"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Same Time, Next Year

Tyler Kepner notes today that the Yankees in the same position they were last year: 8-11 with the Angels coming into town. General manager Brian Cashman tells Kepner:

“For some reason, it feels worse this year. But it keeps it in perspective to know that we got off to the exact same start and won 101 games. We’re in one of those we’re-never-as-bad-as-we-look-right-now schemes. It doesn’t mean there aren’t problems. But we’ll address them.”

Kepner goes on to profile Chien Ming Wang. According to a minor league scout:

“Wang is an average major league prospect with a ceiling, a good sinker-slider guy who throws strikes. I think Phillips could start on a second-division club. But the tough thing with the Yankees is there’s such a small window of opportunity for a guy to prove himself.”

George King reports in the Post:

“The two biggest things are that he throws strikes and isn’t afraid of bat contact,” Columbus pitching coach Gil Patterson said last night. “And stuff around him doesn’t bother him. If a guy makes an error he says it’s his job to make a pitch. I don’t anticipate him throwing any different there than he has here. I anticipate him throwing very well.”

…”His next pitch is a slider, but he has a change-up and split-fingered fastball,” Patterson said. “If the slider is on, it can be a big help. He can throw it down and away to right-handers and we have been working on a back-door to lefties. He has four pitches and I would guess all four are major league caliber.”

Jon Lieber, we hardly knew youse.

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1 Alex Belth   ~  Apr 26, 2005 4:53 am

1.  Anyone see the Angels play this year? How do they look? Are they better or worse than they were in 2004?

I find that they are an easy team to disklike, though Vlad G remains one of my very favorite players in the game.

2 KJC   ~  Apr 26, 2005 5:20 am

2.  I never had anything against the Angels. That is, until their stupid name change this year...

3 seamus   ~  Apr 26, 2005 7:11 am

3.  don't mind the name change but greatly dislike the Angels.

4 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Apr 26, 2005 7:18 am

4.  With the exception of the period of time they were owned by Disney, I've always dug the Angels. Nolan Ryan, Rod Carew, Reggie Jackson, Brian Downing. Good stuff. I even rooted for them in the World Series after they beat the Yankees in 2002. Now with Vlad, Figgins and K-Rod, all of whom I very much dig, plus Colon, who I don't like but am very entertained by, and Kelvim Escobar, whom I had wanted the Yankees to sign, I like them even more. Plus Arte Moreno, with the exception of the name change thing (though I can't blame him for wanting to undo Disney's switch to Anaheim), has done everything the right way over there. Baseball needs more owners like him.

5 Ken Arneson   ~  Apr 26, 2005 7:58 am

5.  I've seen the Angels six times this year. I think their lineup is slightly less imposing this year without Glaus and Kennedy in there. Vlad is still a monster, but I think you can get the other guys out if you pitch well.

Their pitching looked great to me, but that was against the A's lineup, which sucks completely, so that's not a good way to judge.

6 Dan M   ~  Apr 26, 2005 8:06 am

6.  I'm just upset that he didn't change the name back to the California Angels. Sounds way better, and re-establishes ties to Nolan, Downing, Carew, etc.

Is it me, or does Chone Figgins look exactly like Willie Randoplh, circa 1977?

7 Simone   ~  Apr 26, 2005 9:42 am

7.  I'm not surprised that it feels worse to Cashman. It feels worse to me. Plus, last season, they were able to bring up Duque when Brown got injured. Now they have the untested Wang. Oh well, it is still early.

8 Marcus   ~  Apr 26, 2005 10:01 am

8.  What does that scout mean by "second division club"? Does that mean a second place team? Or a second rate team? Or a team playing in a second tier division? Or something else?

I see Phillips as more Shane Spencer than Bubba Crosby. Bubba's no power hitter, but I can't imagine Phillips breaking out and becoming more than a platoon player. I think his best asset is what Paul O'Neill and other mentioned: he brings some youth and enthusiasm into the club. That's what's missing from this club more than anything else, I think. At least from a fan's perspective, I want some excitement. Soriano was the last Yankee who actually seemed giddy about playing for the Yankees, and for all his faults, I like having a guy like that on my favorite team. Phillips hopefully will inject the clubhouse with a little of that excitement.

9 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Apr 26, 2005 10:26 am

9.  Marcus, "second division" is an old term from before the leagues split into east and west divisions in 1969. A "first division" club is one that was in the top half of the league standings. A "second division" club was one that was in the bottom half. For example, the Yankees were consistantly first division, while the Senators and Browns were the definition of second division.

Also, I think Phillips is better than Spencer. Shane mashed lefties, but couldn't hit righties with a truck, though it's worth mentioning that I was always pining for him to get more playing time as well. I still wonder if he could have established himself had he not blown out his ACL the one year he was given a starting job (what was that 2000?)

10 brockdc   ~  Apr 26, 2005 11:22 am

10.  Living in LA, the only times I get to see the Yankees in person are when I schlep to Anaheim (AKA "Assinine"). Angels fans are TERRIBLE - abysmally low baseball I.Q.'s - as opposed to Dodger fans who at least have some working knowledge of the game and understanding of their team's legacy.

To me, the Angels seem to be one of those teams that could either win their division by seven games or finish the season in third place. Their current squad is solid all around but injury-prone.

Something about Colon makes me root for him. There's something enjoyable about a barrel-chested, beer-bellied guy just letting it rip at 98MPH.

11 Knuckles   ~  Apr 26, 2005 11:48 am

11.  A-Rod, Jeter, Bernie, Sheff, and Matsui (listed by decreasing # of AB's against) have all had good success vs. Colon. This current Yankee team has an OPS of over .850 against him in about 150 AB's, so hopefully we can put some runs on the board and give Meat some breathing room.

12 Alex Belth   ~  Apr 26, 2005 12:38 pm

12.  I was a big fan of the California Angels during the eighties. It started when Reggie signed with them in 82 and last through 87 I guess. Brian Downing was one of my favorites, but not for the same reasons why Bill James adored him. I just liked the fact that he looked like Clark Kent with those glasses and muscles and I loved his strange batting stance.

But I don't associate the contemporary Angels with those Gene Autry teams. I do like the manager and the owner, but I used to hate G. Anderson, though he's won me over in the past few years. Never liked Tim Salmon (or Edmonds when he was there), or Eckstein, or those bush-league clakers, or whatever you call them. Maybe they are a bit different now. And maybe I'm still bitter from 2002.

13 Matt B   ~  Apr 26, 2005 1:37 pm

13.  Alex, I hear ya about Brian Downing. His baseball cards always made me chuckle. Almost a parallel to Kurt Rambis.

One of the first Strat-o-Matic teams I had was the '79 Angels--Don Baylor's big year. I loved playing that team - Carew, Downing, Ryan, Dave LaRoche, Joe Rudi, etc.

Nowadays, I just like Vlad.

14 KJC   ~  Apr 26, 2005 2:04 pm

14.  "Now they have the untested Wang."

If I wasn't so damn mature, I'd swear there was a joke there somewhere...

Speaking of players with wacky glasses, how about Kent Tekulve? Not only did he have the specs, but I've always had a soft spot for sidearmers.

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