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Is There a Solution to the Ervin Santana Crisis?

It is obvious that Angels management has LONG identified Ervin Santana as the pitcher that will not carry his weight with this team. Through some formula of analyzing and assuming, they have pegged him as a future Ramon Ortiz in Pedro Martinez clothing.

They thought they were rid of him last July to Baltimore, but Pruneface Angelos nixed the deal. At the start of the year, they cemented him in the rotation as a bluff to the league that he was a budding superstar. It was an audition with time on our side. But the time bomb has long since popped. Ervin's flashes of brilliance cannot mask his road-wimp inadequacies. The bloom is off the rose.

The Angels won't be packaging him with a prospect for Tejada-like skill this season, not unless they cut the asking price, up the caliber of the prospect or find a team more desperate and stocked than the Pee-Pee's Baltimore bunch.

At this maddening juncture, it is not a question of IF Ervin Santana goes to Triple A, it is simply a question of when.

And therein lies the biggest problem...
Ervin was called up to the big club in 2005 from AA. He has only started three career games in the High Altitude AAA Pacific Coast League. In 19 AAA innings his ERA was 4.19, with 2 HRs surrendered. The type of pitcher he is - fastballs yielding flyballs or strikeouts - does not align well with most PCL parks, whose atmospheric conditions put a little speed and height on balls leaving bats. The numbers Ervin is likely to compile in the PCL will be worse than the ones he compiles on the road in the big leagues, and nowhere in the PCL is there is a marine-layer sodden field like Anaheim at night to hold the ball down. Ervin's numbers, and thus his trade value, will deflate in AAA. The possible psychological damage there could completely derail his career.

Add to this the assumption on the part of many fans is that Joe Saunders will immediately pitch superior to Ervin - which is understandable as some of us have grandmothers who could have kept the Angels in the game today relative to Santana's contributions - but if Saunders swaps clubs with Ervin and cannot put together a string of quality starts, we have lost trade value in two previously valuable starting pitchers. Sending Ervin to Triple A could have a negative domino effect on this club acquiring any player of consequence nearing the trade deadline.

A solution to the "Ervin Problem" is not needed immediately, as Ervin's next scheduled start in Tuesday night at home against Seattle. His following start is a June-gloom Noon start at home on a Sunday against Baltimore. So we will know more after the June 8 interleague contest, when VooDoo's turn in the rotation occurs in St. Louis.

The Angels should begin a program of stretching out Dustin Moseley with the idea of using him in Santana's spot in the rotation. Ervin should be notified that he has three starts left to get it together or he goes to the bullpen.

Moseley is a starter by trade and has shown flashes of his own magic here this season. With closer tutelage of the major league staff and without the stigma of demotion, Ervin might be able to work out his pitching inconsistencies in long relief at the major league level, while the Angels salvage the best trading options they currently hold.

What do you think?