Weaving Through Manny Possibilities

The Angels probably won't land Manny Ramirez, and they probably will (it appears) land Jeff Weaver. My stray thoughts on the matters:

   Jeff Weaver would be a legitimately good addition, as a young pitcher with an excellent arm, inconsistent but good for 200+ innings either way. One area in which the Angels have become weaker recently is in the bullpen. They used to always have three top-notch righties, with bullpens that included subsets of Percival, K-Rod, Shields, and Donnelly when each was pitching at a very high level. Even last season, when Percival was gone and Donnelly was not very good, Escobar slotted in to provide a third top-notch reliever. 2006 figures to be the first season in a while where the Angels' bullpen lacks some right-handed depth, with only K-Rod and Shields laying claim to top-notch status. Weaver will help to mitigate this lack of depth, so his addition could pay dividends beyond his own starts. A rotation with Colon, Lackey, and Weaver will not require a deep bullpen, so the Angels have good reason, in my opinion, to roll the dice with Weaver.

And rolling the dice is what it would be, because Weaver is not consistent. Despite the nasty movement his stuff generates, and a competitiveness any manager and pitching coach want to see, Weaver has had only one winning season, only one season with an ERA under 4.00, and he has been pretty consistently tattooed by left-handed hitters throughout his career. Weaver could have a breakout year or a breakdown year. But he's a luxury at the back end of a rotation, which is where he would be with the Angels. Some of the best pitching in baseball can be found in the AL West.

   Manny Ramirez, if actually acquired, might do more harm than good to the Angels. No, I don't think he has entered his twilight; I think he has at least two more awesome years left in him before he begins any sort of physical decline. But the Vlad/Manny duo only scares me to a point. Around those two will be young players using 2006 to get better for 2007, and old players using 2006 for support so they don't fall over. The Angels would score more runs with Manny than without, but until the rest of the lineup improves that difference might not be as much as people think. They just don't let guys bat all that often.

Meanwhile the cost, in talent, would set the Angels back in the very place they are putting their focus: 2007-2009. The talent it will take to get the Red Sox to part with their superstar is more than the Angels should be willing to give up. If Manny comes to the Angels, I will have less confidence that the A's will win the AL West in 2006, but I will privately rejoice. Even with Manny, the Angels could come up short of the A's in 2006, then come up shorter in 2007-09.

All hypothetical, because I don't see it happening. But still fun to talk about on those long, dull days of early February.

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