This might not be the most sensitive thing to say given recent events, but what are the Angels to do now? Their pitching staff, already decimated by injuries, is in complete ruin.
The staff’s ace, John Lackey, is on the disabled list until next month. Kelvim Escobar has been on the DL since god-knows-when and Ervin Santana, last season’s biggest surprise, landed on the DL during spring training.
And now comes the death of Nick Adenhart.
As sad and at a loss as I am by his senseless demise, it didn’t take long for me to think about what his loss means to the Angels’ season and more specifically, their pitching rotation.
Adenhart was behind only Jered Weaver and Joe Saunders in terms of his importance to this year’s staff. His age (22) and ability (six shutout innings in his only start this season) lent themselves to that of a future top-of-the-rotation starter with plus-potential. Sure… he made the team, in part, because of the conditions of Lackey, Escobar and Santana. But his performance on Wednesday, April 8 spoke of a guy who could compete and maybe even dominate if given the opportunity, which he finally received this season.
Adenhart was the gem of the Angels minor league system. He was the guy the organization was so sure of, so convinced of his value and talent, that they never pushed him further than he was willing to be pushed. They treated him like a No. 1 overall pick even though they selected him in the 14th round. And he delivered on their investment, reaching the big leagues in only four seasons and contributing to the Angels’ run toward another division title with three so-so starts in May of last season.
And now Adenhart is gone. As is much of the minor league depth the Angels boasted for so long. The list of the team’s top prospects started with Adenhart and is not nearly as impressive without him. No offense to guys like Brandon Wood, Sean Rodriguez, Ryan Budde and Dustin Moseley but Adenhart was the class of the system — hands down.
His guile and determination reminded me of a young Jim Palmer. His latest performance had me hoping the Angels would finally have the pitching depth and talent to again challenge for the American League pennant. His death leaves me wondering what the Angels are to do now.