Cheap beer’s nice, Moreno, but how about a slugger?
Beer prices, schmeer prices.
Arte Moreno’s five-year honeymoon as Angels owner ended Sunday amid the shadows of a half-empty stadium and the echoed chants of strangers.
Let’s Go, Red Sox. The Boston Red Sox owned his team and their fans owned his house, leaving Moreno to trudge away from another crumbled postseason possessing one last scrap.
Now, in terms of his roster, we will find out just how much that is worth.
When Moreno bought the Angels from the dreaded Mouse in 2003 amid much hugging and dancing, the first thing he did was lower beer prices.
The second thing he did was say that he was “willing to spend the money” and that the Angels should be recognized as “the best team in baseball.”
Folks here still love the beer, but they’ve been left staggered and silly by the baseball.
Purchasing a group that won the 2002 World Series, Moreno bought majesty but has since watched it become mind-boggling.
In five years, Moreno’s teams have been to the postseason three times, yet won only four postseason games.
Counting Sunday’s embarrassing 9-1 loss to the Red Sox that swept it out of the division series, Moreno’s team has been swept by Boston in two first-round series. It was also victimized by four consecutive complete games by Chicago White Sox pitchers in a quick league championship series loss.
Those four postseason wins are only three more than Frank McCourt has.
Moreno’s high-paying fans enjoyed this October for all of three hours and 29 minutes.
“This was just a bad matchup,” said Howie Kendrick.
You have one of the top five payrolls in the league and it’s a bad matchup?
“They just outplayed us,” said Scot Shields.
You have the best record in baseball for parts of the summer, you win your division, you rest for a week, and you still get outplayed?
“‘We’re not happy,” said Manager Mike Scioscia.
They should not be happy, and they should listen to their fans who are increasingly unhappy, and they should fix this before Moreno’s legendary handshakes start feeling limp.
I asked to interview him Sunday afternoon. I was told he would probably be in the Angels’ clubhouse after the game for condolences. He never showed.
If he had been there, he would have found a bunch of nice young men who are desperate for a tough guy who can slug.
In three games, the Red Sox outscored the Angels, 19-4. They outhomered them, 5-0. They strutted around the bases and stalled on the mound and if any Angel bothered to throw inside to make them mind their manners, I missed it.
“I don’t offer any excuses; they beat us,” said Garret Anderson, who was involved in a Sunday moment that typified the series.
It was the third inning of a scoreless game. A couple of singles sandwiched around a grounder brought up Vladimir Guerrero with runners on first and third and two out.
Guerrero has been the Angels’ biggest postseason disappointment since Doug DeCinces in that 1986 ninth inning, but he’s still the only true power threat, and guess who was on deck?
Not Anderson, who had been lifted from the game after the second inning because of eye problems.
It was Reggie Willits, the typical Angels hitter, a real battler with zero career homers.
Curt Schilling immediately threw Guerrero four consecutive balls to load the bases, then it was one of the best pitchers in postseason history against one of the worst cleanup hitters in postseason history.
Trying to fight off an overwhelming pitch, Willits fouled out to catcher Jason Varitek to end the threat.
“I was trying to get the ball into the stands, and I just didn’t get enough of it,” Willits said.
That’s right, the Angels’ 2007 season essentially ended with their cleanup hitter trying to hit a foul ball.
About 10 minutes later, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez hit consecutive homers against Jered Weaver, the Red Sox led, 2-0, and the game was history.
When asked about this sequence later in his office, Scioscia just shook his head and sighed.
In their last eight postseason games, the Angels have scored 14 runs.
“If there is a way to improve our team, I know Bill [Stoneman] and Arte are going to look at it,” Scioscia said.
Moreno has done some great things by keeping Scioscia and his staff happy, by signing Guerrero even though he is 11 for 60 in his Angels postseason career, by paying for the likes of Bartolo Colon and Kelvim Escobar.
Those are all guys who have helped them survive the regular season.
But now Moreno needs to bring in a hired bat to swat them over these first hurdles, and if it can’t be purchased, it must be pried loose in a trade.
If he can buy Alex Rodriguez, he needs to buy him. If he can buy Torii Hunter instead, do it.
If he can’t buy the thunder, then he needs to order Stoneman to find it elsewhere, even if it means trading some of the club’s youngsters, both from the bullpen and the lineup.
Late Sunday afternoon, a horde of Red Sox fans danced and chanted behind the victors’ dugout while hundreds of dumbfounded locals sat and stared.
If Arte Moreno doesn’t remember any other scene from 2007, he should remember this: Angels fans watching someone else brag about their baseball, none of those Angels fans bragging about their beer.
Bill Plaschke can be reached at email@example.com. To read previous columns by Plaschke, go to latimes.com/plaschke.