I love the recent decisions of Mike Scioscia in response to the team’s struggles out of the gate, but there is one thing that bothers me about them: the timing. I am seldom one to question the Great and Mighty Sosh, but I must ask, “didn’t we already know all of this?”
I don’t know either, Mike. That’s why I am asking you.
Five games into the season and Mike Scioscia is already making big decisions to shake up the Angel roster and more seem like they may be on their way. As much as I appreciate the bench boss taking a proactive approach and tackling some of these big problems head on, I can’t help but wonder if he could’ve and should’ve fixed them before. None of these now glaring issues are anything that should have taken anybody who pays even intermittent attention to the Angels by surprise, much less the manager.
Take for example the biggest move Scioscia has made, installing Jordan Walden as a closer and demoting Fernando Rodney to middle relief. Great idea. But didn’t people suggest that in, when was it? Oh, yeah, OCTOBER 2010!!!!!!!
Fraudney looked totally incompetent in his only two appearances this season, so I understand how that forced Mike’s hand, but this incompetence is nothing new. Rodney sucked the entire second half of last season, but that didn’t cost him a shot at closing, even when he actively failed at closing after the Fuentes trade. He had a terrible spring but still won the closer’s gig despite having to “earn it.” But two bad games and he gets canned? I just don’t get it.
Scioscia witnessed Fraudney’s long and illustrious history of being a below league average reliever, so he should’ve have known he wasn’t going to be able to succeed as the team’s closer. Giving him the job in the first place was only setting him up for failure and setting up the Angels to suffer until that failure became to unbearable. What was there to gain by putting on this charade if you knew that Rodney would get fired at the first sign of trouble?
And don’t think for a minute that Scioscia wasn’t standing by with an itchy trigger finger when it comes to Rodney. If he really had faith and trust in Fernando, there is no way he would have acted so swiftly to replace him. No, this move was something Scioscia had already mentally prepared himself to do. Why he didn’t do it before the season began is beyond me.
Maybe it is some sort sense of loyalty to the veterans that Scioscia feels like he should at least give them some regular season action to prove him wrong before he publically shames them by taking away their prestigious jobs. I mean, we’re pretty much living out a similar scenario with Scott Kazmir right now, aren’t we?
Scioscia knows that in the very near future, he is going to have to remove Kazmir from the rotation, and possibly the entire roster. Less than two weeks before the season started, a reporter asked Sosh if Kazmir had earned his rotation spot, to which Scioscia responded, “Define ‘earn.'” You don’t have to be a psychic to see what Scioscia really thinks of Kazmir and his current abilities based on that quote. And now that the real games are being played, Kazmir was predictably lit up like a Christmas tree and, even more predictably, stories are emerging that Sosh is “losing patience” with Kazmir.
Losing? As in present tense? Again, Scioscia already knew prior to the season that Kazmir sucked and pretty much said as much, so why did he stick with him if he was going to “lose patience” with him after just one start?
Just like in Rodney’s case, it was painfully obvious that things weren’t going to go well for Kazmir. And just like in Rodney’s case, Kazmir is probably going to be demoted after just two poor performances. It’s all just one big charade isn’t it?
Scioscia’s job is to make the best decisions possible for the Angels, but he clearly isn’t doing that when he chooses the options that he essentially admitted were the wrong options BEFORE he selected them. If Rodney isn’t good enough to close now, then he never should have been deemed good enough to close back on March 31st. At least Scioscia has an excuse for letting Kazmir keep his job (lack of starting pitching depth), but there is no real excuse for keeping Fraudney in place as closer.
Much like Scioscia should have already known that Rodney couldn’t handle the job, he should’ve already known that Jordan Walden could. Walden blew his way through the minors after being converted to a reliever and continued to dominate upon his arrival in Anaheim late last season. Combined with a lights out spring, Walden had almost every scout and opposing player falling all over themselves to say how scary this kid is. They all knew, Scioscia had to have know too, but he opted for ignorance instead.
Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t be happier to see Scioscia admit that he was wrong and act quickly to remedy his mistake with Rodney and I can only hope that he acts just as quickly if/when (let’s face it, when) Kazmir implodes. It just pisses me off that he had to go through these detrimental motions in the first place.