Tuesday, October 9, 2007

By Sean Scanlon - Angelswin.com Columnist

So, now that you’ve had a chance to soak up my brilliant analysis (editor’s note…what a jackarse) of the 2007 postseason that abruptly wasn’t, let’s take a deeper look at the 2007 in general, and what it potentially tells us about the Angels moving forward to 2008. I’m not going to get in to deep statistical analysis, there’s plenty of people who can do that and personally if I wanted to spend all day looking at stats I would have stuck with engineering in college instead of drinking and chasing skirts.

In today’s edition of Red’s 2007 Season Analysis we shall start with pitching. Why? Because it's my posting and I can do what I want. (As you’ll see, there are a lot of B’s…which I think is appropriate. For the most part the Angel pitching was above average and not spectacular).

Projections called for the Angels to be one of the elite staffs from top to bottom in all of baseball. Outstanding seasons from Lackey and Escobar helped at the front-end, but it’s safe to say the Angels did not necessarily get what they were looking for from the bottom of the rotation in guys like Colon and Santana. Overall the Angels starting staff was solid, kept the team in games, and at the end of the season was considered one of the deepest in the AL.

The bullpen, a stalwart of Angel teams past, was brilliant to start the season but down the stretch slumped and is probably one of the biggest off-season questions for the Halos moving forward.

The Starters

John Lackey A+ - 2007 was the year Lackey became the ace many thought he could be, leading the AL in era and finishing just shy of the 20 win mark (thanks bullpen!). With a free and easy throwing motion there is no reason to believe John won’t continue to be one of the top starters in the AL and a regular contender for the Cy Young.

Kelvim EscobarA+ - Kelvim also harnessed his lofty abilities and could easily be considered 1A on the Halos staff, making Stoneman look like a genius for signing him to a below market extension. But, unlike Lackey, there are still questions regarding Kelvim and his on-going health. Knee and shoulder injuries sidelined Kelvim for brief periods and unless he finds GMJ’s magic pouch you have to expect he is going to continue to be sidelined in the future as he gets older. I would still project him to be a mainstay in the Angel rotation and one of the top starters in the AL.

Jered WeaverB – Jered had a solid second season as he started to make adjustments, as the league made adjustments to him. I would no longer consider him a top of the rotation guy, but he looks to be a solid #3 starter in the bigs. Concerns have arisen as Jered seemed to lose velocity at times during the year and also experienced some shoulder issues. Jered admits coming in to the 07 camp out of shape which led to him missing a few starts to miss the year and may have contributed to the decreased velocity. Jered’s off-season assignment…get your arse in shape and stop hanging out with Deion Sanders.

Joe SaundersB – Saunders showed that he belongs in the bigs and can be a nice change of pace guy who can win 12+ games a year while eating up innings. Extra credit goes to Joe for keeping his head while on the Salt Lake shuttle. Moving forward, unless he’s part of a trade, I would expect Joe to settle in to a bottom of the rotation role for the Halos and break camp…wearing Halo red instead of that funny looking Salt Lake Bees cap.

Bartolo ColonF - The less said about Bartolo Colon the better…but I wish him well pitching for Tampa Bay next year. Florida all you can eat restaurants…you’ve been warned.

Ervin SantanaD- - And as for Ervin…Ervin…Ervin…Ervin…such a tease. You flash those legs and…sorry, wrong thread. So much potential, so young, and yet he continues to implode. Going in to 2008 that is going to be a huge question for the Halos. I think this is a nice topic for further discussion later in the year.

Overall starters grade: B


Frankie RodriguezB – Absolutely dominating in the first half…with some struggles in the second half. The league is on to Frankie and unless he begins to control his fastball it’s going to be another year of high-wire acts for the Halos. To be effective Frankie needs to use his devastating slider and when he can’t control his fastball teams have learned to lay off that pitch. Maybe the biggest question going in to the off-season…what to do about Frankie?

Scot ShieldsC – This might be a little harsh as Scot was nails in the beginning of the year but looked like a completely different pitcher late in the year. This grade is more of a reflection on comparing Scot to his past performance. Is he worn down or is this just a mechanical issue? More than anyone I think Scot missed Bud Black this year and hopefully, with time, Mike Butcher will get on the same page with Scot. Scot’s troubles at the tail end of this year also play in to any discussion regarding Frankie’s future as his 4 yr. deal was done in part to give the Angels some cushion if they decided to part ways with Frankie in the upcoming years.

Justin SpeierB – Probably Stoneman’s best off-season signing Justin came down with a mysterious illness (folks…stay away from Kotchman!) early in the season. But overall he did a solid job in the setup role and looks like he could be a solid bullpen man, and even close if required.

Darren OliverF/A- - Darren really deserves two grades. The first half of the season he was a candidate for a death pool…but he suddenly found the fountain of youth and was a completely different pitcher the second half of the year, showing the ability to be a situational guy as well as eat up middle relief innings. As he reached his appearance clause he’ll be a welcome returnee to the Halo bullpen next year at a reasonable cost.

Dustin MoselyB- - Thrust in to a starting role early in the season due to injuries…and then in to a setup role when Speier went down, Dustin had a solid season for the Halos. As the season wore on, Dustin’s performance became a bit erratic. Overall it was a solid season for Dustin who looks like he could be a decent middle relief guy for the Halos or have some value on the trade market as he could start for many teams in the league who suck.

Chris BootchekB- - In reality he gets extra credit for his perseverance. Left off the Angels 40 man roster he easily could have left with his tail between his legs and caught on with one of the AAAA teams in the league. Instead he decided to recommit himself and show the Angels he had what it takes. Sporting a 94mph fastball, with little to no movement, if Chris isn’t hitting his spots he gets lit up. Probably nothing more than a middle of the pen type of guy he adds nice depth.

The Salt Lake Crew – Throughout the year various guys were called up to add depth to the pen. Frankly, none of the callups made you stand up and say “wow” and you wouldn’t necessarily expect any of them to push their way in to the bullpen next year without improvement. Two candidates who could be considered for the 2008 pen include Rich Thompson, who has a nice fastball (which is straight as an arrow at times) and Jason Bulger who has fantastic movement, but can’t throw strikes consistently.

Overall Bullpen Grade: B

What the Future Holds

I’ll regale everyone with my thoughts on 2008 later, but just some quick musing on the future of the Halo staff (which are likely to change).

From a starter’s standpoint the Angels are well set for 2008. The biggest question will be what to do with Ervin and do the Angels need to part with a guy like Saunders in order to bring in a bat. But experience tells us the staff is pretty much set. Lackey, Escobar, Weaver, Saunders and most likely Santana or a veteran brought in to provide depth if the Angels have lost all faith in Ervin. Dustin Mosely could be given an opportunity as well, but the reality is he is nothing more than a swing guy on this club. The wildcard is Nick Adenhart, who most likely will start the season in AAA and could be on the Joe Saunders frequent flier program next year.

The bullpen is really where the Angels have the most questions next year pitching wise, and those questions revolve around the two biggest locks going in to the 2007. What are the Angels going to do with Frankie? Does he warrant a long-term commitment or is he the chip you use to bring in a bat? Will Scot regain his form? Could Scot or Justin handle the closer’s role if Frankie is sent packing? Is Bootchek more than a middle relief arm? Do the Angels have faith that someone from the Salt Lake crew could step up or do they sign another veteran free agent? If there are any significant changes in the Angels pitching staff, this is where you will see it happen.

Next stop…the Angels 2007 offense…”Bill doesn’t dig the longball”…

Love to hear what you think!


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