First a bad elbow.  Then a sore forearm.  Now its aching triceps.

It’s official, Ervin Santana’s arm is falling apart and the Angels need to be very worried.  This is now Santana’s second DL stint and for the second time the Angel staff is acting like they are not concerned.  Sure, why would you be concerned about a pitcher with persistent arm pain, swelling and soreness who has lost five miles per hour off of his fastball?  Move along, nothing to see here, right?

Ervin Santana

Um, yeah, not so much.

The Angels insist that they will give Santana a look again in another 10 days or so to see if he is feeling better.  I am going to go ahead and insist that they start looking for a more permanent replacement for their young ace.

The Angels appear to already be living on borrowed time with Matt Palmer in the rotation and now their fallback plan for Santana is Sean O’Sullivan, who hadn’t thrown a single pitch above Single-A ball prior to this season.  Expecting him to be anything other than a short-term stand-in is just plain foolish.  Beyond that, all the Angels have as a back-up option is Shane Loux who has proven that he is not starter material either.  So what exactly are the Angels going to do about it?

As usual, it seems they are content to sit on their hands.  It is just what they do.  Halo management showed that they at least held some concern over Santana’s health by going to scout Pedro Martinez at a private workout, but then promptly made a point of letting the world know that they have no intention of signing Pedro.  This was the exact same party line Reagins and his cronies spouted to start the season when the Angel rotation was being ravaged by injuries.  No doubt they believe that they weathered that first storm, so they surely can withstand this latest setback, and they probably can if Santana missing a few starts is all that happens the rest of the year, which seems highly unlikely

Where the Halos are playing with fire is if any more bad luck strikes the starting staff.  There have been murmurs of the dreaded Tommy John surgery surrounding Santana since Spring Training and those murmurs are getting louder and louder now.  Pitchers bounce back from TJ surgery all the time now, but it still means losing a top-notch starting pitcher for at least a year and attempting to replace him with a soaking wet behind the ears 21-year old rookie.  What do they plan on doing if the injury bug bites elsewhere?  John Lackey hasn’t exactly convinced the world that he’s got a clean bill of health of his own.  Matt Palmer could implode at any minute.  Joe Saunders is just about due for his annual bout of dead arm.  There are too many things that could go wrong for the Angels yet they insist on working without a net.

tightrope walker

It’s a long drop to the bottom if the Angels lose another starter

What do they have to lose by finding a veteran insurance policy at this point?  I get that a guy like Pedro Martinez is going to want a major league deal, so why not aim a bit lower like they did with Rudy Seanez and sign someone to a make-good minor league deal.  The Athletics just did that very thing with Shawn Chacon.  If he flames out in the minors, all it cost the A’s is a couple of bucks.  The Angels should be out there right now kicking the tires on guys like Scott Elarton, Paul Byrd, Steve Trachsel, Daniel Cabrera, Victor Zambrano, and Jon Lieber.  None of those players, except maybe Byrd, are going to be game changers, but at least it gives the Halos someone with major league experience.

Chasing a free agent is only the tip of the iceberg.  If the Angels know something about Santana’s arm that they aren’t telling us, they better start burning up the phone lines to get a trade going to replace Santana if his injury proves serious.  The Angels are only one game out of first and can’t be screwing around playing the waiting game with Santana’s healthy.  So, get off your ass Tony Reagins and do something to protect the rotation for falling into shambles.