Los Angeles Angels Roundtable: Riley Breckenridge


So far, we have spoken to Eric Denton, Sam Miller and Garrett Wilson of LA Angels Insider, Baseball Prospectus and Monkey With A Halo, respectively. You can read their interviews here, here and here. This link paragraph is only going to get longer. And today, we add another to the series in Riley Breckenridge.

Some of you who read this blog, know me on Twitter, or are friends of mine on Facebook, or you’re my mom. Most of you who read here, do not know me. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a huge music fan. My wife is rather annoyed by it, actually. She found a box recently filled with CD’s (I’d rather say records, but those of you who know that records are records would oust me as a liar). She counted out 500 or so. And that may have been a third of my actual collection. Maybe.

Anyway, Thrice, easily sits near the top of my list of preferred artists. So you can imagine how floored I was to find out their drummer (the aforementioned Riley Breckenridge) was not just a baseball fan, but an Angels fan as well. You can read his Battle of Los Angeles column on Getting Blanked, as well as learn the full meaning of Dadlap, Dadhat and how Derp pertains to baseball at Productive Outs.

You’ve listened to me for long enough. Ladies and gentlemen, Riley Breckenridge.

No need to beat around the bush. This team has been a total disappointment this season. What has been the worst part for you?

Ugh. Man, it’s tough to pick one thing that I’d identify as “THE WORST”. I really can’t decide between whether it’s the output (read: failure) of Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols and the terms/length of their contracts; or that they were signed instead of bolstering a weak pitching staff; or that the pieces brought in to fill out the starting rotation have been awful (Joe Blanton), sporadic-but-mostly-awful (Tommy Hanson) or decent-but-unlucky (Jason Vargas); or that the pieces brought in to strengthen the bullpen (Ryan Madson and Sean Burnett) haven’t been able to contribute at all; or that the minor league system is widely-considered to be the worst in baseball; or that there’s absolutely no quick-fix available and things are bound to get worse before they get better. It’s been beyond frustrating, and honestly, if I didn’t have a weekly column to write and people who I consider friends battling night in and night out for the team I would have tuned out … or at least not made it a point to watch 95% of the games this season.

That’s not to say that there haven’t been bright spots. Most specifically, Mike Trout. Have his performances crossed into, ho-hum-I’ve-seen-a-Mike-Trout-hustle-double-before, or does he still amaze you?

He’s still amazing. His ABs are must-watch. His speed is electrifying. His defense (aside from his arm) is stellar. I just feel lucky to have the opportunity to watch a guy who’s the best all-around player in baseball play in the uniform of my favorite team (until 2018, when he heads to Philadelphia and signs a record-breaking contract). I’m just soaking it up while I still can.

You’ve traveled all over the world with Thrice. Do you have a favorite stadium other than the Big-A? Why?

Disclaimer: I don’t really like the Big A. I hate the rock pile, I feel like the concessions are poor, the sight lines are lacking, the bathrooms are gross and it kinda feels like it’s falling apart.

That said, I really haven’t been to as many stadiums as I’d like, but if I were to make a shortlist of my favorites, it’d probably read: 1) Comerica Park — a gem, with incredible sightlines and concessions in an otherwise depressing city, 2) Camden Yards — beautiful and tucked away in another fairly depressing city, and 3) Safeco Field — great concessions and beer, disenchanted fan base, and a comfortable spot to take in a game.

Have you ever seen a game live in another country? If so, how does it differ from seeing a game in the states?

Sadly, I have not.

Before the season, Peter Bourjos was a lightning rod for criticism from fans, they saw no reason to move Mike Trout in favor of an inferior hitter. If you were Jerry Dipoto, would you have made the same move? Or would you have shipped Peter out?

I think Bourjos is a better centerfielder. His reads are better, his first step is better, his arm is better, his range is a tad better, and I think the difference between the two in foot speed is negligible. That’s not a knock on Trout as much as it’s praise for Bourjos. He’s a tremendous defensive player. Sure, he’s nowhere close to the offensive player that Trout is, but centerfield is a premiere defensive position, and if you can upgrade there you absolutely should.

Mark Trumbo. Under-valued, or over-valued by fans?

I’m actually not sure how he’s valued by fans. I’ve stayed away from Halos-centric comment sections and message boards and the like for a couple of years. If I were to guess about how fans value him, I’d say he’s probably under-valued. He’s a .250+/30+/100+ guy who is dirt cheap (for now), has been playing out of position for two years and hasn’t complained a lick, he works his ass off and is a tremendous clubhouse guy. He’s a rare breed.

Up until getting placed on the DL, Jason Vargas was easily the Angels most consistent starter. Considering the lack of organizational depth at the pitching position, would you extend Vargas, or let him walk and hope for a compensated draft pick?

It’s a tough call, but if he comes through this blood clot mess OK I’d probably extend him., especially since the 2014 Free Agent class of starters is mostly underwhelming.

I get annoyed. Easily. Too easily sometimes. It annoys me that Matt Harvey (Angels third round pick in 2007) and Patrick Corbin (Dan Haren trade) are tearing the National League apart. Am I right to be pulling my hair out about this? Or should I stop assaulting my hairline?

I think you can’t really predict how prospects are going to pan out, and shouldn’t lose too much sleep (or hair) over whether they do or don’t. Harvey was a tough sign in 2007, and the Haren trade for Corbin, Skaggs and Saunders was good for the Angels up until last year. It’s amusing to me that Dipoto pulled that deal off while he was with the D-Backs and now he’s stuck with the shit end of the stick. Past Dipoto screwed Future Dipoto. It’s like a plot of a really boring baseball-themed sci-fi movie.

Does Jered Weaver‘s ineffectiveness scare this piss out of you? Not just because of depth, but because its Jered (expletive) Weaver.

Nah. He’s coming around. Coming back from four or five weeks on the shelf takes a while, rounding into peak form after Spring Training takes a while. I just wish his velocity coming back and his effectiveness returning could have happened in early May rather than early July.

With the trade deadline approaching, I don’t envision the Angels being sellers. The high-priced contracts make it difficult to rebuild. But, if they are in the same situation next year (with Howie Kendrick, Erick Aybar and Jered Weaver at the tail end of their deals), does “selling” become imperative?

If they’re in the same situation next season I’m taking a break from baseball. (That’s a lie.)

That’s a tough question. Moving Kendrick, Aybar, and/or Weaver for prospects at the deadline in 2014 would seem like a fire sale and I think Arte Moreno is too proud to do that, even if it’s a prudent baseball decision.

Rapid Fire Round

Which contract would you do-over? Albert Pujols or Josh Hamilton?

Probably Pujols’. The length of that deal, the decline in his production, and rumors about his age being closer to 37 than 33 makes me think that having ALL OF THE MONEY headed in his general direction until 2021 is a bigger mess than stuffing a boatload of money into Hamilton’s pockets until 2017.

Stadium food or, eat before you get there?

Most of the time, the fiancé and I do stadium food. It’s almost always regrettable, but it’s a tradition of shame, encased meatparts and overpriced beer that we intend to uphold.

Dogs, cats, or some other furry creature?

Dogs. No question. Cats are hairy, neurotic birds and I hate them.

Mike Trout or Bryce Harper?

Trout. And that’s a total homer pick.

Can I have your autograph? Just kidding. But seriously, can I?


Final Thought

Zack Greinke Is not setting the world on fire in L.A., Dan Haren has further declined in Washington and Ervin Santana is having fine season for the Royals. Would you rather have those three over the three-headed monster that is Joe Blanton, Tommy Hanson and Jason Vargas? And no, you can’t mix and match between the six.

Yes. I love Greinke’s stuff and demeanor and wish they could have kept him. Why they didn’t break the bank signing him instead of throwing money at Hamilton (mercurial), Madson (injury-prone) and Blanton (bad … just bad) is something I’ll never understand. I was never a huge Ervin Santana fan (because he was so frustratingly inconsistent), but Santana’s worst outings are what Joe Blanton is every fifth day. (That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you know what I mean.) With Santana starts, there was at least the hope that he’d be “on” that day. With Blanton, it just feels like the game is lost before it even begins. I liked Haren a lot and was sorry to see health issues derail what had been a long streak of consistency. He wanted to stay in So Cal and probably would have done so at a discount. Even at his worst, I’d take him as a back end starter over Blanton and Hanson. For the record, I liked the Vargas deal.

Last question. For those who don’t know (even though they should), what is Productive Outs?

It’s a baseball-centric twitter feed, podcast and blog run by my friend Ian Miller and myself. We were bumming out the people who followed us on our personal twitter accounts by incessantly tweeting about baseball stuff, so we combined forces to find a places to spew all of our goofy, irreverent (but sometimes insightful) thoughts about the game we love under the Productive Outs moniker. We’ve been overwhelmed by the response to whatever the hell it is that we do, and have a blast doing it.

Check out Productive Outs as well as Getting Blanked. Do it. Do it now.

Thank you Riley for being a part of this. Up next on our week long run of interviews is Matt Welch.