Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Just Another Halos Postseason Collapse To Boston: Red Sox 3, Angels 2
Round about the sixth I got a call from my wife. I had earlier cursed Vlad roundly up and down the square for his prior two 0-fer games; a "big dumb Dominican slugger who swings at sliders in the dirt" was, I think, the expression I used at the time. Helen then told me that "your big dumb Dominican slugger just hit a grand slam".
It was welcome news, of course, but all it served to do was tie the game. Presaging his future postseason unreliability, Francisco Rodriguez put the winning run on base, and then in one of the most inconceivable moves in Angels postseason history, Mike Scioscia elected to have Jarrod Washburn pitch to David Ortiz in relief. That, of course, was the game and the sweep.
The Angels haven't really come that far since then. Sure, they managed to get a postseason win off the Red Sox this time, but they repeatedly blew opportunities to win, played atrocious defense (they committed one error in every game but their lone victory), choked repeatedly with men on base (where's your RISP2-hitting now, Mike?), suffered from questionable managerial decisions (Howie Kendrick should not have started today), and looked totally lost the whole time.
This particular game was lost once the Angels couldn't push across the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth. Unlike Scioscia, I would have let Kendrick swing away rather than bunt; with a man at second, why not? But, it's not a huge difference; Erick Aybar didn't get the bunt down, Reggie Willits committed suicide without the squeeze, and thus the end of the Angels' playoff hopes.
Kendrick in particular was a problem throughout the postseason, his awful golden sombrero only the filling of a much larger crap sandwich. Today, he didn't get charged for an error when he bobbled Jacoby Ellsbury's grounder that should have been an inning-ending double play in the fifth. He also didn't get dinged for an error for failing to pick up Chone Figgins' errant throw in the fourth, which mercifully turned out to be harmless. But if it's too much to say the mantle of blame rests on him for this series, he at least needs to be its poster boy. He didn't give up four runs in the first inning, as Ervin Santana in game 2, but he has stranded thirteen runners and struck out seven times. Maybe it's inexperience, but I'm unimpressed with Kendrick's play this postseason, to say the least.
It's been a great season; 100 wins doesn't happen every year, and it was the first time for the Angels. But it's also frustrating for what might — and should — have been. All the Angels had to do was to play their game, the way they had in the regular season. Instead, they collapsed as inexplicably (and almost as rapidly) as the Hindenburg went down.
Enough with the game. To the valedictories:
- Francisco Rodriguez: Now we all know why management wasn't too keen on getting a deal done. Your postseason outings after 2002 have been far too uneven to justify the big ticket in the same sense that Billy Beane decided it was time to part company with Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder when they weren't going to get it done with either of those two in the rotation. I can still see the Angels making a serious bid for your services, but don't expect top dollar; that will come from the Wilpons or some other team with bulging bank accounts who won't mind when you give up a crushing game-losing home run in the first round of the playoffs. Maybe that won't happen in the NL, who knows, but the arrogance backed up by a rather spotty record when it's down to eight teams is a pretty weak bargaining chip.
- Mark Teixeira: You're a Scott Boras client, so I'm sure the only thing you give a damn about is money. I have no idea whether Arte will re-sign you; my previous supposition was that the Yankees will likely be the high bidder, but you'll have to balance that with the other players they'll have around you, most of whom will be aging or unknown as of 2009. And did I mention that the rotation will be even more of a mess in 2009, especially if, as has been rumored, Mike Mussina retires? That leaves Chen-Ming Wang... and... the widely castigated Ian Kennedy? Joba Chamberlain? That's okay, Mark, you decide. Besides, I'm sure the Yanks will be happy to pay top dollar for a guy who turned into a singles hitter in the postseason.
- Vlad: You've been the face of the franchise in some exciting but ultimately fruitless times. Enjoy 2009, because I have a feeling it will be your last with the team.
- Garret Anderson: Goodbye, and thanks for the great memories. I'm quite certain you think you still have a good bat, and who knows but that you're right. I just don't want the Angels to be the team that discovers you're wrong.
- Jered Weaver: Please do not turn into your older brother. Thank you.
- Kelvim Escobar: Please be healthy next year.
- Jon Garland: Learn how to strike guys out. I know, you probably don't need to with the market for free agent starting pitching being so hot this offseason, but you might want to do it anyway so you can avoid getting booed at home. You won't be here next year in all probability, but I appreciate the wins. You did about what I expected.
- Howie Kendrick: Go to winter ball, don't break your leg, work on your defense, and for God's sake figure out what they know about your swing.
- Reggie Willits: I wish you could hit for power. You're probably my favorite young player from last year. This is a harsh thing to say, but you just can't seem to play center field, you don't have the bat to play either corner outfield slot, you don't have the moxie to take an infield job, and ... well, what does that leave us, exactly? Pinch-hitter? No, you're not good at that, either. You'll be on the team again next year, probably as a fourth outfielder, but that role doesn't suit you well, because you need a fairly steady stream of at-bats, and it's not clear that you've made the adjustments needed to be productive at this level. Oh, this is uncomfortable.
- Juan Rivera: Tough year to be going into a contract year, Juan; I liked you as an Angel and feel bad for you that you broke your leg at a very inopportune time. You probably want a starting job, and even though the Angels have one to offer, it's not clear you can fill that role.
- Mike Napoli: You are the man. Rest, and let's get to it again next year.
- Jeff Mathis: Work on your swing, pitch recognition, and throwing to second.
- Maicer Izturis: Good luck with that hamstring.
- Robb Quinlan: 'Bye.
- Brandon Wood: Just be ready for 2009. I'm not sure what that means, but Rob Deer at short wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
- Tony Reagins: Thanks for trying with Teixeira. I don't mean to sound spoiled, but the difference between one win against Boston and none is essentially meaningless. The Angels' offensive strategy does not work in the postseason. Fire Mickey Hatcher, regroup around an offensive strategy that actually works, and let's talk once the club has developed some young hitters with plate discipline.
Here's hoping for better player development: i.e. somebody who has a skill set other than hitting singles....and keeping Teixeira around.
God...I feel like a late 1990s Red Sox fan....
I'll be sad to see K-Rod and Tex leave but those 4 draft picks are going to look mighty nice next June. I think the Angels are going to have problems with their outfield the next few years. I'm hoping we can resign Rivera to a 2 or 3 year deal, until we can get an outfield prospect up to Anaheim.
I know I'm in the minority, but I'm willing to be vocal about buying out Garret and trying to sign him to a cheaper 3-year deal to keep him in Anaheim for the rest of his career. I know his performance won't be worth it, but sentimentality is worth SOMETHING, right?
yeah, i'd sign GA too for something reasonable.
whatever it takes, sign Tex and Sabathia.
you're being too kind with Frankie with even crediting him for 2002. Remember the 7th inning of Game 5 in the ALCS - Frankie coughed up the lead - it was only Kennedy and a hugh bottom half of the 7th, or else we'd be going back to the Hankie dome for two games - history might have been different if we didn't come back in that fateful 7th inning (and that BS is how KRod got one of his 5 PS wins in '02). Bye Frankie.
Howie - you missed that half of that one Rob. Yes, he cost us thew Seiries, but this winter, he just needs to figure out how to keep his hamstrings healthy. period. He doesn't need winter ball, his defense is good enough, and we know he can play but just choked and/or the injury was a bigger factor that NO ONE saw impacting him the way it did.
Wood has to start - all year. I don't care if its SS or 3b (dependent on other moves) but has to START from Day 1.
Give Vlad an extension - I'd be happy with him being our perma-DH for 5 years.
And even if all written here by me and others fail to happen, we still win the AL West in 2009. But being the Braves this decade is getting old.
And I'll finish on a good note - the pitching overall really deserved huge props for this series as well as the middle of the order. Saunders, Lackey, and the 'pen in general were outstanding. Ervin just had one bad inning, and it was just a few pitches that cost us wins when the defense broke down.