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Angels go Little League, commit 3 errors on one play (Video)

The Angels went full-on Little League mode on Sunday, and it cost them in a series-ending 2-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.

Ian Kinsler walked as the second better in the bottom of the first, and Miguel Cabrera followed with a walk. Just in case the 3-2 pitch from Hector Santiago to Cabrera was called a strike, catcher Hank Conger threw down to second to try to get out Kinsler in what he hoped would be an inning-ending double play. Instead, the pitch was called ball four, meaning Kinsler was given second automatically. But he advanced to third because Conger’s throw went into center field, and he came home to score after both Mike Trout and Santiago made throwing errors.

Three throwing errors on one darn play. And a play where a throw wasn’t even necessary at that.

So the Angels gave the Tigers a run in the first, and then another error in the sixth gave them the winning run.

Conger was at it again, this time throwing a ball into right field while trying to pick off Austin Jackson at first. The Angels thought Jackson would be running with two outs and did a pitch out, but Jackson didn’t go. Instead of holding the ball, Conger tried back-picking him and threw the ball into right field. Nick Castellanos followed with an RBI single to make it 2-1.

Knowing Mike Scioscia, Conger’s playing time behind the dish just shrunk immensely.

Mike Scioscia stare

Matt Garza turned down more money from Angels because he was on vacation, dude

Matt-Garza-CubsMatt Garza signed a four-year, $50 million contract with the Milwaukee Brewers last month. That type of money is nothing for a 30-year-old pitcher with a 3.84 career ERA to scoff at, but it was not the best offer he received. The Los Angeles Angels reportedly offered Garza a four-year, $52 million deal in December. Why didn’t he accept it? He was on vacation.

Speaking from Brewers training camp on Monday, Garza said he was in Turks and Caicos and it was simply bad timing when the Angels made their offer.

“They offered, but it was more of a weird situation,” he said, via MLB.com’s Brew Beat. “I was on vacation with my wife and I didn’t want to be disturbed, and it was like, ‘Here it is, we’ll pull it in a certain amount of hours.’ I didn’t have a chance to respond, so I just said, ‘Whatever. It is what it is.’”

Garza must not have been desperate to play for the Angels, otherwise he would have found a way to make the deal happen while he was away. I understand not wanting to be bothered while you’re celebrating your anniversary, but Garza clearly didn’t consider the offer to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“I had no worries,” he added. “God’s going to make things work out either way. It is what it is. I guess you didn’t want me that bad, I take it. I found a team that wants me and makes me feel at home. I was looking for a great fit and I believe I found it.”

At the same time, the Angels could not have been desperate to sign Garza. If they were, they could have waited until he got home. He knew it would work out and he’d be offered the same contract from another team, and he was right. There was no need to bother him while he was in Turks, dude.

H/T Hardball Talk

Torii Hunter, Albert Pujols nearly fought during Angels team meeting

Torii Hunter Albert PujolsTorii Hunter wanted to fight Albert Pujols during a Los Angeles Angels team meeting last season, according to a report.

Scott Miller at CBS Sports has a lengthy article full of strong reporting about the Angels. The article touches on the influence of Angels owner Arte Moreno, and casts the owner as a meddling, negative influence when it comes to building the team. But the real highlight is a story about Hunter and Pujols getting into it last season when the Angels were in a tough stretch.

According to Miller, the Angels had just badly lost three games to the Tampa Bay Rays in August (they were swept in that four-game series), and they called a team meeting following the third loss, a 10-8 defeat on Aug. 19 in which they blew an 8-0 lead. The previous game, the Angels lost 12-3 as Jered Weaver was pounded. Weaver got upset with a teammate for missing a ball during that outing. The next day, C.J. Wilson apparently was chirping in the Angels’ dugout about the hitters struggling, and Torii Hunter had to tell him to pipe down. With all the tension between teammates, a meeting was called following the 10-8 loss.

Miller says veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins called the meeting, but the players couldn’t decide on the format. Pujols apparently wanted it to include the coaches, while Hawkins thought it should just be between the players. During the meeting, Pujols supposedly called out Weaver for showing up a teammate on Friday. He then turned his attention to Hunter for the incident in the dugout with Wilson on Saturday. Hunter reportedly became livid with Pujols.

Here’s Miller’s description of what ensued:

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Josh Hamilton: ‘It sucks’ being so far out of first place

Josh HamiltonThe Los Angeles Angels are running out of time to climb out of the hole they have dug themselves into in the AL West, and Josh Hamilton knows it. The Angels fell to 12 games out of first place with a loss to the division-leading Oakland A’s on Saturday.

“It sucks. I mean, there’s not much I can tell you,” Hamilton said after the 3-1 loss, via MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez. “It’s one of those things where we’re going out, competing, doing what we can. … We’re playing how we want to play, and it’s hard. You have to do all the things – pitching, hitting, playing defense. We’ve done that in spurts, but really haven’t been consistent with it on a day-in, day-out bases. And that’s what it’s going to take – we have to do it day in and day out, get some momentum and rattle a few off.”

If Hamilton had been living up to his $125 million contract, the Angels would probably be in a better position to contend. While he has 15 homers and has started to hit with more pop as of late, Hamilton is still hitting a measly .223 with an on-base percentage of only .277. He acknowledged that he has been part of the problem.

“Obviously it would help if I could pick it up, but overall, it’s not like we’re going out there laying down,” Hamilton said.

To make matters worse, Albert Pujols is likely headed to the disabled list after re-injuring his foot, which he previously stated may need surgery in the offseason. With only 60 games remaining, it may already be too late for LA to make a playoff run. Given the hype that surrounded the team heading into the season, anything less than a wild card berth would be a major disappointment.

Angels security orders fan to take paper bag off his head

Angels fan bag head

For the second straight season, the Los Angeles Angels are not living up to the hype. LA is currently 26-34 and 11 games out of first place in the AL West. Mike Scioscia’s club has played particularly poorly as of late, losing five of its last six games. The Angels were even swept in four games by the lowly Houston Astros.

During Tuesday’s game against the Chicago Cubs, an Angels fan named Henry Bouldin became so frustrated with the team that he felt the need to wear a brown paper bag over his head. That is, until stadium security forced him to take it off in the seventh inning.

“Security just showed up out of nowhere,” Bouldin told the LA Times on Wednesday. “They said you can’t wear anything over your head.”

Team spokesman Tim Mead confirmed that not allowing objects on fans heads is indeed a team policy, noting that a fan who was wearing a monkey suit last week was also asked to remove his mask. The purpose, Mead says, is so the team can make a facial identification of a fan if needed for safety reasons.

However, Bouldin suspected that the Angels only acted because he had appeared on television. He wore the bag, which read “$127 million + all I got was this bag. Go Angels?” at various points throughout the game prior to being told to remove it.

“If it had said, ‘Go Angels,’ it would have been the same thing,” Mead explained.

That may be so, but fans are going to think what they want. If a fan is already angry enough with the team to wear a brown paper bag on his head, it would stand to reason that he doesn’t need any excuse to blame another inconvenience on them. Like the situation we saw at the Marlins’ ballpark earlier this season, this is another case of fan’s word vs. ownership’s word.

H/T Hardball Talk
Photo via @CJZero

Mike Scioscia hurting Angels with his sacrifice bunt-happy ways

Mike Scioscia stareMike Scioscia used to be lauded for his smallball managerial style, but it’s time to recognize that the approach is hurting the team.

The Los Angeles Angels have gone 1-2 to start the season. People like to say it’s too early to overreact, but it’s not too early for me to point out some poor decisions by Scioscia. Twice in three games Scioscia has taken away the team’s best chances at scoring runs by having some of his better hitters sacrifice bunt.

First Instance: The Angels and Reds were tied 1-1 in the 7th on Opening Day Monday. Josh Hamilton walked and Mark Trumbo singled to start the inning. It looked like the Angels were going to have a big inning to break open the game … until Scioscia decided to bunt Howie Kendrick. Kendrick, keep in mind, crushed the ball in spring training batting .435. with a 1.204 OPS. Kendrick sacrifices to move Hamilton and Trumbo to second and third with one out and 7-8-9 coming up. The Reds intentionally walked Alberto Callaspo to load the bases, Chris Iannetta struck out, and Jered Weaver was coming up next. Scioscia pinch hit for Weaver with J.B. Shuck, who also struck out.

The game went scoreless until the 13th when Iannetta hit a 2-run single to put the Angels up. They won 3-1, but they could have been up by that margin in the seventh if Scioscia let Howie hit.

Second Instance: The Angels were down 5-4 with nobody out in the top of the 9th Thursday. Mike Trout laced a single to left off Aroldis Chapman to lead off the inning. Erick Aybar, who was 3-for-4 in the game and stung the ball in his previous at-bat (Brandon Phillips made a diving stop on him), was up. Scioscia had him sacrifice bunt to move Trout to second. The Angels then had Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton coming up with one out, Trout on second, and Chapman pitching. Pujols lined out to right, and Hamilton struck out to end the game. Angels lose 5-4.

The Angels have one of the best lineups in baseball, but it’s hard to maximize the team’s potential when Scioscia takes the bat out of his hitters’ hands. Each time I saw Scioscia bunt with a good hitter, I recalled the classic Jimmy Dugan line from “A League of Their Own” when he tells Dottie Henson, “You’ve got a squeeze bunt with our best hitter? Stop thinking with your tits if you want a big inning here.”

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Angels players have clubhouse pool going for whether Josh Hamilton will be booed or cheered in Texas

There is very little doubt that Josh Hamilton is going to be booed when the Los Angeles Angels travel to Arlington this season to face the Texas Rangers. His career in Texas ended on fairly sour terms, and Rangers fans probably became even more irritated with him when Hamilton said Dallas is not a true baseball town.

Hamilton will get the reception out of the way early, as the Rangers visit the Angels on April 5. According to Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News, his new teammates are already having some fun with it.

The Angels are setting up a clubhouse pool on whether Hamilton receives more boos or cheers when he returns to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on April 5. Hamilton expects to be booed.

‘I got booed when I played there,’ said Hamilton, alluding to the response to his final game as a Ranger. ‘Why wouldn’t I get booed when I play there as an Angel?’

Where can I sign up? I don’t care what the odds are on Hamilton being booed more than cheered — it might as well be free money. Hamilton also backtracked on his comments about Dallas not being a baseball city and said the “fans where great” when he was there, but he’s right. Rangers fans booed him when he was in a slump. They’re certainly going to boo him when he’s suiting up for the opposition.

H/T SI Tracking Blog