That clip from Apocalypse Now is a pretty accurate reflection of the Angels’ weekend in Texas. You have the jungle getting napalmed, kind of like Mike Napoli napalming Angels pitching on Sunday (3-for-3 in the second game of the doubleheader with 2 home runs, 1 double, 6 RBI) to essentially end the Angels season.*
* Watch this and replace
Michael Martin Sheen with Mike Scioscia. Throughout the movie, Sheen descends into deeper levels of madness. I like to picture Scioscia doing this in his bedroom, as he descends into madness after Napoli, his former whipping boy, continues to crush his former team. You’re welcome for planting the image of Scioscia stumbling about in his chonies in your brain.
True, the season isn’t officially over, but the situation is dire. They trail Oakland by three games for the final wild card slot with three to play. Here’s how the Angels make the ALDS (deep breath): sweep three games at Seattle, hope Texas sweeps three games at Oakland, defeat Oakland in a one game tiebreaker (probably at Oakland but I’m not sure), win the wild card game at
Baltimore the AL East second place finisher. So, yeah, it’s not happening.
Obviously, for a team with World Series aspirations, this is a disappointing season that reaffirms the cliche that championships aren’t won in the offseason, but on the field. The 2012 Angels were a very good team with some deficiencies that we all saw coming (an often leaky bullpen) and that nobody saw coming (atrocious starting pitching for large chunks of games at a time).
The season was hardly a disaster, though. I can’t be convinced that the Angels aren’t one of the five best teams in the AL. Many of the problems with the club are easily remedied, such as simple home run rate regression for the starters or having Mike Trout for the full 162. The club has talent and there’s no reason they won’t be in the mix in 2013, as myself and the other Halos Daily writers will cover this offseason. The team needs a couple tweaks to become a player for the 2013 AL crown, not a massive overhaul. I see no reason why they can’t win 95 games next year just with internal improvement and some better luck on the pitching front.
It’s still too early to say the 2011 Winter Meetings were a failure. We’re only 10% done with Pujols and 20% with CJ Wilson. We knew Pujols was a massive overpay at the time, and it’s starting to look like Wilson is too. But neither player needs to carry the club. With Trout’s emergence, Pujols doesn’t need to carry the offense. Wilson just needs to be a reliable #3 or #4 starter, something that will happen if he limits the walks.**
** For as bad as Wilson has looked at times, he’s still likely going to finish with a sub-4.00 ERA. Not great, but if he’s their 4th best starter next season (I’m banking on a bit of a Dan Haren-rebound; I think the back injury in spring threw his whole season out of whack), that’s fine.
2012 was often miserable for Angels fans. April and August were mind-numbingly bad for a team with this much talent. But 2012 was also the season Mike Trout asserted himself as the best all-around player in baseball. Jered Weaver threw a no-hitter and reminded everyone that he’s one of the best pitchers in the game even without having jaw-dropping “stuff.” Kendrys Morales had a great season considering he hadn’t played baseball in almost two years; we may see a bump in his production next season.
No they didn’t win the World Series or even make the playoffs and that sucks, but unless you believe the Mayans, this isn’t a one-year deal. Ownership is aggressive (sometimes a detriment) and you can bet the club’s weaknesses will be addressed. There’s a new GM still implementing his philosophy and he’ll have a first round pick in June 2013. Trout will likely improve, if you can believe that. Who knows, 2012 may just be a blip in the radar for a team that finds sustained success for the next decade.
The beauty of baseball is that we, as fans, don’t know anything. I picked the Orioles and A’s to come in last place and lose close to 100 games and I know I wasn’t alone. The Angels and their fans should be humbled today and this offseason. That doesn’t mean the team should be written off.
Probable Pitchers, according to ESPN
Monday: CJ Wilson (3.86 ERA) vs Felix Hernandez (2.86)
Tuesday: Dan Haren (4.32) vs Hisashi Iwakuma (3.32)
Wednesday: Jered Weaver (2.73) vs Blake Beavan (4.68)
3 Bold Predictions
1) Weaver wins his 21st game, finishes third in Cy Young voting behind David Price and Justin Verlander.
2) Trout steals two more bases, reaching 50 for the year. He’ll finish second to Miguel Cabrera in MVP voting even though he was the best player in MLB this year.
3) Vernon Wells plays his last game as an Angel.
“Mike Trout For MVP” Sewing Circle
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrewkarcher