Sometimes being smart sucks. For instance, back when the season began I wrote about how the April schedule for our beloved Halos looked particularly brutal. Thanks to a poor rotation and an incompetent bullpen, I ended up looking pretty smart. I also ended up with an ulcer because I really didn't want to be right about that and it is now stressing me out.
But sometimes being smart can be good! In fact, it can be good in the same way that I just showed you that it was bad. As it turns out, the scheduling gods of MLB have something of a sick sense of humor when it comes to the Angels. Having put them through the ringer in April and pushing fans to the brink of quitting on the team, they gift wrap the month of May for the desperate and ragged Halos as their one chance to right the ship or good back on track or dig themselves out of the hole or whatever tired metaphor you prefer.
First a quick caveat. Sabermetric research strongly suggests that teams are pretty much what they are after 30 games. There is some wiggle room there for improvement via promoted players or guys coming back from injury, but by the 30-game mark, if you stink then you are likely to continue to stink at about the same level. In case you haven't noticed, the Angels really stink. So enter into this exercise knowing that the odds are already against them to suddenly flip the switch and make good on all of their pre-season promise.
Alas, there is some hope. Starting May 7th, the Halos enter the soft pink underbelly of their schedule which lasts through June 5th. That's a 29 games in which they don't face the Texas Rangers. That's 29 games in which they don't face the Oakland A's. That's 29 games in which they don't face anyone from the AL East.
What they do face is just one team that currently has a winning record, the Kansas City Royals, whom they face for seven games. All things considered, that is probably the one AL team with a winning record that the Halos would want to face given how unproven the Royals are and how weak their offense is.
They also face the lowly Astros seven times, one of just two teams that the Angels have actually won a series against this season.
There are also two games a piece against the pathetic Cubs and the perennial loser Mariners. Granted the Mariners just took three of four from the Angels, but if there is any hope of a turnaround, it is going to involve the Halos exacting some revenge on the M's.
Another seven game set comes against the Chicago White Sox. As of right now, they ChiSox look bad. They are a schizophrenic as any team in the league, but barring an unforeseen change in fortunes, they should still be a bad team when the Halos get to face them
Finally, there is the four game Freeway Series at the end of May. Almost poetically, the Battle of the High-Priced Disappointment Los Angeles teams comes right in time for the Angels to either use it as a springboard to announce that they are back in the race or for the Dodgers to be the ones that joyously put the final nail in the coffin of the 2013 Angel season. Lucky for the Angels that they have historically dominated that series.
What is also lucky is that the timing of this soft schedule coincides with some long overdue good news on health for the Angels. They just got Erick Aybar back and should have Alberto Callaspo back in the lineup any day now. Mark Lowe is also due back, though that may not be a good thing, to provide depth in the bullpen. That depth may be less of a need and more of a luxury if Ryan Madson finally gets cleared to play, which is a strong possibility. The Halos might even get Kevin Jepsen back too.
Last, but certainly not least, Jered Weaver will likely return to duty at some point in May, giving the Angel rotation the leader it so desperately needs. Even if Weaver isn't going to be a Cy Young contender type of pitcher, he should still be good enough to be the team's de facto ace on the mound and fiery leader off of it, if you think that actually counts for anything.
If all of those things don't combine for the Halos to rattle off a stellar record over those 29 games, something in the neighborhood of 20-9. Then all hope is lost. Merely coasting to a 16-13 record just isn't going to be good enough, not with the hole they've dug for themselves. Heck, 20-9 may not even be good enough.
As hard as it has been to remain optimistic about this team, don't give up just yet. At least see what the Angels can do when this friendly part of the schedule rolls around. If they blow that too, then by all means, rip them to shreds. They'll deserve it.