Latest Santana stinker may force Halos to trade
ANAHEIM, Calif. — The baseball clock is ticking slowly toward the trade deadline on July 31, and it's looking more and more like the Angels may have to jump into the market.
It's not their preference, but with their pitching rotation in a state of uncertainty and right-hander Ervin Santana continuing to look horribly inconsistent, do they really have a choice?
They can stand pat, but given their 3-6 start coming out of the All-Star break, it's clear their starting staff no longer is a sure thing.
Veteran Dan Haren comes off the disabled list on Sunday to start against the Texas Rangers, but No. 5 starter Jerome Williams is headed to the bullpen to sort his troubles, at least in the short term. Rookie Garrett Richards will take Williams' place Tuesday night against the Kansas City Royals.
"We need five guys going out there giving us a chance to win," manager Mike Scioscia said, "and we haven't seen that in the last three weeks."
They haven't seen it much this season from Santana, who was chased in the second inning of Saturday's 9-2 loss to the Rangers after giving up eight hits, including three home runs. Santana' last victory was five weeks ago; he's won just once in his past 11 starts.
A strong performance might have given the Angels hope that the right-hander's control was returning, allowing them to put off a need to make a deal. But with several starters rumored to be available — among them Tampa Bay's James Shields, Milwaukee's Zack Greinke and Minnesota's Francisco Liriano — it might make sense to talk trade, even if the price is Richards or center fielder Peter Bourjos.
Angels GM Jerry Dipoto has dismissed talk that his team is actively pursuing a deal, saying he would rather see the current staff pitch up to expectations than make a trade for the final two months. But Santana's ineffective start may force his hand.
Scioscia said he could put Santana, now 4-10 with a 6.00 ERA, in the bullpen, at least temporarily, but that would mean having two starters working in relief. It's something he refused to consider in the past, but it's now on the table.
"Sure," Scioscia said. "Just like with Jerome, just like with Garrett, guys that are struggling (like) Ervin. That's something that's going to be discussed, but there's no decision yet. We're going to do what's best for our team. The optimum for our team is to have Ervin pitch to his capabilities."
Santana looked better in his last start, working six innings and giving up two earned runs last Monday in Detroit, but there have been too few of those.
He's almost certain to be skipped in the rotation when his turn comes up Thursday because the Angels are off that day. But after that, who knows?
Asked if he expects to make his next start, Santana said, "No idea." Then he paused and added, "Probably, yeah. Why not?"
He insisted his fastball wasn't missing by much. But his pitches were catching enough of the plate for the Rangers to jump on them. Mike Napoli and Craig Gentry hit back-to-back homers leading off the second inning, and Adrian Beltre hit a two-run shot later to knock out Santana.
An Angel Stadium crowd of 39,086 sent him off with loud boos, but Santana insisted he wasn't paying attention.
"I don't care about it," he said. "I don't even think about that. I just play my baseball and that's it. I don't care what they say, what they do."
More important is what Scioscia says and does — and right now, he's noncommittal.
For now, he's banking that Haren, who spent 21 days on the disabled list because of a stiff back, can give the Angels a strong start at a time they desperately need one.
"We need to win games, and we need to find five guys who can do it," Scioscia said.
At the moment, Santana isn't one of them.