Angels’ Offense Should Apologize to Weaver
Anyone else find it ironic that the Angels’ offense finally exploded for 11 runs on the same day Jered Weaver discovered he didn’t make the American League All-Star team?
The reason Weaver didn’t make it is that despite his league-leading 124 strikeouts, despite his 3.01 ERA that ranks seventh in the A.L., despite making as many quality starts as any pitcher in either league, he only has 8 victories.
He’d have two, maybe three more if his team hadn’t been such a limp, weak-hitting group. Forget about Sunday’s 11-0 rarity, and look a little closer at the Angels’ lineup.
It doesn’t have even one .300 hitter. It has Torii Hunter and eight imposters. There is the shortstop who is trying to become a leadoff man by learning on the job. There is the second baseman who isn’t as good a thinker as he is a hitter. There is the DH who looks nothing like the guy who was last year’s World Series MVP. And there is the young third baseman who appears so confused and beaten down, you almost feel sorry for him.
Bobby Abreu, the team’s most professional hitter, seems either to be showing his age or struggling because he is being pitched around. Mike Napoli still hasn’t learned he’s better off hitting to all fields instead of trying to pull everything. And Jeff Mathis, the hitting hero of the ALCS, is back to the struggling catcher who is excellent on defense but lost on offense.
This is why Weaver, Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders (Joel Piniero is the only one so far getting decent support) all have to suffer, going out almost every time their turn comes up knowing they can’t make any mistakes.
So far, Weaver hasn’t made many. He’s been as consistently effective as any pitcher in the league. But others have more victories and, as a result, wound up with more votes in the All-Star balloting.
Management tried to claim otherwise, but the Angels were a mediocre offensive team before Kendry Morales, their best run-producer, was hurt in that freak home plate accident. Without him, they are something far less.
Only Hunter, who had a break out game with two home runs and seven RBI on Sunday, is playing up to his reputation, and even he tends to be more than a little streaky.
The truth is Mike Scioscia and Tony Reagins aren’t being fair to a solid staff of starting pitchers. You can’t play a back up catcher at first base and a journeyman infielder at third and expect to win when no one in the line-up but the center fielder is an authentic power threat at the plate.
Weaver is the one suffering the most at the moment. This is a kid who has worked hard at his craft. He doesn’t throw in the high or mid-90s. But he has learned to master a variety of pitches, including a devastating change-up, and it has turned him into the clear staff ace and a possible Cy Young Award candidate.
He deserves to be in the All-Star Game, especially since it is being played in his home park, only an hour’s drive from where he grew up. He should be there on July 13, but he won’t because his woeful offense has let him down.
John Lackey used to hint at the same problem before he left the Angels for free agency. Year-in and year-out, his record in Anaheim was never as good as it should have been because of poor run production. Now, in Boston, he currently is 9-4 for the Red Sox, despite a less than glittering 4.40 ERA.
His good friend Weaver must see that and shake his head. You know what he has to be thinking.
It must be nice to finally pitch for a team that recognizes the need to have good hitters.
— Steve Bisheff