Yup. You just got Bon Jovied.
(Has anyone every seen Jon Bon Jovi and Ellen DeGeneres in the same room? I didn’t think so.)
Before we get started on things of the baseball variety, let’s take a moment to talk a little bit about how undeniably shitty this self-referential, bar-bandish, butt-rock-laden, wanky-guitar-solo-having audio turd of a car-commercial-core song this really is. Actually, let’s not … unless we did already, in which case … I’m sorry.
Speaking of shitty …
**The Week That Was
LAA – 3-4 (Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds as of 8/6: 0.1% … that’s almost NO CHANCE AT ALL, you guys)
The #AngelsBLOLpen is an unmitigated disaster. Halos GM Jerry Dipoto has noted on several occasions that he doesn’t believe in spending much money on a bullpen, and we’re seeing the fruits of that philosophy this year. The kicker is that the two guys that he actually did spend money on – Ryan Madson and Sean Burnett – have done little-to-nothing this season (Madson has yet to appear in 2013 and actually got released on Monday, and Burnett has logged a whopping 9.2 IP thus far).
With Madson and Burnett on the shelf, the team has been left with a piecemeal, bargain barrel bullpen, built via the waiver wire and call ups of minor league guys who aren’t ready for the big leagues. It’s not working out, and it’s not surprising to anyone. Except Jerry Dipoto. Maybe.
It has gone from frustrating to watch, to infuriating, to laughably bad, to unfathomably bad and back again a few times this season. The constant in this failed experiment is that it’s been BAD. Really bad. And when it’s this awful as a fan, I can’t even imagine how rough it’s gotta be for the Angels’ starting rotation and lineup to know that a game is never truly in the bag unless they’ve built a 10-run cushion.
Note: Watching Mike Scioscia over-manange and OCD (a verb now, in case you’re keeping score at home) his way through the bullpen corps is almost as unintentionally hilarious as it is maddening. We’ll call that a wash … for now.
Additional note: I’m no doctor, and I know my editor (Drew) hates faux medical advice more than anyone, but after seeing that Howie Kendrick injury last night, I can’t imagine him coming out of that collision in shallow RF with anything less than a torn ACL.
My knee did a very similar thing on the football field in high school, and I tore my ACL and MCL completely and partially tore my PCL. It turns out that knees aren’t supposed to bend that way. If Kendrick did indeed tear his ACL, it means that either Tommy Field is probably the Halos’ starting 2B for the rest of the season, or we see recently acquired Grant Green in a big league uniform far earlier than we’d ever expected to. Either way you slice that, it’s bad.
So … what’s happening across town? Oh, the polar opposite? GREAT.
LAD – 6-1 (Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds as of 8/6: 96% … and that’s almost certainty.)
EVERYTHING IS AWESOME WHEN YOU HAVE “FUCK YOU” MONEY (or have it and use it wisely, or something) AND CAN’T LOSE ON THE ROAD AND RARELY LOSE … LIKE EVER.
Fifteen road wins in a row. Seventeen games gained in the standings over their last 39 games. A 32-7 mark over their last 39 games. Twenty-three scoreless innings in a row for the pitching staff (before the first inning of yesterday’s game happened. Clayton Kershaw (1.87 ERA, 2.97 xFIP, 4.60 K/BB on the season). Zack Greinke (1.91 ERA & .201 BAA over his last five starts) Kenley Jansen (82 Ks to only 9 walks on the season). Hanley Ramirez (.361/.411/.644 w/ a pending shoulder injury). Yasiel Motherf**king Puig! The list goes on …
And the crazy thing is that they’re doing it without Matt Kemp – who was arguably the best player on the planet two seasons ago, without Beckett and Billingsley (both solid back-of-the-rotation guys), and with guys like Stephen Fife, Chris Capuano and Chris Withrow (who?), and they’ve done it in spite of having Brandon League as a living, breathing member of a bullpen who often faces high-leverage situations. It’s scary to think that they’ve been at “full strength” for maybe … a total of two hours this season? Maybe $220MM actually does buy wins.
Southern California’s Burgeoning Pissing Contest: The Leader In The Clubhouse
Please use a No. 2 pencil to fill out the Scantron below with the correct answer. If you answer incorrectly, your SAT score will suck, you’ll probably only be able to get into an awful college and your life will be ruined forever. DON’T BLOW IT.
[ ] Dodgers
[ ] Angels
Did you answer “Angels”? Congratulations, you’re me.
Box Score Of The Week
LAA – Kole Calhoun: 8/2 vs. TOR – 4-for-5, R, 2 RBI
Four hits, two rib-eyes, his first big-league dinger and a win? Not bad. (I channeled former Angels color commentator Rex Hudler for a second there, sorry.) Calhoun had a horrible Spring Training, but I was still really disappointed that the Halos didn’t break camp with him as their fourth outfielder. He’s a gamer with solid pop, good patience at the plate, a decent arm, and he cannot possibly take worse routes or get worse reads to/on balls than J.B Shuck does. (I’m almost convinced that that is impossible.) Staying true to form, the Halos decided to use Shuck as a fourth OF when camp broke, and were “forced” to use him more because of Peter Bourjos’ inability to stay off the DL this season. Then, there was the short-lived Scott Cousins Experiment™ and a Colin Cowgill of sorts before Calhoun got the call. Better late than never, I suppose, but oof … come on now … the Halos are really mining the cast-offs from the Miami Marlins, Houston Astros and New York Mets for OF prospects? Woe.
LAD – Yasiel Puig: 8/3 vs. CHC – 2-for-3, R, BB
I know … I know … You’re probably looking at that line and thinking “WTF’s so impressive about having a couple of knocks, a walk and a run scored?”
To which I kindly respond with the following:
(All GIFs respectfully borrowed from Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness.)
Because those things happened on a baseball field over the course of roughly three hours. Puig’s a goddamned freak of nature in a baseball uniform and it’s beyond compelling to watch. The defense rests, your honor. (And also apologizes for bogging down your browser with animated images.)
AL & NL West Standings Update
LAA – 51-60 (4th place, and 13 games behind the league-leading Oakland A’s.)
LAD - 62-49 (FIRST place and 6 games ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks)
Headline Of The Week
T.J. Simers is still MIA, Bill Plaschke’s actually writing thoughtful pieces about the Dodgers and local scribes seem so indifferent to the mess that is currently underway in Anaheim that they haven’t bothered writing much more than a game recap or bullet-pointed blog. As a result, this section of the column gets a much-needed week off.
Quotes Of The Week
From Fox Sports West’s premiere mangler of the English language, Jose Mota, after this happened …
“The man of the catch for the season.”
Don’t ever change, Jose. Don’t ever, ever change.
From the Associated Press’ game recap vs. STL on 8/5.
A.J. Ellis on the Dodgers 15-game winning streak on the road.
“I think we kind of thrive on an us-against-the-stadium mentality,” catcher A.J. Ellis said. “It really brings out the best in ourselves.”
Apparently so. What’s happening right now is freakish, regardless of where the motivation comes from.
DERP Of The Week: Hanley Ramirez
Literally have no idea what is going on here.
SciosciaFace Of The Week
What caused this version of SciosciaFace?
- “OLIVE GARDEN IS POISONING PEOPLE, JERRY!”
- BOILER CONTEST!
- Jerry Layne being Jerry Layne.
- C’mon, guys. A man can only rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic so many times without wearing it on his visage.
- Nothing. Nothing at all.
MattinglyFace Of The Week
It’s nowhere near as enthralling as “depressed-as-hell-because-my-team-is-crappy-and-we-spent-all-this-money-and-my-job-is-supposed-to-be-easy” MattinglyFace, but is the closest we’ve gotten to RottingPumpkinMode in like a month or more. We’ll take what we can get.
Who Controls The Future
The Angels are in the unenviable position of having to play out the rest of the season as an also-ran. They’d have to go 40-12 (note: highly unlikely) over their last 52 games to hit 90 wins; a mark that almost certainly won’t be enough to snag one of the two AL Wild Card spots. I could see them finishing at 80-82, which is not only completely middling, but a record that would slot them just outside of the cream of the crop of what is shaping up to be a strong 2014 MLB Draft.
The most concerning part of that projection (FWIW: Baseball Prospectus has them pegged to finish 78-84) is what effect playing the rest of the season without hope (given the lofty expectations from the front office, media and fans) will have on their core group of players. I suppose I could ask a Cubs, Royals or Pirates fan about that, so I won’t bother you all with that now.
As for the Dodgers, I mean … they’re bound to regress eventually, right?
Until next week … keep on keepin’ on, Angels fans. And for Dodgers fans … this is almost as good as it gets. Enjoy it while you can.