The winter of 2011 brought a wave of new beginnings for the Angels.
After two consecutive years without a post-season appearance, Tony Reagins resigned. Jerry "JeDi" Dipoto came in and somehow managed to pick up the two biggest free agents on the market: Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson.
Analysts and fans alike made their predictions: the Angels were to be the 2012 World Series Champions. No questions asked.
Cue the laugh track. We meet again.
There are thousands of questions out there surrounding the Angels and what will become of this all-star squad in 2013. Will Mark Trumbo bounce back? Can we expect the same numbers from Mike Trout? Will this rotation suffice? Will this be the year that Jered Weaver plateaus once and for all?
However, there is a single question out there that carries a great deal of weight for the Angels: What does this year mean for Mike Scioscia?
The Angels will enter the 2013 season having missed the playoffs three seasons in a row. Unfortunately, this is something we've all been reminded of time and time again, so I'll refrain from elaborating on the obvious.
Last year, the Halos faced similar expectations, but it all seemed too good to be true. Scioscia went weeks without the same line up, made peculiar pitching changes that left fans everywhere scratching their heads, and the day he decided to give Pujols a day off, I was ready to riot in the town square. Torch and pitchfork included.
Despite the fact that Scioscia will manage a team made up of new talent, old talent, and everything in between, don't expect him to change his ways.
There is no doubt that Josh Hamilton was the Angels biggest winter signing. With this new power hitter added to the line up, there is now the question of where to place him amongst the other power hitters. Prepare yourself for inconsistency. Again. Hopefully this time, more effective.
Don't let the new faces on the Angels pitching staff lift any sort of weight off of your shoulders, either. The mediocre bullpen that has been assembled will give the Angels trouble, just as any bullpen will. The Skipper is going to make a mistake here and there. Finding the right person to pick up the slack is going to take a while. Again.
Scioscia finds himself managing a team made up of some of the best players (and biggest names) in the game today. With a line up of this caliber and a severely weakened division, it's practically expected that the Angels make the playoffs this season.
So, what does this season mean for Mr. Scioscia?
This season is nothing more than a second chance. This is Scioscia's second chance to manage a team very similar to last season's team. This is his chance to analyze the bullpen's strengths and weaknesses early on. This is his chance to make the playoffs after three disappointing seasons.
Most importantly, this season will decide Mike Scioscia's future with the Angels.
Just remember that patience is a virtue, and that a manager can only manage as well as his players will play.
Happy New Year, Angels fans! See you in Tempe!
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