Who would’a thunk it?
The Angels sign Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson, then at the end of April bring to the majors the incomparable Mike Trout. Later on, it’s Zack Greinke that they steal. The Dodgers hand major roles, with unanticipated success, to Luis Cruz, AJ Ellis, and Kenley Jansen, and then acquire Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, and Brandon League.
The Dodgers have a couple of excuses. That empty uniform masquerading as a manager is a significant part of the reason for their super disappointing season, along with the injuries to Matt Kemp, Chad Billingsley, Dee Gordon, and Ted Lilly. The walking wounded will either be back next season, or replaced by hopefully healthier bodies. However, the return of mattingly as manager will likely mean at best another second place finish, with a likely trip home after the regular season (not a trip to at least a wild card playoff game).
The Angels on the other hand, are harder to explain. They have one of the best managers of his generation in Mike Scioscia, but the team earned no better a result than that team “managed” by the over-matched mattingly. How come? Pujols got off to that horrible start, but by May, the team had a power-laden lineup that consistently produced. The only significant mistake Scioscia regularly made was to insert the worthless Vernon Wells in the lineup, replacing a real major leaguer when he did.
As we wrote a while back, the problems can be directly traced to the pitching staff, and the non-production of Ervin Santana and Dan Haren in particular, and CJ Wilson for a long mid-season streak, plus the erratic bullpen performances of the early season. Ernesto Frieri took charge, for the most part, of the closer role and settled down the bullpen, but what do you do with highly thought of but non-producing starters like Haren and Santana, and even Wilson? The three of them “earned” $34,200,000 this season. Really. Do you hope they will do better next season, or do you do a further staff shake-up? Just as an aside, over the last five years, Joe Saunders, who the Angels traded for Haren, has won one less game per season than Dan Haren, and earns less than one/half Haren’s $12,7000,000 salary.
Well, it should be a pretty good World Series between the Giants and Detroit. More on that later.