On May 2, three weeks ago today, I gave up on this team. I received a fair amount of criticism, and normally I wouldn't have given up on a team that was only a few games out, but based on what I had seen on the field, the team showed no fire, no ability to scrape out wins, and no chance to contend for the division. I was hoping that I would be writing a different post today. I don't like being right about this kind of stuff. But the last three weeks haven't done anything to remotely indicate that my eyes had been deceiving me over the first month of the season.
The Angels are 5-13 since that day, and have fallen six and a half games back of first place Texas. I'd imagine that they'll finish this series in that position, or be 8.5 games back. I can't see them winning both of the next two games. They've lost six games in a row. They were absolutely embarrassed by the Dodgers over the weekend. They're three games behind the Mariners in dead last in the AL West.
The problem with this team is that they aren't even that interesting to watch. It's just a bunch of old guys losing. If they'd make the decision to play the kids, they'd at least be interesting. We all knew that this was going to be a transition year, and we all hoped that they had enough to stick around and make the season interesting. But a lot of folks are now throwing blame around, to Scioscia, to Stoneman, to the players, hell one idiot was even criticising Moreno for not spending enough on payroll. The thing is, Stoneman was in a very difficult position this off-season. When you have as much talent as the Angels have coming up, you don't want to block it. The problem is that all of that talent was 1.5-2 years away. It would be nice to fill holes while that talent develops. But you can't do that via the free agent market. Anybody worth signing is getting 3, 4, 5 year deals. They aren't signing for a year or two. So you're forced to sign a guy long term with the idea that you're either going to have to move him in a few years, or you're going to have to deal prospects. The result is that three years later, you're back to square one. I'll note here that this was the reason that I think it was indefensible to refuse arbitration to Bengie. Worst case scenario, he would have been back for one year, which was exactly what they needed him for.
There's absolutely no reason to blame anyone in particular for this season. I'm not the type of person that wants to see the Angels become the Yankees of the West. I'd love to have their success, but for me, part of what made 2002 so great was that almost everyone on that team got their star in Angels uniforms. They were fun to root for because they were our guys. That doesn't mean I like Vlad or Bartolo any less, but I'd like to see the Angels succeed with guys that they develop, filling holes with free agent talent when necessary. It's no secret why Tim Salmon is the most popular player on the current club. This isn't to say that there isn't going to be goats in individual games. But going in, there was a high probability of volatility this season. This was team that could be great, or could be awful. Unfortunately, they're awful. And though I've thrown in the towel on the season, I'm still an Angels die hard.
So the key word is patience. When you look back over the first 40 years of the franchise, we've been incredibly blessed as fans for the past five years. I think we can survive a year of lumps. The future is still very bright.