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Back in the playoffs
Unwieldy new name, but they're
Favoured in the West

To discuss the re-re-rechristened Los Angeles Angels...of Anaheim, I was considering challenging myself by coming up with a catchy St. Patrick's Day limerick for each key player on the squad. Alas, the challenge proved too daunting, particularly in light of the dearth of clever-sounding words that rhyme with "Rodriguez." So it's back to senryu, which is a haiku-style reflection that does not specifically pay homage to nature.

I'll put my money where my mouth is about limericks: The best Angels-related limerick submitted by a reader or Roster member in the thread below will receive two Cheer Club tickets for the Jays-Angels extravaganza on Thursday, July 28, at my expense.

But I digress. On to the preview!

2004: A September Flourish, And Then A Fall

The Angels' division title last season did not come cheap, either literally or figuratively. After a major free-agent splash that landed them four of the most coveted players on the market, the Angels bounced back into contention in a division everyone knew would be tough. And despite the utter collapse of the Mariners, the AL West was indeed tough, as the A's weren't overtaken until the season's final week, while the surprising Rangers stayed in the mix until the very end themselves. When all was said and done, the Angels had made a 15-win improvement from their disappointing '03 campaign, and their 92-70 mark bested Oakland by one game and Texas by three.

The spending spree was clearly correlated to the team's leap forward. All Vladimir Guerrero did was win the league's Most Valuable Player award going away, while Kelvim Escobar began to shed the inconsistency and control problems that plagued him as a Blue Jay. Bartolo Colon disappointed but ate up precious innings down the stretch. Jose Guillen, when he played, was very productive at the plate and in the field...until a disciplinary issue with Mike Scioscia got him suspended for the remainder of the season and postseason. Jeff DaVanon took over in Guillen's place in the playoffs, and struggled.

In general, the club resembled the Angels squads that have taken the field in the Scioscia era. Offensively, the team ranked last in the AL in walks and tenth in slugging, yet sixth in on-base percentage and seventh in runs by leading the league in batting average and striking out less than any other Junior Circuit club. Empty .276 averages by Bengie Molina and David Eckstein held the club back. On the pitching side of the ledger, the club once again balance mediocre starting pitching (with Escobar the notable exception) with a brilliant bullpen.

At the gate, 2004 was another successful season for the Halos. The Angels will have over 26,000 season ticketholders in 2005, a franchise record.

The Offseason: Pick A Name And Go With It!

After dipping aggressively into the free-agent pool last year, Arte Moreno spent this winter battling less for talent on the market and more with the Dodgers and the City of Anaheim for the right to attach the potentially valuable "Los Angeles" appellation to the club. The club's compromise offer, the absurd split-the-baby "LAA of A" concoction, is being vigourously opposed by Orange County as a breach of the club's lease agreement. When a trial date of November 7 was set, it was widely assumed that at least the new name would at least survive the 2005 season. But the trial court has shifted the burden back to the club to demonstrate the "irreparable harm" that would be caused to the team's marketing efforts, and that hearing has been scheduled for March 28. So we may see "ANA" on the out-of-town scoreboards after all.

Back to on-the-field stuff, the club's roster won't be overhauled with high-priced stars, but there will be several changes. GM Bill Stoneman let the powerful but injury-prone longtime third baseman Troy Glaus walk, handing the keys to the hot corner to highly-touted Dallas McPherson. The Jose Guillen Era was productive but tumultuous in Southern California, and Stoneman sent the controversial outfielder to Washington for some decent swag in Juan Rivera and Maicer Izturis. Steve Finley was signed to patrol centre and enable Garret Anderson to move back to his more comfortable position in left. He also replaced the popular but limited David Eckstein with the slick-fielding world champion shortstop, Orlando Cabrera.

On the pitching side of the ledger, Stoneman was expected to be a major player for the Matt Clements and Carl Pavanos of the world, but instead signed the cagey Paul Byrd. Anaheim fixture Troy Percival couldn't refuse $12 million of Michigan money, so he departed and Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez will take over from within. The perpetually disappointing Ramon Ortiz was shipped to Cincinnati for Dustin Moseley, who has had an excellent spring with the Halos. And Ben Weber is gone, which makes for one less reason to watch mopup time during Angels games.

Let's see how the club looks for the upcoming season.

The Lineup

The Angels need a lot of things to go right to improve much on last year's 863 runs scored. They have, however, undeniably given their pitching staff a boost by significantly enhancing team defence.

Bengie Molina once again cracked double figures in homers last year, but did not have his best year defensively and deservedly lost his reign as Gold Glove catcher. He continues to be incapable of selectivity at the plate. His brother, Jose Molina, improved a great deal last season; it doesn't make him a great player, but it does make the Molinas less distinguishable. Jeff Mathis still impresses the heck out of Scioscia, but is still not ready for prime time. Josh Paul will be little more than a part-time third catcher and the team's player rep.

David Eckstein was a fan favourite and got the most out of his ability. Unfortunately, that ability was comparatively limited, as Eck played another season as a pesky but punchless hitter with limited range and a poor arm afield. Stoneman brought "O.C." to the O.C., as Colombia's other shortstop gets to strut his stuff at Angels Stadium. He's a remarkably gifted defensive player that will be a major, major defensive upgrade and should save the team runs. Offensively, the Angels don't think he has the right OBP profile to hit at the start of the lineup, where Scioscia will go with Figgins and Erstad. Cabrera will instead hit sixth or seventh, and the Halos will be hoping for a return of his deceptively powerful bat that managed to go yard as many as 17 times in Montreal.

Chone Figgins has gone from wide-eyed pinch-runner to do-everything utilityman, and all of baseball is surprised. Not only did Figgins impress with his gap power and triples speed, but he really worked hard on his all-around defensive game, such that he had weeks where he'd make diving stops at third and throw out baserunners from centre days later. As the second baseman pro tempore, he's shown some terrific middle-infield chemistry with Cabrera during the exhibition season.

Veteran Adam Kennedy, who played steady defence as always last season, will miss the first half of the season recovering from a major ACL injury. The loyal Scioscia insists that the job is Kennedy's when he returns, but count on the skipper to continue to get Figgins into the lineup.

Maicer Izturis, Cesar's half-brother who came over in the Guillen trade, shows tremendous defensive instincts and Luis Castillo-type upside at the plate. If nothing else, he should be a superior backup to the jettisoned Alfredo Amezaga. When Kennedy returns, though, Izturis will likely be optioned to the minors...assuming he makes the club in the first place. Lou Merloni has been invited to camp to try and play the utility role better than Shane Halter did last season. By definition, he ought to succeed. Meanwhile, the Angels are excited about Erick Aybar's future as a toolsy, talented middle infielder. The parade of young middle infield prospects don't stop there, either; Alberto Callaspo is very highly regarded, and John Sickels really likes the offensive game of the unheralded Howie Kendrick.

Darin Erstad, widely acknowledged as the team leader, actually developed a little patience at the plate last season, seeing more pitches and boosting his on-base percentage -- think Doug Mientkiewicz Lite, with speed. Of course, he remains an injury risk, and he'll have to play this entire season with a brace on his right leg after doctors determined that his spate of knee and hamstring injuries was due to structural problems with his knee ligaments. It remains to be seen whether it'll slow him down on the basepaths, where he picks his spots expertly. And as everyone knows, Erstad's hefty, untradeable $8M-per deal doesn't expire until after next season, so he'll play somewhere for the Angels. As shown with Eckstein, Stoneman won't pass up an opportunity to upgrade his club for the sake of sentimentality.

On the other corner, Dallas McPherson is currently suffering from a herniated disk, and has been very cautious in rehab; he won't even hit off a tee until this weekend. The Citadel grad, who no doubt understands the meaning of discipline, could nevertheless use some more of it at the plate, where he struck out 186 times last season across all levels. He does, however, have tremendous power potential; if he doesn't completely replace Glaus's bat this season, he will almost certainly do so in the near future. Defensively, the Angels have real concerns about his hands, but he pleasantly surprised the club with his error-free callup last season. Robb Quinlan, who raked in limited action last season, will start at third if McPherson can't start the season. Just as Quinlan was starting to get into a groove, he suffered a left oblique tear in August that knocked him out for the year. Of course, Figgins is an option at third, but Scioscia likes the idea of Figgins and Cabrera getting comfortable as a DP combo up the middle. Quinlan hopes to DH once McPherson returns to the lineup.

Cuban defector Kendry Morales offers more flexibility at the corners, but he's trapped in visa hell at the moment and playing ball in the Dominican Republic until his work permission is arranged. He will certainly not be on the Opening Day roster; the Halos need to see what they have here.

Is that the "ageless Steve Finley" in centre? Well, the Angels sure hope so. If -- if -- he continues to play great ball in his age-40 season, he'll substantially upgrade the team defence with great range and even better positioning. Offensively, he can still hit the long ball -- hey, just ask the Giants -- but there's just something lacking in his offensive game; it's pretty tough to go deep 36 times and post an OPS+ of only 110, just four points better than ex-teammate Shea Hillenbrand (who hit just 15 homers and supposedly can't get on base). He doesn't quite have enough contact ability to walk 60 times over a 162-game season and post a good OBP. I actually think he could be a disappointment this year in Anaheim. Or Los Angeles, of Anaheim. Or whatever.

Garret Anderson returns to left field, where he should benefit tremendously from the presence of Finley. As always, he will hit for power, hit for average, never walk, and play intelligent defence. G.A. has declared himself free from the worrisome arthritic symptoms that caused him to uncharacteristically miss playing time last season.

There's not much to say that hasn't been said about Guerrero, the reigning MVP. He hits rockets off his shoetops and rockets off eye-high heat, and he can throw like nobody's business. He's so incredibly skilled as a hitter that he's virtually immune to slumps; his .298/.358/.479 July was by far his worst month at the plate. And with the savvy Angels, he picked his spots on the basepaths better, dramatically cutting down his caught stealings. And he's topped 154 games played in six of his last seven seasons.

Jeff DaVanon is more than serviceable as a fourth outfielder, as he is a tough out at the plate, a steady and versatile glove, and an outstanding baserunner. He wasn't the likeliest Angels hitter to hit for the cycle in 2004, but he's the one who did it. Meanwhile, a trimmer Juan Rivera played quite well in Montreal last year away from the high expectations of the Bronx. He won't be a defensive upgrade for anybody, but he's a very viable option at DH and a useful bat off the bench.

Like the famously taxidermized parrot, Tim Salmon is not dead, but resting. Refusing to retire, "Fish" underwent major shoulder and knee surgeries and hopes to make a Glaus-like late-summer return. It's unclear if he'll succeed.

Bottom line: Better defence, but a likely holding pattern on offence. Let's see how the pitchers look after some senryus.

Meet the Angels offence:

C: #1 Bengie Molina
.276/.313/.404, 36 R, 10 HR, 54 RBI, 18 BB, 35 K, 0-for-1 SB, 97 G
Best season in last five ("BSLF"): 2000 -- 59 R, 71 RBI in 130 G
Age: 31 in July

Confused by Angels'
Too Many Molinas? Well,
He's the one with pop

1B: #17 Darin Erstad
.295/.346/.400, 79 R, 7 HR, 69 RBI, 37 BB, 74 K, 16-for-17 SB, 125 G
BSLF: 2000 -- .355/.409/.541, 121 R, 25 HR, 100 RBI, 64 BB, 82 K, 28-for-36 SB, 157 G
Age: 31 in June

Offers leadership
And, sadly, a bad contract.
Can still steal a bag

2B: #9 Chone Figgins
.296/.350/.419, 83 R, 5 HR, 60 RBI, 49 BB, 94 K, 34-for-47 SB, 148 G
BSLF: 2004
Age: 27 as of January

Speed and contact plus
Versatility equals
A triple machine

SS: #18 Orlando Cabrera
.264/.306/.383, 74 R, 10 HR, 62 RBI, 39 BB, 54 K, 16-for-20 SB, 161 Gwith Expos and Red Sox
BSLF: 2003 with Expos -- .297/.347/.460, 95 R, 17 HR, 52 BB in 162 G
Age: 29 as of January
ReplacingDavid Eckstein(.276/.339/.332, 92 R, 2 HR, 35 RBI, 42 BB, 49 K, 16-for-21 SB in 142 G)

Ex-Expo got paid
For things Eckstein couldn't do.
Like make throws to first

3B: #23 Dallas McPherson
.225/.279/.475, 5 R, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 3 BB, 17 K, 1-for-1 SB, 16 G
BSLF: 2004
Age: 25 in July
ReplacingTroy Glaus(.251/.355/.575, 47 R, 18 HR, 42 RBI, 31 BB, 52 K, 2-for-5 SB in 58 G)

Club hopes he's ready
To hit big-league breaking stuff
Can go yard, often

LF: #16 Garret Anderson
.301/.343/.446, 57 R, 14 HR, 75 RBI, 29 BB, 75 K, 2-for-3 SB, 112 G
BSLF: 2003 -- .315/.345/.541, 80 R, 29 HR, 116 RBI, 31 BB, 83 K, 6-for-9 SB, 159 G
Age: 33 in June

Once again, G.A.'s
Playing left, where he belongs
Book it: .300

CF: #12 Steve Finley
.271/.333/.490, 92 R, 36 HR, 94 RBI, 61 BB, 82 K, 9-for-16 SB, 162 G with Diamondbacks and Dodgers
BSLF: 2000 with Diamondbacks -- .280/.361/.544, 100 R in 152 G
Age: 40 as of March
Replacing Jose Guillen(.294/.352/.497, 88 R, 27 HR, 104 RBI, 37 BB, 92 K, 5-for-9 SB, 148 G

Age decline may hurt
Both at bat and with the glove.
40 in centre?

RF: #27 Vladimir Guerrero
.337/.391/.598, 124 R, 39 HR, 126 RBI, 52 BB, 74 K, 15-for-18 SB, 156 G
BSLF: 2000 with Expos -- .345 BA, .664 SLG, 11 triples, 44 HR in 154 G
Age: 29 as of February

MVP for this
Complete, dominant player.
Somewhere, Youppi! smiles

DH: #39 Robb Quinlan
.344/.401/.525, 23 R, 5 HR, 23 RBI, 14 BB, 26 K, 3-for-4 SB, 56 G
BSLF: 2004
Age: 28 as of March

Quinlan's time is now
To earn some steady P.T.
Will play some at third


OF #55 Jeff DaVanon
.277/.372/.418, 41 R, 7 HR, 34 RBI, 46 BB, 54 K, 18-for-21 SB, 108 G
BSLF: 2003 -- .282 BA, 56 R, 12 HR, 43 RBI in 123 G
Age: 32 in December

Plenty of hustle
Means Jeff will be, again, an
Important Angel

OF # 20 Juan Rivera
.307/.364/.465, 48 R, 12 HR, 49 RBI, 34 BB, 45 K, 6-for-8 SB, 134 G with Expos
BSLF: 2004
Age: 27 in July

Ho-hum with Yankees
Really showed Expos something...
Now in better shape

2B #2 Adam Kennedy
.278/.351/.406, 70 R, 10 HR, 48 RBI, 41 BB, 92 K, 15-for-20 SB, 144 G
BSLF: 2002 -- .312/.345/.449, 52 RBI in 144 G
Age: 29 as of January

C #28 Jose Molina
.261/.296/.374, 26 R, 3 HR, 25 RBI, 10 BB, 52 K, 4-for-5 SB, 73 G
BSLF: 2004
Age: 30 in June

1B #35 Casey Kotchman
.224/.289/.276, 7 R, 0 HR, 15 RBI, 7 BB, 11 K, 3-for-3 SB, 38 G
BSLF: 2004
Age: 22 as of February

Also In The Mix: 1B Kendry Morales, UT Lou Merloni, UT Maicer Izturis

The Pitching Staff

The Angels won without a dominant rotation in 2004, and evidently hope to do so again in '05.

Colon was widely viewed as a disappointment last season, but it really was a tale of two halves for the portly righty. Pre-All-Star, Colon posted a 6-8, 6.38 line with 27 (!!!) home runs allowed before the break, with his walk rates way up. After the break, though, he posted a more customary 12-4, 3.63 line while only being taken deep 11 times. Clearly, he's got to improve his location this season straight out of the gate. Lately, Colon missed a start from a stiff back caused by, of all things, a bus trip. Not a good sign, but Colon insists that he's physically OK.

Game lefty Jarrod Washburn cut down his walks, hits and homers allowed. That's good! But only because he missed time with a strained rib cage. That's bad. Still searching for that elusive third pitch, he's been working this spring on both a slider and a changeup, and he's hoping one of them will stick. Perhaps he can borrow a pitch or two from El Artista.

Old friend Kelvim Escobar really did settle down and pitch well last season, despite a criminal lack of run support. His 191 strikeouts was easily a career high, and he pitched especially well down the stretch in his first pennant race. Only once did Kelvim fail to escape the fifth inning, and he only gave up five or more runs five times all season. He did, unfortunately, save his worst performance for the playoffs. As for this year, the sharp movement on his pitches will continue to give him a chance against anyone.

John Lackey, however, remains maddeningly inconsistent, and some in the organization whisper that he's the pitcher whose job is the most vulnerable to the younger likes of Kevin Gregg. Lackey seldom struggles with walks, but often struggles with leaving pitches way too close to the middle of the plate.

Paul Byrd had typically excellent control last season, in his respectable return from Tommy John surgery. Byrd vows to be much more effective this season, however, as his reconstructed elbow has finally gotten a clean bill of health such that he can throw sinkers again. Like a moth to the flame, burned by the fire...Even if his sinker isn't effective, Byrd says he's added 5 mph to his fastball. A solid season is certainly possible for the heady veteran.

Once again, the role of the starters will be 6-7 innings with the club not out of it, since the Angels' pen remains rock-solid despite the loss of their longtime closer.

K-Rod will be the man in the Angels bullpen after the departure of the declining Percival, and it's almost certain that he'll also be "da man," with his ferocious fastball and slick slider. What's particularly frightening for the rest of the AL is that the young Rodriguez is learning how to pitch as well as throw. He cut down on his homers allowed from 12 in 2003 to a miniscule 2 in 2004.

Supporting the Venezuelan will be the Angels' usual array of hard-throwing, where-did-they-find-that-guy righthanders. Brendan Donnelly is back, healthy and throwing his heavy fastball after his embarrassing nose injury while attempting to shag flies in the outfield. Scot Shields is enormously valuable for his ability to both spot start and get that one tough hitter in high-leverage innings. He struck out more than a batter per inning last year. Kevin Gregg has a terrific fastball and is still only 26, and Esteban Yan offers yet another power arm, although he doesn't threaten triple digits on the gun as he did with the Devil Rays.

Matt Hensley, who showed some promise in middle relief, has a fatigued right shoulder and won't break camp with the club. His spot will go to either young righty swingman Chris Bootcheck or lefty Jake Woods, who would become the only lefty in the 'pen. Finesse righty Dustin Moseley, the booty from the casting off of Ramon Ortiz, has also impressed in camp and may also sneak his way onto the Opening Day roster. The Angels are very high on Ervin Santana, but he'll likely start at Class AA.

Meanwhile, Angels fans are very high on Jered Weaver, who remains very much unsigned by the Angels. Stoneman et al. have been sharply criticized on call-in shows for playing financial hardball with the talented but Boras-affiliated Weaver, and the club-issued "ultimatum" of $5.25M over five years was unsurprisingly rejected by the floppy-haired brother of Jeff. Stoneman vows to not resume negotiations; we'll see. Meanwhile, the Nuke LaLoosh-esque Bobby Jenks was finally waived by the exasperated Angels. The White Sox will take the next turn at trying to refine the wild (in many ways) righthander.

Without further ado, the pitchers:

SP #21 Bartolo Colon
18-12, 5.01, 208.1 IP, 215 H, 38 HR, 71 BB, 158 K, LH .273, RH .256, 34 GS
BSLF: 2002 with Tribe and Expos -- 20-8, 2.93
Age: 32 in May

Better second half
Makes the Halos' worries weigh
Less, um, heavily

SP #47 Kelvim Escobar
11-12, 3.93, 208.1 IP, 192 H, 21 HR, 76 BB, 191 K, LH .252, RH .236, 33 GS
BSLF: 2004
Age: 29 in April

As an Angel, he
Was typically "Good Kelvim."
Our man's growing up.

SP #56 Jarrod Washburn
11-8, 4.64, 149.1 IP, 159 H, 20 HR, 40 BB, 86 K, LH .225, RH .283, 25 GS
BSLF: 2002 -- 18-6, 3.15, 206 IP, 183 H, 139 K, .235 BAA
Age: 31 in August

Peripherals are
Declining for this lefty
Can Jarrod bounce back?

SP #41 John Lackey
14-13, 4.67, 198.1 IP, 215 H, 22 HR, 60 BB, 144 K, LH .303, RH .248, 32 GS
BSLF: 2002 -- 9-4, 3.66
Age: 27 in October

Flash in the pan? Hmm...
'02 Series surprise is
Very hittable

SP #36 Paul Byrd
8-7, 3.94, 114.1 IP, 123 H, 18 HR, 19 BB, 79 K, LH .329, RH .219, 19 GS
BSLF: 2002 with Royals -- 17-11, 3.90, 228.1 IP, 224 H, 129 K in 33 GS
Age: 35 in December

Low-walk free agent
Could be helpful, now that his
Elbow's feeling good

CL #57 Francisco Rodriguez
4-1, 12-for-19 Sv, 1.82, 84 IP, 51 H, 2 HR, 33 BB, 123 K, LH .213, RH .127, 69 G
BSLF: 2004
Age: 23 as of January

Few pitches are as
Damn near unhittable as
K-Rod's sharp slider

SU #53 Brendan Donnelly
5-2, 3.00, 42 IP, 34 H, 5 HR, 15 BB, 56 K, LH .211, RH .237, 40 G
BSLF: 2003 -- 1.58, 74 IP, 79 K
Age: 34 in July

Tough start last year, as
Freak injuries sidelined him.
Still a power arm

RP/SP #62 Scot Shields
8-2, 4-for-7 Sv, 3.33, 105.1 IP, 97 H, 6 HR, 40 BB, 109 K, LH .235, RH .242, 60 G
BSLF: 2003 -- 2.85, 148.1 IP, 111 K
Age: 30 in July

Very good swingman
Yet another Angel arm
That can bring the heat

RP #63 Kevin Gregg
5-2, 4.21, 87.2 IP, 86 H, 6 HR, 28 BB, 84 K, LH .260, RH .250, 55 G
BSLF: 2004
Age: 27 in June

First full big-league year
Was really quite effective
Capable of more

Other Arms

RP #52 Matt Hensley
0-2, 4.88, 27.2 IP, 32 H, 5 HR, 7 BB, 30 K, LH .333, RH .259, 16 G
BSLF: 2004
Age: 27 in August

RP #59 Esteban Yan
3-6, 7-for-17 Sv, 3.83, 87 IP, 92 H, 8 HR, 32 BB, 69 K, LH .255, RH .292, 69 G with Tigers
BSLF: 2004
Age: 30 in June

Also In The Mix: RP Scott Dunn, RP/SP Chris Bootcheck, RP Jake Woods

The Skipper

You know what you get with Mike Scioscia: an aggressive, free-swinging club and an authoritarian presence in the dugout. Scioscia recently explained that while he understands the importance of on-base percentage, "there are other ways to get it" than by walking; expect another last-place finish in walks. He obviously loves the contact -- for the third straight season, the Angels struck out less often than any other AL club. The Angels run often, but shrewdly; the club led the league in steals and were successful 76% of the time. His pitchers don't walk hitters, and get yanked when they do. Whatever the merits of Scioscia's strategy, the club enjoys playing for him and knows where they stand.

The clubhouse reaction to the Jose Guillen situation was telling. After Guillen reportedly flung a helmet in Scioscia's direction after being lifted for a pinch-runner, Scioscia took the extraordinary step of suspending the talented outfielder for the duration of the pennant race and, if applicable, playoffs -- a stunning decision to punish insubordination at the expense of production. Although the initial reaction in the locker room was shock at Guillen's abrupt dismissal, the club quickly rallied around their manager, and defend the decision to this day. Players understand that the team will be run Scioscia's way.

MGR Mike Scioscia

Record since taking over: 425-385 (11-8 postseason)

You know what you'll get:
His team will run the bases
And won't take pitches.

Outlook: Where's The Competition?

So the A's cast away two of the big three, and the Rangers don't add pitching. What's not to like from the Angels' perspective?

Well, for one thing, the starting rotation remains unsettled, and none of the starters can be reasonably expected to put up ace-like numbers. For another, the lineup figures to count on players that are old (Finley), hobbling (Erstad), young (McPherson), unproven (Quinlan) and coming off surprising career years (Figgins).

Nevertheless, the Vlad-fueled middle of the lineup and the tough bullpen guarantee, in my view, at least contention for the Angels. I think the AL West will be tougher than many pundits project...but put me down for a one-win decline, a 91-71 record, and another razor-thin AL West flag for the Los Angeles/California/Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels, of Anaheim.

Pending court approval, of course.

2005 Los Angeles (?) Angels Preview | 30 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
best400 - Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 10:22 PM EST (#106552) #
Great Preview Mike, I think the pitching staff will be way better this year then it was last Colon has perhaps his worst year.
Though many say the bullpen will be top notch I think it wont be as effective as recent years. Having Percival back there to anchor it and never having to worry about who was going to pitch the 9th really helped the Halos relievers to figure out their roles.
K-Rod may have the stuff to be a closer but the chemistry of the bullpen has changed.
Finley seems to have been overlooked over the offseason. he did hit 23 homeruns and had some key hits for the diamondbacks at the start of the season. Besides he always remains a class act in the clubhouse.
Great Preview Mike D
Mick Doherty - Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 10:30 PM EST (#106553) #
Awesome. Be sure to alert the various Angel blogs and BBS sites to this.


Dallas (hey, that's in Texas)
But McPherson's disk has been messed with
So who will play third?
(Hinske, I've heard)
No, Quinlan is ready to step in.

I give myself a C- for that. The meter is rough and the rhyme is more rumour than anything. But maybe it'll get things started!
Ken Kosowan - Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 10:44 PM EST (#106554) #
L.A. or Orange County is it?
Moreno chomped at the bit.
He changed the damn name,
which the city called lame,
But to win Erstad must still hit.

Elijah - Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 11:14 PM EST (#106558) #
The Angels have the AL's best pen
But can Vladdy do it again?
They've a suspect rotation
And play station to station
And to win they'll need help from Darin.

But while they've lost some Glaus
K-Rod and Brendan will toss
Shutout inning after inning
And the Halos will be winning
The AL West, but another ALDS loss.
Mike Green - Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 11:16 PM EST (#106560) #
Dallas could be Kong
Vlad is definitely a King
And New York quivers

Hey, it's late...Great job,O senryu master!
forest fest - Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 11:22 PM EST (#106561) #
I like the preview Mike D, and the challenge:

The steal, the bunt, and the hit and run
Work well together with Vladomir's gun
But 'cause they don't walk
When they lose they'll balk
Knowing Moreno sure paid a tonne

Is it too obvious I'm an Oakland fan?...
Elijah - Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 11:25 PM EST (#106562) #
And a Score Bard inspired special:

Scioscia, Bengie, Kotchman
Finley, Erstad, DaVanon
Jarrod, Kelvim, Bartolo
Izturis and Guerrero
Paul, Figgins and Quinlan.

Donnelly, MacPherson, G.A.
K-Rod, Molina (Jose)
Lackey, Cabrera
Salmon, Rivera
Shields, Yan and A.K.
Craig B - Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 11:30 PM EST (#106563) #
There once was a pitcher named Rod
Whose slider was trademarked by God
So they traded their closer
Who'd become just a poseur
Since Rod was the best in the squad
Craig B - Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 11:35 PM EST (#106564) #
An awesome young slugger named Vlad
Can murder a pitch if it's bad
And even if good
With one swing of the wood
He can hit it as far as Baghdad
Matthew E - Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 11:41 PM EST (#106566) #
So far I think Craig's are the only ones that sound like limericks. I'll see what I can come up with.
Elijah - Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 11:44 PM EST (#106567) #
I love to watch Chone Figgins
He's as fast as Alan Wiggins
While he naturally plays second
He'll play where'er he's beckoned
And on the basepaths be jiggin'.
Lefty - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 01:18 AM EST (#106569) #
Not that I'm shying away from sharing a limerick, well ok I am shying away. The competition is too hot.

Anyway, I still want to comment on the preview. First off it was a really good read.

I agree the west is going to be close this year and the Angels have to be slight favourites. Some are touting the A's to be better than widely projected. Last season an expected strength for the Mariners was pitching. As woeful as the offense was I think the pitching let them down more. They have improved their offense loads if Sexson's shoulder stays in place. And then theres the Rangers. To me they are the wildcard of this division.

Last season the Angels squeeezed out the division inspite of a spate of injuries. I recall a series in Toronto last season which the Jays may have been the healthier of the two clubs.

Most of the Angels rotation remain an injury risk. Erstad and Anderson are likely to miss significant time. One of the Molina's are going down, likely Benji. McPherson with a protruding disk should sound alarm bells. Vladdy was battling niggling injuries all season. Finley at 40 is unlikely to get through the year intact. I don't see being healthier this season.

I think I'll put a fiver on the longshot Rangers this year. That offense is going to just rake, especially at home but they won't slouch in Safeco either. If their pitching is just as good as it was last year and the pen can remain a plus, I have know doubt they will not make the same mistake as they did in 04. This year they will go out and get a talented rent a pitcher to go down the stretch.
C. Oliver - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 07:46 AM EST (#106573) #
The Angels drive me nuts...please just pick a name and go with it. Do they really think they will get more people in the seats by using "Los Angeles"? Oh well, I am just going to refer to them as the California Angels.
Pistol - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 09:02 AM EST (#106576) #
The team kept changing their name
Los Angeles Angels of Aneheim is lame
They'll win the division
Despite the revision
But aren't they really all the same?
Jordan - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 09:27 AM EST (#106577) #
There once was an Angel named Adam
Whose infield defence was not bad -- um,
It grieves me to say so,
He's out until May, so
Your roto team's screwed if you had him.
Heraclitus - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 10:14 AM EST (#106583) #
There once was a team called the Angels,
whose name went through many changles.
The marketing suits
are predicting more loot
but some folks hate the way that it dangles.
Sister - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 10:25 AM EST (#106588) #
I think Kotchman is going to contribute significantly this year for the Angels, and shouldn't be overlooked.
Named For Hank - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 12:47 PM EST (#106611) #
The Angels drive me nuts...please just pick a name and go with it. Do they really think they will get more people in the seats by using "Los Angeles"? Oh well, I am just going to refer to them as the California Angels.

You should do like I do, and call them by their acronym: LAAoA!

If you say it right it sounds a lot like ROWRRR.

Ken Kosowan - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 07:19 PM EST (#106640) #
So Mike D,

Who's going to the Angels game with you?

I'll bring some home-made fried pretzels, with salt! We won't be ablt to get up the aisle; but we'll eat well.........................
Mike D - Saturday, March 19 2005 @ 02:13 AM EST (#106676) #
Sorry, gang, but I've been out of town and I don't have much internet access.

I'll be back Monday night, and will crown the limerick champion then!
Matthew E - Saturday, March 19 2005 @ 11:49 PM EST (#106742) #
Here's my first try. I may have another one or two before the deadline.

All those whom you ask about Kelvim
Will say that they think very welvim
He pitches through messes
And always impresses
The folks who have never heard telvim.
groove - Sunday, March 20 2005 @ 01:41 AM EST (#106743) #
There once was a ball team in Anaheim,
And their bullpen was oh so sublime.
But they changed their damn name
and things just weren't the same
So they traded their best players to the Blue jays for Hinske, and everyone lived happily ever after, well except for the Angels.
(that was supposed to rhyme with crime)
Mike Green - Sunday, March 20 2005 @ 05:14 PM EST (#106804) #
There was a strugglin' short in LA
who enjoyed a very rich pay day
Threatened his owner Omar
"Produce or I'll get Nomar"
But my contract's guaranteed anyway.
Mike D - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 09:30 PM EST (#107045) #
OK, I'm back and I have a favourite at the moment. I'll allow entries until midnight EST, shortly after which I will award the Cheer Club ducats.
VBF - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 10:02 PM EST (#107048) #
The Angels aren't looking so cool,
Cause in right field, it's Raul.
Troy Glaus is long gone,
Fans forgot Tim Salmon,
For this team, we will not drool.
Matthew E - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 10:51 PM EST (#107055) #
If I was giving out the prize I'd give it to Jordan. But here's another try anyway.

The Angels were never among
The ballclubs for whom I am strong
They played way out west
With Pettis, that pest
And others with names like 'Wilfong'.
Stefan - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 11:59 PM EST (#107065) #
Another brilliant preview on the angles by mike d
Hard nosed players like, steve, chone, and bengie;
"Skinner box? the way they play it should be called the scoscia box,
But without roids, will Vlad keep sending the shots out into the rocks?
Dont diss mike (scoscia), or u'll end up playing right in DC!

Mike D - Tuesday, March 22 2005 @ 12:45 AM EST (#107070) #
Wow, awesome! Thank you all very much for participating in the Inaugural Angels/St. Patrick's Day Limerick Challenge.

In a way, you're all winners. But in another, more accurate way, Matthew E is the winner.

Although I was predisposed to any limerick mentioning '80s utilityman Rob Wilfong, it was his homage to Kelvim Escobar that takes first place and a pair of Cheer Club seats. It succeeded on all levels: the meter (and yes, I think the Canadian spelling is "meter" in the poetry sense) was correct, baseball knowledge was displayed...and, most importantly, in an a/a/b/b/a limerick format, Matthew was able to pull off unlikely rhymes with "Kelvim" not once, but *twice*. Well done, sir.

Honourable mentions to the top-drawer stylings of Craig B and Jordan, and a shout-out to Stefan, the only reader to employ a rhyme with my name. Flattery...will get you everywhere, my boy.

I've sent out an e-mail to Matthew to arrange for delivery of his prize. Congratulations, and enjoy the game!
ttetpo - Tuesday, March 22 2005 @ 01:02 AM EST (#107072) #
Damn, i shouldve known better than using psych terminology with you, mike.
I told Stefan that flattery would give us a leg-up, and a step closer to those tics.
Matthew E - Tuesday, March 22 2005 @ 07:22 AM EST (#107075) #
This is an honour and a privilege and a pleasure.
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