Happy Black Friday, everyone. In the spirit of spending money that we will most likely regret spending when the credit card bill comes in the mail, let’s talk about the Angels and spending some money that they might possibly regret spending when the credit card bill arrives.
It is no secret that the Angels need pitching. You know it, I know it, the newspaper delivery boy knows it, everyone knows it. From my vantage point, it looks like the bullpen should be set. The signing of Joe Smith added a new look to the middle innings. Along with Ernesto Frieri, Dane De La Rosa and Sean Burnett, Smith solidified what should be the seventh-eighth-ninth crew for 2014. Behind those four is Michael Kohn, Kevin Jepsen and whatever the Angels plan on doing with Jerome Williams, Joe Blanton and Tommy Hanson.
The bullpen is set. Grant Balfour‘s agent can stop calling now.
The rotation though, that’s another story.
At the top is Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson. Following them is the young righty, Garrett Richards. After Richards is a batting tee and a batting practice machine. Although those last two are relatively cheap, it is time to upgrade to something with a pulse.
Jerry Dipoto dangled Mark Trumbo recently, trying to get the Colorado Rockies to part ways with some of their high-upside young pitching. But, judging by their interest in Justin Morneau, it feels like that ship may have sailed. This doesn’t mean the trading season is over, but the Angels only have so many trade chips, and it feels inevitable that the Angels will dip into the free Agent market. Unless Masahiro Tanaka gets posted. In which case, forget I said anything, Arte, and go all-in on that one.
The problem with the free agent class this year is that it is incredibly underwhelming. Bartolo Colon has the most recent success, but he has that cheater label attached to him. And he’s 40. The Angels could take a flyer on Roy Halladay with a one-year deal and see if there is any magic left in that right arm. But, for the most part, it is a lot of old guys and never-have-beens that are available. Not exactly the right offseason to need pitching.
But then I remembered something that Kevin Lappin of LA Angels Insider said last year, and decided to look it up and see if it was still true. There is one pitcher, he opined, that compares favorably to a current Angels starter. And, well:
You probably can’t tell which is which, can you? Pretty eerie how close those strikeout, walk and hit-type numbers are, isn’t it?
Well, I’ll save you the drama for who the Angels pitcher is. The Angels pitcher is Jered Weaver. The Ace of the staff compares to one of these underwhelming free agents? Say it ain’t so.
Oh, it is so. And, he is Player B, by the way. Player A, is…Phil Hughes.
Now, I am not saying that if you insert Phil Hughes into the Angels staff, he becomes the Ace. Nope. Weaver doesn’t allow as much contact as Hughes does. And, Weaver is far superior at keeping hitters off the basepaths. However, what I am saying is: Phil Hughes has spent his entire career pitching in a ridiculously small park in front of an outfield defense of traffic cone, parking meter and giant boulder. Hughes is, by definition, a fly ball pitcher. Good luck being successful under the circumstances he has been under.
It’s slim-pickins out there, everyone. Teams with stud young pitchers are holding onto them and signing them through their prime years. Or they are the Tampa Bay Rays and realize that isn’t going to happen with, say, David Price. So they wait until a couple of years before he hits free agency and trade him for an entire farm system.
If reports are true, Hughes will cost roughly the same amount that Price will cost next season alone. And with peripherals comparable to Weaver, there could be something there.
Now, I’m not saying that if the Angels were to sign Phil Hughes that I would climb the highest mountain and scream hallelujah towards the Heavens. But, I am saying that, if the Angels sign Phil Hughes, it definitely wouldn’t be teh suck. OK, start flinging tomatoes.