Sorry, Los Angeles Angels, your World Series trophy is in another castle. But probably not down on the farm.
The Angels are the team of Mike Trout and, really not much else. They’re the caboose of the AL West, a team stuck in the middle of trying to compete and trying to rebuild but looking like neither. It was a tough year for the Angels and it probably won’t get much better anytime soon.
Like we’ll do with every eliminated team in our Game Over series, we’re about to examine what went wrong for the Angels, what went right, what’s the best 2016 memory, what they need to fix and what the future might hold.
WHAT WENT WRONG
The simple answer is “lots,” but if we really want to hone in on what makes the Angels bad it’s the pitching. They’ve been pitching deficient for years and it was made worse this year by age and injuries. Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney and Tyler Skaggs have all been limited by injury. Jered Weaver has been forced to hold down the rotation with a growing ERA and declining fastball. C.J. Wilson never came back from a 2015 surgery and, in fact, needed another surgery. They signed Tim Lincecum, hoping for some comeback magic and got a 9.16 ERA instead. There’s no other word for it: The pitching was a mess. (Mike Oz)
WHAT WENT RIGHT
I could just write “MIKE TROUT” here and be done with it, because for the floundering Angels, he’s almost always the one thing that goes right for them. Trout had another brilliant year on the going-nowhere Angels, and he’s in the running for the MVP award again. But it’s hard not to feel like he’s being wasted, because a resurgent year from third baseman Yunel Escobar is the only other thing to put in this paragraph. (Liz Roscher)
TOP OF THE FLAGPOLE (aka THEIR BEST MOMENT)
You wouldn’t have known the Angels were struggling this year if you tuned in on July 2 when they blasted the Red Sox 21-2. The biggest surprise of the night is that it wasn’t Trout or Albert Pujols that carried the team. Rather, it was C.J. Cron (6-for-6 with two home runs and six RBIs) and Carlos Perez (5-for-6 with a home run and five RBIs) that were the offensive superstars. Cron and Perez became the first teammates with at least five hits and five RBIs in the same game since 1936. (Israel Fehr)
CHANGES THEY NEED TO MAKE
They should keep Mike Trout. He’s still pretty good. Albert Pujols isn’t a bad guy to have around either because he can still hit and attract fans to the ballpark. Beyond that though, anybody and everybody can go.
The Angels simply need to rebuild everything. They need fresh perspectives and fresh ideas. They need new leadership. They need to spend their money wiser. Above all, they need to employ better players. With the roster they’ve fielded down the stretch this season, their games would be totally unwatchable if not for Trout. It’s as bad a roster as there is in MLB and it must be addressed this winter. (Mark Townsend)
WARP INTO THE FUTURE
It’s an insult to call this farm system a farm system. The team’s talent in the minors is nonexistent. Some analysts went so far as to call it the worst farm system they’ve ever seen prior to the start of the season, and that wasn’t hyperbole. Things haven’t really gotten better since then.
Unless the team does the unthinkable and deals Trout for a godfather offer, things aren’t likely to get much better in the coming years. At least you have the best player in baseball, Angels fans. (Chris Cwik)
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