By Glen McKee, Wearing Reading Glasses as I Type This
Ya know, last week wasn’t horrible when you look at it as a whole, but it sure doesn’t feel like it, after another lousy weekend in Arlington. What do I mean? I’m glad you asked. Here are a few examples.
– The “red-hot” Twins seem destined to upset us (I won’t get into remaining schedules), and they’re on a tear. However, we’re only 1.5 games behind them for the second wild card spot, and in the last ten games the Twins are 6-4, the Angels are 5-5. It sure doesn’t feel like it, though.
– Angels pitchers give up so many home runs that they have to lead the league in that stat, right? Nope. However, they are fifth in the league, with 193. You know who is third? Baltimore, the team directly ahead of us in the wild card chase, with 203. Minnesota is right behind us at sixth with 191. It sure doesn’t feel like it, though.
– The Angels pitching is killing them. Well, in Texas that was certainly the case as it usually is. Add to that Heany has been mostly awful since coming back and there’s definitely cause for concern. The Angels are 17th in the league in ERA, yet they’re tenth in BAA (those home runs kill). Amazingly, the Angels starters are 13th in the league with a 4.51 ERA. It sure doesn’t feel like it, though. If you were wondering, the bullpen is fifth in ERA at 3.63. Doesn’t feel like it, does it? And because I know you’re curious (who can’t get enough stats?) the bullpen is 18th in HR allowed with 56, the starters are fourth with 137. That feels about right.
So, what I’m saying is, don’t give up hope yet, and understand why Eppler made the trades he did. As bad as those pitching stats are, look at these offensive (ha ha) stats: 21st in runs scored, 24th in HR, 21st in OBP, 27th in OPS. It’s no wonder Eppler was looking to improve the offense.
– The Bad. The pitching in Texas, in general. It was effing awful. If I was to list all of the bad performances we’d be here for a while, but let’s just say that we all agree Keynan Middleton isn’t fooling anyone and should be relegated to mop-up duty at this point, with the rosters expanded. The Angels gave up 21 runs in three games (that’s roughly a 7.00 ERA). There were a few solid performances and they’ll be highlighted later.
– Luis Valbuena. Dude went ice-cold last week, hitting .077 but somehow still managing six walks and three runs. Valbuena is all or nothing, and last week was nothing.
The Good. On the offense, there was a lot of good last week. Kole Calhoun only hit .250 but came up big with 5 RBI. You can say Mike Trout’s slump is over; he hit .625 last week, going 10 for 16 with five walks. Boner alert! Andrelton Simmons showed signs of heating up again, hitting .286. CJ Cron had a great week: .292, 3 HR, 11 RBI. in six games last week the Angels scored 41 runs. This needs to continue, and there’s one guy in particular I’m gonna focus on.
– Albert Pujols. Dude came up big last week, hitting .375 with 2 HR (I called them) and 11 RBI (he’s an RBI machine!). But you know what else I remember? Those rally-killing GIDPs. Dude. Knock that shit off. You’ve already broken the single-season record. Quit adding to it.
– Noe Ramirez. Now let’s look at a few good call-ups. Noe Ramirez is the Angels’ answer to Angel Pagan in the hair department. 2.0 innings pitched last week, no runs, no hits, 2 Ks. Gimme some more of that. Any time Scioscia is itching to go with Middleton in a close game, the real answer is Noe.
– Eduardo Parades. He only pitches 0.2 innings last week with 0 ER, but I’m including him because of his player profile on ESPN. Look at this snippet:
You’re telling me this guy with that face is 6-1, and only 170 pounds? Get outta here!
– Blake Parker and Yusmeiro Petit. As bad as our pen has been, these guys have been rock solid. 6.1 IP last week, 0 ER. Even our new Blake, Blake Wood, has been good, going 5.2 IP with 1 ER.
Hey Glen, how about those trades? I alluded to them earlier, but let me address them a bit more now. Despite the solid week the Angels hitters had, they needed help at 2B and in LF. It can be argued that Revere was heating up, but the Angels got Justin Upton (here, Upton here) and Brandon Phillips for relative peanuts. It was an opportunity to immediately improve their offense for a tough stretch run. Verlander would have been nice, for sure, but the offense was worse off. The defense may suffer a bit but the return on the bats should more than make up for it. Talk to me at the end of the season. At least Eppler took what he thought was the best shot. Admit it, you were as surprised as I was that he made those moves.
The Rest. The Angels are still 1.5 games out of the second wild card spot with Baltimore ahead of them. Nothing is over yet. This team could pull a Rocky, or they could pull an Apollo Creed in Rocky IV. I don’t know how it will go but I’m gonna be optimistic, while at the same time venting in the gameday threads.
The week ahead. Three in the cesspool at Oakland, a day off, and then three in Seattle. 3-0 is what the Angels need in Oakland. 2-1 is acceptable. Anything less is bad, really bad. Seattle is only a game behind the Angels so you can’t take them for granted, but again, 2-1 is acceptable; anything less and it’s:
Predictions: I already forgot what I predicted last week but I think I was close, so yeah, that. For this week, the starting pitching scares me but I think the offense can make up for it with both teams the Angels are facing. 3-0 Oakland, 2-1 Seattle.
And finally…a note. LWIAB is taking a two-week hiatus. I’ll be on vacation next Monday and won’t return until the following Sunday, and during that time I’ll have no internet access so I won’t be able to write a column the following Monday. Here’s something to tide you over until the next column.