“Let me get back to the middle … “
The Week That Was
LAA – 2-4 (Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds as of 6/24: 6.3%)
“Steady … steady … I’m keeping this thing going.”
“No, no … I got this.
“Shut up. I’m good. I’m good.”
“NO, BUT DUDE.”
“Nah. Can it. I got th- OH FUCK I’M DONE.”
LAD – 4-3 (Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds as of 6/24: 10.3%)
“Wanna see a cool trick?”
“K. I got this fancy new toy and you’re about to see me do this thing with and it is gonna be AWESOME.”
/does “the thing”
/never does “the thing” again
/secretly hates everyone who does “the thing” but keeps repeating steps 1 & 2
Southern California’s Burgeoning Pissing Contest: The Leader In The Clubhouse
I’d like to award this week’s nod to the Dodgers, but the real winner here is utter mediocrity (or worse). It’s just a plodding, 162-game journey of unending, unrelenting, perpetually depressing mediocrity. Both teams seem (aside from the Angels’ freakish eight-game winning streak in May or the Dodgers current four-game “streak”) to be unable to establish any momentum whatsoever. If it’s not a lack of offense, it’s the starting pitching or the bullpen. If it’s not a lack of quality pitching, it’s the inability to hit with runners in scoring position (or ever, really). If it’s not a lack of either, it’s a string of injuries and bad luck and bad defensive play and bad, bad, FUCKING BAD. It just is.
(What a great year to start writing a weekly column.)
Box Score Of The Week
LAA – Ernesto Frieri: 6/23 vs. PIT – 0.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, BB.
YOU HAD ONE JOB. (And a three-run cushion.)
LAD – Zack Greinke: 6/22 vs. SDP – 8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, BB, 8 Ks.
A much ballyhooed showdown between Zack Greinke and a pile of shoulders Carlos Quentin ended in the best way possible for the Dodgers. Greinke shoved for eight innings, saddled Quentin with an 0-3 and two Ks, and “retaliated” in the best way possible. He straight-up owned the Padres, exhibited excellent command and shut down everyone in the Padres lineup save Chase Headley.
Was Greinke’s start a momentum-builder? Maybe? Probably not. Am I posing questions to myself like many a talking head on ESPN? Yes. Am I ashamed of this?
Please accept my humblest apology.
LAA – 33-43 (4th place, and 11 games behind the league-leading Texas Rangers.)
AL & NL West Standings Update
LAD – 33-42 (LAST place and 8 games behind the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks)
Headline Of The Week
“As Angels tumble, Arte Moreno defends his turf” from Bob Nightengale’s column for the USA Today on 6/24.
PHOENIX – Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno plops down at the breakfast diner, orders the bacon-turkey cheese omelette, heaps on the salsa, and wishes it wasn’t 7:30 in the morning.
“I love my beer,” Moreno says. “Beer makes me smarter.”
*OK, I lied. If you read the rest of the column, you’ll learn that …
It’s curious that there’s no mention of the signings of C.J. Wilson, Ryan Madson, Joe Blanton or Sean Burnett and how they haven’t lived up to expectations (or in Madson and Burnett’s case, been able to contribute at all, really.) It’s also curious that locking up both Pujols and Hamilton seemed like moves that were ordered via Moreno’s big ticket/top available free agent/puts asses-in-seats-type players who were more probably signed while GM Jerry Dipoto rolled his eyes and banged his head on his desk. Dipoto is a sabermetrics guy, and Moreno “who pores over his morning box scores”, is (more than likely) not. I’ve mentioned it in previous columns, but until the two start working closer in tandem and the vision they becomes shared (beyond “we want to have a successful team”, things are not going to get any better. You don’t sign an aging slugger for eternity and ALL OF THE MONEY, nor do you sign a mercurial and injury prone player who’s primed to decline for 5/$125MM when you value sabermetrics and finding new ways to succeed.
“You look at Albert’s numbers,” Moreno says, “and for the chance to bring that quality of player to Southern California, for our fans to get to see one of the greatest players today, to play in our ballpark every day. You kidding me? That’s a treat.”
Oh, for sure. In 2009.
b) Moreno is not firing Mike Scioscia or Jerry Dipoto until this thing crashes and burns and they pour its ashes into the ridiculous Disney rockpile fountain in center field.
Dipoto deserves more time to see his vision through, but (as I said in the item above) he deserves to see that vision through without getting saddled with awful contracts. Scioscia might have run his course, however. Moreno says he’s “not going to judge Mike on the first two, three months of this season”, but it’s not just that … it’s that this will be the third year in a row that they’ve missed the playoffs with a payroll in the Top 4 in MLB (they’ve missed the playoffs four years in a row and ranked 8th overall in 2010). And yeah, I know … “it’s not my money”, but when you are a fan of a team, you’d like to see some return on investment. Winning 90+ games perhaps? Hasn’t happened since ‘09.
c) Moreno is worried about signing Mike Trout to a long-term deal.
Second, It probably wouldn’t be that big of a deal if it weren’t for the aforementioned contracts … or them lowballing him on his year-two contract after last season. I know signing him for anything more than $510K would have been unconventional, but I think probably it’s probably in your best interest to make an exception when you have a generational talent on your team who can be the face of the franchise for the next 15-20 years. I’m not advocating anything absurd, but lowballing a guy who put up an historic season as a rookie probably doesn’t bode well for the future.
Third, Mike Trout will be in a Phillies uniform in 2018. The corpse of Albert Pujols will still be in an Angels uniform at that time (either as a novelty item or a coach). Let’s say it again, Halos fans … UGH.
Fourth, the Angels’ lease in Anaheim ends in 2016 and there’s no mention of that in the article. In many ways, that scares me more than anything else.
Quotes Of The Week
From Pedro Moura’s “Angels 10-9 defeat another puzzler” for the Orange County Register on 6/23.
“This is one that got away from us,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “We’ll pick up the pieces and move on.”
Once you’ve battled and grinded and tipped your cap and taken your hat off and taken it one day at a time and turned all of the pages you’ll notice that you’ve reached the end of The Manager’s Guide To Cliches. It was a hearty read, full of everything and nothing at all, was it not? Due to the overwhelming success of the book, we’ve made a bonus chapter entitled, “Picking Up The Pieces & Moving On: A Last Resort” available for download.
From Bill Plunkett’s “No more excuses for Dodgers, Mattingly Says” for the OC Register on 6/23.
Don Mattingly on the death of the Dodgers long-standing excuse that this season’s failures are largely due to debilitating injuries:
“In my mind, we’ve really just got one guy (Matt Kemp) we’re waiting on,” Mattingly said. “I don’t think there are any excuses for us. We can’t really say we’re not healthy anymore.”
RIP Carl Crawford?
Also: While the lineup is getting close to what they’d hoped when the season started, the pitching staff is still banged up. Chad Billingsley is out for the year after Tommy John surgery, Josh Beckett probably toast because of nerve damage and Ted Lilly is on the 15-day DL with terminal thumbhead*.
*I apologize (sort of) for the quality of that Photoshop job. My skills are poor-at-best, and after spending ~20 minutes trying to get Lilly’s head to artfully blend into the thumb I realized that I WAS SPENDING VALUABLE TIME TURNING TED LILLY’S HEAD INTO A THUMB. At which point, I took a long hard look out my office window, saved the half-assed, unproportional, non-blended image and went outside. We should all go outside.
DERP Of The Week: Mike Scioscia
Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia, right, talks with Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Joe Saunders and begins laughing maniacally before breaking down into tears and weeping on his former player’s shoulder for the better part of ten minutes.
SciosciaFace Of The Week
What caused this version of SciosciaFace?
- A J.B. Shuck/Brad Hawpe combo platter just produced a run. In a MLB game. In 2013.
- Joe Blanton’s Just For Men®-dyed, nu-metal goatee.
- A gaseous emission from his backpants area reminds him that he downed two plates of veal scallopini and two bottles of Merlot the night before. Earthy. Young. Garlicky. Moist.
- Being included in the same photo with “Oh Yeah!” and “Nutrition”. I mean, c’mon.
- The Angels BLOLpen hath returned.
- Nothing. Nothing at all.
MattinglyFace Of The Week
Matt-O-Lantern status: March 3rd
Who Controls The Future
After getting swept by the Pittsburgh Pirates over the weekend, the Angels have a “recovery”/travel day on Monday before they open a three-game set against the Detroit Tigers (42-32) on Tuesday at Comerica Park. Jerome Williams will take Jason Vargas’ spot in the team’s middling-at-best starting rotation for the foreseeable future. In the latest in a litany of bad news for the team’s pitching staff, a blood clot was found under Vargas’ left armpit last week and will shelve him for at least four-to-six weeks. For as awful as the Halos’ starting pitching has been, they certainly aren’t getting any good breaks. Good luck. They have none.
- Tuesday, 6/25: C.J. Wilson (5-6) vs. Rick Porcello (4-4)
- Wednesday, 6/26: Tommy Hanson (4-2) vs. Jose Alvarez (1-0)
- Thursday, 6/27: Jered Weaver (1-4) vs. Doug Fister (6-5)
After (probably) getting manhandled in the Motor City by Miguel Cabrera and company (Note: How lucky are they to not have to face Verlander, Scherzer or Sanchez in this series?) the Angels will head to Houston to take on a “surprisingly not totally awful” Astros team (29-48) that seems to have their number this season. The Astros are 7-3 against the Halos, 5-4 versus the dismal Mariners, 1-5 versus the Rangers and 0-9 against the league-leading A’s. And just a few months ago people were worried about the Astros upsetting the balance of AL baseball because they’d be such a pushover. Woe, Angels. Woe.
- Friday, 6/28: Jerome Williams (5-3) vs. Dallas Keuchel (5-4)
- Saturday, 6/29: Joe Blanton (1-10) vs. Bud Norris (5-7)
- Sunday, 6/30: Wilson (6-5) vs. Jordan Lyles (4-2)
Ned Colletti’s collection of expensive mistakes will wrap up a three-game set against the San Francisco Giants at Chavez Ravine. In the good ol’ days this heated rivalry was actually compelling, but with the Giants scuffling of late and the Dodgers being the uh … Dodgers, it’s just three games smack dab in the middle of an interminable 162-game season.
- Tuesday, 6/25: Stephen Fife (1-2) vs. Toobie Determined (NR)
- Wednesday, 6/26: Clayton Kershaw (5-5) vs. Tim Lincecum (4-7)
Then, the Phillies come to town for a four-game set.
- Thursday, 6/27: Zack Greinke (3-2) vs. Jonathan Pettibone (3-3)
- Friday, 6/28: Chris Capuano (2-4) vs. John Lannan (0-2)
- Saturday, 6/29: Hyun-Jin Ryu (6-3) vs. Cliff Lee (9-2)
- Sunday, 6/30: Fife (1-2) vs. Kyle Kendrick (6-4)
Until we meet again … “work” (read: I’ll be on tour, as a drum tech, with Jimmy Eat World) will cause me to take a three-week hiatus from “The Battle of Los Angeles” (which is probably best for everyone’s sanity). In my stead, my good friend and Productive Outs cohort, Ian Miller, will be taking over the reins here to bring you “The Battle of the Bay”. Ian is one of my favorite baseball writers on the Internet, and I assure you that you’ll be in good hands until I’m able to return.