Tuesday, May 5, 2015

By Nathan Trop & Glen McKee, AngelsWin.com Senior Alarmists - 

At PCP headquarters, we are known for our levelheaded, patient approach to all things Angels related.  In fact, we made it all the way to May 5th before filing this.  

And since we are so level headed, we are prepared to tell everyone that it is time to PANIC!  The season is on the verge of disaster, and we are here to tell you why. 

Everything is a Mess - Nathan Trop

Before I even get to the offense, I want to talk about Jered Weaver.  Weave, for the last few years, has been someone we can rely on to come in and shut the opposing team down.  He was our dominant ace.  But this year during spring training he showed up and his velocity was down.  Way down!  Even though he was only hitting 82 MPH on his fastball everyone said, “he will be fine once the season starts.”  They couldn’t have been more wrong.  He has been a disaster.  

You know we are doomed when even the rock pile can’t save him.  Weaver himself admitted after his last bad start (the 6th of the season) that it is like he is throwing batting practice.  That could be the most accurate self-criticism I have ever heard.  Weave has never really been a guy to throw hard but instead relied on deception to keep batters from making solid contact.  It doesn’t matter though if you are flashing the batter before delivering the pitch if it is barely hitting 80 MPH without movement.  

One comparison we keep hearing is Greg Maddux.  He was still dominant with a low 80’s fastball.  But as much as I love Weave, he is no Maddux.  Maddux is one of the best ever; he had pinpoint location and tons of movement.  So far Weaver hasn’t had the location and he never had that much movement on his pitches.

Maybe the most frightening state of the Angels is that CJ Wilson has been the best starter, and his numbers are great.  Wilson has a WHIP of 1.06!!!!!  That deserves some recognition; he has been getting ahead of batters and getting out of innings that he normally struggles with.  You guys know I am a huge supporter of him and think he is the best… but I have a hard time thinking he can keep this up.

Now we move to the offense, which looks about as impotent as the geriatric crowd on this flight to Florida.  (That’s right!  I’m penning this masterpiece from 40,000 feet.  Look up, I’m waving to you now!)  Outside of Mike Trout, Kole “I just want to earn a soul” Calhoun and Johnny “I swear this isn’t a fluke” Giavotella, it is about as horrendous as it gets.  Despite Weaver’s struggles, the pitching hasn’t been bad, but no team can win when the offense doesn’t score runs.  

Trout has been in a bit of a strikeout funk lately, though he still has a good average and OBP.  Calhoun has been nursing an injury and Johnny G might finally be coming back to earth a bit.  Pujols has hit some home runs and David Freese has been anything but cold in clutch situations, but their averages still aren’t great.  

The rest of the team, holy cow they are bad!  Even my beloved Aybar has been completely lost.  But none of them have been as bad as Chris Iannetta.  He of a .094 batting average and .301 OPS, which is lower than the SLG of all but Joyce.  Joyce is no picnic either, his OPS is .418, aided by a home run yesterday that was admittedly big, even in a loss.

I wouldn’t suggest it is time to panic if just one or two guys were struggling, if there were signs of improving, but there are so many players struggling, and the Angels aren’t finding ways to win like they did last season.  It’s still semi early, but not early enough.  Unless Scioscia and the players find some magic, and soon, this is doomed to be a 75 to 80 win season.

It’s (Almost) Time to Panic Glen McKee

I have a hard time arguing with or even disagreeing with the points made by my esteemed colleague. There’s no arguing that the Angels suck right now.  They’re like a jet engine: they both suck and blow.  

They’re a listless bunch right now and absolutely no fun to watch.  The game on May 4th was indicative of this, especially with the ending:  Bottom of the 9th, 2 outs, down by one run and Cron at the plate.  What happens?  Cowgill gets caught stealing 2nd.  What a dumb move!  I get aggression on the bases but there’s a line, and this team crosses it with alarming frequency.

With that said, it still isn’t time for full-on panic, but it is time to get worried.  This team has a superstar in Trout, but he can’t do it alone and his occasional “slumps” illustrate how that burden affects him.  Kole Calhoun is a nice complement to Trout but there has to be more to the offense.  

Pujols?  Please.  He’s gonna back into a decent amount of home runs but his average will continue to plummet like my desire to vote in the 2016 Presidential election is plummeting.  

Matt Joyce is a waste of a roster spot but he got that HR the other night, so now we’ll see him in the lineup for at least another month, waiting for the next one.  

Cron – I want him to succeed but he looks like a vastly inferior version of Trumbo – it’s like comparing Sandra Bernhard to Kate Upton.  He’s our primary DH and in the first week of May, he has one HR and a robust .260 OBP.  

Enough of the negative though, let’s look at some positives.  Aybar is starting to heat up after his usual dismal start.  That’s big!  That said though, and I can’t emphasize this enough so I’m gonna use all caps: STOP HITTING AYBAR LEADOFF, SCIOSCIA!  It doesn’t work.  As far as the positives for the offense, that’s all I have: Aybar is warming up, and Trout/Calhoun are aces.  Oh yeah, and Johnny G should be leading off, at least until he cools off.

There are other solutions for the offense.  When we traded for Joyce the consensus seemed to be that he’d be a platoon player, but because of the Hamilton fiasco he’s a full-tip bottomless pit of suck.  Hamilton is no excuse for keeping Joyce out there full-time, though.  I’ve never been a Grant Green nutswinger but I’m starting to sniff his jock a bit.  With our current situation there’s no reason to not give him a shot in LF.  Make him the primary starter until the ASB, and platoon Joyce and Cron as the DH.  We won’t do any worse than we are already.  Make that minor change and give Perez 2-3 starts a week at catcher to give Iannetta some time off and see what happens.  I’m tired of eating the same crap sandwich every game.  I wanna taste some new crap.

As for the pitching: it’s tough to say but it does look like Weaver is done.  I love the Weave and have much respect for him.  But even he’s saying he doesn’t know what to do.  It looks like it’s time for him to have a DL stint and give Heaney a shot.  

Wilson is a surprise but you have to wonder if he has an expiration date this season, like he did last year.  Santiago is Santiago: a #4/5 pitcher who will give you a few really good games followed by a few frustrating ones.  Shoemaker is a question mark but still slots as a good end-of-rotation guy.  Richards is rounding back into form as a legit #1.  The rotation isn’t terrible but Weaver is the sand in the gears.  Give him some time off and figure out what to do with him.  

The bullpen is another area that is weaker than we thought it would be.  If we have a lead, the 8th and 9th are solid.  Morin is still an unknown, Salas is bound to explode at any moment, Ramos looks decent.  It should still be OK though, but may need minor tweaking as the season progresses.  It’s not a difficult fix.

Yes, things look bad right now with a four-game losing streak and sitting four games under .500.  It’s May, so it’s getting late to still be early.  The team looks bad but it’s not too far from being tweaked into a contender.  It’s just a question of whether the team will take those steps, and if even those steps will help.

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