The 2015 season was not kind to the Angels.
For months, the team played Chutes and Ladders in the American League West standings. After a disappointing August, which saw the team drop to more than seven games back of the division lead, the Angels turned their season around and went on a September hot streak. A rousing comeback victory Saturday against the Texas Rangers brought the team close to a playoff appearance. On Sunday, the Angels needed a win and an Astros loss to advance to a one-game division playoff, the precursor to an official postseason appearance.
But fate dealt the Angels a knockout blow when the Rangersâ€™ offense exploded Sunday, scoring six runs in the sixth inning against an embarrassing assortment of ineffective Angels relievers.
So many things went wrong this season for the Angels, and itâ€™s impossible to pinpoint that moment for the Angels. Before identifying some changes that the Angels need to incorporate this offseason, itâ€™s important to understand what went wrong.
What went wrong
One of the main struggles for the Angels this year has been the teamâ€™s starting pitching. Jered Weaver, who posted a 7-12 record with an ERA of 4.64, was terribly disappointing. Matt Shoemaker struggled, too, posting a 7-10 record with an ERA of 4.46, according to baseball-reference.com. Combine those poor pitching performances with CJ Wilsonâ€™s season-ending injury, and youâ€™ve got a bad situation made worse. Despite some shining performances by fellow starters Andrew Heaney and Garrett Richards, the Angels lacked the necessary pitching depth to give them an advantage going into September.
Another bad omen came at the July 31 trade deadline. Instead of acquiring some notable position players like Yoennis Cespedes, the Angels made a feeble attempt to strengthen their outfield. Acquiring has-beens like David DeJesus, David Murphy and Shane Victorino puzzled both Angels and baseball fans alike. Instead of capitalizing at the deadline like the New York Mets, the Angels floundered. The lack of offensive production from these players also played into the teamâ€™s inability to score runs in August, when the team found itself at its coldest.
How it can be fixed
Angelsâ€™ owner Arte Moreno is not stranger to being burned by high-priced signings (Josh Hamilton), itâ€™s necessary for the Angels to spend big on a starting pitcher. They could sign Johnny Cueto, Scott Kazmir or David Price. Yes, the Angels may need to spend a fortune to acquire these hot talents. But if the 2015 season taught the team anything, itâ€™s that betting on rookie pitchers to deliver big is both unwise and naÃ¯ve. This goes for offensive production, too. If the Angels can afford to buy a slugger after solving their starting pitching concerns, the team would undoubtedly get stronger.
Most importantly, the Angels need to embrace their new GM Billy Epplerâ€™s philosophy on statistics. Eppler is not obsessed with statistics, but he understands the importance of what numbers can tell the team. Letâ€™s hope disagreements similar to the reported ones between manager Mike Scioscia and former GM Jerry Dipoto are gone. Marrying statistics and old-school â€œfeelâ€ is essential to the team gaining a new presence on the field in 2016.
Maybe these changes can get the Angels off the Disneyland-like merry-go-round that theyâ€™ve been stuck on for years.