The expression, “excuses are for losers,” holds true in baseball. As an example, you won’t find Angel’s skipper Mike Scioscia copping a plea to anyone as to why his talent-laden, cash crazy Angel’s squad is scuffling with a miserable 11-20 record.
He is an experienced championship manager who understands the balance between coaching genius and player accountability.
LA owner Artie Moreno had the cash to splurge and he went for broke in acquiring Pujols, Hamilton and other expensive talent over the past few off seasons—only to meet playoff failure.
The Angel’s situation is another lesson in baseball economics 101. The Yankees proved in the ‘80s that you couldn’t buy a chip without a mix of respected leadership, astute scouting, a fruitful minor league system and an agreeable chemistry of players that blend together like Ciroq and cranberry juice.
By the time they built their ‘90s juggernaut, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada—all homegrown talents—were the immovable objects in an historic 15-year run as bosses in MLB’s most heralded family.
Breaking the bank to acquire expensive free-agent talent has never been an f00l-proof plan for any baseball team.
If anything, holding a monetary advantage over other teams has proved most beneficial in being able to retain the veteran studs that have already proved themselves as worthy acquisitions.
Dating back to the explosion of nine-digit contracts, certain teams have tried to cut-corners and “buy themselves a chip.”
Teams like the 1997 Marlins, 2004 Red Sox, and the 2009 Yankees were successful at it. More often than not, the splurge-to-emerge philosophy of team-enhancement leaves clubs in an even worse state of existence.
The 1991 Chicago Cubs had a nice core of ball players and decided to drop big chips on free agent outfielder George Bell, closer Dave Smith, and left handed starter Danny Jackson. Smith and Jackson tanked and Bell was soon traded off.
This past off season wasn’t the first time the LA Dodgers tried to recapture past baseball glories with a lavish raid on free agents. In 1999 they traded away franchise catcher Mike Piazza and used the money to acquire guys like pitcher Kevin Brown, who they regrettably made the first $100 million MLBer at age 34.
Most recently, the Miami Marlins are experiencing the ugly after effects of mixing championship aspirations with wild spending and headline hunting.
Is it Scioscia’s fault that Moreno chose to go after names and not winning pieces?
As a manager, you know what you get from Josh Hamilton, and if “The Natural” isn’t hitting, he’s not serving himself or the team much good. Right now he’s giving you a gutter .208 with two homers.
Pujols hasn’t been the same since he left the Cards. He’s swatting .237 with a measly five homers, no longer the Paul Bunyan-esque baseball icon that carried the city of St. Louis on his back.
Toss in the fact that the pitching staff has no bonafide ace outside of borderline-stud C.J. Wilson— and you wonder if expectations of an Angels World Series is even realistic.
It’s not Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez going to the hill for LA each night.
To blame Scioscia for the Angels’ ineptitude, Mike Trout’s sophomore slump or hollow bats, is too easy.
It’s got to be a challenge for him to deal with the “legendary” personalities in his lineup. Scioscia is a stone-faced, system-coach and must be at his wit’s end with acquiescing to his moody millionaires.
Scioscia has always been a revered baseball mind dating back to his Word Series days as a catcher for the Dodgers in the late ‘80s.
He continued to impress his baseball savvy on the league as Angels’ skipper, winning the World Series in ‘02 and most notably becoming a permanent thorn in the Yankees side.