On Saturday, July 21, Ervin Santana gave up six runs on eight hits in 1 2/3 innings as the Los Angeles Angels lost to the Texas Rangers 9-2. Former Angel Mike Napoli hit two home runs, and Ian Kinsler drove in three runs to lead the Rangers.
It's hard to believe that Santana threw a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians almost exactly one year ago. He's talented; there's never been any doubt of that. However, Santana has also been inconsistent throughout his career. I can't tell you how many times I've felt like pulling my hair out when he starts a game for the Angels.
I've been patient with Santana over the years. I put up with his inconsistencies because I believed that he'd eventually get it together. After all, when Santana is on his game, he's one of the best pitchers in the American League. Yet when he's off his game, Santana is one of the worst pitchers in the AL. There's no middle ground with him, and that's no longer good enough to be a starting pitcher in the Angels' rotation.
Of course, the Angels' options are limited. They don't have a lot of room on their already high payroll to take on another high salary through a trade, and they don't have many prospects they can offer in a deal. The days when former general manager Bill Stoneman maintained a farm system full of prized prospects are over. What's left is a small group of young players that the team can't afford to give away for a pitcher who might not re-sign with the club after the season.
It's time for the team to send Santana to the bullpen. Leave Garrett Richards in the rotation and call up Brad Mills. It isn't going to help matters any to trade away some of the young arms within the Angels' farm system when it's already been drained of its talent. If the team is going to make a move, then parting with Peter Bourjos is the answer, but it begins with Santana. The Angels must get him out of the rotation, and they need to do it now. I'm convinced that Santana is no longer able to help this team.
Derek Ciapala has been a fan of the Angels since childhood. His favorite Angels moment is when they won the 2002 World Series in seven games over the San Francisco Giants. You can follow him on Twitter @dciapala and Facebook.