With the holiday season in full swing there are many movies that deal with the question, What If????? The most popular movie that deals with this question, “It’s a Wonderful Life”. In this classic movie George Bailey, questions what would life have been like, if he had never been born. I am going to take this same premise of, What If, and apply it to the Los Angeles Angels. The list only relates to events after the year 2000, therefore you will not see the, What if the Angels kept Nolan Ryan? Or What If Gene Mauch put in another reliever instead on Donnie Moore in the 1986 ALCS? Without further ado here is the list of Top 5 What if moments…
5. What if The Angels never got rid of Francisco Rodriguez? Francisco Rodriguez or K-Rod, made a dramatic debut in the 2002 Championship Season, at the age of 20 years old. K-Rod had three great seasons before inheriting the closer role in 2005 from Troy Percival. After saving 45, 47, 40, and 62 games in consecutive seasons the Angels let Rodriguez sign a free agent contract with the New York Mets following the 2008 season. Since he left, the Angels have had a wide array of closers. Some have been above-average Huston Street. Some have been disastrous, Brian Fuentes. Some I have completely forgotten about, Jordan Walden, Ernesto Frieri. Rodriguez, has bounced around to a few teams but made the All-Star for the last two seasons. He will enter the 2016 season competing for the closer role with the Detroit Tigers.
4. What if Kendrys Morales never gets hurt celebrating a homerun? Kendrys Morales recently won the Edgar Martinez Award for the best Designated Hitter. This makes me wonder if he had not gotten hurt how great of a career he would have had. Keep in mind, in the 2009 season he hit 34 homeruns, in 2010 before his injury he was hitting .290, with 11 homeruns and 39 RBI’s. He was out of baseball for almost two years, at the end of the 2012 season he was traded to the Mariners for Jason Vargas. If the Angels would have had patience, Morales would have been a strong bat that the Angels desperately needed last season. The switch-hitting Morales would have formed a strong first base/DH combination with Albert Pujols.
3. What if Garrett Richards does not get hurt covering first base? During 2014 the Angels and specifically Richards were having a spectacular season. Richards had 13 wins and the Angels finished the regular season with the best record in baseball with 98 wins. However in late August, Richards tore his patellar tendon while covering first base at Fenway Park. With Richards out of the rotation, the Angels were swept by the Kansas City Royals as they made their way to the World Series. With Richards able to pitch at least two games in the Division Series, the Angels could have won the series and advanced.
2. What if the Angels kept Zack Grienke? Many people forget the highly-sought free agent once dominated batters in Orange County. The Angels acquired Grienke from the Brewers in a trade-deadline deal, for three prospects including future All-Star, Jean Segura. He only made 13 starts down the stretch of the 2012 season, which the Angels did not make the playoffs. After the season Grienke went north on the 5 freeway to the Dodgers. If the Angels had ponied up the cash, he could have been the ace the Angels would love to have.
1.What if AJ Pierzynski did not cheat in 2005 playoffs? This may be a bit of a stretch, but bear with me. During Game 2 of the 2005 ALCS, with the Angels leading the series 1-0. Pierzynski struck out in the bottom of the 9th
inning for the third out, but ran to first base claiming catcher Josh Paul dropped the ball. The umpire signaled Pierzynski out!!! However due to Pierzynski tricking (cheating) the umpire, he was called safe. Three pitches later, Pablo Ozuna the pinch-runner for Pierzynski scored the winning run. If the Angels win that game, they are headed back to Anaheim with a 2-0 lead. The Angels would have won the series, and faced the Houston Astros in the World Series. In other words, AJ Pierzynski cost the Angels a World Series championship.