But the Dodgers have a vibrant new owner in Magic Johnson. They have a great player having a great year in Matt Kemp. They’re also in first place in the National League West, and still very much the premier team in the Los Angeles area.
The Angels aren’t even the same team that started the season. They released veteran outfielder Bobby Abreu on Friday despite having $9 million left on his contract, and have replaced Jordan Walden as the closer. Players held a meeting earlier in the week, a day after outfielder Torii Hunter said the team appeared to be just going through the motions.
The Angels did manage to snap their losing streak Saturday in Cleveland, beating the Indians 2-1 and getting a save from new closer Scott Downs. The struggles continued for Pujols, though, who singled in the first inning but didn’t hit the ball out of the infield in his last three at-bats.
Surely he’ll get hot at some point and produce some Pujols-like numbers. But he’s coming off career lows in both batting average and RBIs, and at the age of 32 it’s entirely possible that his best years are already behind him.
The thinking around baseball was that Moreno paid huge money over 10 years for Pujols not because he thought the slugger would be hitting a lot of home runs at the end of his contract, but because he would deliver early. Indeed, the money would be considered well-spent should Pujols revert to form and maybe even lead the Angels to the World Series in the first few years of his deal.
So far, though, there’s no sign of that happening. And the more Pujols struggles, the more ridiculous his 10-year deal seems.
Right now, he’s nothing more than a $240 million mistake.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg