Hey, Angel fans, Mark from Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove asked me to do some more Q&A on the Angels for FBHS. I wanted to share the questions and my answers (BAB) with you. You can check out Mark's site at:
FBHS: Magic Santana looked terrific last time out. Ok he didn't "look" terrific because I didn't see the game, but I'm hoping you did. Did you notice anything different compared to the two outings he had before the most recent start?
BAB: One thing that has become clear about Ervin 'don't get too happy' Santana - he needs to be pushed to succeed. When everyone is praising him and there is a sense that he is destined for greatness simply by showing up on the mound, he smiles and laughs... and loses. Not enough drive, not enough focus. When he is demoted to the minors and people question his ability, he gets tight-lipped, edgy... and better. That's the case again this year. After those two horrendous performances, many (myself included) were calling for him to be removed from the rotation. Ervin got upset, and set out to prove everyone wrong. Which he did. He seems to be someone who needs to have a bit of a chip on his shoulders to push himself to his potential. I have questioned his mental toughness in the past. I think his future lies between his ears even more than in his right arm.
FBHS: I drafted Howie Kendrick a couple years ago and thought he had a chance not to win a batting title, but to hit above .300. It's not working out right now, so what are your thoughts on Sean Rodriguez? Can he take success at the lower levels and translate it to the big club instead of leaving it behind like Kendrick did?
BAB: First off, I do like Sean Rodriguez. He impressed me when he got significant playing time with the Angels. I would say he's a better fielder than Kendrick, and he improved at the plate the more AB's he got. I think he can be a solid major league second baseman. That said, I think it's premature to dismiss Howie. He has hit in the bigs, and the man averaged .350 in the minors. Howie's issue, as with Santana, seem to be more mental than physical. He needs to stay back at the plate, be patient, not lunge, have a plan for his at bats. If he can find that focus, and Tori Hunter's influence should help, he can get his average back up and start smacking the ball the way he needs to. But, and this is a big but, if he can't get it together soon, the team can't risk a playoff run waiting on him. It would be worth giving Rodriguez a shot. If nothing else, it might be the thing that pushes Howie back on track.
FBHS: Brian Fuentes is on pace for 45 saves and with 22 strikeouts compared to 7 walks it looks as though all the panic with this guy is dead. Still the WHIP is awful high for a closer. Do you think he will still be closing games in July and August? If not, then who would take over?
BAB: I actually don't think the panic is dead. Personally, I panic every time he comes in. I think he's okay, but no better than that. He is a league leader in saves for the same reason K-Rod set the record last year. No one plays in more tight games than the Angels. They give their closer an unusual amount of save opportunities. But Fuentes is not lights out the way K-Rod was. He has already blown three saves, which puts him on track to blow about ten or so. Too many for an elite closer. And too many for a team that relies on its pen to the extent the Angels do. Which, of course, is a problem this year, considering the pen's pathetic showing as a whole. I doubt that Fuentes will be replaced this year, he seems good enough to hold his job, but if he loses too many games, the only option would be to put Escobar in the closer role and Palmer back in the rotation.