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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Just Another Halos Postseason Collapse To Boston: Red Sox 3, Angels 2

On October 8, 2004, I was at the doctor's office or somewhere, anyway, that wasn't at home or in front of a TV set. I had already predicted a first-round exit for the Angels, back when I was into making predictions before the postseason; I know better now, and just strap in and hold on.

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.

Yahoo boxAngels recap

Enough with the game. To the valedictories:

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Another tough one, so typical of recent Angel postseasons....

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....
Your irrational free passes to the awful Reggie Willits are kinda cute.
Willits' 2007 showed something, and he always had good plate discipline in the minors. This year he never really got going because of a lack of regular playing time, but that's kinda the nub, isn't it? His bat, even working 100%, isn't going to give you what you want in a corner outfield slot, and the rest sadly follows from that.
It was a disappointing way to end the season but it's going to be interesting off season for the Angels.

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.
Yeah, it being the Angels will have the worst draft slot next year. They may as well have finished 83-79.
Wow, that's a lot of bitterness! I have to say, I thought the Angels were a little overrated (and expressed it here before) this year. Their overall talent level just doesn't compare to Boston's, as your writing here seems to spell out. Scioscia has done a great job with what he has. The Shields and Speiers contracts were a mistake...and you're right, Texeira won't be back. I thought you were a little harsh on his performance, considering he was one of few to at least get on base. The Angels will have some gaps to fill with no first baseman, closer, third outfielder and an aging Vlad. Should be an interesting offseason for them.
I'm with you on Willits. I loved him last year and was sad that he wouldn't get a shot this year even though you're right, there's nowhere for him to play. Great pitch recognition, zero pop, decent glove = second baseman. Except he's not one.

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?
Well, I am still somewhat hopeful that Willits will become somebody: Orlando Palmeiro was an extremely valuable bench player when he was still around: pretty good hitter, no power whatsoever, good baserunner, ok defender. Teams need good role players like that and if Willits becomes another OP, that would be a good thing for the Halos.
general thoughts

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.
You should let Garrent Anderson walk and be done with it. And why wasn't Bradon Wood not even allowed a sniff of post season action? He couldn't have done any worse than Howie Kendricks.

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