The 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.
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.
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.”
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
Trout just completed his rookie season for the Angels. MLB players with 0-3 years of service time are paid what the team chooses (so long as it’s over the minimum). Players are arbitration eligible from years 4-6, and they become free agents after six years of service time.
Because he only has one year of service time, the Angels had the right to pay Trout whatever they chose. They opted to renew his contract for $510,000, which is just $20,000 more than the minimum salary.
“In my opinion, this contract falls well short of a ‘fair’ contract and I have voiced this to the Angels throughout the process,” agent Craig Landis said Saturday, per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register.
Landis reportedly said Trout was also disappointed with the amount of money for which the Angels chose to renew his contract.
Teams generally renew the contracts of players’ with 0-3 years of service time in one of two ways: increasing their pay based on service time, or on performance. The Angels operate on the former method, which is why Mark Trumbo received more money ($540,000) than Trout despite having an inferior season.
For context, there is some precedent for teams renewing young players’ contracts for raises if they have performed well.
Tim Lincecum won the Cy Young Award in his second season and was paid $650,000 by the San Francisco Giants the following season (the minimum salary was $400,000). Ryan Howard won Rookie of the Year in 2006 and was paid $355,000 the next season by the Philadelphia Phillies (minimum salary was $327,000). He won MVP in his second season and was renewed for a record $900,000 the following year.
Not only did Landis say Trout is disappointed with his contract renewal price, but he also said his client was disappointed the Angels moved him away from center field.
“As when he learned he would not be the team’s primary center fielder for the upcoming season, Mike will put the disappointment behind him and focus on helping the Angels reach their goal of winning the 2013 World Series,” Landis said, per The Register.
The Angels better hope neither factor adversely affects their best player.
Though it seems absurd that Trout is making so little money, these are part of the rules the players union agreed to during collective bargaining. They are also important rules; if teams couldn’t control the costs of young players, smaller-market clubs would have even less of a chance to compete because player salaries would escalate quickly. There should be a reward to clubs that draft well.
As long as he remains productive, Trout will be pulling in millions by the time he enters arbitration, and he’ll be in line for at least a $200 million contract when free agency comes. He and his agent should be patient and worry about more important matters, though I do think a team that spent $240 million on Albert Pujols and $125 million for Josh Hamilton could have sprung for an extra $100-200k for Trout. He certainly earned it.
The Los Angeles Angels enter the 2013 season with a roster filled with superstars, but none may be more popular than Mike Trout. The 21-year-old burst onto the scene last year and was one of the best players in baseball. Had it not been for Miguel Cabrera winning the Triple Crown, Trout could have easily taken home the American League MVP award.
How popular is Trout in LA? Of the eight giveaway promotions the Angels will be holding this season featuring individual players, five have to do with Trout. As the LA Times called to our attention, the team will be giving away Trout bobblehead dolls, kids’ jerseys, blankets, hats and drinking glasses. Albert Pujols, CJ Wilson and Mark Trumbo make up the other three player promotions, meaning no love for Jered Weaver or Josh Hamilton.
It seems there is no question who the most popular player is on a team that has realistic World Series aspirations. Fans are already more than capable of identifying Trout when they see him on the street, and the youngster seems to be enjoying the ride.
“Everywhere I go, I hear my name whispered: ‘That’s Trout! That’s Trout!'” he said. “You can only do this one time.”
Angels vice president of communications Tim Mead said it was a no-brainer for the team to capitalize on Trout’s popularity with the way he performed in 2012.
“If Albert had been the MVP last year, perhaps there would be the same items pushing that,” Mead said.
Amen to that. When a player robs not one, not two, not three, but four home runs over the course of a season, it’s no surprise that he becomes a fan favorite. Mix in his .326 batting average, 30 homers, 49 stolen bases and that massive fish he caught over the summer and you see why Trout could soon become the most popular player in America.
The Angels announced a major move on Tuesday when they fired hitting coach Mickey Hatcher and replaced him with Triple-A hitting coach Jim Eppard. The switch means much more than a potential for the team’s hitting to improve; it indicates a major change within the organization.
Hatcher was one of Mike Scioscia’s original assistant coaches from the time he took over as Angels manager in 2000. He is the first Scioscia assistant to be fired (previous assistant coaches Joe Maddon and Bud Black moved on to managerial gigs). The two were teammates with the Dodgers and Scioscia has been incredibly loyal to Hatcher, riding with him through the team’s ups-and-downs. But the organization finally decided to fire him on Tuesday.
Many people believe Hatcher was fired in part because he upset Albert Pujols a few weeks ago. They feel the firing was a response to that issue, and that the move indicates Pujols is running the team.
I think it signifies that there is another powerful voice in the organization, but it’s not Pujols’; GM Jerry DiPoto is now the one running the show.