Turning the tables on Seattle's massacre in Anaheim last month, the Angels went up to the Pacific Northwest and took three straight from a team surprisingly ahead of them in the standings, and as such they find themselves only four games out of first as they head into a four game set with first place Oakland. Split and they're still four out. Take three and they're two out. A sweep, and they're tied. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. No one is going to win this division with fewer than 81 wins, so before getting caught up in how far out the Angels sit, their focus should be on getting to .500 for the first time in a long time.
On the bright side, the rotation is finally poised to become the force it was expected to be entering the season. Escobar, Colon, and Lackey each went deep into their most recent starts without allowing a run. Santana survived eight innings of a day game on the road to garner the win despite allowing six runs. And Jered Weaver picked up right where he left off, holding Seattle to one run over seven innings in his last start. Orlando Cabrera continues to ignite the offense, and Kendry Morales may be getting through his adjustment phase at the major league level. He's been on fire lately, nicely masking the mini-slump by Mike Napoli.
But danger lurks. These are scary times for Angels fans with an affinity for the farm system. The closer the Angels get, and the longer they hang around, the more likely they are to do something stupid, like trading Santana and/or top prospects for a rental like Carlos Lee, or a mental case like Alfonso Soriano. I'll lay it down right now. My untouchables for those two, or anyone resembling them include: Lackey, Santana, Weaver, Wood, and Kendrick. There are others I don't want to see moved, but I could live with a trade of Shield, Aybar, Saunders, Arredondo, or even Adenhart if it brought back a big bat in return. I'm leery of the names being tossed around, though. I've always liked Carlos Lee, but his breakout occured as he went to a hitters park. Soriano can hit, and I don't care so much about his strikeouts, but he's just never seemed like a really reliable producer to me.
Anyway, the temptation is going to be to rip out the youth to go for it now, which I think is extremely short sighted. Let's see how they do with this rotation for a few weeks. They may not need to make a deadline deal that forces them to give up the youngsters. Let's keep our fingers crossed.