Purgatory Online

Sunday, July 13, 2003

On the heels of Bill Stoneman's contract extension, Mike Scioscia gets one, too, this one through 2007, with a club option for 2008. Amazingly, Scioscia - who is in his fourth season as manager - is already the second-longest tenured Angels manager of all time, behind Bill Rigney (who was at the helm for the first eight seasons, and part of the ninth). Gene Mauch actually managed for a total of four seasons and change, but they were non-consecutive - he's the Grover Cleveland of Angels managers.

Another item of interest in the same article: Scioscia is lifting the five-inning restriction he'd placed on Aaron Sele. The restriction had been in effect for Sele's last three starts, during which he'd gone 3-0 with a 0.60 ERA.

Let the second-guessing begin: why, oh why would you mess with something that's working? But if there's one thing I've learned over the last couple of years, it's that, when it comes to managing this baseball team, Mike Scioscia is smarter than just about everyone else.

One of the hallmarks of this team has been its flexibility - guys can play two or three different positions, move from the rotation to the bullpen and back, etc. Keeping Sele tethered to his five-and-fly status does no favors to either the team or Sele himself. Even given that the rotation has pitched much more effectively in the last couple of weeks, there's simply no way to justify penciling them in for four innings every five days and restricting your options on the days before and after that game. This is particularly true when you consider that their most viable long-inning option, Scott Schoeneweis, is the only lefty in the bullpen.

Ultimately, Sele will have to stand or fall on his merits as a fully-contributing member of the rotation. As Scioscia said, it's time to take the water wings off and send him towards the deep end of the pool. His next scheduled start will be June 21, at Tampa Bay, which will be followed - if the schedule holds - by home starts against Oakland on the 26th and the Yankees on the 31st. If Sele is ineffective in those first two starts, look for the rumor mill to heat up fast regarding a trade.