Is Weaver/Wilson/Richards/Vargas enough? …

Jered WeaverIt’s an impossible question to answer because so many factors surround it, like what bullpen additions are made, or what’s done about third base, or how the bench is upgraded, or who the fifth starter becomes, or even how Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton fare.

But it’s pretty simple in a vacuum: Do you feel good about the Angels’ rotation if Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Garrett Richards and Jason Vargas are the four best members of it?

For the vast majority of you on Twitter, the answer was a pretty resounding yes.

Recent memory no doubt played a big factor in that, because we’re finally starting to see some consistency out of the Angels’ rotation now that Weaver and Vargas are a part of it at the same time. Since Aug. 15, Angels starters have posted the fourth-best ERA in the Majors at 3.35 — and that was before Jerome Williams pitched 6 1/3 innings of two-run ball against the Rays. Vargas (8-6, 3.80 ERA) has a 3.57 ERA in his last four starts despite giving up five runs in four innings to the Rays on Tuesday; Weaver (9-8, 3.33 ERA) has given up four runs in his last 21 innings; Wilson (14-6, 3.35 ERA) is 7-1 with a 2.67 ERA since the 30th of June; and Richards (5-6, 4.06 ERA) has a 3.21 ERA in eight starts since taking Joe Blanton‘s spot in the rotation.

Kind of makes you wonder how things would’ve gone if Vargas (blood clot) and Weaver (broken non-pitching elbow) hadn’t missed a combined 18 or so starts due to fluky injuries. How different is the dynamic of this season? Heck, how different is the narrative regarding Mike Scioscia and Jerry Dipoto?

Regardless of what happens this offseason, the Angels will no doubt have non-tender decisions regarding Williams (slated to make about $3 million) and Tommy Hanson (roughly $4.5 million), and they may ponder whether or not to release Blanton (with $8.5 million remaining on his contract). But it’s one thing to try and acquire a fifth starter and additional depth, and it’s a whole other thing to try to acquire a mid-rotation starter that you truly feel comfortable sliding between Wilson and Vargas. Given the state of the Angels’ farm system, the dearth of starting pitching talent in free agency and the lack of payroll flexibility available for 2014 to begin with, it’s probably the difference between giving up a major offensive piece (Mark Trumbo, Peter Bourjos, Howie Kendrick, what have you) and not having to do so.

Having said all that, my opinion — while borrowing a line from George Clooney in Ocean’s Eleven — is they need one more.

Weaver, Wilson, Vargas and Richards can be as good as anyone in the league if right, but …

  1. Weaver loses a bit off his fastball every year.
  2. Wilson flirts with danger a lot.
  3. Vargas’ 3.94 ERA since the start of 2010 ranks 61st.
  4. Richards is 25 and has been inconsistent in the past.
  5. Here are the top five starting-pitcher ERA teams in baseball, respectively: Dodgers, Reds, Pirates, Tigers, Cardinals. What do they all have in common? Yep, they’re probably all going to the playoffs.

The Angels tried this year to counter a patchwork rotation with what they thought would be a deeper bullpen and a crazy-good offense. Perhaps if everyone stays healthy and Hamilton hits like himself, it works out. But it’s a risky proposition; a lot riskier than making starting pitching priority 1, 2 and 3. I think they need to get back to that this winter, and I think they need to do whatever it takes to beef up their rotation, even if it means sacrificing a little offense.

(Oh, and it’s probably a good idea to point out that resigning Vargas is no slam dunk. Both sides are interesting in a return, but the Angels will have competition and don’t have the means — or desire, really — to overpay.)

Jason VargasHere are some of your Twitter responses to whether you’d be satisfied with a front four of Weaver/Wilson/Richards/Vargas. My apologies if I didn’t get yours in …

@LAANGELSINSIDER: I think they would. Those 4 can got 7 solid most games. If the bullpen improves #Angels will be better overall.

@TurbosLady9493: Yes, if Richards can show a bit more consistency and less walks.

@memphiscds: Could live with it if we had young #5 and decent bullpen

@GareGare84: yes. At least they can hold the other team. Give our offense a chance to score.

@AJTheDon_: would’ve liked it alot more if that’s what it would’ve looked like at the start of the year

@Tanner_Shurtz: so much inconsistency for Richards, torn between 5th starter and RP… See what works out in ST

@SportsChicken: If they’re trying to compete for a championship, [heck] no. Otherwise, meh.

@JcHc3in1: I’d like to see them land a #2/#3 besides Vargas, or in addition to Vargas

@CJWoodling: Richards has Weaver-like elements in him. I could see him being as high as number 3 with a little work.

@DickMarshall: think Richards needs to start as #5. Need a solid (little risk- re: anti Hanson/Blanton) #3 or #4.

@OSBIEL: very satisfied. If they fix up the bullpen they should be fine w/ those four.

@anthony_mateos: yes. They give you a chance to win, that’s all you want.

@kwelch31: yes very. Plus a solid pitcher in a howie trade. That would work. Maybe hellikson or phil hughes.

@CDHartnett: he needs to be a 5th starter so he doesn’t have any pressure and can have a FULL season as a starter. No short leash.

@Brush_Ryan: perfectly happy with those 4 provided the add a legit #3 starter.

@pippin38: sign Garza or Kuroda and have Weaver Wilson Varges Garza/Kuroda Richards

@natetrop: In my opinion they need a solid #3 or top of the rotation arm to contend. Can’t have Richards as anything other than #5

@chrispower82: A decent 5th is still needed, but those 4 are a good start (and should’ve been our top 4 to start this year)

@CalderonEder: I’d say go after Kuroda or maybe find a trade partner for Trumbo for another legit starter

@AlexPVegas: If the Angels had the current rotation that they have now all year. We aren’t talking about the future.




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You can have CJ all you want

I agree with most, that would be a solid 4some. Would love to see them get a decent 5 or 3 or even 2 if possible. I expect we will see Bourjos traded (with the emergence of Shuck, Cowgill and Calhoun, too many outfielders). Probably will see Kendrick traded also, though I don’t like that as not thrilled with any of the replacements. Trumbo probably stays, but he needs to work on his pitch recognition big time. Conger will be the number 1 catcher next season.
Health will be a big part as I believe Williams goes. Not sure on Hansen as he seemed to get his velocity back this season, so if he can get his control, he could probably be that guy. We need Burnett healthy and I think our bullpen has finally settled in even if we don’t add to it. Sadly, looks like Cowart is still a year away at 3b.

we would need an extra pitcher that can be 1 or 2 in the rotation. i’m not sure any free agent starters can be that. maybe tanaka if he is posted by the npb team.

Four is not enough. This season has proven that in spades. Plus, the Angels need their first round draft pick.

Sign one of Vargas or Garza (both Cali kids that won’t lose the Angels their first rounder), and trade some combination of Kendrick, Trumbo and Bourjos for a David Price (who has only two years left, and whom the Rays will definitely be trading), or some frontline equivalent.

Time to trade SLG for pitching at this point, and hope for recovery in Pujols/Hamilton, and some future pop from Grichuk, Borenstein, Calhoun and others.

the angels need more than pitching. They should start thinking “Rebuild” with younger faster players as they tend to play like they have something to prove. Keep Trout, Weaver, Frieri, Shuck, Calhoun, Jimenez, and Green (just because my daughter thinks he’s hot) and deal the rest including Scioscia, who just seems to have lost the passion for the game imho. Maybe even rebuild the farm system while they are at it.

Angels are fine with 4 starters they have, Have to resign Vargas,Trade kendrick or Trumbo for a starting pitcher maybe has to be cost effective, Replace Butcher with Hershire have him work with Blanton and Hansen may be he gets one of them back on track,

The starting rotation is not close to being a post-season contender. THAT has to be the focus. And if that’s a good rotation for post-season, it will get them into the playoffs. Need at least one more VERY dominant arm in the rotation…at least one. And we need it to be a young arm, not another retiree. I agree with the poster who says trade kendrick for an good, solid arm.

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I think our problem is as much Butcher as who we have in the rotation and bullpen. Angels pitching has not been the same since Bud Black left. The staff as a whole walks too many and/or goes too deep into counts. Number 1 priority should be upgrading the pitching coach. Maybe Greg Maddox could be talked into it? He coached the US in the Classic so maybe he has an inkling to want to give it a try. Our guys need to be taught to pitch to contact more and trust the defense.

Angels should look to trade Bourjos and Kendrick to get more pitching. They cannot afford to trade Trumbo, they need him if Pujols continues to be injured. With some of these young guys producing as the Angels go on a tear, we need to bolster the pitching. Trout, Trumbo, Hamilton, Pujols are the untouchables… the rest, we can trade as there are replacements.

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