Guys, here we are once again to talk Angels baseball now that the All-Star Break is in the rearview. As I begin this writing session, our mighty Halos are 49-51, 100 games into the season. We lived without baseball’s finest, Mike Trout, for the better part of 2 months and still maintained .500 baseball. We’ve had every starting pitcher on the Disabled List – at the same time – and we’re still in spitting distance of the 2nd wildcard spot.
And yet the mediocrity still hurts. Our promising new 2nd baseman, who we obtained from the winning ways of the Washington Nationals, was recently released because he lost any previous ability to hit. Kole Calhoun looks like he’s barely awake and is hitting way below expectations. We’ve got a “who the fuck are these guys” list of promising young players who platoon their way into occasional heroics, but the team batting average sits at just .240.
So I put the following questions to you, and look forward to your answers.
What is your level of confidence in Charles Nagy’s abilities to manage his well-conditioned “tribe” (if you will) of starting pitchers?
BRIAN (“BIG BRI”): At 100 games in, here are the stats that you need to know from the Big 4 in the Angels projected 2017 starting rotation:
Garrett Richards – 0 Wins
Tyler Skaggs – 1 Win
Matt Shoemaker – 6 Wins
Ricky Nolasco – 4 Wins
That translates to 38 wins by the bullpen, some other starting pitcher fighting for a roster spot in the big leagues, or . . . as has been the case most often . . . a do not quit attitude from the offense, which has picked up the slack in a major way all season. I don’t know whether you give the credit to Nagy, Scioscia or divine intervention from the Cowboy in the Sky, but it’s nothing short of a miracle that the Angels are 3 games below .500 with this rotation.
MIKE (“HUDEY”): I am confident that Nagy will continue the win one/lose one trend rest of season by artfully massaging his staff. He has done an amazing job thus far with the hand that fate has dealt him. I had high hopes of seeing Richards and Skaggs put in some good innings this season but I’m starting to believe that we’ll never get a solid season from either of them. The highlight for me has been seeing Meyer and Bridwell rise to the occasion. Their numbers might not make you swoon but watching their stuff day in and day out makes me hope that they could be staples of our rotation in the near future. Healthy Richards, Skaggs, Bridwell, Meyers could be a solid crew for many years if the injury bug stops feasting on the staff.
AARON (“AC”): I have no way of knowing what kind of communicator Charles Nagy is, but we can look at the results. I would say that Nagy is a great pitching coach when most of his best pitchers get hurt, and he has to motivate/massage these young guys or journeymen to do something they have never done before. I would love to see if he can also be a starting pitcher whisperer when he gets back Richards, Skaggs, Heaney, Shoemaker, etc.
Is it scary or somehow weirdly refreshing that our best starter is JC Ramirez?
BRIAN: Pennants aren’t won when JC Ramirez is your staff ace with 9 wins, a 4.38 ERA and 92 K’s. Remember that closer battle between Huston Street and Cam Bedrosian? Ladies and gentlemen – your staff closer – Bud Norris! There is nothing refreshing about any of the pitching statistics of the Halos, but I don’t blame anyone for this. It would be insane for Arte/Eppler/Scioscia to go out and try to acquire help at this point. They have been decimated by pitching injuries (not to mention a pretty big one to the Best Player on the Planet) and are remarkably only 3 games under .500. Game 101 against Cleveland last night highlighted this season in a nutshell. Down 7-0 after two innings, they clawed and scratched their way back to a 7-7 tie and then choked it away in extra innings. They don’t quit. They aren’t good, but they don’t quit.
AARON: I don’t scare easily so it is not scary. It is not that unusual these days for guys to come out of nowhere throwing 97-98 mph.
Will Andrelton Simmons hit .300 at season’s end, and finally show he’s more than a hot glove?
BRIAN: Yes. Simba is the real deal and he joins the ranks of Maldonado as delightful offensive surprises this season. Regardless of whether he hits .300, the impact of the gloves of Simmons and Maldonado cannot be overstated. The Angels hit the jackpot with both of these guys in terms of added offensive production to already known defensive gems.
MIKE: I think he’ll dip below .300 but for all intents and purposes it’ll be a 300-caliber season. Definitely a breakthrough season to say the least.
AARON: I think he has already shown that he is more than a glove. I don’t think he will finish at .300 or better, because I foresee some meaningless games on the horizon, and in those games the likes of Simmons are apt to swing out of their behind. He is at 11 HR, and his career high is 17 in 2013 with the Braves. I am guessing that will be more of a goal for him than the .300 threshold. This is his age 27 season, which usually is about the peak for a player that doesn’t use illegal medicines.
Will Kole Calhoun stop stepping on his pants and wake the Hell up at the plate?
BRIAN: Don’t mess with Kole, Todd. He’ll kick your ass! I love me some Koooooole Caaaaaaalhooooooun and his dog, Spot.
MIKE: Don’t mess with Kole. He’s a damn sight our most colorful player and the most fun to root for every night. He brings me back to Darin Erstad days with his grit and hard-nosed play. He’s been great overall and we signed him for a few years, so he’s allowed his dips – especially if he keeps hitting rockets like he did a couple nights ago in that 7-run comeback (that eventually fell short). He’ll be fine! And my next dog will be named Calhoun.
TODD: Wow, guys. I love Kole Calhoun as much as the next guy… but I didn’t realize he was “untouchable.” What’s wrong with asking him to give us more hits!?
AARON: I know it just feels like Kole got here yesterday, but this guy has a lot of miles on him. His body type is not that of a gazelle, and I wouldn’t expect him to be productive for much longer, but this has been an unusually slow season for him. I must have missed him stepping on his pants. I haven’t watched as much Angels this season, because they are very boring to watch, and I have had little faith that they could compete.
TODD: (Kole Calhoun wears his pants so low, I would swear his cleats are stepping on them)
We’re clearly not buyers at this trade deadline. So who goes? And should we be actively shopping Albert Pujols to see if any other team is dumb enough to buy the rest of this insane contract?
BRIAN: Sure. And let’s try to trade Huston Street for Kenley Jansen while we’re at it. You’re talking cray-cray.
TODD: (AC and I both agree that terms such as “cray-cray” should be stripped of the American vinaccular)
MIKE: No one is that dumb. We’re stuck with the Gimp and his salary and his decimation of the Angels’ bottom line. I really respect what the man has done but when we can trade him for an infield full of prospects I’ll dance a small jig.
AARON: Pujols is unmovable and has been for a long while. He scares no one, and teams don’t look at him and say “Hey if we had Pujols hitting behind XXX we would be scary.” I would love it if we could get something for Bud Norris or Blake Parker, two possibly attractive arms that could be added to a contending bullpen for some medium prospects. I don’t see much on our squad that others would want (that we could see ourselves parting with).
Most of us predicted in our April 4th article that C.J. Cron would be the player to shine this year… We were wrong. But who will be the Angels 2nd half standout? I say it continues to be Andrelton Simmons. What say the rest of you?
BRIAN: I’m going with Albert. The chase for 600 is over and he has Trout back in the lineup protecting him. He has never been a fast starter with the Angels, and, while the days of .300/30/100 are long gone, there is still fuel left in his tank, not to mention a never-quit attitude.
MIKE: Yeah, damn CJ. Blistered the preseason and then he seemingly thought it was time to start couch-surfing. I really believed this would be his breakout year, but like everyone else that wants to be an average hitter that smashes bombs on occasion (see Napoli etc.) he’ll break out as soon as he gets traded or signs elsewhere... 2nd half standout. I’ll go out on a limb and say Kole Calhoun shakes off his rust and starts raking. Big 2nd half for Kole!
AARON: I think Kaleb Cowart could shine in the last few months. He is a former #1 pick and former Georgia state player of the year. They have him playing second, and if he can handle the position his bat can play at that spot.
TODD: Good call, AC. With Danny Espinosa on wavers, Cowart could shine as our new man at 2nd base.
Finally, in our April 4th article, I predicted the Angels would finish 4th in the AL West. I maintain that prediction. What say the rest of you?
BRIAN: I’m sticking with my original prediction of 2nd place. The AL West is horrible and Texas is going to be a seller. Oakland is horrible and Seattle is not much better. The Angels finish with a ton of games against the AL West. Unfortunately, I think we miss the wildcard, but 2017 will finish with a feeling of over-achievement and hopefully some major healing of current and acquiring of new starting pitchers. Light that baby up!
MIKE: My prediction was third and I will stand by it. The Rangers seem like they’re going to sell some shit and if they do I think they’ll drop back while the Angels remain at .500. What’s a prediction’s value if you go back on it? I’m sticking with my prediction because I believe in it!
AARON: I think we will finish third. I believe the Rangers are about to implode/sell off some of their best assets. But I would rather see the A’s get hot, us finish last and the young kids continue to develop to help with our draft position. Being in the middle of the pack is a bad place to be.
TODD: Wrapping up …. These questions and responses came before the Angels, who on July 30 were up on the Toronto Blue Jays, in Toronto, 10-4 going into the bottom of the 9th. … the Angels lost 11-10 after Bud Norris gave up 7 runs in an attempted save, including a walk-off grand slam that won it for the Blue Jays. God Help the Angels the rest of the way.
This article’s discussion began with the Angels 49-51. They are, as of today printing, 51-55. It needs to get dramatically better than that. We might need this little guy —