It's our second Q&A of the year, and this time, much like last, it's from a Very Special Person. It's our friend Riley Breckenridge joining us this time. You may know Riley from his appearance on the podcast a few years ago, you may know him from Productive Outs and the PRODcast, you may know him from his bands Thrice and Puig Destroyer, the former of which is reuniting this year and playing a bunch of shows. The latter of which plays baseball-themed grindcore and was played to Yasiel Puig in the MLB Fan Cave (R.I.P). last year.
We like Riley. We don't like the Angels. Onto the questions and answers.
Now that we're a few days removed from the drama and subsequent meltdown at Halos Heaven, what are your thoughts on the controversy and the future of the Angels blogosphere?
Yikes. What a mess that was. That Hamilton post was in such poor taste, the comments on the post in support of the author were really disheartening, and the farewell post exhibited a real lack of remorse, responsibility and self-awareness. I think the intent with that farewell post was to go out guns blazing, but it ended up reading more like a manifesto from the last guy left in a dive bar who's standing on a barstool, beating his chest and screaming at a ceiling fan. I thought SB Nation handled the whole thing as well as they could have given the circumstances.
I used to read HH sparingly, but never really felt comfortable in the comment sections because they were so cliquey. And instead of the person who ran the site acting as a moderator and facilitator, there was a weird combativeness that never sat well with me. And when that attitude was supported and encouraged by a majority of posters on the site, it didn't really foster healthy discussion or growth.
As far as the future of the Angels blogosphere is concerned, I wish SBN could clone Grant Brisbee and have him start a new Angels blog for the network. Can we make that happen? In the meantime, I'll be perfectly content on "Baseball Twitter" — plenty of varying opinions, and much less insular and echo chamber-ish than the Angels communities I've seen.
2) Even with Mike Trout being Superman minus the weakness to kryptonite this feels like a roster trending down. With the org's checkered free agents history how much hope do you have that the Angels can develop enough talent to keep the team competitive during Trout's prime?
God bless Mike Trout. If it weren't for him (and Garrett Richards starts, and the odd, childlike magnetic energy of Johnny Giavotella) I could probably survive on one Angels game a week instead of five or six. My Angels fandom has waned (or spread to other team/players a bit) over the past three seasons, but my appreciation of Trout's freakish abilities has not. You can't "not watch" a generational talent. You just can't.
Hope? Uh ... let's get grim.
I really don't have much hope. They were surprisingly pretty damn good last season. I see them as "wildly average" this season, and based on how their roster/system is built I think things are bound to get worse before they get any better. They basically have no LF, no C, no DH, no 2B (sorry, Johnny G ... this is not sustainable) and no back end of the rotation (yet). David Freese is in a walk year. Weaver is clearly declining. Wilson is a coin-flip. Shoemaker seems like regression candidate. And next year's free agent class kinda looks like the 25th round of your fantasy draft. Yeah, I don't have much hope that they can plug holes that way. So they have Trout, G Rich, Aybar (until 2016), Calhoun aaaaaand ... not much else to feel good about going forward.
Maybe that's just me though. I'm not one who believes in prospect hype all that much, at least when Angels' prospects are concerned. You can blame that on a dearth of talent in the minor league system over the past half decade or so, plus the magnificent flameouts of Brandon Wood, Dallas McPherson, the lesser busts of Joe Torres, Trevor Reckling and so on. So when I see names like Heaney, Skaggs, Tropeano, Newcomb, etc. I get a little excited, but I've been conditioned to not expect all that much. The lack of position players on the list of "prospects" I'm excited about is not a coincidence either. There is really no position player to be legitimately excited about. I don't think that's a good thing.
If they can keep Arte Moreno from pushing through another awful impulse buy or trade (see: Gary Matthews Jr., Vernon Wells, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, CJ Wilson, etc.) and let Jerry Dipoto do his thing (rebuild the minor league system, take low-risk fliers on FAs, make medium-risk trades) for a few more years I think they might start building something sustainable. I just don't know how likely that is. It seems like Moreno has to have an albatross at all times (Matthews, Wells, Hamilton, Pujols).
3) What would C.J. Cron's job be if he were not a baseball player?
He'd have the lead role in the live-action version of Shrek On Ice, or a member of The Geek Squad who talks about his college baseball career instead of fixing your computer.
4) Revisiting a previous podcast topic, please provide favorite bands for each of the following players and reasons why:
Vernon Wells: Dorothy Norwood, because a google search has revealed that she has a song called "Too Blessed To Be Stressed" which might explain this tweet.
Gary Matthews, Jr: Steve Miller Band, because he probably had "Take The Money And Run" on repeat after he signed his deal with the Angels.
Dallas McPherson: Public Enemy, because "Don't Believe The Hype" is/was the story of his baseball career.
Joe Saunders: The Replacements, because when I think of a replacement-level left-handed starting pitcher I can't help but think of Joe Saunders.
Links to all of the baseball-related output that Ian Miller and I shove into the Internet ether (a mildly amusing podcast, inane tweets, horrible photoshop jobs and bad jokes) can be found via www.productiveouts.com and @productiveouts. Our super-heavy baseball-themed metal band born of a joke on the aforementioned podcast can be found at www.puigdestroyer.com and @puigdestroyer. My livelihood (my band, Thrice) has recently Favre'd (read: unretired) and is playing shows again. You can find all the details at www.thrice.net and @officialthrice. And finally, for non-baseball stuff (music, food, more bad jokes) you can follow me @rileybreck.