Angels Doing Nothing Well
Not that this assessment is original to anyone who has remotely followed the first week of the season. Due to a very full vacation schedule, I have, in fact only remotely followed opening week; and based on that alone it’s evident that the Angels are capable of being the mediocre team that many suspect they are. It looks like this is the formula:
- Starting pitching throws up a 3 or 4 spot for 5 innings and then Scioscia pats palm on butt.
- Offense throws up a 1 or 2 spot against the opposing starting pitcher.
- Middle relief is asked to come in for a few innings to maintain a surmountable deficit. The deficit grows insurmountable.
- Available innings elapse according to nine-inning rule and several runs differentiate the victor (Twins, A’s, Yankees) from the vanquished (The Angels Angels d’Anaheim).
Two telling statistics:
- The Angels rank last in all of baseball (tied with Houston) with 1 stolen base thus far.
- The Angels rank last in all of baseball (tied with Colorado) with a 33% stolen base success percentage (1 stolen base in 3 attempts).
Folks, these are not your older sibling’s Angels. I don’t have the time to go into a detailed analysis, but the signs so far indicate that this year’s offense is built to generate runs by way of high batting averages and extra base hits. Looking down the lineup, I see hitters capable of producing an average of 4-5 runs per game using such a strategy. Unfortunately, I see pitchers capable of giving up the same or more.
Last year, the Halos stood at 29–29 after 58 games. I expect this year’s initial two months to be even worse if we assume a 2–6 start means something; and I look forward to writing about Scioscia’s tactics to adapt a mediocre team to an improved league. He must realize now that he’s not going to have an exceptionally good offense, and I expect his focus will be on exploring ways to turn his pitching staff into an asset. It’s very unlikely that he’s going to have two starters who will post top-ten AL ERA numbers like he’s had during the past three years (well, I’m fudging a bit: in 2007 he had a #1 [Lackey] and a #8 [Escobar]; in 2008 he had a #7 [Saunders]and a #11 [Santana]; in 2009 he had a #9 [Weaver] and a #12 [Lackey]). Only Weaver has a career trajectory that superficially suggests he’s likely to pitch 200 innings and post a 3-and-a-half ERA this year. The potential of both Saunders and Santana rests on a single year’s success (2008 for both of them, coincidentally), and both of them followed up that breakout year with regressive performances; imagining that 34% or 25% of a player’s career as measured by innings pitched (of which Saunders’s 2008 comprises the former, and 2008 Santana the latter) amounts to wishful thinking (not that I don’t engage in a good amount of penny-in-fountain-tossing outside this space!). Pineiro and Kazmir fall into a similar category, though distinguish themselves by being relatively expensive pitchers whose potential value rests in the bet that of their divers past performances, the best ones are indicative.
Scioscia has to figure out a way to turn his starting rotation into a strength. Will we see Trevor Reckling be asked to do a Jered Weaver 2006 impression? Will we see a trade for The Other Santana?
As it stands now, I’m hoping that Joel Pineiro and Scott Kazmir collect zeroes against the Yankees in the Bronx. So you could say that as it stands now, I’m likely to be sitting very soon.
Is it still relevant to thank the heavens that we compete against the AL West? Having not watched any baseball, I can’t weigh in on what American Baseball West looks like this year.