Friday, April 27, 2012
Frantic Friday just what the Angels need
By Mark Saxon
When a team with a $151 million payroll and World Series aspirations starts the season eight games under .500 after 20 games, it's only a matter of time before something like this happens. Yeah, you can preach patience for a while, trust in your players' track records, but at some point you're obligated to step in.
Friday, it was general manager Jerry Dipoto who had seen enough.
In conjunction with manager Mike Scioscia, Dipoto made two bold moves, acting more quickly -- but no less decisively -- than you would have expected after a start this absurdly bad.
The bombshell came after Friday's 3-2 loss in Cleveland, the team's second walk-off defeat in a row, when the Angels promoted speedy outfield prospect Mike Trout and bid goodbye to veteran Bobby Abreu, swallowing more than $8 million in the process.
Before that, the Angels shuffled a couple of key roles in the bullpen, swapping youngster Jordan Walden for veteran lefty Scott Downs at closer. We still don't know how that will work out, because other members of the Angels' bullpen blew yet another game before their roles arose.
We'll begin to learn Saturday how the bolder move plays out. Last year, the Angels waited until June to swallow a bitter, multi-million-dollar pill, releasing pitcher Scott Kazmir after getting virtually nothing for the $12 million it paid him.
The fact they waited only three weeks to part with Abreutells you a little something about expectation levels around this team.
You rarely see shake-ups of this magnitude in April, but you rarely see teams with this kind of talent play this poorly for this long.
Was Abreu the reason the Angels couldn't get on base or move a runner to save their lives? After just 24 at-bats, he had virtually nothing to do with it. Angels fans have long since turned on Abreu, but let's not forget, he was a good -- borderline great -- player and was one of the few Angels willing to take a walk for years. Will Trout resurrect this team's hopes all by himself? This team had better hope the 20-year-old doesn't think that's his role.
The Angels were so upset at Albert Pujols' slump, they released one player and demoted another.
But sometimes the journey from 1,000 games back -- or, at least, it feels like it -- begins with a single step.
Add up the Kazmir and Abreu moves and former general manager Tony Reagins effectively burned more than $20 million of Arte Moreno's money in less than a year, but Moreno has no one but himself to blame. It was his decision four years ago to go with a two-party system in which he and manager Mike Scioscia shared power while the GM, Reagins, served largely as a figurehead.
Dipoto didn't create this situation, but he's charged with cleaning it up. The task might prove more difficult than he originally thought.