What are you smiling at? This is your fault.
The Angels bullpen is in tatters, we all know this. The relief corps has been an out of control gas fire for two months with no sign of being extinguished anytime soon and is single-handedly keeping the Angels out of first place (you honestly think that the Angels would still be four games back if they hadn't blow ELEVEN FREAKING SAVES!!!). So who is to blame for this whole mess?
Mike Scioscia? No.
Mike Butcher? He certainly isn't helping, but no.
I blame you, Tony Reagins.
Reagins is the man responsible for this roster and thus the lack of bullpen depth. At no point in the off-season did it occur to him to find some sort of insurance policy for a bullpen that consists of a veteran closer Brian Fuentes who spent most of his career battling for his job with Manny Freaking Corpas, slowly decaying Scot Shields, a 38-year soft-tossing lefty, Justin Speier who was horrendous the year before, exciting but unproven Jose Arredondo, September call-up Kevin Jepsen and Quadruple-A reliever Jason Bulger. Somehow Reagins never looked at that ragtag collection of arms and decided that maybe, just maybe, their might be too many question marks. Brilliant, let's take a huge risk with the most important part of the team.
Really? You thought this guy would be consistent?
That's right. As often as teams like to marginalize the bullpen, for the Angels, the bullpen is the backbone of their club. Think about it, their entire organizational philosophy is based on having a lockdown crew of relievers. There is a reason Mike Scioscia plays small ball. He knows that if he can scratch out a one-run lead that the bullpen will protect that lead. No need to take a chance at going for the big inning and end up not scoring at all, that big lead just isn't necessary when you trust your bullpen. That is how the Halos have been successful all these years without an overpowering offense. But now that the bullpen has gone from being dreaded by the opposition to being dreaded by Angel fans, the Halos suddenly find themselves barely treading water in the AL West. Yet still Tony Reagins does nothing.
I get that he overestimated how reliable his relievers were going to, it was an easy mistake to make. Nobody could have predicted that Scot Shields would break down so badly even with all the mileage on his arm. Jose Arredondo certainly looked like a dominant reliever last year, so while a sophomore slump was a possibility, never was it expected to be this bad. What the Angels are going through is absolutely a worst-case scenario for them, so not having an adequate failsafe is understandable but that doesn't excuse Reagins for sitting on his hands while things are going to hell in a hand basket. All I think about when I imagine Reagins reaction to the bullpen problems is the scene in Fahrenheit 9/11
where Bush just sits in his chair and stares into nothingness for several minutes when he gets the news about the planes crashing into the Twin Towers. Clearly those events are not anywhere near the same level, but I think you get where I am going with the analogy.
George Bush or Tony Reagins in disguise? You decide.
The only solutions Reagins has offered so far are absolutely pathetic. Calling up every fringe relief prospect available and hoping that one of them catches lightning in a bottle is unimaginative and foolish. Adding more unproven, subpar talent to an already faltering squad doesn't address the problem, if anything it exacerbates it because it puts more pressure on the veterans to straighten things out. Beyond that the only stroke of genius Tony Reagins has come up with is signing 40-year old reliever Rudy Seanez to a minor league deal. By the way, Seanez is now injured.
Only just now after the umpteenth meltdown have the Angels been seriously rumored to be in the market for some relief help. And who knows if that will even go anywhere, the Angels have seldom ever proven to be movers and shakers when it comes getting trades completed.
Maybe Reagins is like the rest of us, spoiled by years of having one of the finest bullpens in baseball. Maybe he figures that things will just magically work themselves out. Maybe if he just ignores the problem it will go away.
Just run, Jose. I think Scioscia might actually kill you this time. I'll cover you.
Or maybe he will finally catch a clue after Mike Scioscia strangles Jose Arredondo in a fit of rage after the next bullpen implosion. I believe it is scheduled for Thursday, so stay tuned.