Angels Still Trying To Find Their Wings
Anyone who said the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim would be in the cellar of the American League West heading into May is either uninformed or just plain lying.
After all, the Halos had a heavenly offseason. They signed C.J. Wilson away from their biggest competitors in the division. Then they swooped in and netted Albert Pujols – arguably the team's biggest free agent signing (literally and figuratively) since Mo Vaughn stumbled into Edison Field in 1999.
This winter brought the kind of excitement in Orange County normally reserved for children sprinting toward Space Mountain. Visions of World Series titles danced in red-capped heads. And on the 10th anniversary of the franchise's one and only championship? It was kismet.
So imagine the dismay over a 6-13 start and a four-game losing streak heading into Friday's series opener at Cleveland. To make matters worse, the team's most productive new addition might be … Chris Iannetta? In fairness, Wilson won his first two starts this season and pitched well enough to win his next two, were it not for the failures of the bullpen and a general lack of offense.
Speaking of lack of offense, the Angels started Friday ranked 12th in the AL in runs per game, OBP, slugging and OPS. The centerpiece of this tale of offensive misery has been Pujols. The Machine has been on the fritz to start the season, hitting .224/.316/.596 while still looking for his first home run.
But he's not the only one. L.A.'s offense this year has been uncharacteristic of Mike Scioscia's tenure on the bench. In 2012, they've looked more like an American League team than they ever have, with just 12 stolen base attempts and a lot more standing around waiting for the three-run homer – which has yet to consistently materialize.
That might not be so egregious if the pitching staff was picking up the slack. Unfortunately, they've been merely slack-jawed. Apart from Wilson and staff ace Jered Weaver, the Halos' starting staff hasn't been particularly angelic. The biggest disappointment has been Ervin Santana, who's been giving up home runs like it's his job.
The bullpen hasn't been much help either. Angel relievers have an AL-high five blown saves and are near the bottom of the circuit in runs per game allowed. Closer Jordan Walden was among the world leaders in blown saves last year and looks to have picked up where he left off.
The good news? It's still the first month of a long season and few are convinced the Angels will play this poorly all year long. After all, this isn't the first time there's been a slow thaw in Anaheim. Flash back to 2002, when Anaheim also started the season 6-13 and turned things around to eventually win the World Series.
(Few remember that while the A's were Moneyballing it up on their way to 20 straight wins, the Halos lost just 1.5 games in the standings.)