An All-Star Breather • Long Beach Post

Coming into the 2008 Season many of the so-called baseball experts claimed the Halos would be trailing the Seattle Mariners.  The Mariners made the much ballyhooed move to acquire pitcher Eric Bedard from the Baltimore Orioles thus somehow launching them past the reigning AL West Champs who made a much quieter pitching acquisition in Jon Garland.
To acquire Bedard the Mariners gave up 5 players with the two most notable players being former 1st-Round Pick Adam Jones and Set-up man George Sherill.  Jones has been a steady producer for the O’s this season hitting in the 7 or 8 hole all season.  Over the last month he has really blossomed hitting .357 with a HR, 15 RBI’s and 3 SB’s.  Sherill on the other hand has been on all season.  The former Independent League relief man has been a gem for the Orioles this season completing 28 or 33 save opportunities including a perfect 5-for-5 against his former team.  

The Angels were able to bring over Jon Garland for considerably less.  Although a darling with the fans and in the clubhouse, Orlando Cabrera was the odd-man out in an infield core that consisted of much younger (and cheaper) talent and was traded straight-up for the Southern California-born Garland.   

Although Cabrera was blessed with a dramatic flair for clutch doubles and walk-off hits, his talents we’re aging and Angels GM Tony Reagins saw a chance to move him to help steady the starting pitching.  Although Reagins was questioned heavily following this acquisition he came out on top the moment elbow injury and Kelvim Escobar were mentioned in the same sentence (Escobar is now on the 60-day DL and is awaiting a late-August surgery date).  Cabrera has been steady himself in Chicago, although his numbers are down considerably from his time with the Angels.

To date here are the first-half numbers for both starting pitchers

Eric Bedard – 6-4 – 3.67 ERA – 81 Innings Pitched – 1.32 WHIP (Walks & Hits per Innings Pitching)
Jon Garland – 8-6 – 4.20 ERA – 120 Innings Pitched – 1.45 WHIP
Now the numbers may be in Bedard’s favor, but keep in mind that Garland has been a workhorse for the Angels, not missing a single start and posting a 3.76 ERA up until a final disastrous start of the first half against the Oakland Athletics (damn you Garland for not helping to make my point).  While Bedard has been on the DL twice this season (including currently) and the Mariner’s are hoping to trade him for whatever pieces they can get it return.  
Although discussions have broken down with Garland’s agent to pursue a contract extension the Angels are not worried.  With multiple contracts coming off the books in the offseason I expect talks to pick up again. 

Surely Garland isn’t the main reason the Angels are in 1st-place in the AL West division, but he’s helped considerably.  Now with the Angels leading the AL West by a season-high 6 games and the Mariners tied with the Padres for the worst record in baseball I’m hearing nothing but back-tracking from the baseball pundits who once again over-looked the talents and chemistry that Mike Scioscia gets from his team every year.

–    The Angels have signed 26 of their 2008 draft picks including 2nd-round selection, RHP Tyler Chatwood from Redlands East Valley High School in Redlands, CA.  Chatwood was twice named San Bernardino County Player of the Year (2005 and 2007) along with 2008 Citrus Belt League MVP.

–    Howie Kendrick hit the first two HR’s of his season against the Texas Rangers last week.  Although he was never considered a true power threat, Kendrick does have the ability to drive the ball out of the ballpark.  Still only 25 years old, Kendrick is expect to develop 15-20 HR power over the next several years.  Great article here about the future of Howie Kendrick.

–    How about Ervin Santana’s dominance over division rival Oakland.  In his career Santana is 9-1 against the A’s while posting a 1.36 ERA and 67K’s in 92 Innings pitched

–    The 57 victories that the Angels posted this season are the most in the history of the ballclub.  Other first half accomplishments included Francisco Rodriguez’s MLB best 38 Saves prior to the All-Star game.  The previous record was held by John Smoltz with 36 Saves.  

–    If you’re more of a picture paints a thousand words kind of guy, then you could simply watch the highlights of the first-half of the season here.  (The audio is off a bit)

–    I can barely type and listen to the music at the same time never mind record myself catching a fly ball during batting practice.  Mad Props to this guy.

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