Pondering the future, Mr. Weaver?
The Los Angeles Angels are a glass-half-full kind of team. At least, that is the hope as the Halos trudge into the second half of the 2013 season.
Currently on a six-game winning streak, the team has looked more like the Angels squad originally picked to do wonderful things to start the 2013 season, combining decent pitching with solid defense and impressive hitting.
It has been a positive sign for the Angels, leaving even the Detroit Tigers in their wake.
Now the team sits nine games back in the AL West with plenty of baseball left to turn the tides of fortune—which has been mainly misfortune for the Angels—as things heat up in the fall.
Unfortunately, the road to success does not come with a road map. And Fangraphs doesn’t make any navigation devices, at least that I know of.
The second half will exhibit just as much of the unknown as the first half so eloquently did.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn't take a crack at where they are going. While the first-half predictions have been exhausted, possibly proven false, there is always more room for crystal ball gazing.
Very much like Johnny Carson's wonderful character Carnac the Magnificent, I have put on my genie hat, consulted Twitter (my crystal ball) and conjured up five bold predictions for the Angels in the second half of the season.
I would be shocked if any of them were wrong (kidding...or am I?).
Note: All stats provided were courtesy of baseball-reference.com unless otherwise noted.
I am 100 percent convinced of this: What you see, Angels fans, is what you get. There isn't going to be any help for this team via the trade market.
That doesn't mean owner Arte Moreno won’t get the Angels thrown into the media's guessing circles, though. The neighbors to the north, the Los Angeles Dodgers, have already stirred the pot, taking a possible crack at ex-Chicago Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol.
And if the general thinking is the Angels will simply sit back, claiming their right as biggest bust in Los Angeles baseball, without making a possible move here and there...well, then you don't know Mr. Moreno.
They will certainly test the selling and the buying.
The problem is, however, the Angels have nothing to give. Jason Vargas was a possibility, but his armpit surgery will scare teams away.
There is Scott Downs, perhaps, but he isn't a closer. Downs is a really good lefty specialist, no question. But I'm not certain his value would be enticing enough to land anything substantial in return.
The last option would be to package a deal from the farm system. But the farm system isn't too appealing either. The stigma of being one of the worst systems in the MLB still lingers.
Sure, there are a few players making headway between Double-A (Arkansas) and Triple-A (Salt Lake)—I like more than a few, actually—but rebuilding can't happen with a constant deconstruction.
That is the reality.
I had high hopes for Mark Trumbo last season. Following that gargantuan performance in the Home Run Derby, a lot of people did.
But he brought his derby swing with him to the second half of 2012, failing to time pitches, allowing pitchers to expose several holes in his swing. He quickly went from a .300 hitter to a .268 finish, falling short of 100 RBI—much to my surprise.
This year's first-half statistics (at least the power numbers) are very similar to 2012. Though Trumbo is only hitting .251, his 18 home runs and 51 RBI have been a much-needed spark on a sporadic offense.
Unlike last season, however, he seems more confident in understanding his approach. He doesn't have the complete tendency to chase letter-high fastballs this year, showing more selective patience at the plate.
Sure, he will always have strikeouts. That is part of being a power hitter. But his maturity, possibly allowing him to handle pressure better this year, will cut down the swings and misses in the second half, keeping him on a pace more towards 40 home runs and well over 100 RBI.
Which would be very impressive, especially when considering the Angels' history and the spot Trumbo would overtake.
The record for home runs in a season for the Angels is 41 by Troy Glaus (2001). I don't know if Trumbo can get there, but I have a prediction itch he will at least get to 37, tying the great Bobby Bonds and Leon Wagner.
C.J. Wilson is beginning to show his ability to control a game. His stuff has that late movement, usually bestowed to a lefty, which makes the hitter's approach noting but a guessing game.
He looked impressive against the Houston Astros, and other than his start against the Dodgers at the end of May and the Detroit Tigers at the end of June, the trend from Wilson has been on the up.
Maybe it's the new Mrs. C.J. Wilson causing the change?
Whatever the reason, Wilson is leading the team with eight wins heading into the second half. Sure, that is not great. But on a shaky staff, like the Angels' rotation, it isn't bad either.
A 15-win season is not an easy task in the MLB.
It should stand as a positive for the Angels organization, moving forward with building a better staff, when Wilson accomplishes it. And, yes, he will stay healthy enough to get in the needed starts, getting over the 200 innings plateau again for the Halos.
If you had told me at the beginning of the season that Josh Hamilton, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols would all fail to produce a 30-homer year, I would have said you were nutty.
Trout is continuing to progress as a major talent in the MLB. I get that, and it's not worth arguing. But I don't see him getting the pitches in the second half to smack another 17 balls over the fence. With that, I think some of the pressure he endures carrying the "Trout" namesake will wear on him a bit.
Unfortunately, Trout is still human.
The other two—Pujols and Hamilton—have already allowed their human side to make a public appearance, over and over.
Hamilton has shown signs of greatness—on the field. His hitting is still off, however, leaving the one-handed cut for pitchers to exploit. He is currently at 10 home runs, and it would be amazing if he gets to 25. In fact, 20 would be amazing—and expensive.
Pujols, unlike Hamilton, looked stronger at the plate this past month, but his presence doesn't seem as intimidating as it used to. Perhaps it's the injured foot, or the fact he isn't in St. Louis anymore.
I don't really know.
Regardless, Pujols also has 17 home runs to go before getting to 30, and the odds are just as unlikely.
It will be a certain win for the doubters who feel Pujols is on the back end of his career—complete with random injury—as he fails to hit 30 long balls for the first time since 2000 (in the minor leagues).
The Angels are 39-43, an improvement from the cellar they were seemingly stuck in. But I still don't think this team is built to overcome the nine-plus games it will take to win the AL West.
There are too many issues with the starting rotation and the 'pen, mainly inconsistency.
There are injury issues, appearing just when it seems like there will be a solid lineup for a few series.
There are good hitting days, when the pitching is terrible. There are bad hitting days, when the pitching is great.
There is a second half of the schedule, easily more difficult than the first half, loaded with games against the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics, peppered with the New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians.
There is...just an abundance of things going against this team.
It's like the baseball gods looked at the weird spending in the offseason, shook their collective heads and proclaimed the 2013 Angels as an example to all teams foolish enough to ignore pitching while going for the media hype.
For all of it, the craziness that has happened or will happen, I just don't see any sense in firing manager Mike Scioscia.
Sure, many will want him gone at the end of the season. I actually don't blame them—my first judgment of a MLB manager is their ability to win the close games.
The tough, one-run decisions are what define a manager's season. So far this season, the Angels are 12-17 in one-run games.
Normally that would do it, but the circumstances following 2013 will keep Scioscia in the clear. It really has been too disastrous of a season, which will take maximum effort to fix this coming offseason, for the Angels brass to mistakenly get rid of a top-level coach in this difficult process.
That would only make it more difficult.
For more opinionated wisdom, or the random retweet from Rick, follow him on Twitter@rick_suter.