Scioscia uses ’02 blueprint
ARLINGTON, Texas -- When it comes to playoff preparation, Mike Scioscia is following the 2002 model and not the 2004 model, a move that was reflected in the manager’s decision to rest middle-of-the-order hitters Vladimir Guerrero and Garret Anderson for the second consecutive game Tuesday night.
After the Angels clinched a wild-card berth with five games left in the 2002 season, Scioscia rested many of his regulars during the final five games, and the Angels went on to win the World Series.
The Angels had only one day to rest after clinching a playoff berth on the second-to-last day of the 2004 season and were swept by the Boston Red Sox in a three-game division series.
So, as much as the Angels would like to finish with the American League’s best record and gain home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, Scioscia will not make that a higher priority than having a well-rested playoff club.
“There were some guys running on fumes then,” Scioscia said of the 2004 team. “It’s not going to do us any good to win every game and have those two guys not be in uniform for the playoffs.”
The Angels completed two days of organizational meetings here. Unlike last season, owner Arte Moreno did not emerge from the gathering of executives, scouts and coaches and “guarantee” the team would make a major move during the winter.
Moreno left Texas before Tuesday’s game and was unavailable for comment, but several sources said this year’s meetings were not filled with the same sense of urgency as those in 2006, when the Angels failed to make the playoffs and were in desperate need of a power bat.
The Angels are not expected to dive too deep into a mediocre free-agent market, though a pitcher such as Minnesota’s Carlos Silva or a third baseman such as Mike Lowell could interest them. New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who can opt out of his contract this winter, “was not a big topic of discussion,” a source said.
Although the Angels will look to add power again this winter, just as much emphasis will be put on starting pitching. The most attractive options will be on the trade market, which could include Minnesota’s Johan Santana and Cleveland’s C.C. Sabathia, who will be free agents after 2008 but could be too expensive for their teams to re-sign.
Veteran reliever Darren Oliver’s $2-million appearance Tuesday night was bittersweet. The left-hander pitched in his 60th game, triggering a clause in his contract that guarantees his $2-million option for 2008.
But Oliver gave up three runs and three hits in 1 1/3 innings, turning a 1-0 Angels lead into a 3-1 deficit and ending a string in which he had gone 15 1/3 innings over 11 appearances without giving up a run.
“It would have felt a lot better if we would have won,” Oliver said. “I guess you guys are stuck with me for another year.”
Guerrero, relegated to designated hitter since early September because of an inflamed right triceps, played catch for the first time since Sept. 14.
Said bench coach Ron Roenicke: “He looked OK. He felt OK.” Still, it’s doubtful Guerrero will be ready to open the playoffs in right field.