Wednesday, June 30, 2010

By Geoff Bilau - Senior Editor

Over the span of Mike Scioscia's 10 1/2 seasons at the helm of the Angels, there have been a select number of players about whom many fans of this Website have scratched their heads and wondered aloud (or ad nauseum) "Why is he still on the team?" and "What does Mike see that we don't?" or "What is Mike doing in the incriminating photos that Player X must have?!"

In time, these players became known as "Mike's Guys," the cream of the crop — a crop of what we don't know, but there are probably locusts or some other plague involved.

Here then, with tongue firmly in cheek, is the official "All-Mike's Guys Team" from 2000-2010:

1B – Robb Quinlan

He's not only the first baseman; he's the poster boy and mascot. The second longest tenured Angel showed up in 2003 and, like that one friend at 1:45 a.m. early Sunday morning, he just won't leave.

2B – Benji Gil

Gil turned himself into a valuable platoon player in 2001 and batted .800 in the 2002 World Series, but in 2003 he obviously remembered that he's Benji Gil. Despite starting the season 0-for-14 and carrying a woeful .146 batting average into June, Scioscia continued to give Gil starts. And Gil continued to give fans indigestion.

SS – Middle-of-the-Order Batting Maicer Izturis

The Angels have actually been pretty blessed at shortstop under Scioscia's leadership. From David Eckstein to Orlando Cabrera to Erick Aybar, there's been a minimal amount of head scratching at this key middle infield spot — with one exception: "Batting third, the shortstop, Maicer Izturis."

On July 1, 2008, Scioscia inexplicably batted the 150-pound Venezuelan third, in front of Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter. The Angels won the game, 5-3, so Scioscia did it again on July 4 and 5 ... and 11 more games in July. Izturis batted .273 with zero home runs and eight RBI in the month, but the Angels went 13-6 in July, so Scioscia must've figured it was working.

3B – Edgardo Alfonzo

They say when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. Likewise, when life hands you Steve Finley, you turn it into Edgardo Alfonzo. (More on Finley in a bit.)

As an attempt to recoup something of value from the disastrous signing of Finley in 2005, Angels General Manager Bill Stoneman swung the 41-year-old outfielder over to the Giants for 32-year-old former All-Star infielder Alfonzo. Unfortunately, he, too, wound up playing like a 41-year-old.

Despite his .188 batting average, Alfonzo started eight games between April 26 and May 16. He was batting .100 when the Angels finally released him on May 21.

C – Jeff Mathis

A career .203 hitter, Mathis has started 252 games over six seasons with the Angels — perhaps the longest leash in franchise history.

He sure knocked the crap out of the ball in the 2009 ALCS, though, didn't he?

LF – Darin Erstad

He played more games in an Angels uniform than all but four players and ranks No. 4 on the franchise list for hits, runs scored and doubles, but Erstad's final two seasons in Anaheim were a source of much consternation for many Angels fans.

Despite his .370-ish slugging percentage, Scioscia insisted upon batting Erstad third or fifth for much of the second half of 2005. Erstad ended that season with seven HR and 66 RBI.

Erstad moved down to sixth and seventh in 2006, but his slugging percentage (and batting average) followed suit, dipping to .326 and .221, respectively, by the time injuries finally ended his season — and his Angels career — in late September.

CF — Steve Finley

Finley and his "magic crystals" arrived in December 2004 on the heels of a remarkable season that saw the 39-year-old belt a career-high 36 home runs for the Diamondbacks and Dodgers. Despite his near-AARP status, Stoneman gave Finley a two-year, $16 million contract. Disaster ensued.

Finley got off to a horrendous start, batting .149 in April. He rallied for an .875 OPS in May, but the wheels fell off in June and July as he slumped to .656 and .591, respectively. Scioscia kept running him out to center field in August, however, and Finley rewarded his persistence with a jaw-dropping .378 OPS in the month.

The worst, of course, was yet to come as Finley's poor season prompted the Angels to dive back into the free agent center fielder market later that winter. ... shudder.

RF – Jeff DaVanon

As mascots go, DaVanon was the Scoop to Quinlan's Clutch. (Or the Ribbie to Q's Southpaw, depending on your preference.)

DaVanon hit six home runs over a three-game span in July 2003. And 22 in the other 399 games he played for the Angels. But, hey, his called-third-strike head hang is the stuff of legend.

Bench – Reggie Willits

If you're reading this, you have hit at least as many Major League home runs as Willits.. A pinch runner who gets picked off in playoff games, Willits' bench warming intangibles are apparently off the charts.

SP – Jeff Weaver

Even though he was 6-0 with a 1.12 ERA after his first six Major League starts, Jered Weaver got sent back to AAA (for the second time) in July 2006 so that his older brother and his 3-10 record and 6.29 ERA could return from the disabled list.

Enough said.

RP – Brian Fuentes

With a vesting option on his 2011 contract looming, Scioscia continues to run the soft-throwing lefty onto the mound to finish games. After a season and half in Anaheim, Fuentes sports a 4.19 ERA and has blown 10 of 72 save chances.

At the moment, however, it's kind of difficult to fault Scioscia on this one; none of the other options look any better.

Love to hear what you think!

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