Starting now, I’m recalibrating my expectations for the 2012 Angels. Until they show they’re capable of playing good baseball for more than two consecutive days, I’m expecting nothing and certainly not hoping for 6-1 weeks, like I did last week.
This is easily my least favorite Angels team I’ve ever watched (other than Mike Trout, who’s as good as advertised) because they seem to find different ways to lose every game. I picked them to win the World Series not because I’m a homer, but because I really thought this team was loaded with talent. Well, I still think this team is loaded with talent but that hasn’t exactly mattered. So from now on I’m not going to let myself be surprised when Tyson Ross shuts them down, or when Pujols goes 0-4 with three strikeouts, or when Erick Aybar makes a game-deciding error. In other words, I’m not letting this team ruin my summer; I’ll let The Dark Knight Rises do that, if it sucks.
This week, the A’s and Mariners have easy schedules as they both host the Angels. First up, the Angels visit the A’s and their concrete jungle, apparently known simply as The Coliseum. The A’s website boasts, “The Coliseum provides a memorable setting for any outdoor event,” which would be true if they were talking about lions gnawing on fallen gladiators, but since they’re talking about A’s baseball it’s probably a lie.
I’ve talked about the A’s enough so far this season and there isn’t much new to report after last week, except the Angels have the good luck of avoiding A’s ace Brandon McCarthy this week, as he was just sent to the DL because of a bum shoulder. Also, the Angels won’t face him this week, but Manny Ramirez is eligible to join the A’s on May 30, thus fulfilling his 50-game suspension for using performance enhancing drugs. You probably forgot the A’s even signed him; I know I did. It will be interesting to see if he has anything left in the proverbial tank. When Manny was being Manny, he was on the short list of guys I was most afraid to see Angels pitchers face.* He became something of a punchline, but Manny is one of the greatest right-handed batters of his generation.
* Along with Gary Sheffield, A-Rod, Carlos Delgado, and Marco Scutaro
After three games in Oakland, the Angels head up to Safeco Field for their first matchup against division rival Seattle. Surprising exactly nobody, the Mariners are struggling to score runs. The vaunted young offensive duo of Dustin Ackley (.308 wOBA) and Jesus Montero (.309 wOBA and my rookie of the year pick. Fail.) hasn’t lived up to expectations, but they’re both young, talented, and just experiencing the growing pains of being an everyday player in the big leagues.
If I’m a Mariners fan, the guy I’m really concerned with is first baseman Justin Smoak. Smoak was a once top prospect in the Rangers’ organization and was the key piece in the Cliff Lee trade back in 2010. When Seattle dealt Lee, they thought they were getting their power hitting first basemen of the future to pair with Ackley and ace pitcher Felix Hernandez (who’s having a very Felix-like year: 2.74 FIP). After having a subpar 2011 (.316 wOBA), Smoak is even worse this season. His slash line is .218/.258/.333. He doesn’t walk (5.2% walk rate). He strikes out a ton (25.2% K rate). Certainly when you trade Cliff Lee, you expect to get an elite player back. That hasn’t happened for Smoak and the Mariners, and it’s starting to look like it may never happen. Smoak could still turn out to be a productive everyday player, as he’s only 25 years old. But as each day passes, dreams of a dominant Mariners middle-of-the-order core of Ackley-Montero-Smoak starts to look less likely.
Seven games this week for the Angels against two teams many people picked to lose 100 games. My goal is 1-6.
Probable Pitchers, according to ESPN
Monday: Jerome Williams (3.86 ERA) vs Tommy Milone (4.09)
Tuesday: CJ Wilson (3.35) vs Graham Godfrey (5.06)
Wednesday: Jered Weaver (2.80) vs Jarrod Parker (3.90)
Thursday: Dan Haren (4.37) vs Jason Vargas (3.34)
Friday: Ervin Santana (4.22) vs Blake Beavan (4.46)
Saturday: Williams vs Felix Hernandez (3.02)
Sunday: Wilson vs Hector Noesi (5.61)
2 Bold Predictions for the week, because 3 is bad luck
1) Chone Figgins hits a home run…and let’s go ahead and say it’s a game winner. Because that would happen.
2) I get started early constructing Valentines for Mike Trout. I hope he likes Ninja Turtles.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrewkarcher.