The Week That Was
Southern California’s Burgeoning Pissing Contest: The Leader In The Clubhouse
Nobody? Successful small market teams like the A’s, Rays and Braves? Entropy?
God, this is depressing.
The low(est) point for the Angels was probably Mike Scioscia burning his DH spot on Saturday in a 10-inning, 5-4 loss to the Orioles. Sosh saw fit to use both of his rostered catchers in the lineup (Chris Iannetta behind the dish and Hank Conger at DH). Late in the game, he (forever insistent on utilizing LHB vs. RHP or RHB vs. LHP lineups), pinch hit Scott Cousins for Iannetta in the bottom of the eighth and moved Conger behind the plate (eliminating his DH spot and giving himself, in essence, a mutant NL lineup). Then, in the top of the ninth (in an effort to potentially get more innings out of demoted-starter-turned-reliever Garrett Richards) he shelved Howie Kendrick for Brendan Harris, which led to Harris botching a (crucial) routine double play that ultimately cost the Halos the game. It was confusing, confounding and inexplicable. And, in a glorious exhibit of Scioscialism (and after he was heavily questioned about his lineup tinkering following the loss on Saturday), he extended a firm middle finger to all doubters and used both rostered catchers again in Sunday’s game (which they lost). *sigh*
Across town, the Dodgers have been crippled by injuries. Hanley Ramirez is out again after pulling his hamstring, Adrian Gonzalez was a late scratch in each game of a weekend set against the San Francisco Giants with a sore neck, Ted Lilly has been shelved with a case of what can be perceived as awfulness, Chad Billingsley’s arm exploded and Mark Ellis has been out with a quadricep injury (but not placed on the DL until he’d already been out for 10 days). Good luck. They have none of it. The Ellis situation, and why he wasn’t put on the DL sooner, just reeks of poor roster management. *double sigh*
These are dark days, my friends.
Box Score Of The Week
LAA – Jason Vargas: 5/3 vs. BAL – 9 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, CGSHO
It’s been damn near impossible to find much to be positive about with regard to the Angels pitching staff this season. They’ve used every single pitcher on their 40-man roster and it’s May 7th for crying out loud. Vargas’ start on Friday night at the Big A was a tiny glimmer of hope (a needle in a shitstack, if you will) that it’s not entirely bad. That said (and given the Angels’ luck thus far) he’ll probably last three innings and give up eight ER on 85 pitches in his next start.
LAD – Brandon League: 5/4 vs. SFG – 1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, K
Following Saturday night’s game — in which he gave up a walkoff bomb to Giants third-string catcher Guillermo Quiroz — League had given up runs in the three consecutive appearances and five of his last seven. No matter what Don Mattingly would lead you to believe, Brandon League is not a reliable arm for high-leverage situations. (You can take his eight saves this season and shove ‘em in whatever receptacle you prefer to keep your garbage stats in.) He’s especially not a reliable arm when you’ve got a beast like Kenley Jansen in your bullpen. It’ll be fascinating (and frustrating for Dodgers fans) to see how long it takes Donnie Baseball & Co. to figure that out.
AL & NL West Standings Update
LAA – 11-20 (4th place)
LAD – 13-16 (4th place)
I’m noticing a theme here.
Headline Of The Week
Unfortunately — due to the remarkable shitshow that was the first-round of the NBA playoffs for the Lakers and Clippers — the A-List trolls from the LA Times and OC Register (Simers*, Plaschke, J. Miller, et al) have dedicated their focus to reaming the players, coaches and front offices of said teams. It’s a damn shame, since there’s been a ton of trollworthy baseball played in SoCal over the past week(s), but I get it. It’s a long season. There will be plenty of time to troll. We’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming next week.
In lieu of horrible journalism, I’d advise you to read this Ken Rosenthal piece. Let it sink in a bit. For Dodgers fans, it’s a nibble of schadenfreude. For Angels fans, it’s another reason for your face to get acquainted with your palm.
The Pujols, Wilson and Hamilton signings (and the Greinke trade, for the most part) make it seem like the Angels are desperate to put butts in seats via big splashes on the free agent and trade markets. That might, in fact, be the case. Clearly, it’s not working. Attendance is down this year. Passive Angels fans (the ones who don’t/won’t/can’t go to a ton of games) don’t buy tickets because of big offseason or trade deadline moves. They come because the team is winning and the Big A is a fun place to be. At the moment, they’re not and it’s not. Winning doesn’t always happen because you snag the biggest fish available.
As Rosenthal states in his piece, the Halos canned scouting director Eddie Bane in 2010, leaving the team’s scouting department rudderless. The status of the farm system (the worst in baseball according to … almost everyone who matters) reflects that. Bringing in Dipoto as GM in 2011 got most forward-thinking Halos fans excited because he’s widely considered to be a guy who values both old-school scouting and new-school sabermetrics. Dipoto is in the process of rebuilding/refocusing his scouting department according to his bent, but that’s not something the organization would see the fruits of for several years.
Dipoto’s methodology doesn’t seem like it would vibe all that well with paying truckloads of money to big ticket free agents who are in their 30s. And that’s why those big moves reek of decisions being made by businessmen rather than baseball-minded people. I think the the unfortunate state of the Angels lies directly on the shoulders of Arte Moreno and his cronies, and I’m not sure that that is the right way to run an organization. Owners should cut checks. GMs and scouting personnel should handle player drafting and acquisition. There should be some overlap, some give-and-take in both regards, but it should never seem as lopsided as it does with the Angels. The vision is cloudy at best.
The Halos are built to “win now” at all costs (and if you look at the money they’re on the hook for over the next few years, you’ll realize that as you vomit into your lap), and they’re not “winning now”, which is why they appear to be incredibly screwed going forward, and the most frustrating thing is that I (and many folks) cannot figure out how to right the ship for the life of us.
*And of course, as I was a bout to file this beast of a wordscape, T.J. Simers did what T.J. Simers does, and published one of his patented trollbits about the Dodgers struggles. I have neither the time (given the circumstances), nor do I think that I have the attention to parse it for y’all, but take a gander at it and try to figure out why an athlete, manager, or owner of a LA/OC sports team hasn’t disembowelled this clown.
Quote Of The Week (From Either Side)
From Kevin Baxter’s “Angels’ Mark Trumbo doesn’t want to be labeled” on 4/28 for the LA Times.
Trumbo on being labeled “streaky”.
“I don’t want to be labeled as that type of player. A peaks-and-valleys guy,” said Trumbo, who is striving to become “a steady contributor”.
You’re damn right, he doesn’t. Who would? Trumbo has been a pillar for the struggling Angels this season, and I’m not sure a beat writer hunkering down in the clubhouse and/or doling out backhanded “compliments” does much for the clubhouse culture (or a beat writer’s player/manager-accessibility). Its a ridiculous thing to ask, insinuate and pursue for a lead. If Trumbo’s output thus far is a bright spot in an otherwise dim situation, maybe talk about in-game adjustments? At-bat approach? Offseason regimen?
There are a thousand things to write about this Angels team. Their best player being “streaky” is not one of them.
From Bill Shaikin’s “Dodgers aren’t sweating getting swept by Giants”
Don Mattingly on the Dodgers going 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position against the Giants on Sunday.
”Did you watch the game? Seriously? We were fine,” Mattingly said. “I’ll take those at-bats all day, every day. … I can’t be disappointed with the result. At some point, you ask guys to win battles, to win your at-bats. You can’t control where it goes.”
- Yeah, probably.
- Yeah. Seriously. Like the whole thing.
- No. No, you’re not “fine”. You and your team are a mess.
Look, I get “quality at-bats” more than most (I think), and I’m not sure you can try to paint inefficiency as anything other than that (in the media or otherwise). Your dishevelled team played a heated early-season series against a historic rival and kinda dead-fished their way through the series. Being able to hit with RISP is fairly important. There’s no shame in admitting that.
In a way, this exchange reminds me of an exchange with StubbornDad™ or StubbornFriend™.
/shoving square peg into round hole “It’s not working.”
“Yeah, well … that’s bec–”
“– it’s never gonna work. You should–”
/trying to punch the square peg through the round hole “GRR. I CAN DO THIS.”
“–you shouldn’t … I mean, it’s like … physically impossible.”
“YOU SHUT YOUR GODDAMNED MOUTH.”
DERP Of The Week: Hank Conger
I love me some Hank Conger, but I can’t let this slide. Either his teammates swapped his spikes for roller skates during BP, or the Baltimore Orioles placed a sniper in the rockpile in center field before the game on Saturday. Or maybe Hank just got so damn excited after dropping down a perfect push bunt down against a Buck Showalter-ordered pull-heavy infield shift that he tripped balls, had a hallucination about a descending staircase that led to a Chipotle-catered dubstep/electro-pop party and then OH FUCK, THERE’S NO STAIRCASE HERE.
Bonus DERP: Tommy LasorDERP
This picture has been to the depths of the internet and back about a million times since it was taken on Tuesday, April 30th, but since this is a weekly thing (and the picture is downright marvelous), I’d be remiss to leave it off the ledger. If you took everyone’s dad, quarantined them for long enough to replace their entire blood supply with Italian wine, ground them down into a fine paste, squeezed that paste into a CurmudgeonLinks™ anthropomorphic sausage casing, aged that sausage for 85 years only to welcome it back to humanity by assaulting it both visually and aurally with “Gangnam Style”, you’d have exactly what is happening in this photo. If you look closely, you’ll notice that Lasorda’s melted brain has begun to pool in his gunt.
SciosciaFace Of The Week
What caused this version of SciosciaFace?
- The home plate umpire’s zone is functioning more like a wedge on the “Wheel Of Fortune” than it is like a strike zone maintained by a trained professional.
- The Angels BLOLpen simply is.
- He just saw another three-pitch Josh Hamilton K.
- His pants. They are full.
- Nothing. Nothing at all.
Who Controls The Future
With the Angels scuffling, there’s a chance that a road trip might help them clear their heads, avoid the distractions of home life and actually put together a winning streak of longer than three games. There’s really no better place to do that than Houston at this point in time (geography and weather excluded). The Astros are, as expected, horrible. Their pitching has been godawful, and while the Halos staff is a steaming turd in its own right, perhaps the Angels offense can put enough runs on the board to keep said steaming turd from mattering all that much. But now that I’ve said that, it’s probably time to put out a “Bud Norris No-Hitter Alert” for Wednesday night.
The matchups against the Astros (8-24) at Minute Maid Park …
- Tuesday, 5/7: C.J. Wilson (3-0) vs. Jordan Lyles (0-0)
- Wednesday, 5/8: Joe Blanton (0-5) vs. Bud Norris (3-3)
- Thursday, 5/9: jason Vargas (1-3) vs. Lucas Harrell (3-3)
Then, the Halos leave one band box for another to take on the (also disappointing) Chicago White Sox (13-17) in a three-game set. The few masochistic fibers I have in my being are tingling and urging me to torture myself by watching the series on MLB.tv with Hawk Harrelson doing play-by-play. (I realize that he’s a treasured piece of nostalgia in Chicago, but the uber-homer, anti-sabermetric, “Get off my lawn” stuff is a lot to handle for us outsiders.
- Friday, 5/10: Tommy Hanson (2-1) vs. Dylan Axelrod (0-2)
- Saturday, 5/11: Jerome Williams (1-1) vs. Jose Quintana (2-0)
- Sunday, 5/12: Wilson (3-0) vs. Chris Sale (3-1)
Meanwhile, the Dodgers are in the midst of a glorious nine-game homestand at Chavez Ravine, beginning with a series against Gibby’s Gang of Grissioniers, aka the Arizona Diamondbacks (record)
- Tuesday, 5/7: Josh Beckett (0-4) vs. Brandon McCarthy (0-3)
- Wednesday, 5/8: Clayton Kershaw (3-2) vs. Juan Nicasio (2-1)
Thursday will bring a coveted day off at home before they play host to (noted shitbag) Jeffrey Loria’s traveling circus*.
*As disappointing as the Angels and Dodgers have been, there is no larger disaster (with a lack of foresight) than the Marlins. What a complete and utter shitshow.
- Friday, 5/10: Matt Magill (0-0) vs. Jose Fernandez (1-2)
- Saturday, 5/11: Hyun-Jin Ryu (3-1) vs. Kevin Slowey (1-2)
- Sunday, 5/12: Chris Capuano (0-1) vs. Wade LeBlanc (0-4)
Until we meet again next week … Uh, it won’t always be this bad, will it?