Talking about baseball during football season is hard. Everyone seems focused on Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady for the 14th time. Sure the Broncos are going into New England, the debate persists about who’s the better quarterback, and arguments continue to rage for both. In the midst of football mania, moves around baseball abound as trades and deals materialize that rock the baseball world.
I’m not immune to the action on the football field (I’m a football fan too, after all!), but I’m acutely aware of what’s taking place in the baseball world. Robinson Cano has let it be known that he wants a $300 million dollar contract. The Texas Rangers traded Ian Kinsler for Prince Fielder (though I’d like to know the world in which THAT trade seems equal yet no one seems to be criticizing it as much as other trades that have been made). The Los Angeles Angels traded Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk to the St. Louis Cardinals for David Freese and Fernando Salas, then made an offer to Joe Smith. Brian McCann was way overpaid by the New York Yankees.
It may be the offseason for baseball, but that doesn’t meant that what’s happening now is irrelevant. Teams are trying to address their needs and every day there’s a new rumor that may or may not be true. It’s always funny nowadays to look at the rumor mill because since everyone was caught off guard the last two years when the Angels came out of nowhere to sign the biggest names on the free agent market, it’s like everyone wants to link them to every big name out there, just so they can’t be caught unawares again and can say that the Angels were on the list of teams from the beginning.
So much is happening this offseason and so many rumors still swirl because the Angels, though they’ve plugged a long-standing hole at 3rd, haven’t addressed the real problem in starting pitching, yet they’ve already given up one of their trade pieces. The thing is, the crop of pitchers isn’t so wonderful, which may explain the lack of trades for the Angels in that area. Who exactly is out there that the Angels would want to sign?
First there’s Ervin Santana. Been there, done that, and traded him to the Kansas City Royals last year. He’s been consistently inconsistent. Brilliant at times, others, you wonder what happened to that brilliance. I don’t think that Butcher would magically be able to turn him into a more dependable pitcher, considering he seems to be one of the problems himself (don’t get me started there, that’s another post for another day, which would look more like a rant, lol). Plus, the salary he’s said to be after is so much more than what’s reasonable that it doesn’t warrant consideration.
Then there’s Bartolo Colon. And while some people may find him appealing, I don’t find an aging pitcher who’s been caught cheating in the least bit attractive. I would much rather not see this happen than just about anything else. I didn’t even like Colon when he won a Cy Young as an Angel, let alone now that he’s been allowed to return to pitching after being caught cheating. Let’s not revisit this, shall we?
After which there’s Scott Kazmir. Another pitcher who’s already been in Angles red. I never had anything against Kaz, in fact, I heard he’s a nice guy. I just kept wishing and hoping for him to be the pitcher the Angels always thought he would/could be. I pulled for him to the very end because he’s still young and had so much potential. I’m glad he had a good season for the Indians. I just don’t think that Butcher’s the guy who can keep that progress going, since when he was under Butcher, he regressed. For his own good, I hope he signs elsewhere (I’m looking out for you here, Scott, really!)
Next, there’s Dan Haren. Another previous Angels pitcher. I always liked Dan. Despite the loss in velocity, he managed to pitch a lot of games and innings. The Angels seemed to have more chances to stay in the game than not when Dan pitched. Plus, he seemed to genuinely want to pitch here. Not enough can be said about someone who actually wants to be out there day after day. I just wonder if a bridge has been burned there when the Angels let him go. Plus, again, there’s the whole can Butcher coach him well enough question, which I think the answer is, again, no.
Joe Saunders and Jon Garland are other possibilities and both have already pitched for the Angels. I’ll admit I was sad to see Saunders go. His press conference when he’d been traded made me sad. He was an All-Star for the Angels who didn’t see the trade coming. The Angels signed Garland after noticing his pitching for the Chicago White Sox. I don’t foresee either of them improving under Butcher’s tutelage at this stage.
While the crop of pitchers available may not be as elite as Zack Greinke last year, there are too many for me to spend an entire paragraph on each (plus I don’t think that the Angels should even consider signing many of them because of the contracts they’ll demand) so here are more: Chris Carpenter, Hiroki Kuroda (who rejected a qualifying 14.1 million dollar qualifying offer from the New York Yankees), Ubaldo Jimenez (another pitcher who turned down a qualifying offer from the Cleveland Indians), A.J. Burnett (who’s said if he does pitch in 2014, it will be for the Pirates), Roy Halladay (36 years old and on the decline the past 2 years, I’d hate to see what would happen under Butcher), Chris Capuano (who’s has had two Tommy John surgeries, and the Angels might have been burned by high-risk, potential high-reward pitchers there, due to Ryan Madson).
Barry Zito is available now, but he’s not as in-demand as he once was (please, please, pretty please don’t pursue him!), Jason Hammel is free, Jake Westbrook is open (the St. Louis Cardinals declined his option), Bruce Chen, Scott Feldman, Phil Hughes, Johan Santana, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Ryan Vogelsong, Shaun Marcum, Erik Bedard, Scott Baker, Freddy Garcia, Roy Oswalt, Roberto Hernandez (AKA Fausto Carmona), are also among the pitchers who are out there.
We already know that Jason Vargas signed with the Royals. He started slow, and who knows what his season would’ve looked like if not for the blood clot he had to have surgery for in the middle of the year. And Josh Johnson agreed to terms with the San Diego Padres, which means that the available crop of starting pitchers is already decreasing.
Everyone knows that the black hole that the Angels need to address is the middling starting pitching. With so little out there that’s desirable and the need to save money, I’m fascinated to see what can be done to shore up the Angels pitching this offseason while not spending the money that so many starting pitchers want (see Ervin Santana wants $100 million contract) as well as the security of longer term deals they seem to be after on the whole.
Guess what? I love football. And it’s by far the most popular sport in America today. But I’m also riveted to the baseball offseason. We all learned this week that the unexpected can happen at any time. Like, as I mentioned earlier, the Detroit Tigers trading Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers for Ian Kinsler (on a side note, anyone who can explain the logic in this to me I would appreciate it. I can’t imagine any universe wherein Kinsler for Fielder is an equal trade, no matter the money saved by Detroit). And Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk going to the St. Louis Cardinals and in return the Angels acquired David Freese and Fernando Salas (no comment).
This is why, even though it’s difficult to talk about baseball when it’s not being played, when the most popular sport is in the middle of an exciting season, I’m still intrigued by what deals are going to be made in baseball and I check daily to find out what’s happening. I may not agree with all the moves that are made, but when opening day comes, I’ll be in Angels Stadium rooting for my team, hoping along with all the other fans there that the upcoming season is better than last year. And though the football season is in full swing and the baseball season has yet to begin, I still say go Angels!