Angels looking to upgrade starting pitching

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Ken Rosenthal

Ken Rosenthal has been the FOXSports.com's Senior MLB Writer since August 2005. He appears weekly on MLB on FOX, FOX Sports Radio and MLB Network. He's a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter.

All the Angels need, general manager Tony Reagins was saying Tuesday afternoon, is for their starting pitchers to "pitch the way they're capable of."
Reagins' wish might be his team's command. Right-hander Ervin Santana was brilliant against the Rays on Tuesday night, pitching a three-hit shutout. Meanwhile, lefty Joe Saunders' stay on the disabled list might last only 15 to 20 days, Reagins said. "There is a concern," Reagins told FOXSports.com when asked about his rotation. "It's not dire by any means. "The guys we have in the rotation are capable of doing what we need. If we can get 'em going, especially Saunders and Santana, we've got as deep a rotation as anyone in baseball." Still, Reagins acknowledged that he was still looking for upgrades. Reds right-handers Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang, two high-salaried pitchers, recently cleared waivers, according to FOXSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi. "There are guys out there who have cleared who are expensive," Reagins said, without specifically mentioning Arroyo and Harang. "We don't have any limitations, budget-wise. If we want to take money, we can do that. But we have to make sure the investments make us better not only short-term, but long-term. We're evaluating that constantly." Harang, 6-13 with a 4.43 ERA, and Arroyo, 10-11 with a 5.04 ERA, might not be economically sensible or well-suited for the American League. Harang, 31, is earning $11 million this season and $12.5 million next season, while Arroyo, 32, is earning $9.5 million this season and $11 million next season. Right-hander Trevor Bell will become the Angels' 13th different starter this season when he makes his major-league debut Wednesday night. But Santana's performance against the Rays on Tuesday night could signal that the Angels' need is becoming less urgent. Right-hander John Lackey is 3-1 with a 1.88 ERA in five starts since the All-Star break. Righty Jered Weaver has struck out 11 in each of his last two starts. Santana might finally be coming around after missing two months because of elbow trouble in two stints on the disabled list. That leaves Saunders, who went on the DL with tightness in his left shoulder earlier this week.

The AL West: upside down

How is this for a reversal? The Rangers are pitching and playing better defense than the Angels, but not hitting nearly as well. Josh Hamilton is getting hot, and the expected returns of injured right fielder Nelson Cruz and second baseman Ian Kinsler at the end of week should help. But the Rangers were shut out Tuesday night by the Indians' Aaron Laffey, Joe Smith and Tony Sipp. They rank 10th in the American League in runs since the All-Star break and 13th in August. The addition of another hitter, however, is unlikely. While the Rangers have claimed several hitters on waivers, they have yet to land any of those players, according to a major-league source. The team, unable to take on significant dollars, is targeting players with lower salaries.

How is this possible?

The Diamondbacks, of all teams, lead the National League in OPS since the All-Star break, and not all because of the incredible power surge of third baseman Mark Reynolds. Three players who originally joined the team as minor-league free agents — Augie Ojeda, Trent Oeltjen and Ryan Roberts — are making significant contributions. Two players who originally were claimed on waivers, Alex Romero and Josh Whitesell, also are getting frequent playing time. Remember the Diamondbacks' promising outfield of Conor Jackson, Chris Young and Justin Upton? Jackson has been on the disabled list since May 12 with valley fever. Upton recently was sidelined with a strained oblique. Young, in the second year of a five-year, $28 million contract, just got demoted to Triple-A. The D-Backs' outfield now consists of Oeltjen, Romero and Gerardo Parra.

One man's bold vision

An NL general manager made two surprising predictions Tuesday. He said that the Rockies would win the NL West and that the Cardinals would win the World Series. The Rockies, the GM said, were not great in any one area, but very good in virtually every one. The Dodgers, meanwhile, are short on starting pitching and unlikely to make a significant addition to their rotation. The Cardinals? Their offense has been bolstered by the additions of Matt Holiday, Mark DeRosa and Julio Lugo, and their top three starting pitchers — Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Joel Pineiro — are as impressive as any in the league. "I love (the Giants' Matt) Cain and (Tim) Lincecum," the GM said, "but are they really better than Carpenter and Wainwright?"

Around the horn

  • The Rockies continue to look for one more reliever and a Matt Stairs-type hitter for their bench. The team had interest in Orioles left-hander Mark Hendrickson before the non-waiver deadline, and could make another run at him before the Aug. 31 deadline for setting postseason rosters.
  • The Red Sox feared they were parting with a future No. 3 starter when they included left-hander Jorge De La Rosa in the Curt Schilling trade in 2003. Nearly six years and three teams later, De La Rosa, 28, finally is fulfilling the Sox's initial vision. He is 10-2 with a 4.30 ERA for the Rockies since starting the season 0-6 with a 5.43 ERA.
  • The Tigers do not need to win the World Series to pay right fielder Magglio Ordonez's salary next season, but the extra revenue would help. Ordonez, who has a 1.031 OPS in August, is just 90 plate appearances shy of triggering his $18 million option for 2010. Now that he finally is hot, the team has no choice but to keep playing him.
  • Tagged: Orioles, Red Sox, Angels, Indians, Tigers, Rangers, Reds, Phillies, Cardinals, Padres, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Rays, Magglio Ordonez, Joel Pineiro, Chris Carpenter, Mark DeRosa, Matt Stairs, Julio Lugo, Bronson Arroyo, Aaron Harang, John Lackey, Mark Hendrickson, Jorge De La Rosa, Chris Young, Conor Jackson, Ian Kinsler, Adam Wainwright, Ervin Santana, Joe Saunders, Nelson Cruz, Jered Weaver, Ryan Roberts, Tony Sipp, Joe Smith, Aaron Laffey, Justin Upton, Trevor Bell

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