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.