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Sunday, July 31, 2005

AN ANGEL ON EACH SHOULDER
EMOTION ANGEL: This team sucks. What a pathetic show we've made of late -- aside from winning series agains the Twins and Yankees, we've been swept by Seattle and Toronto and lost series to the A's and New York. And the worst thing about losing that last series to New York is that we had leads in the last two games -- both games were winnable. But Mike Scioscia totally mismanaged the bullpen in games two and three, and out lead is down to one-and-a-half games and sinking in the AL West.

LOGIC ANGEL: Yes, we've played poorly of late. And yes, Scioscia's bizarre bullpen management cost us those two games.

One, on Saturday, the story is: Peralta -- 1/3 IP. Why did Peralta face only one guy? So that Scioscia could play the percentages by bringing in Jake Woods to face two lefthanded batters. When that didn't work, he had to press a clearly overworked K-Rod for a five-out save. That worked out about as well as could have been predicted.

But the thing is, we were already going into the game with a shorthanded bullpen, with presumably Shields and Donnelly unavailable. (Of course, K-Rod had thrown more pitches in the previous two games than either of those guys, and K-Rod had thrown more pitches Thursday night than Shields had pitched on those two days combined, so why he was available to try to get five outs when clearly gassed and Shields wasn't available at all is beyond me.) Having Peralta in for one batter artificially shortened the bullpen when it wasn't necessary, so Scioscia reaped what he sowed.

The story of Sunday's game is: Pitches/Strikes: Bootcheck -- 79/55. Why Bootcheck was pulled after six effective innings is a mystery as well. It brought Esteban Yan into the game, which, after his three scoreless innings Thursday night, is called Pressing Your Luck. Sure enough, this made Donnelly come in to try and make a long appearance, and when that didn't work, Shields had to try to make a long appearance. They were both wasted, and it didn't work.

EA: These are all things I know. But the fact is, we still should have won Sunday's game, and didn't because we're a bunch of chokers.

LA: If you really think the problem with this team is the defense of Darin Erstad and Orlando Cabrera, you have another think coming. (I do realize that Kennedy also made an error, but that one ended up not mattering. And I further realize that Cabrera wasn't charged an error on that play -- but it was one, I don't care how much the Yankee official scorer wants to kiss up to Gary Sheffield to get him an RBI.) It was phenomonally frustrating and phenomonally bad timing, but we can usually rely on those guys.

EA: Whatever. Cabrera and Erstad are overpaid and we have no DH. And Stoneman did jack nothing to improve us at the deadline.

LA: Well, we don't know what offers were out there. The Times was reporting stuff like Kansas City demanding a package including Shields and Figgins for Mike Sweeney. That's just absurd; we're never going to do that, and we shouldn't do that. I would love to see some offensive help for this team, and I'd even be willing to trade Kotchman and Erick Aybar in the right package. But we don't know what was out there.

Still, I share your frustration. It feels like something should be done.

EA: And look at the A's. They're about to pass us up, and we can't do anything to stop them. Our offense is terrible, our bullpen is overworked, and our rotation is pitching over its head. We're doomed.

LA: The offense is slumping now, it's true. We saw this in April and May. It's what happens when you have an offense based around batting average, and an offense based on the production of two guys: Vlad and Garret. Those guys have been struggling of late, so the offense has been struggling.

Oh, we have other good hitters: Bengie is hitting very well, and Kennedy and Figgins are their usual solid selves. But those two guys are the lifelin.

EA: Vlad looks terrible. You said he was going to come out of his slump. We're still waiting. Get your nose out of a spreadsheet and watch a game.

LA: Yes, when his slump began, Vlad was hitting in bad luck, I believe. But he looks like he's started to press a bit, and has had some very poor at-bats.

Still, he knocked in what should have been the game-winning run today, fighting off a tough pitch from a great pitcher to do it. As long as he's healthy, he'll come around, and fairly soon. Is he healthy, and will it be enough? I don't know.

The ancient adage: no team is as good as they look when they win or as bad as they look when they lose. We're all angry right now over the way we've been playing. But we're not this bad. We'll get better.

EA: I am sick of your rosy-colored "analysis." This team has major problems; Erstad can't hit, Steve Finley is done, our DHs are in a season-long funk. This team is beginning to show it's true colors.

I give up on them. Oh, I'll still watch every game, and cheer and root. But I expect nothing in return. Any game we "win" will be deemed a gift to us from a higher power. Every loss will be expected. With any luck, this will show the Angel brass the error of their ways, and they'll stop doing things like signing Finley and Cabrera to contracts bigger than their production. Bill Stoneman has to shape up or ship out.

LA: There are still two months of baseball to play. Let's say that in March, I told you we would have a one-and-a-half game lead on Oakland going into August. You'd be pretty happy, right?

Remember how bad things looked at times last year? We were way out of it, or so it seemed. And look at this year: so much has gone wrong -- Vlad's worst slump ever, the end of Finley, Kelvim injured, McPherson injured for much of the year -- and we still have the division lead of August 1. Let's use some perspective; it ain't over, and it's not close to over. There is time.

EA: Whatever. You set yourself up for heartbreak.

LA: I'm a life-long Angel fan. You think I can't take heartbreak?

EA: Good point.

Comments:
Outstanding work
 
Seconded.
 
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