Los Angeles Angels Are Blowing a Chance to Be a Legit Pennant Contender

Paul Francis Sullivan@@sullybaseballChief Writer IAugust 18, 2012

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 17: Pitching coach Mike Butcher #31 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim visits the mound to talk with Jered Weaver #36, Chris Iannetta #17, Howard Kendrick #47, Erick Aybar #2 and Alberto Callaspo #6 against the Tampa Bay Rays in the fourth inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 17, 2012 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images)
Jeff Golden/Getty Images

One can not help but feel badly for Los Angeles Angels general manager Jerry DiPoto. He assembled a team that by all appearances looked like the squad that would win owner Arte Moreno's first-ever pennant and bring the World Series back to Orange County.

Jered Weaver, locked up to a long-term deal, was having a Cy Young-caliber season. He brought in Albert Pujols who is heating up. C.J. Wilson made the All-Star team. Mike Trout has already sewn up the Rookie of the Year and has his sights set on the MVP. Torii Hunter's bat was heating up.

He brought in Zack Greinke to slide into the rotation with Weaver, Wilson and Dan Haren. Reliever Ernesto Frieri was a steal from San Diego.

After the Greinke deal, the Angels looked poised and ready to run off with, at the very least, a wild-card spot and possibly zoom past the Rangers and claim the division.

That was 20 games ago. They've won only seven games since.

They are losing in every way possible. The bullpen has blown games and have an ERA over eight since the beginning of August. According to The Los Angeles Times, Scott Downs and Jordan Walden will be back soon. But will they be enough?

The starters have not helped matters. Greinke has been a bust in his first four starts, posting a staggering 5.54 ERA over 26 innings in Southern California. Dan Haren hasn't been much better with a 5.04 ERA in the second half capped off by his miserable five runs in 3.2 innings drubbing by the Rays on Thursday night.

The Angels hit what they hope is rock bottom Friday night in Angel Stadium. Jered Weaver needed to give the team a quality outing especially on the heels of Haren's poor start.

Instead, he suffered the worst loss of his career. Lasting only three innings, worse than Haren, he let up an eye-popping nine runs and saw his ERA jump 0.52 points in one night.

From the moment DiPoto looked like he put together the team of everyone's dreams, they have become a prolonged nightmare. The third-best team in the American League the day Zack Greinke arrived is now fifth in the wild-card race.

If they make the playoffs, they would have to be considered a formidable foe. Weaver twice in a short series? Wilson going in Game 2? Trout and Pujols hitting in the big series? This team looks designed to win a short series.

Perhaps they are. But first they need to get into the postseason. Without the Angels in the playoffs, the Rangers would be the team to beat depending on the health of CC Sabathia for the Yankees.

The entire complexion of October could be different if the Angels make it. But if they keep pitching like this, they will be spending the fall on the golf course and leaving DiPoto scratching his head, wondering what else he could have done.