Los Angeles Angels: Garret Anderson

Handicapping Trumbo's chances in the Derby

July, 9, 2012
7/09/12
11:56
AM PT
Maybe Mark Trumbo isn't the dark horse we thought he was for tonight's Home Run Derby. Three of ESPN's baseball experts picked Trumbo to win the whole thing.

Only Jose Bautista, the AL's leading home run hitter for each of the last 2 1/2 seasons, got more votes.

The word is out on Trumbo's power. The average distance of his home runs, 419.5 feet, ranks first in the majors, according to ESPN Stats and Info, and 11 of his 22 home runs have gone at least 420 feet. That, of course, doesn't include batting practice, which is really what the derby is. Trumbo, according to several Angels who witnessed it, hit a ball out of Dodger Stadium last month.

Trumbo's handicap could be his lack of experience. He has the fewest career home runs of any of the participants, because he also has the least service time. It's not only his first Home Run Derby, it's his first All-Star Game. It's also the first derby of the guy who will be throwing to him, Mike Ashman. Nerves could be a factor for everybody.

After the Angels wrapped up the first half with Sunday's 6-0 win over the Baltimore Orioles, Trumbo said he was starting to think about the Derby.

"I'm trying not to get too fired up, because I think that might backfire. ... A lot of 'fires' in there," Trumbo said. "But we'll figure it out when it comes time."

This will be Trumbo's third home run-hitting derby, he figures, including the minor leagues and high school, but I doubt the Orange County Century League contest was televised to millions on ESPN.

"I'm competitive at everything, so if I'm going to enter something and participate, I'm going to try to win it," Trumbo said.

The Angels have a history of doing well when they're invited. Garrett Anderson won it in 2003. Vladimir Guerrero won it in 2007. But with this kind of thing, there's always the fear of embarrassment: Troy Glaus didn't hit any in 2001. Ouch.

Trumbo asked Anderson, now a part-time TV analyst on Angels broadcasts, for his advice.

"He said, 'Treat it like a normal BP, stay in the middle of the field if that's one of your strengths,' " Trumbo said. "And I'd like to think it is. I'm going to try to not get terribly pull-happy and just kind of hit the pitch where it's pitched."

On Bobby Abreu and perspective

February, 22, 2012
2/22/12
1:55
PM PT
The Angels continued Wednesday to do some damage control in the wake of Bobby Abreu's comments to ESPNDeportesLosAngeles that he would prefer to be traded if he's not going to play every day.

General manager Jerry Dipoto was evasive about whether he's even shopping Abreu, though it would be surprising if he's not. Manager Mike Scioscia addressed the possibility that the veteran outfielder will be a distraction in a clubhouse that otherwise seems coherent. And just think, it's only three days into camp.

"You don't get too many guys any more professional than Bobby, so I don't anticipate that being an issue," Scioscia said.

The whole mess boils down to how a player views himself as opposed to how a team -- and maybe even the rest of the baseball world -- views him. Abreu is a borderline great player. His career on-base percentage and career doubles, particularly, put him in elite company in baseball history. His comparables on baseball-reference.com include Garret Anderson, Edgar Martinez and Bernie Williams. He may not be a Hall of Famer, but he'll get votes.

Of course, everyone's skills erode eventually and Abreu's power clearly has disappeared, as Mark Simon so clearly illustrated in these graphs.

Scioscia's challenge, as long as he has Abreu in the clubhouse, is to respect Abreu's status while fielding his best team. Easier said than done. Few things in the game are harder than managing a great player at the end of his career.

"Usually, a player's the last one to feel they can't do something and I think that's the nature of the game," Scioscia said. "I don't think that's an issue. As a player, I was the same way. I couldn't do [anything] at the end of my career, but I thought I could make the All-Star team."

Angels Moment No. 15: Darin Erstad's 2000 season

July, 29, 2011
7/29/11
12:07
PM PT
When people look back on the previous generation of Angels, they tend to focus on Tim Salmon and Garret Anderson, power hitters whose careers took place in that hazy place between very good and great.

Because they generally remained healthy and were so consistent, Salmon and Anderson top the charts in many of the Angels career lists.

But people are already beginning to overlook the guy who was not only the clubhouse leader of many of those teams, but the Angels' heart and soul in the early part of the Mike Scioscia era.

Darin Erstad played with the intensity of a football player, which is exactly what he was growing up in North Dakota and punting at the University of Nebraska, where he won the 1994 national championship. He is now the head baseball coach at Nebraska.

Erstad's go-for-broke style compromised his later years, as an endless string of injuries eventually pushed him to a corner outfield spot and then to first base. But in 2000, Erstad was at the top of his game and on a collision course with baseball history.

For much of that season, Erstad was in hot pursuit of Gene Sisler's hits record of 257 set in 1920. He wound up with 240, a franchise record, and batted .355 with 366 total bases, 121 runs scored and 25 home runs. Oh yeah, he also stole 28 bases and broke a major-league record with 100 RBIs while batting leadoff.

It was a pretty good year. But because it came in the height of what has come to be called the Steroid Era, Erstad's feats were largely ignored. He finished eighth in MVP balloting that year.

Erstad's pursuit of Sisler gained a fair amount of attention -- he reached 100 hits that year faster than any player ever had -- foreshadowing Ichiro Suzuki's eventual passing of Sisler in 2004. Other than Suzuki, who did it twice, there isn't a single player who played after 1930 who ranks above Erstad on the hits list.

Erstad's career never matched that sizzling 2000 season, when he was 26, though you could argue he was the engine of the Angels' 2002 World Series team. After 2000, he never again batted as high as .300. But as hit after hit fell in that year, Erstad's future seemed boundless.

This story is part of an occasional series of Angels Moments which, when it's complete, will -- we hope -- add up to 50. The Angels are celebrating their 50th anniversary this season. These are not intended to be an exhaustive list, but simply an assembly of scenes and anecdotes that are part of the team's colorful past.

Looking for an early run

July, 2, 2011
7/02/11
5:10
PM PT
ANAHEIM -- When the same two pitchers scheduled to start Saturday’s game -- the Angels’ Jered Weaver and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw -- matched up last weekend in Los Angeles, neither team scored a run until the seventh inning.

The Angels will focus on doing something about that tonight, placing extra emphasis on patching together their patented small-ball techniques to produce a run or two against Kershaw.

“I think early runs, when you have a pitching matchup like this, serve a greater purpose,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Saturday. “It’s probably more important. These two guys are tough.”

In a combined 16 innings last time around, Kershaw and Weaver struck out 15 batters, walked just one and allowed 13 hits and three runs. Weaver didn’t get a decision; Kershaw got the win after going the full nine innings when his offense rallied against Angels closer Jordan Walden for two runs in the bottom of the ninth.

Both pitchers, who are considered likely All-Star Game participants, have also been particularly effective at the start of their outings. In his first 15 pitches of each of his starts, Kershaw has given up only 11 hits in 97 at-bats, a .113 average. Weaver has been quite as good, allowing 14 hits in 94 at-bats for a .149 average.

Last Sunday’s Kershaw-Weaver battle at Dodger Stadium was a 3-2 final. The teams have averaged seven total runs in their four matchups this season, meaning another low-scoring affair is likely.

Said Scioscia: “Yeah, if the groupings are right and the opportunities are there, I think both teams are gonna look to try to get an early run.”

(Read full post)

A quick Garret Anderson story

March, 1, 2011
3/01/11
1:43
PM PT
Garret Anderson, who announced his retirement Tuesday, wasn't just one of the game's most underrated players for nearly two decades; he might have been the least appreciated player in his own backyard.

How do you know whether a player is giving it all he's got? Does it matter, as long as he produces year in and year out?

I was in my first season covering the Angels in 2004, and Anderson was just emerging from a long period of being overshadowed by Tim Salmon to be overshadowed most of that year by Vladimir Guerrero.

He had such a relaxed style, you just couldn't tell whether he cared. In person, he could be short and dismissive of even well-considered questions.

In the heat of a pennant race that year, Anderson looked to me to be lackadaisical going back on a deep fly ball. It dropped on the warning track for a key double. When we asked Mike Scioscia about it after the game, he hinted that Anderson was dealing with a nagging knee injury. Anderson had insisted he was healthy.

I was on deadline, and Anderson, as was typically the case, wasn't immediately available to the media.

I wrote something about how he appeared "either injured or disinterested" on the play. In addition to being poor diction ("disinterested" means neutral. I should have said, "uninterested"), was I being unfair?

For the longest time, I had no idea that Anderson cared about his public image, but I found out. He avoided me for weeks after that before finally confronting me while the team was stretching before a playoff game in Boston. He wanted to know why I would write something like that. He was concerned fans might believe it.

Later, I found out Anderson was among the most well-liked Angels by team employees. They say he treated everyone alike, from fellow players to assistant equipment managers. Looking back, I think he was just a quiet guy who didn't want to talk to reporters all that much.

And it was a good lesson. You just can't tell how much someone cares.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Mike Trout
BA HR RBI R
.308 22 69 64
OTHER LEADERS
HRM. Trout 22
RBIM. Trout 69
RM. Trout 64
OPSM. Trout .998
WG. Richards 11
ERAG. Richards 2.55
SOG. Richards 127