I like the fact that the Angels have an active and aggressive offensive style, but this past season, I had to wonder at times, if we ran ourselves out of big innings, or took the bat out of our best hitter's hands. I also wondered, when the team was struggling offensively, as they did in bursts in the beginning of the year especially, (which led to the hatchet of Hatcher) I had to wonder, was Mike's shuffling of the lineup and micro-managing of every pitch of every at bat with a runner on base, making the team over think the game, their offensive roles, and sabotaging the chemistry of the team?
Case and point, here is Albert Pujol's, coming over to the Angels and squinting over at third base, reading the signs as they come in for every single pitch with a batter on base, asking himself, ok, did I read that right, here comes the pitch! There seemed to be a learning curve, and maybe that is also the changing of leagues, cities, time spent away from wife and children, etc, but I had to wonder, did the Angel's brand of offense, with it's highly coordinated hit and run style, cause some of our power hitter's to reach more, to think more, wondering, is Scioscia going to bench me for Wells if I.., what was that last call at third? here come's the pitch!
In the National League, power is a bottle of champagne popping off it's cork, the game had been won or changed in many cases.. but in the American League, power is the case riding around on the belly of the DH, as he waddles around the pads. Power is the bread, not the steak, in the AL. And Mike makes our power hitters think, when they should just be made to swing.
The stroke of Pujols, Trumbo, Morales (getting healthier and more confident by the day), Trout, can produce 130+ hr's. Why not leave Morales in the game this season, leave Trumbo in the game, support the power element, embrace it.
There were games this season, in which it almost seemed as if the third base signs were being stolen, pitch outs at inopportune moments, or pitches which betray a called hit and run, key moments in key games, where the opportunity to read the signs, read Scioscia, to predict the Angel's style, seemed to backfire for the Angels. There were times I wondered if Mike knew how to get the most out of this team, offensively, obviously there were big chunks of the year where the Angels scored runs and Trout, Trumbo, Hunter, and Pujols were hot and carried the team... but there we lots of shutouts, strikeouts, and outs on the base paths, in stark contrast. The team didn't gell into a playoff contender, even though it had hall of fame offensive output at times.
Did Scioscia's willingness to try to "balance" the playing time, cause his fragile power hitters, the emerging Trumbo and the healing Morales, to get frustrated and annoyed, seeing Vernon Well's coming back from a chunk of injury time, asking themselves suddenly, am I going to lose playing time to this schmuck?! It almost seemed as if the moment Trumbo saw Vernon Well's duffle bag on the bench across the room from his locker, just a few weeks after the all star break, at that moment Trumbo had to ask himself the question, is Mike going to bench me for this schmuck AGAIN!...Boom, Trumbo lost his groove... the team fell to pieces for a few weeks.
Does it speak to the question of the team wondering, is Mike going to bench me today? Juggling lineups, juggling counts, juggling egos, too much salt and not enough pepper, whatever the reason, we had a great team last year and didn't make the most of it. Sure the Bullpen, that's for another discussion. The injuries to the key starters, diagnosed and admitted or not, contributed of course. This post is about where does Mike take this team from here, offensively? Does he ride on a tandem bicycle of every at bat's mind?, Or does he just take a step back and let greatness develop it's own flavor and facilitate that, support that?
Does Scioscia need to rethink/refine/reinvent his philosophy for a new team, playing in a new era? Look at the Giant's, the A's, what did they establish? TEAM Chemistry and playing loose and together at the same time. Not over thinking every moment, instead of hitting.
I'm all for aggressive baseball, but I think the team should be allowed to take more initiative, and the lineup should stay more solid so the team itself, can develop more cohesion. So the Angels can learn to compete together within roles, that don't depend on a whimsy, or a financial necessity...
What do you think of Scioscia's Mike-romanaging, and of course, as always, please tell me what sucks about this post, some of you live for that, and I am here for you.