Baseball Notes: A look at the Angels
Today I went over to Target Field to see the Twins play the Angels who were the victims of the Twins first two wins of the year after they had lost their first nine games. For my early takes on the Yankees and Twins follow the links on their names.
For some reason I had never noticed how silly it is that there is a professional sports team called "The Angels" until today. It's not exactly a mascot that strikes fear in its opponents as angels are depicted in art as living in clouds playing relaxing harp music. It wasn't until there was a conference at the mound when an Anaheim pitcher found himself in a jam and Target Field started playing the '90's song "How do you talk to an angel?" When people refer to others as angels they are either referring to a beautiful, angelic woman and it has been co-opted by Victoria's Secret to put big feathery wings on their models during their fashion shows or they are referring to a small child like in the John Mulaney bit about the words the New York Post uses to describe victims of crimes. Movies try to have tough male angels like in the '90's movie "Michael," but that didn't seem to catch on in pop culture.
These baseball Angels have started their year around .500 like pretty much everyone else. They have good defense at short and third with Andrelton Simmons and Yunel Escobar. They have the previous best hitter in the league of Albert Pujols (who still has quite a bat left in him) and the current co-best Major Leaguer of Mike Trout (head to head with Bryce Harper). They have an underrated right fielder in Kole Calhoun who had 26 homers last year and an underrated ace of Garrett Richards.
Richards had an ERA under 3.00 in 26 starts in 2014 and his whip was a tiny 1.04. His 2015 saw his ERA jump a full point to 3.65 in his first full year as a starter and this year he is consistent with last year. He is a quality number one starter for a guy that is not very well known. The problems the Angels have are with the well known pitchers on their team like Jared Weaver and C.J. Wilson. Weaver had been consistently under 4.00 with his ERA until last year and as he comes into this year as a 33 year old pitcher with slowing velocity which is a little tough to see from a guy who makes $20 million this year. Wilson has also been consistent with his ERA in the past but it seems like his age and injuries will catch up with him this year and the 35 year old also makes $20 million this year. There are hopes young starters will break through this year for the Angels as Nick Tropeano, Andrew Heaney (who is currently on the DL), and Tyler Skaggs (who is working his way back to the majors) and it will certainly help them that they will have a solid defense behind them. There just is a feeling that things won't pan out for Anaheim after their other bad decisions with signings and trades have only hampered them.
The Angels have always had their silly nickname but their location's name has changed a number of times through the years. They started life as Los Angeles Angels, then "moved" to California, then Anaheim, and now they are the Los Angeles Angeles of Anaheim. I know I have already called them Anaheim in this post by mistake, what did they expect? I still refer to the baseball team in Tampa as the Devil Rays. Their name change is one of the most ridiculous of all. They did a survey of their fans regarding their name which was celebrating local manta ray fish and the fans said the name was too devilish. They changed the name to just the "Rays" and their logo is what appears to be what burns into your eyes when you are blinded by the sun.
The Angels changed their location name three times in a relatively short span and they had a pretty good core of players during that time of Darin Erstad, Garret Anderson, Jim Edmonds, and Tim Salmon. Erstad, Anderson, and Salmon all managed to play for the California, Anaheim, and LA versions of the Angels and Anderson had the most time with all three. These teams were very interesting because all four of these players were great fielding and good hitting. They all came up as outfielders and were also so consistent that they ended up moving the speedy Erstad to first base where he was a three time gold glover while also stealing 179 bases over his 14 year career. If they Yankees retained their identity through a string of great players who played together for a hundred years, the Angels kept the identity of their team through this core as they changed the identity of their location. And they never had to run out on the field with big feathery angel wings.