Spring Training is a week in and I'm back to watching/listening/consuming Angels baseball.
What, are you surprised? I'm not that much a bandwagon fan.
If you truly care about someone/something, you never walk away after the first fight. You come back and try to work it out.
So I'm (somewhat) reconciled with the thought that the FO (cue Gob Bluth) made a huge mistake. But I'm still struggling to regain the faith and trust I held for FO moves. It's an ongoing process.
I'm actually not too concerned that I'm still skeptical of the FO. Isn't that a hallmark of any good relationship? That each challenges, inspires, and pushes the other? I want the Angels to be the best that they can be. They in turn, challenge and inspire me to be the best fan I can be. And of course, I give them unconditional love. Er, I just can't quit them!
It took me a long time (as you can see from the archives) to come back here. I tend to post when I feel like I have something to say - when the Angels give me something to say, to feel. And the past month or so, I've been sifting through how I feel about the FO and this season.
This season just seems like a critical junction. True Grich talked about it - how the old guard has moved on and the distinct feel of uncertainty surrounds the Halos. I agree, but I think there's a bit more to that. I feel like this year is, well almost like rolling the dice. Not in the sense that the Angels are going all in like the Brewers, but more like Arte is trying to find a way to continue win in the balance between payroll/on-field performance and revenues.
It's well known that Arte lost ~$10M last season as the Angels on-field product tanked and they slipped to irrelevance. So he came out and promised change, but the Halos failed to deliever. Wells was brought in to try to fufill that promise, but at a huge price. The payroll is now at an all-time high. Arte is doubling down. I think a lot of people, me included, that feel like there's a limit to the payroll. That there's a point where payroll could exceed the possible revenues. And if the Angels go beyond that point, well, they've gone off a cliff and it's catastrophe. They'd be the Cubs/Mets, hamstrung by payroll limitations years away from recovery. After all, the Halos aren't the Yankees - they just don't have the same kind of revenue streams. Perhaps this is just hysteria and born from the Angels' traditional designation as a mid-market francise. Perhaps the limitations to revenue streams are overblown. Arte, after all, is the businessman, not I. But I can't help but feel uneasy and anxious. I'm not convinced of the on-field product. And if the Angels can't win, will the francise go down the black-hole of money problems? It's heady stuff. (And probably why there was such a strong reaction to the Wells trade.)
The on-field product will have a lot to do with that outcome. But I'm skeptical of that as well. The rotation is fine (heh, I thought that last year too, though), the bullpen is improved (except for the closer spot - you know, the supposedly most important role) and the defense is better. But I believe for them to win, the lineup will need to better than expected. A lot would need to break right - Borjous hitting enough, Abreu and Aybar rebounding, Wells hitting for power, Izzy staying healthy and adjusting to leading off, and especially, KMo coming all the way back. That's a lot to ask. Maybe they can win with the run-prevention strategy, like Tampa Bay did last year. But they will need to do a lot of the little things right - and I don't see this team as good as the Rays.
I see this team as fringe contenders, contenders if things go right. But then again, the Halos as a whole always seem to do better than their parts (with the exception of last year). They can certainly prove me wrong. I desperately hope that they do.
Finally, I wanted to make a comment on Garret Anderson retiring earlier this week.
I know many Halo fans have already expressed the same sentiment, but GA, despite the criticisms of his hustle, was a great Angel. He may not be HOF-material, but he was an icon to the legion of Angels fans (me, included) that grew up rooting for the Halos. (Considering the growth of the francise during that time, I'd say he has quite a few fans.) I, for one, appreciated his humble actions and find it quite fitting that he was steady, underrated, and anonymous. Good luck and best wishes to him in retirement.