The Angels just don’t get it. How does one score runs? They get on base and hit for power, right? Manufacturing runs is great, but it should be in addition to a foundation of the aforementioned strategies, if the personnel is there. It is not a difficult philosophy. The more runners that reach base, the more runners that will score, over a long period of time. And of course, bettering the rate at which one makes an out, is a simple way to look at it too.
Mike Scioscia, we know that your style of ball won a World Series for the Angels back in 2002. We understand that, we all watched it happen. Not so much because of the Angels, mostly because Barry Bonds was there (And that is no disrespect to the Angels team, I watched that series because the greatest hitter I have ever seen was making his first appearance, whether one loved or hated him, they were intrigued by his dominance). But in 2002 there are a few things worth mentioning: One is that the Angels were fourth in the AL in OBP. They reached base (4th) and they scored runs (also 4th). The other is that the Angels finished 6th in slugging. 4th and 6th in the two most important categories translated into 4th in runs scored (3rd on the road). The Angels may have manufactured runs back then, but they also reached base with a greater frequency (much greater) and they actually displayed some power. These, I believe, are more important then hitting with runners on the move and such.
But in 2008, the Angels were 10th in runs scored. The Angels were 11th in OBP. And they were 9th in slugging. They had exactly five players with OBP’s greater than the league average (.333). Chone Figgins, who does not hit for any power. Mike Napoli, whom played a limited role, which should be expanded. Vlad Guerrero, who posts respectable OBP’s, but doesn’t exactly work the count. Torii Hunter, another free swinger with a OBP not too much better than league average. And the final qualifier…?
Why, Mark Teixiera of course, who inspired this blog. The Angels have decided to withdraw from the Teixiera race, or so they say. And it is not simply this decision that baffles me. It is the reluctance to sign guys that get on base. They could go another direction. The Angels could try and acquire two of the Burrell/Dunn/Abreu trio (preferably the first two names). The corner outfielding defense would be simply atrocious, but the offense would definitely improve. Dunn could DH, Burrell in right (or even first possibly, and Vlad could play right). Although at this point, Guerrero should really be the one filling the DH role. But they could move them around and have Vlad DH some of the time too. Gary Matthews isn’t a starting OF, so he would be sitting on the bench as a sunk cost. There are a bunch of different options for the Angels, none of them “defensively friendly,” but vast improvements on the offensvie side of the ball.
What is most likely not the solution? Juan Rivera. More specifically, Juan Rivera for THREE years. There is always the possibility that Rivera learns how to play at the age of 29, like that of Carlos Pena. If a team were to give him AB’s, maybe Rivera becomes productive. But how productive? Productive enough to score the fourth or fifth amount of runs in the AL? No. Rivera for one year may have been an ok move, but they need other hitters. The window to win is now. The team has some young components, so the window may expand to later as well. But now is known, later is not.
John Lackey is an ace. Ervin Santana has ace-like stuff. Jered Weaver is roughly league average (which is disappointing based on expectations, but still has value, and he is only 25). Joe Saunders may have overachieved some, but he should be quality. Kelvim Escobar may serve some purpose again (haven’t heard much about him). There are still two good options in the pen as of now. And of course their star position player (Vlad) is aging and probably only has a few good seasons left, unless he makes a permanent move to DH. There is a window to win right NOW. But the philosophy must be changed as much as anything. Because if the philosophy is changed, then high OBP players will be brought in to help the offense produce more runs.
The Angels don’t need to bring in defensively challenged players such as Burrell, etc. But if they don’t do that, then Mark Teixeira almost has to be brought back. Maybe Tex and if they want to spend the money, then one of those outfielders that were mentioned. The Angels make the most sense of any team for Mark Teixeira, more sense than anyone. And that is why I am confused that they would take their names out of the running. Get on base, score runs. Anaheim Angels. Are you listening to that?