With each passing year, the pressure on the Angels increases a little more as Mike Trout gets older. It’s common now that the Angels have essentially wasted the career of the best player ever, and there’s a breaking point somewhere in the future but it’s getting bigger on the horizon. Either the trout will come out of the numbers of the residents of Olympus, or there will be some kind of break between the player and the team.
It didn’t help Joe Maddon, and when you lose 12 games in a row after one of the Angels’ few promising starts in the past decade, the pressure becomes unbearable. Clearly, it was too much for Madonne, as the angels had him canned yesterday.
This does not mean that Madonn did not earn his walking cards. Madon has gone from being a true creative, forward-thinking manager to someone who kind of wants his team to be on autopilot while still being seen as a forward-looking creative director, to one whose only priority is to think out of creative and forward-thinking. Going to the press about moving Trout into left field before going to Trout himself, or walking up to Corey Seager with bases loaded were moves by a manager who wanted to make it clear above all that he had a great pulsating brain without doing anything for him that would benefit his team. This is where Maddon is now, drawing attention to himself for no other reason than wanting attention rather than using outside-the-box thinking to win.
Madonne was the perfect guy in his first two years in Chicago, the very relaxed atmosphere he created around a team trying to break the sport’s longest drought, surrounding everyone in the city with their brains moving away from their ears. In a state of anxiety (including really, where there was a foldable chair on the floor in my apartment during the Division Series, and I threw it across the room and then refused to touch it). But when the Cubs needed something more, when their players refused to realize how hard they could hit fast balls but refused to modify their technique, Maddon was still playing ‘Joe Cole’. It only got worse from there, in both Chicago and Anaheim.
But… not everything is under the director’s control. It’s not Madon’s fault that Trout went 1 for 28 during the losing streak (and is now injured). Taylor Ward and Anthony Rendon were not hurt in Madonne. It’s not in Maddon that 2021 MVP Shohei Ohtani has been outing or striking lately and not so much. Or that Jared Walsh has a wOBA worth .195. It all went wrong.
Still, there’s just something about the way the Angels have to build their squad thanks to Ohtani’s presence. As the only team to rotate six men, the Angels basically have to run out with an extra fifth compared to the other teams. Circulating has been gasoline through the line as well, with Ohtani, Chase Silseth and Patrick Sandoval carrying ERAs around the 8.00 mark for the past two weeks. And no one gets out of five. Eight different men of the pen had to throw three or more turns through this line, and when you go deep into eight men, you’ll likely find men who were carrying a bind the day before.
Madon sure hasn’t used his pen in a very creative way, as he only has one man multi-stroke Jaime Barria. Given that angels have to roll with six starters, which means one is less comfortable than most, they probably need more than that. And that will only get worse when the MLB—if it’s the MLB—wraps to enforce list restrictions on shooters who were meant to back off but keep falling thanks to short spring training.
The Angels can’t tell how many roles they can get out of Michael Lorenzen or Noah Syndergaard given their history, and Ohtani has never managed more than 130 runs in a single season. That’s a little skewed due to the six-man spin, but you’d think that as each bowler gets an extra day of rest, they’re more likely to hit a sixth or seventh. The Angels are tenth in MLB in innings from their debut this year, but 23 in the past two weeks during this streak of confusion and heartbreak.
And even if Lorenzen and Sendergaard have, for the most part, done well this season, their starts are fewer. They only have nine each when top bowlers have 11. Those missing roles from bowlers who do well might not matter much in their post-expanded season setup, but they do. Those starts will go to the main players, which the Angels have an extra one thanks to the way they have to do around Ohtani.
It’s not the main thing that put angels where they are. A combination of injuries, a bewildering slack from players, and a lack of a coherent plan for years is often to blame. But still, when you’re in a streak like this, you want to get a plug in there. If the Angels have a tampon, they have to wait an extra day to see it on the hill and if the slip continues, there will be six more games before they can try again. It might take another hit or two before the Angels can figure out what a team that rotates six men and a limited pen according to the rules looks like to be able to compete. This will now be the job of interim manager Phil Nevin.
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