August 16, 2010

It's the offense, stupid

Angel fans haven’t been this frustrated in years. Watching the Angels play baseball is akin to being staked to the ground under the grueling desert sun with army ants attacking you. It’s agonizing.

And yet – there is a certain group of fans who refuse to look at the evidence and actually discuss the short comings of this year’s team. They’d rather focus on those of us who are critical of the team rather than the team itself. Sure they might brush upon the subject of poor play now and again, but they’re mostly consumed with the people who are not a part of the problem – other Angel fans.

Well, I’m here to tell you the truth about the 2010 version of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The problem is simple. It’s the offense stupid.

That’s right – every player with the possible exception of Torii Hunter is under performing (and even Hunter is under performing - just to a lesser degree). Compare the offensive statistics of every player and you’ll see a huge drop off. We’re talking Grand Canyon sized gaps in performance.

Erick Aybar is hitting 41 points lower than 2009 (.271 compared to .312), Juan Rivera is down 30 points, Howie Kendrick is hitting 21 points below his .291 average from a year ago, Bobby Abreu's average is down 27 points, Hideki Matsui is hitting 23 points lower, Mike Napoli's batting 18 points lower, and the list goes on and on.

Do the math. It isn’t pretty.

The Kool-Aid bartenders of the world (you know who you are) have been telling us what a great second half performer Matsui is and how the Angels players have all this great experience and have played in big games, but fail to tell us how that will actually translate into winning games on the field.

There for a while the Kool-Aid drinkers went on and on about not being worried and how there was plenty of time left in the schedule and how Texas will fade.

This group ignores the facts. They neglect to acknowledge the Angels poor play against the better teams in the league. They talk about June (The Angels’ one good month) like it was 2002, but ignore the other months like they never existed.

I get a little tired of hearing about this being the "Golden Era of Angels baseball. " I get that. I agree with it. That doesn’t mean I can’t be critical of what they’ve done this year. It’s not that I’m ungrateful; I’m just fed up with this season. So don’t try to change the subject.

Jeff Biggs of AM 830 likes to deflect the discussion by telling us that Arte Moreno wants to win as badly as anyone. Hello? What does that have to do with the price of spam in Hawaii?

The front office has had a really bad year. Not because they let Vlad Guerrero, John Lackey and Chone Figgins walk. Those were understandable moves. What makes this year such a disaster is their failure to anticipate those losses and/or adjust to them.

And then there’s Darren Oliver which in my opinion may have been the biggest goof of all. We all know that good relief pitching is one of the most valuable commodities in baseball. Oliver had been solid for all of his three years in Anaheim. He was probably the best pitcher on the team in 2009 next to Jered Weaver.

So what did the Angels do? They failed to offer him arbitration. They let him walk. In my opinion the front office got a little full of themselves by believing Oliver would come back for less money than he would get in arbitration. They were wrong and Oliver is having yet another fantastic season – only he’s doing this in Texas.

Forget Vlad, Figgy and Lackey – how can anyone explain letting Oliver go so easily?

Don’t answer that. It doesn’t really matter.

Again, the front office has had a horrible year. Yes, I know they’ve done wonders since 2002, but I’m not here to do a recap of the decade. I’m here to talk about this season. This isn’t the time to do a retrospective of the past and to pat each other on the back. It’s a time to step up and be accountable.

The players need to held accountable because they’ve under achieved. Mike Scioscia needs to take some blame because he drives the organization. Tony Reagins needs to held responsible because his team has been exposed for its lack of depth.

And then there’s everyone’s favorite whipping boy – Mickey Hatcher. When other teams go into the kind of a hitting funk like the Angels’ have this last year – their batting coaches get fired. I’m just saying.

The hitting woes of the Angels are of catastrophic proportions and that cannot be emphasized enough. Again, do the math.

Forgive me for not thinking that this Angels squad has a shot this year. As much as it hurts me to say this – Texas is simply the better team.

By the way, I'm curious what you think of Jeff Biggs. Please take my poll located to the right of this post.

BallHype: hype it up!

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