For fans of any sport, it does not get better than the anticipation of a new season actually being realized. However, the past few years have quickly spoiled that feeling for baseball. The Angels have not seemed to play with much urgency until the middle of the season, resulting in missing the playoffs by just a few games. Considering how much money has been spent on "veteran" performers, it begs the question on what veteran "leadership" and manager "tolerance" really is worth. This article shows how L.A. is looking at the Angels right now.
Who are the veteran leaders on the Angels?
I think it's safe to assume that Pujols, Weaver, and Hamilton are the clubhouse veteran leadership on the Angels roster. However, pitchers don't count in my opinion because they're only on the field for some of the games. Hamilton doesn't qualify because he has just arrived from a division rival and can't stir things up yet. That leaves Albert.
Albert Pujols has been called a quiet leader his whole career. What does that mean? Lead by example? Follow my lead? Speak soft and carry a big stick? Given the state of the Angels, is quiet leadership effective? I say no. If Ray Lewis or Ozzie Guillen were sitting on the Angels bench, players would have a fire lit under them on every at-bat. The Angels need an outspoken leader. They need someone to say today's game is just as important as game 162. This concept where it is acceptable to start soft is absurd to me.
Is veteran leadership worth anything before playoff runs?
Let's face it. Having 162 games to play is the reason why the sense of urgency is lost at the beginning of the baseball season. However, from a fan perspective, you think about specific losses when your team misses the playoffs by a few games. Why did he trust Fernando Rodney when up by one run when is is the opposite of clutch? Why did Santana get some many innings "to settle down" so often? Aybar struck out on the inside breaking ball again. Is anyone going to say something to him? The numbers are there to support how to strike Josh Hamilton out - are we going to address a different plate strategy? Why do we have to wait until a playoff run until everyone wants to talk about issues? Why aren't leaders getting mad earlier? We've got 10 games left and we're down by 4 games....NOW veteran leadership takes over.... it's too late.
Is Scioscia part of the problem?
Having a "patient" manager can be part of the problem. How many times last year did we see Ervin Santana get a ton of rope, when he obviously didn't have acceptable stuff that day? Pujols was hitting under .200 for a significant portion of the season in 2012 and Scioscia refused to sit him. When Hamilton strikes out with the same pitch series that he always strikes out on, Mike needs to YELL AT HIM. In other sports, calling someone out in other sports is fine. Why not in baseball? Why can't Mike pull C.J. Wilson after 2 innings on a night where he isn't bringing it instead of waiting until being down 5 runs in the 3rd? What good is having a long reliever like Williams or Richards when they're always going to be down 5 runs before they use them? If you're rebuttal is that a manager needs to let his guys play without having to look over their shoulder, I ask you, how is that working? This is while I'm watching Tommy Hanson pitch 36 pitches in the first inning...to the ASTROS.
What the Angels need from their manager is action, not patience. A team meeting is not effective unless it is done Bull Durham-style. Right now, the Angels look like a bunch of....
Skip: You guys. You lollygag the ball around the infield. You lollygag your way down to first. You lollygag in and out of the dugout. You know what that makes you? Larry!
If you disagree, tweet me @absolut_joe.