10/04/05 8:00 PM ET
Notes: The power of speed
Angels plan to employ running game to counter Yanks' bats
By Mike Scarr / MLB.com
Starting with Chone Figgins at the top of the lineup, the Angels will look to exploit an advantage that allowed them to lead the Majors with 161 stolen bases. Against the Yankees this season, the Angels were successful in 21 of 27 stolen-base attempts and in this series will look to disrupt the rhythm of Yankees' pitchers.
"That's our game and that's my job, to create havoc," said Figgins, who led the Majors with 62 steals this season. "If the stolen base is there, I'll take it, but it's not just stealing bases; it's going first to third and taking the extra base. We have to keep up the pressure."
The Yankees hit 229 homers to the Angels' 147 while scoring 125 more runs. Where the Yankees will be able sit back and wait for their offense to take control, the Angels will have to remain aggressive and it starts with the running game.
"If we sit back and get in a slugfest with those guys, it is going to be very, very difficult for us," manager Mike Scioscia said. "So we need to keep creating offensively and I'm sure they are going to pay attention to try to stop that."
Western empire: Angels owner Arte Moreno has made it no secret that he's out to build a perennial powerhouse with his ballclub that not only is the class of the American League but also dominates the local marketplace.
Moreno has been aggressive at both positioning his ballclub from a business standpoint as well as spending to improve the product on the field. Under his ownership, the Angels have already opened the pocketbook for big-money free agents such as Vladimir Guerrero and Bartolo Colon, and the results have been two straight division titles.
For Moreno, though, it's not just about spending money; it's about building an organization.
"We would like to build a team that year in and year out competes, but we really want to achieve long-term consistency" Moreno said. "Until you get another championship, I don't think anyone is satisfied."
The Angels lacked power this season, but did not swing a deadline deal for a middle-of-the-order hitter to help punch up the offense. General manager Bill Stoneman did not feel at the time there was a player worth gutting the Minor League system for a short-term rental.
Moreno indicated Tuesday, though, there will be no hesitation this winter to add a player if it's the right fit for the organization. And he has no plans to cut payroll for 2006.
"If we find the player that we believe is going to help us win a championship, then we're going to make that adjustment," Moreno said.
Bleeding red: Scioscia spent his playing career with the Dodgers and appeared on the fast track to become manager of that club at some point in his future. But things change and Scioscia instead became manager of the Angels in 2000, leading them to a World Series title in 2002 and recently back-to-back AL West crowns.
With the Dodgers letting manager Jim Tracy go Monday, there is an opening in Chavez Ravine and speculation has turned to Scioscia. But he's not interested.
"I couldn't be in a better environment for us to achieve our goals," Scioscia said. "From everything from what Arte has committed to this organization, from the top down to the Minors couldn't be better. Nobody has a crystal ball, but I don't know if there is a better managerial job out there in baseball."
Power 'pen: Ervin Santana took over the fifth spot in the rotation this season when Kelvim Escobar could not overcome elbow trouble, and he held his own by going 12-8 in his rookie year. Despite that showing and his success at Yankee Stadium in July, Santana will throw out of the bullpen at least during the first round of the playoffs.
But the addition of Santana adds considerable power to a relief corps that is aggressive and would rather challenge hitters than nibble at the corners. Scioscia said Santana's primary duty will be as a long man, but they'll also try to keep him fresh for extra innings.
Cease-fire: Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle attended Tuesday's ALDS opener, putting aside temporarily his dispute with the club and its decision to change its name this season to Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The city of Anaheim is suing the team in hopes of restoring the previous name of Anaheim Angels. A trial date is set for Jan. 9.
Honored: Former Angels closer Troy Percival threw out the first pitch Tuesday. Though now a member of the Detroit Tigers, the Angels thought it fitting to hand the ball to the man who was on the mound for all three clinching games in the 2002 postseason.
"This organization has been good to me and they called and asked me to do it, and thought it would be a nice gesture," Percival said. "I was honored because this is a big deal for the organization. This solidifies that they're a powerhouse in this league."
Percival suffered an elbow injury this season, but said he would not opt for surgery, fearing that would delay and possibly prevent his return.
"I'm going to try it this way. We'll see how it goes," Percival said.
No need for replay: Mark Sweeney of the Padres was called safe in a close play at first base in Game 1 of the National League Division Series between the Padres and Cardinals earlier Tuesday. But replays appeared to show that Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols beat Sweeney to the bag.
Instant replay has become an integral part of correcting missed calls in pro and now college football, while basketball uses it to clarify issues related to the clock. But Scioscia believes it has no place in baseball.
"Umpiring of baseball has been around since Day 1 and some calls are missed, but most of the time they get it right," Scioscia said. "Instant replay in baseball? I don't know if it is ever going to be such a plus that is should be a part of our game. There are plays that are going to be bang bang. But you have to absorb that and play good baseball."
Mike Scarr is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.