MLB Handicapping: Downfall of the LA Angels
by Robert Ferringo - 5/1/2013
Halo Hype was all the rage this offseason, as bobbleheads and square bettors were salivating at the Los Angeles Angels heading into the 2013 baseball season. But if April has been any indication then we should steer clear of the temptation that these filthy devils pose to our bankrolls.
The Angels are currently 9-17 and tentatively holding off Houston – which itself is about two players and a locker room spread above a Triple-A team – for last place in the American League West. Los Angeles enters Wednesday on a four-game losing streak after dumping another one to Oakland last night.
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Los Angeles’ 10-6 defeat on Tuesday made it three straight losing series for Los Angeles and seven of nine losing series on the season. Not surprisingly, the Angels have been the worst bet in the Majors, losing over $1,100 for their $100 to win bettors.
So what is going on with the Angels? After an offseason of sound and fury they have done nothing for the first month of the year. Are they going to turn it around?
The answer to the former, in short, is “a lot,” and my response to the latter is “hell no”. The Rally Monkey was once a super simian on Sunset Strip. Now he is a Hepatitis B-ridden heroin junkie, drunk and busted out, laying in a puddle of his own piss down in South Central. And there he will remain.
If there are problems with a baseball team, the first place you look is the pitching staff. The Angels are no exception. Los Angeles is No. 29 in the Majors in team ERA and team WHIP. Their 11 quality starts are the sixth-fewest in the league, and their starters have logged the fifth-fewest innings of any rotation in baseball.
The team is still wobbly from the loss of Jared Weaver, the Cy Young-caliber ace. Weaver hurt his left (non-throwing) elbow in his second start of the year and will not return until mid-May at the earliest. Weaver was a true workhorse, and the team hasn’t been able to fill the immense void he left.
However, that doesn’t excuse the rest of the rotation’s pathetic play. Offseason acquisitions Jason Vargas, Joe Blanton and Tommy Hanson have combined to go 2-8 with a 5.28 ERA. They have been serving up batting practice on a nightly basis, and this team will continue to bumble unless they turn it around. I am not optimistic.
And even though Weaver’s absence is an acceptable cause for their suspect starters, that still doesn’t excuse the Angels bullpen, which is once again one of the worst in the league. Los Angeles has already blown five saves through 25 games. That puts them ahead of last year’s pace, when their 22 blown saves were No. 3 in the Majors.
Further, the big offseason prize was stealing Josh Hamilton away from rival Texas. But the former MVP is hitting a woeful .204 with a .296 slugging percentage and two home runs. Apparently things aren’t as easy when you aren’t playing 81 games in Arlington with a stacked lineup around you. Hamilton has 32 strikeouts to just six walks and is about two more 0-for-4s away from diving into a tequila bottle.
Albert Pujols (.252) and Captain America Mike Trout (.261) are also struggling to get things going at the plate this year. Pujols, Trout and Hamilton were supposed to carry this team and set the tone for the clubhouse. They have. But not in a positive way.
The Angels have top-end talent. And outside of their marquee players, the rest of the team is hitting the ball well, working to No. 5 in the Majors in team batting. However, they have just 24 total home runs, and they are No. 15 in scoring because they can’t generate big hits from their big boppers.
And while the names on this roster are still enticing to bettors, the fact of the matter is that this team has terrible posture and a tainted vibe at the moment. They don’t look sharp in the field (third-most errors), their rotation is lacking confidence and production, and even if one of the starters does gut out a strong effort the bullpen has blown enough games to crush the club’s psyche. Neither Pujols nor Hamilton is exactly William Wallace in the leadership category. And you can’t expect a second-year guy like Trout to grab the clubhouse by the balls when there are so many other big-name veterans ahead of him.
Like most people, I had higher expectations for this Angels team. However, I jumped off the bandwagon early, and I am not in any hurry to jump back on. This team is overhyped and overvalued in the gambling marketplace. And because of those marquee names, they will continue to be. There are too many holes in this roster, too many underwhelming guys playing key roles (I mean, how good are Blanton, Vargas or Hanson really?), and too much negative karma surrounding the supposed bedrock players, Pujols and Hamilton.
Maybe the Rally Monkey can catch a stint at Passages Malibu and clean himself up for a second-half charge. But until I see anything that resembles consistent, dominant baseball from the Halos, I’ll either be betting against Los Angeles or staying away from them altogether. I suggest you do the same.
Read more articles by Robert Ferringo
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