Despite missing Mike Trout for 39 games, the Los Angeles Angels (47-50) are just three games back of the New York Yankees (48-45) in the AL Wild Card race entering play July 20.
Ultimately, what needs to happen for the Angels to make the playoffs?
“Essentially, they need to get lucky, more or less,” L.A. Times Angels writer Pedro Moura told John Jastremski, who was filling in as host of CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “They don’t have the most talented team among the Wild Card contenders, and they certainly don’t have the healthiest team. All five starting pitchers they hope to start next season with are hurt right now, which is pretty incredible that they’re actually in the race at all. They really have just a bunch of back-end starters forming their rotation now. That’s not going to change in the next two weeks.”
Don’t expect the Angels to trade for an ace, either.
“They’re not going to go out there and acquire an elite starting pitcher because they simply do not have the prospect capital to do so,” Moura said. “They could not acquire Sonny Gray with minor league talent if they sent most of their system over. They just don’t have it. So they’re going to have to make due with what they have, and the likelihood is they won’t make the playoffs. But the fact that they’re making a run at it – something even resembling a run at it, considering where they were last year – is, I guess, an accomplishment. So there’s that.”
It seems Mike Scioscia deserves a lot of credit for keeping the Angels afloat this year, no?
“He was hired a week before Bill Belichick, which is just unfathomable to think about,” Moura said. “We’re talking about November 1999. It is an amazing feat. Even if he doesn’t complete the 19 years that the contract contains, that’s just a ridiculous number that will probably never be matched again in baseball history as long a this game is played. That said, even though I’m around the team everyday, it’s really hard to say with any degree of certainty how good of a manager he really is. I don’t think he can be accurately assessed.”
Scioscia, 58, led the Angels to a World Series title in 2002 and is a two-time AL Manager of the Year, most recently in 2009.
“He certainly hasn’t made many mistakes managing the bullpen this year, which is the most obvious way you can measure a manager’s success rate,” Moura said, “but other than that, it’s just really hard to say. He has his fans in the clubhouse and he has his not-fans. It’s not like he’s known as a players’ manager or anything like that. He certainly seems to be a capable tactician, but there are probably others that I would take in that category over him. So it’s a complicated question, but the longevity cannot be questioned.”