Was Mickey Hatcher encouraging Albert Pujols to spend 2012 doing the best Wilson Valdez impression he could? The Angels fired their long-standing hitting coach last night in an attempt to revive an offense that is on pace to set a record for futility in at least one category. It’s an understandable move in some ways; it won’t hurt to change things up even if Hatcher can hardly be at fault for so many Angels hitting quite so poorly:
Albert Pujols: .197/.235/.275 (46 OPS+)
Erick Aybar: .193/.220/.235 (31 OPS+)
Alberto Callaspo .225/.271/.275 (58 OPS+)
Vernon Wells .233/.258/.408 (87 OPS+)
Peter Bourjos .193/.254/.281 (54 OPS+)
The team clearly had to do something proactive about the hitting situation and firing Hatcher at least shows they are doing something. Pujols has a huge task on his hand to get his numbers anything close to what they have been in the past but he should still be able to turn it around to some extent and have decent end of year numbers even if they won’t be close to his usual standards. Aybar also has a track record which indicates he should improve and he at least plays a decent shortstop. Callaspo has been a decent major leaguer in the past but came into the season as a player the team could look to upgrade and Bourjos’ other worldly defense makes it easier to put up with all but the most putrid of offensive performances.
The real issue here, and stop me if you’ve heard this one before, is Vernon Wells and his monstrous contract. Now Mike Trout is proving his belongs at the Major League level, each poor game for Wells must be pushing the Angels towards cutting their losses. Even if they don’t outright release him, he has to be treated like the marginal big-leaguer he’s sadly spent his time in LA proving he now his.
Mike Scioscia is MLB’s longest tenured manager but even he will be feeling some heat for this awful start. He has a reputation as someone who can eke more runs out of an offense than the overall numbers indicate should have been possible but there’s been little evidence of that trick this year. It’s also understandable that Scioscia receives some of the blame for the acquisition of Wells. While clearly not his final call, Scioscia is thought to have more front office influence than many managers around the league and his apparent desire to be rid of Mike Napoli, who was shipped out in the Wells deal, couldn’t have worked out much worse for the team.
If Scioscia does go it seems more likely to happen after the season or at least after the All-Star break but no factors should be overlooked, or persons immune from scrutiny, in the search for answers to this awful offense.