Mike Scioscia: Angels need pitching
DALLAS -- Although offering little insight into his team's apparent pursuit of free-agent left-hander C.J. Wilson, the top starting pitcher available in this winter's market, Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia conceded at baseball's winter meetings on Tuesday that his pitching-rich club still needs to add depth to its rotation.
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"We need to get deeper," Scioscia said. "I know you look at (Jered Weaver) and Danny Haren and Ervin Santana, and it sounds like you are getting greedy. But you need five guys going out there during the season to give you a chance to win. Right now, we have an incredible playoff rotation. But you need a full rotation to give you a chance to get there."
While new Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto is believed to covet Wilson, who since moving from the Texas Rangers bullpen to their starting rotation two winters ago has gone 31-15 with a 3.14 ERA, Scioscia said Dipoto is still looking at a long list of names in his effort to improve the Angels pitching staff.
"Pitching depth ... is something I know is weighing very heavily on a lot of things Jerry is considering," Scioscia said. "I think you will see us move toward that direction, whether it is C.J. Wilson or whether it is some other things like getting creative with some trades."
Scioscia did specifically address Wilson's long-range projections, saying that because he didn't become a full-time starter until 2010, he could have more years left in his arm than a pitcher who just turned 31 normally would.
"He has really taken off with getting the opportunity to start," Scioscia said. "It maybe took him a while to find his niche, but that is where he is best suited. Even though he has (started) two years, that gives him a little less wear and tear on his arm pitching as a starter than some other guys. And being left-handed, I think the prospects are of him being able to continue to adapt and be effective even when there is maybe a little velocity that might tail off when you get into the mid-30s, that he still would have the functionality of being a good pitcher."
Scioscia also addressed the current status of first baseman Kendrys Morales, who still hasn't played in the majors since suffering a broken tibia on May 30, 2010 -- the injury required a second surgery a year later to remove scar tissue, ending any hopes club officials had that Morales would return in 2011.
"We are monitoring his workouts closely," Scioscia said. "He is in Arizona, swinging the bat, and he will get into baseball activities as we get a little down the road this month. I haven't seen him run yet. Swinging in the cage, everything looks good. I think last year, we had such a confidence that he was coming back that I think we want to just tread lightly on this one and make sure that he is along before you start to get excited about it."
Scioscia admitted he was somewhat concerned about the long layoff for Morales, but not overly so, and that Morales' physical health is still the primary issue.
"There are going to be some adjustments he is going to have to make when he starts to see velocity, but you're not talking about a guy that hasn't played in five years," Scioscia said. "You are talking about a guy who has missed a year and a half. Sure, there are going to be some timing issues, but this guy is a hitter, and his skills are there. His bat speed is there. He was swinging the bat very well last year when he was approaching the day where he thought he could come into spring training well."
Scioscia wouldn't specifically address rumors the Angels might be pursuing right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, a free agent whose four-year run with the Los Angeles Dodgers clearly is over with the cash-strapped Dodgers having signed free-agent lefty Chris Capuano last week and a deal with free-agent right-hander Aaron Harang done pending a physical exam.
"There is a list of names on that list," Scioscia said. "Where it shakes out is going to be the way that Jerry can put this together."
Tony Jackson covers MLB for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
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