I traded questions with WiHaloFan of our SBN sister-station, Halos Heaven. Here's his answers to my questions, check out my answers to his, but remember to always play nice in enemy territory.
1) Do you think the sweep of the Red Sox was more enjoyable for Angel’s fans or Yankee fans? Why?
Although I understand the "feelings" Yankee and Red Sox fans have for each other, the sweep of the Red Sox was infinitely more enjoyable for Angels’ fans. It’s been 23 years since we watched Brian Downing hide his face in the left field wall as Dave Henderson’s home run went out. This season’s sweep goes a long way in helping to erase getting swept in the first round in 2004 and 2005, losing in last year’s ALDS after completely dominating the Sox during the regular season, and having to put up with all of the transplanted chowds invading our home like some unemployed brother-in-law with bad hygiene, slurred speech and uncontrollable flatulence. Allowing one combined run in the first two games was sweet, but the way the Angels came back in game three was as enjoyable as tossing that brother-in-law out on his ass, especially when his name is "Papelbon".
2) Where does Bobby Abreu rank among great Angel free agent signings? Abreu's defense was one of the big reasons he was let go, how's he looked this year to you?
It’s probably a little early to say he’s the second best free agent acquisition in Angels history, but there’s no denying the impact he’s had on the Angels offense this season…at a discount price. Vladimir Guererro may be the greatest Angel hitter, but you seldom hear about his contributions in the clubhouse in the same way the players talk about Abreu. That’s not a knock on Vlad, but I doubt the career-best seasons Erick Aybar, Chone Figgins, and Maicer Izturis had were just coincidence after being exposed to Abreu’s approach to the game. It’s not often you hear a player like Torii Hunter say; "He’s my favorite player".
I admit I was skeptical about Abreu’s defense when the Angels signed him. After all, good defense has been one of the cornerstones to successful Angels baseball. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how good he’s been. Okay, let me rephrase that, I’m surprised he hasn’t been as bad as I thought he’d be. Looking into his fielding numbers, he posted his best range factor since 2004 while having his best arm rating of his career. Although his UZR was -9.9, that was far better than what he showed last season with the Yankees. He’s said he loves it in Anaheim, could that have been a factor?
3) What's the make or break component of the Angels' offense?
Luck? (Here’s a secret: if you want to get under an Angel fan’s skin, just tell him his team is the luckiest in baseball. We’re SO tired of hearing that one!) But seriously, a lot of people talk about the Angels running and their ability to go first-to-third being their primary weapon, but in my opinion their secret is being able to score with two outs. The Angels were one of only two teams in the American league (the other being the Sux) who scored more runs with two outs in an inning. This was demonstrated by Sunday’s Game Three 2-out comeback, as the Angels never quit.
4) Why will the pitching staff be able to stop the Yankees?
Who said they can? The Yankees scored more runs than any other team in baseball.
Oh wait, the Angels pitchers have allowed their fewest home runs and fewest walks, had their best ERA, their most wins and strike outs, and best WHIP since September 1st. As demonstrated by John Lackey and Jered Weaver against the Red Sox, the Angels starters are peaking at the right time. And, having the best one-thru-four starters in the league, the Angels can string together multiple shut-down innings over numerous games. Okay, the bullpen hasn’t been lights out, but they too have improved as the season progressed and have been performing much better than earlier this year.
After having to listen to all of the crap about how the Red Sox have dominated the Angels in the post season, it'd be hypocritical to mention how well the Angels have done against the Yankees, but...
5) What sort of weapons do the Angels have off the bench?
Robb Quinlan. Enough said.
I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist. Although Quinlan must be one of Mike Scioscia’s favorite players (how else do you explain him being on the team), the Angels’ bench offers nothing to be too afraid of. Other than whoever’s not starting at second base, either Maicer Izturis or Howie Kendrick and Mike Napoli if Jeff Mathis is behind the plate, the Angels bench features the unspectacular threesome of Reggie Willits, Gary Matthews Jr., and Quinlan. Expect to see Willits run for Guererro late in the game, but other than that, the bench won’t be a factor.
Thanks to WiHaloFan for taking the time fill us in on our opponents. 55 hours until game time...