In all likelihood, the 2023 Angels season was ending badly anyway. (or early Thursday morning, depending on your time zone) the cherry on top of the crap sundae, because everything came to a screeching, emphatic halt.
A day after Mike Trout came off the injured list, he was . Oh, and Shohei Ohtani (ever heard of him?) . That's the ligament that typically needs Tommy John surgery to be reconstructed. Ohtani has already had Tommy John surgery, so this would be his second since coming to MLB, though he and the Angels and Ohtani have not yet decided on a course of action.
There's so much to discuss here, but the easiest thing is what a complete and utter disaster these last two months have been for the Angels.
Let's go back to June 27. The Angels won a game that night, moving them to 44-37 at exactly the halfway point of the season. They were sitting in the second AL wild-card spot, in second place in the AL West and they were only five games out in that race. Ohtani was far and away the leader for the AL MVP and Trout was having a good -- albeit not up to his lofty standards -- season.
They were halfway through the season and on pace to win 88 games, a total that could earn a playoff spot.
The Angels would then lose nine of their next 10 games, a stretch during which they'd lose Trout to a broken hamate bone in his wrist.
This is all about the time the "trade Ohtani" talk started to intensify. With a few weeks to the trade deadline, if the Angels fell out of the playoff race, it made sense to dangle Ohtani in front of his free agency this coming offseason. Knowing what we know about the Trout-Ohtani Era Angels, however, the worst possible thing had to happen and it sure did: The Angels temporarily started winning again. They won 10 of their last 13 games in July.
This means on trade deadline day, the Angels were three games out of a playoff spot. A serious baseball franchise cannot trade the best player in baseball when only three games back of a playoff spot. The added layer here was that Ohtani clearly wants to play for a winner and if the Angels could somehow make the playoffs and possibly even a deep playoff run, there was a chance to convince him to stay on a long-term deal in the ensuing offseason. At the time, it made all the sense in the world to hold Ohtani.
And if you're gonna do that, you might as well grab as much talent as possible in front of the trade deadline to surround Ohtani, right? So the Angels further depleted an already-weak farm system to grab the likes of Lucas Giolito, C.J. Cron and Randal Grichuk ahead of the deadline.
Immediately, the Angels started losing again. They started August with a seven-game losing streak. Just think about this chronology again:
- Win 10 of 13
- Trade deadline
- Lose seven in a row
That's just about the most atrociously timed scenario possible, under the circumstances of it being Ohtani's walk year.
The Angels are now 5-16 in August. They are 10.5 games out of a playoff spot. Trout is back on the injured list and it seems unlikely he'd rush back to play this season in pain. And then there's Ohtani. He's seeking a second opinion, as well he should, but it appears a second Tommy John surgery could be in the cards. He might be able to hit again in a few days, but the Angels have lost their best pitcher.
They were buried anyway, but the events of Wednesday night stomped on the grave of the 2023 team in addition to throwing the future into major peril.
The organization as currently constructed without two-way Ohtani carrying them looks bleak. They might lose Ohtani altogether, but losing him just on the pitching end for the near future is happening at the bare minimum. Trout will be heading to his age-32 season with 36 games played in 2021, 119 last season and 82 and counting this season. His .263/.367/.490 slash line was the worst since he was 19. Anthony Rendon and his gigantic salary can't be counted on for anything. It's hard to find anything else to be very excited about.
It's difficult to tell where things head from here, but it seems like it'll be a long time before there are positive vibes around the Angels again. The last two months of 2023 were catastrophic for the Angels' present and everything that happened Wednesday night made the future equally as dark.