Results tagged ‘ Administration/General ’
I’ve never really cared much for measuring traffic on FutureAngels.com or on this blog. Some fan sites obsess over hits and unique visitors, misinterpreting those numbers for popularity or quality of content. Many professional web site designers will tell you it’s a sure sign of amateurism to have a hit counter or to brag about number of hits on a site.
Nonetheless, I was stunned this evening to receive a notice from MLBlogs.com that the FutureAngels.com Blog is the fourth-highest read fan blog on their service.
The main reason I was shocked is that, when I see rankings for fan sites, the ones for Red Sox, Yankees and Cubs fans seem to far outrank the rest. The West Coast blogs usually are near the bottom with also-rans like Kansas City and Pittsburgh. (No knock intended on those blogs; it’s just that your fans either are less passionate or have better things to do with their lives than blog all night long.)
Yet there we are, right with the New York and Boston fans.
As Dick Enberg would say, “Oh, my.”
Thank you to all of you who read this blog. It’s nice to know so many people enjoy reading more than just the endless rants and insult exchanges that ruin many blogs and fan boards. There’s a place on the Internet for intelligent discourse after all.
- Will Smith LHP
- Jordan Walden RHP
- Mark Trumbo 1B
- Hank Conger C
- Nick Adenhart RHP
- Ryan Chaffee RHP
- Peter Bourjos OF
- Kevin Jepsen RHP
- Matt Brown 3B-1B
- Luis Jimenez 3B
Please feel free to post your comments here.
I don’t suppose anyone would believe me if I said I’d predicted the Phillies would win the World Series in five games …
I told a friend from Philadelphia before the Series began that it would be Phils in five. He said Rays in five, being a typical pessimistic Phillies fan.
Just wanted to catch up on what’s going on with the FutureAngels.com web site and the Angels in general.
On Friday I’ll start the annual off-season tradition of posting Angels minor league game of the week webcasts. I’ve been archiving webcasts since 2003, so I’ll mix in some “classics” along with replays of 2008 games. First up will be an April 2003 Arkansas Travelers contest at Wichita. Bobby Jenks is on the mound for the Travs.
I’ve mentioned a few times that, in addition to my day job and FutureAngels.com, I was also working this year on a political project which has soaked up much of my spare time. With Election Day on Tuesday, that’s one time sponge eliminated.
Another big upheaval is that I lost my job last week, so both the spouse and I are now unemployed. The upshot is that it creates an opportunity for us to accelerate our move to Florida, as discussed a few times in this blog. But we have to jump through some financial hoops first.
In any case, it looks like I’ll have a lot more free time to catch up on all the 2008 photos that are backlogged on my hard drive. I’ve been working on the Orem Owlz photos shot last June; those should be done tomorrow. Then I’ll do the Owlz photos shot last September during the playoffs. After that, I’ll loop back to do the Tempe Angels photos from mid-July and the fall instructional league photos. Once those are done, I’ll process all the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes photos.
I also have a ton of video that’s been neglected, especially highlight clips of so many players.
And it’s about time to start writing the annual FutureAngels.com Top 10 Prospects report.
If we can get to Florida with cash in the pocket and no mortgage payments, then I’ll start work in earnest on the Angels minor league history book I’ve talked about. Statesville NC historian Bill Moose e-mailed a few weeks back to say he’d found another 1961 Statesville Owl, Ed Thomas. And Ed knows the whereabouts of Owls infielder Jerry Fox. It’s truly astonishing so many of them are still around 47 years later.
But first things first.
Because of the unemployment situation, I may start to post on eBay some collectibles for auction. I have a lot of Angels minor league prospect jerseys in the closet. First to go will be Bobby Jenks from the Quakes and Travelers. I’m not sure, though, if they have certificates of authenticity because minor league front offices back then didn’t always do that.
Worst case scenario, I’ll stand on a corner with a bottle of Windex, a squeegie and a roll of paper towels, and offer to clean windshields for a buck …
Obviously, if I’m still unemployed come spring training you won’t see me out at Tempe. But that’s five months away.
For those of you outside of SoCal who may not have seen it, the Los Angeles Times posted a frank interview with Torii Hunter about the Angels’ post-season stinkfest. Click Here to read the article. It’s well worth it.
Particularly revealing is this passage by sportswriter Kurt Streeter about the botched squeeze play:
I burrowed in on the question still haunting Angels fans: Scioscia’s decision to squeeze. There are many who agree that Aybar should have been allowed to hit. But bunting in tight moments, isn’t that the way your team played all year, dink-and-dunk, drip-and-drop, popgun hits and speed?
“No, no,” came a quick reply. “People say that, but that’s not how we played all year. You rarely squeeze. But in the regular season when you do squeeze you can do it because you’ve always got tomorrow. . . . If you lose you have tomorrow to make up for it. In the playoffs it is different. Totally different.”
Hunter also promised a clubhouse attitude adjustment, something I proposed in my October 7 blog. Torii said:
“I am going to start right in spring training making sure the guys know that this year we are going to kick some [posterior]. . . . We are going to put it in everyone’s heads that in the playoffs next year it is going to be different. Don’t start worrying about the pressures of everyone saying we can’t win the big ones or the Red Sox dominating you. Right away, I am going to try to [instill] that.”
Roger that, Torii.
What’s a vacation without inflicting home movies on your friends?
The sunrise runs about five minutes. The manatee footage is about eight minutes.
We weren’t ten feet from the dock when the manatees swam up to join us. They’re incredibly docile and social. The younger ones want to suckle, as you’ll see.
As our tour guide Cinnamon explains in the video, their only threat is from humans. Most of them have scars on their backs from speedboats running them over. By law, the channel is a no-wake zone, but sure enough some jerk came speeding through at warp speed, sending us all rocking in the kayaks.
For $30, you’re out in incredible wildlife for between 2-3 hours, depending on circumstances. The water was murky because of Tropical Storm Fay, but normally it’s quite clear. The manatees don’t mind.
Hopefully we get down to Space Coast Stadium this evening for a Brevard County Manatees game.
Posting while I can, because the Internet access here isn’t all that reliable.
My wife and I are on vacation in the Space Coast region of Florida — Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island. We’ll be there through Friday.
This is the area that was worst hit by Tropical Storm Fay. The storm parked over Brevard County and sat for three days dumping water.
We have a friend here who works at Kennedy Space Center. Her home is about 100 yards from the Atlantic Ocean, protected only by a berm. We always thought the storm surge would nail her house one day, but ironically the berm kept in all the water dumped by the storm, rather than letting it run into the ocean.
We spent the day helping her clean out ruined furniture and stuff, then scrubbing the floors with bleach hoping to kill mold that could render the house uninhabitable.
Many of her neighbors had it worse than her. They’re all lugging piles of debris to the curb. She said a council member drove by and said FEMA would be in contact shortly. Her insurance won’t cover the damage, or so they say.
We had dinner at a historic restaurant known today as La Fiesta, but during the Space Age it was The Moon Hut. It was a burger joint at the bend in A1A where it heads south onto the Cape from the mainland. During the 1960s, it was a popular hangout for the astronauts as they drove home to Cocoa Beach from Canaveral Air Force Station. Although it has new owners, they’ve kept the Moon Hut memorabilia on the wall.
It’s really quite common to walk into most public places here and see autographed 8x10s of astronauts. This is a company town. The company just happens to be NASA.
In the morning, we’re taking a kayak tour of the Indian River islands on the inland side of the cape. Go to www.cocoabeachkayaking.com, scroll to the bottom and watch the six-minute video. It’s exactly as depicted, manatees and dolphins and all sorts of critters.
Tropical Storm Fay has decided to park over Florida’s Space Coast, which is going to make my vacation trip more — well, interesting.
We’re supposed to fly to Orlando on Saturday and spend a week. The storm itself is not strong enough to cause immediate significant damage. It’s just moving so slow that it’s dumping a lot of water.
We have a friend who works at Kennedy Space Center. I just spoke to her; pretty much everything is shut down for a couple days as they don’t want people on the roads. The crew for the next Shuttle launch was due in next week for training, but no one knows right now what the schedule will be. So I guess we’re just going to wing it when we get there along with everyone else.
The local paper is Florida Today. Their web site, www.floridatoday.com, has some cool geeky features you’d expect in a company town where the company happens to be the space program. This morning, they had two reporters driving around with a video camera streaming live to the web site in the middle of the storm. Not parked. They were streaming while driving. They were receiving text messages from viewers as they drove, answering questions and providing traffic updates.
They also have a camera mounted on a building showing Cocoa Beach Pier, so you can see the strength of the storm. Last night we were seeing occasional lightning flashes in the darkness.
I’d hoped to see a minor league game next week, either the local Brevard County Manatees or the Daytona Cubs up the road, but the fields may be so soggy they’re rendered unplayable. We’ll see.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I’ve been researching the early history of the Angels minor leagues and have tracked down some of the original “future Angels.” Tonight I’m taking Dan Ardell and Dick Simpson to Rancho Cucamonga. The Quakes are playing the San Jose Giants. Dan and Dick played for the San Jose Bees (same franchise, different team name) in 1962; that was the year Dick hit 42 homers, which stood as an Angels single-season minor league record until Brandon Wood hit 43 homers for Rancho in 2005.
Dan and Dick are scheduled to do the first-pitch ceremony. It’ll be the first time they’ve been on a California League field in 45 years.
I’ve posted on FutureAngels.com plenty of video clips from Sunday’s Quakes game at Lake Elsinore. I recommend in particular the eight-run first inning clip, so you see everyone who got a hit that inning. For those of you who’ve only heard of Hank Conger, check out his home run swing. It reminds me a bit of how violent Troy Glaus’ swing was. You almost feel sorry for the baseball.
Mark Trumbo is a favorite to win the Angels’ 2008 minor league player of the year award.
Chances are pretty good that all six Angels affiliates could play in the post-season this year.
The parent club, of course, has the best record in baseball at 75-44. The self-declared experts had the Seattle Mariners winning the A.L. West, and the sabermetric crowd backed Oakland yet again. Well, here we are with 43 games left in the season, and the Angels are 29½ games ahead of the Mariners, and 20½ games ahead of the A’s. The Rangers are in second place, 15½ games behind the Angels.
If the Angels play .500 ball the rest of the way, they should come in around 97 wins.
Personally, I think the ALCS will be the Angels and Tampa Bay, which worries me because Rays manager Joe Maddon knows our system. Sometimes youthful teams play beyond their talent. Of course I want to see the Angels win, but if it’s meant to be the Rays I won’t mind too much because it will boost interest in a franchise pretty much neglected by its local citizenry — and their manager came out of our organization.
Let’s look at where our Angels’ minor league teams stand:
Salt Lake — The PCL plays a full season, not two half-seasons, so the Bees need to maintain their lead over the next 15 games to reach the playoffs. They have a five-game lead over Tacoma (Mariners affiliate) with 19 games to play. The two teams don’t face each other for the rest of the season. The Bees started the season with an incredible 24-2 record, but since then are 48-51.
Arkansas — The Travelers went on a 23-12 run between May 9 and June 17 to clinch the Texas League’s South Division first-half title. In the second half, they’re 19-33, but they’re already in the post-season. The Travs received Mark Trumbo (my choice for Angels minor league player of the year) on July 28; his AVG/OBP/SLG in 16 games are .318/.338/.652, with 32 HR between High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Arkansas. But it’s their pitching that will determine how far they go in the post-season, and their pitching has failed them. In July, they had a 5.36 team ERA and it’s 4.97 in August.
Rancho Cucamonga — The Quakes never fielded the team projected last winter. 3B Matt Sweeney has missed all year with an ankle injury. C Hank Conger missed two months with a slight labrum tear in his right shoulder, and just as he was ready to catch again, he bruised his left thumb. But Anthony Norman emerged as a pleasant surprise; his AVG/OBP/SLG are .270/.398/.496. Anthony has 15 HR — production no one anticipated — and 36 SB out of 41 attempts. Rancho took a ½ game lead in the California League South Division last night with a win over Lancaster, which won the first half. The Jethawks are are locked into the post-season, so the Quakes are fighting Inland Empire and Lake Elsinore for the two remaining playoff slots; both teams trail the Quakes by three. Rancho has 17 games left, so it’s a magic number of 15 — really too soon to talk about.
Cedar Rapids — The Kernels’ season was put into perspective by the historic flood that struck the City of Five Seasons in mid-June. (By the way, KCRG TV has posted online excerpts from their flood coverage; Click Here to see a list of clips.) After a 32-36 first half, the Kernels are 29-24 in the Midwest League Western Division second half, 2½ behind first-place Burlington and one game ahead of third-place Beloit and Quad Cities. My understanding is that the top two teams in the second half go to the playoffs.
Orem — The Owlz are managed by Tom Kotchman, which all but guarantees a post-season appearance. Sure enough, they’ve already qualified for the playoffs with a 25-13 first half. In the second half, they’ve won eleven straight. It’s amazing, although no longer surprising, how Kotch molds these kids into an unstoppable machine every year. Roberto Lopez is back above .400 with a 4-for-5 night Thursday at Helena that included two homers, a double and a single. Lopez started the season playing mostly LF, but in recent weeks he’s been the 1B. He’s also played two games at 3B.
Tempe — The Arizona League team took the first half with a 21-7 record. They’ve let down in the second half, currently at 6-8, 5½ behind the Scottsdale Giants with 14 to play. If the Angels rally to win the second half, there’s no championship game, but it’s starting to look like that won’t happen. I fly back from Florida on August 29, and hope to fly to Phoenix to cover the title game the evening of August 31.
The Dominican Summer League Angels are 40-23, 3½ games behind one of two Rangers camp teams. Personally, I don’t pay much attention to the DSL because it’s an academy operation, although the stats are officially kept. Check out the league standings and you’ll see what I mean. The season ends August 24; the Baseball America 2008 Directory describes the DSL playoff format but it’s too convulted for me to fathom through my cold-addled brain.
Brandon Wood continues to show signs he’s just about ready for prime time.
In July, his AVG/OBP/SLG were .355/.439/.738. Seven games into his August, his numbers for this month are .346/.400/.731.
Woody has always had a high strikeout rate, so it’s important to note that his whiffs are down too. In 26 August at-bats, he’s struck out only three times.
With the Angels comfortably in first place, will they call up Wood and let him have a couple weeks at shortstop in August to see if they want him on the post-season roster?
Players need to be on the 25-man roster come September 1 to be eligible. It might be too much to ask, but if Brandon is ready to make the leap to the majors, adding his power bat to a lineup that already has Teixeira, Guerrero, Hunter and Anderson would be a significant offensive upgrade over Maicer Izturis or Erick Aybar.
Defensively, Wood and Howie Kendrick were a keystone combination for Provo, Cedar Rapids and Rancho Cucamonga, so they should handle the transition with no problem.
Spare time for me is quite rare these days, which is why you don’t see many blog posts. It’s going to be that way probably through season’s end. I’ve been able to process very few photos shot this year, and have plenty video to post as well on FutureAngels.com, so your patience and understanding are appreciated.
My wife and I will be in the Space Coast area of Florida the end of August, so I’ll have even less time for anything other than updating the FutureAngels.com home page. Hopefully I can find the time to go watch the Brevard County Manatees and/or the Daytona Cubs.
Another busy week with non-baseball stuff. I really need to win the lottery. Which I guess would mean that I should buy a Lottery ticket some way.
I’ll be with the Tempe Angels in the next few days. I’ll be at Peoria on Sunday for the game against the Mariners. Then I’ll be at Tempe on Monday and Tuesday for the home games. Monday is against the Phoenix A’s. Tuesday is against the Peoria Padres.
All three games are scheduled for 10:30 AM, but the Tuesday game is now a doubleheader. The Angels’ July 11 game against the Padres in Peoria was rained out. The league office decided the game would be made up on Tuesday at Tempe. The Padres will be the home team in one game, the Angels in the other. The twinbill begins at 9:00 AM.
As you might suspect, the temperature for these games is usually around 100 degrees. Minor league doubleheaders are seven innings for each game. Fourteen innings is a lot to ask in 100+ degree weather, but if the boys are game, I’ll be right there with them. Just have the ambulance standing by.
The Angels promoted Jordan Walden today to Rancho Cucamonga. Jeremy Haynes was reassigned to Cedar Rapids. Walden was named the #3 prospect last November in the FutureAngels.com Top 10 Prospects report.
Hank Conger hit three dingers in Rancho’s day game Wednesday at home against High Desert. Reports in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin suggest that Conger may start catching again in a few days. Hank also hit a homer last Sunday for the Quakes — right after I left to head home to tend to other responsibilities. Are you avoiding me, Hank? (smile) I need to get some of his dingers on video.
A final note … Normally I ignore posts on other web sites and blogs, because unprovoked personal attacks against me are usually intended to draw attention and distract me from more important things.
I have noticed, however, that a particular blogger has repeatedly posted on his blog and others a false statement claiming I said that “Michael Collins is the next Mike Piazza,” and similar falsehoods.
In truth, I granted this individual an interview in July 2005 where he posed several questions. Here’s the truth of what he said, and what I said:
Rob: Michael Collins at Cedar Rapids: Old for his league? Another guy I looked up and said, wow, those are some good numbers. Good plate discipline, hardly ever strikes out (17 K’s in 167 AB — exactly the kind of player the Angels seem to like) and a little pop (.545 SLG, more of a gap hitter based on his doubles).
SS: Michael belongs in a special category, in my mind. He was signed out of Australia at age 16. He didn’t grow up where there’s much of a true baseball development program (i.e. no Little League) so his learning curve will be longer.
That said, I’ve seen him every year since he’s signed and have seen him sprout into a big athletic body. In the back of my mind, for some reason when I see Michael I think of Mike Piazza. The defense may not be as good as, say, Mathis but the offense is finally coming along just as Piazza was a late bloomer.
As a basis of comparison … Piazza’s DOB is 9/4/68. As you know, he was selected by the Dodgers in the 7,945th round (okay, the 62nd round) of the June 1988 draft. His first year, in 1989 at age 21, he played Short-A at Salem in the Northwest League and posted an AVG/OBP/SLG of .268/.318/.444. The next year, his first full season, he was at High-A Vero Beach and posted .250/.281/.390. Returning to High-A at Bakersfield in 1991, he posted .277/.344/.540.
So now we have Michael, who turns 21 on July 18, posting .347/.426/.545 in a pitcher’s league.
(Yes, his age is appropriate for the Midwest League.)
Is it for real? Well, at Provo in 2003, he posted .333/.353/.447 in 132 AB. The Pioneer League is a hitter’s league, but I felt he needed to play every day in 2004 at Provo but he didn’t get the chance. Now he’s getting to play every day and he’s finally kicking in.
I hope the Angels find a way to keep him. He’s a six-year minor league free agent at season’s end. I think he’s worth placing on the 40-man roster but if he indicates he’s willing to stay with the system then maybe they can save that slot for someone else.
Now that’s what I really said.
This isn’t the first time this individual has misquoted and distorted what I’ve said. Based on the comments I’ve read about him on various boards, it seems my sentiment about his veracity is not alone.
It’s also interesting that this individual has a penchant for going down the FutureAngels.com home page to copy the links I’ve posted for reposting on his site without attributing from where he copied them.
This is the last time I will comment on the matter. But having seen this falsehood posted multiple times on multiple boards, I wanted to set the record straight.
That’s not to say I have anything against Michael Collins. He’s been a friend since I met him in August 2001 at Arizona Summer League, when he had just turned 17. Michael turned 24 on July 18. His AVG/OBP/SLG at Double-A Arkansas are .264/.351/.412. He’s been on the disabled list since mid-June with a bulging disc that apparently has been bothering him most of the year. It’s interesting that the veracity-challenged individual didn’t mention Michael’s injury either as context for his 2008 numbers.
I’ve always admired Michael for no other reason than beginning his professional career as a 16-year old halfway around the globe, when most American high school juniors would be looking for minimum-wage summer jobs if they got any job at all. He’s always been one tough ballplayer and, yes, his physical build reminds me of Mike Piazza.
If Michael is at Tempe next week, I’ll look forward to shaking his hand, catching up on things, and wishing him luck to get his career on track.
|Orem Owlz outfielder Roberto Lopez is batting .448 after his first 21 games.|
Too much to do, not enough time to do it.
Catching up on items of note …
I’ll be with the Tempe Angels for their July 20-22 games. The Sunday July 20 game is at Peoria against the Mariners. Then it’s on to Tempe on July 21 against the A’s, and July 22 against the Padres.
Ironically, this is the exact same schedule I attended last year. Apparently the league’s schedule makers decided to just use last year’s schedule, with minor tweaks. The Angels have a few games that were reversed — our park instead of theirs, or vice-versa — but otherwise it’s pretty much identical.
So these three games are the same I saw last year.
I’m hoping to see the Angels’ top two pitching draft picks, Tyler Chatwood and Ryan Chaffee. Chatwood made his professional debut on July 8, facing only five batters. He struck out two and gave up a hit. Ryan Chaffee, recovering from a foot injury, has yet to pitch but maybe he’ll be ready by the time I get there.
Former Angels minor league outfielder and relief pitcher Warner Madrigal made his major league debut on July 2 in New York against the Yankees. He appeared in relief for the Rangers at home July 7 against the Angels, then made an emergency start July 9 against his former team. As I wrote last November 18, the Angels botched a paperwork technicality last fall, making Warner a free agent. After pitching for Low-A Cedar Rapids in 2007, the Rangers sent him to their Double-A affiliate to start 2008, moved him up to Triple-A, and brought him up last week. Way too soon in my opinion, but I gather the Rangers are dealing with pitching injuries so they had to dip into their farm system.
While on the subject of former fireballing Angels relievers, the White Sox placed Bobby Jenks on the disabled list with left scapula bursitis. Bobby hasn’t pitched since June 29. Frankly, I’m surprised he’s held up this long; I suspected his elbow held together by screws would have fallen apart by now, but I’m not a sports medicine expert.
Tom Kotchman’s Orem Owlz are 16-6 and well on their way to post-season contention yet again. Left fielder Roberto Lopez has hit in each of his first 21 games, and has an AVG/OBP/SLG of .448/.520/.598. All the disclaimers have to be issued at this point — he’s a 22-year old in a league where the top prospects are teenagers, 21 games do not a career make, he hasn’t been around the league once so pitchers haven’t had the chance to adjust yet. Baseball America never had him as a significant prospect.
On the other hand … wow.
In recent years, other Angels rookie players have had similar hot starts. 20-year old outfielder Sergio Contreras hit .399/.467/.601 with Butte in 2000. (That franchise is now the Casper Ghosts.) 22-year old Azarias Corbeil hit .359/.463/.525 for Provo (now Orem) in 2001. Neither had a career that reached the upper minors. So let’s keep our sobriety for the time being and give Roberto’s career a chance to mature before we make snap judgments.
On the other hand .. wow.
For those of you looking for photos I recently shot at Orem, I’ve been very busy with non-baseball projects. Hopefully I can make a dent this weekend in the backlog. I’ll post an announcement on the FutureAngels.com home page when they’re done.
Hopefully I can get out to Rancho Cucamonga on Sunday.
I want to keep Cedar Rapids in your thoughts. The Cedar Rapids Gazette reported today that flood damage is expected to exceed $1 billion. Reporter Rick Smith wrote:
“This size of loss, we can’t cash flow this unless the federal government gives us money,” [City Manager Jim Prosser] said. “We’re going to have serious problems … We want the public to know what we’re facing.”
Prosser said the city needs “immediate attention and assistance” from the federal government, and will seek such aid.
BeesGal on her Sporkball Journals blog has a comprehensive list of sports teams and individuals who have donated to Cedar Rapids flood relief.
The Angels are notably absent from the list.
Gazette beat writer Jeff Johnson hasn’t minced words in his Diamonds and Ice blog. Jeff wrote on July 2:
… The parent Los Angeles Angels still have yet to publicly acknowledge there has been a flood in a city they have been partnered with for 16 years. That’s embarrassing, Angels. Hopefully this lack of response has opened some eyes on the Kernels’ board of directors.
Don’t blame Tony Reagins or anyone in the baseball operations for this one. Charitable decisions are made on the money side of the business. Perhaps the Angels intend to make a quiet anonymous donation, although that seems unlikely. As I’ve mentioned before, a more proactive approach would be for Arte Moreno to challenge Angels fans by offering to donate $1 million if they match it.
With about 40,000 fans attending each home game, if each fan were to donate $1 it would take 25 games to reach $1 million.
So far, though, it appears that the Angels minor leaguers have donated more money than Arte and his money minions. If I’m mistaken, if Jeff Johnson is mistaken, if the Kernels fans are mistaken, well, please tell us. But you’re not going to lead by example and encourage Angels fans to give if you don’t tell anyone about it nor advertise it during the ball games.