Once again, the Angels gained some headlines this past offseason, signing OF Josh Hamilton from rival Texas in what seemed like a reasonable 5 year contract. After a similar bad start (9-17 in April), the Angels seemed on the same path finishing May at 16-13, but were just 14-13 in June. But the team was just 4 games under .500 coming into the All Star break. However, the 9-12 record in July, coupled with an embarrassing loss to division rival Oakland, has left the Angels at 7 games under .500 with three teams ahead of them in the standings. The Angels took a 5-0 lead over the A's by the 2nd inning, only to allow Oakland to tie the game. After the Angels took a 6-5 lead, they gave it right back, losing 10-6.
The Angels made their first "sell" type of move, trading LHP Scott Downs to Atlanta earlier today. They seem to get the same fact that most of us get, that the Angels are unlikely capable of going on the type of run that can get themselves back into the AL Wild Card race. And they are wise for acknowledging that. Many teams have used the fact that there are two wild cards in each league as an excuse to battle for a race they are not really in. However, this season is a disaster, one neither owner Artie Moreno, General Manager Jerry DiPoto or manager Mike Scioscia could have imagined. Pujols is hurt and the pitching staff has been terrible, making it very unlikely anything will be salvaged this season.
With the high expectations, it seems logical somebody will be held responsible for this season. Perhaps if the Angels were in a tight race and fell a little short, it may be understood that they just fell short. Moreno did not open up his wallet for this team to be in 4th place. Does this fall on GM DiPoto, who hindsight will pin this on him as a bad job? The reason I disagree is the fact that they righted the ship last season. Pujols deal was expected to reap benefits within the first couple years and they came close last year, in spite of the high expectations. Adding Hamilton was expected to balance a right handed lineup that feature Pujols, Trout, Mark Trumbo and Howie Kendrick. On paper, the moves did not look bad. If many had that to do again, many would probably make the Hamilton signing again.
Scioscia has proven himself as a top MLB manager, though few would agree that he has done a good job over the past two. If he was fired today, he would have a job tomorrow as many teams would take him over their current skipper. A case could be made that sometimes good managers have their time run out on them. Perhaps the thought could exist that veteran players have tuned him out. It happened to Davey Johnson with the Mets, Whitey Herzog with the Royals and Cardinals, Dusty Baker with the Giants and even perhaps Casey Stengel with the Yankees. Few have the opportunity to win a World Series and retire, like Tony LaRussa did with the Cardinals, but even he was fired by the White Sox over 25 years prior to that.
The Angels will likely wait until after this season to do so. A Scioscia firing makes him the scapegoat of what has been a bad job all around. DiPoto did not address the pitching in the way he should have. But most importantly, the players are the ones who deserve the blame. Pujols and Hamilton will not be fired; they can't. They can let Joe Blanton go after the season, but that sends no message anybody on the team will care about. I can't see anything else that can be done. I losing 2013 season has to be an epic disaster for this franchise, one that needs a scapegoat. Moreno will not fire himself and remember, DiPoto has only been here a couple of year. He just replaced orevious GM Tony Reagans. However, the Angels loss will be another team's gain, as Scioscia will get a job immediately, if he wants. Or, he can set his sights on a job he wants, like the other LA team, who would love to have him back because of his roots.