It’s been a long time since I last wrote. Some of it is my fault--too busy, I suppose--but part of it is yours, too.
See, I meant to write you at the outset of the season, but life intruded on my plans, and by the time I had the opportunity, the team was off to an absolutely awful start and my plan to offer you hosannas was back-burnered.
Despite the way the season ended last year, I was encouraged before Opening Day because of some of the changes made in the offseason. Signing Hamilton, to me, was a bold stroke because it both added to this team and subtracted from the Rangers, effectively doubling his value. Sure, he faded as 2012 wore on, but he was a monster in the first half and carried that team for weeks. Plus, his left-hand power was the perfect fashion accessory for Pujols, who was too often pitched around in the second half of last season. His start has been frustrating and massively disappointing, but I do believe that he will have great days over the next several seasons after he learns to stop pressing.
There was plenty to like about your faith and devotion to Bourjos, when the pressure to trade him for vital missing parts must have felt intense. You also correctly foresaw the return to form of Jepsen, and the impact he would have in the late innings. Acquiring Vargas for Morales was genius.
But the other moves regarding the pitching were worrisome. Signing Ryan Madson to be the closer--when two known facts were that Frieri wasn’t a true closer and that Madson was too close to his surgery to be ready by Opening Day--was the equivalent of taking the 2013 season and betting it all on Red. Sean Burnett is a role player and not a vital piece. Tommy Hanson was as big a bet as was Madson, and Blanton has been just a big old bag of inconsistency his whole career. Was it smart to let Haren go? As it turns out, yes, but these moves in response haven’t turned out to be a net advantage.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t write to dog you. I recall all too well your predecessor, who made a couple of smart moves and too many swing-for-the-fences screw ups, ultimately dissolving into a puddle of bumbling ineffectiveness. He is undoubtedly a very nice guy who was grossly overmatched by the job to which he had ascended. You stepped in and made not only the broad strokes with the Pujols and Wilson signings, but also the nuanced ones, acquiring Ianetta and Frieri. The contrast to your predecessor was striking: More Terry Tate, less Larry Tate.
So, yeah, mark me down as a fan, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be concerned. In a few days, we will be at the All Star break, known as the halfway point of the season by those who failed math in grade school and went on to careers in the financial services industry. The team is in just as deep a hole as last season, and since we all know how satisfyingly it worked out for the Angels last year, I think we can be forgiven for thinking 2013 is our personal Groundhog Day. The marquee signings, Pujols and Hamilton, are MIA from the All Star roster and each has failed to register in the consciousness of the average fan this season. The farm system you inherited was thin, but you have thinned it further, both directly (trades for Greinke and Frieri) and indirectly (lost draft picks with the signings of Pujols, Wilson and Hamilton). Teams that are successful have deep benches, and while Shuck has been a nice surprise, I don’t think this team goes to the World Series with guys like Brendan Harris or the ghost of Brad Hawpe forming the backstop.
I guess what I’m saying is that I am totally OK with you being a seller in the remaining days of July. I’m not certain who on the team would have value to a contender besides Vargas. Maybe Ianetta can fetch some minor league depth; move Conger into the starting role and call up Hester. Perhaps Downs would interest a contender seeking to fortify a bullpen for its run at the title, or Callaspo could be a pivotal role player added to a contending team, and Luis Jimenez could finish the season at 3B. I certainly don’t profess to have all the answers, just an overabundance of questions.
To end on an up note, though, I leave you with this story: On the road the other day, I saw, not a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac, but a red Honda Civic with front and rear Angels logos. While I have similar adornment on my own car, I happened to have been behind the wheel of Mrs. K’s daily driver, and her deep and abiding love for me does not extend to tatting up her car with Angels emblems. Therefore, Red Civic sped past me, not knowing that someone else in this town had the same silly, partisan love for the Halos.
That sight gave me hope, though, that before another season has passed, I’ll be able to be wear the colors and emblem of this team--as I do every day, seven days a week--and not have folks give me looks that are either quizzical or pitying. I believe in Arte’s passion to build a brand that will be known further east than Riverside. And I believe in you, too, Jerry. Between now and Opening Day of 2014, I hope you are able to fill in the holes on this team and provide it with the vital parts so clearly missing right now.
Oh, and keep sending anonymous shipments of Skoal and Copenhagen to Hamilton’s residence at Casa de Tatuajes. The nicotine seems to have worked wonders. Well played.