Dan Haren and pals make up one of the game's best starting rotation, but if the Angels really want to stick it to the Rangers, they need more.
Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, C.J. Wilson, and Ervin Santana make for an imposing quartet, and the options for the fifth spot aren’t too shabby: Jerome Williams was the junior AL version of Ryan Vogelsong, and if he can’t get past his present hamstring pull, prospect Garrett Richards has terrific stuff.
(Terrific stuff is not the same as saying he can pitch: Though Richards’ fastball sits at 94-95 mph, his combined minors-majors strikeout 2011 strikeout rate was an unimpressive 6.4 per nine. Baseball America writes that, “Richards learned to sacrifice strikeouts for early-contact outs in 2011,” also known as “Famous last words.”)
My Baseball Prospectus and SiriusXM pal Kevin Goldstein zeroed in on the problem: “Richards doesn't have a plus secondary pitch, which allows hitters to sit on the fastball and prevents him from racking up the kind of strikeout totals his velocity would suggest.”
Whatever the talents of the front four, injuries happen, as do surprising changes in performance.
Note that a quick Google search has failed to turn up any “Complacency Sucks” T-shirts, so there’s a big opportunity out there for any of you who are feeling entrepreneurial—that’s a message that we all need to hear and that the Angels have apparently taken to heart in this instance. Their best pitching prospects are still down in the lower minors—100 mph-man Johnny Hellweg will start at Double-A and has a long way to go to show that he can aim that bullet.
As such, the Angels will be scouring the waiver wire for guys who don’t make their teams and then hope they never have to use them.
Morosi specifies that the Angels are not looking for “names” at this time, so that probably rules out overstock types such as Washington’s John Lannan ($5 million this year) and the Yankees’ Freddy Garcia ($4 million). Still, you can’t count on Williams whether he’s healthy or not—sure, he was 4-0 with a 2.31 ERA as a starter and has an arsenal he didn’t have when we last saw him, but all journeymen pitchers are guilty until proven innocent.
Given that the Angels and Rangers are locked in an eternal struggle, clutching at each other’s throats through time and space like that Lazarus guy in the old Star Trek episode, it would be terrific to see them add a veteran fifth starter as the next move in this game of brinksmanship.