Giant Disappointment Leads Up To Angels Big Bat?
Two years ago, baseball took its scheduling out of the hands of the mom-and-pop operation that had done the job for 24 years, trusting a computer program to do a better job. That software would seem to still have a human hand guiding it, as evidenced by the careful attention to such details as ensuring rematches of World Series past: this year, we had Cubs vs. Tigers (1935 WS), White Sox vs. Reds (1919 WS), Dodgers vs. A's (1974 and 1988 WS) — and a rematch of the 2002 Series, in Angels vs. Giants.
A lot's changed since 2002: both teams have had their offensive cores age, hitting the Angels hardest, with Garret Anderson, Darin Erstad, and Tim Salmon all suffering steep declines. Teams pitch to Barry Bonds now. Similarly, both teams have absorbed young talent, to mixed success: the Angels successes include catcher Mike Napoli, starting pitcher Jered Weaver (unfortunately sent back down upon the return of Bartolo Colón), and to some degree, the return of Dallas McPherson, in his third major league season, but yet without a full year of playing time under his belt.
In this series, the Giants featured youth in the guises of 25-year-old lefthander Noah Lowry and 21-year-old righty Matt Cain. Inbetween, Team Halloween started Matt Morris, the veteran right-hander. But regardless of who was on the mound for the opposition, the story was sadly the same as it's been throughout most of this year: all told, the Angels hit an anemic .224 against Giants pitching in the series.
Way more after the jump...
The team's inability to hit stems from several sources:
- Garret Anderson is struggling with the bat this year, and he can no longer hit lefties well.
- The team is having a hard time settling on roles for players like Chone Figgins, and earlier in the year, callup Howie Kendrick, who was essentially expected to learn how to play third base at the major league level, all the while squeezing in plate time as a platoon partner for Adam Kennedy against lefties.
- The rookies are going through their learning process, and that often means 0-20 slumps.
- In interleague, the team couldn't avail itself of perma-DH Tim Salmon's bat in a National League park.
In addition, the Angels packed their infamously leaden gloves for the road, giving up a run-scoring error in the first game of the series, though mercifully not in the other two. Adequate offense would help the team by calming down the pitching staff (the entire rotation, it seems, is being cheated out of wins because the offense has stalled), and possibly even the players themselves.Following the 1-2 series against the Giants, the talk of late is Bill Stoneman executing a mid-season trade for a big bat, but none of the options look good. The Angels were supposed to have hard-hitting talent just under the surface in Salt Lake, but outside of Napoli, it hasn't worked out that way. Talk of another callup for Howie Kendrick has also returned; Kendrick, hitting just under .400 at AAA, could be a good addition to the club, provided he's allowed to stick in one position. But given how deep the team's offensive problems are, one big bat won't help this lineup much. The team may be very close to throwing the season away, and playing for 2007.