Scioscia’s bullish approach needs to change

Torii Hunter may be frustrated, but Mike Scioscia continues to be resolute in his belief that the Angels are a good team. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

After Wednesday’s heartbreaking loss to Tampa Bay, Mike Scioscia finally let his frustrations fly in a postgame interview. He had a lot to say, but one sentence has the Halos blogosphere up in arms.

“These guys are better players than this,” he said.

I hate to break it to you, Skip, but it has become apparent to everybody not named Mike Scioscia that this 30-34 disappointment is playing about as well as it possibly can.

I’ll give Scioscia this much: It’s his job to win games, and he’s trying his darnedest to put together a winning season with what he’s got. A lot of that depends on having the right attitude. But for crying out loud, Mike, let’s be realistic here.

Did you really expect Jeff Mathis to be anything other than a .204 hitter?

Did you think Vernon Wells would finally figure out how to catch up to an 89 mph fastball?

Did you figure that Torii Hunter would get better as he draws closer to 36 years old?

And did you think a bunch of doe-eyed rookies would swoop in and save the day?

You know better than that, Sosh. And so do we.

With all of his organization’s mistakes brought to light, it’s obvious that Scioscia is desperately searching for answers – maybe even excuses. The team that he and general manager Tony Reagins have fielded simply doesn’t have enough to compete, and Scioscia refuses to admit it.

Naturally, this surprises no one.

Scioscia has always had a reputation for being hardheaded. It’s part of his identity as the stoic, hard-nosed stalwart Angels fans have come to love.

To fans, that bullish stubbornness mixes with losing as well as oil and water.

Case in point: struggling catcher Jeff Mathis. For the most part, Angels fans have tolerated Mathis’s presence in the Angels lineup because the club was still winning. But now, with the Halos in a downward spiral, fans (and observers) are fed up with Scioscia’s stubborn approach to the game.

Of course, it is Scioscia’s duty to stick by his players in the face of media scrutiny. But I wonder if Scioscia knows what Angels fans already know: There isn’t much the Angels can do at this point. They are still alive in a pathetic AL West race, but Seattle and Texas are the only teams that are showing any heart or drive to win.

Before the trade deadline comes around, Scioscia and Reagins will probably begin the rebuilding process. While it tugs at the heartstrings to imagine Jered Weaver, Dan Haren or Howie Kendrick in another team’s uniform, it’s clear that the Angels will be sellers at the deadline. The worst thing the team can do is remain stagnant, and the fear lingers that Scioscia will be his old stubborn self and let things be. If he cares about the future of his club, he’ll ditch the old mantra and embrace some change for the better.


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