The Angels had a rough weekend and are off to a 4-8 start. Things are going horribly now, but I am not going to panic.
The Halos got swept by the struggling Twins, but I am not going to panic.
The vaunted Angels bullpen coughed up two leads to contribute to the sweep, but I am not going to panic.
Yet another Angel starter, Dustin Moseley, ended up on the disabled list, but I am not going to panic (head starting to hurt).
A nice spot start from Darren Oliver and another strong start from Shane Loux went to waste, but I am not going to panic (hand starting to tremble).
An already shaky Halo offense just lost their best player for at least a month, but I am not going to panic (starting to sweat, is it hot in here?).
Mike Scioscia has gone off his rocker once again and is starting to screw around with guys like Maicer Izturis and Robb Quinlan in the three-hole, but I am not going to panic (chest getting tight, left arm tingling).
Management seems unconcerned with the recent spate of injuries and bad luck, but I am not going to panic (what’s that bright light I see? Is that you Grandpa?).
OK, so let’s just state the obvious and get it out of the way. This weekend was pretty much an unmitigated disaster for the Halos. Two more major injuries coupled with two implosions from the bullpen led to the Angels getting swept by the Twins and searching for answers. Everything that could have possibly gone wrong this season has gone wrong. Certainly nobody could blame the Angels for giving up a little bit.
But you know what? There are 150 games left in the season. That is PLENTY of time to turn this thing around. Let’s not forget that the AL West is a pretty weak division. There is a good chance that 85 wins will be good enough to win the division title. Will it be an uphill battle? Yes. Do they have goods to pull it off? Hell yes.
Of course, a few things need to be addressed first. Even though starting pitching, amazingly, hasn’t really been an issue so far (no starter has allowed more than four earned runs in a given appearance yet), they need to solidify the rotation. The loss of Dustin Moseley leaves the Halos a starter short and they have pretty much no good options to step in for him. The good news is they do not need make any drastic moves as Lackey, Santana and Escobar are all progressing well and should be available in a few weeks time (with Lackey possibly heading out on rehab in the next week). If they can just keep stealing good starts with guys like Oliver and Loux, the Angels might be able to just hang in there. They don’t need elite performances; just have them be good enough to keep the Halos in the game. After that, the aces can rejoin the rotation and give the team the shot of confidence they sorely need.
Next, they need to do something to replace Vlad. Since the Angel management knew the offense would be weak prior to Vlad’s injury and made no real moves to address it, you have to assume they will stay in house. That makes perfect sense if, and only if, they call up Brandon Wood who has already homered four times at Triple-A Salt Lake. Wood would help fill the power void created by Vlad’s absence. Batting Maicer Izturis third as the DH would not. Scioscia needs to knock that junk off right now. Why he has thought throughout the years that batting a slappy third is a good idea, I will never know. The sooner Scioscia realizes his line-up lacks thump, since having only three players on the active roster with a homer this year has yet to persuade him, the better off the Angels will be.
Finally, the bullpen needs a swift kick to the behind. This is the one part of the team that was supposed to be safe and reliable, but they have gone down the toilet quickly. Shields fell apart once already, but I am willing to chalk that up to a bad night, it is going to happen on occasion, so be it. The real issue is the back end of the bullpen. Kevin Jepsen and Jason Bulger have been outright disasters and need to be made examples of. Continuing to let them stay on the big league roster, and pitching in high leverage situations no less, cannot stand. Show the rest of the team that you must perform or you will be gotten rid of. The Halos have shown no hesitation in calling up half the Triple-A pitching staff, so they are bound to find one or two more reliable options, they just don’t have to use them quite so much. Of course, the back end of the bullpen wouldn’t get so much work if the Angels could actually score enough to be in the lead.
More than anything, what the Halos need is confidence and that is where Mike Scioscia comes in. No more line-up shenanigans. No more rookies pitching with the bases loaded protecting the lead in late innings. No more dispassionate play. He needs to take this team by the collar and slap some sense into them. Half these guys look like their dog just got hit by a car. I’d like to see him get out there and go Lou Pinella on some umpire to get the troops fired up. The longer he sits idly by and waits for the ship to right itself, the better the chances that it will capsize for good.