With C.J. Wilson having signed a five-year, $77 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, one could make a case that the Angels, whose starting rotation also includes Dan Haren, Ervin Santana and Jered Weaver, now have the best rotation in all of baseball.
Some, however, would probably disagree and argue that the Philadelphia Phillies still have a better starting rotation than the Angels.
The Phillies' staff is led by former Cy Young Award winners Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, and also features Cole Hamels and Vance Worley. The Phillies used this group to win the NL East in 2011, but lost to the eventual World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Division Series.
Going into the 2012 season, both the Angels and the Phillies have starting rotations with a lot of depth, and it will be interesting to see how both teams do. Regardless, the Angels are now better built for the long run than the Phillies.
Here are ten reasons why the Angels now have a better starting rotation than the Phillies.
With Roy Oswalt very unlikely to return to the Phillies, their rotation is now composed of a "Big Three" in Halladay, Lee and Cole Hamels.
Vance Worley could be included in this, but despite winning 11 games in his rookie season, he still needs to prove that he can be successful consistently over at least a three-year period. Should he do that, he could give the Phillies a "Big Four," but until then, the Phillies will have a "Big Three."
As for the Angels, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana, Jered Weaver and now C.J. Wilson have formed a "Big Four." All of these pitchers have proved their dominance within the past several seasons and should strike more fear into opponents than the Phillies' rotation.
Each of them will be expected to win more than ten games and one or two of them will likely eclipse 15 wins. Look for a lot of success for the Angels in 2012.
Okay, well maybe not every Angels starter is younger than every Phillies starter, but the core of the Angels' rotation is younger than the Phillies' core.
While Halladay and Lee are 34 and 33 years old, respectively, Wilson and Haren are each 31, while Weaver is 29 and Santana is 28.
Hamels is 27, but has been more inconsistent than any of these pitchers. Worley is 24, but is going to be an unproven second-year player despite his 11-win rookie season.
Halladay and Lee may have both signed long-term contracts with the Phillies, but when they reach the end of their primes, all four of the Angels' pitchers will still be in their primes. As a result, the Angels' rotation will last longer.
The Phillies' current rotation should remain dominant for around another two or three seasons before age begins to catch up with Halladay and Lee. On the other hand, the Angels' rotation should be able to successfully last at least five or six seasons, as long as all four pitchers stay with the team.
Despite the fact that the media in Los Angeles is much larger than it is in Philadelphia, the Angels' 2012 rotation will not be under the same amount of pressure that the 2011 Phillies experienced.
When Lee decided to take a pay cut and sign with the Phillies over teams like the Yankees and Rangers before the 2011 season, the Phillies were instantly expected to win the World Series simply because their pitching staff consisted of him, Halladay, Hamels, Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton.
The Phillies were the overwhelming favorites to win the 2011 World Series at the beginning of the season simply because Halladay and Lee have both been so dominant.
The Angels now will also be in the hunt to win the 2012 World Series, but their division rival, the Texas Rangers, have won the past two AL pennants and getting past them in the division will not be an easy task.
And even though the Angels just signed Albert Pujols to bolster their offense, the 2011 Phillies had a better overall lineup than the 2012 Angels' current roster.
Prior to the 2010 season, Halladay agreed to a three-year, $60 million contract extension through 2013 after being traded by the Blue Jays to the Phillies. A year later, Lee signed with the Phillies for five years and $120 million.
That's around $64 million that the Phillies have left to pay just for two pitchers.
Despite Wilson's new five-year, $77 million deal, the Angels only have Haren right now on the books for $12.75 million in 2012 with a $15.5 million option for 2013. Weaver in August signed a five-year, $85 million extension to stay with the Angels and Santana will make $11.2 million in 2012 with a $13 million option for 2013.
These four pitchers together will be making less than the combination of just Halladay and Lee's salaries in 2012.
With Albert Pujols widely considerd baseball's best hitter over the last decade, the fact that the Angels signed him to a 10-year contract will definitely remove a good amount of pressure from the Angels' rotation.
Pujols' status around baseball will be large enough to make the Angels' "Big Four" not feel like the team completely depends on them to get to the postseason. Even after Wilson signed his new contract with the Angels, most of the media headlines were still focused on the Pujols signing.
The Angels in this offseason have significantly upgraded their offense with the signing of Albert Pujols and the expected return of Kendry Morales. They will join an already strong young core consisting of of Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo, plus veteran outfielders such as Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells.
As a result, the Angels will now have an explosive offense that should be capable of scoring a lot of runs, and this can only benefit the pitchers. They will not be nervous and try to pitch perfect games every day. If pitchers get nervous, they are likely to lose their command, which could result in bad performances.
Angels Stadium is not necessarily a pitcher's park, but it is also not known as a big-time hitter's park compared to other stadiums. One stadium that is widely known as a hitter's park is Citizen's Bank Park, home of the Phillies.
With that being said, the Angels' pitchers will definitely feel more confident and comfortable with pitching at home, unlike the Phillies' starters, whom despite their recent dominance are always prone to giving up big home runs in a park like Citizen's Bank.
One big reason why the Angels should do very well in 2012 is because they play in a less competitive AL West division.
Sure, the Rangers are there and winning the division will not be easy by any means, but the Athletics and especially the Mariners will not be expected to contend in the division. Furthermore, there is a good chance that both the Angels and Rangers could make the postseason if the team that doesn't win the division wins the Wild Card.
On the other hand, the Phillies have had and will still have to deal with a more competitive NL East that includes the Braves and Marlins. Both of these teams will likely contend for a postseason berth and even the Nationals could make a case for themselves if everything goes right for them.
If the Phillies want to win the NL East once again, they will need a lot of pitching success beyond just Halladay and Lee.
Another luxury that the Angels have with their rotation is that most of their starters have proved to stay consistently healthy in their careers.
Haren has made at least 33 starts in every season since 2005. Weaver has made at least 28 starts in each season since 2007 and has yet to make a trip to the disabled list. Wilson has not been on the disabled list at all since 2006, and made 33 starts in 2010 and 34 starts in 2011 after becoming a starting pitcher.
The only pitcher on the Angels who has had some sort of history with injuries is Santana, who missed a good chunk of the 2009 season. Other than that, Santana has made over 30 starts in each season he's played except 2005, inlcuding 23 starts and 2007.
The Phillies' starters have also proven to be healthy for many years, but the point is that Halladay and Lee are both so much more valuable than Hamels and Worley.
In other words, should either Halladay or Lee get injured for a month or two, it could dramatically affect the Phillies, while if one of the Angels' starters gets hurt, the Angels will be better off because their top four starters are more balanced when being compared to one another.
Not having Santana on the active roster won't hurt the Angels as much as losing Halladay would hurt the Phillies.
In 2011, Haren, Santana and Weaver were all among the league leaders in innings pitched.
Haren pitched 238.1 innings, Santana had 228.2 and Weaver finished with 235.2. That is a total of 701.5 innings between just three pitchers, which is amazing for today's standards.
Add the 223.1 innings that Wilson had last season for the Rangers and that is 924.6 innings all together. That's almost 103 total games for just four starters, which is a nice luxury for a team's bullpen to have because if a bullpen gets overworked, it's almost always a sign that the team is going to struggle.
If all four stay healthy in 2012, the group could certainly put up similar if not better numbers next season.
On the other hand, Halladay finished with 233.2 innings pitched and Lee was right behind him with 232.2.
However, despite those amazing numbers, notice the difference between them and the Phillies' other two starters. Hamels had 216 innings pitched, which is nice, but should not viewed in the same light as someone whose innings totals are in the 220s or 230s.
The biggest difference, though, is Worley. Despite having 11 wins in his rookie season, Worley only pitched 131.2 innings in 2011. As a result, he has yet to prove that he can pitch a lot of innings for an entire season. The Phillies' rotation will not stack up to the Angels' rotation until Worley can show that he can stay healthy, win more than just 11 games and pitch well over 200 innings in 2012 and beyond.