Monday, April 6, 2009

Opening Day and #39

Series Preview: Angels vs. Oakland, 4/6-4/9

After a seemingly endless offseason and an interminably long spring training, the Angels start playing games that count tonight at 6:05 Pacific. With the rotation in shambles, Joe Saunders gets the opening night start versus Oakland's Dallas Braden. If you though the Angels had rotation issues, just look at the A's.

The first couple weeks of the season will hinge on two things: The ability of the Loux/Adenhart/Moseley complex to somehow pitch reliably, and the offense's ability to pretend it's still spring training.

I'm curious as to who earns catching duties for this game, as Napoli provides all sorts of upside, but Mathis hasn't just come off the DL. If Napoli can stay in the lineup consistently, we might see 30+ homers from the catching platoon, an infrequent (if not unheard-of) occurrence in Angels history.

We'll see Moseley and Loux before Weaver gets the final game of the series on Thursday. The Angels will be playing the Red Sox next, a hell of a team for 22 year-old Adenhart to make his first start of the season.

More analysis pending the outcome of tonight's game, as I'm enormously bored with preseason prognostication.

Northeastern Huskies

We'll miss you, buddy.

Brad Thiessen, junior journalism major and owner of most of Northeastern's goalie records, has signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the next two seasons, as previously reported. He'll be playing with Joe Vitale with the AHL's Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins, lovingly known as the "Baby Pens."

Thiessen, now wearing #1, will look for playing time behind former BU sieve John Curry and former Denver sieve Adam Berkhoel. Berkhoel's something of an AHL journeyman and Curry is likely to be backing up Marc-Andre Fleury with the Big Pens next season, so Thiessen will likely see substantial ice time in the AHL, with a possible call-up next season. It seems more likely we'll see him wearing a backwards cap on the bench in Pittsburgh two seasons from now. Vitale (now wearing #18) should make it up there right around the same time, as he has a real shot at being a 3rd or 4th line center with scoring touch and a physical presence. If one or both make the team, I'm going to have to buy another stupid jersey, this time for a team I don't even really like. Too bad they didn't sign with the Kings.

Thiessen leaves as, arguably, Northeastern greatest goalie, and the primary reason this team rose to national prominence after a truly awful 3-win season in 2005/2006. Without Thiessen, Greg Cronin doesn't win HEA coach of the year and we never see players like McNeely, MacLeod, Quailer, and Tuckerman. It's difficult to understate the immense impact he's had on the program, but suggestions that the team will return to utter futility are overblown. With that said, Thiessen makes Northeastern a definite national title contender next year, while they will probably be fighting for home-ice instead. A shame, but hey, the kid probably got a signing bonus approaching $100,000 and earns a minimum of $825,000/year if he manages to make it into the NHL.

Not bad for a farm boy from western Canada. Best of luck, Thiess.

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