T.J. SIMERS

Angels' Mike Scioscia not the problem, but he might pay the price

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"I know that's the chatter that's out there," Scioscia said. "But if you ask me, I'm ready for the challenge and I believe I'm the right manager for this group."

He said it really doesn't matter, though, what folks say, he's not going to call it quits. Or care about anything other than what is going on his clubhouse.

"It didn't start well last year and I stayed around all season and it got better," he said. "And it will again."

He'd make a great preacher, although I'm not suggesting a career change. I happen to think the problems are elsewhere in the Angels' organization, but it will probably be Scioscia who is dismissed.

"Any possibility after 14 years folks have grown tired of hearing your voice?" I asked.

"That's something I brought up," Scioscia said. "After last season we all came together as a coaching staff and for 5 1/2 hours we peeled the paint off of everything. But I don't feel that's the case. We have 13 new players on the roster."

I can understand how tired the media must be listening to Scioscia year after year, but there are only three players who have been with the team more than six years.

"I'm frustrated, but not by anything in the media or the chatter out there," he said. "I'm frustrated in trying to find the key to unlock this team and get it to where we think it can be."

Fair question: Has Scioscia gone stale on everyone? We've been told repeatedly the Angels are loaded with talent, and yet they've missed the playoffs three straight years. And if they get swept here, I can't imagine them dropping any lower.

Or is the Angels' problem the owner? Have Moreno's emotions gotten the best of him, losing his temper in free-agent negotiations, backing off only to sign others on a whim and pay the price for 10 years?

Something is not right here, but it's hard to believe that someone who has been considered one of the game's top managers has suddenly gone stupid.

And yet the Angels aren't winning, can't run the bases or catch the ball. Even the Dodgers aren't this bad.

"The one constant on every team we have had that has won is a strong bullpen," Scioscia said.

That will be news to Dipoto, who has failed to make the 'pen a priority.

"When our bullpen is there, we put up wins," Scioscia said.

Last season, the team fired hitting instructor Mickey Hatcher about this time, promoted Mike Trout to the major league roster and then got hot.

The Angels' minor league system is ranked last in baseball, so there won't be any immediate jolt.

So who gets fired?

Beyond a change just for Angry Arte's sake, I cannot make a case that it should be Scioscia.

But if it is, most Dodgers fans will probably be in complete agreement.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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