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Not Absence, but PRESENCE that Ails Angels

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To quote the B-52s, "Who's to blame when the party really disintegrates?" ... Let's look at the core pile of problems to separate illusion from the truth that could also be labeled crap.

Absence of Lackey – NO Excuse
The last time we won a game, the starting pitcher was starting because John Lackey is on the disabled list, so scratch Lackey’s absence as a reason we have lost 4 straight games.

Absence of Kelvim – NO Excuse
Not going to sink to the whiny level of many a complainer. We have made due without the Monarch of Myspace. It would be nice to have him back, but no bitchee-bitchee about this one.

Absence of Izzy – NO Excuse
Maicer Izturis had already seen Erick Aybar rise and assume the Shorstop mantle when Howie Kendrick went down. We have not had such terrible production from the players that have replaced Izzy to warrant blaming any current woes on his absence.

Absence of Howie – GOOD Reason
Sean Rodriguez is a great prospect and a good defender, but he is not substitute for having Howie Kendrick in the lineup.

Absence of Figgy – GOOD Reason
A healthy Chone Figgins has shown all of baseball that he is a great sparkplug at the top of a team lineup and is above replacement level defensively at 3rd Base.

Presence of Gary Matthews, Jr. – GREAT Reason
I’ve hated the Matthews signing from Day One (as I ranted against the Steve Finley and Shea Hillenbrand signings). If the game of baseball is one of failure, the difference between being wrong 650 out of a thousand plate appearances and being wrong 775 out of a thousand plate appearances is the great chasm we must now label "being useful." Gary Matthews Jr has not one skill to give to this team that cannot be replicated by players we already have. Willits is almost as good as him with the glove and better at getting on base. Rivera could have easily replicated Gary’s 2008 numbers at the plate with inevitably a smidgen more power and is adequate in the outfield. And then there are the superior Vlad, Torii, Kendry Morales and Terry Evans. Mike Scioscia has sufficient cause to segue Matthews into the role of bench player with the goal of inspiring GM2 to waive his no-trade clause ... not that any team would jump at the chance – or offer up anything of value – for him.

Presence of Justin Speier – GREAT Reason
Bottom line: he has left some fat pitches over the plate to the wrong players at the wrong time. He knows better (supposedly the one tangible asset of a veteran player). He might be tradable, we’re probably better off with an overpriced mop who is working out his mechanics, but he cannot be trusted with a lead in the forseeable future. HE has been the critical failure factor in two specific losses this season (the Hafner and Crawford bombs) as well as the Longoria walk-off that broke a scoreless tie amidst a mediocre performance in the other games in which he has darkened the mound.

Presence of Garret Anderson – GREAT Reason
I am in the minority when I assert that Garret Anderson is a good, near-great fielder. He never dives for balls and those singles never become triples. He can turn on a fastball with pop in his bat like the best of them. Okay, G.A. love ya, cool dude, BUT Two things: we have many players on the roster as good in the outfield as him and we have many players who could produce his offense for us. Garret us currently blocking: Willits, Rivera and Morales – the first two of whom could match his glove and the latter two who could out-perform his power numbers and all 3 that would outdo his on-base%.

CONCLUSION
Had Justin Speier been the injured pitcher rehabbing since Spring Training, had Gary Matthews Jr. been hurt after ten games and had Garret Anderson come up lame in the past two weeks in stead of Lackey, Howie and Figgy respectively, well, I feel like the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim would have won their 30th game of the season early this afternoon

We are about one-quarter of the way thru the 2008 season and are highly competitive despite some injuries AND some unfortunate inclusions on our roster. This steamer could turn and churn wins fast in the span of a few at-bats, so now is no time to panic or jump ship.