battle of la smaller

Ed. Note: MORE LIKE LOST ANGELES, AMIRITE? Poor Riley.

The Week That Was

LAA

WHAT : 3-4

LAD

THE HELL? : 2-4

Southern California’s Burgeoning Pissing Contest: The Leader In The Clubhouse

Cal State Fullerton? They’re 41-8 and ranked No. 5 in the nation. I’d almost rather drop $15 to watch Rick Vanderhook’s squad bunt and grit and grind their way to wins en route to Omaha than dump a hundred bucks (for parking, tickets, food and beer) to watch the Halos or Doyers do whatever the hell they’re doing.

Just when the Angels seemed like they might be putting together the tiniest shred of momentum after winning three games in a row, Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale came out on Sunday night and shoved pure filth for nine innings on his way to a one-hit shutout on national television. ‘Twas sobering to say the least.

And just in case you thought that Scioscialism had gone the way of the buffalo … what, with the semi-consistent lineups and semi-defined bullpen roles and whatnot … the Angels vs. Royals game on Monday night proved that Mike Scioscia’s baffling ways are alive and well. In the seventh inning of the Royals’ 11-3 beatdown of the Halos, Scioscia decided to pull Josh Hamilton, shift J.B. Shuck from left field to right field, move shortstop Brendan Harris to left and slot Luis Jimenez to shortstop. Neither Harris, nor Jimenez had played those positions in their big league careers. He could have easily moved moved DH Mark Trumbo to right and burned his DH spot and used Jimenez or Conger as pinch hitters for the pitcher in a blowout, but I … I just don’t have the words

The Dodgers dropped eight in a row before shoving two placebo wins against the Marlins into their faces over the weekend. With the Nationals and Braves on the schedule this week, it’s entirely possible that they might log a godawful 3-14 stretch over the first 19 days of May.

Box Score Of The Week

Trying to keep this section of the column positive is turd-shining of the highest order.

So I’m not going to.

LAA – Josh Hamilton: 5/12 vs. CHW – 0-for-3

Some folks would see the line above and shrug it off as a “Whatever, big deal. Smallest of small sample sizes,” kind of thing. (Or not.) Then, they’d probably notice that he’s hitting .203, with a .253 OBP and .331 SLG this year. Then they’d think about how much money $25 million is. Then, they’d think about how long five years is. Then (provided they took a closer look), they’d notice that he saw six pitches in those three ABs on Sunday. Then (provided that they actually gave a shit), they’d notice that his TAv is .227 (which ranks 170th among MLB hitters with > 100 PAs). Then (if their dorkdom wasn’t yet fully realized), they’d notice that his O-Swing% is 42.3 and his fWAR is -0.4. And then (delving further into dorkery), they’d notice that his BABIP is .260 and that this isn’t really all that much of a “bad luck” thing. And sure, you can probably point at small sample size, but something is broken here. Very broken.

LADAndre Ethier: 5/11 vs. MIA – 4-for-4, 3 R, 2 2B

When Don Mattingly addressed the media before the game on Saturday, he commented on Ethier’s slow start.

Via Eric Stephen of True Blue LA:

“I see a little bit of a different guy. There’s less use of the whole field, more pull. Some of his at-bats seem to be getting a little quick.”

Of course Ethier answered with four hits — three to right field and one to center — and did so on just 11 pitches. Even when Mattingly is right, he’s wrong. It’s been that kind of season.

AL & NL West Standings Update

LAA – 14-24 (4th place … Thank God for the Astros!)

LAD – 15-22 (LAST place)

Headline Of The Week

“Arte Moreno and his Angels can’t take the heat” from T.J. Simers’ column for the LA Times on 5/12.

In which the curmudgeonly “King of the Trolls” flies to Chicago, pulls out a giant wooden spoon to stir up shit in the Angels clubhouse, gets stonewalled by the front office and most of the players (again), and decides to write a pointless column anyway.

CHICAGO — When the Angels got Josh Hamilton following the Dodgers’ signing of Zack Greinke, owner Arte Moreno emerged from hiding, took a bow and told everyone:

“Think about how much fun it’s going to be. Dodger fans and Angels fans get to argue about whose team is better, who’s stronger, who’s weaker.… Do you know how much fun it’s going to be?”

What a blast … of hot air.

ZING. *armpit fart noise*

Both teams have been decimated by injuries, and while there’s no doubt they’ve played some awful baseball over the first seven weeks of the season, why wouldn’t Moreno have been optimistic about his team’s chances in December?

[snip]

… I joined the Angels to find out what’s wrong with the team that so many, including Las Vegas bookmakers, picked to win the World Series.

As I made my rounds in the clubhouse Friday, the music was blaring because the Angels were on a one-game winning streak.

Or because music is blaring in every clubhouse in baseball … every freaking day.

They had a hockey game on TV. No one was watching, of course. But everyone was in a fine mood because they weren’t home to be booed.

There really hasn’t been much booing at the Big A this season, which is something that Simers would know if he went to more than one game a month. But hey, keep trolling.

[snip]

Most of the players are great guys, and they have their guaranteed money, so no worries and 120-some games yet to play.

I’ve read this sentence 10 times and I’m not sure I can parse it.

It’s good to be a baseball player.

“I can’t tell you that there is anything wrong,” said Howie Kendrick, and I’d like to see a show of hands from fans who disagree.

That’s a quote from someone who is well aware of Simers’ schtick and is shining him on.

Individually, the Angels are obviously competitors; yet collectively there just doesn’t seem to be much fight in them.

They lost that when Moreno chose not to keep team leader Torii Hunter.

The amount of bullshit contained in those 31 words is staggering. Sure, I — like most Angels fans — loved Torii when he was with the Angels, but signing a 37-year-old outfielder for two years and $26 million given the Angels’ crop of outfield talent that is cheap and under club control for a few years (Trout, Trumbo, Bourjos) didn’t make much sense. (Neither did the Hamilton signing, but that’s not what we’re discussing here.) I’m sure Torii was a great guy to have in the clubhouse, but there’s no way in hell that this team is rudderless and unable to fight because he’s succeeding as a part of the lineup for one of baseball’s best teams.

[snip]

When criticism of Moreno started a few years ago, he buckled. He could never make it as a player and answer the media’s questions after a poor performance. Three or four times a week.

When he talks now it’s only to mlb.com, which allows him to speak without cross examination.

Owners don’t have to speak to reporters, they choose to, and if there’s a certain reporter who has carved a niche for himself in LA print media by being inflammatory and stir shit up so that he can trash people for their reactions to said shit-stirring, why would an owner ever choose to speak to that writer. Simers made this bed, shit in it, and is now confused and frustrated that he has to sleep in it? Does. Not Compute.

Gone are the days when Moreno was all smiles and known as the “People’s Owner.” He was the guy who lowered beer prices and who used to walk the Angel Stadium concourses to meet the fans.

But when was the last time he did that?

“I don’t know,” team spokesman Tim Mead said. “But he has, I’m sure, just not as frequently.”

[snip]

As a baseball owner Moreno has been inconsistent. He’s never won a World Series, the Mickey Mouse folks from Disney doing that.

Yeah, 11 years without a World Series. What a failure. Cubs fans would like to have a word with you.

Attendance has dropped 189,044 over the past two seasons, which speaks to disappointment. Attendance is up 77,131 this season, which speaks to hope, but what happens if that disappears?

The future of his manager has been questioned, but instead of declaring publicly Scioscia will be here all season, Moreno declined the opportunity to talk.

To T.J. Simers because he’s T.J. Simers.

Does that mean Scioscia might not make it to the end of the season? General Manager Jerry Dipoto also has refused to answer the question.

Because he’s T.J. Simers.

Why haven’t the Dodgers curtailed all the chatter and announced Mattingly will guide the team to the end?

Maybe that’s the only race remaining for the Dodgers and Angels: Who gets rid of their manager first?

A) Nobody does that, especially in May.

B) Now, that’s an interesting idea for a column, but of course Simers doesn’t explore that idea at all … because there’s more trolling to be done.

Will the Angels ever finish first in anything with Moreno calling the shots? He likes to talk and cuss tough, but he has consistently rolled over when bidding has gotten serious on players like Mark Teixeira and Adrian Beltre.

We’re talking about the same owner who shelled out top dollar for Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson and Josh Hamilton, right?

Prone to being emotional when Moreno doesn’t get his way, the Angels ended up with Vernon Wells.

Of course there’s no mention of former Angels GM Tony Reagins, who was in way over his head, made the Wells deal (along with other crappy deals) and was fired … by Moreno.

Most of Moreno’s big-time signings have come after he has swooped in quietly without significant competition to sign players like Vladimir Guerrero, Hunter, Pujols and Hamilton.

“ … without significant competition”?! For the biggest bats on the free agent market? Revisionist history. Have some.

[snip]

So maybe this is the best we can expect from the Angels, and now isn’t that fun to ponder?

If you’re a columnist who thrives on failure while ignoring the details, I’d suppose so.

Quote Of The Week (From Either Side)

LAA

From former ESPN LA Angels beat writer Mark Saxon via Twitter on 5/13.

Oh, it can. And it probably will, before it gets better.

LAD

From Marc Saxon’s“Still waiting on Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier” for ESPNLosAngeles.com on 5/10.

Don Mattingly on the struggles of Andre Ethier:

“Dre’s swing always looks good to me, but he seems frustrated early on, and that’s not going the right direction,”

Saxon noted — at the time — that Ethier was hitting .209 since April 20th and sported the third-worst OPS among right fielders in the NL. Ethier has long been rumored to be a guy who is notoriously hard on himself, kind of a red ass and maybe not the best clubhouse guy. The frustration alluded to by Mattingly seems like it might be so outwardly evident that it’s mildly toxic.  

I’m certainly no GM, but I value makeup quite a bit, and I’m not sure a guy with Ethier’s makeup is the kind of guy you throw $85 million at over five years … especially when you’re an organization that has the money to explore other/better options and and organization that has some good (raw) options on the farm in Van Slyke, Puig and/or Pederson.

DERP Of The Week: Tiffany Hwang of DERP Generation

derpgeneration

It appears that the K-pop star has impeccable mechanics, so what could possibly go wr-

Oh.

SciosciaFace Of The Week

soshsmash

What caused this version of SciosciaFace?

  1. Astros manager Bo Porter and four MLB umpires forgot a simple and longstanding rule (that a pitcher must face one batter unless injury or illness prohibits him from doing so) that most of us have known since we were in little league. When reminded of said rule, they immediately made amends and apologized for their mistake did absolutely nothing
  2. The Angels have used 20 pitchers so far in 2013. The all-time record for pitchers used in a season is 29 (Marlins, 2010). It’s May 14.
  3. There’s no Italian food in Houston.
  4. The Angels being the Angels.
  5. Nothing. Nothing at all.

Bonus SciosciaFace Of The Week

surlysosh
Surly Scioscia is surly.

*NEW* MattinglyFace Of The Week

matts

While SciosciaFace is consistently a look of stunned, mouth-breathing, confusion and/or disgust, MattinglyFace — which really came into its own during the Dodgers eight-game losing streak — is a blend of helplessness, sadness and rage. It’s the face your father probably made when he confronted you about (insert the stupidest/most shameful thing you did as a teen.) It’s like he’s milliseconds away from a single tear falling from his eye or one false move away from exploding. It can’t be good for Donnie’s ticker, but for entertainment’s sake, I hope it never stops being a thing.

Who Controls The Future?

The matchups against the confounding Ned Yost and his somewhat surprising Kansas City Royals (19-16) at the Big A (following a brutal 19 H, 11 R, 0 HR, 0 BB beatdown on Monday night).

Then, the White Sox (15-21) come to town for a four-game set.

The Dodgers will play host to the Washington Nationals (21-17) and try to avoid getting steamrolled and falling further into oblivion in the NL West.

Note: Read this fascinating breakdown of Bryce Harper’s swing by The Washington Post, if you haven’t already. When you’re done with that, remind yourself that he’s 20 years old. Then, think about what you were doing when you were 20. When you’re done hating yourself, we’ll get back to the pitching matchups for the series.

Note: As I was about to file this column, Harper took his heroism to another level and literally tried to run through a wall (which was equal parts scary and mind-boggling). We’re not sure of the diagnosing at this time, but we’d assume that is “a broken everything”.

Thursday, 5/16: A day off to lick their wounds and hop a flight to Atlanta to face the BARVES (21-18).

Until we meet again … Let’s just practice forcefully shoving our open palms into the vast landscape of our furrowed foreheads. At this rate, it’s about all we can do.