Angels in the Playoffs – Part 1

The Angels lost 4-0 at Boston tonight, to fall behind 1-0 in their best-of-five series.

As I wrote on Sunday, I think the only scenario the Angels have for taking this series is to split one of the first two games. Given John Lackey’s poor record in Fenway Park, and Josh Beckett opposing him, I figured we’d lose Game #1 and our best chance to win at Fenway would come with Kelvim Escobar in Game #2.

Assuming the Angels win on Friday, they will have to sweep Games #3 and #4 in Anaheim or else they’ll have to return to Boston for the deciding Game #5, most likely with a rematch of Lackey and Beckett. I’m not optimistic that the Angels triumph in that scenario.

If you look back at 2002, the Angels lost Game #1 of their ALDS at Yankee Stadium, then won Game #2 before sweeping the next two in Anaheim, avoiding a return to New York for a decisive Game #5. That needs to be the scenario in 2007.

If there was any silver lining in tonight’s dark cloud, it was the two shutout innings of relief by Ervin Santana. Ervin struck out two of the six batters he faced, not allowing a baserunner.

Matt Hurst of the Riverside Press-Enterprise continues his vendetta against Ervin. On September 30, Hurst wrote in his blog:

… If you were the Angels, who would you take into the bullpen? Ervin Santana, Dustin Moseley, Bartolo Colon, Chris Bootcheck? How can the team rely on Colon and Santana when they’ve been unreliable all season and Moseley and Bootcheck have?

I do know that the Angels really like Santana pitching out of the ‘pen (why, I have no idea, but they do) and I know that Moseley’s arm is out of whack lately – his second-half ERA is over six – and Bootcheck has been solid and can pitch in several roles. Colon can throw the stuff out of the ball for one inning or perhaps pitch two or three in a pinch.

Well, at least Hurst admitted that he has no idea, and that the Angels do. Progress.

In watching the videotape of the Angels’ post-game celebration after winning the division title, Santana granted an interview in English to Jose Mota. If you’ve read Hurst, you know one of his gripes is that Santana will only speak to him now through a translator. The main gripe began when Ervin granted an interview to a Los Angeles Times news reporter instead of one of the beat writers assigned to cover the Angels, e.g. Mr. Hurst.

I never understand why some people can’t grasp the adage, “You attract more flies with honey than with vinegar.”



  1. Sid

    I have to hand it to you, I’ve lurked through here for the past few months, and you’ve really stuck by Ervin Santana. You’ve taken a lot of grief for it, too.

    Baseball fans are a peculiar breed. They’re so quick to adore a guy for his heroism one minute, then throw him to the dogs when he underperforms. A-Rod was a good indicator of this last year (he was also a good indicator that those who booed him were ******), but for a few good examples, you need look no further than the Angels. Fans so used to cheering on a team that does nothing but lose epically who finally taste the sweet honey of victory have a tendency to jones for it, to want it badly, and anything in the way, real or imagined, is treated with scorn. Bill Stoneman was vilified in the offseason for not picking up a bat to protect Vladimir Guerrero. Ervin Santana, last year’s hero, was this year’s pariah.

    I’m not saying that I thin Santana should be given any more chances or not. I just tend to agree with your patience with him. Rather than throw the baby out with the bathwater, perhaps we should try to find out why he’s underperforming this year, rather than just get rid of him cheap so he can go to another team and beat the **** out of us for the next decade.

    To me, the major problem with the Angels pitching staff seems psychological in nature. While John Lackey has found some control over his emotions and, as a result, has cut down on his famous “meltdown innings” this year, most of the staff has had problems or has simply fallen to pieces. Rodriguez, Shields, Santana… it’s not physical. And I don’t think it’s coincidental that this meltdown happens the season that Bud Black leaves.

    I think an excellent investment for Arte Moreno would be a good, full-time bilingual sports psychologist. If we can get these pitchers’ heads on straight, we’ll have one **** of rotation and bullpen.

    -Sid McHenry

  2. Stephen

    Sid, a couple thoughts …

    Hurst turned against Santana after Ervin granted an interview to a Los Angeles Times news reporter (with a Hispanic surname). Hurst was angry because Ervin didn’t give the interview to the beat writers.

    Ervin told the news reporter that the beat writers write lies about him, that it’s “all bad” or something like that. This was after Ervin returned from Triple-A.

    Do I believe the beat writers write lies about Ervin? No. But Hurst’s behavior in his blog since then has been vindicating what Ervin said. Hurst wrote that anyone who believes in Santana is “ignorant” and that “nobody loves” Ervin.

    The issue isn’t whether Ervin had a bad year. The issue is one beat writer losing his objectivity, and insulting his readers in the process.

    As for the sports psychologist … The Angels used to have one on staff. We crossed paths once in a while and had long chats about athlete behavior. I haven’t seen him in a couple years, so I don’t know whether he’s still around, but I’m pretty confident the Angels have someone like that available. You just don’t hear about it because it’s obviously a private matter. No one wants to see a headline like “LACKEY SEES SHRINK”. (Woe upon the shrink …)

    Given the “macho” nature of many Latin countries, I doubt Santana or Rodriguez would go anyway.

    As for Bud Black, the implication in your post is that Mike Butcher is somehow to blame. Keep in mind that Butch was a minor league pitching coach and the roving pitching instructor when these kids were coming up to the big leagues. He probably knows them better than Bud Black, because it was his job to either observe them directly or work with their coaches to report back to Black their progress.

    Lackey had his best year, the same can be argued for Escobar, Weaver is progressing, and so is Saunders. Moseley stepped in and did an adequate job. You can’t blame Butch for Colon’s injuries.

    Santana is 24. If you look at Lackey’s career, he regressed at this point too. In 2002 at age 24, his ERA was 3.66. In 2003, it ballooned to 4.63. In 2004, it was 4.67. People were calling him “Lacknuts” and “Gomer” on the Angels fan board. Ervin is going through growing pains, that’s all.

    As for Shields, Scotty had moments in the minors when he blew apart too. In 2000 at Triple-A Edmonton, his ERA was 5.41. In 2001 at Triple-A Salt Lake, it was 4.97. His ERAs with the Angels — 2003 it was 2.85, 2004 it was 3.33, 2005 it was 2.75. These things happen, especially with pitchers like Shields who have unorthodox deliveries.

    And let’s not overlook Darren Oliver. He’s given Butcher credit many times for finding the flaw in his mechanics that led to his horrid start.


    Hey everyone lets give matt a break. He lives in an area that forces him to breath some of the worst air in america and the inland empire is kind of a ***** place to live. With all that he has got to have the biggest chip on his shoulder and that might force him to miss some of the keys on his laptop. Maybe he is trying to write something nice about -E- (fat chance).

    All you so called Angels fans relax,don’t get your panties in a bunch. Stephen and all of us who have been around since the 60’s and the 70’s remember the bad old days. The 1986(or for that matter any Angels team from ’61 to ’99), Angels would have given just about anything to have a starter like Santana. Let’s let the kid get his head together, what were you doing @ 24???

    Never quit!!!!!!!!


    Jeff (since 1971)

    Hey my head is clear, I live in Lake Tahoe

  4. Stephen

    Actually, Jeff, I go back with the Angels to 1966, when I saw a game in Anaheim Stadium its first year. I also have vague memories of watching the team on KTLA before that.

    As for Riverside, they don’t have the worst air in America any more (so far as I know). I went to school at UCR in the late 1970s, and some days it was so bad you couldn’t see the hills less than a mile from the school. It’s much, much better now.

    And the Riverside Press-Enterprise is a great paper. I enjoyed it when I went to school, and still enjoy reading it on-line. Riverside is a special community, something most people don’t appreciate unless they’ve lived there and been a part of it.

    (Ask Troy Percival.)

    If the Angels had Ervin in 1986, Mike Port probably would have traded him for some old guy. That’s the way the Angels operated in that era.


    Okay now that i got that off my back Stephen you are correct, Mike would have traded -E- for some washed up somebody. My 1st game was in 1971 and i sat high along the left field line. Funny, all those years I had to putup with idiot dodger fans ( I grewup in Sherman Oaks), all i wanted was a team that contended every year, now i want more and there is no team I want to see us beat than those guys. I was there in 1986 when that man hit that homerun. I could not look at that video until 2002. Besides the pain they have caused, the worst part is that they and all of their followers are so smug about it.New Yorkers don’t come close to that level of smugness. Thanks for reading my muterings.


  6. Stephen

    Jeff, all these years I’ve kept the video tape of that Game #5 in the 1986 ALCS as a reminder not to get too high or optimistic. At the same time, you don’t give up either. The important thing is to keep your wits about you and be realistic.

    We probably won’t win this playoff, but we’ll give it our best shot. That’s all anyone can ask.

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