Scioscia leaves power on bench

Steve Bisheff is wondering why the Angels don't get more power in the lineup ...

    Mike Scioscia's loyalty knows no bounds. At least when it comes to Maicer Izturis.
    You've heard of guys having a man crush? Well, Scioscia has a manager's crush when it comes to the little man he calls "Izzy."

    How else can you explain his insistence that Izturis, with no home runs on a team that ranks 13th in the 14-club American League in homers, will continue to play second base, despite the presence of just-called-up Sean Rodriguez, who was leading the Pacific Coast League with 21 home runs?


    Except for Torii Hunter, with occasional help from Kendry Morales and Juan Rivera, there aren't any candidates in this lineup right now.

    That's why Rodriguez would be so welcome. Sure, he struck out a lot in the PCL (67 times in 202 at-bats, compared to 36 in 160-plus at-bats for Brandon Wood). But his ability to hit the ball out of the park could elevate the punchless bottom part of the Angels' lineup to a new level.

    Izturis can't do that.

    Do I still wish Wood were in the big league lineup? Absolutely. But I understand not wanting to change the whole defense, especially with Figgins playing at an All-Star caliber at third. When Howie Kendrick was sent down to rediscover his batting stroke, there was no question Rodriguez was the right one to replace him, not just on the roster, but in the starting lineup as well.

    It seemed like such an obvious move. Obvious to everyone, apparently, but Scioscia and the Angels' brain trust.

Sean Rodriguez and Brandon Wood are almost exactly the same age; Wood turned 24 in March, Rodriguez in April, and both probably have real careers ahead of them. Also, both have struggled terribly in the majors. Rodriguez has hit .208/.280/.321 in 188 plate appearances; Wood, .198/.221/.318 in 200 plate appearances.
You can understand just a little bit, can't you, Scioscia's reluctance to play either of them regularly? It's easy for us, standing well apart from the action, to recommend playing the kids who have hit in the minors instead of the veterans who just sort of hit in the majors. But Scioscia's been there for every single game of Wood's and Rodriguez's struggles with the big club, and we really can't ask him to forget what he's seen.

Maicer Izturis and Gary Matthews and Vlad Guerrero have all played quite a bit this season, and the Angels would probably be better off if they played less often, with Wood and Rodriguez played more. But the difference isn't huge -- particularly if you're wearing Scioscia's shoes -- and either way there's a pretty good chance the Angels will be fine either way.

Despite getting only two wins and a 7.04 ERA so far from John Lackey and Ervin Santana, the Angels are only two-and-a-half games out of first place. According to this version of Baseball Prospectus' Postseason Odds, the Angels remain the favorites to win the AL West. Yes, Lackey and Santana will have to improve to balance the near-certain regressions of Jered Weaver and Joe Saunders. And yes, the Angels probably aren't getting the best use of the talent they've got. But they're still probably going to win.