Most of those who are inclined to enjoy the Angels’ current six game win streak predicted that the team would eventually resemble the talent that the squad seemingly had, adding Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols and much more. As this season turns into something that might very well be salvageable, expectations will most likely get higher and higher, leading the fans to believe that this is a championship team, one that could beat another team from the NL into submission, simply with the bats of Trout, Pujols, Hamilton and the ilk. From what I see, this team isn’t built to win a championship, it actually reminds me of the most disappointing teams that the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and other teams had.
What it comes down to is that a team can’t win it all, just because it’s full of superstars. Take a look at our neighbors in Oakland, the Athletics. They don’t pay a lot of money out but going back to last season, it’s pretty easy to say that they’ve been the best team in the league, with such a limited payroll. You see, paying a lot of money for great players is well, great, but it won’t do anything for chemistry and a clubhouse in trouble. If there’s a crisis in the lockerroom, who could you honestly see being a leader, besides perhaps Trout at an exceptionally young age and perhaps Jered Weaver?
Last season, it was Torii Hunter and unfortunately, the team unwisely chose not to resign him, leaving him to take his talents to barren and depressing Detroit. With Hunter departing, there’s no one for this team to instantly go to, only a few reaches of captains that probably got there by default. For example, in the hockey world, the Washington Capitals picked Alexander Ovechkin as their captain a while back and although he’s a great player and electrifying to watch, he may not be the kind of player you’d expect to be a captain. Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins would be an obvious choice, a star player who runs the lockerroom. There’s simply a team that was thrown together on the field.
To fix this, it’s going to be extremely difficult. You normally can’t sign players in the middle of the season to be a leader, due to who is usually available, their impending contract status and of course, the fact that they just then showed up on the team. This puts the Halos in a difficult spot, looking for an identity when it looks like there simply isn’t one to be found, this is just a team that takes its at-bats and turns on the pitching mound. This is how the Yankees used to (and still do, when not completely destroyed by injuries) do it and although they had success, they wouldn’t win the World Series every year, they would be taken apart by rough and tumble teams like the former Florida Marlins.
If the Angels could rally around one player, it could absolutely change everything. The player most likely to step up as a captain is most likely Albert Pujols, if he can get past his injuries, seeing as he won multiple championships in St. Louis. If Pujols could build a clubhouse that has each others backs, instead of worrying about their paychecks and going through the motions, this could be a team that would contend. Sure, the pitching would still be suspect and at this point, Peter Bourjos will probably get an unfortunate stubbed toe that will take him out for the season but when you’re reaching for straws, it’s best to grab the crazy straw. When the going gets tough, the tough get tougher.
I believe in this team and I think it can gain its identity in time to not only contend for one of the two Wild Card spots, but also challenge for the division. Jason Vargas returning in a healthy state would help, Bourjos staying on the field for more than five minutes at any given time would support the teams’ new winning ways and it might take a surprise move to shake the organization into a wakeup call. I propose a few trades and one special promotion to the majors.
Luis Jimenez needs to be called up and take over for Alberto Callaspo, immediately. Most would look at the move as a lack of offense but at this time, offense isn’t the biggest problem. Nothing is more demoralizing to a team than to give up free runs with misplays in the field and Callaspo is a severe liability at the hot corner, third base. Have Jimenez take over at third, trade for a few veterans (possibly bullpen work, but only one more bullpen piece. I think it would be wise to get a catcher with leadership.
Why not trade for Brian McCann, seeing as the Braves love Evan Gattis and it is a contract year for McCann, one where he’s about to cash in, big time? I’m not saying the Angels should throw out another huge contract but why not test the waters and get someone who is probably leaving, has enough defense, power and has played in a winning culture, full of chemistry? Chris Iannetta is anything but a bad player but if you want to make one risky move, one single move full of trouble or triumph, why not pick up a quality player at the most important position for chemistry, catcher.
Even if the Halos don’t make any changes, this team sure does look different. Six wins in a row after sweeping the Tigers and Astros, a welcome change in the Southern California air. No other six game window explains just how the Halos were predicted to be and should be, beating the good teams and taking care of the teams that should be beaten. Maybe it’s all a bunch of smoke and mirrors but with the Angels going into random little “funks”, there should be an insurance policy, one that’s currently residing in the minors and another, in Atlanta, Georgia. A change is needed to sustain this success.