Purgatory Online

Monday, April 18, 2005

Back on January 18, I posited that, if Steve Finley and Orlando Cabrera performed at their normal levels, Dallas McPherson would need to have a Rookie 0f the Year kind of season to get the Angels back to their 2004 production. In a nutshell:
Ultimately, therefore, I think the Angels' offensive fortunes are going to depend heavily on the contributions they can get from third base and DH. They must get a solid year out of McPherson (or Quinlan, or whomever comes out of spring training with the job), and they must significantly improve at DH.
DH, of course, was a terrible position for the Angels last year, producing just a .240/.323/.401 line - unacceptable from anyone who contributes exactly zero to the defensive side of the game.

So far this year, however, just about every possible trend in the above analysis has gone the wrong way. For starters, there's Finley and Cabrera:

Finley, 2004: .271/.333/.490
Finley, 2005: .159/.275/.273
Cabrera, 2004: .264/.306/.383
Cabrera, 2005: .233/.327/.419

Cabrera has arguably come pretty close to what was expected, but Finley has been comically bad at the plate for the first twelve games of the season. This isn't exactly time to push the panic button - going back to 2002, Finley has a .229/.302/.454 line in April, with a substantial improvement in May - but it's certainly not helping in the moment.

As for the situation at designated hitter...look, I know some people like Jeff DaVanon. I mean, some people really, really like Jeff DaVanon. But Jeff DaVanon is a fourth outfielder. Competent, sure. But a DH he is not.

DaVanon, 2005: .194/.257/.226
Angels DHes, 2005: .234/.288/.255 (which goes to show you that Juan Rivera isn't helping much, either).

Completing the suckitude triangle, we have the third base situation:

Angels 3Bs, 2005: .163/.213/.326

Word on the street is that Dallas McPherson will be in the lineup as early as tonight, which will likely mean the end of Lou Merloni's career as an Angel. Even more than anticipated, however, McPherson will be thrust into a situation in which he will need to produce at a very high level, at least until Finley heats up or the Angels can find a real DH.

Back in January, I also said:
Of course, it's possible that the Angels could get increased offensive production from other places. Garret Anderson could bounce back and put up a .301/.345/.500 year for a full season; Bengie Molina could drop 40 pounds and go .280/.320/.410. But let's also remember that Vlad Guerrero had an MVP-caliber season in 2004, and the possibility of increased production from Anderson and Molina has to be balanced by the possiblity of a slight regression by Vlad.
Finally, some good news: Guerrero is putting up the same kind of numbers he did last year, and both Anderson and Molina are looking good at the plate (at least until Molina had to leave the game with thigh problems yesterday). So if, in fact, Finley is merely in his usual April doldrums and McPherson represents a substantial upgrade, the Angels offense is likely to get better soon.

Which would leave only the question of Chone Figgins, who is currently posting a .200/.260/.356 line. Frankly, considering the production from 2B, DH, CF, and 3B, it's a minor miracle that the Angels are even at .500. Figgins may be pressing a little too hard, hearing Adam Kennedy's footsteps as AK draws closer to an anticipated May return to the lineup. Certainly Figgins has looked overmatched at the plate in a way that he hasn't before.

Overall, I do think that there is some cause for cautious optimism in the next few weeks. The real question, however, is how well the Angels will do in the next few days: after a pair of games with Seattle, the Angels have series with Cleveland, Oakland, New York, and Minnesota.