Thursday, July 03, 2003


Often times a team racked by injuries will go into the off-season thinking "hey, we get so and so, and so and so back, and that's like getting a couple of great free agents for nothing." That's may be OK, but it really only works after a decent season. The Kings weren't decent last season, they were awful. Don't get me wrong. No one is looking forward to the return of... well, we'll get that. Let's start, shall we.


The Kings lost more games to injury last year than any other team in the league. That was bad. However, that meant a lot of playing time for guys like Cammelleri, Frolov, and a host of others. That's good. Their development will be crucial to the success of the Kings over the next few years. However, even more crucial is the play of their top players. They need Allison and Deader to come back strong, as strong as they were when they left. Until Ziggy Palffy remembered he was Ziggy Palffy last season, Adam Deadmarsh had been the teams best player, and that was including all of the games he had missed. This is easily the largest area of optimism this season. The Kings are simply a different team without Jason Allison, and you just can't express how important it will be to have a healthy Jason Allison in the lineup. Here's hoping they stay in the lineup this season.


1. Roman Cechmanek- This guy has been lights out in the regular season for the past couple of years, but has had serious problems in the playoffs. Kings fans would have loved to have had serious problems in the playoffs last year, so at this point, that's not a problem. Also, Kings fans are a rabid bunch, but they're also fiercely loyal. They'll get on players at times, but they want to see the team succeed. Philly fans are a different breed. They seem to take pleasure in watching certain guys fail. Cechmanek appeared to be one of those guys. Plus, Bobby Clarke is an asshole. I think the change is going to be great for Cechmanek. The expectations and the pressure are reduced, and he's not exactly replacing Ken Dryden. I like Huet as a backup. Overall, this was a good deal, especially considering they only gave up mid-round draft picks.

2. Jozef Stumpel- He comes in to replace Smolinski. I like this deal in that it gives the team a little more scoring punch on the second line. He won't ever be confused with Selke winner, but he's adequate defensively, and with the improved (fingers crossed) goaltending, the added offense is worth the small price defensively. Also, this marks the first transaction bringing a player back to a team for which I have his jersey. My Stumpel jersey is now as current as a jersey no longer worn by the actual team can be. So yay for that.


1. Sergei Federov- I'm of two minds on this rumor. I can't imagine a fan not wanting a player of Federov's ability in the lineup. But first, where do you play him? You have, in my opinion, one of the top 5 centers in the game in Allison, when healthy. That Allison, Palffy, Deadmarsh line can be magic when they're all together. You just acquired Stumpel to center the second line. You don't pay that much to a checker. Do you make him a wing? Do you try to put together three scoring lines? Compatibility concerns aside, I have issues with his dedication. He was easily distracted in Detroit, of all places. How strong would his focus be in LA. I just don't like this move when all is said and done, which is OK, because I don't think there's any chance of it happening.

2. Luc Robitaille- Let's face it, Luc has to retire as a King. I think with regular ice time, which he wasn't getting in Detroit last year, he would be a 25 to 30 goal guy next season. This has to get done. He's always been a better player in LA than elsewhere. The rumors lately is that while they agree more or less on a base salary, they're quibbling over incentives. They tried to make it sound negative, but I can't imagine that this will drag on that long. I mean, if you say "he gets X if he scores y" I don't really see a problem. You'd be happy to pay y for a guy who does x. Dave, let's get this done and put Luc back in the Purple and Black,....and silver,.....and gold every so often.

3. The Others- OK, these aren't really rumors, but I'm going to start them. What the Kings really need, in my opinion, and assuming we aren't going to rely on the kids, is a scoring winger, and power play quarterback on the blue line. Guess who's available? Sure there's a host of other guys out there, but right now Paul Kariya and Brian Leetch are on the market. Either or both would be a perfect fit, and Kariya would be great for the "screw you, Ducks" factor. No way do they sign both, and it's a real long shot that they'd sign either. I think Dallas is the only place Leetch would play that isn't on the East Coast. So he's out. That leaves Kariya. It will depend on the market, and there's the issue of having too many left wings (assuming the inking of a deal with Luc). Still, what a coup it would be to get him a little north on I-5. As for other defensemen, they're talking about a bunch, but I think Tverdovsky may be on the radar. He brings the offensive skill that they need to replace Schneider, he's lived in SoCal a couple of times, and once again, his defensive liabilities may be balanced out by the improved goaltending. Also, I think he would be a better defender in Murray's system.


The Kings took some chances in the first round. Brown slipped a lot from where the Central Scouting Bureau had him ranked, and that has to be a concern. On the bright side, they got with a pick in the middle of the first round. He projects to be an Adam Deadmarsh type player, but that's of course asking a lot. The NHL entry draft is the definition of "crapshoot" so here's to keeping your fingers crossed and hoping he pans out. Boyles is a real project, but it's not often you find a center with his size. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. I like the selection of Tambellini, if for no other reason than to piss off Red Berenson. Anybody who can lead a national championship calibre team in scoring as a freshman has to have a future in the NHL, no? We'll see, but supposed to be speedy, with a quick hard shot. I like snipers, and let's hope he gets it done. I'm stoked about Pushkarev. He's the type of guy the Wings in the later rounds that turns into Pavel Datsyuk or Sergei Federov. Dave Taylor also decided to retry the Kai Nurminnen experiment by drafting 26 year old Esa Pirnes out of Finlad. He's an offensive minded player, and the Kings hope he can come in and comtibute this season. We'll see. Personally, I liked Nurminnen, and thought he was pretty skilled. I still remember this sweet floating backhanded pass he made over a couple of lines in a game that sent Stumpel in on a break and led to a goal. Hopefully Pirnes will bring that skill, but with a bit better work ethic.

So that's my take on the off-season so far. If the Angels don't make some sort of move in the standings real soon, I'm going to be gripping hard until the puck drops. Go Kings Go!


Angels - a bunch
Rangers - a big fat goose egg (nine of them, if you're looking by inning).

Great effort from John Lackey, he was spotting his fastball really well, and he was really snapping off the curve. Maybe his good effort against the Dodgers wasn't just a result of the Dodger's double A offensive lineup.

Bengie Molina has really been smoking the ball lately. He's been playing the same great defense, and he's actually contributing at the plate. I think last season represented a dip from his actual ability. He's not as good as he's been playing the last week or so, but if he finds a happy medium, he can be an overall plus. With some other guys slipping back from last year's performances, that's very important.

Jeff DaVanon continues to hit, and that will make the loss of Fullmer that much easier to swallow. Especially important is the fact that he's doing it at the top of the lineup. They really need a table setter, and he appears to be filling that role pretty adequately. Last night they looked a lot like the 2002 Angels, getting on base, getting some clutch hits, and the big bomb to put the game away.

The home run Salmon hit was a thing of beauty. It loooked a lot like the one he hit off of Felix Rodriguez in game 2 of the World Series last year, although I think that was a fastball, and last night's was a slider that hung. When he gets a pitch up like and drives it, it's fun to watch.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003


Well, the Angels reach game 81 with a record of 41-40. Sounds a lot like 1998, 2000, 2001, etc. They aren't really out of it, but they aren't really in it. That presents a problem. Do they go toward the trade deadline as buyers or sellers? Personally, I'd like to see them stand pat. They have a lot of pieces, especially in the pen, that will be very important if they want to contend next year. Brendan Donnelly has been incredible this year, and while it's unfair to expect him to maintain his level of dominance, he's still a very valuable arm to have in the bullpen, and will be a part of their next championship team when it takes the field in 2004. The weird thing is, he's discussed as bait in buying and selling mode. Weird. Anyway, keep him.

The Offense

Pretty predictable, really. A little more power out of Anderson than expected to this point, but he's been his same reliable self. Tim Salmon has been solid, naturally. Troy Glaus has been all over the map. After riding a May hot streak, he's been unable to swing his way out of a paper bag of late. He did put together a couple of extra base hits, including a home run, last night, so maybe he's working himself back the mean. Darin Erstad's injury was tough to take, especially on defense, but he seems to be getting back into the groove. Eckstein and Kennedy have really disappointed so far, with Eckstein's struggles magnified by the fact that he leads off. The hope here is that the injury to Fullmer, who had really been a key cog to this point, will allow Jeff Davanon to head to the top of that lineup and be the sparkplug that he can be. They're going to need to score more runs, but that's certainly not outside the realm of possibility.

The Gas Cans The Starters

Here's where it gets ugly. Nobody has lived up to expectations in the slightest, except for maybe Ortiz, who got lit up against Texas. This, we can all agree, is the area that needs to get it going. They have no chance if the starters continue to struggle. Unfortunately, it's been equal opportunity sucking to this point, so it's tough to point to a culprit. Unfortunately, the schedule only includes 6 games with the Dodgers, and those are done. Bummer. Oh well, the Tigers lay ahead, so maybe they can get healthy. Really, the bright side is that they haven't really played the AL Central, save 5 games against Cleveland (and it would be great if they could save them, because they took all five). They're really going to have to win about 80% of those games to have any sort of shot.

The Pen

Awesome. That's the only term you can use to describe the success of the Angels bullpen, and they're really the reason the Angels hover around .500. Brendan Donnelly has been absolutely lights out. Best reliever in baseball this year, so far. Frankie had a great June, and looks like he's back on track. I noticed the other day that he was going out of the stretch, even with nobody on. I think this is a great move. It's been his achille's heel, and the more practice he gets out of the stretch, the better he'll be. Weber has been his usual self. Solid, if not dominating. Percival has returned from what looked like a career threatening injury to be lights out in his last ten outings. He's really running it up there in a hurry. This piece can't falter if the Angels look to stay in contention.

The Outlook

As infuriating as this team can be (John Thompson?), they aren't out of it. Assuming the hitters and pen stay on track, it's going to come down to starters. Washburn needs another run like he had last year, and Lackey really needs to step it up. He's been pitching from behind much of the year, and he's been getting killed. Sele is a real question mark, but limiting him to five innings is a great idea. Anything that leads to more innings from the bullpen is OK by me. They just need some guys to go deep enough to rest them in non-Sele starts. They not only need to torch the central, they need to win head to head series with the teams they are chasing. While the Mariners appear to be running away with it, it's not over. They could collapse. Stranger things have happened. What sweet revenge it would be to storm back and steal it like the Mariners did in 1995. That would be sweeter than winning the Series.

No it wouldn't.

I'll try to take an off-season roundup for the Kings soon.

Friday, April 18, 2003


Not a strong outing for Mickey Callaway. He struggled with his control, and got knocked around a bit. And what the hell is up with Carl Everett. That guy was a killer again, with a couple of hits, including a home run. And it appears that Hank Blalock is the real deal, much to my chagrin. Nothing against Blalock, but the BP guys were so far up his ass last year that I was sort of hoping he would fall on his face. Oh well.

Dear Scott Schoeneweis,

You have one job. You are supposed to get left handers out. That's it. Nothing more. You aren't asked to pick runners off. Next time, it might be better if you don't throw the ball into right field. Oh, and part of getting left handers out includes throwing strikes. In that vein, it might be a good idea to a) not hit guys, and b) not walk guys. Just some friendly advice from Angels fan.

William Seitz

3 with Seattle at home are on tap. Gotta get at least one. None are must win, but you don't want to fall behind too early. No reason they can't take all three, but it should be a good series. They need to continue to score runs, but somehow the defense has to start coming together.

Thursday, April 17, 2003


Well, a hearty thank you goes out to Michael Young, who booted the ball like a ten year old in the eighth inning which helped lead to 7 runs. The nine runs total that the Angels put on the board was enough, barely, as the Rangers pounded out 13 hits and 4 home runs. Carl Everett was a monster, and you really can't say anything about A-Rod. Is it just me, or does he always look like he's going to hit a home run?

Lackey struggled again. He had control problems from time to time, although some of his walks made sense (first base open, man on second, Raffy Palmeiro at the plate), assuming of course that you're pitching well enough to get the next guy, which he wasn't. Frankie was strong in the seventh and eighth, allowing a walk, a hit, and striking out three. Percival allowed a homer to A-Rod, but like in game two of last year's World Series, he shut the door after that for the save.

It's a tremendous race brewing in the West, with two games separating the four teams, and three tied for first. Interestingly enough, it may not be the in-division games that decide this thing. They all seem to be cancelling each other out. It may come down to who can beat up on the Orioles, Devil Rays, Indians, Royals (yes, the Royals), and, well, I'd list the Tigers, but everyone is going to beat up on them, that decides this division. It wouldn't be new, as last year it was the A's 20 game win streak against mostly the AL Central, and the Angels demolition of Baltimore and Tampa that propelled those two to the playoffs. It looks like a long, great season.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003


OK, sure a fleet footed guy on first base, pretty good base stealer, but there are two outs in the ninth. At the plate is a guy hitting above .434, who happened to lead the league in doubles last year. That's a good thing, too, because chances are if he hits another double, you'll score and tie the game. What do you? If you answered "try to steal second and get thrown out ending the game" then you're probably Eric Owens.

Tough outing for Jarrod Washburn. He got in trouble in the fourth, almost got himself out of it, but then was struck with a couple of two out hits that were the difference in the game. I'm basing this purely on news reports, because last night was April 15th, and we accountants like to do a little drinking on April 15th. Also, Texas wasn't televising the game. AGAIN. idiots. Anyway, not to place too much blame on Owens, because ultimately it's just one out of 27, but that's a really bad mistake to make. He didn't get the sign, he went on his own. Those are the kind of mistakes that you can't afford to make in a division this tight.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003


Rough one last night. No TV, because for some reason the Rangers are idiots, but it sounded like they just weren't swinging the bats particularly well. Appier actually was fairly sharp, except for a few gopher balls. Quite frankly, there's no reason you should lose any game to Texas in which you hold them to four runs. Hopefully this represents a one game hiccup, and they can come back to take at least two out of the next three.

On the plus side, the division, even at this early stage, seems incredibly well balanced. Although the division has some great teams, it's quite possible that this year 93 wins may do it. We may see a team in last place with 84 wins. Perhaps the doomsayers are right, and the wildcard won't come out of the West. Of course, they've been saying for three years now, and they've been wrong every time. Of couse, I'm sure they'll all pat themselves on the back when that day finally comes. Remember the stathead mantra: "If I'm right, it's because I interpreted the numbers correctly, and if I'm wrong, it was luck."

Monday, April 14, 2003


OK, it's been a while since I touched this thing up, but this seems like a pretty good place to start. Huge series over the weekend for the Angels, more from a psychological standpoint than because of anything to do with the standings, but they can't let the A's get too far ahead. I really thought in Oakland that they were afraid of the A's. The pitchers looked like they didn't know how to get anybody out. The batters looked at the uniform and figured "we're dead" without even noticing that they were facing John Halama. Basically, it looked like they had spent too much time reading Baseball Prospectus.

Last weekend was a totally different story. They came to play. The defense was in 2002 form, and they played the death by a thousand cuts style that carried them last season (although the longball that showed up in October made an appearance as well). They need to keep the momentum going in Texas.

Player to watch is Tim Salmon. Whoever got hold of his calendar and ripped out the April page, I salute you. It hasn't quite been the May run that he seemingly always goes on at some point, where he'll hit 13 of 15 with a few homers, but It's a far better May than he has ever posted. Historically, he kills the Rangers in Texas. Has the power to this point been a fluke, or will he actually hit well for the entire month. It looks like someone is sick of watching the All-Star game at home.

Tonight Appier v. Valdes. Neither has been particularly good so far, but Appier was strong in his last outing, and Valdes look solid on opening day against the Angels. Even if he is as sharp, don't look for Appier to give up one run through six. We'll see whether the Angels, who just roughed up one of the best run preventing teams in the league, can carry that over against a far inferior pitching staff.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Angles Place Pote on Waivers

Ducks 6 - Kings 5

Ouch. This one hurts. The Kings came back from a three goal deficit to take a 5-3 lead before giving up three in the third to lose. That marks the third time in the last however many games that the Kings have scored four or more goals and lost. You just can't do that in the NHL today. I don't know if its poor defense, bad goaltending, lack of hard work, or what. The answer likely lies somewhere in between. They are now seven points out of a playoff spot, and things don't appear to be getting any better. Both goalies (Storr and Potvin) were responsible for three goals allowed, so it's equal opportunity sucking right now. If they don't take at least 10 points in their next 8 games, I think we can close the book on this season.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Kings - Ducks Report

Its an understatement to say this is a big game for the Kings. They trail the Ducks in the standings, and they're both in the midst of the playoff hunt (Ducks currentlt have the last spot). Andy Murray is still pushing the 93 points goal, which is admirable, but I think unrealistic at this point. However, I aslo think that someone will get into the post-season with fewer than 93 points. I can't help but think its going to come down to tie-breakers, which makes these in-division games that much more important. I suppose the next best thing to a Kings-Ducks playoff series as a way to generate interest in the rivalry would be a Kings-Ducks battle for a playoff spot.

Aaron Miller and Brian Smolinski return to the lineup tonight, and the Kings need them to get into game shape in a hurry, as they play 6 games in the next 9 days. This is a crucial stretch, and includes two with the Sharks, whom I probably hate more than the Ducks....for now.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Angels Hot Stove Report

Much has been made in the sabermetric community about the Angels lack of an Oakland A's type offense, and their overall position in the Beane Count. As much as people want to tell me that because their success was due to a high batting average, and that it means they are likely to fall back to earth, I'm not buying it. First, of course they'll likely regress. They won 99 freaking games last year, and last time I checked, thats a lot. But people fail to remember that they made contact hitting a major part of their philosophy, and they struck out 100 times fewer than the next best team. They hit into very few double plays, and while they weren't driving the ball out of the ballpark, they were driving it down the line and into the gaps, which is why they hit a ton of doubles.

As for the pitching, I don't see much of a drop off. I don't think anybody expects Frankie Rodriguez to be as unhittable as he seemed to be in the post-season. I do think that he'll have a very impressive first half as he makes his way around the league for the first time. I think with what we've learned about balls in play, if Ramon Ortiz can keep it in the yard, he may be due for a big jump. I really don't see the defense being any worse. Sele is definitely a question mark, but I think given a whole year to work with Bud Black, Mickey Callaway and/or Matt Wise will be ready when called upon. Chris Bootcheck may also be a possibility in an emergency role, and after the strides he made in the Arizona Fall League, Bobby Jenks may soon be ready. I honestly expect them to win between 90 and 95 games next year, which just may well be good enough to get into the post-season again, especially if Texas improves and takes a few wins away from the A's and Mariners.

Feel free to email me if you agree or disagree.
NBA Admits It Screwed Up

Thanks, NBA! That makes those awful calls in overtime that cost the Lakers the game against the Rockets the other night OK.
Miller, Smolinski Gear Up

This has really been one of the weirdest years I remember in terms of injuries for the Kings. Miller has been out virtually all season, Allison has missed a ton of time, and probably came back too soon. Lord only knows when Deadmarsh will be back (call it the curse of the jersey. It seems everytime I get a jersey with a player's name on it, that player usually gets traded. It happened with Peter Stastny...TWICE!, Brendan Shanahan, Josef Stumpel. Heck, I even got a practice worn Kimo Timmonen jersey before he got dealt). But it hasn't just been the big guys. Eric Belanger's various injuries have cost the Kings the services of their top face off guy. Visnosvky had a strong start before being derailed. The list goes on. I supported Dave Taylor this off-season when he didn't bring in a big name, although I don't buy the team crying poor. The good news is that they're still in the post-season hunt. If they can get these guys back, and somehow sneak in, I think they will be very dangerous. That's a lot of wear and tear that these guys are missing, and if they can make the post-season, that could make a big difference, similar to the way Wayne Gretzky was in mid-season form for the 1993 playoffs when everyone else was wearing down.
Welcome to Angels and Kings Fan Central

More to come as I eventually get around to getting this thing off the ground. In the meantime, if you're bored and you somehow stumble across this page (and honestly, I can't believe that you have), you can kill time by visiting Planet Sucks, Baseball Primer, or the Brunching Shuttlecocks.