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Angels at the Half-Way Point

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The first half of the 2008 season concluded with the most embarrassing loss in recent Angels history. The Dodgers beat us in front of the entire southland watching even though they did not have a hit in the game. After three months of sputtering offense being hand-held by epic pitching, this game #81 laid it out bare: The Angels cannot rely on the arms in the 2nd half when the bats make the team look like jackasses at the hands of the opponent to whom we as fans lose the most franchise face.

After half the season and a 48-33 record, there are only three players with more than 70 games under their belts who have recorded an OPS+ of over 100 (100 being a baseline of league average; OPS+ is calculated for the league realities and competition levels that change from year to year). Those three are Casey Kotchman (OPS+ 109), Torii Hunter (108) and a “slumping” Vlad Guerrero (123). The two lodestones on this offense are Gary Matthews, Jr. (OPS+ 83) and Garret Anderson (76, yes, Seventy Frickin’ SIX!).

The 5 players with the most games played have combined for an OPS+ of 98.6. No hitting fever here. We are a singles-hitting hack-out squad. We would be destined for fourth place were it not for the amazing pitching.

The slowly disintegrating Justin Speier and 5th starter Jered Weaver are the only arms currently on the roster with an ERA+ below the League Average base of 100 - Speier is at a dismal 74 ERA+ while Jered's is 95 and appears to be rising. Jon Garland is at 101 and Darren O’Day is at 104. After that it is a rocket ride: Santana at 123, Oliver at 131, Saunders at 133, Shields at 161, Frankie at 198, John Lackey at 247 and Jose Arredondo flying up past the 290 mark.

There are many solutions available, but Mike Scioscia seems to have chosen the Steve-Finley solution: Let suck-ass veterans with big paychecks keep the division race close by handcuffing the team’s offense to assure that  we do not have home field advantage in the playoffs for which we will be bruised, tired and generally awaiting an ass-whipping no matter who we face.

We lost a lot of things with Steve Finley continually in the lineup in 2005. The one tangible thing was home-field advantage to the White Sox. What small, but terribly important things will we lose in 2008 making sure that Garbage Matthews or Garret get their sacred playing (i.e. sucking) time?????