On Friday, the Angels released 38-year old veteran Bobby Abreu and called up the much lauded prospect Mike Trout. The 20-year old outfielder was putting up a .403/.467/.623 line in Salt Lake City, Triple-A. The Pacific Coast League is hitter-friendly but since joining the Angels organization Trout has done nothing but hit (minus a cold streak during a big league stint late last year). The Angels hope Trout can add a jolt to an anemic offense that has scored a total of nine runs in the last six games.
In two games so far, Trout has gone 0 for 7. However, he has struck out only once, putting good wood on the ball regularly. In yesterday's game Trout worked the count full twice and yielded a walk during a crucial situation with men on first and third, two outs in the 8th and the Angels down by two. He may not have a hit yet but he looks good.
While the offense continues to struggle, both Dan Haren and Ervin Santana pitched well in their respective outings against the Indians. Santana went into the game with an ERA over 7 and having given up already ten home runs.
In an attempt to fish for positive signs in an otherwise bleak road trip, Torii Hunter hit two home runs in Cleveland as expected/predicted in last week's post on Hunter and Pujols home run droughts. Pujols still continues to struggle.
While the season is early and there is still plenty of time for the Angels to start playing to their potential, it isn't entirely unrealistic to believe that the Angels have already lost the division to the Texas Rangers. As Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein tweeted last night,
Even if the Angels start playing like people thought, you really think they're going to outplay the Rangers by 10 games? 'Cause they're not.— Kevin Goldstein (@Kevin_Goldstein) April 30, 2012
It's not impossible that the Angels could catch the Rangers, especially with the injury history of players like Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz. Still, the Rangers are tough team. As written previously here, the Rangers are still a great team and no one should have expected them to just roll over and give up this division. 22 games into the season, they have continued their winning ways while it's the Angels who have imploded thus far and already find themselves 9 games out of first.
So can the Angels still make the playoffs? Sure. It more likely would come from one of the two wild card spots at this point, though. Even then, the question that Goldstein proposed in his tweet remains in regards to the contending wild card teams. Right now, the Angels find themselves with a 7-game difference with the two first place teams in the AL East -- Rays and Orioles (!), with a five-game difference between them and the second place Yankees.
Can the Angels outplay the Rays, Yankees or even the Orioles by 6-8 games for the rest of the season? It's possible but the Angels have certainly dug themselves a deep hole rather quickly. To salvage their season the Angels would ideally tally up a few, long winning streaks over the next 25-35 games. Or, at the very least, not fall any further behind than they already are. Otherwise, barring late-season meltdowns by the previously mentioned teams, 2012 will quickly become a huge disappointment for a team that came in with high expectations.
Finally, Angels reliever LaTroy Hawkins with the quote of the week:
"If it’s this time next month and we’re still playing like this? Then the panic button will be the size of your head and the color of my shorts."True words.