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It All Starts with the Pitching

November 8th, 2013
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Should Jerry Dipoto try to win in 2014? Or rebuild and try to contend in 2015?

To be an elite team once again, the top item on the Angels’ fix-it list has to be the pitching.  The Angels’ 2013 staff was one of the worst in the American League.  For those of you who would like a recap of the gruesome 2013 stats, here are the lowlights:

  1. The Angels were 11th in the American League in ERA.
  2. They were 12th in ERA+.
  3. They gave up the third most walks in the AL.
  4. They came in 13th in WHIP.
  5. Angels pitchers tied for first in the AL in wild pitches.
  6. They were 11th in strikeouts.
  7. They were 13th in SO/BB ratio.
  8. They were 8th in saves.
  9. The 131 stolen bases they gave up was the second most in the league.

Since it looks as though Mike Butcher is going to be the pitching coach next season, the only way left to repair the pitching staff is to add some new players.  It doesn’t seem like Joe Blanton nor Tommy Hanson is a viable piece for next year’s staff, so as the roster stands right now, the starting rotation looks to be:

  1. Jered Weaver
  2. C.J. Wilson
  3. Garrett Richards
  4. Jerome Williams
  5. Matt Shoemaker

Although there are a handful of starting pitchers on the farm, it seems like they are more likely to be ready to take a spot in the rotation in 2015 or 2016, rather than 2014.

If the Halos are going to contend next year, they’ll need two high quality starting pitchers.  The expectation among Angel fans is that general manager Jerry Dipoto is going to trade some hitting for young, controllable, high-quality pitching, but there are a few free agents who, if inserted into the rotation, would make the 2014 starting pitching staff much stronger than 2013′s.  I would be a very happy Angel fan if Dipoto was able to sign one or two of the following:

  1. Masahiro Tanaka
  2. Matt Garza
  3. Ricky Nolasco
  4. Scott Feldman
  5. Jason Vargas

Now let’s turn our attention to the bullpen.  As it stands right now, the Angels seven-man bullpen looks to be:

  1. Ernesto Frieri
  2. Dane De La Rosa
  3. Michael Kohn
  4. Kevin Jepsen
  5. Sean Burnett
  6. Robert Coello
  7. The winner of the “who had the best spring training” contest:  JC Gutierrez, Buddy Boshers, Michael Roth, Cory Rasmus, or Nick Maronde.

This bullpen looks pretty solid to me, except I don’t see a closer in this bunch.  I love the movement on Frieri’s fastball, but he has proven himself to be a streaky closer with long stretches of excellence broken up by weeks-long patches of mediocrity.  If the Angels are going to put together an elite team that is going to have a good shot at winning the World Series next year, they are going to have to get a closer.  There are several candidates who could immediately take over that role for the Angels in this year’s batch of free agents:

  1. Joe Nathan
  2. Joaquin Benoit
  3. Grant Balfour
  4. Javier Lopez
  5. Brian Wilson
  6. Edward Mujica

There are other free agent relievers whose addition would upgrade the Angels’ bullpen like Matt Albers, Luis Ayala, Matt Thornton, Matt Lindstrom, Manny Parra, JP Howell, Boone Logan, and Joe Smith, but I don’t think the Angels need to worry too much about bullpen help because help is coming from within.

One thing the Angels’ farm system has plenty of is high quality relief pitching.  There are four right now who could probably step in and be impact arms in the bullpen in the near future:

  1. Mike Morin
  2. R.J. Alvarez
  3. Jeremy Berg
  4. Brandon Sisk

In Morin and Alvarez, the Angels could very well have their next set-up man and closer.  Additionally, several more Angel minor league relievers could be ready to step on to the MLB stage by 2015 (Carmine Giardina, Caleb Graham, Ryan Chaffee, Kevin Johnson, Ty Kelley, Eric Cendejas, and Eduard Santos).

Hopefully the 2013 season was a low point for Angels pitching that future Angels squads can keep buried in the past.

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Troy Percival knows a thing or two about championship caliber pitching staffs.  Perhaps he could be the Angels assistant pitching coach.  Just sayin’.

Comments

5 Comments

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  • Jim Diamond says on: November 8, 2013 at 12:38 pm

     

    I agree that pitching must be the number one priority for the Angels. I am curious though about the organization’s reluctance to make any changes in the coaching staff. In the NHL for example, head coaches and assistants are held much more accountable if they don’t meet expectations. For example, the Philadelphia Flyers head coach was fired this year after just three games (0-3 start), and the Florida Panthers just fired their whole coaching staff after a 3-9-4 start. It seems to me the Angels have fallen well short of expectations the last few years. Since it seems that Scioscia has the support of the owner, maybe it’s time that Mike makes some changes in his staff instead of of the misguided loyalty toward his coaches that he has shown in the past.

  • sleepy49er says on: November 8, 2013 at 2:46 pm

     

    NO, I did not change my name to Diamond. Sure sounds like me though. Diamond, that misguided loyalty you speak of isn’t necessarily misguided. Scioscia has NO leadership skills and has depended on those coaches for years. After he lost Madden, Black and Roenicke he and the Angels were doomed. Look at 2012 when Dipota fired Scioscia’s buddy Hatcher, Scioscia had a fit. After the Angels FAIL in 2014 under this great manager, lets see what happens. We all know attendance will continue to drop.

    Jerry – Why did you leave off Ervin Santana as a possible pickup? Ha,Ha.

    I like Don Baylor being added, we now have someone in the dugout to replace the warden when necessary!

    • Jeff Mays says on: November 8, 2013 at 4:13 pm

       

      I left Santana off the list purposefully for three reasons. One, he has a history of alternating good years and bad years, so if he continues to follow that pattern, he is going to struggle in 2014. Two, while with the Angels, he would have his moments of brilliance, but he would struggle with pitching well consistently, and since Butcher is still the pitching coach, I don’t think the Angels can fix him when he’s off. Three, he was given a qualifying offer, which he rejected, so any team who signs him now is going to have to give up a draft pick, and the Angels’ farm system is in no state to be giving up draft picks.

      • sleepy49er says on: November 8, 2013 at 6:55 pm

         

        Has Butcher FIXED anyone? No success stories here.

  • znullmeyer says on: November 9, 2013 at 5:07 pm

     

    Just so ya know, Robert Coello was released…and Fernando Cabrera as a prospect? What…

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Halos Daily

Dedicated to bringing you top notch Angels analysis!