How Long Can Angels Keep Up The Charade?
Yes, it is early in the season. Very early.
But what is happening to the Angels now isn’t just about this season. It is about last season and the past six weeks of spring training. It is about team officials who refuse to address the obvious question.
How much longer can they carry on the Scott Kazmir, Fernando Rodney charade?
Right now, Kazmir might be the worst starting pitcher in recent franchise history. And as for Rodney, well, his mechanics are even uglier than his pitching lines of late.
The Angels are a club with too many weaknesses to give away games, and at the moment, they’re giving them away every time Kazmir starts and Rodney is called in to — ahem — close.
Mike Scioscia already is at, or near, the top of the all-time franchise managerial list. But there are times when he also can qualify for he Stubborn Hall of Fame.
This is one of those times. Both Kazmir and Rodney should have their jobs taken away. I know it, you know it, everybody who watches this team play knows it. But Scioscia won’t do it.
Why? Well, there are a couple of reasons. Money is the biggest. The club is in deep with both these guys and pulling them is basically admitting the people in charge made millions of dollars worth of mistakes. Second, Scioscia is a manager who believes in roles. He swears by them, in fact, and sets them up early.
And in their current roles, Kazmir is the No. 5, or with Joel Pineiro’s current injury, the No. 4 starter, and Rodney is the closer. Forget the fact that Kazmir’s ERA has been off somewhere in the stratosphere since last season, and so far this spring and in his first start on Sunday, he’s looked even worse. Same with Rodney, who has proven time and again he has the most dangerous trait a closer can have — an inability to throw strikes.
There is also the unfortunate fact that there is no qualified arm ready to take over Kazmir’s spot in the minors, although anybody, and I do mean anybody from Trevor Bell to Matt Palmer, would be an improvement at this point.
The Rodney situation is different. Jordan Walden, with the best fastball on the team, probably isn’t quite ready to close yet. But as he demonstrated on Sunday, his raw ability is enough to at least give him a shot. He’ll allow some hits, but he’s also apt to strike some people out, something Rodney can no longer do consistently.
In the Angels’ and Scioscia’s behalf, it should be mentioned that the whole shaky bullpen situation has been exacerbated by the broken toe suffered by Scott Downs, the $15-million reliever the team signed in the offseason. If Downs were healthy, he probably would be closing right now, and with Walden available to set him up, a lot of the pressure might be alleviated.
Same with Hisanori Takahasi, the lefthander who is needed in the bullpen now. If everyone were healthy, he could probably step in and take over Kazmir’s spot in the rotation. He probably should, anyway. At least he’d get more than an inning and two thirds into games, allowing an already overworked bullpen a chance to rest a bit.
Something has to be done. And it needs to happen fast.
The worst thing about the Angels losing three of their first four games is that the team that beat them was Kansas City, one of the weaker clubs in baseball.
What happens when they start playing the quality teams?
You don’t want to know. Especially if they keep up this silly charade of theirs.
Some quick shots after another wild weekend of sports:
Biggest upset of the weekend was UConn’s women losing to Notre Dame in the NCAA semis, although a certain coach named Gino did seem to be getting a little too cocky for his own good . . .
Will UConn’s men’s team be next? It’s hard to say, but with everything else appearing so sleazy in college basketball these days, it is difficult not to root for the purity of Butler in the title game . . .
Don’t know how to evaluate the Dodgers yet, but the bumbling Giants are definitely playing two people, Aubrey Huff in right field and Miguel Tejada at shortstop, out of position . . .
So much for those slow starts of Mark Teixeira’s, huh? . . .
A great deal has been made about the Angels’ great defensive outfield. Well, let’s just say that so far, left fielder Vernon Wells’ glove has appeared to be something less than golden . . .
Phil Mickelson is MIA, then suddenly reappears to win the week before the Masters. Funny how that happens . . .
Give George Karl some credit. What he’s done with the Melo-less Nuggets is pretty amazing . . .
When the talent-laden Red Sox open 0-3, you know not to take baseball’s first weekend too seriously . . .
— STEVE BISHEFF