Lee to Texas Means Angels Are Done
The Angels’ season might not be over yet, but you can definitely see the end from here.
It is bad enough Mike Scioscia’s lineup has shriveled up and dried out like a dying flower in the searing Texas heat. Now comes word that the Rangers apparently have landed Cliff Lee, one of the game’s three or four finest pitchers, in a blockbuster trade with Seattle.
Considering the Angels already are 4 1/2 games behind and six out in the loss column, and that shortly after the All-Star break they play 12 straight games against the Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers, well, if that isn’t taps you’re hearing off in the distance, it is a pretty good facsimile.
This is no fluke, either. The Rangers’ batting order is so much stronger than Anaheim’s (sorry, I still call it that), it’s a joke. And while Scioscia and GM Tony Reagins have been sitting on their hands waiting for some perfect trade offer to come along, Texas, led by their old friend Nolan Ryan, was aggressive and active.
Just how good is the left-handed Lee? Well, his current strikeout to walk ratio is 89-to-6. No, that’s not a typo. That’s how overpoweringly effective this guy is.
Now I’m not even sure there is a trade out there that could bail out the Angels. Something needs to happen, though. Arte Moreno, who might be greatly miscast as a free-spending, win-at-any-cost owner, needs to send a message to the front office.
Make a deal. And make it soon. As it is, a pall has fallen over what was supposed to be a joyous All-Star Game event for Angels’ fans. How can they be happy when they’ve been forced to watch not only a bad baseball team, but something even worse: A dull baseball team.
Seriously, it is difficult even to watch these meek guys at the moment. Even mediocre pitchers are overpowering them. Two journeymen have taken no-hitters into the seventh inning against them. And that’s only been in the last week.
Scioscia has to take some blame, too. Rarely has an Angels team appeared so lethargic and mistake prone, especially on the bases. It seems somebody new gets picked off or makes a stupid baserunning play every night.
The worst part, though, is that management just sits there and does nothing. It is clear there is no immediate help in the minor leagues. The organization’s best prospects are still teenagers like Mike Trout and Tyler Skaggs. They are a long way from the big leagues.
You’ve seen who has answered the emergency call of late. Players in their late 20s such as chunky Paul McAnulty and Corey Aldridge, two borderline major leaguers who weren’t even on the 40-man roster when the season started. Kevin Franzen, who’s been starting most of the time, wasn’t around back then, either.
Part of the problem is that the Angels haven’t projected ahead enough. Maybe they couldn’t have anticipated the sudden month-long slumps of Bobby Abreu and Hideki Matsui, but you need to have a Plan B, especially when you’re dealing with players in their mid-to-late 30s.
Something is clearly wrong right now at the top. Reagins is a hard-working, nice guy, but I can’t help feeling he is overmatched as a GM on a supposed big-market contender. Experience-wise, he seems to be woefully lacking.
Most people think Scioscia makes most of the personnel decisions, anyhow, and if that’s the case, the manager isn’t having the best of times, either. Maybe he needs a savvy, longtime baseball man to bounce ideas off. You know, someone like the late Preston Gomez, who is probably been missed more than most realize.
The sad part is, whatever is wrong, it suddenly appears too late to fix in 2010.
The Rangers, with a substantial division lead in the A.L. West and a lineup already vastly superior, now take an improving pitching staff and add the kind of dominant ace their main rivals have been missing, especially in the postseason.
The conclusion seems obvious. And yes, a little sad.
In celebration of All-Star Week in Anaheim, you can stick an official Bud Selig fork in the Angels.
They are done.
— Steve Bisheff