Thursday, November 22, 2007

Torii Hunter. Really.

Well, after thinking about it for a while, I'm still not really sure what this means. I simply can't believe that this is the roster the Angels are going to take to April 1st. So really any analysis that contemplates that happening is almost sure worthless, but what the hell, that's what blogs are for, right?

The most obvious picture shows Hunter in center, one of Vlad or GA in the field, and GMJ at the opposite corner, which probably isn't ideal unless either Vlad or GA is made the primary DH while the other is in the field 5 out of 7 games. It also means that Juan Rivera is essentially worthless to this management team, despite being a better hitter than at least two of the guys who will see regular time in the outfield or DH, which tells me they haven't really thought all that much about Rivera.

Logic of course dictates that one of either Saunders, Santana or Weaver will be packaged with one of either Willits or Rivera, and probably at least one of Nick Adenhart or Brandon Wood in a package for a Miguel, but your guess is as good as mine. As I write this, nothing has been finalized, but Tony Reagins appears to like to work quickly. New rumors have the Angels essentially giving up on keeping Howie Kendrick, but I can't do anything but hope they're wrong. I don't know what it is, but I really like Howie Kendrick, and I see him winning multiple batting titles in his career. I'd hate to see the Angels give up that kind of offense, damn the walks, at such a difficult position to fill. I'm sure people think I'm nuts and I'm totally overvaluing Kendrick, but so be it.

Back to the signing, six years is a long time, and much like the Matthews deal, the years concern me much more than the dollars. I like to think I have a theoretical grasp on the economics of the game, but hell if I know how much teams really have to spend. Revenues are supposedly booming right now in baseball, and the Angels are one of the teams driving that, with boatloads of fans showing up at the Big A in addition to a monster television contract signed just a year ago. So the dollars aren't my concern. Hell, it's not my money. And honestly, this team has shown a willingness to accept that some things are sunk costs. If they weren't, they wouldn't have already decided to move Matthews out of center field.

Are the Angels better because of this deal right now? I think so, but not a ton, mostly because this means fewer at bats for Juan Rivera, assuming he's even in Halo red next season. And to the extent it precludes them from making other moves, we'll just have to wait and see. Much like the Matthews signing, it has the feel of a move made for the sake of making a move. But again, in the final analysis, I just can't see them going to Arizona without at least one more major shake up, and if this deal is any indication, there's almost no point in trying to predict what that might be, because these guys are working from their own private playbook.

Torii Hunter? Really?

I don't get this at all. Makes no sense to me unless they've caught Matthews actually injecting HGH and think they can void his deal. I'll try to write more tonight, but right now, I'm perplexed.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

College Basketball - Quick Thought

UCLA vs. Michigan State

If they can beat the nation's 11th ranked team without 3 of their top 10, 2 of their top six, and their best player, then UCLA is going to be pretty good. They showed a ton of heart tonight, overcoming an awful start to fight back into the game, take the lead for the first time late in the game, and hold on for the win. I haven't seen the stats yet, but I think Westbrook went the full 40. And Kevin Love probably won't see a more physical team this year.

Great efforts by Al Aboya and LRMAM. Aboya had the steal that led to the tying dunk, and LRMAM scored the last two field goals for the difference. Ben Howland showed that while he won't rush his injured players back to soon, he still thinks these games are important enough to shorten his bench in order to win.

Listening to Schulman and Vitale, you would think that Drew Neitzel was some superhuman point guard who boldly overcame a tummy ache. Fact is I've seen him play in the Big Ten for four years now. He's decent, but a healthy Collison would have wiped the floor with him, and full Bruins squad wins by 12 points.

Illinois vs. Duke +3

Sometime about seven years ago, when Michigan State was getting a reputation for bruising physical play, Illinois got the reputation as the team that does nothing but fouls. And when you play Dook, you already start down three players, because they are going to get all the calls. They have the asshole who spends the whole game doing nothing but screaming at the ref who happens to be in front of him. Kzyzksfslasfhski is a cocksucker, but he knows how to work the refs. Illinois was in the game until every breath was a touch foul.

As it was, I thought the Illini looked good last night against a mediocre to poor Arizona State team. Randle showed his athleticism, and Rodney Alexander could be a revelation. If Chet Frazier can shoot (so far, so good), and if Brian Randle and Sean Pruitt can stay on the floor, the Illini can be in the top five in the Big Ten and back in the tournament. I also see Billy Cole and Mike Tisdale making contributions this year. They won't be great, but they won't be awful, and they may even be better than last year.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Angels trad O-Cab for Jon Garland

If you haven't heard this by now, then you're probably here looking for Sharin Foo pictures. I don't blame you.

Can't say as I saw this one coming, but the initial reaction is that the Angels aren't done. I can't believe they would have made this deal without something bigger on the horizon. Certainly the speculation will be around Miguel Cabrera, but that doesn't make sense to me, as it still leaves the Angels without a shortstop*, and without a day-in day-out position for Chone Figgins, which one would figure would be either 3rd base, 2nd base, or center field. 2nd base only opens up if they trade Howie for Miguel Cabrera, which still leaves them without a shortstop*. Center field only opens up if they find someone dumb enough to take Gary Matthews Jr., and seeing how Allard Baird and David Littlefield don't have that power anymore, it's a long shot.

All of which means the deal that's more likely to be on the table is something, primarily pitching, for Miguel Tejada. It's going to take Santana and either a top prospect (Wood) or maybe a couple of mid-level prospects (Rodriguez and Conger?). Perhaps Santana and Adenhart, since Nick grew up a lot closer to Ballmer than Anaheim.

In return, the Angels get Jon Garland, who was rumored to be on the way to the Angels six years ago, not long before Darin Erstad helped lead the Angels to a World Championship (at least with his playoff performance). Now they get a better than league average innings eater who will be just 28 this year, the final year of his contract. Obviously this leaves the Angels with six starters if you assume Ervin was heading back to the rotation next season, which will lead to the invevitable speculation that he (or Saunders, or even possibly Weaver) is headed somewhere else. If I had to bet, I'd put money on Miguel Tejada over Miguel Cabrera. He fills (in theory) the hole at short, and brings a pretty big bat along with him.

*I use the asterisk to note that I don't really think the Angels need a shortstop right now. I think they're better right now than they were yesterday. The rotation is deeper, and I think Maicer Izturis could, health permitting, play 145 games at shortstop, provide adequate defense, and hit better than Cabrera did last season. Plus, he's only 27, so his best years are arguably ahead of him. I like this deal for that reason alone. I'll miss OC. He was a good Angel, and very likable guy, but I can't see him putting up another season like he had last year. I'll root for him in Chicago, but I'm not heartbroken over this deal.