In the comments to my article on options to replace Morales, a sort of debate has begun on whether or not any trade should be made at all. To sum up my feelings on it (though you can read the full article, along with the comments that followed it, here), I don’t think the Angels should make a move to replace Morales when there are so many other holes on the team.
The rotation has stabilized a bit, with Weaver solid almost all season long, and Ervin Santana getting better as the season has progressed and showing signs of the pitcher he was in 2008. Saunders, on the other hand, has been wildly inconsistent, pitching 28.2 innings while giving up 5 earned during the middle portion of May, while surrounding those with 8.1 innings while giving up 14 runs at the beginning and end of May. Joel Pineiro has had some good starts scattered into his season, but has also given up 18 runs over his last 17 IP. And Scott Kazmir… well, Kazmir has just been bad. Over his last 34.1 IP, he’s sporting a 6.03 ERA, with a 1:1 K/BB ratio.
More after the jump.
The pen hasn’t exactly been amazing, either. Fernando Rodney, one of the few acquisitions the Angels made this off-season, is pitching well above his head right now. As nice as his 2.95 ERA looks, his BB/9 is up from last year, his K/9 is down from last year, and his BABIP currently sits at .232, which would be the lowest of his career and a full 60 points below his career average. Eventually those hits are going to start finding holes, and the trouble will start when they do. Brian Fuentes hasn’t exactly been a rock himself. Despite his K/9 being up from last season and his BABIP being down, his ERA and FIP are both up at least two full runs, his HR/9 has ballooned to nearly triple what it was last year, and his LOB% has dropped. Fuentes is allowing way more fly balls than he normally does, and more of those are going for HRs, but these things may even themselves out over time. Scot Shields has perhaps begun to realize that his time is about up, and Stokes, Cassevah, Palmer, and Jepsen all currently have ERA’s above 5.50.
The point of all of this is that this team has some real holes. The playoffs are not remotely a guaranteed thing, much less actually going anywhere if we’re lucky enough to get there. What is a guaranteed thing, however, is next season, and the ones that follow. Playoffs or not, the Angels will have future seasons where aging players get older, younger players progress, and eventually we’re going to want to see what our specs are made of. Unless, of course, they’re on another team. Sean Rodriguez is a fine example of this. Accepting that we’re dealing with a small sample size here, Rodriguez is basically performing on the same level as Howie Kendrick offensively, while fielding circles around him at 2B. Unfortunately, Rodriguez is doing this for the Rays, while the Angels watch Scott Kazmir continue his downward spiral from near-ace status.
This is not to say that I never advocate making trades, but again (and really the point of all of this) is that we should be making smart trades (just as before I advocated spending our money wisely). Trying to replace Morales with Konerko or Lee or Berkman is not, in my opinion, smart. I think it hurts us for the future, just as the Kazmir trade seems to have done, and I don’t think it helps us very much now. The pen and the rotation are far more of an issue than replacing a player that may end up returning this season anyway. Especially when the options to replace him are aging sluggers that we wouldn’t look to keep at the end of the year anyway. It is literally giving away a prospect in the hopes of helping us win this season, and this season alone, and not addressing any of the issues that I think are much bigger.
This entire thing was born out of a reply I was writing to a comment Anuj made, until I realized that my comment was getting longer than the form may even allow, and should probably just be turned into an actual post at this point. Anuj’s comment said, in part:
"While you might think you are being objective, you really strive hard to find the opposite of the silver lining when it comes to the Angels. If there is any chance to criticize them, you are all over it. Perhaps you think you are being a voice of reason by being the purveyor of truth amongst all Angel fans, but you play the role more than necessary. I recommend you try to cater to your readers more, and understand that the majority of them will be Angels fans."
In my view, people can go to a lot of different blogs to get a biased view of the Angels and the moves they make. There are plenty of people out there that think the team can do no wrong. That is not what I’m about, in my life and in the posts I write for this blog. It is because I am an Angels fan that I criticize them, because I want them to make the moves I believe will give them the best possible chance at winning. I do not look for opportunities to criticize the team or the front office, but I also don’t look for opportunities to praise them. Instead, I look at what they do and give my honest reaction, be it good or bad. The fact that the Angels are struggling this season and that Halo Hangout is so new means any previous times I have praised the moves they’ve were not captured here on the blog, but believe me that they exist. In time, I hope, there will be plenty for me to praise the team for here on the blog. Above all of that, though, I believe it my responsibility to you, my readers, to give you my honest opinion on what the Angels are doing, whatever that opinion may be. As much as I may want something to work the Angels’ way, if I don’t believe it will then it serves no one for me to say it will. It will not change what happen, and only ends up hurting my credibility. So, instead, I criticize or praise, but either way I do it honestly, without letting my fandom cloud my judgment. I think it is this, more than anything else, that will allow Halo Hangout to be a place you can reliably turn to for honest, no-holds-barred analysis of our team.
At the end of the day, I am a fan of this team and want them to win. It would be a mistake to misjudge criticism for hating the team. Much like with a child, I may disagree with what they’re doing, but I doesn’t mean I’ll love them any less.