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Three Roads Going Forward


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So the Angels are 10-18 and every time it seems like they're starting to show glimmers of getting out of this slump, they fall back in it. Yet while it is hard imagining them playing well for an extended period of time, given the talent on the roster it is even harder to imagine them continuing to be this bad. I see three possible scenarios going forward, and none involve a final record of 58-104, their current pace. A very worst-case scenario, in my mind, is around 75 wins - which is 65-69 for the rest of the year. At best, well, there are 134 games to be played and still time to turn this ship around. The question, though, is that when they do, will it be too late? Anyhow, below are the three roads; obviously this is pure conjecture but, well, so what?

 

More of the Same (A Bit Better, But Not Enough): They never really get it together - just kind of. Think of it this way: the Angels started the year 2-8 and have been 8-10 since.Imagine more of the same of those last 18 games, but a tad better - Weaver comes back, Hamilton, Trout and Pujols start hitting, but the pitching staff is still erratic, the bullpen volatile, and the lineup good but not as great as advertised. In this scenario they play about .500 ball for the rest of the year and finish with 75-80 wins, fighting for 3rd place with the Mariners. This could also include a "too little, too late" scenario where they figure it out in the second half, get hot and maybe make it to .500 but miss the playoffs.

 

How It Should Have Been: They improve all around: As above, but with more stability, even some hot spells. They play at about a 90+ win pace for the rest of the year but come short of the playoffs, finishing in 3rd with 84-88 wins. Right now this seems like the most likely scenario and given the roster is probably a "too little, too late" scenario. I could even see them being the best team in baseball during the second half, but not able to make up the deficit of the first. I suppose in a best-case scenario (within this option) they could win 88 games and grab a wildcard.

 

Pollyanna Is My Middle Name: This is the "fairy tale" version. Through adversity and a rough start, the team gels. Hamilton and Trout go insane for the last four months, Pujols is healthy, and Weaver and Wilson have a renaissance, with the rest of the rotation being stable enough to keep the high-powered offense in games. They get very hot for extended periods of time and make it to the playoffs, finishing with 90-95 wins. If that doesn't sound fairy tale enough for you, know that 95 wins would mean the Angels go 85-49, a 103-win pace, for the rest of the year...possible, but everything needs to go right.

 

To be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if any of the above happen. I suppose I'd give a 40/50/10 spread right now.

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We have no pitching outside of Weaver, Frieri, and maybe Nibs Nibbler (if ever stopping with the nibbling), Jepsen (if truly 2nd half Jepsen upon return), and Williams (if continuing to work the sinker well). 

 

We also have no competitive fire, which may mean a new manager and coaching staff is needed. 

At the least, replace Butcher now!

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Good analysis, junky. It's looking like it will be the middle. In order to go on an extended streak, you need good pitching. I don't know if Hanson and Vargas are up to the task. Good health will obviously help us, especially in the bullpen. Like last year, we're blowing too many games. Relief must be shored up to have a chance at getting back in the race.

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I agree, Torridd. Hanson's overall results are somewhat encouraging in that his last two starts have been pretty good - 2 ER in 12 IP - I'm a bit worried by the fact that it seems his in-game performance is rather underwhelming; those 2 ER seem a bit lucky. That said, 3 of his 4 starts have been "quality" so I think we can at least expect league average performance, maybe better.

 

Vargas is similar - I expect a league average pitcher. Blanton should be his usual mediocre self and I have a feeling that Richards will be the new Ervin Santana - a #1-2 pitcher in one game, an average pitcher the next, and then a blowout the next. Maybe he'll average out to be yet another...well, average pitcher.

 

Now of course 3-4 average starters is fine if your #1 and #2 starters are really good. But there are problems there, too - Wilson looks like an above average starter at best, and who knows how Weaver will come back, if he'll regain his velocity.

 

To put all that together, there's a solid chance that the Angels will be left with 5-7 starters all around league average, maybe some a bit above and one or two a bit below. I can't see them winning more than 80-85 games with a rotation like that, and then only if the offense is great. Think 2000....although I don't think the pitching will be that bad (or the hitting that good).

 

Looking at the rotation I think the best hope is that A) Weaver comes back strong, B ) Wilson grows a pair, C) Hanson continues to improve, and D) Vargas, Blanton, and Richards are all around average. If all that occurs, AND 1) Hamilton stops swinging at crap, 2) Trout begins to resemble something close to the player he was last year, and 3) Pujols stops playing like he's 40, then we've got a playoff team. But those are a lot of "ifs."

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Hey, you can't blame me for trying, 79.

But even though Hacker was fired and it helped them in 2012, I have a sneaking suspicion that Butcher is safe until October 2013. 

 

As AJ alluded to, it would be nice if Nibs Nibbler would just pitch the dang baseball and stop trying to be perfect with location!

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