Angels’ Season-Ending Whimper Heard and Felt As Far Away As Florida

With a chance to knock their rival Texas Rangers out of the playoffs, the Angels’ miserable season ended with a resounding whimper, as they could win not a single game in the final four-game series in Texas. One victory in the four games and the Rangers would also be going home, with a significantly better record than LA, but still missing the playoffs. Instead, the Angels must hang their collective heads in shame and limp off into the sunset, as the Rangers prepare for their one-game playoff with Tampa Bay, for the American League’s second wild-card spot.

In today’s finale, Mike Scioscia fielded a team representative of what he has been forced to be playing for much of the second half of the season, a team including such names as J.B. Shuck, Kole Calhoun, and Andrew Romine, with Collin Cowgill coming off the bench. Guys like Grant Green, Luis Jimenez, and Chris Nelson also saw considerable playing time the last two-plus months. This was due to injuries to Albert Pujols, Peter Bourjos, Howie Kendrick, Josh Hamilton, and the trade of Alberto Callaspo.

But, the funny thing is, the team played better the second half with this makeshift lineup. The Angels went into the All-Star break at 44-49 and thereafter rolled up a 34-35 record, finishing six games under .500, at 78-84.

Major questions face the organization now,

beginning with the future of both manager Scioscia and GM Jerry Dipoto. Then, they are faced with either piling more money into some very obvious holes, such as most of the pitching staff and third base, or being more economical-minded and either filling from within, such as the move I’ve argued for for two months, moving Grant Green to third, or trying to make a trade or two for the hard-working journeyman type that the team has basically disdained since spending for the big buck big name player became their preference.

If you think, however, that Arte Moreno and the Angels’ hierarchy have been dissuaded from spending big just because the results so far have been, shall we say disastrous, that they have learned some kind of lesson and will hold back even a bit, remember that

their 20-year TV contract pays the team $150 M a year, before they ever have to get down to counting gate receipts. With plenty of cash on hand, I expect them to go after more big-money pitching help and likely a veteran to play third.
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After all, the Angels’ 2013 $128 M payroll was only number six in baseball, behind Detroit (division winner), Boston (division winner), Philadelphia (16 games under .500), LA Dodgers (division winner), and at the top, the high-flying yankees (third place, out of the playoffs).

But, as far as Angels’ extravagance is concerned, there is no really good free agent third baseball that will be available this fall. The best of a bad bunch would be Kevin Youkilis who was hurt much of this past season, and Juan Uribe, who had a strong second half for the Dodgers. There are a few starting pitchers they will likely consider, including former Angels’ stalwart Bartolo Colon, plus Scott Feldman, Hiroki Kuroda, Tim Lincecum, and Roy Halladay, who despite coming back at the end of the season is always an injury risk.

The Angels will spend. Hopefully, they’ll do a better job with it this time.

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