This off-season The Nats Blog will be holding weekly interviews with blogs for all thirty teams. One site a week leading up to the start of the 2011 baseball season. This week I spoke with Jim Gardner from Halos Heaven, one of the top Angels blogs on the net, to talk about the teams unusual down year and the state of the franchise.
TNB: With names like Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, and Scott Kazmir in your rotation, were you surprised with the teams struggles last season?
Halos Heaven: The problems the Angels had last season wasn’t with the starting pitching (except Kazmir). Early in the season, the Angels’ bullpen seemed to leak worse than the Minnow, until finally righting itself in the second half of the season. The reason for last season’s struggles was an offense that scored over 200 runs less than in 2009.
TNB: In you most non-biased opinion, where does Mike Scioscia rank among the all-time best managers?
Halos Heaven: Scioscia is undoubtedly the most successful Angels manager in franchise history, and his all-time winning percentage is in the Top 50, but I personally don’t like the way he will use a player exclusively in the predetermined roles he has set up (i.e. using the same closer or setup guy regardless of the matchup), sticking with a veteran a little too long, and worst of all Jeff Mathis. But you asked for unbiased opinion...Mike Scioscia will be the first person to be wearing an Angels cap on their Hall of Fame plaque.
TNB: How will the loss of Hideki Matsui impact the rest of the teams lineup?
Halos Heaven: Who? Oh yeah, he was on the team last year. Seriously, I was excited when the Angels signed him prior to the 2010 season, but it never really seemed like he was there. He was brutally cold when the Angels needed someone to step up after the loss of Kendry Morales, and when he finally got hot the season was pretty much lost. If the club doesn’t sign one of the remaining free agents (Damon, Posednik, or Manny Ramirez (yikes!)), they’ll use the DH spot to rotate at-bats with Rivera/Napoli/Abreu. This should at least match the output of 2010 Matsui.
TNB: Do you think Ervin Santana is one of the more underrated starting pitchers in the game?
Halos Heaven: Yeah, but I think he’s underrated because he’s been so inconsistent. He’s got that odd/even year thing going where he’s only good in even years. In my opinion, of the four Angels starters, he’s the most likely to be traded before the start of the season for some offense.
TNB: What is the current state of the Angels...rebuilding or reloading?
Halos Heaven: Neither? They just seem to be treading water. When I think of a team rebuilding they usually start by trading away their old or over-priced talent for prospects. The Angels still have plenty of those types of players. Scoiscia has gone on records as saying that he thinks he can patch together a decent offense. Whenever someone says they have to “patch together” something it usually means it’s broke. The Angels haven’t done anything to fix the broken offense, which seems like they’re not reloading either.