Monday, April 30, 2012
Can the Angels find relief in Triple A?
By Mark Saxon
Through a quirk of the schedule, the Angels play the Minnesota Twins nine times in the first five weeks of the season, including tonight through Wednesday. Since Minnesota is one of only two teams in the American League with a worse record than the Angels, you would think that might offer some relief.
But so far this season, the Angels have lost series to the Kansas City Royals (6-15), Twins (6-15), Oakland A's (11-12) and surprising Cleveland Indians (11-9). They've lost to good teams, too, including the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays.
It really is a case of -- as Mike Scioscia frequently says -- not who they're playing or where they're playing but how they're playing. You're not going to win many games with the No. 13 offense in the American League and one of the shakiest bullpens in baseball. That's a poor combination, like building a bridge out of toothpicks and hoping it holds.
There's not a lot the Angels can do about a dysfunctional offense other than cross their fingers and hope Albert Pujols is standing at the low point of his season and, yeah, his career. They've already made the one appreciable move to stir the offense to life by calling up phenom Mike Trout and releasing Bobby Abreu.
What's left to stir the pot? Angels relievers have a 5.26 ERA, two saves and six blown saves. It seems that might be an area of focus.
Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto isn't going to find any All-Star relievers sitting in their living rooms waiting for the phone to ring or dangled by teams in the trade market this early, but he might have some solutions closer at hand. David Pauley, signed to a minor-league deal in March, has some major-league experience, a 2.57 ERA and 1.36 WHIP at Triple-A.
A bolder move would be to recall the team's best pitching prospect, Garrett Richards, insert him into the major-league rotation and hope that Jerome Williams could give you a reliable seventh- or eighth-inning option. Richards is 3-1 with a 2.64 ERA at Salt Lake and arguably out-pitched Williams in spring training.
It may smack of panic, but if I were the Angels, I think I'd want to get all hands on deck pretty soon.