As we near the All-Star break and with the Angels continuing to take care of business on the road after a 9-6 slugfest in Arlington against the Rangers, I thought it would be nice to focus on one of the Angels' glaring holes/question marks this season - Gary Matthews, Jr.
Matthews, Jr. is in the second season of a five-year $50 million contract - a contract that many ridiculed at the time saying the Angels overpaid for a career year that Matthews had in 2006 with the Rangers.
I was OK with the contract at the time and I am still OK with it. While $10 million a year is a lot of money to be paying for a guy who continues to play himself out of a job, when the Angels signed Matthews they needed to shore up their centerfield defense.
(They needed to shore up their centerfield defense because in 2006 I would have to hide my eyes when balls were hit to centerfield; the Angels errors were pretty horrific that year.)
And I am OK with Gary Matthews, Jr. being a bust this year because the Angels know now that he is a bust and can start pushing him more to a backup role and defensive replacement.
Sure, $10 million is a lot of money to throw at a guy per year but we have seen the Angels throw some money at notable free agent blunders in the Arte Moreno era i.e. Steve Finley, Shea Hillenbrand.
And Moreno has the financial wherewithal to stomach a blow of having a $10 million benchwarmer and Angels fans are lucky to have an owner who has the deep pockets to spend that much and not worry too much about it.
Why is Matthews on the outs with me and many other Angels fans?
The No. 1 thing is that he is performing worse than he did last year - hitting .239 for the season with seven home runs and six stolen bases. Those numbers do not track at all compared with what he finished with last year; in 2007 he was actually OK but this year his numbers have trended toward sucky.
The second factor is that the Angels have a healthy Juan Rivera sitting on the bench, ready to contribute. The same Juan Rivera who has slugged home runs in his last two starts, the same Juan Rivera who was the Angels' second-best hitter in 2006.
At this point, doesn't Mike Scioscia have to consider playing Juan Rivera a helluva lot more and let he and Matthews battle for playing time?
Is Juan Rivera the savior for the Angels' offensive woes this season? No. But at the same time, playing Rivera more regularly could give the Angels a different look. With Rivera in the lineup the Angels have a little more pop and home run power compared with the grounding into double play power that Matthews, Jr. gives.
So because Matthews has been so bad I have decided to write a poem for him to celebrate his badness:
I am here today to tell you about Gary, Gary, Gary.
Oh indeed on offense he is quite scary.
He is smooth in the field and with the glove,
He signed a megadeal with the Angels of Anaheim;
some of their fans think the deal was a crime.
He is the son of the man nicknamed Sarge;
the gap between their skills is quite large.
In three years his contract with the Halos is done;
Angels fans wish his contract were only for year one.
He was accused of using growth hormone;
the details of which will never be known.
For the - alleged - HGH use the fans booed,
I would say more but don't want to be sued.
Instead, Gary will remain an overpaid underperformer;
And that is why I hope he will soon be a bench warmer.
To that you will hear some Angels' fans moans;
but hey, at least he's not Andruw Jones!