T.J. SIMERS

Angels' Mike Scioscia not the problem, but he might pay the price

Owner Arte Moreno is likely to pin the blame for the Angels' poor play on the manager. But if Moreno fires him, the good news is Scioscia looks great in Dodger Blue.

HOUSTON — I planned on joining the Angels in Chicago this weekend.

But as soon as the Astros beat them Tuesday night, I took a red-eye to Houston to make sure I had a chance to say goodbye to Mike Scioscia.

You just never know with Angry Arte, a better chance that Scioscia is going, going, gone these days than anything Albert Pujols might hit.

Make it two straight losses to the Astros after Wednesday night's 3-1 halfhearted effort, and I picture Arte Moreno somewhere screaming, "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore."

It's a good thing he can't fire sports columnists.

Scioscia and I have had our differences. In some cases, extreme differences, but I think we will get along better when he begins managing the Dodgers next season.

We already know he's a great guy, a brilliant but stubborn manager who looks good in blue.

And if Angry Arte fires Scioscia with five years remaining on his contract, momentum building with each ugly loss, Moreno must know the Dodgers will be happy to pick up the tab.

That would allow Scioscia to return home. Dodgers fans would be getting someone who wasn't a former Yankee as manager and Angry Arte would no longer be on the hook to Scioscia.

Now if Moreno could find someone to take Pujols and Josh Hamilton as well, he might come out of hiding and smile again.

I thought it would be helpful to know what went wrong with the Angels under Scioscia since he seems to be the one designated to take the fall. So we chatted.

"Do you know how my week has gone?" said Scioscia when we began. "We're playing [lousy] baseball, I'm getting my 2011 taxes audited and I'm now talking to you."

Several national baseball writers have labeled Scioscia a goner, some suggesting he could be out by the end of this weekend if the team continues to flop around.

I doubt that will happen until the national baseball writers focus on the poor decisions made by Angry Arte, including the hiring of General Manager Jerry Dipoto.

Dipoto has stuck Scioscia with a bunch of journeymen pitchers like he was — Joe Blanton is now 0-6, like that's a surprise.

And if anyone should know the value of a relief pitcher, it should be Dipoto, who never threw a complete game.

Dipoto told The Times' Mike DiGiovanna on Wednesday that he wouldn't say whether Scioscia's job was in jeopardy because "it's an unfair question."

Why not just say, "No, his job is not in jeopardy"?

To the people who say the Angels need to make a change in managers, I asked Scioscia, what would he tell them?

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