Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Mr. Welch observes the anger of Seitz and Halofan about last night's game, and posits that perhaps the rest of the Halosphere is perhaps too busy fuming to post yet. In the case of Sean, perhaps he was right.

I feel too disconnected from this game to really fume about it. Oh, I was very upset to listen to Steve Finley pinch "hit" and to Shields lose his 11th game while on the commute home, but since I only listened to it and never saw it (like I'm going to subject myself to the videotape of that), it is this distant thing that I just sort of heard about and never experienced directly.

I do share the frustration of the aforementioned over the decisions to bat Erstad fifth and to insert Finley for Quinlan. Maybe Scioscia was focusing on Quinlan's 175/214/225 line against right-handed pitchers this season. Of course, that's only 40 at-bats ... Finley only has 252 at-bats against righties this year, wherein he's hit 190/244/313.

If you feel the need to pinch hit for Quinlan, I don't understand how Finley gets in line before Rivera. Rivera has smacked righties to a 280/323/497 this year, and the dirty little secret of our platoon arrangement at DH is that Rivera has hit better against RHP than LHP for the last two seasons and his career as a whole.

In the meantime, Shields just needs to be shut down. He's a terrific pitcher when rested and healthy, but just doesn't have anything after being worked, as I demonstrated yesterday. All year, Angel followers have been pointing out that he is the person on Earth most likely to have his arm fall off of his shoulder, and the team is beginning to pay the price for all the appearances he made earlier this year.

And, sadly, Kelvim Escobar is going to be no help while the health status of Bartolo Colon is up in the air. Kelvim may be needed to start on Saturday, leaving our rare late-inning leads in the hands of a wasted Shields, an inconsistent Donnelly, and a mercurial Frankie. Esteban Yan and Jason Christiansen are not deemed reliable, and with good reason, and it's hard to imagine Joe Saunders being thrown into a crucial situation near the end of a game. Meanwhile, Bret Prinz was released, the Angels apparently losing patience with his performance post-injury.

FYI: Bobby Jenks, Derrick Turnbow, and Matt Wise have combined for a line of:
  IP   K   BB   H   HR   WHIP   ERA
140.7 140 54 96 12 1.07 2.50
I'm being a little bit unfair, and there wasn't really a clamor when Turnbow and, in particular, Wise, were allowed to leave the organization. But eyebrows were raised when Jenks was let go so as to allow the likes of Tim Bittner to stay on the 40-man roster; yes, the Tim Bittner who we just released after he posted a 6.33 ERA at AA Arkansas.

The main point is that, in the last year or so, the Angels have allowed more bullpen talent to leave than they have brought in. As such, the vaunted Angel Middle Relief Factory has, essentially, been shut down. Looking at 2006 and beyond, all we really have are K-Rod and Shields. That's a good start, but more is needed. We have a number of decent minor league pitchers, so hopefully some of them will emerge.

This forward-thinking might lead you to believe I've given up 2005, which is certainly not the case. I might not be as sunny as Matt, but I think our chances of winning the division are pretty good. What worries me is the postseason -- I just don't know if I see this team beating Boston in a best-of-five. I like our chances against New York, Chicago, and Oakland, but I don't think our bullpen has enough left in the tank to take on the Boston offense. And as our offense is incapable of gaining our excellent rotation big leads, a lot of games are going to come down to the performance of our bullpen. Our fate may end up resting on the back of Bartolo Colon and the elbow of Kelvim Escobar.

The sun is not as sunny as Matt.
Jenks had serious maturity issues and was let go because of them. Of course, he has since gotten married and has kids. - But even the White Sox announcers have acknowledged his toubled past and pointed to his wife as the main reason for his newfound maturity on and off the field.
On that bullpen factory: expect some candidates to make their appearance known again. In particular, I'm looking for Peralta to get straightened out in time for Spring Training 2006, as well as possibly Mosely and Bootcheck, assuming the latter doesn't jump ship (IIRC he's a minor league free agent after this year). One possible dark horse candidate might be Edwar Ramirez, who got a couple courtesy innings in at AAA just before the close of the season, and performed admirably. He might also get a ST invite, and we'll see if he's up to the task.

The Angels lately have been hampered to some degree by Mike's relatively uncreative lineups. He doesn't have the 2002 bullpen, yet he continues to use that as the pattern for the 2005 squad; it's not helping matters.
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