The Angels have been on a tear lately that few in the baseball world predicted. Some hardcore Halo fans predicted that the only way the team could ever flourish like this would be for the front office to fire manager Mike Scioscia. Well they have shut their pie holes for now after an amazing month of baseball. But we all know where they will be should fortune's smile waiver away form our favorite franchise.
And so, since he sure as heck gets blame when the Halos swoon, it can be stated that Mike Scioscia should get some credit for this great play of late.
And so how much?
The grumblers grumbled that Mike Trout was a once in a generation leadoff hitter. Scioscia stuck with Trout in the #2 spot in the lineup. This allowed Kole Calhoun to flourish as perhaps the most threatening leadoff hitter in the American League.
People crabbed about Pujols batting third - and while he has grounded into too many double plays and seems a block to Trout stealing more, you will notice far fewer intentional walks to Trout than if anyone were in that lineup spot.
I started to panic about the overuse of Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar day in and day out and wondered if Mike needed to give them a breather. A little dab of Grodon Beckham here and there was all that was needed as Mike has made sure those two grinders have been the rocket engines of the September surge.
Is all of this due to Mike Scioscia? Of course not. But when we lose so many blame him that when we win we can look at the construction of the roster and the implementation of the team and give him credit for maximizing its potency.
When it comes to pitching, the strategy of supplanting Garrett Richards with EIGHT relievers every FIVE days sounds, well, insane. And yet it has worked. Well. Extraordinarily well. In his rotation of relievers he has been masterful. While he clings to roles, he adjusts them too - note how Jason Grilli and Fernando Salas are the pitchers who pitch when the lead is big or the team is behind late, which was not always the case
And so in analysis, Scioscia's flexibility with roles is coming from somewhere, which leads to the biggest change - Scioscia is changing his mind and philosophy on occasion this season. His rigidity has softened and the team has benefited from different looks he tries. And when things fit he seems to stay with it more and when slumps occur he sticks with players who have rewarded more than players who haven't - besides Josh Hamilton, who rewarded us all with a sore shoulder.
And so Mike Scioscia seems to have broadened his outlook when it comes to crafting a winner. He has combined his "One Day At a Time" mantra with fair amount of improvisation amidst a cemented selection of roles. Let's hope he keeps pressing the right buttons.