The Angels recently shifted Garrett Richards from a middle relief role to starting role, promoted Luis Jimenez from AAA to the Major League squad, promoted Michael Roth from AA and put him into a long relief scenario in which he’ll piggy-back on Richards’ starts and promoted the recently acquired Dane De La Rosa to the bullpen from AAA. Undoubtedly while some news sources believe these moves scream of “panic”, it seems the Angels under Jerry Dipoto have adopted such aggressive promotion policies and intend to use them consistently. But just how big of an impact can we foresee these players having on the Angels this season or in a long-term sense?
Garrett Richards – As many of you are aware, I predicted Richards would win a starting role for the Angels a few weeks ago, and I stand by such a prediction. I have my doubts this can be a simple injury fill-in when pitchers like Joe Blanton and Tommy Hanson are struggling as much as they are. If Richards throws as well as I think he will, he’ll secure a starting spot and the Angels will have to creatively shuffle Blanton, Hanson and Williams around or one may be traded once Jered Weaver returns. If Richards struggles with consistency, he’ll be shifted back into middle relief.
Luis Jimenez – Jimenez has been spectacular since his promotion and subsequent insertion into the Angels starting lineup. While Callaspo is not on the DL, one has to wonder if he’s getting nervous about reclaiming a starting spot once he’s healthy. The energy Jimenez has brought to the team could be considered one of those “intangibles” coaches are always talking about. Whatever the case, Jimenez’s defense has proven to be adequate and he’s driving the ball with enough consistency that he may not be a bad option as an everyday third baseman until Kaleb Cowart is ready. Even if “Lucho” continues to produce for the Angels, Callaspo was recently signed for the next two years, so it remains doubtful he’ll earn a starting role. So in the short-term, I envision Jimenez returning to AAA in part due to contracts but also because Mike Scioscia tends to favor his veterans. Long term, it seems likely that Jimenez will see significant time at third base for the Angels, if not as a starter then as a reserve.
Michael Roth – Roth made all of one start in AA since being drafted last season before his promotion. While he looked fantastic in his debut, it seems unlikely that Roth would stay for a permanent role on the major league squad just yet. He’s extremely polished, but even the best college pitchers learned a bit in the minors and Roth should be no different. In the short term, I expect he’ll remain effective and make quite a few fans wonder if he shouldn’t become the swing starter while Jerome Williams should be dealt, but inevitably he’ll return to AA. Roth doesn’t exactly have the arsenal of a traditional short reliever, so a spot in the pen would remain unlikely with fellow lefties Scott Downs and Sean Burnett on staff. Furthermore a role in the bullpen in unlikely long-term as well given that Nick Maronde should be ready to rejoin the Angels bullpen sometime within the next season. However, Roth should be able to compete for a spot in the rotation as soon as next season and given how dominant he was in college and how aggressively the Angels have promoted him, one can’t help but be excited about this possibility.
Dane De La Rosa – DDLR as I’ve nicknamed him has emerged as the Angels primary right-handed setup man. This has less to do with his performance and more to do with the fact that Weaver got hurt which took Richards out of the equation and Kevin Jepsen turned back into a pumpkin at midnight. While scouting reports indicated DDLR came equipped with a 98 mph fastball and an excellent slider, my scouting report has differed considerably. DDLR sits more comfortably around 93-95 and has an average slider which he’s been able to put over the plate. This doesn’t mean he won’t be effective. I believe De La Rosa will be reasonably efficient, though I do not believe he’ll ever be the mainstay in the 7th or 8th inning the Angels will count on night in and night out. This is my projection for DDLR, both in the short-term and long-term.
Virtually ever scenario I’ve calculated leads me to believe that the odd man out here is going to end up being Jerome Williams. If Richards pitches well in the rotation, Blanton’s contract will ensure him a spot as a long reliever or Hanson’s affordability could slot him into a similar role. If Michael Roth pitches well, he’ll immediately be considered a younger, cheaper, more left-handed option than Williams. If DDLR pitches well, he’ll earn a spot in middle relief which would push another reliever into the middle relief role. If Luis Jimenez plays well, the Angels would certainly find a use in keeping him around, which would result in one less pitcher and if other pitchers continue to perform well this could make Williams the odd man out.