Suboptimal: July 2009 Archives

I've been extremely busy lately with a big project at work, and it takes just about all the time I have to spare to follow the team each day. But, I did promise a breakdown of the pitching staff, to see who's pulling their weight and who's not. A disturbing trend is developing, namely, Angels starting pitching kind of sucks. No big deal while the offense is on an incredible high and pumping out 7-8 runs every night it seems, but you can't count on that lasting forever. Especially in the playoffs. Right now the Angels lead MLB in a stat that sounds good on paper but falls apart when you think about it: come-from-behind wins. Last night's 11-run blowout affair capped their 32nd in that department. But what a lot of come-from-behind wins usually mean is that crappy starting pitching is getting bailed out by the offense, and to a lesser extent, the bullpen. And that's pretty much where we stand at the moment. During their recent 35-game tear the typical game ends with a 7-5 Angels win. Those are steroid-era numbers. I may sounds unashamedly pessimistic for picking on the pitching when the team is doing so well, but I think my previous comments have been pretty high on the Angels all year, even when that wasn't cool. They're a good team, and I'm almost certain they'll win the West, which is why I'm especially bothered by the pitching in the playoffs. Now the numbers.

Name                    RAR   WAR  Worth   Paid  Value
Jered Weaver	       25.9   2.6  $11.8   $0.3  $11.5
John Lackey*           17.8   1.8   $8.1   $5.4   $2.7
Brian Fuentes	       10.6   1.0   $4.7   $4.9  -$0.2
Jose Arredondo	        8.2   0.8   $3.6   $0.2   $3.4
Matt Palmer	        7.3   0.7   $3.2   $0.2   $3.0
Shane Loux	        6.0   0.6   $2.8   $0.3   $2.5
Darren Oliver	        5.9   0.6   $2.6   $2.1   $0.5
Sean O'Sullivan	        3.7   0.4   $1.6   Neg.   $1.6
Joe Saunders            3.3   0.3   $1.4   $0.3   $1.1
Justin Speier           2.7   0.3   $1.2   $2.8  -$1.6
Ervin Santana           2.6   0.2   $1.1   $2.2  -$1.1
Kevin Jepsen            2.0   0.2   $0.9   Neg.   $0.9
Nick Adenhart           1.8   0.2   $0.9   Neg.   $0.9
Kelvim Escobar*         0.9   0.1   $0.4   $5.8  -$5.4
Dustin Moseley          0.8   0.1   $0.3   $0.3   Neg.
Jason Bulger            0.6   0.1   $0.3   $0.3   Neg.
Scot Shields           -0.5   0.0  -$0.2   $2.9  -$3.1
Rafael Rodriguez       -0.5   0.0  -$0.2   Neg.  -$0.2
Daniel Davidson        -0.6  -0.1  -$0.3   Neg.  -$0.3
Fernando Rodriguez Jr. -0.9  -0.1  -$0.4   Neg.  -$0.4
Anthony Ortega         -2.3  -0.2  -$0.9   Neg.  -$0.9
Rich Thompson	       -2.3  -0.2  -$1.0   Neg.  -$1.0
                       93.0   9.4  $41.9  $31.0  $10.9

Figures through 94 games.
* Salary includes a fraction of signing bonus. ** Neg. indicates a negligible sum.
Not a lot of surprises here. Injuries have forced the Angels to rely on replacement players who, coincidentally, pitch like replacement players. The difference in "worth" and "value" for the whole staff is made up almost entirely by Jered Weaver. Shields and Escobar are the two big losses, but Speier and Santana still have a chance to redeem themselves in the second half. I honestly don't see how this group of guys can pitch any worse than they have so far, so they have to get better, right?

There is good reason to believe this. The Angels have an average FIP (better than the Rangers, even) but a horrendous ERA, and the difference of the two is +0.20. Combined with a relatively high BABIP and low LOB%, it makes sense to conclude that the Angels have been a tad unlucky on balls in play. With improved health and better luck, they should do better. Today's ELO-adjusted odds give the Angels an 83% chance of winning the West, with an 87% playoff probability overall. I think in light of this, picking up an ace starter would have to be made with only the playoffs in mind, much like the Teixeira trade last year. No, I don't like the current pitching staff's chances in the postseason, but would I feel much better with Roy Halladay starting Game 2 of the ALDS than Jered Weaver? Not enough to sacrifice Weaver's arbitration years, as well as Brandon Wood and God knows who else. The playoffs are a crapshoot anyways, just look at the pitching staff that won the World Series last year. Some bullpen help might be in order, but the division won't be any easier to win next year, let alone the year after. My unprofessional recommendation for a blockbuster trade this year is just say no.

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