The Los Angeles Angels organization, and the rest of the MLB community for that matter, certainly remembers the implosion of the 2012 Boston Red Sox, followed by the subsequent import flux of Sox players to the Los Angeles area during last season.
It was big news for the entire summer, especially in Southern California.
And while the Dodgers are banking on talented players via that dysfunctional soap opera in order to bring Magic Johnson and the gang a championship in 2013, the Angels have geared up behind specific offseason acquisitions to make sure any trace of a "Beantown-like karma" doesn't take the car-pool lane down the I-5 and park inside the clubhouse.
For good reason too, because nothing would put a season in turmoil and Mike Scioscia's job in jeopardy more quickly than a 69-93 performance from the newly expensed Angels' squad.
And how did the Angels avert such a possible catastrophe? Oddly enough, they did it by simply improving this offseason on a deficiency that they held so similar to the Boston Red Sox in 2012.
Sure, comparing the two teams may seem like a bit of a reach (89-73 is not in the same range as 69-93). However, they both had one glaring defect: the bullpen.
The Angels' bullpen lost 19 leads last season and blew 22 save opportunities (63 percent). Following the injury of Jordan Walden—which happened after he already lost the closer role—the team had only Ernesto Frieri to keep things stable towards the end of the game. However, that was not enough.
And as bleak as those numbers look, the Red Sox were in the exact category of ineptitude. The Sox bullpen lost 18 leads and blew 22 save opportunities (61 percent), landing them fifth in the AL East.
In the numbers-savvy reality of the MLB, if it had not been for decent starting pitching by the Angels—finishing seventh in ERA to the Red Sox 12th—the records of the two teams may have been in the same region.
Yes, there is also a separation of offensive prowess; however, not enough to merit a swing of 20 games in the win column. The Sox were sixth in average (.260), sixth in OPS (.730) and fifth in runs scored (734). The Angels were first in average (.274), third in OPS (.764) and third in runs scored (767).
Now, if you are able to find reasoning why those similar offensive categories produce wins over the other, then I salute you. But runs scored are runs scored; 767 up against 734 would leave most Sabermetrics supporters shrugging their shoulders.
At the end of the day it's all about the pitching, and that is what general manager Jerry Dipoto and owner Arte Moreno realized.
Understanding that Jered Weaver and C.J Wilson held the rotation and any additions only needed to be good enough (not Zack Greinke status), they went out and improved the 'pen first.
The additions of Sean Burnett, Ryan Madson and even Brandon Sisk are what will keep the psychiatrist from The Natural out of the Angels' clubhouse in 2013. He will be stuck giving his “losing is a disease…” spiel to teams that did not bolster their bullpens.
For now, the Angels have their medicine and reasoning to give fans hope for them not being the next 2012 Red Sox.
(All stats were courtesy of Baseball-reference.com unless otherwise noted)
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