When the Angels won the World Series in 2002 they arguably had the best farm club in the major leagues, leading many baseball insiders to assert that Mike Scoscia could possibly reel in another title to Anaheim before the end of the decade. Well, its now 2010 and the Angels are officially eliminated from postseason play and are on the verge of their first losing season since 2003.
It’s not that these prospects never made it to the big leagues. They did. However, with the exception of Kendry Morales, none of them have lived up to the hype that followed them. The Angels were expected to be strong down the middle with players like second baseman Howie Kendrick, shortstops Erick Aybar and Brandon Wood, and catcher Jeff Mathis. However, Kendrick has made all those people (including myself) who predicted him to be the next batting champ sound like the same people who predicted that Y2K would be the end of life as we know it. Meanwhile, Aybar has proven to be remarkably inconsistent. On the other hand, Wood has proven to be remarkably consistent….at striking out. And Mathis’ career average is below the mendoza line. Another prospect that was highly touted was shortstop Alberto Callaspo, who the Angel’s traded away to make room for the inconsistent Aybar and the talentless Wood. But recently, Callaspo, who has proved himself capable of everyday duty, was reacquired from the Royals to replace Wood at third base, thus giving Angel fans a sigh of relief desperately needed.
Aybar, left, and Kendrick, right, are just some of the Angels who need to perform up to their capabilities if the Angels are to win another World Series title anytime soon
On the mound, Ervin Santana has shown himself to be an above average pitcher every other year. This year he has been good but we may have to wait until 2012 to see him perform that well again. On the corners of the infield there have been a couple of disappointments, notably Dallas McPherson (Who?..you ask)and Casey Kotchman. McPherson was a highly rated third base prospect who made Troy Glaus (2002 World Series MVP) expendable and has since fallen into obscurity after a brief stint in the majors. Kotchman, although a fan favorite, has not yet shown himself to be an everyday player but has proved himself to be a valuable bargaining chip in trades, going from Anaheim to Atlanta to Seattle to Boston in less than 2 years. Perhaps, the only prospect that has worthily endeared himself to Angel fans has been Kendry Morales, the Cuban switch-hitting slugger who fell victim to a season ending ankle injury in June.
The prospects for another World Series title in Anaheim in the next few years look dim, to say the least. However, with a healthy Morales and a revamped bullpen the Angels could change their fortunes as long as these prospects are willing to shake off their early disappointments and become late bloomers.
And the Zen Master says, “We’ll See…”
Teemu Selanne is back, ladies and gentlemen, at least for one more year.
The 40 year-old superstar right winger is locked and loaded and ready to compete for another run at Lord Stanley’s cup after signing a one year deal with the Ducks on Monday. Obviously, this news is not surprising to those of you who have followed Teemu’s whereabouts closely this offseason. And if you haven’t been internet stalking the man they call the Finnish Flash this offseason, well, a mere glance at Teemu’s statistics last season will tell you all you need to know: Teemu is STILL a scoring machine. This machine, manufactured in Finland and popularized internationally, has surpassed its 600 goal warranty and should surprise many critics who see today’s NHL as a sport tailored for twentysomethingyearolds.
[Insert Paul Kariya speculation here]
I left the above section purposefully blank due to my declining credibility as an NHL blogger. For now, I will leave you with a tribute to the man who wears # 8. Enjoy.
After the recent sign-and-trade of James Wisniewski to the New York Islanders for a 3rd round pick in next year’s entry draft, many ducks fans are left wondering if GM Bob Murray has lost his mind. However, I’m here to tell you that the angry mob armed with pitchforks parked outside the Honda center may be a little premature in requesting that their GM undergo an immediate frontal lobotomy.
Although unpopular to many ducks fans, Murray deserves credit for making necessary changes (albeit unpopular) to an aging team that gambled everything to win the Stanley Cup in 2007. Murray has since replaced keystone veterans Pronger, Beauchemin, Pahlsson, Moen, and Rob Niedermayer with a group of unproven youngsters in Sbisa, Festerling, Sexton, Bodie, Chipchura, and Beleskey. And yet, these youngsters may not even be the cream of the crop considering the recent draft acquisitions of highly touted Cam Fowler and speedy Long Beach native Emerson Etem (whose acquistion was made possible with the trade of Pronger). Sure, none of these players have made a name for themselves just yet, but these youngsters are calculated investments that should pay off heavily in the upcoming years.
So, you ask, what will the 2010-2011 Ducks look like?…
Well, at this point we can only guess what the unpredictable Murray will do, but he does have enormous flexibility (15.5 million in cap space) to maneuver.
Here’s my guess:
1) Selanne re-signs for 1 year
2) B. Ryan signs for 4 years
3) Murray throws an offer sheet at big 6 ft 4 dman Marc Staal of NYR to fill out the top 4 that will also consist of Visnovsky, Lydman, and Sbisa. For those of you who are wondering, I believe this is why Murray got the 3rd round pick for Wisniewski. In order to throw an offer sheet at a rfa you must be willing to give up a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round pick for next years draft. We lacked the 3rd round pick before, now we have it. After this years draft I wouldn’t be surprised if Murray is content with the incoming talent in the system and willing to part with next year’s picks.
Okay so that’s enough speculation from me, but if anyone else is willing to put their credibility on the line it would be much appreciated.
Lebron James will now be taking his collossal ego to Miami to play alongside fellow superstars dwade and Chris Bosh. In a move that animated critics from around the country, James announced his decision live on an espn special program titled “The Decision”. Immediately after James dropped the words “I’m taking my talents to south beach” two American cities quickly experienced polarizing emotions. Cleveland, Lebron’s home for 25 years, lost its most precious natural resource. Miami, fresh off the high of securing their franchise player and adding another superstar in Bosh, topped the cake off by adding the most coveted free agent in NBA history.
Most notable is the reaction in Cleveland, the only place Lebron has ever called home. Cavalier fans gathered at bars all over Cleveland to eagerly hear “The Decision” and while both cities woke up friday morning with hangovers, only Cleveland had the headache of looking towards a future without Lebron. Understandably, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, who has claimed that James has consistently ignored his phone calls during this offseason, issued a statement that arguably could be interpreted as a call to arms to mobs of angry cavalier fans, who have already begun to erase the murals of Lebron James in the streets of Cleveland.
If you haven’t heard the statement already, here it is:
“This shocking act of disloyalty from our homegrown “chosen one” sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And “who” we would want them to grow up to become. But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called “curse” on Cleveland, Ohio. The self-declared former “King” will be taking the “curse” with him down south. And until he does “right” by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma. Just watch. Sleep well, Cleveland. Tomorrow is a new and much brighter day..” - Cav’s owner Dan Gilbert
“This shocking act of disloyalty from our homegrown “chosen one” sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And “who” we would want them to grow up to become.
But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called “curse” on Cleveland, Ohio.
The self-declared former “King” will be taking the “curse” with him down south. And until he does “right” by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.
Sleep well, Cleveland. Tomorrow is a new and much brighter day..” - Cav’s owner Dan Gilbert
In the sports world, these comments are as juicy as it gets, even when the comments themselves merit no truth in reality. For example, this comment by Gilbert:
“I personally guarantee that the Cleveland Cavaliers will win an NBA Championship before the self-titled former ‘king’ wins one.”
Gotta love it
James’ decision is a surprise to the many who never questioned the man’s loyalty. After all, James has the word “loyalty” tattoed on his chest and has consistently invoked the city of Cleveland as the place where his heart belongs. He has taken pride in his status as the “hometown kid” and would easily win a future gubernatorial election in Ohio barring any sex scandals of Kobe Bryant magnitude.
For many, it is understandable that James would leave Cleveland in order to pursue NBA championships, but the way he left Cleveland deserves the most attention. Cleveland is now left with no legitimate recourse to replace Lebron, as the top free agents had already signed elsewhere prior to Lebron’s decision. Even worse, Lebron and his agent were deliberately uncommunicative with the Cav’s front office.
If you have followed Lebron closely, you have certainly been exposed to the recent rumor that links James’ mom, Gloria, in an affair with Cav’s teammate Delonte West. If this is true, one can’t help but think that this had something to do with the way Lebron handled the situation. Or maybe it was his faith in his own marketers who confidently scheduled Thursdays press conference with little thought of how cleveland and the rest of the nation would react. Regardless, if Lebron is a brand, it is now a tarnished brand.
So who is favored to win it all this upcoming season?
The Heat certainly have a trio, but this last NBA finals has showed the importance of a 5 man crew working together on the court. Many question marks remain. However, you have to like the options that Pat Riley will have in the closing seconds of the game.
Just imagine the attention a Heat/Lakers NBA finals would bring. If this indeed rings true, those people who accused commissioner David Stern of manipulating the game to allow the sports’ most marketable teams to play in the finals will definitely be yelling bloody murder. The rest of us, however, will watch in amazement.
It’s officially safe to say that the Anaheim Ducks will begin the 2010-2011 season with at least one less hall-of-famer in uniform. The same was true at the beginning of the 2009-2010 campaign, with the trade of Chris Pronger to the Philadelphia Flyers in the off season. But this is different, quite different. The new Ducks are now without the likes of Chris Pronger, Francois Beauchemin, J.S. Giguere, and Scott Niedermayer who were the four main parts on the back end for the Ducks during their Stanley Cup run in 2007. Making things even worse for ducks nation is the prospect of losing the most prolific goalscorer in the franchise’s storied history to retirement as well. Although Teemu has been quoted as saying he would like to play as long as the team remains a contender, the departure of Scott Niedermayer almost ensures that the Ducks will be rebuilding for at least a year or two.
So what do the Ducks do now?…………………………………………………………….
……….Well, lets be honest, Scott Niedermayer cannot be replaced! But the Ducks upper management will surely do everything they can to fill the giant void left by Niedermayer. They can do this through free agency, where there are potential suitors in Dmen Anton Volchenkov, Paul Martin, Joe Corvo, Andy Sutton, and Dan Hamhuis. Or GM Bob Murray could dangle Bobby Ryan out there in order to land a premier defencemen. Rumors linking Tomas Kaberle and Luke Schenn for Ryan draw surprising merit, in my opinion, given the Leafs desire to land another high scoring winger to match Kessel and their abundance of quality dmen. For the Ducks, Kaberle has a bargain of a cap number and Schenn could grow into a top 2 defenceman in the future. Murray could also make an offer to restricted free agent Niclas Hjalmarsson of the Blackhawks, who are plagued with cap issues. Or Murray could go for someone like Robyn Regehr of the Flames, who look poised to enter rebuilding mode.
But Murray might want to swing for the fences and land someone of greater stature. Shea Weber of Nashville may seem untouchable right now, but the right combination of Bobby Ryan, prospects, and draft picks could possibly net someone of Weber’s caliber. I wouldn’t be surprised if Murray makes a gamble of this magnitude given his experience behind the maverick Brian Burke, the man who sacrificed the Ducks future for some guy named Chris Pronger. By the way, he won a cup in doing so. Murray and the ducks might not be that lucky this time around but at least we’ll have some long-awaited jerseys to display in the rafters at the Honda Center.
After watching the halos annihilate the Red Sox on thursday night behind superb pitching by ace John Lackey and a clutch 3-run homerun by captain Torii Hunter I finally got around to thinking that the major difference this season is the swagger factor. Last night after his three run jack, Torii Hunter slammed his helmet on the ground in the angels dugout, a move that was criticized by some figures in the media. But that is exactly the type of energy the angel’s clubhouse needs at this point. For years the Red Sox have been able to exude this confidence with superstars such as Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Josh Beckett, and Jonathan Papelbon. Now it is the angels who are starting to unleash their swagger with players like Lackey, Hunter, and Abreu, whose swagger manifests itself in his patience at the plate. The angels will defeat boston in this years ALDS because of these players. What will be interesting is to see if this recently discovered swagger is enough to propel the Angels to their first World Series title since 2002.
Did anyone happen to see the ducks game on thursday evening against the Boston Bruins? Well, if you missed it you missed a glimpse of the duck’s offensive potential for this season. Teemu Selanne notched two power play goals while Corey Perry also added a couple, one with his nogin (A literal header into the net past the boston netminder). Anyway, the most exciting goal for me was the goal by Evgheny Artukhin early in the 3rd period. The left winger turned on the jets to catch up to a feed by Joffrey Lupul and gracefully skated past three bruin players to slide the puck through the legs of goaltender Tim Thomas for his second goal of the young season. This may seem standard, but Artukhin is 6 foot 5 inches tall and weighs a massive 255 pounds. In fact while playing with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Artukhin beat speedster Martin St. Louis in a sprint the length of the ice in practice. Rumor also has it that the NHL has done research on the cause of climate change and have come to conclude that if Artukhin was taken off the ice it would have the same effect of eliminating 100 high emission vehicles off the road. His tears cure cancer. He can kill two stones with one bird. Okay, you get the picture now right? Thats right, Evgheni Artukhin roundhouse kicked Chuck Norris in the face…WITH HIS SKATES!!!