Monday, August 20, 2012

By Tanner Shurtz - Columnist

According to Cot’s baseball contracts the Angels have 151MM committed to this years payroll, with only 87.5MM committed to next years squad. The team’s payroll has risen just about every year and this offseason Arte Moreno has shown that he will spend lots of money to contend. Last offseason ownership said they could spend around 15MM…they went on to spend around 30MM, so with that and the new TV deal (which is worth 3 billion over 20 years), no one but the front office is really sure how much they can actually spend.

The team needs upgrades everywhere except the starting lineup; this would leave the rotation, bench and bullpen for upgrades. In the last article I addressed the Angels need in improving their bench, now its time for the rotation. So far the rotation has 2 set spots, being Jered Weaver and CJ Wilson, they also have 2 pitchers with options/buyouts, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana. My proposed rotation is this and I’ll tell you why:

#1 Weaver
#2 Wilson
#3 Greinke/Haren
#4 Richards/Enright/Williams
#5 Saunders

For the #3 spot in the rotation I have either Greinke or Haren, Haren’s option is for 15.5MM and Greinke is a free agent. A potential Greinke contract would be a little bit more than Matt Cain’s deal of 5 years/112.5MM, so it would be in the range of 6 years/132MM that’s an AAV (Annual Average Value) of 22MM but to make it so contract fits in the following year his first year would be 18MM. The reason I chose either is because we can either extend Greinke and buyout Haren (3.5MM) or let Greinke walk and have Haren for 15.5MM (which is 2.5MM less in the proposed Greinke deal). Also, you might have noticed Ervin Santana was left out, that’s because he is a very inconsistent pitcher and having a buyout of 1MM it’s pretty easy to let him go.

Now that we’ve gotten the money out of the way, let’s actually compare the two:

Zack Greinke 
Dan Haren 
Years pitched in MLB 
Career ERA 
Teams Pitched For 
Royals, Brewers, Angels

Cardinals, A’s, Dbacks,   
Pitches thrown 
four-seam fastball, cutter,  
2 seam fastball, curve, slider 
four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball, cutter,  
splitter, curve 
Career K/9 and BB/9  
9.0 and 2.3  
7.6 and 1.9  
Career Innings Pitched 
Past Injuries 
Social Anxiety/Depression 
Back problems 
Career WAR 
2011 ERA/Innings 
Worth Noting 
Hasn’t pitched 200 innings 
In a season since 2010 
Has pitched 7 consecutive 200+ innings 
Reasons for failure in 2012 
Adjusting back to life in the AL, had a  
“dead arm problem” before trade  
Deadline, was rested for around a week 
Very high BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play), l 
looks exactly like 2010 year with Dbacks and high  
walk rate.  
Closing statements 
Having not pitched 200 innings since  
2010 is alarming, though he did have 
great success with the Royals…would 
be expensive…I could go either way 
Haren’s ability to pitch 200+ innings, very durable,  
only has to be #3 pitcher on the team, can relax,  
cheaper than Greinke…I like Haren but I could go 
either way

As for the people who would be mad that we let Greinke walk and gave up three prospects for him: Segura was blocked by Aybar and Kendrick, Hellweg is high-risk, high-reward, and the same is for Pena. There is a very good chance that these prospects do not turn into stars, capable MLB starters? Maybe.

Now, for the #4 spot in the rotation, I see it as a battle in Spring Training. Enright was acquired before the non-waiver trade deadline in 2012 for cash or a PTBNL (player to be named later) and he is a decent pitcher. This 4th spot is Richards to lose, after being called up and sent down the last couple years, 2013 is his time to shine. I definitely see Richards locking up this spot with the other two competing for a long-man spot in the bullpen, but that’s another story. Richards ceiling as told by scouts is a #3 starter but most likely a #4 and he fits into that mold in this rotation perfectly. Other than Enright and Williams I don’t see any starter other than Nick Maronde making noise in Spring Training, but we’ll talk about him later.

Finally the 5th spot in the rotation, normally this spot is reserved for an inning eater, exactly what Joe Saunders is. Now you’re thinking…why bring back Saunders… or you might be rejoicing that someone else wants your favorite Angel back as well. There are many reasons why I like Saunders in this rotation: he’s cheap, innings eater, second lefty in the rotation, and he’s a stop-gag. In his four full seasons he has pitched almost 800 innings which is an average of 200 innings over 4 seasons, which is what an inning eater is supposed to look like. He would only cost around 5MM and he would only be there for one year because he’s a stop-gag for top prospect Nick Maronde.

Maronde, in his first year at Orem, pitched 46 innings, with a 2.14 ERA, 9.7 K/9, and a 2.9 BB/9 which is pretty good. In his second year he has pitched at Inland Empire (A+) and AA Arkansas (3 starts so far). At A+ he pitched 59 innings, with a 1.82 ERA, 9.1 K/9, and a 2.1 BB/9. He will pitch at AA Arkansas for the rest of 2012, he might get to pitch with the big league team during Spring Training in 2013, if not he will pitch at AA/AAA (I say AA because most of the talent in the minors is in the AA level) and I would not be surprised to see him called up in 2013 to either pitch in the rotation or the bullpen. By 2014 he will be a starter and depending on whether the Angels sign Greinke or Haren he could be the #3 starter in the rotation. Part three holds which additions to the bullpen the Angels need to make.

Note: It is now August 20th and Greinke and Haren have still been bad, the risk of signing Greinke long term is semi-high given how well he has pitched in the past while the risk of picking up Haren’s option would have high risk but he could also be a stopgag for a future Angels pitcher such as A.J Schugel. Though there is a good thing about Greinke’s pitching of late, is that it might shed a few million off his future contract. In the event that the Angels do want Haren back they will most likely decline his option and bring him back on a cheaper deal such as a one year 5-9MM contract. Another pitcher on the free agent market that could replace Greinke/Haren is Edwin Jackson (Boras Client); I would be interested in taking a flier on Shaun Marcum. Some trade options could be Matt Garza, Josh Johnson or Ricky Nolasco.
Love to hear what you think!

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