Thursday, April 22, 2004

There is much understandable consternation across Angel blogdom and, presumably, all Angel fandom today, as we reflect on our three-game losing streak and seemingly endless offensive slump -- the latest embarrassment of which reckoned out by R.A. Dickey, apparently (in the Angel hitters' world) the greatest pitcher of all the times.

First of all, John Lackey finally looked pretty good last night, as you know. However, his lack of strikeouts is worrisome. Three strikeouts and four walks in fifteen and two-thirds innings is less than exciting. Of course, it is only fifteen and two-thirds innings. But if Lackey is going to be permanently unable to put hitters away, that's going to lead to problems -- and may even indicate that he's lost something, which could concievably point to injury. This is a problem to monitor.

The other problem right now is the offensive slump. Bluntly, no one looks good up there right now. Rob at 6-4-2 thinks we need to move Bengie to the number two spot. I'm going to alert the Sample Size Police to that suggestion, but the notion that we have to get Erstad out of the top of the lineup is absolutely sound.

I think the most likely candidate is Adam Kennedy, though it's not going to happen while he's hitting .220. But he's seeing a lot of pitches (3.88 per plate appearance) and drawing a decent though unspectacular amount of walks. He's slumping right now, but he's a better hitter than Erstad.

An even more daring idea would be to put Troy Glaus (or, when he warms up, Tim Salmon) in the two-hole. Good eye, gets on base ... plus, if Eckstein gets on, the pitcher is in a quandary: do I throw the breaking pitch, and thus give Eckstein a chance to steal, or do I throw a fastball to the power hitter? Either way, Erstad needs to move.

It'll never happen. The Angels think Erstad is gold, even if he's hitting .250. He'll be moving the runner over and making productive outs. It's a shame. But barring a miraculous comeback by Darin, he'll remain that Halo blindspot.

(All that said, none of this sours me on the season. It's only been 15 games; they've all been in the division, and we've all been beating up on each other. Yes, it's a slump. But nothing that has gone seriously wrong is anything that we were unaware of before the season began.)

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