Trade Talk


Bartolo Colon just returned to the Angels after a rehab stint with the Quakes and Bees.

I’m not one to give much credence to trade rumors, because 99% of the time they’re wrong. Nor am I one who believes in making a trade just to make a trade — or, as the instant gratification crowd put it, "DO SOMETHING!!"

Nonetheless, with yet another injury decimating the Angels’ offense, we may be approaching the point where the Angels will need to explore a mid-season trade that will also help the team in the long run.

With Juan Rivera out until at least the second half due to a broken leg, Garret Anderson out four to six weeks, Howie Kendrick out due to a broken hand and DH Shea Hillenbrand ineffective (possibly due to a lingering groin injury), the Angels’ depth is starting to strain. Reggie Willits has a pea-shooter bat that mitigates his .463 OBP; Mike Scioscia moved him into the leadoff slot and dropped Gary Matthews into the #3 hole ahead of Vlad Guerrero, but the Angels need production behind Vladi. Casey Kotchman, who missed most of 2006 due to mononucleosis, is mired in a 6-for-39 slump over the last 12 games with only a single in his last five games.

If you’re looking for an internal solution from Triple-A, it might surprise you to find out that the guy with the top batting average (.378), on-base percentage (.485) and slugging percentage (.598) at Salt Lake is … CF Nathan Haynes. Nathan was a one-time prospect cut in the mold of Willits and Chone Figgins. Now at age 27 (he turns 28 in September), he’s trying to resurrect his career after a stint in independent ball. His career minor league SLG coming into 2007 was .378.

The Angels have plenty of pitching, which is the coin of the realm in the baseball kingdom. And one intriguing matchup is with the New York Yankees, who are suffering mightily right now from a general absence of quality starting pitching.

Top pitching prospect Phil Hughes was rushed to the majors, only to go on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring. Starter Carl Pavano seems likely to undergo season-ending "Tommy John" surgery. Mike Mussina and Kei Igawa have been ineffective.

The Yankees have the top OPS in the A.L. (.796) and the second-best slugging percentage (.436). But their team ERA (4.91) is 11th in the 14-team A.L..

So who could the Angels dangle to get a bat from the Yankees?

If I were the GM, I’d offer Bartolo Colon. The 2005 Cy Young Award winner is coming off the D.L. after recovering from a labrum tear last year, and appears to once again be effective. Although he’s a free agent at the end of 2007, he’s just the sort of "marquee" player that appeals to Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.

Who would I seek in return?

Of course, some people will instantly scream "A-ROD!!" just as they did all winter, ignoring the reality that Alex Rodriguez has a no-trade clause which he has repeatedly stated he won’t waive. Rodriguez has the option to walk from his contract at season’s end, so if A-Rod were off to a mediocre start then a Colon-for-Rodriguez swap might be the foundation of a trade if Alex were willing to waive his no-trade clause. But he’s off to a historic start at the plate, Yankees fans for the moment have embraced him, so Steinbrenner would skinny-dip in the Hudson River before he’d trade A-Rod.

The guy I’d look at is Bobby Abreu. He’s off to a mediocre start — an AVG/OBP/SLG of .252/.338/.304 — but in his 58 games for the Yankees after being acquired from the Phillies his numbers were .330/.419/.507. His 2007 salary is $15.6 million, which might appeal to Steinbrenner in exchange for taking on the risk of Colon’s shoulder and free agency.

According to ESPN.com, Abreu has a no-trade clause and an option to extend his contract through 2008 for $16 million. The July 30, 2006 article indicates that Abreu would have waived his no-trade clause for a deal with the Angels.

Abreu suffered a right oblique injury during spring training that might explain his slow start. A career right-fielder, he could relieve Vladi and the rest of the time play left field. When Anderson returns, Garret could ease into the DH role and Hillenbrand goes to the bench. (Keep in mind that Shea was signed only as an emergency after Rivera broke his leg.)

A left-handed hitter with decent power, speed and a career .411 OBP, he would seem to be the perfect bat to back-up Guerrero in the lineup.

Okay, now let’s think a little harder about this.

Who will play right field for the Yankees if Abreu departs? I don’t know the Yankees’ system, but taking a quick glance at the depth chart on the Yankees’ web site it looks like Hideki Matsui would play LF, Johnny Damon in CF and Miguel Cabrera could handle RF.

As for the Angels, replacing Bartolo Colon just means recalling Joe Saunders from Salt Lake.

It’s a trade idea with risk on both sides, but I just toss it out there as something to talk about.

UPDATE May 6, 2007 6:15 AM PDT — Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times kicks in his own trade rumors.

Among the players the Angels are believed to be interested in are Colorado third baseman Garrett Atkins and outfielders Brad Hawpe and Jeff Baker, outfielders Kevin Mench (Milwaukee), Jacque Jones (Chicago Cubs), Pat Burrell (Philadelphia) and Emil Brown (Kansas City), and third basemen Morgan Ensberg (Houston) and Edwin Encarnacion (Cincinnati).

DiGiovanna suggests dangling Ervin Santana as a bargaining chip.

1 Comment

Yes, I can see that something may have to be done soon about the lineup. And, yes, I can see dangling a frontline pitcher for a hitter. But to me, it would be Jered Weaver, the curse of anybody named Weaver hailing from Simi Valley whose first name begins with a “J” seems to be that they can’t win consistantly – sell high while they remember last season. While pitching is, indeed, “coin of the realm” I’m not sure which of these guys really fits the bill; coming OR going.

The Boss would probably jump at Bart for Bobby, true, but is he what the team needs? One of the things I do to aid my admittedly hometown-biased assessments of players is to listen to the MLB Fantasy411 podcast while also reading other roto-based sites. While I don’t play fantasy baseball these guys are merciless in their evaluation of players and interesting to listen to. Bobby Abreu has been getting talk for over a year now. It seems that his power has all but dried up since his appearance in the Home Run Derby (prompting his trade from Philly, same reason they’d love to get rid of the over-priced Burrell) and the high slugging percentage after the trade to the Yankees may have been some sort of aberration due to the short right field porch, lucky gappers or whatever. He has not sustained the improvement this year and will be a major disappointment until (and if) he manages to find his power stroke again. Maybe we should stay away from him, especially with his price tag. At this pace he’d be nothing but heartbreak for us (I always hoped for more from Ellis Valentine, too).

I’d love to get Garrett Atkins, maybe even Brad Hawpe, but what’s Colorado’s incentive to part with maybe the best hitter in the NL West when he’s still so far from arbitration and the team is trying to win while maintaining fiscal responsibility? Ditto Hawpe. It would, I’d guess, take far too much to pry away a shining young player of the sort the Angels really need to justify giving up an irreplaceable commodity like a proven pitcher.

On the other hand (referring back to the Abreu idea), I’d hate to give up that same commodity for an under-performing, over-priced, over-aged Name who would not justify the cost. Same for one of the chumps listed in DiGiovanna’s suggestion. That’s what they need, more production like Hillenbrand gives.

I can’t make a suggestion because I don’t have one. I’m feeling Bill Stoneman’s pain here because, just like over the winter, there are guys who would look terrific in an Angels uniform but their current team won’t even consider a trade unless it includes the moon. I’ll have to trust Bill to make the smartest (if not “flashiest”) move here.

BTW, for those still moaning about the Players Who Got Away to the Cubs; have you noticed that Pinella benched Cesar Izturis, sacrificing defense to get (incrementally) more offense in that “killer” lineup? We are not alone, folks, in our desire for runs.

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