September 4, 2013

Remaining reasonable in the face of chaos

The 2013 season started to head south for me on November 16, 2012 – the day Torii Hunter signed with the Detroit Tigers.  Hunter had become my all-time favorite baseball player, let alone Angel – surpassing both Roberto Clemente and Bobby Grich.   A big part of my joy was sucked right out of me and I began to wonder what kind of season was in store for us in 2013.

I felt betrayed by Arte Moreno.  I felt he had led Angel fans to believe that resigning Hunter was a priority.  Regardless of the truth of how things went down – that was how I felt at the time and quite frankly, it still bothers me.

Things got progressively worse the following month when the Angels signed Joe Blanton on December 12.  In my mind – Joe Blanton was a bottom-of-the-barrel kind of guy and I could not understand why in the world Jerry Dipoto would make such a signing.  It was a “face palm” moment for sure.

Those two events were the beginning of the demise of the 2013 season in my opinion and it all happened before 2012 was even over.  It was as if the Angels had a dug themselves into a hole before spring had even come along.

By the time the season rolled around, it was clear to me that everything had to go just right for the Angels to have any chance.  There was no margin for error.  That was a tall order and the results are obvious.

Now, I’m really not here to rehash all the reasons why the Angels have been so terrible this season.  I also don’t want to be “that guy” who comes across as just plain angry.  No, “Angry-Blogger-Dude” isn’t a title I’m looking to champion.  Trust me.

My reasons for this post are purely selfish.  I am hoping it will be therapeutic to put some of my thoughts out on my blog.  To do that I have to organize my thoughts and I’m hoping that process will help me cope.

I haven’t posted much because for the most part, I didn’t know what to say.  I was dumbfounded by what I was seeing on the field.  Lately I’ve also been disturbed by what I’ve been reading in all the media outlets.  As a blogger, I try to focus on the fan experience and quite frankly that experience has been horrific lately.

So, here we go….

Here’s what I know… If you look at the current 40 man roster – exactly half the players were acquired in some fashion by Jerry Dipoto.  Of the 26 players on the active roster (rosters expanded Sept. 1), 12 of them are Dipoto’s. 

I’m certain this means something.  In a nutshell, the roster – be it the 40 or 25 man version, isn’t very impressive.  In fact, one could argue that it stinks.

There are a lot of journeymen and career minor leaguers in the organization right now and that doesn’t appear to be a good thing.  That’s not even counting the reclamation projects like Dontrell Willis or Chad Cordero or even Andy Marte who aren’t even on the 40 man roster. 

Sure, every organization has names like these peppered throughout their farm system, but it sure seems like more than a fair share of them have found their way into the Angels organization.  Let’s not forget Ryan Madson, Brad Hawpe, Brendan Harris, Bill Hall, Chris Snyder, Mark Lowe, and others – who spent time on the active roster and are now elsewhere and in most cases – looking for work.

Is that an unusually high number of also-rans?  I am going to guess that it is.  Some of these names are ones that you’d expect to see on an independent league roster.  Oh wait, some of them actually came from the hinder lands.

It seems to me that Dipoto has been turning over a lot of rocks looking for pieces to make this team better.  Yes, he found J.B. Shuck, but most of his moves have proven to be for naught.   So this begs the question – is this the best he can do, all things considered?  I ask that openly and honestly.

I’m not even including the big ticket moves in this conversation – this about the “little” things that make up a roster.  If the prospects in the minor leagues can’t even displace the Andy Marte’s or Chad Cordero’s of the world – that speaks volumes.

I know the minor league system is in transition and the state of its condition isn’t solely on Dipoto, but he hasn’t done much, if anything to make it any better.  The 40 man roster seems out of whack.  The pieces don’t match and it looks like the old’ finger in the dike scenario.  It’s also been a revolving door with players coming and going as frequently as baseballs are being hit out of the park after Joe Blanton throws a pitch.

I think it’s safe to say that Dipoto won’t be nominated for GM of the Year. 

The bottom line is that I like Mike Scioscia.  I think he’s one of the best in the game.  I also know we can argue that point all day long and never change one another’s mind.  Regardless of that, one thing seems pretty clear – Dipoto’s philosophy and Scioscia’s don’t seem to mix and they certainly don’t complement each other.  Something has to give.

Some people say that Dipoto’s plan needs time.  Tell that to my friends who aren’t renewing their season tickets.  Tell that to the great many fans who are staying away from the ball park this season.

Some people think that Scioscia needs to go.  To that I say, be careful what you wish for.  There’s a reason most managers don’t stay with one organization for any great length of time.  There’s a reason that many have speculated that if Scioscia was to be fired, he wouldn’t stay unemployed for very long.  Can you say the same about Jerry Dipoto?

Mike Scioscia is unique.  His fingerprints are all over the organization; or at least they were.  It’s rare that a manager has that much input and impact.  I believe he can still be effective. 

I’m not happy with how things stand today and I know for a fact I’m not alone in that sentiment.  As I mentioned previously, it’s as if we are looking into the abyss.  That’s a crappy feeling.

Clearly, there are issues between Moreno, Dipoto and Scioscia.  It’s maddening.  It’s depressing.  It has to be resolved.  Of the 3, I’m going to take Scioscia’s side every time and I believe I've arrived at that conclusion in a reasonable manner.  What do you say?

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