Joe Christensen’s Sunday Insider: Don't rush to judgment on Halos

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 12, 2012 - 2:04 AM

The Angels might have a lot of star power, but they still could be on the outside looking in come playoff time.

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Zack Greinke is the latest high-profile addition to the Angels rotation, but even a foursome of him, Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Dan Haren doesn't mean the team is a lock for the postseason this fall.

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This must be a thrilling time to be an Angels fan with Albert Pujols on the rebound, Mark Trumbo hitting homers at a Josh Willingham clip, and two other players threatening to give the team a sweep of the major awards in Jered Weaver (Cy Young) and Mike Trout (MVP and Rookie of the Year).

But even with the additional wild card this year, and even with a starting rotation that includes Weaver, Zack Greinke, C.J. Wilson and Dan Haren, the Angels are no postseason lock.

Their bullpen is a disaster. On a recent 10-game road trip to Texas, Chicago and Oakland, Angels relievers posted a 10.54 ERA with four blown saves and five losses.

Scott Downs (strained shoulder) and Jordan Walden (sore neck) are on the disabled list, and the front office is scrambling for reinforcements. The Angels were among the teams practically begging the Twins to move Glen Perkins before the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline, but the Twins refused.

Last week's series in Oakland reminded the Angels that their superstar talent might not be enough. Weaver twirled a four-hit shutout Monday to improve to 15-1, Trout hit his 20th home run Tuesday on his 21st birthday, but former Twins reliever LaTroy Hawkins blew a lead Wednesday, and the Angels lost the series.

Stacked with starting pitching and a bullpen that leads the AL in ERA, Oakland actually looks better equipped for the pennant race.

Let's assume the Yankees and Rangers pull away for division titles. The Central is a two-team dogfight between the White Sox and Tigers, and both are jostling with four other teams -- the Orioles, A's, Rays and Angels -- for the two wild cards.

The Angels had their sights set on dethroning Texas when they committed $317 million to Pujols and Wilson as free agents. General Manager Jerry DiPoto made a key trade in May, plucking closer Ernesto Frieri from San Diego, and the Angels continued to show they were all in when they acquired Greinke from Milwaukee on July 27.

Torii Hunter used to grumble that the Twins front office wasn't aggressive enough. Watching the Angels from afar these past eight months, it's as if Hunter has added assistant GM duties to his role in right field.

But sometimes talent isn't enough. Entering Saturday, the Angels were 9-14 in one-run games (compared to 19-14 for the A's and 22-6 for the Orioles).

Every time Trout comes to bat at Angel Stadium, fans chant "MVP! MVP!" He's one of the best defensive outfielders in the majors, and he entered Saturday leading the AL in batting (.345), stolen bases (36), runs scored (88) and OPS+ (183).

The Angels were 6-14 when Trout arrived from Class AAA on April 28. If the ballots were cast now, he probably should be the MVP, with apologies to Detroit's Miguel Cabrera.

But Oakland rookie Yeonis Cespedes has been pretty valuable, too. The Cuban defector entered the weekend leading the American League with a .400 batting average since the All-Star break. With Cespedes in the lineup, the A's were 48-30 (.615), even better than the Angels' 51-38 (.573) mark with Trout.

So while the Angels have stolen the headlines, there are plenty of compelling teams around the majors. And in eight weeks, only 10 will be part of the postseason.

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Kansas City - LP: B. Finnegan 4 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: Y. Petit 11
Detroit 8:30 AM
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NY Jets
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Kansas City
Houston 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 12:00 PM
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Chicago 12:00 PM
New England
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Arizona
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Indianapolis 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Buffalo 2 FINAL
San Jose 1
Boston 4 FINAL
Toronto 1
NY Rangers 1 FINAL
Montreal 3
New Jersey 3 FINAL(OT)
Ottawa 2
Dallas 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 7
Detroit 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Chicago 2 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Pittsburgh 3 FINAL
Nashville 0
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Minnesota 7
Florida 1 FINAL(OT)
Arizona 2
Washington 3 FINAL
Calgary 1
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Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
BYU 30 FINAL
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 59 FINAL
California 41
North Texas 21 FINAL
Rice 41
UAB 17 FINAL
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Rutgers 24 FINAL
(16) Nebraska 42
Maryland 7 FINAL
Wisconsin 52
Texas 0 FINAL
(11) Kansas State 23
Minnesota 24 FINAL
Illinois 28
Memphis 48 FINAL
SMU 10
North Carolina 28 FINAL
Virginia 27
San Jose St 31 FINAL
Navy 41
Northern Ill 28 FINAL
Eastern Mich 17
(25) UCLA 40 FINAL
Colorado 37
Akron 21 FINAL
Ball State 35
Massachusetts 35 FINAL
Toledo 42
Ohio U 21 FINAL
Western Mich 42
Ga Southern 69 FINAL
Georgia State 31
Kent State 3 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 10
Oregon State 14 FINAL
Stanford 38
Fla Atlantic 16 FINAL
(23) Marshall 35
Louisiana Tech 31 FINAL
Southern Miss 20
(1) Miss State 45 FINAL
Kentucky 31
Georgia Tech 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 28
(22) West Virginia 34 FINAL
Oklahoma State 10
Texas Tech 27 FINAL
(10) TCU 82
Michigan 11 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 35
Boston College 23 FINAL
Wake Forest 17
Central Mich 20 FINAL
Buffalo 14
Vanderbilt 14 FINAL
Missouri 24
Old Dominion 51 FINAL
Western Ky 66
UNLV 20 FINAL
Utah State 34
Temple 14 FINAL
UCF 34
(15) Arizona 59 FINAL
Washington St 37
Texas-El Paso 34 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 0
Wyoming 31 FINAL
Colorado State 45
Syracuse 6 FINAL
(21) Clemson 16
Texas State 22 FINAL
ULM 18
(3) Ole Miss 7 FINAL
(24) LSU 10
(4) Alabama 34 FINAL
Tennessee 20
So Carolina 35 FINAL
(5) Auburn 42
(13) Ohio State 31 FINAL
Penn State 24
(20) USC 21 FINAL
(19) Utah 24
(14) Arizona State 24 FINAL
Washington 10
Nevada 26 FINAL
Hawaii 18
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(18) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
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Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Texas State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico St
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
(20) USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(5) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(1) Miss State
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(6) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(7) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(15) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(19) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(14) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
Seattle 2
D.C. 1 FINAL
Montreal 1
Toronto FC 0 FINAL
New England 1
Portland 2 FINAL
FC Dallas 0
Colorado 0 FINAL
Vancouver FC 1
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 24 FINAL
Toronto 26
Brt Columbia 28 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
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