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Friday, April 24, 2009

2003+6=2009: Mariners 8, Angels 3

I've been fighting off the kind of bottomless pessimism evinced by Seitz only a week ago, but the events of the ensuing week have done nothing to show him wrong. The random-quad-A-callup gambit failed today in that Shane Loux barely held together through four; apparently unaware that not only had the game started but that he had pitched the prior four innings, he even generously threw batting practice in the fifth, failing to retire any of the seven batters he faced.

Rich Thompson allowed two of his three — yes, Loux left with the bags juiced and nobody out, how thoughtful — inherited baserunners to score. The first was on a wild pitch, in fact the first of the at-bat against slap-hitter Franklin Gutierrez — and then the other turned out to be Yuniesky Betancourt's sac fly. Scot Shields' outing was equally horrible, dropping five or six pitches in a row into the dirt; he just completely lost it on the mound.

Which is what gets me with this team. Even if you were to call back to life Nick Adenhart, even if John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar and Ervin Santana were pitching well and in the rotation from day one, the bullpen has turned into garbage. Maybe Darren Oliver's injury was a direct result of his usage as a starter, something that hadn't happened since 2004, but Shields' inability to find the plate or keep himself from throwing meatballs has been a key weakness. So has the frank mediocrity of Brian Fuentes, Jose Arredondo's cold start, and pretty much everyone else in the bullpen, too.

Seitz came here a while ago in the comments and pronounced this as the beginning of the rebuilding — the Angels just don't have the pieces anymore to make up for the fact that they're old and grasping at straws to keep themselves winning (Abreu? GMJ?). Proof of this came just before the game with word that Anthony Ortega will start tomorrow's game. Fortunately, Ortega was already on the 40-man roster, so the Angels won't have to jettison another useful part to get him to the Anaheim of Los Angeles. It's the kind of thing that scares you into thinking that a throwaway piece about a AA one-hitter might end with the subject on a jet the next day.

And one more time, everybody: got Wood? Maybe there's good reason for that, but if the team has confidence in his abilities, they have a funny way of showing it. And — if you believe this year is a replay of 2003 — Wood will need all the at-bats he can get so the team has a fighting chance of being good in 2010.

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Comments:
I agree with Seitz that it looks like our dominate run is coming to a close. With the way our roster is shaping up and the emergence of good young players in Texas, Seattle and Oakland, a last place finish might not be out the question next year. If I'm in the front office, I might start thinking about trying to move some players and begin to reload.

I'm sure that Abreu is going to look pretty attractive to teams out there come July, especially since he's only making $5M or so. Maybe there's a way we can package GMJ with him. I don't know if Lackey will be coming back next year, but I would hear offers for him. Figgins also seems like another possible trade piece.

I think the Angels will have to build around Hunter, Kendrick, Saunders, and Weaver. It's not necessarily the best group of core players, but unless we can pull a Kazmir-like trade with some desperate GM, it's the best we've got.
 
Hunter is expendable given his age, but other than that I largely agree that the team is on its way to a transition season.
 

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