April 16, 2013

This staff has "priors"

I’m going to ask the big question...  Will the Joe Blanton signing for two years and $15 million be among the worst in Angels Baseball history?  It’s a legitimate question at this point, isn’t it?  Face it – when the one thing people tout about you is that you’re an “innings eater” – there’s probably not a lot of upside to what you can bring to the table.

Meet Joe Blanton – “innings eater” and all around good guy.  This is a guy who gave up 29 homeruns (something else he’s known for) last season in the National League.  Not the best quality in a starting pitcher, wouldn’t you say?  These are the things we all knew going into the season.

As spring rolled around, we also heard a lot about his workout regime.  We even heard he was “in the best shape of his life.”  He lost 30 pounds.  And while that’s all well and good – what about his pitching?  All I can tell you that so far, this season – it’s bad; in fact, it’s monumentally bad and that's a phrase I haven't used since Jeff Mathis departed.

I mean what did we expect from a guy who had a 4.71 ERA last year and a 5.01 ERA the year before that?  For all the good things Jerry Dipoto has done so far – this signing is looking very Tony Reagins-esque.   Blanton has an 8.59 ERA so far… Granted it’s early – but our “innings eater” hasn’t gone beyond 5 innings yet; which is probably a good thing because there is no telling how high his ERA would be if he did.

Blanton has given up six homeruns in 14.2 innings thus far.  He’s on pace to give up about 10,000 homeruns at this point - give or take a hundred.

Meanwhile, the Angels passed on Kyle Lohse; heck, they even passed on Joe Saunders.  Saunders had a rough debut for the Mariners (giving up 4 earned runs in 4 innings), but hasn’t given up any runs in his 13.1 innings since his season debut.  Who else did the Angels pass on?  How about Carlos Villanueva (Cubs – 0.64 ERA thus far), Ryan Dempster (Red Sox – 2.65 ERA thus far), and Jeremy Guthrie (Royals – 3.55 ERA thus far) among others?  We're not talking Zack Greinke here - we're talking about others who are more than serviceable.  

For me - Joe Blanton was a bottom-of-the-barrel guy.  Not a guy you sign in December when so many other better options were available.

And to think they traded away Ervin Santana, who is spotting a nice 2.45 ERA after three starts to go along with 19 K’s in 22 innings.  Now that’s an innings eater.  Granted, Santana made us all crazy with his inconsistency - but at least he was great some of the time.

The pitching has been frustrating to watch so far.  Only Garret Richards has made it into the 7th inning.  When I think about all those years where good to great Angels pitching was wasted with a mediocre offense, it makes me crazy.  To make matters worse it will be a good 4-6 weeks before Jered Weaver comes back.

It’s hard for an offense to get going when it finds itself down after one inning every game (or what seems like every game).  It’s exceptionally discouraging for fans to watch.   I mean even the Marlins starting rotation has a 3.52 ERA thus far. 

Maybe the staff will find its groove.  Maybe Joe Blanton will be the innings eater he’s been advertised to be.  Maybe… maybe… maybe…   I have a friend name Dan  who loves to use the term “priors” (he's a police detective, of course).  It’s a great way to judge a person based on what they've done in the past and it's a great way to make a point.  Whenever someone tries to get away with something, Dan would say - "You've got priors."

Well… Blanton has priors (for a high ERA and for giving up tons of homeruns); Tommy Hanson has priors for diminished velocity and a high ERA in 2012; Jason Vargas has priors for giving up a whopping 35 homeruns last year; and C.J. Wilson has priors for giving up too many free passes to batters.  It’s hard to feel optimistic about this rotation when all of them have a history for poor performances.

A lot has to change for this rotation to be good.  That makes me nervous.  There’s a lot of “if this – then that” in this group.  The Angels need career bests from some of these guys.  Heck, even something that’s just slightly better than their career averages would help.  I hate that because there’s not a lot of hope in that.

I hope (there's that word again) they prove me wrong.  I hope we get to October and marvel at the job Dipoto did to put this staff together.  I just don’t have much faith in that happening.

In the meantime, I’m going to break one of my rules and actually make a trade suggestion… How about Bud Norris of the Astros?  How about Luis Jimenez  for Norris?  Jimenez has made a very impressive debut at the major league level, but with Kaleb Cowart just a couple years away – Jimenez might be expendable (they both play 3B). 

You see that?  I’ve been reduced to making trade proposals after just 13 games. I'm as bad as those callers who throw out crazy ideas to Terry Smith on the radio after a game.  Good grief.  

1 comment:

  1. Bob from section 514April 20, 2013

    You are spot-on about Blanton. My son and I said the same thing as soon as he was acquired. That signing would have been a head scratcher at half the price. But I can't tell you how much I enjoyed Tommy Hanson's outing last night. He didn't have great stuff and was in trouble almost every inning but he showed the fortitude to make big pitches when they were needed. He's also a fast worker which is a huge plus for me. It was obvious to me that Hanson understands the craft of pitching (which I'm sure is a product of his days with the Braves), and more importantly, he has tons of heart. He looked in control all night despite all the walks & hits. Just compare his body language to, say, Ervin Santana of years past. If Hanson can stay far away from Mike Butcher I expect good things from him this season.