Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Slacking again

There's really no excuse for my lack of writing in the last week, other than your basic "I just haven't felt like it". But the Angels completed their fifth consecutive series win, all 2-1, making them 10-5 in their last ten game. it's been a mix of good play combined with mediocre opponents, but five over .500 is five over .500, so I'm not complaining. They continue to be erratic on defense. Their loss in the first game to the D-Rays was a classic combination of poor defense and a failure to take advantage of opportunities on offense, as they weren't able to push a run across despite putting a ton of runners on base.

The key has been the offensive resurgence. Over the last seven days (not including today's game), they're getting on base at a .369 clip, while slugging .462 for an OPS of .832. They've done this as their pitching staff has held their opponents to .315./.391. Vlad continues to do what Vlad does, but over that stretch McPherson has been productive, and Cabrera has been on fire (he's now reached base in 38 straight games). Perhaps most surprising, Michael Napoli has kept up his production, hitting .300 over the last week, with his second homer of that stretch, a three run shot, coming in today's victory in Tampa.

On the other side, the pitching has really been picking up. Santana turned in fantastic performance last night. Jeff Weaver has been downright mediocre (which is an improvement), and John Lackey turned in a terrific effort on national television Sunday night. But the big news so far has been the emergence of Jered Weaver. Phenomenal in his debut, he's since turned in two more excellent performances, and has started his career 3-0. He's got a tremendous amount of raw talent, and as he hones those skills and adds another pitch or so (a two seamer with a little more movement, sayeth the Chronicler), he could develop into an ace.

If that all weren't enough, Joe Saunders has decided he's just not going to give up any more runs in the minors; Howie Kendrick apparently learned something about hitting he didn't already know while he was in the majors and has used it to hitter about .400 since his return to AAA; and Brandon Wood has figured something out which has allowed him to club long ball after long ball while pushing his average back up toward .300. If Eddie Bane really has the touch, we can expect great things from Hank Conger.

Truth be told, I still think the playoffs are a longshot. The offense can't keep up this level of production for long, and the pitching will even out. But the good news is that slight regressions in both, with some improved ham 'n egging, and this team could put together an extended run of success that takes them toward the top of the division. There's definitely a lot of hope.