Purgatory Online

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Lisa: Look on the bright side, Dad. Did you know that the Chinese use the same word for "crisis" as they do for "opportunity?"

Homer: Yes! Crisatunity!

-- The Simpsons, Episode 2F08, "Fear of Flying"

The Angels may be in the midst of their own crisatunity moment here, with Garret Anderson sidelined indefinitely, David Eckstein coming out of last night's game with a strained groin, and Kelvim Escobar possibly needing an extra day or two of rest to recover from a split fingernail incurred in his last start.

Alfredo Amezaga is being mentioned as the most likely possibility to replace Eckstein. Amezaga is currently hitting somewhere south of .220 in triple-A, and seems very much in danger of losing his place on the Angels' depth chart, as middle-infield prospects Alberto Callaspo, Erick Aybar, and Brandon Wood develop.

But why consider dipping into the farm system for a shortstop, when you've got a pretty servicable one in Chone Figgins, already up with the big club. And Figgins has been hitting pretty well in his latest stint, takes pitches, and runs like his ass was on fire. Sound like a leadoff hitter to you?

But wait, you say. Figgins is covering for Anderson in center! Yes, but he shouldn't be. The Angels have an all-universe center fielder also already up with the big club in Darin Erstad. Now, Erstad has a mini-groove going on at the plate, and has slowly improved from horrible to merely bad in terms of his season's offensive numbers. If Scioscia doesn't want to risk screwing with that by moving Erstad back to center - and, probably more realistically, screwing with Anderson's and Erstad's heads by blurring their roles on the team - there are guys down in Salt Lake who can play outfield, and are hitting a lot better than Amezaga:

Alex Pelaez - 25 for 69 (.362); .392 OBP, .449 SLG
Robb Quinlan - 25 for 75 (.333); .425 OBP, .507 SLG
Gary Johnson - 19 for 58 (.328); .381 OBP, .500 SLG
Adam "Angees" Riggs - 25 for 77; .384 OBP, .558 SLG

The Escobar situation is also interesting. The Angels have been somewhat coy as to whether he'll make his next scheduled start, which would be Friday's game in Minneapolis. It occurs to me that this is actually an excellent opportunity for Scioscia to audition Kevin Gregg, Scot Shields, or Aaron Sele with an eye towards putting them into the rotation full-time if Ramon Ortiz can't hold himself together. So even if Escobar is completely healed by Friday, we may get some talk about "not taking any chances" and how "the bullpen depth allows us to play it safe." To that end, it's interesting that Shields got 2.1 innings of work last night, throwing 43 pitches in the process. It's unlikely that Scioscia would have run him out there for so long if he were planning on using Shields to start on Friday, but it's hard to tell. Kevin Gregg hasn't pitched since the 23rd, and Aaron Sele hasn't pitched since the 20th.