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Tuesday Halolinks: Angel Playoff Hopes Rest On Fifteen Games

Ohhh noooo!
Ohhh noooo!

There are now 15 games remaining on the Angels' schedule. Fifteen chances to prove that they belong in the post-season. Fifteen chances to show everyone the true talent of this team. Fifteen chances to pull their heads out of their butts:

American League Wild Card
Oakland 84 62 .575 -- 93.9% 72.4%
Baltimore 83 64 .565 -- 80.1% 50.1%
Los Angeles 80 67 .544 3 21.5% 21.1%
Tampa Bay 78 69 .531 5 8.1% 7.0%
Detroit 77 69 .527 5.5 18.3% 2.7%

  • At least the Angels' manager realizes the importance of these games: Rangers-Angels Preview - FOX Sports. "Forget winning series. We're talking about winning every pitch," manager Mike Scioscia said. "That's where we are. The only thing we control is how we play. We need to bring it for the last 15 games." Three games behind Baltimore for the second wild-card berth, Los Angeles begins its final homestand of the season Tuesday before playing its final six on the road." And he realizes the clubs best chance at making the playoffs is by using their best pitchers as often as possible: Will the Angels’ ‘heartbeat’ keep ‘em alive? - Gonzo and 'The Show' "Over the weekend, Scioscia announced his pitching schedule for the upcoming three-game home series against the Rangers, adding that Weaver (17 wins, 2.74 ERA, Cy Young contender) and Greinke (1.70 ERA last five starts; at least 7 innings each time) will stay on normal rest for the remainder of the regular season, while the others fill in around them. That means Weaver and Greinke are each guaranteed to pitch in both of the final series against the Rangers. It means Weaver has four starts left and is lined up to pitch the regular-season finale against the Mariners on Oct. 3. It means Greinke has three starts left and will be available to pitch either the Oct. 4 tiebreaker (he’d be on three days’ rest) or, if they don’t need it, the Wild Card game on Oct. 5 (on normal rest)." Hopefully Scioscia's decision on using his best players isn't exclusive to pitchers.
  • One of the advantages of beating the Rangers is the Angels are not only improving their chances of making the postseason, but also weakening the Rangers chances of winning the division: Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels - September 18, 2012 - "Dempster will be looking to win his sixth game in a row in Tuesday's series opener when he faces an Angels team that tagged him for eight runs on nine hits in a season-low 4 2/3 innings during Dempster's Texas debut on Aug. 2. The former Cubs ace will be going up against Angels ace Jered Weaver, who is 2-2 with a 4.95 ERA in his last six starts after going 15-1 with a 2.13 ERA in his first 20 starts of the year. Weaver will be followed in the rotation by C.J. Wilson and Zack Greinke, who will start Wednesday's and Thursday's games against the Rangers, respectively." Texas within reach of AL West title in tight race - Yahoo! Sports. "''They're feeling good about themselves and the way they're playing,'' Washington said about the A's before pointing to the schedule on the wall in his office listing probable pitchers with an Angels trio. ''On the board, Weaver, Wilson, Greinke. Come on, I certainly ain't thinking about Oakland.''
  • I don't think the decision to replace Greinke was wrong. Maybe the timing was a little strange; if you're going to go to your closer, have him start the inning. If you're going to stick with your starter, don't pull him after one hit. And although I dislike the use of pitch counts as an indicator for effectiveness, the Halo closer has been better after throwing more pitches (B-Ref link). Angels' Mike Scioscia explains reasons for removing Zack Greinke on Saturday - "He's had a little lower-back tightness on his left side that has hampered him for a few starts," Scioscia said of Greinke, who is 4-0 with a 1.70 earned-run average in his last five games. "He seems to be pitching through it and pitching well." Let's see...a sub-2.00 ERA is a sign of being hampered by some tightness? Sounds like bullshit to me. "Was the fact that Frieri threw 30 pitches in Friday night's win a factor? Yes, Scioscia said, but only in letting Greinke start the ninth, not in the decision to use the hard-throwing closer."
  • If many of the choices Mike Scioscia has made this season weren't head-scratching, the decision to replace Greinke would probably be forgotten by now. However, it's just one failed decision in a long list of other failed decisions, and it's still being talked about: Angels general manager continues to support Mike Scioscia - "Most people second-guess a move after it's made (because it's really hard to second-guess a decision BEFORE it's made), but by and large, when you have a guy who's been that good, who's converted the opportunities he's had, I don't know if you're ever wrong with a move like that. Had Greinke remained in the game and given up a two-run homer, Scioscia would have been bashed for leaving his starter in. That's the life of a big league manager." Knowledgeable fans don't bash a manager for making the right decision that didn't happen to work out. Fans understand there's a difference between being unlucky and wrong.
  • The Angels also led the league in blown saves with 25 in 2011: Angels' bullpen bounces back after ugly defeat - Yahoo! Sports. "On Saturday night, manager Mike Scioscia made what he thought was the right decision, pulling starter Zack Greinke from the game two outs short of a shutout. Closer Ernesto Frieri came in and gave up back-to-back homers as the Kansas City Royals rallied for a stinging, walk-off win. It was the 22nd blown save of the season for the Angels (the most in the American League and third most in the majors) and the 19th loss charged to an Angels reliever this season."
  • Trout Porn o' the Day: Trout's enthusiasm matches his electric play - "A lightning rod for players around the game, Hunter hears the awe in their voices when they talk about Trout. "They'll come over and say, 'Love to watch him play,'" Hunter said. "He's such a good guy with that warm energy, good energy. Players don't want to see him beat them, but they respect his game -- how humble he is, how he carries himself. "He doesn't let all this attention change his approach. He doesn't walk around like the golden child -- even though he is."
  • I thought this was interesting: Angels: Big signings, but not-so-big crowds - The Orange County Register. "But the per-game average to date (37,755) is the lowest it has been during Arte Moreno's tenure as owner, having dropped for the third consecutive season. That average ranks eighth in Major League Baseball, the lowest the Angels have ranked since (ironically) 2002 – the year they won their only World Series – when their average attendance was 16th in the majors. And the Angels no longer rank in baseball's top 10 for percentage of capacity." Regardless of who the team signs, it appears the only impact on attendance is winning.
  • Lyle article #2: It's simple math: American League West is baseball's best division - "For the season, the AL West is running away as a quartet, with its .548 winning percentage. The National League East and AL East both come in at .514. Forming the second division, divisionally speaking, are the NL West (.492), NL Central (.476) and AL Central (.470)." It would be ironic if the Angels do make the playoffs, as 3 of the four teams in the division will be playing in the post-season.
  • This is kind of disturbing: Five biggest disappointments of the 2012 baseball season - Wahoo Sam. "It started last season in St. Louis when his slugging percentage dropped 50 points from his 2010 level and more than 100 points from 2009. This year he’s slugging 20 points lower again, and his on-base percentage is more than 70 points below his career average. This doesn’t look like a few off-years, it looks like a typical decline for a power hitter. Possibly even a rapid decline." The positive that can be taken from this is Pujols' performance was so high, that a declining season is still better than an average player's good season.
  • Now MLB is trying to fight supply and demand: Ticketmaster makes a run for MLB business - "The Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels, I’m told, are the two teams most dissatisfied by the StubHub contract — and it’s not surprising. Despite being in a heated pennant race, Yankees tickets would fit nicely on the dollar menu at McDonald’s." Regardless of which sales path baseball goes down, people will still be able to buy and sell tickets through Craig's List or ebay. Yet, what pisses me off about this whole thing is, this is resale of tickets already sold. The teams and MLB have already made their money off of the original sale of the tickets. Now they want a piece of the next transaction.
  • What an idiot: Yunel Escobar and the Offending Eye Black - Baseball Nation. "And now, it seems he might be a bad guy, too. Or at the very least, a guy with really poor judgment. Because there are some things you just shouldn't do if you're a big-time professional athlete, and this is definitely one of them."