By Glen McKee, Chronicler of Mediocrity
Last week was yet another week of Angels baseball in which they showed signs of the possibilities but ultimately ended up disappointing us. Once again, the Angels start a new week with a perfectly mediocre record of 43-43, amazingly enough still in second place in the AL West, as if that mattered. Let’s break down how the past week gave us some hope but then reminded us of what this team is.
– The big deal at the stadium on Saturday was the celebration of Albert Pujols’ 600th HR, which feels like it happened a month ago. Wait a minute, it was a month ago, June 4th. The Angels celebrating Pujols hitting his 600th HR is a bit like a real estate agency celebrating an agent selling his 600th house, but he sold 445 of those houses at a different agency and sold those 445 at a much better rate. Last week, Pujols hit a miserable .136. HIs average for June was .196, with a .543 OPS. Hence the title of this post. He needs Mike Trout hitting in front of him or he goes to complete shite, as opposed to partial shite. HIs season OPS of .646 is eighth for Angels starters. He’s one of the elephants in the room that the Angels need to address.
– OK, enough about Pujols, who else on the team is miserable? Kold Calhoun is back, hitting .167 last week and .242 for the season. Calhoun actually had a very good June, let’s hope that last week was an aberration.
– Speaking of Mike Trout, it appears that all systems are go with him and he’s ready to be back. He was selected to the All-Star team and I have a feeling he wants to both be in that game and playing with the Angels before then. Expect him to be activated Friday before the Rangers game.
– It’s worth noting that going into last week the Angels were facing the hottest team in the league for four games, the Dodgers. There’s a bit of a rivalry thing between the respective fan bases, if you hadn’t noticed. The Dodgers had won 10 in a row prior to that, and the Angels slowed them down. After the Angels, the Dodgers took two of three from the Padres and the Angels lost two of three from the Dipotos. Make of that what you will.
– You know who is on the Angels and underrated? Nobody, really. That’s why the Angels are so mediocre. That said, let’s heap a little praise on Ricky Nolasco. He was the brightest spot of last week and it’s surprising to type that. 6.1 IP against the Dodgers, 0 ER, gets the win. CG SO against the Mariners, gets the lone win of that series. Last year he finished the season impressively. This could be a turning point for him or a fluke, but I’m hoping for and believing it’s the former.
– Kenyan Middleton had a brutal week. It started off well but then he gave up an inconsequential run in one inning against the Dodgers, and on Sunday he gave up 3 ER in one inning in a game the Angels lost, 5-3. That hurt, but you know what? He’s a rookie reliever. Give the kid some time.
– Biggest potential trade target Yunel Escobar kept increasing his value, hitting .381 last week and showing some above-average defense at 3B. I love Luggage Guy and I kinda hope he isn’t traded, but if he is gonna be traded now is the time. As in, this week. Don’t give him the chance to cool off.
– How about that Blake Parker? If there’s one thing you have to give Eppler credit for, it’s finding bullpen pieces that nobody expected to be good. Parker has a 1.98 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP on the season. In three games last week Parker had 2.1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 1 K. Along with David Hernandez, he’s been the biggest surprise in the ‘pen.
The binnacle list. Matt Shoemaker may or may not return soon. As I mentioned above, I’m betting on Trout being activated Friday. Andrew Heaney could be back this season. Tyler Skaggs could be back in a few weeks. Garrett Richards might be back in August. I hope hat clears everything up.
What’s next? Three games in Minnesota against the equally mediocre (41-40) Twins, a day off, and then three in Texas versus the slightly-less-than-mediocre (40-42) Rangers. Both teams are 4-6 in their last 10 games, versus the Angels 5-5. Edge: Lowell.
Predictions. It’s six games so the Angels have to go 3-3, so I have to decide which team they’ll choke against. Usually it would be the division-rival Rangers but I’m predicting 1-2 in Minnesota and 2-1 in Texas, with that one loss being the last game before the All-Star break, because that’s how we roll. It’s worth noting – let me pat myself on the back here – that I got last week exactly right, so you know I’m good for this week.