This is a team in peril. The Angels were supposed to win and win now, but designed shortcomings have robbed the Angels of this pleasure two years in a row now. The first year under Dipoto, it was the bullpen. But that's been fixed via trades (Frieri and De La Rosa), emergence of arms (Jepsen, and Kohn) and the draft (Roth, Alvarez and Morin). This season, the Angels lack of starting pitching has been the bane of their existence. Weaver was hurt, Wilson was still stumbling, Hanson and Blanton have been awful and Vargas was solid until his blood clot. So Jerry Dipoto will go about fixing the Angels rotation next season in an attempt to build a complete ball club that's ready for the World Series. Enter Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. He may or may not be an answer that helps the Angels reach their goals. It all comes down to circumstance and scouting.
1. What's his potential?
2. Where is he at in regards to meeting that potential right now?
3. What is his floor?
4. What does his long term durability projection look like?
If the Angels scout him and come up with some of the same answers that other teams have so far, in that Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez is ready for a big league rotation right now and that he's a solid bet to be a #2-3 starter, then you have to read the market. A 26 year old #2/3 starter in free agency would/will command a tremendous investment. Is there anything close to that in this next free agent class? The closest match we have is a 30 year old Matt Garza, who is going to get five years and close to $100 million. Phil Hughes is a 28 year old fourth starter (who likely could be a three-starter in the ball parks out West given his career splits and quality offerings) and he will likely command four years and between $40 and $50 million.
Right now, the max on MAG (Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez) is said to be five years and $60 million. If he were American born and a proven major leaguer he'd probably cost eight years and up to 200 million. But he's not, so it's a little bit of a gamble. Next question, should the Angels make this gamble? In order to answer this question, the Angels need to answer another set of questions first.
1. Do the Angels have any starting pitching prospects on the way? Yes they do! But these pitchers at at minimum 2 years away if not more.
2. Do the Angels need another mid-rotation starter? Yes they do! Weaver and Wilson are great rotation components to have and Garrett Richards is at the very least a fifth starter (I believe considerably more in the future, but that's for another article). As Weaver and Wilson decline eventually, the Angels will need to compensate, in which case Richards and whoever else (MAG maybe) will need to step up.
3. Do the Angels need to infuse youth into their rotation or do they have the necessary age mix to compete long term? Yes, the Angels need to infuse some younger guys. Weaver will be 31, Wilson will be 33, but his arm is probably the equivalent of a 31-year old given the lack of innings he logged as a reliever earlier in his career. Richards is going to be 26 next season. So adding someone with MAG's youth is not only a good idea, it's a necessity.
4. Do the Angels need to make a long-term signing or short-term signing to improve their starting pitching? Weaver and Wilson will have three years remaining on their contract and Richards five years. Prospect help is likely 3+ years away. Thus signing a starting pitcher to a deal longer than three years is a MUST to ensure the continuity of the rotation.
However, there is one final question, are the Angels only one good starter away from competing? I don't believe they are. MAG wouldn't solve the Angels problems and magically make them a winning team. If you think the Angels need more than two good starters, then the Angels shouldn't sign MAG, they should sell off Kendrick, Downs, Cron, Grichuk and either Yarbrough or Lindsey and start rebuilding for a future that's four years away and hopefully more wisely invested in. But if you believe the Angels need two good starters or less, then MAG is a very worthy investment.
My conclusion: MAG fits ever single one of the Angels' needs and would be a discount on the current market. However, how big of a gamble is MAG? That's for the Angels scouting department to decide. But if they don't sign Gonzalez and still intend to compete in 2014 they sure as hell better sign Phil Hughes and trade for another quality starter, because as much as I love Weaver, Wilson and Richards, I believe the Angels need two other starters that are as capable as they are just in order to make the playoffs. This is where Jerry Dipoto's vision and mine differ. He felt innings were what was needed and attempted to accurately play the market by inking Joe Blanton and trading for Tommy Hanson and Jason Vargas. I believe quality is needed, and when it comes to quality starting pitching, short cuts rarely exist. You simply need to spend the money. Money, I'm not entirely sure the Angels are prepared to spend.
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I think the bullpens greatly improved and a healthy Burnett would help tremendously but I still think they need another lock down reliever (more of a bona-fide closer type, Frieri still scares me). But Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez would certainly help the rotation, if they resigned Vargas, signed Gonzalez, and got another relief pitcher this offeason, this team will contend. They could use some bench help too (call up Calhoun already! When Brad Hawpe is on your bench you know it's not going well)