Thursday, June 10, 2004

So, last night's game was sufficiently revolting. But the silver lining rests in Tim Salmon's return -- and, more importantly, his return to form, going 3 for 3 with a walk.

And though I would never wish harm upon even my worst enemy in baseball, it's hard to argue that Raul Mondesi's injury will hurt the team. About the only thing he had going for him was that he appeared to be our best defensive centerfielder, and that he gave us maybe the three best arms ever assembled in one outfield. But his injury effectively frees Jeff DaVanon, so here's our FREE JEFF DAVANON WATCH (stats since Mondesi joined team:

Player: PA -- SO - AVG/OBP/SLG
Mondesi 36 -- 4 -- 118/189/235
SHalter 11 -- 5 -- 100/182/100
DaVanon 28 -- 2 -- 423/464/462

Despite these signs of encouragement (and the probable soon return of Garret Anderson), there is much reason for concern, and I don't believe that I am being unnecessarily Cassandraesque to say so. First base is still a sinkhole, and as Rob points out, the decision to demote Robb Quinlan (281/378/344) instead of Casey Kotchman (202/250/247) is counterproductive and wrongheaded. Not that Quinlan is any great shakes, of course ... but Quinlan's .344 slugging percentage is the highest among Angel first basemen.

Of course, this is all academic if the non-Escobar participants in the starting rotation can't start getting men out. Kelvim has been a breath of extremely fresh air in the smoggy sprawl that is the other starters. Yes, Aaron Sele has performed well, but his wily right-hander routine feels as though it has been built on a house of stilts.

As you know, everyone else has been a disaster. Jarrod Washburn seems to think he's a batting practice pitcher, John Lackey is the model of modern major inconsistency, and Bartolo Colon's command has devolved to the point where he couldn't hit the broad side of, well, Bartolo Colon.

Yes, these guys have been hurt to some degree by the defense (not many favors were done for Halo hurlers last night, for instance), but a lot of these faults lay with the pitchers themselves. The starters have an ERA of 5.14, ranking 24th in the majors. Unacceptable. The offense and the bullpen can't keep playing catch-up because of the starters' generosity to opposing teams. It sounds simple, but it's true: we can't get back to a stable first place until the rotation gets its act together.

Mondesi who? Is it me, or did we just pay someone with a bad attitude and bad hair an amount per game played in that is equal to or possibly greater than what Jeff DaVanon is being paid for the whole year? And Jeff was looking like the better player even in head-to-head competition. Imagine how perturbed Salmon would be if Mondesi were still in the OF/DH shuffle. As it stands he's coming off as less-than-gracious about it.
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