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Los Angeles Angels Need To Hire Darin Erstad As A Coach

Intense. Driven. Competitor. Tough. Gritty. Clutch. Leader. Intelligent. World Champion.

These are all words that immediately come to mind when Angels fans think of Darin Erstad, but seem far removed from the vocabulary one would use to describe the current Angels club.

This young Angels team seems long on talent and short on competitive will.

Are the 2010 Angels less talented than the 2002 roster that won it all, or did Erstad and company simply want it more?

Angels fans have been hearing about the “upside” of their young talent for years. As many of these prospects have now made it to the majors and are rapidly approaching the age of 28, many have stopped thinking about upside and are now simply asking the question, “What is up?”

When is Howie Kendrick, 27, going to turn from a very average second baseman into the batting champion he was touted as being?

Will Kevin Jepsen, 26, ever mature into a dominant reliever, or is he the West Coast washout equivalent of Joba Chamberlain?

When is Erick Aybar, 26, going to develop into the leadoff hitter that everyone thought he would be?

Will Jeff Mathis, 27, ever be able to play well for longer than two weeks at a time?

When will this team start doing the little things championship teams need to do to win?

I don’t think there is anyone in the Angels lineup this season that would allow themselves to be hit by pitches 27 times like the 5-foot, 7-inch David Eckstein did in 2002. In fact, their entire team has been hit a grand total of 35 times.

The 2010-version of the Halos clearly lack focus and the hunger to win. So why not bring back the most focused, competitive and intense Angel of all time to help motivate them?

Erstad brought the football mentality he acquired while playing as a kicker for the University of Nebraska to the diamond every day. Even when he wasn’t hitting well, his very presence was invaluable to the Angels.

Erstad wasn’t interested in chatting it up with his opponent when they were standing on first base. He was too busy thinking up ways to destroy them.

How many times do the current Angels coaches have to watch Bobby Abreu stand on second base giggling with the shortstop—only to get picked off?

There is a fine line between being loose and just not caring, and the Angels have crossed it. Their coaching staff should be calling them out on it—veterans or not.

Today, Erstad is filling in as an assistant baseball coach for his alma mater, but it’s hard to believe he would turn down a chance to return to the majors—especially with the team where he had his finest years.

Although he never officially retired as a player from baseball, Erstad decided this winter he would rather spend time with his family than be relegated to a bench player role in the National League. He told the Orange Country Register he would have a tough time justifying being away from his family for eight days in a row for the sake of three at-bats per week.

Angels fans would not expect any less of a statement from a man of Erstad’s character. However, a man as competitive as Erstad can only stay static for so long before he needs another competitive challenge.

Challenging would be a great word to describe the job Erstad would have in front of him if he were offered a chance to help his old team as a coach.

Tweakers who have blown up their apartments cooking meth under their sink think the Angels have bad chemistry.

The Angels can have all the closed-door meetings they want for the rest of the summer, but clearly whatever is being said is falling on deaf ears. Manager Mike Scioscia’s riff might be wearing thin and new motivational voices may need to be heard.

In particular, Erstad would be an excellent candidate to replace Dino Ebel as the third base coach. Maybe Erstad, a former Gold Glove first baseman and great base runner in his own right, might be able to clue the young guys in on why it’s not a good idea to try to steal third with two outs or bunt with two strikes—looking at you, Erick Aybar.

One thing is certain. Erstad would be welcomed home with open arms by appreciative fans who remember how he sacrificed his body diving for balls and legging out singles on seemingly every play.

That mentality is contagious, and hopefully these Angels can catch it before they are permanently immune.

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MLB Trade Deadline: Texas Rangers Doing What the Angels Should Have Done

The Texas Rangers are going to the playoffs, and it is clear they are not going to be happy with just “being there.”

Texas’ nine-game lead in the AL West appears to be safe as the fledgling Angels search in vain for answers.

With the addition of Cliff Lee, most of baseball realizes the Rangers will be able to hang with any team in the playoffs, but Texas is clearly not interested in just “hanging.” They are out to win their first world championship.

This is what going for it looks like, Angels fans.

Not satisfied with winning the biggest pitching prize at the trade deadline, Texas has kept busy acquiring key playoff pieces like Bengie Molina—a World Series champion catcher and clutch veteran leader.

Still not done, the Rangers acquired Jorge Cantu and his 54 RBI to help out at first base.

Their All-Star second baseman Ian Kinsler goes on the disabled list, and boom! The Rangers waste no time in picking up two-time All-Star middle infielder Christian Guzman today to fill in.

So now they’re done, right?


Today, the Rangers offered the Florida Marlins their top three prospects for pitching ace Josh Johnson and are still reportedly in the running for Adam Dunn.

Clearly Texas is making moves they feel they need to make in order to compete with the New York Yankees—not the Angels.

Granted, these players are no Alberto Callaspo, but something tells me baseball fans in the Lone Star State are willing to live with that.

Obviously, the Dan Haren move was nice for the Angels, but once again, it is too little, too late at the trade deadline.

It’s a good thing the Angels did not make any short-term moves to try to save this season because it wouldn’t have done any good. They would have hurt themselves long-term in the process.

In fact, Angels fans should be sending thank you cards to Derreck Lee right now for saving Angels GM Tony Reagins from himself.

However, it makes one wonder what the Angels could have done if they would have traded their prospects to supplement the key pieces they already had in place a few years ago—pieces that are now scattered across the baseball landscape.

Texas is doing what most Angels fans were screaming at the top of their lungs for then-Angels GM Bill Stoneman to do.

Stoneman balked at the idea—touting virtually every Angel prospect as an un-tradeable future Hall of Famer.

So, instead of having Alex Rodriguez and possibly a few more rings, the Angels instead retained the services of their “future Hall of Famers” Brandon Wood, Howie Kendrick, Jeff Mathis, and Erick Aybar.

They also refused to trade baseball greats Casey Kotchman, Dallas McPherson, Joe Saunders and Kevin Jepsen.

When they finally did part with a few of these individuals, some acted as if they had parted with Mickey Mantle.

Ask yourself this, Angels fans. Is there any talent in that group of eight that you couldn’t acquire on any given year in free agency at a very reasonable price?

Then ask yourself, how often do you get the chance to make a trade for Babe Ruth? Because that is exactly who you passed on, Stoneman.

Texas understands that concept, despite having one of the top-ranked farm systems in baseball.

The Angels should have understood that, but they were too preoccupied falling in love with the fantasy of an impending dynasty that never materialized.

Instead, the Angels became to this decade what the Atlanta Braves were to the last—a very good team that never took the next step to greatness.

Now the Angels find themselves in a quagmire of underachieving, untradeable disappointments. They will now have to buy themselves out of this situation through free agent purchases during the offseason.

Not only have their prospects underperformed, they have managed to turn a team on the verge of greatness into nothing more than a .500 ball club.

As of now, and hopefully before the trade deadline, Reagins should consider nobody un-tradeable.

In the meantime, Angels fans will be gazing enviously toward Texas to see if their gamble pays off. If it does, Angels fans will continue to wonder about what might have been.

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BLOCKBUSTER: Texas Rangers Acquire Cliff Lee; Angels Done

It was nice while it lasted, Angels fans.

With the stunning acquisition of Cliff Lee by the Texas Rangers from AL West rival Seattle, it is time for the Angels to cut their losses and let the fire sale begin.

Not only should this be the nail in the coffin for the Angels, but maybe for the rest of baseball as well. Texas just assured themselves not only a trip to the playoffs, but a real chance to take it all.

Angels fans, don’t feel bad.

Three years in a row was a good run, but now the Angels have a chance to heal, re-tool and try to come up with a plan for next season.

The following players need to be sold to the highest bidder in the next three weeks: Brian Fuentes, Fernando Rodney, Scott Kazmir, Mike Napoli, Brandon Wood (if someone would be willing to give us a fungo bat for him), Bobby Abreu, Hideki Matsui, and Torii Hunter.

Get on it Tony Reagins, and make sure to get a third base prospect that can actually play this time.

Those eight players account for roughly $60.1 million in payroll. None of them have a future in helping the Angels win a championship due to age, performance or injury.

The Angels should trade them all. Get at least one draft pick in each deal and completely reload the organization with talent for another decade.

The Angels should then turn around and sign $60 million in young free agents with which they can build new chemistry around their nucleus.

Congratulations to Texas on that amazing acquisition.

Angels fans can take comfort in the idea that Nolan Ryan may finally get his ring.

An entire nation, with the exception of one certain city, can take even further comfort in knowing that he didn’t go to the New York Yankees—as was reported eminent by Buster Olney of ESPN earlier in the day.


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Five Things the L.A. Angels Can Do to Save Their Season

The Angels had the second best record in all of baseball for the month of June.

The problem is, the Texas Rangers were the only team better, and they are the team the Angels are trying to catch.

July has not started out with as much promise.

The Angels now find themselves 5.5 games back in the AL West after being swept by the Chicago White Sox during a four-game series in Chicago for the first time in 27 years.

Many are ready to push the panic button and start the fire sale. However, all is not lost with the Angels. One major move, accompanied by some minor tweaks, could manage to save their season.

Here are five things the Angels need to do going forward.

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Game Goes On After Fan Falls From Upper Deck at Texas Rangers Game

Terror gripped Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas when a fan fell 30 feet from the upper deck while trying to catch a Nelson Cruz foul ball Tuesday night.

Eyewitness accounts of the fall, which was not caught on video, say the middle-aged Texas fan fell from the Club Concourse section. As he fell, he tried to grip the railing of the Suite Section one level down before finally landing on the field level section below.

Graphic evidence of how horrific the site was for fans, players, umpires and announcers can be seen without ever seeing the fan fall.

Click here to see a video showing the reaction of the umpire and some of the players on

Listen to the chilling audio account here. Four different calls—all equally disturbing.

Much of the broadcast video has already been removed from YouTube and other web sources (including the original link from this story) as MLB has been using their Copyright leverage to keep this situation as under wraps as possible.

Home plate umpire Chris Guccione reacted in such a visceral way to seeing the fan fall—more violently than I’ve ever seen an official react to anything before—that it is hard to see how he could refocus and call a game after that.

Two Cleveland Indians players, left fielder Trevor Crowe and shortstop Jason Donald, immediately dropped to the ground and appeared to be praying for the fallen fan.

Vladimir Guerrero and Cruz looked on with stunned disbelief in their eyes.

Fans were crying and even the announcers of both teams had trouble describing the spectacle while their voices began to tremble.

The game was stopped for 16 minutes while emergency workers were able to take the fan out on a stretcher.

After the game resumed, the stadium resembled a mausoleum. You could hear a pin drop.

Even with the hometown Rangers pounding the Indians 12-1, the stunned Rangers faithful could not bring themselves to cheer.

Which raises the question, should this game have continued at all under these circumstances?

Remember, little kids are in the crowd—witnessing a tragedy that even grown men seemed to be having trouble digesting.

It seems like if games can be postponed due to rain, they can certainly be postponed do to traumatic events such as these. The ensuing silence from the Rangers fans seemed to indicate they would have been okay with that.

I am just wondering how umpires and players are supposed to settle in and forget what they just saw and play good baseball. This wasn’t your run-of-the-mill adversity that all athletes are expected to face and overcome.

They had to have been thinking that they just witnessed a man die.

These are the times when you have to acknowledge that this is all just entertainment and look at the big picture. Did MLB really think the fans that remained were going to be entertained after that?

From the sound of the crowd, they were far from it. If the scoreboard was any indication, it seems as though the players lost their focus as well.

As of Wednesday morning, there is no word as to the condition of the fan that fell, other than he was able to move all of his extremities. MLB and the Texas Rangers are continuing to be highly cautious on how they release information regarding this story.

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2010 MLB All-Star Rosters: Jered Weaver Named To AL Team, Replaces CC Sabathia

L.A. Angels ace Jered Weaver was officially named to the American League All-Star team this afternoon, according to and confirmed by the Angels.

Weaver will be replacing New York Yankees ace CC Sabathia, who manager Joe Girardi says will not be able to pitch due to the way their rotation schedule is playing out.

Weaver will probably not be able to pitch for the same reason, unless tonight’s game against the Chicago White Sox is postponed. The game is currently in a 45-minute rain delay.

Weaver (8-3, 2.82 ERA, 1.06 WHIP), was a controversial exclusion from the squad. He currently leads both leagues in strikeouts and quality starts.

Although it doesn’t look like he is going to get to play, the move would at least allow Weaver to be acknowledged in front of his hometown fans as an All-Star. The Midsummer Classic will be played in Anaheim.

This will be the 27-year-old righthander’s first All-Star appearance.

Weaver has the best winning percentage of any pitcher in baseball over the past five seasons at .663.

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L.A. Angels’ Jered Weaver Could Get All-Star Revenge In The Form Of A Cy Young.

Fun fact: Who has the best winning percentage of any pitcher in baseball over the past five seasons?

Here’s a hint. It’s not C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Johan Santana, Josh Beckett or any of the other pitchers the East Coast writing establishment loves to go on endlessly about.

It’s Jered Weaver at .663.

Weaver has clearly taken his game to another level in the absence of former Angels ace John Lackey, and has managed to single-handedly carry his team through a horrific stretch in the process.

The one constant for the Angels in 2010 has been quality starts by Weaver—a stat that he leads all of MLB in with 14, along with fellow West Coast All-Star snub Felix Hernandez.

At a time when the rest of the Angels rotation and bullpen were ranked at the bottom of the league in every category, Weaver kept them afloat.

At a time when his team had the worst batting average in baseball and gave him one of the lowest run support totals in the league, Weaver managed to keep his team in games and win most of them.

Weaver should not only be in the conversation for the Cy Young, but the MVP as well.

Weaver also:

  • Leads both leagues in strikeouts with 124.
  • Leads all starters in K’s per nine innings with 10.27.
  • Is second to only Cliff Lee in walk to strikeout ratio at 4.77.
  • Has the third best WHIP in the league at 1.06.
  • Has the sixth best ERA in the league at 2.82.

The opposition is hitting .217 against him. Only Jon Lester and Colby Lewis (yet another snubbed West Coast pitcher) were better.

It is hard to be any more consistent than giving up two or less runs in 12 of your 17 starts, as the 27-year-old has done this season.

If it weren’t for Weaver, the Angels might very well be in the Seattle Mariners’ shoes right now—sellers at the trade deadline, instead of just 3.5 games out of the AL West.

Weaver doesn’t have a 100-mph, blow-you-away fastball. In fact, at times it is hard to see how he gets anyone out with a fastball that barely hits 90 mph.

The Simi Valley High School product simply knows how to pitch.

The game hasn’t seen a pitcher this crafty since Greg Maddux. Weaver is living proof that changing speeds and having control in the zone are just as important as having good “stuff.”

His ability to ring up batters through deception probably doesn’t get him noticed as much as hurlers with electric pitches like Sabathia. However, it’s his results that are electric and undeniable to anyone with an ounce of objectivity.

While most East Coast fans and writers are nestled in their beds or writing on deadline, Weaver will continue to take to the mound for his 10:05 EST starts and do his thing.

Hopefully, the outrage over Weaver’s failure to make the All-Star squad will help these misguided souls to discover this new invention called TiVo.

A whole world of baseball exists on the West Coast of your continent, East Coast homers. A world that extends beyond the former Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants.

If the East Coast writers manage to discover this world in time, and Weaver continues to demonstrate the consistency he has shown throughout his entire career—maybe, just maybe—Weaver can have his vindication at the end of the year in the form of a Cy Young Award.

Until then, the Angels, the team that had 100 wins last season.

The team that is the current three-time defending champions of the West.

The team that is hosting the Midsummer Classic, will have to settle for its hometown fans cheering for one player (Torii Hunter), as he takes to the field All-Star Weekend.

Enjoy your game, East Coast.

The West Coast fans are glad we could provide you with a neutral site on which to play it.

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A.L. West Mid-Season Report Card: Recap, Predictions and Analysis

The grades are in as we approach the halfway mark of the 2010 season.

What teams have lived up to the hype in the American League West, and which have laid an egg and why?

Here is a team-by-team breakdown recapping the first 81 games (almost), and what to watch for in the second half.

Who will be the movers and shakers in the second half?

What moves should teams make going forward?

Which will be buyers and sellers at the trade deadline?

Who is in the running for individual awards?

Who are the biggest disappointments and surprises?

Who will ultimately win the division, and who will fade into the abyss?

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Trading Wood For Wood Makes Sense for L.A. Angels, Cleveland Indians

The Angels need bullpen help.

The Indians need payroll relief.

The Angels are about to give up on their top prospect Brandon Wood.

The Indians are about to give up on their season and closer Kerry Wood.

These are just a few of the reasons why a Wood-for-Wood trade might make sense for both teams.

Kerry’s bloated 7.02 ERA and 1.56 WHIP are not exactly living up to his bloated $10.5 million salary. It’s going to make it extremely hard for the Indians to get anything for him if they choose to try and get out from under that albatross of a contract.

Cleveland (28-47) is in another early death spiral, as they have already fallen 13 games behind first place Detroit.

The Indians probably felt they could trade Kerry for prospects mid-season this year if things didn’t go their way. Unfortunately, they probably weren’t counting on Kerry to have such a disastrous start.

Good luck getting anything for him now. The best Cleveland can hope for is to convince a large-market team to take Kerry’s salary off their hands.

Similarly for the Angels, things could not have gone worse for their 25-year-old infield prospect Brandon Wood, who was compared to the likes of Troy Glaus and Mike Schmidt during his minor league career.

The reality has been a nightmarish .176 batting average with four extra base hits and 45 strikeouts over 150 at-bats. Brandon hasn’t exactly made up for his anemic offense with stellar defense either. He has made eight errors in 399 innings.

However, Brandon’s upside might appeal to the Indians. Baseball America had Brandon ranked no lower than the 16th best prospect in baseball for three straight years—ranking him as high as third at one point.

Did I mention he also makes only $410,000 per year?

Brandon hit 43 homers, 116 RBI and had a .321 average one year in the minors. He seemed to be on track to put up similar numbers in the majors until the wheels fell off that turnip truck.

Many have speculated one reason was the unrealistic and unfair expectations put on the kid by the Angels organization and their fans. A change of scenery where not much is expected might be just what the doctor ordered for Brandon, who is obviously pressing.

Kerry Wood is a player that can probably relate to not living up to the hype, even though his problems were more physical than mental.

Kerry might be an excellent gamble for the Angels, who desperately need help at the back end of their pen, and are one of the few clubs who could handle that kind of a payroll hit.

A closer look at Kerry’s stats show 13 of his 16 innings this year were clean. His poor numbers are largely because of a horrible outing against Kanas City, where he gave up 5 runs while only recording one out.

Although he has been wild at times, Kerry is still recording almost a strikeout per inning. When he is on, he has proven he still has the mental toughness and “stuff” to come into games at big moments and shut teams down. Playing for a contender again might start to stir Kerry’s competitive juices and bring back some of his intensity.

It would definitely be a gamble for the Angels to take on the $10.2 million contract of a fragile and declining Kerry Wood, but I like his upside over that of Brian Fuentes.

There really is no gamble in this scenario for the Indians, who stand to save almost $10 million with this move—a move that they would be hard pressed to pull off with virtually any other club.

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L.A. Angels: June May Be Their Ticket To October

They may have beaten Toronto to win their latest three-game series, but many of the same problems that have plagued the L.A. Angels through their first two months of the season were still evident Wednesday.

Horrible defense. Horrible bullpen. Horrible intensity.

* Juan Rivera forgets how many outs there are, and almost gets picked off in a key part of the game.

* The underachieving Howie Kendrick almost hits into a double play, when all he had to do was hit the ball in the air to win the game. The man that has been touted as the “future batting champion” for the past five years is now hitting .257.

* Bobby Abreu commits his fifth error of the year by slowing up on a fly ball to shallow right and dropping it—putting the tying run on second base in the ninth.

Let me just repeat that: Five errors in two months of playing right field. That gives him a .938 fielding percentage through 45 games—the worst among outfielders in the majors.

* Brian Fuentes ultimately blows another save—only to thieve another win away from Joel Piñeiro. 

Abreu atoned for his defensive sins with a walk-off hit in the bottom of the ninth, which really cloaked another sloppy game for the Halos.


Here is the good news.

The Angels get to play virtually nothing but horrible teams for the next month.

The bad news is, their opponents are probably thinking they are lucky to get to play the Angels, who have now managed to pull within three games of .500.

The Angels had an unusually tough schedule to start the season. They have already played Boston, Tampa Bay, Detroit, Minnesota, St. Louis, Texas and the New York Yankees a total of 29 times in their first 49 games.

In those 29 games against contending teams, the Angels had a record of 8-21. Against all other opponents, they are an amazing 15-5.

Considering that lopsided statistic, June might be just what the doctor ordered for the Angels—a steady prescription of anemic teams to find their stroke against. In fact, their next 14 games are all against Seattle, Kansas City, and Oakland.

The only teams they will play in the next 29 games with winning records are the Dodgers, and Colorado. The Angels always play their cross-town rivals tough, and Colorado is playing at two games over .500.

The June finale will be against first place Texas before the Angels begin July with another light stretch against Kansas City, Chicago, and Oakland.

Given that schedule, don’t be shocked if you see the Angels emerge from June with a record that is at least 10 games over .500.

That being said, the Angels are going to have to beat a good team sometime. They miraculously won a three-game series against the Yankees, but wins against teams with winning records have been few, and far between this season.

Hopefully June can help them get their groove back, since they have proven they are at least still good enough to dominate second-rate ballclubs. They are going to need to find their swagger soon if they have any interest in seeing their seventh playoff appearance in nine years materialize.

Too bad they won’t get to play Kansas City if and when they get there.

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