Purgatory Online

Monday, July 28, 2003

Of course, by "barnburner," what I meant was that the A's would burn down the Angels' barn, make off with their horses, hear the lamentations of their women, and sow their fields with salt.

And by "wandering into a buzzsaw," I meant...uh...Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

The Angels' hopes of making the playoffs expired this past weekend, as those three losses to the A's dropped them 11.5 games in back of Seattle for the A.L. West lead and 10.5 behind Boston for the wildcard. Perhaps not insurmountable leads, but in both cases there are teams far better positioned to take advantage if the leaders stumble. I suspect that Seattle will pull away down the stretch, simply because I don't think that Oakland's offensive explosion against the Angels is all that indicative of what they'll do in the future. In any event, though, it won't be a three-team race.

Parenthetically, I managed to catch part or all of each of the Yankees-Red Sox games over the weekend, and watching the Bostons rally to win on Saturday and Sunday reminded me quite a bit of last year's Angels. There are huge differences, of course - the Boston bullpen resembles the Angels' bullpen in the same way a chihuahua resembles a Great Dane - but the offense is really quite incredible, leading the league in OBP and slugging and batting average, while also hitting 145 home runs - second in the league - without striking out very much (591, well below the league average). Having added Scott Sauerbeck and Byung-Hyun Kim to their Godawful bullpen, the Sox are still one decent starting pitcher away from being in position to beat the Yankees, I think, but have to be considered the favorites to win the wild card.

At any rate, I think we can be fairly confident that the Angels will stand relatively pat as the trading deadline approaches. It's a pretty good bet that new owner Arte Moreno - who has expressed a reluctance to make any big deals in his first year - won't authorize any major additions to the team, and General Manager Bill Stoneman has a history of making only minor deadline deals even during seasons in which the Angels are legitimate contenders. There's always a chance that one or two of the relief corps could be shipped somewhere for prospects, but I'd put the odds on that to be somewhere around 4-1.

The combination of also-ran status, injuries, and expanded rosters in September means that the rest of the Angels' season will be a prolonged look at some of the guys on the minor-league rosters. In addition to calling up Alfredo Amezaga on Thursday to play shortstop and second (though not at the same time), the Halos have also brought Robb Quinlan up to the big club. Quinlan, who primarily plays first base but can also take a corner outfield position, may debut tonight, particularly as a late-inning replacement if the game isn't very close. The Angels don't have a particular shortage of guys who can play those positions, but will want to get him some at-bats as the season winds down in order to make some decisions about next year's team. Both Scott Spiezio and Brad Fullmer are signed to one-year deals; if Quinlan performs well, the Angels are not likely to re-sign at least one of those two.