Mike Scioscia is the longest-tenured manager in the big leagues, having led the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim since 2000. But given the team’s high expectations heading into the season and the fact that they’ve struggled mightily out of the gate, Scioscia’s seat appears very hot.
When the team shocked the baseball world by signing Josh Hamilton this offseason to pair with Albert Pujols and Mike Trout, the only question surrounding the Angels was how many games ahead they would finish in the AL West.
Imagine that middle of the order: Trout, Pujols, Hamilton -- not to mention the team’s supporting cast of Mark Trumbo, Peter Bourjos and Howie Kendrick.
However, the Angels find themselves looking up in the AL West, having started off the season 9-14 through their first 23 games.
We’re only a month through the season, but the Angels’ slow start is a classic example demonstrating that money cannot buy baseball success. So what’s been the problem so far?
Injuries have certainly played a factor. The Angels will be without ace Jered Weaver (broken left elbow) for at least another month. Closer Ryan Madson may finally make his Angels debut after dealing with an elbow injury.
The team’s starting left side of the infield -- Erick Aybar and Alberto Callaspo -- have each missed time early on, which has put the pressure on reserves Brendan Harris and Luis Jimenez to assume starting roles.
The real trouble though right now is that the team’s superstars are off to cold starts. Pujols and Hamilton have combined for just four home runs and 21 RBIs. Trout is also not experiencing the same success, at least yet, as his rookie campaign.
Hamilton really has been a detriment to the middle of the Angels lineup. Maybe he’s still adjusting to his new situation, but 27 strikeouts through 23 games just won’t cut it.
It’s been Bourjos, Trumbo and Kendrick that have carried the Angels offense. That’s great for those players, but the plan at the start of the season was for these three to be the role players to Hamilton, Pujols and Trout. So far, it hasn’t worked out that way.
While individual performance is a factor in the Angels’ slow start, it’s important to note that the competition in the top of the AL West is very strong. With all the big moves the Angels made this offseason, it was easy to forget about the Texas Rangers and Oakland A’s.
The Rangers have compiled an 11-5 record against AL West teams, while the A’s sit at 11-2 within the division. The Angels, though, are just 5-10.
Scioscia of course is not the one on the field playing, and he can’t control the team’s injuries. But if his guys don’t get it together, he may take the fall. And if things don’t improve even when Weaver returns, Scioscia may not even last the remainder of the season.
History would prove that Hamilton and Pujols will get it going eventually. When they do, they’ll form a scary combination, but the Angels -- and of course Scioscia -- must be hoping the duo finds its groove sooner rather than later.