15 November 2010

in retrospect: 2010

The 2010 season was something of a rollercoaster.

During the offseason, I commented that the 2010 season would be something of a bridge year, where Tony and the FO were trying to see what the young core could do. I especially remember that I included a comment from Halosheaven.com:
"You know what this offseason is? A challenge/gamble to our young core: OK, which one of you is going to be a star? ... This young core is getting more expensive every year, limiting our ability to go after free agents, but they’re also all around 26, 27 years old. A couple of breakout seasons and we’ll forget all about what a lousy offseason this was supposed to be."
Well, we all saw how that ended up.

For the most point, the whole "young core" flopped. (Of course, Weave isn't included in that.)

Perhaps the most perplexing of all, the veterans were no help either. Torii was the only consistant performer while others like Abreu and Rivera had career-worst years.

I remember chatting with my supervisor during my summer internship (he's a Phillies fan). He asked me point-blank what was up with the Angels and I really didn't know what to say. This was after the Haren trade and after Bourjos had been called up - and the team continued to tank. But I realized, everytime there was a glimmer of hope, the Halos couldn't latch on and ride a bit of momentum. Case in point: Haren arrived from the Dbacks, the Halos got swept by the BoSox => Haren got to spend 5 days on a "contending team." :::sigh::

There was no consistancy.

The good news is that a lot of the roster performed way under any reasonable expectations. I'm not advocating bringing back the team as is, but I'm allowing myself some optimism, cause let's face it - the team is a whole lot better than what it showed in 2010.

It was pretty much a long list of disappointments. Luckily, there were a few (glimmering) bright spots in a dismal season.

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Five biggest disappointments of the Halos' 2010:

5. Aybar's failed leadoff experiment
After Aybar's breakout 2009 season (on the heels of a shocking and bitter end to the 2008 season), it seemed like Aybar was ready to take the next step and inherit the leadoff role that Figgy had been keeping warm for him. It turned out to be a disaster, with Aybar losing his identity as a hitter and eventually losing the job. It is questionable whether Aybar should be given another crack at it next year. Can he ever learn to meld his hack-often-hit-often persona into a bonefide leadoff hitter?

4. Abreu's adventures in the outfield and his disappearing bat
Wow. After the tremendous season Abreu had in 2009 as a hitter and a mentor, this past season was sure a slap in the face. The suspect defense wasn't as surprising (though no less cringe-worthy), but the tanking of the BA and OBP (and continuing SLG decline) screams OLD. Oddly, he just lost just 0.7WAR from 2009 and thankfully, his BABIP was 47 points lower than his career norm. So there's still hope for him. Otherwise the next two years are going to contain more cringing.

3. Kendry's broken leg
Tremendous bad luck. What more can I say?

2. Wood's historical season of ineptude
Who knew that Wood would be this bad? His failures have more than a few Halos fans wondering how such a promising prospect could fall so far and if there is a fundamental problem with the Angel's player development system. I'm not so sure about the latter, but there is no question that something cataclysmic happened to Wood. Can he regain his mojo? Questionable at best. My heart really really hopes he can, even if it's with another team. This disappointment long passed from infuriating into just plain sad.

1. Kaz's frustrating suckitude
Okay, I know this wouldn't be most Halo fan's #1 (in fact, I suspect that most would say #2 or #3 belong here). But it's my blog and Kaz's failures were sure personal to me. Not only did I go out on a limb and endorse him, I took him as my favorite player. Yeah, you can start laughing at me. I can't explain it, but that interview after ALCS Game #4 just spoke to me. I just couldn't dump him as my favorite player, no matter how frustrating his season was and as the suckitude reached new heights. I'm sure (foolishly?) hoping that things can only get better from here. But I've learned now. I'll qualify that hope as being nothing more than a pipe dream.

Honorable mentions: Jepsen's sophomore mediocrity, Rivera falling off a cliff, Howie's sub-.300 BA (again), Napoli non-breakout, Matsui's missing May and July

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Five biggest joys of the 2010 season:

5. The All Star Game
This doesn't really fit, since I've been talking about the performances on the field by the players. But I can't resist giving my fellow Halo fans two thumbs up for the reception they gave *certain* players. I was proud that Vladdy got what he deserved, overjoyed to hear the cheers for Weave (and his obvious delight!), and amused to hear the protracted boos for Yankees and BoSoxs. I thought that it gave FOX and the national audience a clue about how West Coast-ers view the East-Coast-Bias and the disparity between how Halos fans feel about the Rangers vs. Yanks/BoSux. Though now that the Rangers aren't pathetic, that's bound to change (and I'm all for a new AL West rivalry!). It was just a magical night...

4. Torii's gracious move to RF
No one expected it. But it was one of the awesome things that is Torii Hunter. He may have lost a Gold Glove because of it, but it shows his leadership and undying desire to get a ring by any means necessary.

3. Seeing the future of the bullpen
The bullpen (once hoped to be a strength), was once again in shambles. Then K-Rod II joined. Then Kohn. Then Walden. All very green, but all very dynamic, exciting, and effective. It'll be one of the unknowns for -next season - if they can continue to rise or will flame out (ala Bulger) or sink to "eh" (ala Jepsen).

2. Borjous patrolling the outfield
Watching him in centerfield is just FUN. Every fly ball hit to center, I perked up in anticipation of something spectacular. He makes it look so fluid, so easy, and he's got a good chance to be a dynamic center fielder. Now about that bat....

1. Weave's continued maturation
Weave impressed me immensely this past season. I wrote a bit of it when he was left off the All-Star roster:
He has done everything for the staff and the team. He's lead by example and by actions (anyone catch him snapping at Torii to stop fooling around?). He's been a stopper and a big-game pitcher. He's been consistant and electric. Every time his rotation spot comes up, I know he'll keep the Halos in the game. (Perhaps unfairly, I assume the game should be won. I keep forgetting to account for the rest of the team.) If anyone was worried about the vacuum Lackey left, there's no question who has filled it.
Weave bursted onto the scene as a rookie when he won his first 9 decisions. I was mildly optimistic that he could be something special. But when he dove into mediocrity the following seasons, I became doubtful. And then, well, then I felt that I could never truly embrace him: he was nothing if immature. I remember a game in Boston. Weave was scuffling and Ortiz hit a HR off of him. Apparently, Ortiz took too long looking at his HR and Weave mouthed off in the papers. He said it didn't exactly mean that he'd pluck Ortiz, but he said that he wouldn't forget it the next time he saw him. That definitely earned an eyeroll from me. I thought, "Dude, if you're angry about him lookin at a HR, stop giving them up! You're a young player sucking, so stop complaining and get better. Then maybe people would know better than to be gazing at a HR." To me, it is amazing how far he's come. Not only is it that he's gotten a lot better, but it's how he carries himself on the mound and in the media. This past season must have been frustrating for him, with the lack of run support, but he was very careful to not to throw anyone under the bus. And that maturation has gotten me on his bandwagon for good.

Honorable mention: Conger given a chance, Fuentes moving on with grace

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Coming up...

in retrospect: 2010 infield

1 comment:

Agent 99 said...

Just read this post. I pretty much agree with everything you said regarding the 5 disappointments and the 5 reasons for joy. Your mentioning of the bullpen is a little prescient, I think, given that the only moves in this offseason have been to strenghthen the bullpen- can't wait to see the results of that. Good stuff!

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