New Manager Mike Scioscia is confident his rotation will be strong enough for the Angels to contend for the American League West title, and the organization is so confident season-ticket holders will approve of the on-field product that it has offered them a money-back guarantee.
If fans are not satisfied with the Angels after 16 home games, they can cancel their season tickets by April 30 and be refunded for the balance of the season. Called a “Good Faith Guarantee,” it is the first time in franchise history the Angels have made such an offer.
With season-ticket renewals down 20% to 25% this season, the guarantee also could lure a few dissatisfied Angel fans back to the fold in the aftermath of last season’s last-place finish.
No interest will be payable in connection with any refund sums, and cancellation of season tickets constitutes a waiver by the season-ticket holder of any rights in regard to seat locations for future seasons.
“Part of it is showing our confidence in the team, and part of it is giving the fans a choice,” said Tim Mead, Angel vice president of communications. “We appreciate their commitment.”
There are no Roberto Alomars among the seven players battling for the second-base job, but there are no butchers either.
So if defense doesn’t separate the candidates, Scioscia probably will base his decision on who best fits the Angels’ offensive needs while providing competent defense.
“The ideal second baseman is a high on-base percentage guy who can hit first or second in the order, and defense is always important,” Scioscia said. “You’re never going to get the perfect player at any position, but the guy has to have enough assets to contribute.”
Scott Spiezio entered camp as the front-runner because he is the only one of the group signed to a major-league contract, and the fact he is a switch-hitter and has decent power adds to his versatility.
But Justin Baughman, if he continues to show that his speed has returned after breaking his lower left leg in five places in 1998, may be a better fit for the Angels.
Mo Vaughn, Tim Salmon, Jim Edmonds, Troy Glaus, Garret Anderson and Darin Erstad should provide plenty of power, but Baughman’s speed is something the Angels have lacked for years.
Of the other second-base candidates--Spiezio, Pat Kelly, Jason Bates, Carlos Garcia, Benji Gil and Trent Durrington--only Durrington can come close to matching Baughman’s speed.
“I think whoever shows things at the plate besides hitting for average and power will have the edge,” said Baughman, who has impressed Angel coaches so far with his running ability.
“Maybe I’m just hoping these are the things they’re looking for because I can do those things, and that’s how I’m going to make the team. They know we can all play defense, but I think they’re looking for speed.”
The Angels have restored six Sunday home games to the traditional 1 p.m. start time this season.
When Disney bought the Angels in 1996, the company shifted many Sunday games to 5 p.m. because of increased ticket sales.
Opposing teams complained about late-night flights home after Sunday evening games, and some Angel players asked to spend that one night per week at home with their families.
Seven Sunday games, all in mid-summer, will start at 5 p.m.