Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Harold Reynolds is a Whore

Splashy headline for a Wednesday but it sums up my feelings quite well. Before the season Reynolds was practically gushing about the Angels and their eventual crowning as AL West champs and the great chance they had to return to the World Series. Yesterday on ESPN Radio he has completely flip-flopped and now contends that Texas is the greatest thing since sliced bread and will undoubtedly win the West. Ugh. While I am happy to accept that the Angels hitting has been pathetic and a couple of key injuries have severely limited them over the past week, I am not ready to write them off just yet Howie.

The Rangers are red-hot thanks to some timely pitching and absolutely scorching bats. But they also have had an extremely favorable schedule the past two weeks. The Rangers have won nine in a row at home against the Astros, Royals, White Sox and Tigers. Not exactly the Yankees, Red Sox and Angels. A nice recovery after starting May by losing two of three to both Cleveland and Detroit. Good news for Texas fans is that the party continues with two more against Detroit and then three against KC. But the worm turns a bit after that with road sets at Philly and Florida before returning home to face Atlanta and Washington. But June really gets interesting the last two weeks when Texas and the Angels meet seven times in eleven days. The Halos will likely be at full strength with Guerrero and the division could look a whole lot clearer in about 30 days.

Now don't get me wrong, Texas is a fine ball club with some extremely talented hitters. Chris Young could be a great pitcher one day but right now he is just a really tall guy with some good stuff. Hitters have and will continue to figure him out.

In the interest of being fair, the Angels had a pretty easy schedule in May too and did not take advantage of it (save a sweep of the Royals at home). The Halos lost two of three to Detroit and Cleveland But did win two of three from the Dodgers and swept the Mariners. But a closer look at what went wrong in May -- namely eleven losses -- shows that five of those came by a single run. Clearly a deficiency in the Angels hitting that, had it been corrected could have given them 23 wins instead of 17. A 17-11 record is nothing to sneeze at when you play as poorly as this team did the past month.

Most other prognosticators are not making the mistake Reynolds is. He did not foresee the Rangers rise last season and he is blind to their inevitable collapse in 2005 for the following reasons:

1. Buck Showalter Meltdown Time-- Bucky D's tenure with both the Yankees and Diamondbacks were unabashed successes. Both teams came from nowhere to build great teams that would go on to win World Championships......Without Showalter. Why? Because players, media, coaches, bat boys and just about anyone who crosses the path of Buck Showalter comes to despise him. Both times Showalter lasted into his third season before his mini-empires caved in on him. His teams quit on him and he was axed. Look for the Rangers to reach this mark around mid-August in what could be a spectacular spin out.

2. Pitching - Ryan Drese, Chan Ho Park and Pedro Astacio still make up 3/5 of the rotation and those guys all have ERA's around 5. Kenny Rogers is nowhere near as good as his 1.65 ERA might suggest. He could well win 18 games as he did last season but I doubt it. Look for the gambler to come back to Earth when his ERA starts it's eventual climb up to Rogers' career number of 4.20. Last season he had a 4.76 ERA but somehow won 18. I suspect this year he will start to unravel in late June and he finishes the year with 15 wins. Young's numbers will also creep up but not to the extent Rogers' will. Look for Young to finish the year with an ERA around 4.00 and 15 wins. Park's ERA has already jumped from 3.86 in April to 5.40 in May and yet he did not lose a game in May (2-0) thanks to the hot hitting of his teammates. Park will completely devolve over the next few months and he will be lucky to scrap together 12 wins. Another added bonus is that Texas has zero depth in their starters. If one goes down to injury (and they will) they have to start someone like R.A. Dickey.

3. The Angels have sucked big time and still remain just one game behind Texas. The Angels will have their own 9 game win streaks but the difference is that when things go sour for Texas they could lose five or six in a row. The Angels have enough pitching to make sure they can survive just about any rough patch and remain competitive. The Angels best days are ahead while Texas may be peaking right about now.

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