To get Washington fans ready for the coming baseball season, all spring (err...and Winter) I will be interviewing a blogger from each team in the league. To kick off our journey I spoke with Rev from one of the top MLB blogs on the net, Halos Heaven. The Angels are undergoing a big transition this offseason, so it will be interesting to see how they do in 2010.
TNB: My boss is an Angels fan, what can I tell him to make him feel better about losing Figgins, Lackey, and Vlad this offseason?
Rev From Halos Heaven: The Angels are younger and better. Figgins could go cold at any time (like he did in his sub-zero October), Lackey won't have a great 3rd 4th and 5th season to warrant that contract and with Vlad, the Angels had his medical records and Matsui's records... I will take their better judgment and this is coming from an unabashed Vlad lover.
TNB: The Angels captivated much of the country in 2002 when they captured the World Series, since then how has the baseball culture changed in Los Angeles/Anaheim?
Rev: Kinda like how DC followed the Expos for the 30-some years before they moved to your neighborhood. Basically they did not and now they do. The Angels function as an expansion team (circa-2002) for most of Southern California. But if Kobe scores 50 and an Angels pitcher throws a one-hitter, we don't get the lead.
TNB: The group of Jeff Mathis, Brandon Wood, and Howie Kendrick were all highly touted prospects over the years, how do you feel about them now that they've reached the majors, and how do you see them contributing in 2010?
Rev: Mathis is a wash. Wood is this season's Luke Skywalker, aka The New Hope. Howie is better than 4-A but not as good as the hype surrounding him. But I will take him over the likes of Dustin Pedroia going forward. Mathis won't matter in 2010, Wood having a season he has been hyped to have would be a major step toward another division title. My expectations of Howie are lower than when he was hyped as a future batting champion, but he is Scioscia's guy and if he steps it up just a bit (and he is on the good side of the age curve, so this is a distinct possibility), he is an important cog in the machine.
TNB: Do you think Scott Kazmir can bounce back to be one of the better pitchers in baseball after struggling overall in 2009?
Rev: Oh yeah. His best season was 2006 when Mike Butcher was Joe Maddon's pitching coach in Tampa. So Butcher is with us now and that should work out just fine for Kaz.
TNB: Halos Heaven recently named Tim Salmon the greatest Angel of all time. This is quite a statement considering the great talent that has been on that franchise. What made you chose Salmon over players like Vlad, Garret Anderson, Jim Edmonds, K-Rod, or even Tony Danza?
Rev: Salmon is at or near the top of all the important counting stats and rate stats. When he finally had his moment to shine in the postseason he absolutely stepped it up and played on the big stage. And he is a link to a past that is close behind... and yet so distant.
TNB: Aside from the World Series, what is your all-time favorite Angels moment ?
REV: I was in a poker room in Vegas in September the night the Angels clinched and watching them run out to celebrate at the Nick Adenhart mural made me so proud. A woman at the poker table handed me a kleenex, I was crying, but it was a moment that was so indicative of great character of guys manning up for a higher purpose, all the stuff we want baseball to matter for that the steroid jackasses tore out from us and the things about players that the sabermetric scolds insist that we measure in order to minimize it, it was everything that baseball should be but that we are constantly reminded that we shouldn't get our hopes for it to be or that we are not looking at the game correctly if we perceive it that way. It was epic, sublime, unrehearsed and pure. And best of all, in the poker room, the television broadcast was muted, as I discovered later, the idiot Angels announcers who were subsequently dismissed talked over the whole impromptu sacred ceremony. But it was also a moment you would hope to never have the circumstances where you would repeat it.
Thanks Rev! Stay tuned for more interviews with great bloggers as we go across the league in 2010.