Fallen Angels

The first month of the baseball season means little to me. It seems as though every year some team that has no business being in first finds themselves at the top of the standings come late April. The first month can be completely deceptive, like when the 2005 Houston Astros began their season 15-30 only to end up in the World Series. That being said, most teams are approaching (or have passed) the 15 game mark and I have some major misgivings about a few,  namely the Los Angeles Angels.

The Angels went on a shopping spree last offseason that was only eclipsed by the Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Dodgers. But while the Blue Jays and Dodgers merely took advantage of underperforming teams (the Marlins and Red Sox respectively) via trade, the Angels spent an unprecedented amount of money on the free agent market on marquee names. So far, the return has been less than stellar.

If this story sounds familiar, that’s because you’ve heard it before. In the summer of 2012, the Angels made the biggest splash of the offseason by signing the coveted Albert Pujols to a 10-year, $240 million dollar contract. Despite having the highest payroll in the division, the Angels missed the playoffs that season after falling behind both the A’s and the Rangers, partially thanks to an underperforming Pujols. And despite spending even more money this year to land the highly desired Josh Hamilton, the Angels look like they will not be playoff bound if they continue to play like they have the first two weeks.

Underperforming as a team is never good, but with a payroll this high it is unacceptable. The Angels are 4-10 as of Wednesday afternoon. That’s four wins in 14 games. Since we know their payroll is about $128 million, let us do some math. In 14 games, they’ve spent about $9 million and they have only managed four wins. Each win is costing them nearly $2.5 million. It’s unreal. And the lack of production isn’t coming from the younger or inexperienced players, but instead from the very guys that the Angels have devoted their payroll to.

Combined, Pujols and Hamilton are being paid over $33 million this season. That’s more than the entire Astros roster. Yet, these two have only managed a .238 batting average and 4 home runs in their first 14 games. Hamilton has accumulated more strikeouts than hits, as the lack of production from both players is completely to blame for the Angels’ early-season failures. It is unreal to me that these proven athletes can underperform so badly after receiving such massive contracts.

But there is hope. It is not rare to see teams turn it around after a poor start, and I would not be surprised to see the Angels catch fire and take the AL West despite their dismal start. Things have to change first though. Until Pujols and Hamilton start playing at the level they’re being paid for, the Angels will continue to drop the ball.