There aren’t many teams out there that hold closed-door meetings eight games into the season. Then again, there aren’t many ball clubs that have a $142 million payroll featuring two former league MVPs (Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton), an all-world Rookie of the Year (Mike Trout), and a three-time (Jered Weaver) and a two-time All-Star starting pitcher (C.J. Wilson). There are some lofty expectations in Anaheim.
After the team flattened out in 2012, missing the playoffs altogether despite two of the biggest free-agent acquisitions in Pujos and Wilson, the Angels have avowed to live up to their talent level.
But so far this season, they are in fact worse than they were last year.
With this week’s sweep at the hands of the Athletics, the Angels are in dead last (behind the Astros!) in the American League West with a 2-7 record. They entered the three-game set in more dire straits, having learned that Weaver, their staff ace, would be out at least four weeks after suffering a broken elbow on Sunday.
That accelerated the urgency of this series against the A’s. Yes, it’s only April, but the Angels couldn’t have the Athletics waltz into Anaheim and win the series. Instead, Oakland took all three games and now sit 5.5 games ahead of Los Angeles in the West. It might only get worse.
That’s why they held a special team meeting ahead of Thursday’s contest versus the A’s. The Angels were (are) in such a daze, they tinkered with the lineup, moving Trout from the leadoff spot to the two-hole, trying to energize the offense.
It didn’t work. The A’s won the game 8-1, and Trout went 0-for-4.
The point is that this early in the season, the free-spirited—and successful—play of the Athletics has gotten into the Angels’ heads. It can’t be a good sign that Los Angeles is frustrated to the point of holding meetings to make on-field adjustments. Maybe it will be the start of them living up to expectations. Or, it could be the beginning of another long and lonely season for the Southern California rivals.
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