FanPost

The season is not over -- we are not "at best" a .500 team

This responds to Halopauly's comment in another thread, but it easily could apply to numerous others.

There is no denying that we are off to a terrible start.  Suboptimal's statistical comparisons indicate that this stretch in fact is one of the worst by any Angels team under Scioscia.  It also is true that we are almost 1/4 of the way through this season.  These are not reasons, however, to concede that the season is lost or that, at 15-21, we have no possibility of finishing above .500 at the end of the 162-game season.  Here are five reasons to be encouraged, and to believe that we can still succeed:

1)  The Angels of 2007, 2008, and 2009 were 291-195, a winning percentage of 59.9%.  That might not seem very meaningful now, but the fact still remains that the large majority of the current team is comprised of the players from those teams, including the core of the pitching staff.  If this team were to win 60% of its remaining games, it would finish 90-72, which very possibly could win this division.

2)  The problems with the starting pitching have been overstated.  Weaver has been more dominant than any pitcher we have had in many years, and Pineiro and Santana have pitched very capably, at times exceedingly well, as the #2 and #3 starters; Pineiro and Santana both have pitched at least 6 innings in every start but one.  The problem has been Saunders and Kazmir; the Angels are 4-10 in games started by Saunders, Kazmir, and Palmer.  That means that, ignoring all of the other issues, we are a .500 team in games pitched by Weaver, Santana, and Pineiro.  It is difficult for me to believe that Saunders and Kazmir will continue to post ERAs over 6 while pitching only 5 innings per game; their recent history suggests otherwise.  Scioscia and Butcher also have set up drills for Kazmir to fix his release point.

3)  The bullpen's struggles, while significant to date, are not insurmountable.  Rodney has dominated.  So has Jepsen, except for his meltdown against Boston.  Bulger also has pitched great for several weeks.  Thus, half of our bullpen is an asset, not a liability.  I believe that we will further improve in two ways.  First, we will resolve our closer issue, either because Fuentes will pitch like he did last season or because Scioscia will "shuffle the deck" and replace him with Rodney.  Second, we will find a solution for Shields and Stokes, who have been by far the worst culprits.  Stokes is on the DL with shoulder fatigue.  If his injury is legitimate, he should improve; if he does not, however, he will be cut.  The issue is more delicate with Shields.  Scioscia will give him a lot of time to return to form, because if he does, he adds a dynamic arm for us to use in the 7th inning.  And while Shields has had some terrible mistakes to Damon and Longoria this month, he also has lowered his ERA from 16.2 on April 20 to 7.84 today.

4)  The offense is not *this* bad.  Aybar (.250/.329/.331), Abreu (.254/.329/.420), Matsui (.226/.307/.371), Rivera (.237/.282/.395), and Napoli (.205/.295/.359) all have performed *way below* their averages or, in Aybar's case, below his performance last season.  We also have received almost no production from Wood at 3B.  I can think of many possible explanations for this, but I find it implausible that all of these hitters will continue to perform at their current levels; as with Saunders and Kazmir above, their recent history suggests otherwise.  So while it may be that we have to replace Wood, and while it may be that Aybar is not yet suited to leading off, we have internal solutions to many of our problems.  For example, once healthy, Izturis could lead off at 3B, returning Aybar to the #9 slot that he excelled in last season.  Similarly, Mathis's return in a couple weeks will give us more flexibility at catcher and at the DH positions, which have both fared very poorly since his injury.  I trust Scioscia to make the necessary adjustments, as he has done in past summers, and in any event I refuse to concede that our current production is the best that we can hope for.

5)  As has been pointed out in other posts, our schedule has been grueling so far.  We have played only 6 games against division rivals and 24 games against the Rays, Yankees, Red Sox, Twins, Tigers, and Blue Jays.  Those teams have combined records of 126-82, i.e., a combined winning percentage of 60.6%.  It will get easier.

Bottom line:  we should not be giving up after only 36 games -- we can still have a good season.

This Fan-Post is authored by an independent fan. Tell us what you think and how you feel.

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