If it wasn't for this cursed offense who knows how far up in the standings the Angels would be?! I've seen countless games this season that should have been won had it not been for this offense breaking down and playing rather pathetic baseball. But then again, if it wasn't our lack of reliable relievers who knows how many close games the Angels could have come out on top of. One too many games have been blown by Rodney and his lefty Asian counterpart Hisanori Takahashi. These are the two most pressing problems for the Angels going towards the trade deadline, but which one do the Angels need the most? A big bat or a bigger arm?
First we must look at exactly where this bat would go? The first and only position that could do with an upgrade that comes to my mind is third base. Sure Callaspo has been pretty good from that spot, but mental errors have become the norm for him, not to mention his quickly decreasing offensive output. That's not to say that his offensive output has been bad, he did manage the game winning double in the finale against Seattle this past weekend, but it isn't nearly as good as it was a few months back. This offense has one too many hitters that produce similarly to Callaspo, so why not just trade him away for someone who can field AND hit consistently. He sports a rather unimpressive .946 fielding percentage, which looks great compared to his rather pedestrian .356 SLG%. His SLG% is only one point above his OBP%! Could you get any more average then that?
What's a little surprising is the fact that Callaspo ranks 5th in BA in the entire league, beating out notables such as Adrian Beltre and Chipper Jones. What is even more surprising is to see 4th in OBP with .355 rate, not to shabby huh? The only stat that he can't compare to with other 3B in the league is SLG%, where he ranks 11th with his .356 percentage. Turns out Callaspo, when compared to other 3B in the league, isn't so bad at all. In fact, you could say that the Angels are lucky to have such a solid thirdbaseman on the team. It takes a lot more then solid to win championships however, and the question still remains up in the air. Can Callaspo continue to be good enough to help carry the team? I don't want it to sound like I'm saying he is the saving grace of this offense, not by any means at all, but he does what he can to win games and he does it good. Can't say the same about every player on this team, and most of those players are stuck in the bullpen.
It seems like an upgrade at third isn't such a necessity now, is it? What about our bullpen arms? The only relievers on this team that don't give me a near heart attack when they come out of the bullpen is Scott Downs and Jordan Walden. Well, there is Rich Thompson, but he's too inconsistent to come up as anything noteworthy. He's not bad, don't get me wrong, but he can't find it within himself to step it up for this team when they need him most. When the pressures of the Thompson is ON, but when you throw on a pound of stress everything goes south for him. Surely more than two reliable relievers are needed if a team wants to go all the way and win a championship. All together this "relief" corps, if you can call them relief since all they do is put pressure and anxiety on both the team and us fans. All together they've blown a total of 17 games, which one could say is just a part of the bullpen business, but 17 losses? Are you kidding me? So many of those losses were completely avoidable if it wasn't for the ineptitude of Rodney and Takahashi among a couple others. I know it's an obvious statement to make, saying that this team would be much higher in the standings if it wasn't for this bullpen, but i it's such an obvious statement to make then why won't the Angels management address the problem?
My best guess is this management is just waiting them out, hoping that maybe...just MAYBE they'll work themselves out. Earlier in the season I wouldn't have so quick as to attack the management for making this kind of assumption, but seeing as how this bullpen has worked out I'm thinking otherwise. In theory this should be a solid bullpen, but Takahashi is having a big downseason after a strong year with the Mets last year. A second half bounce back isn't out the question with Taka, but it shouldn't be something the team relies on to right this ship. Fernando Rodney is Fernando Rodney, like always, what else could we expect from him?
This conclusion has been a relatively easy one to come to if you really think about it, this team has a decent 3rd baseman in Callaspo and a weak bullpen. This team can trade for all the power bats in the world, but without a strong bullpen to hold games together this team isn't going anywhere. If the San Francisco Giants have anything to teach us it's that pitching wins championships, not over-roided offenses. The Rangers had one of those offenses and they lost 4-1 in the World Series, which is rather pathetic for a "godly" offense like the one they had last year and still have this year. Our starting rotation is perfect for the playoffs, I have no doubt in my mind they would do great if they made it to the playoffs, the offense gives me a small worry but nothing major, nothing major like our bullpen. Nothing will be able to fill this hole in my stomach like a new and improved bullpen, even if it's by way of just one solid reliever. One player can make all the difference in a playoff series, and that player has a better chance of doing that on this teams pitching staff rather then their bullpen.