Reporting from Kansas City, Mo.
Even in a bad economy, $140 million doesn't buy what it used to.
Take the Angels, for example. On Thursday, they started the season with high hopes, buoyed by the largest payroll in franchise history.
But Sunday night, they limped into Tampa, Fla., riding a three-game losing streak, one that exposed some weaknesses they didn't know they had while highlighting others that now seem much worse than originally feared.
The only difference between the latest loss and the two that preceded it was the fact that it took longer — 13 innings and nearly five hours. But it ended the same way, with the Kansas City Royals scoring in their last at-bat, this time on a three-run home run by Matt Treanor that finished a 12-9 victory.
And that left Angels Manager Mike Scioscia promising some changes.
"We're going to have to sort some things out," he said.
Whether that will mean changes to the roster or simply changes in how players are used, Scioscia wouldn't say. But there's certainly no end of things that need to be sorted out, starting with the bullpen.
The Angels were tied or leading in the eighth or ninth inning in all three of their losses, only to watch the Royals rally. It happened twice Sunday, first in the ninth when Fernando Rodney walked three batters and gave up a hit, blowing a two-run lead, and in the 13th, when Treanor, who wasn't even with the Royals a week ago, drove a hanging breaking ball from Jason Bulger over the bullpen in left field.
"The guys we need to throw the ball well, who are going to be important to us, are not throwing the ball well right now," Scioscia said. "And we're going to have to look at that."
That list certainly includes left-hander Scott Kazmir, someone the Angels had serious doubts about after watching him struggle to 15 losses and a 5.94 earned-run average last season. But even that didn't prepare them for Sunday, when Kazmir hit a batter with his second pitch, gave up a run-scoring single on his 11th and was gone after only 12/3 innings — the shortest outing of his career — having given up five runs and five hits.
Kazmir, who walked two batters, hit a second batter and committed a balk, avoided the question when asked whether he thought his job was in jeopardy.
"I know that I haven't pitched well," he said. "I put my team in a difficult situation, especially today. All I can do is just go out and deal with it; try to get better and not think about what's going on, what might happen, all the things like that.
"I just know what was going on out there was not me."
Well, it sure wasn't Dan Haren, Jered Weaver or Ervin Santana either. Combine the first-game stats of those three starters and you get a 1-0 record, 18 strikeouts, four walks and a 1.80 ERA in 20 innings. The rest of the staff is 0-3 with 15 walks and a 5.60 ERA.
Which explains why Haren and Weaver were loosening up in the bullpen during the 13th inning.
All that poor pitching has overshadowed an offense that is hitting .302 after a 19-hit game Sunday, a day that featured five homers and a five-for-five performance by Bobby Abreu, who also walked twice.
Hitting, clearly, isn't the problem.
"We need to find some chemistry. Some of these guys that aren't pitching well, you change their role [and] it's still an impact role," Scioscia said. "So it's not going to be as simple as saying, 'Well, you want this guy in this role and that guy in that role.' There's a lot that we have to look at."
He'll have all day Monday to do that before the Angels' schedule resumes Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Rays.