Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Defying the Punchline in Anaheim


I watched some of the World Baseball Classic as it happened. I saw the end of the Puerto Rico/Israel game that was a total disaster for a fairly-alright Israeli team, I caught a few other matches that week, and I was watching last night during the final. I think they've done a good job with it overall, and the people who are complaining about seeing their favorite players get injured because of it...why is Jose Altuve your favorite player anyway? I don't wanna talk to you.

[I do agree with the Edwin thing, but that could have happened during the regular season or postseason as well, blaming the WBC on excessive celebration is an odd hill to die on].

The one talking point I heard a lot of during the WBC, especially last night during the final, was 'Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani are two of the best players in the world right now, imagine how good it would be if they played for the same team, OH WAIT'. As if everyone needed another excuse to slag off the Angels. And yes, I will admit, slagging off the Angels is kinda fun, I get that, they've spend so much money on free agents in the last 15 years, and have done diddly squat with them. But using the whole 'how do you not win with two of the best players in the world on your team?' thing, especially during the modern era of baseball when the playoffs are longer and more difficult for the actual best two teams to meet, is a little unfair.

The Angels know they need more than Ohtani and Trout to compete, and they've certainly tried, courting Anthony Rendon, Tyler Anderson and both Loup and Tepera, and bringing up surefire prospects like Jo Adell, Reid Detmers and Livan Soto. None of this has worked. Rendon has been hurt pretty much every contractual year he's had in LA, the relievers have soured in comparison to their pre-Angels work, Adell is still trying to figure out how to compete at major league level, and Detmers, even after a no-hitter, struggled to maintain a steady pace. 

The Angels also had an incredible first month of the season, struggled after mid-May and never recovered, even if Taylor Ward, Luis Rengifo and Patrick Sandoval still provided great work. While it is exceptionally hard to build a roster with big contract pieces limiting the surrounding budget, the Guardians proved how attainable that metric is with really only Jose Ramirez getting the big money. The Angels have more money than that, and have just come across truly terrible luck. Even the intriguing ideas they've come across, like landing Tucker Davidson in a trade, or using Andrew Velasquez as a starting shortstop, don't mean much if the majority of the lineup isn't performing.

I really do think this year is the year they make the playoffs and let Ohtani and Trout play in October, mostly because I don't even know if Ohtani will be playing for the Angels at all next year, but also because i feel like all of this, including the WBC, has built towards something like this, and it'd be really disappointing if it didn't happen. 

Then again, as always, these are the Angels. So you never really know.

1 comment:

  1. In 2002 when the Angels won the World Series everyone projected them to finish fourth in the DIVISION! I never pay any attention to projections, good or bad.