Wednesday, June 14, 2006

As predicted by everyone on Earth who spent more than a nanosecond in contemplation of the issue, Jered Weaver complicated our rotation last night by having his fourth straight Damn Good Start (six or more innings pitched, no more than two earned runs allowed). With El Gordo returning to the rotation this weekend, the Angels must now figure out how to fit six guys into five rotation slots.

I will say that Jered Weaver is ready to be a major league starter right now at this moment, and that nothing we've seen can be classified as a fluke. Sure, two of his starts came against lousy teams (Tampa Bay and Kansas City), but in the thirteen innings he threw against those two teams, he allowed only two earned runs, nine hits, and one walk while striking out nine. That's how bad teams should be handled when they face a good pitcher.

There is pretty much nothing left for Jered to learn at AAA; he has already demonstrated his dominion over the hitters of the PCL, and last night against Kansas City he established that his dominion also includes the "AAAA" hitters of the world. His next bad start, wherever it will happen (and it eventually will), is more likely to teach him anything if it happens at the major league level.

I must say, that after seeing four of his games, I think that whoever said Jered only projected as a number three or four starter was high on something. The kid has good stuff, confidence on the mound, composure, and knows how to pitch. With his tall, lanky build, pinpoint control, and poise, he reminds me of a young Bret Saberhagen (the only difference being that Sabes, to my recollection, was more of a groundball guy).

So what to do? It seems obvious that Jeff Weaver is the rotation's weak link right now, even though he's put together a few consecutive solid outings. But he gets the money and seniority, so I don't know if the Angels would sack up and put him in the bullpen, dispatching Kevin Gregg back to AAA to make room for Cy Colon.

One rumor making the rounds, including in today's OC Register, is that the Magic Man, Ervin Santana, would be packaged in a deal to Tampa Bay that would net us Carl Crawford.

I have mixed feelings about this rumor. There is a lot to like about Carl Crawford; he turns only 25 in August, he's a splendiferous defender in left field and could likely be moved to center to fill a huge organizational need, and he's improved his offense every season. But I've taken a liking to Ervin, and I think he can be a damn good pitcher for a long time, and those guys just aren't easy to come by. When you factor in the fact that Tampa Bay will likely also want a prospect in addition to Santana, well, I think I'd have to recommend a pass on that action.

Of course, if Bartolo's performance on his rehab assignment at AAA (a 6.17 ERA and only three strikeouts in nearly twelve innings) is any kind of indication of what playing shape he's in, this whole conversation may become moot pretty fast.

Thought it was a great move when the Angels picked Bartolo. Still like the way the guy pitches...when he's able to pitch like he can. With the arm troubles of late last season and early this season, I think I'd wait on trading any of those other 5 starters until I was pretty doggone sure that Bartolo will hold up for another few seasons.
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