The Angels’ Dilemma
Jered Weaver might get demoted following Tuesday night’s start against the Royals, despite his superb outings for the Angels so far, and that after dominating at Triple-A Salt Lake. However, Bartolo Colon is due back from the DL at the end of the week, although his final tuneup at Salt Lake didn’t go so well: three homers and only one strikeout over seven innings. Strictly on the merits, Weaver should stick in the rotation, but there are some other considerations that may dictate why he could get sent down.
- Logistics: If Weaver is to stick in the rotation, who moves to the bullpen? Certainly Colon and John Lackey aren’t going anywhere. That leaves the choice between Kelvim Escobar, Jeff Weaver, and Ervin Santana. Escobar just signed a big contract extension, so while he’s shown he’s capable of pitching well in relief, he’s not likely to do so. Santana shouldn’t be moved at this stage of his development, and is pitching well right now anyhow. That leaves Jeff Weaver, who has lowered his ERA by 1.25 runs over his last five starts, which nevertheless still leaves him with a 6.15 ERA. He’s the obvious choice to move out of the rotation in terms of performance, and he’s had some experience working out of the bullpen, for the Yankees in 2002 and 2003.
- Possibility of a Trade: Jeff Weaver signed a one-year deal when he joined the Angels, so if they were looking to trade him, his contract wouldn’t likely be a huge impediment. However, if they’re going to have any chance on finding a taker for his services, chances are they’d have to keep him in the starting rotation to showcase him. He’s the only likely trade candidate among the Angels starters.
- Likelihood of Playoffs: Even though the Angels are seven games below .500, they’re still only 5.5 games behind the first place Rangers in a very winnable AL West. Jered Weaver gives them the best chance to compete right now, but are they looking more towards the future? Their farm system is loaded with prospects very close to being ready right now, and others are already contributing at the major league level. It could be very tempting for them to “make one more run” at the division by sticking with the veterans.
- Service Time: When Jered Weaver held out after the draft, one of the sticking points was for him to get a major league contract along with his signing bonus. He failed in that endeavor, settling for a minor league contract instead. Because of that, he didn’t burn up his first option until this year, when the Angels called him up, and his service time clock didn’t start until then. If the Angels send him back down for any appreciable amount of time, they can avoid having him become arbitration-eligible after the 2008 season as a “Super-Two” player. In a way, their recent losing streak helps push them in that direction, because it takes away the need to have him pitch for the big league club right now.
I had a strange week in the AL BP-Kings Scoresheet League. I went 5-2 despite losing the first two games of the week to division- and league-leader Nate Silver. That’s not especially noteworthy, but my roster circumstances made it at least worth mentioning.
For those of you who have been following previous articles about the league, you already know how incredibly deep we drill down in a 12-team, AL-only league with 35-man rosters. Very nearly every player on a major league roster was drafted, and those who had made it up in the first six weeks of the season were subsequently snagged in our only transaction period. This is a very long-winded way of saying that I have paper-thin depth on my team, particularly in the outfield. Thus, when I lost Jay Gibbons and Craig Monroe to injuries, my reserve picks of Todd Hollandsworth and Matt Lawton weren’t quite going to do the trick. I ended up getting 27 plate appearances from the dreaded OF-1B AAA player this past week, including one game (that I won) where he started in two slots in my lineup. Prior to this week getting enough at-bats hadn’t been a problem, but it shows how vulnerable I am.
The other interesting aspect of the week (to me, at least) was the line I got from Felix Hernandez. I used my first-round draft pick on him, at the #12 spot overall. Even though the naysayers on the pick have been right so far, both according to my projections and other Hernandez projections I’ve seen, he was clearly the right pick at the time. Anyhow, he finally had a big week last week, so I was looking to see how it would translate in Scoresheet. I came away a little disappointed:
Plane IP H R ER BB K -------------------------------- Reality 16 10 3 3 2 14 Scoresheet 17 12 8 7 4 17
I realize that Scoresheet (or any other simulation game) can’t match exactly what a player has done in a given week. I’m not even that upset at the difference. A lot can be explained by the fact that in one of his starts, I had OF-1B AAA in the starting lineup, and in the other, I had him and his twin brother, 1B-OF AAA, starting for me. Not only do these players hurt you at the plate, but they also have worse defensive numbers than pretty much anyone you can stick out there.
This shows how much one start can be altered with the smallest of changes. The takeaway here is to focus on the big picture when you’re looking at the results of your pitchers–focus on the true outcome stats, like strikeouts, walks and homers.