 LOB

The Big Daddy posted a nice, fat bagel across the board today, and actually swung at a pitch that bounced maybe 7 feet in front of the plate. Hey, that’s Vladdy though, he’s been known to golf balls off the dirt into the bleachers 400 feet away. Not a good game for him, but he doesn’t stay in offensive funks for too long.

5- CF Torii Hunter – 1-4, 0 RBI, 1 R, 0 K, 0 BB, 0 LOB

Hunter continues to make good contact with the ball, but just can’t seem to find any holes in the defense. He’s putting good wood on the pitches he sees, and it’s only a matter of time for when a 1-4 showing turns into a 3-4 outing. Keep the faith, Torii.

6- 1B Kendry Morales – 2-4, 0 RBI, 1 R, 2 K, 0 BB, 0 LOB

Kendry has been the most productive hitter for the Halos through the first 3 (.364 batting average), but he must really want his 1-5 guys to start getting on base. Tonight, the 1-5 hitters went a combined 4-20. I think Kendry is still going to be the catalyst to this team’s success for the season, but you can only do so much when you have limited RBI opportunities. He’s done very well in his first 3 games in my opinion and has played adequate defense as well, and has had back-to-back multi-hit games.

7- LF Juan Rivera – 2-4, 1 RBI, 1 R, 0 K, 0 BB, 0 LOB

Juan and Kendry had as many hits (4) as the 1-5 hitters had, and nearly half the total of hits for the entire team in this one. He made up for his 0-4 showing yesterday and looked comfortable with the bat tonight. He benefited from Kendry’s ability to get on base, and looked like the Juan that Halo fans got accustomed to seeing back in 2006.

8- C Mike Napoli – 1-3, 1 RBI, 0 R, 1 K, 1 BB, 3 LOB

Nap got his first start of the year tonight at catcher, and would hit a deep double into right center today for his first hit of the year. However, Napoli also showed me why I’d rather have Jeff Mathis in the game at catcher than him. Mathis just has better control of his pitchers and has better control of the game. Nap also allowed a stolen base tonight, Mathis didn’t allow any stolen bags in his 2 starts this season. Plus, Napoli’s decision-making ability is sub-par at best. Memo to Mike Scioscia: start Mathis tomorrow. Please.

9- SS Erick Aybar – 0-3, 1 RBI, 0 R, 2 K, 0 BB, 1 RBI

He currently has the honor of having the lowest batting average of any of the Halo starters thus far with a .125 average. Got his first RBI of the year, but hasn’t done much with the stick so far. His defense has been impressive so far, and has played flawlessly in the field.

Tonight’s MVP

Nick Adenhart

The 22-year-old righty had a shaky first inning, but would rebound to throw 6 solid innings of scoreless ball. His composure impressed me, and he has come along way from how he threw in the big leagues last year. Adenhart earned a win tonight with his ability to get out of jams, but unfortunately, the bullpen thought otherwise and tanked it in the final two frames. Starting pitching has been solid so far, but the bullpen is costing the Angels some early victories. Better early than late I suppose. But kudos to Nick for a solid first outing of the year, and I now can see how much promise there is in this youngster. His fastball was about 92-93 mph all game, and his curve at times was an absolute knee buckler… his future looks very bright.

Dub’s Halo of the Game Review and Pick

4/8 Halo of the Game Pick: Torii Hunter

Stat Line: 1-4, 0 RBI, 1 R, 0 K, 0 BB, 0 LOB

Nothing special by any means out of Torii tonight and starts the season with 3 hits in his first 13 at-bats. Torii’s offense will pick up sooner than later, but he improved the HotG streak.

Current Halo of the Game Hit Streak: 3

Halo of the Game Season Hitting Statistics:

.333 avg. (4-12), 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 0 2B, 0 3B, 2 K, 1 BB, 0 SB

Tomorrow’s Halo of the Game Pick: Chone Figgins

Tomorrow’s Probables

A’s: Brett Anderson. The 21-year-old lefty will be making his MLB debut tomorrow, the second A’s pitcher to do so in this series. Anderson was a part of the bronze medal-winning team USA team at the Beijing Olympics. Threw one inning in the 2008 Futures Game in Yankee Stadium, a game which recognizes the top up-and-coming players in all of baseball. Anderson is arguably the top pitcher coming out of their farm system and some say that he has the ability, and the stuff, to become great in time.

Angels: Jered Weaver. Last year’s Opening Day starter for the Halos due to injuries to John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar, Weaver would end up going 11-10 with a 4.33 ERA, striking out 152 batters in 176 2/3 innings of work. The lanky 26-year-old right hander aims to get the Angels back on track, in hopes to salvage a series split with the A’s, who currently hold a 2-1 win advantage over the Halos.

Tomorrow’s game against the A’s is scheduled for 7:25 p.m. Pacific time.

Go Halos!

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4/7-Cust, A’s Get Revenge On Halos, Even Series to 1-1

suzuki a'sOn Opening Day, the A’s could only muster up 3 hits as a collective unit. Today, they more than quintupled that. Jack Cust led the way for the Athletics with 3 hits and 2 RBI en route to a 6-4 Oakland victory, knotting up the series at 1 apiece. Cust, Ryan Sweeney and Jason Giambi would combine for 9 of Oakland’s 16 hits in the game. The Halos, on the other hand, would manage 8 hits on the game, but would end up leaving 18 men on base.

21-year old Trevor Cahill made his major league debut for Oakland tonight, receiving a No Decision after throwing 5 innings, while giving up 3 runs (2 of them earned) on 5 hits. Cahill would also strike out 1 batter and walk 5.

Michael Wuertz, who would end up with the victory for the A’s, would give up one hit and strike out two Halos in the 6th.

Santiago Casilla would throw two hitless innings, and after Brad Ziegler would surrender one run in the 9th to make it 6-4 in Oakland’s favor, he would go on to shut the door on the Angels by striking out Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter to end the game.

Scoring Recap

1st inning- With 1 out, after Figgins walked, stole 2nd, and advanced to 3rd on a Howie Kendrick flyout, Bobby Abreu grounded out to 2nd base, scoring Figgins to put the Halos on the board first. That’s Halo baseball right there, finding a way to manufacture runs. The Angels would hold the early 1-0 advantage.

2nd inning- After Jeff Mathis led off the inning with a double and got sacrificed to third on an Erick Aybar bunt, Travis Cahill would let one get away, and catcher Kurt Suzuki couldn’t body up the wild pitch, allowing Mathis to score, making it 2-0 Angels in the early going.

4th inning- Oakland finally gets on the board. Nomar Garciaparra started off the inning with a single, followed by an Eric Chavez groundout which would advance Garciaparra to 2nd now with 1 out. Jack Cust would lace a long single to right field, plating Garciaparra for Oakland’s first run of the game, and of the season. It’s now 2-1 Angels.

Kurt Suzuki would single up the middle against Dustin Moseley, giving the A’s runners on 1st and 3rd with 1 out. Travis Buck would follow with an RBI groundout to first, scoring cust and advancing Suzuki to 2nd. The score is now knotted up at 2-2.

The next batter would be Mark Ellis, who would knock one up the middle which would bring in Suzuki to give the A’s the lead by a score of 3-2.

5th inning- Vladimir Guerrero would start the inning by  reaching on an error by Jack Cust. He would be thrown out on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Torii Hunter, who would end up at 2nd after the play was over. With one away, Kendry Morales would slap a base hit into center, to tie it up at 3-3. Kendry received his first RBI of the year on the play.

7th inning- With reliever Kevin Jepsen relieving Dustin Moseley after throwing a whopping 105 pitches (70 for strikes) in 6 innings, he would surrender two runs, the first coming on a fielder’s choice to first baseman Kendry Morales off the bat of Eric Chavez, scoring leadoff man Ryan Sweeney and advancing Jason Giambi from 2nd to 3rd. The A’s would re-take the lead 4-3.

Jack Cust would follow that right up with a base knock of his own, scoring Jason Giambi from 3rd base. The A’s are now up by a score of 5-3, and that’s all they’d need.

8th inning- Veteran left hander Darren Oliver would relieve Jepsen of his duties in the 8th, but would also end up surrendering a run of his own. After retiring the first two batters, Oliver would allow a double to Ryan Sweeney and issue a walk to Orlando Cabrera, setting up an RBI opportunity for Jason Giambi. The hefty lefty Giambi would promptly rope a double the opposite way, scoring Sweeney to give the A’s a 6-3 advantage.

9th inning- Bobby Abreu would come up with 1 out and speedster Chone Figgins on 2nd, and nail a Brad Ziegler offering into left field, scoring Figgy from 2nd to make the score 6-4 with the A’s in front. The score would go final as such.

Player-by-Player Recap

1- 3B Chone Figgins – 1-4, 0 RBI, 2 R, 0 K, 1 BB, 1 SB, 2 LOB

Figgy finally got his first knock of the year in the 9th and would also get his first stolen bag as well. Chone would score twice and play flawless D at 3rd in this one.

2- 2B Howie Kendrick – 0-4, 0 RBI, 0 R, 1 K, 1 BB, 3 LOB

Howie had a little Opening Day hangover today. Yesterday’s MVP of the game put up an 0-fer and was a complete nonfactor in this one, but did contribute to the eventual manufacturing of the Angels’ first run of the game back in the 1st inning, where he moved Figgins over to 3rd, eventually to be brought in on a Bobby Abreu RBI groundout.

3- RF Bobby Abreu – 1-5, 2 RBI, 0 R, 1 K, 0 BB, 2 LOB

Abreu earned his first Halo RBIs today, as he had an RBI groundout in the 1st and a run-scoring single in the 9th. 1-5 isn’t stellar by any means, but the fact that he can pull 2 RBI out of a 1-5 day makes his day slightly better. Because otherwise, a 1-5 day isn’t too impressive.

4- DH Vladimir Guerrero – 1-4, 0 RBI, 0 R, 1 K, 1 BB, 1 LOB

The Big Daddy got a base knock in his first at-bat and wouldn’t reach base via a clean base knock for the rest of the game (he would reach on an error and on a walk, however). Vlad didn’t have many potential run-scoring plate appearances in this one, and we all know Vlad’s capabilities with runners in scoring position. No need to fret over Vlad’s stat line when the 1-3 hitters go a combined 2-13 in front of him. He bats 4th for a reason, and if the guys in front of him can’t produce, there is going to have to be a lineup shift from Mike Scioscia (yes, I know it’s the 2nd game of the season, but if it doesn’t work out, things will have to change up).

5- Torii Hunter – 1-5, 0 RBI, 1 R, 1 K, 0 BB, 3 LOB

Nothing special from Torii today. His one base knock was an absolute rope back in the 1st inning that would go for a double, but he was unable to reach base in any of his final 4 AB’s of the game. Not a good sign when your 1-5 hitters go 4-22. Yikes.

6- Kendry Morales – 2-3, 1 RBI, 1 2B, 0 R, 0 K, 1 BB, 0 LOB

KMo was the only Halo with multiple hits today, and was the only other Angel outside of Jeff Mathis to not strand a runner on base (but hey, he didn’t have many chances to strand runners considering the way the 1-5 hitters performed at the plate today). Kendry would get his first RBI of the year today, and bounced back from his 0-4 day at the plate on Opening Night.

7- Juan Rivera – 0-4, 0 RBI, 0 R, 1 K, 0 BB, 6 LOB

Oh boy, not a good day for Juan with runners on board, but that was really the story of the Angels’ offense tonight in general. Continuing the trend of playing the opposite of how you did yesterday, much like Howie (better yesterday) and Kendry (better today), Juan put up a big ol’ goose egg in the hit department tonight. Only he and Howie went hitless for the Halos tonight.

8- Jeff Mathis– 1-3, 0 RBI, 1 2B, 1 R, 1 K, 1 BB, 0 LOB

Two-game hitting streak for Mathis now… must be a career long. Sorry, Jeff, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Jeff had a nice-looking double back in the 2nd, and would allow no stolen bases in this one. Doing his part so far from the 8-hole in the lineup, and any offensive contribution, in my opinion, is just a gift from God.

9- Erick Aybar– 1-2, 0 RBI, 1 2B, 0 R, 0 K, 1 BB, 1 LOB

Aybar had an 0-fer yesterday, but had a nice liner into right in the 6th that would go for a 2-bagger. No errors in the field today, and contributed with a sacrifice that would ultimately plate a run. Reached base twice in 4 plate appearances, that’s a great contribution from a guy batting last in your lineup in my eyes.

Tonight’s MVP

Kendry Morales

If “runners left on base” were a person, they’d have tonight’s MVP locked up, no doubt about it. Morales was the only half-way competent hitter in the lineup for the Halos tonight as he went 2-3. Dustin Moseley played the part tonight as a fill-in #2 hurler, going 6 innings and giving up 3 runs, while striking out 4, walking none, and scattering 9 hits. It could’ve been much worse for Moseley, but he threw scoreless innings in 5 of the 6 he went tonight, and surrendered all 3 of his earned runs in the 4th inning. Kevin Jepsen would blow it in the 7th in a relief effort, and ultimately give the A’s the victory after giving up 2 runs in that 7th inning.

Dub’s Halo of the Game Review and Pick

4/7 Halo of the Game Pick: Vladimir Guerrero

Stat Line: 1-4, 0 RBI, 0 R, 1 K, 1 BB, 1 LOB

Not the best game for the Big Daddy, but he did knock a single through the infield in the 1st. But with that hit, he does extend the HotG hitting streak in the early goings of this season.

Current Halo of the Game Hit Streak: 2

Halo of the Game Season Hitting Statistics:

.375 avg. (3-8), 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 0 2B, 0 3B, 2 K, 1 BB, 0 SB

Tomorrow’s Halo of the Game pick: Torii Hunter

Tomorrow’s Probables

A’s: Dana Eveland. The 25-year old lefty will be making his first start of the season tomorrow, after compiling a 9-9 record last year in 29 starts, 1 of those being a complete game. Eveland would put up a 4.34 ERA in 168 innings of work, while striking out 118 batters, and walking 77. Hitters hit .269 off of Eveland in the 2008 season. Eveland came over to the Athletics from the Arizona Diamondbacks in late 2007 in the Dan Haren deal. He went 0-2 in 3 starts against the Halos last year.

Angels: Nick Adenhart. A talented and highly touted pitching prospect at the ripe age of 22 will be making only his 4th career start, as he made 3 last year. The righty went 1-0 with a lofty ERA of 9.00, giving up 12 runs in 12 innings of action. Adenhart struggled with his command last year in his limited appearances, walking 13 and striking out only 4. Adenhart had a solid spring, going 3-0 with a 3.12 in Cactus League play, and would issue only 5 walks compared to 18 punchouts. Adenhart brings a lot of promise to the table, and I’m interested to see how he’ll fare out in the bigs this year.

Tomorrow’s game against the A’s is scheduled for 7:05 Pacific time.

Go Halos!

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4/6-Saunders, Kendrick Carry Halos to Opening Day Shutout of A’s

Howie AbreuWho needs Mark Teixeira and Francisco Rodriguez? Well, after one game, the Halos apparently don’t. Angel baseball is off and running on a good note this year, as the Angels blanked the A’s 3-0 for their first Opening Day shutout since 1978.

Joe Saunders, an all-star and 17-game winner in 2008 got the nod from skipper Mike Scioscia to take the mound as the Opening Day starter, and he was nothing short of spectacular. Saunders pitched 6 2/3 innings of three-hit shutout ball en route to his first victory of the season. Saunders would walk two batters and strike out two batters as well in his 6 2/3 innings of work.

Jose Arredondo, who burst onto the scene last year with 10 wins and a 1.62 ERA would come in for Saunders with two outs and strike out Jack Cust to end the 7th inning.

Scot Shields would need only need 11 pitches to get through the 8th inning unscathed, and offseason acquisition Brian Fuentes, a native of Merced, California, hammered down the A’s in the 9th to earn his first save as a Halo and secure the Angels of their first victory of the season.

An interesting little fact here, the last time a left-hander was tabbed as the Angels’ Opening Day starter was back in 2002 with Jarrod Washburn. You may also remember that the Halos would go on to win the World Series over the San Francisco Giants in an epic 7-game series…. Let’s hope history repeats itself this year!

Scoring Recap

3rd inning- With 1 out, Howie Kendrick roped a single in to right center field, plating Jeff Mathis, who led off the inning with a single from 2nd base, as well as advancing Chone Figgins to 3rd.

3rd inning- With 2 out, following a Bobby Abreu popout, Vladimir Guerrero would ground one to the right of a diving Orlando Cabrera, who would glove the ball cleanly but throw a tricky two-hopper over to Nomar Garciaparra at first, who could not come up with the ball initially, allowing Vladdy to reach safely and score Figgy from 3rd. Kendrick would advance to 2nd on the play.

5th inning- With 1 out and no one on base, Howie Kendrick would blast a Dallas Braden offering up and over that high right center porch and into the stands for a solo shot, his first and the Angels’ first homer of the year.

Player-by-Player Recap

1- 3B Chone Figgins – 0-3, 0 RBI, 1 run, 1 K, 1 BB, 1 LOB

Didn’t do much with the bat today and was kept off the basepaths, but made a fine play going to his right and firing across the diamond, showing off his unheralded arm and defensive skill. The Angels always seem to be better off whenever Figgy scores at least 1 run in a game, and tonight was no exception.

2- 2B Howie Kendrick – 2-4, 1 HR, 1 run, 1 K, 0 LOB

Offensive MVP of the game no doubt about it. Kendrick is known for being a great line drive hitter, and I was even more impressed with the way he was utilizing the opposite field today. That shows the mark of a great hitter, and for a guy who hit .360+ routinely in the minor leagues, there’s no doubt that Howie will be contending for a batting crown in his career. Made an error in the 3rd for what should have been an inning-ending double play, but made up for it with the bat in the bottom half of the inning and in the 5th as well with that solo shot.

3- RF Bobby Abreu – 1-4, 0 RBI, 0 R, 2 K, 2 LOB

This was Abreu’s first game as an Angel, and in his first at-bat, he was everything I had envisioned and hoped for. He worked the count to 3-2, and followed it up with a nice base knock right over the 2nd base bag. The rest of the game didn’t quite follow his lead. 2 strikeouts and a first-pitch popout from a guy who is notorious for seeing as many pitches as any other player in the league wasn’t exactly satisfying. Played the part defensively, but I think Abreu will do a great job as a 3-hole hitter for the Angels this year as he can get on base, drive in runs, steal bases and hit for power as well.

4- DH Vladimir Guerrero – 2-4, 1 RBI, 0 R, 0 K, 1 LOB

With his 3rd inning RBI infield single, Vladdy passed Frank Robinson for the most all-time RBI on Opening Day games in a career with 19. The Big Daddy did a good job of going back up the middle and it was encouraging to see Vladdy leg one out, seeing that his off-season knee surgeries have held up (so far). Vladdy doesn’t have the legs that he used to back in his Montreal days, but he still sure as heck can hit. Vlad will benefit big time from having a patient, experienced veteran like Bobby Abreu in front of him instead of someone like Maicer Izturis plugged into the 3-spot as we saw last year from time-to-time.

5- CF Torii Hunter – 1-4, 0 RBI, 0 R, 0 K, 2 LOB

Nothing really special or noteworthy out of the gregarious center fielder today, but he did get a base knock. No errors in the outfield for the game, and tomorrow Torii will be presented with his 8th consecutive Gold Glove award for his magnificent play in center field for the Halos throughout all of last year.

6- 1B Kendry Morales – 0-4, 0 RBI, 0 R, 1 K, 2 LOB

Not the start Kendry would’ve wanted, but that’s why he has 161 more games to make up for it. I’m still confident that Kendry can produce at a high level, and as the season goes on, he’ll be belting home runs and driving in runs from the 6th spot in the lineup with solid regularity.

7- LF Juan Rivera – 2-4, 1 2B, 0 RBI, 0 R, 0 K, 0 LOB

Juan made up for the no-show of Morales who hit in front of him. He laced a nice double in the 6th, and pitched in with a single in the 4th. Not much action in the field for Juanito, but it’s an encouraging sign to see Juan hitting already, as he never was given the opportunity to get consistent at-bats last year and find a groove.

8- C Jeff Mathis – 1-3, 0 RBI, 1 R, 1 K, 2 LOB

Jeff Mathis’ first at-bat went for a base knock. Go figure. In the one time he got on base, he ended up coming around to score, but more importantly, he caught a shutout today. Mathis called a great game and just seems to be the superior defensive and game-calling catcher compared to long-ball hitter Mike Napoli. Jeff also made a great throw-down to 3rd base to get Mark Ellis on an attempted double steal. The throw was a little high and Figgins made a nice catch and tag on the play, but Mathis had a whole lot of zip on his throw, something the Halos haven’t seen behind the dish since the days of Bengie Molina. His defense seems to be a constant, but the hitting would just be an added bonus.

9- SS Erick Aybar – 0-3, 0 RBI, 0 R, 0 K, 3 LOB

Aybar couldn’t get anything going with the bat today, but played solid defense, and started an inning-ending double play in the 2nd, when the A’s were threatening with 2 men on base. Aybar had a strong spring and I think he’s going to be a solid hitter in the 9-hole for Mike Scioscia with his speed and slap-hitting ability. Plus, Aybar is as acrobatic as they come in the field at shortstop and has incredible range.

Tonight’s MVP

Joe Saunders & Howie Kendrick

Saunders was fantastic in his 6 2/3 innings of three-hit ball en route to a team shutout of the A’s. Kendrick’s RBI single in the 3rd was all the Angels would need in the run column, but he figured a solo jack in the 5th would put away the A’s for good. This is a good sign to see Saunders dominating early considering the fact that the Halos will most likely be without John Lackey, Ervin Santana and Kelvim Escobar for April’s entirety.

Dub’s Halo of the Game Review and Pick

4/6 Halo of the Game pick: Howie Kendrick

Stat Line: 2-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 K 0 LOB

So far, so good! Howie was the Angels offense in this one, so I’m sure glad I picked HK47 in this one.

Current Halo of the Game Hit Streak: 1 (Every time my Halo of the Game gets a hit, it adds to the hitting streak. No hits means the streak goes back to 0 of course)

Tomorrow’s Halo of the Game pick: Vladimir Guerrero (facing a righty fireballer tomorrow, much to his liking)

Tomorrow’s Probables

A’s: Trevor Cahill. The righty will be making his MLB debut tomorrow at the ripe age of 21. This is a guy who manager Bob Geren says could become a Brandon Webb-like pitcher in the future. Throws anywhere between 88 and 95 on his fastball and throws a hard sinker, which is his #1 pitch. The Halos struggled last year when they faced a kid making his MLB debut. Chris Waters of the Baltimore Orioles 1-hit the Angels in 8 innings of work back on August 6th of last year, en route to an Angel loss.

Angels: Dustin Moseley. Moseley steps in as the #2 starter on the decimated Halos’ staff to start the season. The 27-year old righty went 2-4 last year for the Halos while posting a fat ERA of 6.79 in 12 appearances. Moseley would go 0-1 in 3 appearances against Oakland in ’08, striking out 7, while giving up 7 runs in 9 1/3 innings pitched. Moseley is undeniably not your desirable #2 starter, as a matter of fact, I’m not so sure he’s even a #6 or 7 starter when all are healthy, but it’s up to Moseley to determine his worth.

Tomorrow’s game against the A’s is scheduled to begin at 7:05 Pacific time.

Go Halos!

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