Castaways, Week 4: You Don't Even Want to See the AAA All-Star Rotation We Traded Away

One that got away.... - Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Sure, Mike Napoli is leading the majors in RBI & is on pace to hit 78 doubles, but even if we hadn't traded the guy for Vernon Wells (6th in the AL in Wins Above Replacement among position players!) he'd still have been a free agent by 2013, and our team doesn't exactly lack for gimpy first basemen. Yes, Jean Segura is still hitting .354, playing excellent defense, and leading the NL in stolen bases, but the truth is we have a pretty good double-play combo in their prime & signed through 2015.

OK, Ervin Santana is 3-1 with a 2.00 ERA, with 31 strikeouts and just 5 walks in 36 innings, top 10 AL in more than a dozen categories, but who wants to pay $13 million for a guy who looked like Joe Blanton in 2012, 2009, and 2007? All right, Kevin Gregg (Kevin Gregg!) had as many saves last week as Ernesto Frieri has this year, but, um, Kevin Gregg! Even the pain of seeing 23-year-old Patrick Corbin rip it up in Arizona this year (2-0, 1.71 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 20/7 K/BB in 26.1 IP), is tempered by the memory that Dirty Dan Haren gave us 1.5 years of stellar rotation work when we badly needed it.

No, if you want some undiluted pain over the Ones That Got Away, focus your attention at AAA, where today's pitching depth and tomorrow's aces are being readied for prime time.

First, let's meet the Angels rotation at Salt Lake. Quick, close your eyes, how many of them can you name? Unless you're rghan or someone, I doubt you'll get even three. I got two. Ranked by youngest to oldest (a decent proxy for future upside), they are A.J. Schugel, Orangel Arenas (both league-age 24), Matt Shoemaker (26), Barry Enright (27), and Billy Buckner (29).

24 AS 0-1, 7.54 ERA, 1.85 WHIP, 25/13 K/BB in 22.2 IP (5 starts)

24 OA 1-3, 7.98 ERA, 2.05 WHIP, 4/11 K/BB in 14.2 IP (4 starts)

26 MS 1-3, 3.46 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 17/4 K/BB in 26.0 IP (4 starts)

27 BE 1-2, 9.61 ERA, 1.78 WHIP, 20/8 K/BB in 19.2 IP (4 starts)

29 BB 3-1, 4.61 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 25/17 K/BB in 27.1 IP (5 starts)

The only real proof of life there is Matt Shoemaker, who is all of one month younger than Tommy Hanson, and whose career has always been dogged by doubts that he has big league stuff.

Now let's assemble a 5-man Angels Castaway rotation that is 100% younger than Matt Shoemaker. In order, that's Tylers Skaggs (21) and Chatwood (23), Will Smith (23), Johnny Hellweg (24), and Alex Torres (25):

21 TS 2-2, 5.40 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 20/9 K/BB in 21.2 IP (4 starts)

23 TC 1-0, 1.84 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 17/4 K/BB in 14.2 IP (3 starts)

23 WS 2-1, 2.45 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 31/6 K/BB in 22.0 IP (4 starts)

24 JH 1-2, 4.00 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 19/13 K/BB in 18.0 IP (4 starts)

25 AT 2-0, 1.29 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 29/6 K/BB in 21.0 IP (4 starts)

Chatwood (Chris Iannetta bait), Smith (the main price for our Alberto Callaspo reunion), and Torres (Scott Kazmir) have combined for 77 strikeouts against just 16 walks in 57.2 innings. In fact, Chatwood has already been called up as an injury replacement in the Rockies' rotation, and he just might stick. (Will Smith, too, got a taste of the bigs this past week, if only as unused double-header insurance for a day.)

This whole Castaways staff is more camera-ready right now, and considerably more likely to be ready for front-of-the-rotation gigs in 2014 and beyond, than is our meat-bag at AAA.

Win-now sure sucks when you don't win now!

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