Did somebody say pitching? Yeah, we all know the Los Angeles Angels have been woefully inadequate on the mound this year, with their 4.24 team ERA ranking 11th in the A.L., despite the fact that Angel Stadium is one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in the MLB.
Help hasn’t been on the way this season, but the winter should see plenty of clubhouse changes for the Halos, as there is sure to be a turnover in both personnel and management. Los Angeles will face some key decisions, such as how much they are willing to pay Mark Trumbo (though that particular decision will be made by a panel of arbitrators) and who, if anyone, they are willing to give up in order to land a solid starting pitcher.
Other than the obvious, high-profile decisions, GM Jerry Dipoto will also have to decide whether Jason Vargas will return to the mound next year for the Halos. Commanding an impressive $8.5 million salary this year, Vargas’ 2013 campaign has been a mixed bag. His season has been truncated due to a sudden blood clot in his left armpit, a condition that required immediate surgery and caused him to miss nearly two months.
The Angels should look at what Vargas did before the surgery; he was 6-4 with a 3.65 ERA (not too shabby), and, more crucially, he was the Halos’ only left-handed starter, other than C.J. Wilson. He hasn’t quite returned to form since coming back to the rotation in August, but it’s unfair to evaluate pitchers when they are making their first few starts after a long layoff.
Finally, Vargas’ injury this year means that Los Angeles should be able to lock him up for a very modest price, certainly less than the $8.5 million he commanded this year. Assuming the Angels find another pitcher, whether through a trade or through an overseas acquisition, there’s little harm in keeping Vargas as a fifth starter. Hey, it can’t be any worse than this year, can it?