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Napoli Makes #3 of the Best Catchers of 2010

Only two catchers’ from the June top five list have remained into July. One of them moved up to number one and the other is almost off the list falling to number five. The three new entries come as a little bit of a surprise since one of them is just filling in for an injured starter. I’m sure by next month this list will change once again.

3. Mike Napoli, Los Angeles Angels: Another newcomer to the list is Napoli. Napoli has his time to shine with Kendry Morales on the DL for an extended amount of time. Napoli is technically a catcher, but with Morales down Napoli is also filling in at first base and he is doing a heck of a job. Napoli is considered as an everyday player for the first time in his career. He is on pace to have the most at bats in a season for his career. Napoli’s production numbers are through the roof. Napoli has 17 home runs, 43 RBI’s and a .261 average. Napoli has the best production numbers for a catcher so far this season, but his average brings him down to the third best catcher so far in July. Napoli definitely has potential to make it to number one by the end of the season.

Click here to read the full article – By Eric Heyer of Sports Fan Blog Network




Hideki Matusi Makes #4 of the Best Designated Hitters of 2010

There are only nine everyday DH’s in the American League. DH is a position and will not be left out. Out of the nine DH’s, five of them really stand out as premier hitters that are contributing to their team in a big way.

4. Hideki Matsui, Los Angeles Angels: After playing his whole career in the MLB with the Yankees. This year Matsui is helping the Yankees playoff rivals, the Angels, at DH. Matsui has always been known as a great hitter from his career in Japan with the Yomiuri Giants and to a lesser extent with the Yankees. Last year Matsui left the Yankees with a bang in the World Series earning himself his first World Series MVP award. Now on the Angels, Matsui is filling in the gap for Vladimir Guerrero who was let go to the Rangers. Matsui is having a good year for the Angels hitting .262 with 10 home runs and 46 RBI’s. Matsui’s home run numbers are a little low, but he is driving in a lot of runs for the Angels. I expect Matsui to continue to help the Angels make a run at the hot Rangers. When it comes down to September and the Angels are still a couple games behind the Rangers, expect Matsui to turn things up a notch like he has in the past.

Click here to read the full article – By Eric Heyer of Sports Fan Blog Network




Torii Hunter Makes #5 of the Best Outfielders of 2010

There is an abundance of outfielders so far this season that are putting up huge numbers for their teams. Out of 20 hopefuls I narrowed the list down to five. Out of all the positions, outfielders are definitetly putting up the best stats this year.

5. Torii Hunter, Los Angeles Angels: Hunter is best known for his gold glove centerfield defense. This year, Hunter is now being recognized as a power threat in the middle of the Angels lack-luster offense. With the departure of Vladamir Guerrero and Kendry Morales’s stint on the disabled list, Hunter had to step up his game on offense to keep the Angels in the race for first and he’s doing just that. Hunter is hitting .288 with 12 home runs and 50 RBI’s. Hunter is leading his team in all three of those categories along with on base percentage-.362, slugging-.520, and doubles-22. The Angels are currently in second place in their division, three and a half games behind the Rangers. Thanks to Hunter, the Angels are right in the race for first, if the rest of the bats heat up, the Angels will be hard to beat

Click here to read the full article – By Eric Heyer of Sports Fan Blog Network




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After Slow Start, Angels Get Back On Track

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have been one of the most consistent franchises in all of baseball over the past decade. After undergoing a bit of a roster overhaul this winter, many counted Mike Scioscia’s out of the AL West race. Two weeks into the season, the doubters looked smart, as the Angels struggled mightily out of the gate. Since then, the Angels have gotten back on track as they have climbed above .500 after 15 games. While the club did lose franchise icon Vladimir Guerrero, the parting seems like a good decision for both parties. Guerrero is a shell of his former self as he now hits for limited power and his unable to play in the field due to a bad knee. The Angels replaced Guerrero with reigning World Series MVP, Hideki Matsui, who has been a good fit into the Angels lineup. Matsui is a good, professional hitter who excels at working the count and feasting on pitchers mistakes. While Matsui has been good, the Angels have to be worried about former top prospect Brandon Wood, who has yet to figure out how to hit big league pitching. Wood was once thought to be a perennial contender for the batting title, but has struggled to hit  in several stints at the major league level.

by Josh Weiner at the Sports Fan Blog Network


Mentor’s effect is still felt

Ervin Santana will start the Angels’ third game of the season tonight against Minnesota, following Jered Weaver and Joe Saunders.

It’s a fitting trio of pitchers to open the season — all of them having been mentored in a way by departed ace John Lackey.

“It’s totally different (than a few years ago) when John had to lead three young guys,” said Weaver. “For me, Saunders and Santana, he set a tone. Now we all know what it’s like. We all know what a playoff atmosphere is like. There’s nobody holding anybody’s hands anymore.”

The Angels stuck with their first night batting order.

Jeff Mathis was behind the plate again, having earned the lead spot at catcher over slugger Mike Napoli with his defensive skills. It didn’t hurt that his first at-bat of the season was a home run Monday. He hit safely again Tuesday.

Click here to read the full article – By GREGG PATTON of The Press-Enterprise



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Angels are stuck with Matthews

It is the one deal the Angels simply can’t avoid this offseason, the one acquisition that never has been more obvious than it is today.

We’re talking, of course, about the signing of Gary Matthews Jr.


No, not again, but the first time, which, much like the undying TV career of Tim McCarver, has turned out to be more than enough for everyone.

Painfully more.

No matter what the Angels do or don’t do during the next two months, Matthews and the $23 million they still owe him will keep getting in the way. With each passing day, his signing becomes more and more a case of subtraction through addition.

By winning the 2002 World Series, former General Manager Bill Stoneman left a legacy with the Angels. By acquiring Matthews, he left an odor.



Click here to read the full article – By JEFF MILLER of THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER



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Troubling 3-year trend for Angels

The Angels are struggling to hit with runners in scoring position, .211 in five playoff games, just like 2007 and ‘08.



Lost amidst a three-game sweep of the Red Sox and five relatively effective performances from the starting pitchers is a most unwelcome playoff trend for the Angels.

The Angels are again having difficulty hitting with runners in scoring position, going 4 for 18 in the first two games of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees. They were 3 for 15 in Saturday’s 4-3 13-inning loss in Game 2.

If the Angels are to salvage the ALCS, they’re going to need to start hitting in the clutch, beginning with Game 3 today at Angel Stadium.


Click here to read the full article – By MICHAEL BECKER of PE.com



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Sox left dead Red

Torii Hunter emerged from the visitors’ clubhouse at Fenway Park to spray champagne over the fans and family gathered there. Erick Aybar did him one better, handing over bottles of bubbly to those who came from California to see the Los Angeles Angels go for the sweep.

History gave no reason to hope for such a celebration.

The Angels and Vladimir Guerrero shrugged off their postseason failures and swept away the Red Sox on Sunday, scoring three runs off Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth inning to beat Boston 7-6 and advance to the AL championship series.

It was the first postseason sweep in Angels franchise history. And they did it against the team that has knocked them out of the playoffs the previous four times they met.

“I told you guys earlier: It’s going to be a different scene,” Hunter said in the clubhouse afterward. “Vladdy came through. That’s probably one of the biggest hits of his career. They’ve been waiting for him to do it, and he did it.”

Papelbon was one strike away from extending the series with three different batters, but Aybar singled on a two-strike pitch, Chone Figgins walked after fouling off a full-count offering and Bobby Abreu fouled off three straight pitches before doubling in one run.

Hunter was walked intentionally before Guerrero singled the first pitch to center and Figgins and Abreu raced home to give Los Angeles a 7-6 lead. Major league saves leader Brian Fuentes pitched the ninth, and when Aybar caught Dustin Pedroia’s popup to end the game, pumping his right arm even as he tracked the ball with his left, the Angels advanced.

“It’s nice to be going home and playing again, instead of going home and it’s over,” said pitcher John Lackey, who was part of the Angels teams that were eliminated by Boston in three times in the previous five years. “This is the most fun for me, and I’ve got a ring. That says a lot.”


Click here to read the full article – By JIMMY GOLEN of DailyDemocrat.com



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Napoli is likely going to start Game 2 for Angels

Scioscia opts for more offense as the series goes on.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia preaches defense-first when it comes to choosing a catcher. But it will be Mike Napoli’s more potent bat in the lineup for at least the next two games against the Red Sox.

Jeff Mathis started Game 1 with John Lackey on the mound. Lackey’s starts might be the only post-season work Mathis gets.

Scioscia said Napoli will catch Jered Weaver in tonight’s Game 2. Scott Kazmir is scheduled to start Game 3 Sunday in Fenway Park. Napoli has been behind the plate for five of Kazmir’s six starts since he was acquired from Tampa Bay.

“Mike has worked well with Jered recently,” Scioscia said of Napoli who caught six of Weaver’s final eight starts of the regular season. “And Nap has a good rapport going with Kaz.”

Scioscia said his decisions on which catcher to use in the playoffs are “made with the same criteria” as they are during the regular season and he is no more swayed by Napoli’s offensive potential now than he was then.


Click here to read the full article – By BILL PLUNKETT of Ocregister.com



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