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Friday, May 19, 2006

PANIC! IN THE LOCKER ROOM
So tempers boiled after last night's loss, one of the most appalling and disgusting incidents of ballplaying I have seen in years. Several Angels seem to feel the same way, and a dispute broke out in the locker room after last night's "game".

Piecing together accounts from various media, Legs Figgins was upset because Adam Kennedy didn't properly get a bunt down in the seventh inning. An argument broke out, and Darin Erstad intervened to regulate, yelling, "This is going to stop right … now! There's going to be no finger-pointing, I don't care who you are! It's over! If we go down, we're all going down together! We're going to pull for everybody! No talking behind anyone's back! Let's pull for each other! Let's go!"

A few observations on this dispute and the game as a whole:

1. Figgins criticizing Kennedy for not getting a bunt down is rich. Figgins is probably the worst bunter I've ever seen, at least out of guys who should be expected to bunt. And Kennedy's bunt, though obviously not good enough, sure wasn't awful; it was better than the best bunt Figgins has ever made.

While we're at it, how many times has The Legs screwed up on defense in the past week, anyway? He made three or four misplays in the Toronto series alone, between dropping balls and getting horrible jumps in center. I love ya, Chone, but glass houses and all that.

2. Asking Mike Napoli to make the fourth sacrifice bunt of his professional career as a squeeze play in the bottom of the eighth of a tie game is one of the craziest things I have ever seen. Mike Scioscia just got way too cute with that one.

While we're on the subject, Napoli has performed much better than I expected so far. The sample size is very small and he hasn't been around the league, but he looks very comfortable both at and behind the plate. He's not going to keep hitting .333, and I do expect his strikeouts to rise, but he definitely seems like a guy that will be able to help a major league team over his career.

3. I don't know where anyone on this team gets off blaming anyone else for the loss; just about every guy who played in the game gets some responsibility, except for maybe JC Romero and Scot Shields. And Erick Aybar was fine. And it does seem a bit churlish to blame Napoli for not getting that bunt down out of nowhere, but there were plenty of missed opportunities and defensive meltdowns all over the place.

4. John Lackey: trust your fastball and throw some damn strikes. Jeez.

Anyway, I'm not willing to give up on this season yet. No one in the division is really doing anything of note, and we can and should be playing better than this. If we're still struggling in a month, sure, see if we can move some of the veterans and get the kids up early. But part of this is that I think guys like Kendrick and Aybar should get a full year in AAA. I don't really see how starting their arb clocks early is going to help anything.

Of course, I won't deny that we suck right now. This team looks awful. I can't remember the last time I had so little confidence as we went into a series against the loathful Chavez Ravine.

Comments:
Some thoughts come to mind as we watch the Blue Jays leave town after getting their confidence pumped up courtesy of our poor play...

First, although I agree with your take on Figgins' complaint, it's hard to be too rough on him. This is the first time he's had to deal with losing over a long period of time since he showed up in Anaheim. I'm sure he's as frustrated as anybody and grace under pressure is only learned over time. He'll learn as he matures.

Two, although he didn't play much in this series, I was reminded of how much I miss Troy Glaus. We could certainly use his bat right now. I'm not second-guessing the decision to let him go...I just wish we had his power in the lineup right now.

Third, although we're struggling right now, it's not time to panic. Angel management has done a very good job of setting up a mix of experience and youth that will make this club very competitive for a long time to come. I'd hate to see them change the mix due to a few bad weeks or even a single bad season. I hope management will be patient enough to give this group a chance to jell, because they could turn out to be very, very good if given enough time.
 
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