Palm Springs Angels

From BR Bullpen

Team History[edit]

In 1986 the Redwood Pioneers of the California League relocated to Palm Springs, CA. The team, the first to be located there, was known as the Palm Springs Angels. The city was the spring training site for the California Angels and the team's attendance improved drastically to 47,547, though that was only 9th in the 10-team league. Managed by Tom Kotchman, the Angels went 48-23 in their first half, taking the southern division title, then followed that with a strong 39-32 second half, but they fell in the first round of the playoffs to the Visalia Oaks. They were second in runs (813) and ERA (3.89). The club boasted All-Star OF Doug Jennings (.317/.466/.550, the league leader in OBP and walks {117} and third in batting average. He was just 4 points off of the slugging lead and had 57 extra-base hits), RBI leader Ty Van Burkleo at first base (.268/~.389/.470, 22 HR, 108 RBI, 96 BB) and P Willie Fraser (9-2, 3.55, 9th in the league in ERA and voted as the #6 prospect by league managers). Closer Bryan Harvey (3-4, 15 Sv, 2.68, 68 K in 57 IP) and OF-3B Dante Bichette (.272/~.322/.539) went on to the best major-league careers.

Attendance rose to 52,313 as the Angels again finished 9th in the Cal League in that area. The club was 69-73, but finished 4th of 5 teams in the south in the first half and last in the second half (just 3 games out of first though!). The team, managed by Bill Lachemann, had one of the league's top hurlers, Tim Burcham (17-6, 3.11, tied for the league lead in wins and was 9th in ERA. He was voted the #9 prospect). The #5 prospect in the circuit was the club's other All-Star, 1B Lee Stevens (.244/~.322/.414, 97 RBI). OF Dan Grunhard (.306/~.380/.428, 28 SB) was fifth in the league in batting average. Starter Mike Fetters (9-7, 3.57) and OF Paul Sorrento (.224/~.352/.335) went on to solid careers in the majors.

The 1988 Palm Springs Angels won the first-half southern division title (40-31) but were worst in the second half (30-41). They won the first two playoff games from the Riverside Red Wave and were leading game three in the best-of-5 series entering the 8th but blew it and Riverside won the series 3 games to 2. The team moved up to 6th in attendance by drawing 60,222 customers to see Lachemann's squad. Colin Charland (17-5, 2.51) led the league in complete games (12) and tied for the lead in wins. He was second in ERA and split Pitcher of the Year honors with Doug Robertson. Sorrento improved in his second season with the team. Now playing first base and DH, Paul hit .286/~.425/.467 and was third in the league with 110 walks. Also drawing walks frequently was 2B-OF Ruben Amaro Jr. (.266/~.423/.341, 105 BB).

In 1989, Palm Springs was worst in the south in both halves with a total record of 60-82 under Lachemann and attendance again was 9th (69,129). No player had a great year, making the All-Star team or leading the league in a positive category. Don Vidmar (10-13, 3.39) allowed the most hits in the league (194) and Brandy Vann (11-14, 4.21) gave up the most runs (97). The only player to have a long major-league career was Roberto Hernández (1-4, 4.64 in 7 starts).

Nate Oliver replaced Lachemann in the managerial role in 1990 but the team again had a last-place finish (26-45 in the first half) and improved two games overall to 62-80. Attendance picked up slightly (76,462, 8th). Future California stars Jim Edmonds (.293/~.353/.417, 75 K in 314 AB) and Tim Salmon (.288/~.413/.390, 11 SB in 36 G) roamed the outfield while corner infielder Jim Aylward (.347/~.414/.484) was the most consistent offensive threat.

Palm Springs bounced back to 65-71 in their second year under Oliver though they fell to last in fans drawn (64,871). Edmonds repeated with the team and hit .294/~.419/.428, while returning 1B J.R. Phillips (.248/~.330/.431) hit 20 homers but led the league with 144 strikeouts.

Mario Mendoza assumed the reigns in 1992 and led the team to their best record since their first season, 72-63. They won the first-half title but for the third time fell in the opening round of the playoffs. SS Brian Grebeck (.336/.480/.398) led the league in OBP and was 4th in average but failed to make the All-Star team (the team had no All-Stars for the third straight year). Swingman Robbie Saitz (7-7, 3.41) was 7th in the California League in ERA. Troy Percival (1-1, 2 Sv, 5.06) allowed just 6 hits in 11 innings while striking out 16, but allowed 7 runs and walked 8. OF Garret Anderson (.323/~.364/.391) was voted as the #8 prospect in the circuit. They drew 89,645, 8th in the league.

The Angels slipped back in 1993, going 61-75 and tying for 8th place. Their attendance was their best yet, 105,039 and 6th in the Cal League. Mendoza's squad had two of the top 10 in ERA - Korey Keling (8-8, 3.29, 4th place) and Mark Ratekin (7-7, 3.89, 9th). Keith Morrison (14-6, 4.14) allowed 200 hits, the most in the league. OF Mark Sweeney hit .355/~.449/.490 in 66 games. The only All-Star was reliever John Pricher (3-5, 26 Sv, 3.17, 61 K and 41 H in 54 IP). Burcham returned as a blast from the past after being the superstar six years earlier. He was 6-5 with a 3.43 ERA that year.

In 1994 the team moved to Lake Elsinore, CA and became the Lake Elsinore Storm.

Sources: Various Baseball Almanacs and Baseball Guides

Year-by-Year Record[edit]

Year Record Finish Manager Playoffs Hitting Coach Pitching Coach
1986 87-55 1st Tom Kotchman Lost in 1st round Chuck Hernandez
1987 69-73 7th Bill Lachemann Tim Kelly
1988 70-72 7th Bill Lachemann Reggie Lambert Gary Ruby
1989 60-82 8th Bill Lachemann Don Long Kernan Ronan
1990 62-80 8th Nate Oliver Kernan Ronan
1991 65-71 6th Nate Oliver Mario Mendoza Stu Cliburn
1992 72-63 5th Mario Mendoza Lost in 1st round Gene Richards Stu Cliburn
1993 61-75 8th (t) Mario Mendoza Gene Richards Howie Gershberg