Friday, January 24, 2014

By  Greg, Bearringer, Columnist -

The word around these parts is that Matt Garza is something of a contentious figure, with some wanting to sign the guy as a "not-too-rediculously-priced-#3-starter" and others wanting to avoid him because, well, "He's an injured douche." Of course, I have had almost no luck in figuring out why people have taken one (very unfortunate) thing he said and turning him into some clubhouse cancer-- other than, of course, that impeccable principal: "he always did seem like a douche." Anyway, Matt Garza has gone off to pitch in the ol' Midwest, strengthening the Brewers rotation in an inspiring bid to finish closer to third place than they did last year. 

The Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes was never the Halo's bag, especially since 7 years at $155 Million (with an opt out clause at three years) doesn't sound all that appealing for anyone without a Cy Young caliber MLB season under their belt. He would have been an excellent piece, probably, but the chance that he's something closer to Daisuke Matsusaka than Yu Darvish*  is large enough to make that price seem a little steep.

So here the Angels are: January something and they still only have about 4.5 persons in their rotation, depending on what you think of Mark Mulder.  Here are the options for the Angels in the wake of the most recent MLB shopping spree.

1. Sign one of the other "top" free agents. 

This option becomes more likely the closer we get to March and players and their agents start to get panicky. Ubaldo Jimenez, reportedly looking for $14 Million per year, is an intriguing option... in the same sense that "I wonder what a post-apocalyptic society would REALLY be like" is an intriguing thought. MLBTR pegged him at 3 years, $39 million; if his price tag goes down from that in both years and Average Annual Value, the Angels might become interested in giving him 10 starts or so to see if he is better than he was in all but the last 15 or so starts in Cleveland.

2. Sign an old friend

Option two is more appealing, but is also more expensive-- our old friend, Ervin Santana. Excellent in his stint in Kansas City last season, the question for the Halo's is straight forward: would Santana be jilted over his being traded last year, or would that be water under the bridge if the Angels pony up the dough?  He is, in my opinion, the best remaining option, but he might be out of the Angels price range.

3. Sign... someone less appealing

What do "Chris Capuano", "Bronson Arroyo", and "Paul Maholm" have in common? They are the remaining, 30+ year old veterans who could probably be signed for well under the $15 Million the Angels have remaining in their budget. They are all probably back end options in the AL West, and Capuano and Arroyo will at least eat up some innings. To my mind, this is the most likely option.

4. Go for a trade

This option is probably the least likely, given the way the Angels are constructed. They would have to get a #2 starter to part with Howie Kendrick, because their 2014 season is predicated on the offense being really good. I suppose they could move another piece and create some more room under the luxury tax (anyone want Chris Iannetta?), but it’s hard to see another team wanting to trade away a starter this late in the offseason, filling one hole but leaving another be filled with the aforementioned pieces. There is a chance we could get Jeremy Hellickson or something, but that seems a little too big of a gamble.

5. Build a bullpen from hell

This was more of an option when Grant Balfour was around, but the Angels could still sign Oliver Perez, take a flyer on Andrew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan or something, and give Mike Scioscia a bunch of options to throw at teams at the end of a game. Again, "Grant Balfour and Oliver Perez" would make this option more appealing, and THAT would have been an interesting strategy.

6. Go with what we've got

Ok, so we know that "Weaver-Wilson-Richards-Santiago" is probably set. The battle would be between zombie Mark Mulder and the very green Tyler Skaggs.  Is this option so bad?

No, it’s not.  But it isn't perfect. We could still see (insert foreboding music here) Joe Blanton play a significant role in the Halo's rotation plans. Come to think of it, the Halo's need for another starter is, to my mind, as much about keeping Blanton out of the rotation as it is about filling a "need.”  One would hope that "better than Joe Blanton" would not be all that high of a hurdle to clear, but since the man himself is on the team, we can't be too careful.

In conclusion, the smart money is on "veteran starter X" getting the first 10 starts in the gaping hole that is currently in the rotation.  Tyler Skaggs and Mark Mulder are back up options, which is another way of saying "a left-handed bag of mystery".  I'll take a  bold kick at the can and say that the Halo's third starter against the Mariners is one Mr. Bronson Arroyo. Given where we were last season, this isn't a bad thing at all.

* This isn't racially-based comparison, but an origin-based comparison.

Love to hear what you think!

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