Sunday, April 10, 2016

Angels, in Last Place in American League West, Are Already 1 1/2 Games Back

During the post-game show last night, host Alex Curry was talking to analyst Jose Mota, and the latter blew off Manager Mike Scoscia's response to the team's season, that "it's still early." Mota argued that frankly every game matters, even in the first weeks of the season, because each loss puts you further behind your rivals. And when September comes all that matters is the win-loss record.

I have to agree. The Angels are already in the basement of the American League West. They can get out easily, but they need to make the move soon.

Here's Jeff Fletcher, at the O.C. Register, "Escobar's miscue adds to Angels' woes":

ANAHEIM – We now bring you what has become a regular feature of an Angels season. …

After the Angels 4-1 loss to the Texas Rangers on Saturday night, their fourth loss in their first five games, Garrett Richards gave an answer that could have applied to most of the Angels recent Aprils.

“We’re a good club,” Richards said. “I truly believe that. I don’t think there’s anything to worry about. I don’t think anybody is panicking in here.”

That’s because, as Richards said, “It’s early in the season. We have a ton of games left to play… We’ve started out slow the last few years, but we’re right in it in the end.”

Sure enough, the Angels have started slowly regularly in recent years, and this seems to fit the mold perfectly. The problem is this team didn’t have quite the high expectations of some of those other clubs that started slowly.

The issue with this team is an offense that may be a little shallow, which has definitely been the case as they’ve scored nine runs in the first five games.

Another issue on Saturday night was the defense, which didn’t figure to be a problem in general but has been a concern – of the analysts, if not the Angels – with third baseman Yunel Escobar.

Richards was sailing along with the Angels best start of the season’s first week, trailing 2-1 when he got Elvis Andrus to hit a routine bouncer to Escobar, who fielded it charging toward the middle of the infield. He was just behind the mound when he nonchalantly flipped the ball to first, except his toss sailed over the head of C.J. Cron. As the ball skipped to the railing, Andrus took second.

Escobar came to the Angels with a reputation as a poor defensive player. The Angels have insisted that Escobar’s tools were better than the defensive metrics gave him credit for.

The Angels have worked with Escobar to alter his release point to make his throws more accurate, but this was not one of those cases. This wasn’t so much a throw as a flip.

“He just stayed open and tried to flip it over there and just threw it a little bit high,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “But when he sets his feet, he’s throwing the ball very well.”