5 Areas in Which Los Angeles Angels Need to Improve
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Areas for Improvement
It's been a one step forward, two steps back kind of season for the Los Angeles Angels, who enter the All-Star break with a disappointing 44-49 record. After winning 10 out of 12 games in early June, the Halos got swept by the lowly Houston Astros. Having completed another 10-2 run at the end of June and beginning of July, Los Angeles lost its momentum courtesy of yet another sweep, this time at the hands of their divisional rivals, the Seattle Mariners.
There has been plenty of blame to go around a franchise that was supposed to be setting the pace in the American League by this time of year. Whether it's the poor performances of marquee sluggers Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols, manager Mike Scioscia or any other number of issues, fans in Anaheim have grown impatient with their team's underachievement.
If the team doesn't turn things around in the second half, it's hard to see how Scioscia hangs on to his job. The longest-tenured manager in professional baseball may have finally hit a wall as the Angels have not produced despite carrying the fourth-largest payroll in the AL. Whether or not it's fair to pin all of the struggles on Scioscia, this will be a desperate team as the season winds down. If the Angels fail to make the playoffs, it is bound to be a long offseason full of soul searching and changes in the clubhouse. With that, we now take a look at five areas in which Los Angeles can reverse its fortunes by improving.
5. Stop Committing Errors
This is simple enough. The Angels have committed 68 errors thus far, second-worst only to Houston. The team is on thin ice as it is, and Los Angeles can ill afford boneheaded mistakes from here on out.
4. Better Hitting from Sluggers
The hobbled Pujols is hitting .249 with 15 home runs and 57 RBIs. Hamilton, meanwhile, is hitting .224 with 14 home runs and 39 RBIs. Though Hamilton has shown signs of life lately, both of these sluggers have been striking out more often than they've been striking fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers. Their performance so far has been simply unacceptable considering how much money the Angels have committed to them, and it's time we started seeing better results.
3. Timely Hitting
The Angels are eighth in the American League both in batting average with runners in scoring position (.266) and average with the bases loaded (.272). They will need to take advantage of every scoring opportunity going forward, especially with the starting rotation in shambles.
2. Acquire Another Starting Pitcher
This is pretty much non-negotiable given the dismal performances lately by Joe Blanton and Jerome Williams. The question is what the Angels will have to give up in order to acquire a serviceable arm by the July 31 trade deadline. They must be prepared to part with a valuable asset, since their farm system has been depleted over the past few years.
1. Get Healthy
Everything else is moot if Los Angeles cannot stay healthy. Center fielder Peter Bourjos has barely been able to stay on the field, and injuries to Jason Vargas and Tommy Hamilton have forced the Angels to dig deep on their roster to put players on the field. Even if the Halos acquire another arm, they only have a shot at the playoffs if they can stay healthy.