Angels Option Jered Weaver to Salt Lake
Breaking News: The Angels just announced that Jered Weaver has been sent back down to the Salt Lake Bees, the team's Triple-A affiliate in the Pacific Coast League. Bartolo Colon was activated and will start on Sunday.
The five-man rotation will be comprised of Colon, Kelvim Escobar, John Lackey, Ervin Santana, and Jeff Weaver. The older Weaver started on Friday night and pitched a solid game, striking out nine batters without allowing a walk. Poor defense once again lost it for the Halos as Weaver, Dallas McPherson, Juan Rivera, Adam Kennedy, and Mike Napoli made errors or failed to make fairly routine plays.
Jered was interviewed after the game and seemed rather downcast despite saying all the right things. I'm on record as stating that sending Weaver down is nothing more than the easy way out. You don't mess with a prized prospect who has won four games in his first four starts while fashioning a 1.37 ERA. Going to a six-man rotation, as unconventional as that might seem, would make more sense than demoting Weaver.
Look for the Angels to deal the older Weaver, if at all possible, or Santana within the next few weeks in order to get another bat in the lineup and free up a spot in the rotation for Jered. That said, I'm not in favor of swapping Santana for Carl Crawford unless the latter can handle center field adequately. He doesn't make sense as a left fielder because playing him there would force Garret Anderson into a full-time role as a designated hitter, which then limits the team's ability to find at-bats for Tim Salmon this year and either Kendry Morales or Casey Kotchman next year.
Put me in charge and I would keep Jered and Santana in the rotation, even if it means using six starters on a temporary basis. I would also trade Kennedy in order to make room for Howie Kendrick. If the Angels come up short this year, so be it. But I'm of the belief that Jered, Ervin, Howie, and perhaps Shea Hillenbrand give the team a better chance to win now.
Next year, you're looking at a rotation of Colon, Escobar, Lackey, Santana, and Jered Weaver. If Colon is healthy, I would be willing to put up that fivesome versus any other group of starters in the majors. The Halos can fix their offense by applying the $24 million now going to the likes of Jeff Weaver, Darin Erstad, and Steve Finley/Edgardo Alfonzo toward two heavy-duty hitters. This is a ballclub, if run properly, that could contend for the World Series championship as early as next year.
Longer term, Nick Adenhart is in a great position to replace Colon in 2008 after Bartolo's contract runs out. Brandon Wood will reach the majors sometime in 2007 and figures to be one of the league's elite bats at shortstop or third base for many years to come. Erick Aybar is on the cusp of being ready to play every day in the majors and could be used as trade bait or as a valuable reserve middle infielder while awaiting Orlando Cabrera's departure in two years.
Of a more immediate nature, Jered Weaver will need to pack his suitcase and catch a plane flight from Orange County to Salt Lake on Saturday. He will face the Las Vegas 51s on Sunday or Monday rather than the San Diego Padres, the team that should have drafted him in 2004.