Only four other times in their 53-year history have the Angels gone 11-21 or worse through the first 32 games of their season — 1961 (the expansion year), ’69, ’72 and ’76. Here’s a look at how those seasons turned out …
1961: 77-84, 38 1/2 GB in the AL
1969: 71-91, 26 GB in the AL West
1972: 75-80, 18 GB in the AL West
1976: 76-86, 14 GB in the AL West
Only the ’69 and ’76 teams lost the next games to move to 11-22, so the company keeps shrinking.
“ I think sometimes people make the mistake of playing GM when they’re not the GM,” C.J. Wilson said after the Angels’ latest loss, 7-6. “Our job is to play and play as hard as we can. We’re putting in the effort. If we got one more swinging bunt, maybe we come out on top, but that’s that’s the way baseball is. You can’t always explain it, can’t predict it. We’re giving 100-percent effort, and that’s all we can do. We could try to be more studious, maybe sacrifice a live goat or chicken, maybe get a pin-cushion out or something. We’re losing a lot of one-run games, but the pitching staff is getting supported by the offense, the offense is scoring enough runs. Sometimes it’s the big inning. Sometimes it’s a lot of little things.”
These are the Angels’ next 10 series (making up a stretch of 29 games): at Astros, at White Sox, vs. Royals, vs. White Sox, vs. Mariners, at Royals, at Dodgers, vs. Dodgers, vs. Astros, vs. Cubs. Only one of those teams is currently above .500 — and it’s the Royals. This would be the time to make up some serious ground on the hole they’ve dug themselves to start the season. Go 19-10 in that stretch, which they should, and suddenly they’re at .500. Continue to lose in that stretch, and things can start getting ugly.
SP: LH C.J. Wilson (3-0, 4.04 ERA)
SP: RH Jordan Lyles (0-0, 3.60 ERA)
- Jered Weaver (broken left elb0w) is scheduled to throw his first bullpen session on Thursday, which is when he can really start getting a gauge for how far along he is. Sunday marked four weeks since he landed on the DL with an injury that carried an estimated four-to-six-week recovery, but the Angels’ ace isn’t two weeks away from getting back, Angels manager Mike Scioscia confirmed. Weaver will need to ramp up some innings in extended spring in Arizona before getting back out there.
- Sean Burnett‘s visit with Dr. James Andrews revealed forearm inflammation. He took an anti-inflammatory shot that will keep him away from throwing for another week.
- Ryan Madson, however, perceivably took a step forward on Monday. He threw a bullpen, felt good, and wants to face hitters in extended spring training in Arizona as soon as Thursday. At that point, he hopes to face hitters every other day. His goal — though that can change, as it has before — is to be back with the Angels towards the end of next week.
- Conger is behind the plate for a fifth consecutive Wilson start, but Scioscia said it has more to do with Chris Iannetta struggling with some things defensively — not necessarily him wanting to pair Conger exclusively with Wilson. Here’s what the Angels’ skipper said: “First and foremost, we want him to get a little more of a comfort level behind the plate. He’s doing a good job, but it just doesn’t look like he’s as comfortable as he needs to be back there. On the offensive side, he hasn’t gotten a lot of hits to fall in, but that’s secondary to what our starting pitchers need especially.”
- Peter Bourjos isn’t with the team. He stayed back to rehab his strained left hamstring.
- Kevin Jepsen (strained lat) is playing catch, but has yet to get off a mound.
- In case you missed it, Mark Lowe was activated on Monday.
The baseball gods are doing the on-field equivalent of trolling the Angels right now. It’s not just that they’re 11-20, with Josh Hamilton slumping and every facet of their team — starting pitching, relief pitching, baserunning, defense, production — in a rut through the first five weeks of the season. It’s that so many of the players they’ve discarded recently are, well, thriving.
See for yourself …
RF Torii Hunter (offered little more than a $5 million base salary, plus incentives, this offseason before he inked a two-year, $26 million deal with the Tigers): .361/.406/.479 slash line through his first 27 games in the No. 2 spot for first-place Detroit.
LF Vernon Wells (dealt to the Yankees for the financial relief of getting under the Competitive Balance Tax payroll, with New York picking up $13.9 million of the $42 million owed to him over the next two seasons): .280/.339/.486 with six homers team while batting mostly third — yes, third — for an injury-riddled Yankees team that’s somehow six games over .500.
SP Ervin Santana (essentially given to the Royals because the Angels weren’t going to exercise his $13 million option for 2013): 3-1, 2.00 ERA with 31 strikeouts and five walks in 36 innings for a Kansas City team that — of course — is 17-11.
SS Jean Segura (traded alongside Ariel Pena and John Hellweg for Zack Greinke last July): .333/.380/.523, with a league-leading three triples and one very interesting sequence on the basepaths.
RP Jordan Walden (dealt straight up to the Braves for Tommy Hanson in November): 2.92 ERA, with 14 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings.
RP LaTroy Hawkins (unsigned as a free agent): 2.77 ERA, 1.23 WHIP in 13 innings for the Mets.
SP Patrick Corbin (dealt — by then-Arizona interim GM Jerry Dipoto — to the Angels along with Tyler Skaggs, Rafael Rodriguez and Joe Saunders in exchange for Dan Haren in July 2010): 4-0, 1.85 ERA in six starts.
What does all this mean to the Angels? Well nothing, of course. In fact, in my mind, almost all of these moves were justified (you could certainly argue in favor of bringing Hunter back and using the additional funds on pitching). The fact anyone would take on that much for Wells was flat-out shocking; it made little sense to pay Santana $13 million for 2013 given how his 2012 season went; I’ll do Walden-for-Hanson any day of the week; the Greinke trade was a good one considering Dipoto didn’t have to give up Peter Bourjos and/or Garrett Richards, and he would’ve been applauded for it had they made the playoffs last year; and, well, there was little reason to give a 40-year-old Hawkins a guaranteed contract, or a likely shot at winning a bullpen spot, given the group the Angels had going into Spring Training.
But still …
Unrelated subject (well, sort of): Here’s a look at who’s shining, and who isn’t, in the Angels’ system so far …
INF Luis Rodriguez (AAA): .314/.344/.496, 4 HR, 24 RBI
RP Jeremy Berg (AAA): 1.65 ERA, 13 SO, 1 BB, 16 1/3 IP
SP Austin Wood (A+): 2.41 ERA, 4 GS, 17 SO, 9 BB, 18 2/3 IP
RP Mitch Stetter (AAA): 5.56 ERA, 11 1/3 IP, 12 SO, 10 BB
SP A.J. Schugel (AAA): 0-1, 6.21 ERA, 6 GS, 30 SO, 14 BB, 29 IP
OF Randal Grichuk (AA): .186/.262/.351, 2 HR, 7 RBI
SP: RH Miguel Gonzalez (2-1, 4.60 ERA)
SP: LH Jason Vargas (0-3, 4.85)
- As you might have noticed, Callaspo was activated off the disabled prior to Friday’s game. But going down was Andrew Romine, not Luis Jimenez. Mike Scioscia likes having a power right-handed bat off the bench like Jimenez — it’s essentially the role Bill Hall was going to play, before he got hurt in Spring Training — and he feels Brendan Harris can be used as a utility infielder. A big question with this decision, however, is Harris’ defense. It’s not his strong suit. Offense is. Romine was a much more capable defender. And maybe Jimenez would’ve benefited from some more at-bats in the Minors to polish up his approach, which has led to a lot of strikeouts at this level.
- In tune with his new role, Jimenez was getting some work in left field pregame. Scioscia said right now he’s only comfortable using Jimenez there in an “emergency” situation, but perhaps that can change if he gets better at it.
- Garrett Richards is going back to the bullpen, with Jerome Williams taking his spot in the rotation on Sunday. The move makes sense on a couple of fronts. First and foremost, the Angels need a relief pitcher to bridge the gap to the later innings, and Richards can do that in what he said is “a primary role” in the back end. Williams has struggled as a starting pitcher in recent outings, but he’s been really good in long relief lately.
- Sean Burnett said today that he’s going to fly to Florida to see Dr. James Andrews on Monday morning. After that, he’ll fly to Houston to rejoin the team on their two-city trip. The lefty reliever, out since April 27 with left forearm irritation, didn’t sound very concerned. But it’s always frightening when pitchers see Dr. Andrews, so it’s definitely something worth monitoring.
- It looks like Scott Downs (pain in his right side) will avoid the DL. At least for now. He probably won’t be available Friday, but Scioscia is going to have him go through his normal pregame nonetheless.
- Mark Lowe (left neck strain) will pitch two innings for Class A Inland Empire on Sunday. He’s eligible to be activated that day, so that may be Lowe’s final outing before rejoining the team.
- Shortstop Tommy Field suffered a broken finger shortly after he was sent down on April 23. He’s on the 7-day Minor League DL and could miss a month.
- At six hours and 32 minutes, it was the longest game in Angels history, surpassing the six-hour, six-minute game played on April 13, 1982 against the Mariners (20 innings).
- Innings-wise, it was the third-longest in Angels history. The Angels have played 20 innings twice, on the above-mentioned game against Seattle and July 9, 1971, against the A’s. That means two of the three 19-inning games in Angels history have been walk-off losses to the A’s.
- It was the longest MLB game since the Pirates beat the Cardinals, 6-3, in 19 innings on Aug. 19, 2012, in St. Louis; it was the longest AL game since the White Sox beat the Red Sox, 6-5, in 19 innings on July 9, 2006, in Chicago.
- The 18 runs scored were the fourth-most in 19-inning, Major League history.
- The two clubs used a combined 16 pitches (eight each) and threw a combined 597 pitches. The 297 pitches the Angels threw were the most since at least 1988.
- Howie Kendrick and Brendan Harris each went 2-for-9, becoming the second and third Angels players to log nine at-bats in a game. The first was Don Baylor, who went 5-for-9 on 4/13/82. It was the first game since 1993 to have three players (also Jed Lowrie) log nine at-bats in a game.
- Six different Angels pitchers allowed a run for the fifth time in team history, and first time since Sept. 30, 2000.
- Four players (Peter Bourjos, Luis Jimenez, Coco Crisp, Chris Young) exited early with injuries.
- Seven of the Angels’ nine position players went the full 19 innings, including catcher Chris Iannetta, who worked 18 2/3 innings behind the plate. The last American League catchers to be behind the plate for more than 18 innings in a game were A.J. Pierzynski and Jason Varitek in 2006, in a game between the White Sox and Red Sox that ended with one out in the bottom of the 19th.
The Angels’ 19-inning loss last night was a devastating one, but it was also quite memorable. It was the longest game in Angels history — A’s, too — and it witnessed several encouraging performances. Tommy Hanson pitched six innings of two-run ball with a heavy heart, Chris Iannetta squatted for 19 innings behind the plate, Mark Trumbo hit a 475-foot homer that was tied for the longest in the Majors this season, Albert Pujols had four hits, went deep twice and played the field despite having plantar fasciitis on his left foot, and Jerome Williams hurled six innings of one-run ball in relief.
Still, though, the Angels were in no mood to reminisce on Tuesday.
“I don’t feel any nostalgia towards it,” Trumbo said. “It’s all about winning, and we didn’t do it.”
SP: RH Garrett Richards (1-1, 3.65 ERA)
SP: RH Jarrod Parker (0-4, 8.10 ERA)
- The Angels officially placed Peter Bourjos on the disabled list today with a strained left hamstring, activating Aybar. Also, outfielder Scott Cousins had his contract purchased from Triple-A Salt Lake and Michael Roth was sent down. The Angels’ 40-man roster is back at 40, and the Angels are back to the traditional seven relievers and four-man bench — despite the fact seven relievers accounted for 12 2/3 innings the night before. “Really, we’re as banged up on the lineup side,” Mike Scioscia said.
- It looks like only Jerome Williams and Michael Kohn will be unavailable tonight. Ernesto Frieri is good to go, as are Barry Enright, Dane De La Rosa, Nick Maronde and Scott Downs.
- Luis Jimenez‘s bruised left shin is “a little tight,” Scioscia said, but he may be available to play defense. If the Angels get a lead late, don’t be surprised to see him sub in for Harris at third.
- Still no time frame on how long Bourjos’ hamstring will keep him out. Obviously, as a speed guy, he needs that to be 100 percent before returning.
- Ryan Madson is still not throwing.
- Jimenez has some experience in the outfield from winter ball, so that may be an option for him once Alberto Callaspo returns.
Is there ANY hope for this bullpen? Trades? Minors? WEAVER?!?!?!??!??? — @jasiahsdad
Whoa, easy buddy. I know you’re frustrated, but I don’t think transitioning the Angels’ ace to the bullpen is the answer here — but point taken. Unless Jerry Dipoto can pull another early-season miracle — acquiring Ernesto Frieri from the Padres in early May last year was really, really hard — it is what it is, basically. There aren’t many (if any) teams that can stomach having four relievers (Ryan Madson, Sean Burnett, Kevin Jepsen and Mark Lowe) on the disabled list at the same time. The Angels have just three members of the Opening Day bullpen available as relievers right now — Jerome Williams, Frieri and Scott Downs. Think about that. For as well as Dane De La Rosa has pitched, it’s tough to count on him on an everyday basis to come through in tight situations. But that’s where the Angels are, because of all the injuries and because the starters — until just recently — have struggled. Sure, they can put in a waiver claim or two, spin a few minor trades, but nothing that’s going to change the landscape down there. For the most part, they just have to wear it — while hoping for more depth from the rotation, lots of production from the offense and a quick return to health. Sorry if that’s not the answer you’re looking for.
Tommy Hanson takes the mound today, in the opener of a three-game series, with a heavy heart, after spending six days on the bereavement list while dealing with the sudden death of his 24-year-old step-brother. The 26-year-old right-hander is happy to be back, joining his teammates and in some ways distracting himself from the sorrow that a loss in the family can cause.
“I think any time you’re doing something you have a passion for and you love, it’s therapeautic for all of us,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “Hopefully it’ll help Tommy get through some of the things he’s dealing with in his personal life and come out here and move forward.”
SP: Hanson (2-1, 4.24 ERA)
SP: RH Dan Straily (1-0, 2.70 ERA)
- Erick Aybar (bruised left heel) is slated to play for Triple-A Salt Lake today, while Alberto Callaspo (right calf strain) and Mark Lowe (left neck strain) will begin a rehab assignment with Class A Inland Empire on Tuesday. If all goes well, I’d expect Aybar and Callaspo to both be back for the weekend home series against the Orioles.
- Scioscia said he’d probably hit Aybar lower in the lineup initially, and was non-committal about whether he’d replace Bourjos in the leadoff spot.
- The Angels’ skipper has thought about putting Trumbo in the cleanup spot on a more frequent basis, instead of just against left-handed starters, but prefers to stay with that platoon for now — even though Hamilton continues to struggle and the Angels have seen seven straight right-handed starters (lefty Tommy Milone will start tomorrow).
- The 7 o’clock Angels games on Tuesday and Friday will be broadcast on KCOP.
When will the Halos start running again? — @K_Dodd3
A lot of you had this question, so I figured I’d address it. I wrote about their shockingly low stolen-base total earlier in the week, but it’s probably worth delving into a little further. The Angels are currently tied for 26th in the Majors with seven stolen bases, which is surprising because they have two of baseball’s fastest players in their lineup — Mike Trout (four steals) and Peter Bourjos (zero attemps) — and because Mike Scioscia‘s Angels teams have always been built on aggression.
The biggest reason for the low number, in my mind: Personnel. Simply put, when you have a lineup that’s capable of driving the ball, you’re less willing to sacrifice giving up an out on the bases. And the fact Bourjos and Trout are hitting right in front of Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Mark Trumbo is a big reason why Scioscia hasn’t sent them very often. First, he doesn’t want to risk an out with his big bats up. Second, he doesn’t want a successful stolen base to lead to pitchers walking Pujols — already with five intentional walks — because first base is open.
Now, that’s just an explanation. I’m not saying I agree with it. I’d like to see Trout and Bourjos get turned loose a little more often, shaking some things up since the offense isn’t really clicking just yet. But, you know, they don’t pay me to make those decisions.
** For some supplemental reading, check out this piece from FanGraphs on the stolen bases being down throughout baseball.
SP: LH C.J. Wilson (1-0, 4.13 ERA)
SP: RH Aaron Harang (0-2, 10.24 ERA)
- It’s been a week since Ryan Madson threw his last sim game in Anaheim, and another one is still not scheduled. He’s in Arizona still, rehabbing, but Mike Scioscia didn’t want to call his last-Friday sim game a setback. “He wasn’t set back for any other reason than normal rehab and trying to get over the final hump. That’s what rehab is. At times you’re going to take a step forward, at times you’re going to plateau. He’s certainly ready for the challenge of facing hitters.”
- Just a day for Hamilton, who’s at DH for the first time this season (and, of course, his Angels career.
- Speaking of DH … Erick Aybar did that in his second game of extended spring training in Arizona, but Scioscia said he also ran well and that his left heel “felt great” as the day went on. He’ll most likely play the field again on Saturday, but Scioscia was non-committal when asked if he’d be available in Oakland early next week.
- Pujols is tied with Giancarlo Stanton for the biggest drop of pitches seen inside the strike zone from 2012 to ’13 (h/t Fan Graphs). The interesting thing about that is Stanton has the likes of Greg Dobbs and Placido Polanco hitting behind him; Pujols has Hamilton — signed to a five-year, $125 million contract, but currently struggling.
- Wilson is 5-1 with a 2.11 ERA in his last seven starts against the Mariners.