When the American League playoffs begin this weekend season, the Angels will be outside looking in for the second consecutive season. The Texas Rangers made sure of that.
The defending American League champions used a two-run Adrian
Beltre homer to put an end to Anaheim’s wild card hopes holding on for a 4-3
victory. Losing pitcher Dan Haren (16-10) surrendered nine hits over eight
innings in his first home loss since June 7.
In tonight’s game, the Rangers will send Colby Lewis (13-10, 4.45
ERA) to the hill against Ervin Santana (11-12, 3.38 ERA). First pitch is
at 7:05 PM ET at the Big A.
MLB odds boards opened with Ervin Santana as the small -115 favorite over Lewis, and with the total set at 7.
Texas is peaking at the right time going 8-1 in their last nine
games and is 16-6 this month. Anaheim has lost seven of its last 11 a skid that
effectively ended their postseason hopes.
Let the finger pointing begin
Even though MLB betting lines had the listed Angels as 30/1 longshots to win
the World Series, 2011 still ranks as a disappointment. After dominating the American League Western Division for a stretch of eight years, Anaheim has now become just
another team chasing the likes of the Rangers and Yankees, Tigers, Rays and Red
Sox. It’s just a hunch but I’ll be shocked if major changes aren’t made before
opening day 2012.
Mike Scioscia is considered to be one of the elite managers
in baseball but does his job security come into question now after a second
straight failure? Do the Angels need a younger manager who can relate to the
future stars like Mark Trumbo or Peter Bourjos or Mike Trout? What about
General Manager Tony Reagins who orchestrated some truly awful deals during his
tenure while tying up Angel finances in the process?
Unfortunately for Reagins, for every good deal he made (Haren for
Joe Saunders) there were the atrocious trades and free-agent signings like
Scott Kazmir, Hideki Matsui and the mother of all bad deals Vernon Wells. Even
when every other team in baseball passed on the Blue Jays slugger and his
obscene contract, the Angel ignored the warning signs and did the deal
anyway. Now the team is stuck with a guy making $26 million dollars
a year and isn’t even hitting his weight (.218). But look at the bright side.
The Angels only owe him $55 million over the next three years.
What makes the Wells deal even worse is that the Angels didn’t
need him and they in effect, ended up trading catcher Mike Napoli to get him.
After sending Wells to the Angels, the Blue Jays flipped Napoli to the Rangers
where he’s hitting .318 with 26 home runs and 69 runs batted in. The Angels
catching trio of Jeff Mathis, Hank Conger and Bobby Wilson are hitting a
combined .185 with 10 homers.
Some baseball pundits believe that Reagins was just the puppet and
Scioscia was pulling the strings. Either way there will be plenty of explaining
to do to Moreno who had the fourth highest payroll in MLB in 2011 at $138 million.
You don’t always have to spend to win. The Diamondbacks ($51
million) are proof of that.
The Rangers were another team that didn’t have a huge payroll
relatively speaking ($92 million) but used better judgment in in player
personnel decisions. While the Angels never did fill a gaping hole at third
base, Texas signed free-agent Adrian Beltre (31 homers, 103 RBI’s). The
Angels sat quietly by at the deadline as the Rangers picked up veteran reliever
Harvey’s Take: This will be the first time since 2001 that the Angels have
failed to make the postseason in back-to-back years and the streak may continue
again next year. They need to get some serious money off the books but not many
teams would be willing to trade for the likes of Tori Hunter, Bobby Abreu or
Wells for obvious reasons.
The Rangers front office is solid, the manager is wildly popular, and the team is young and talented. It sounds like the makings of a division
dynasty. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.