2013 Angels Review: Jason Vargas


I have an affliction. A disease. An ailment. And it only comes out when I think about two things. The first would be toolsy outfielders with fishy last names. The other being when I think about left handers with changeups to die for. It is an incurable disease, which, in the long run, I am OK with. I’m sure there are worse fates than getting giggly about baseball players.

For an Angels offense that really was among the best in the game, it got wasted a lot by either terrible or inconsistent pitching. But, through June 17th, Jason Vargas was not terrible or inconsistent. His 6-4 record wasn’t going to get him any love from the mainstream press, but as we have discussed before, pitching wins are silly. But if you want to go with wins, Vargas was 6-1 from May 3rd through June 17th. His ERA had dropped from 4.85 to 3.65, and only twice during that stretch did he not pitch into the seventh inning.

Then, the bad news. Just before Vargas’ next start, he was scratched. He had a blood clot in his armpit area, and would be sidelined for the next four weeks. Say what you will about momentum, but after returning on August 13th, Vargas went 3-4, his ERA rose to 4.02, and he pitched into the seventh inning only four times over his last ten starts.

The Apple Valley native and Long Beach State product would finish the season with a 9-8 record. His 4.02 ERA was very meh, but he finished with his best K/9 (6.5) since becoming a full time starter. His WHIP (1.387) was above his career norm, but even though he only made 24 starts, he still threw 150 innings. But I can’t take his 2013 stats at face value, because I always come back to those 8-9 starts that he lost due to a freak happening that just so happened to occur while he was rolling along smoothly as the Angels number three starter.

It unfortunately makes for a possibly uncomfortable conversation thanks to Vargas’ free agent status at the conclusion of the World Series. Do the Angels offer him maybe a three-year deal right now? Lock him up for a few years and slide him into the rotation behind Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson? Or do the Angels simply offer him a qualifying offer? Maybe he takes the offer, and the Angels will get solid, league-average production – Or possibly above average – from him in 2014. Maybe he doesn’t take the offer, That of course would net the Angels a compensation pick in next year’s draft.

What do we do, Jerry? What do we do?

I don’t know what Jerry Dipoto and company will do. Hell, I don’t know what I would do, and I love Vargas. It’s a sticky situation, this one. And a situation that will most likely lead to a lot of fans being unhappy with the decision. But as far as 2013 goes, well, just like the Tootsie Pop commercial, “The world may never know.” That blood clot couldn’t have come at a worse time. And because of that, I give Vargas a bit of a pass, and I lean towards hopefully seeing him in Angels red again next season.