The Angels Play Chess with Scott Boras

You may have read the articles listed on the FutureAngels.com home page about the rumors that the Angels are pursuing Florida Marlins third baseman Miguel Cabrera.

According to the reports, the package would look something like Brandon Wood, Nick Adenhart, and either Jeff Mathis or Mike Napoli. Today’s Miami Herald reports the Marlins want Howie Kendrick in the mix.

Meanwhile, the 800 lb. gorilla in this winter’s free agent market, Alex Rodriguez, sits waiting for the Yankees’ exclusive negotiating window to expire. The Yankees claim they’re not interested, because by declaring free agency Rodriguez cost New York a multi-million dollar subsidy they got from his former employer, the Texas Rangers.

The Yankees are probably interested in Cabrera too, although the Angels have the minor league depth to throw more prospects at the Marlins.

Personally, I think the Angels’ interest in Cabrera is more to send a message to Rodriguez’ agent Scott Boras that the team has other options. If Boras wants his client in Orange County, he needs to reduce his asking price.

When I was a kid, gas stations on the same corner would wage a "GAS WAR!!!" One would lower their price, then the other, etc. I remember gas as cheap as a quarter a gallon. (For those of you who wonder if I lived through World War I, this was actually in the 1960s.)

So what teams pursuing A-Rod are trying to do is create a gas war. Rodriguez is on one corner, Cabrera on the other. And let’s not overlook the cheap independent option, Mike Lowell, down the block.

As I’ve written before, I think the Angels should give Brandon Wood his shot. Maybe Rodriguez, Cabrera or Lowell would have a better 2008 than Wood, but five years from now Wood will probably be more productive than any of them.

Trading away Nick Adenhart would cost the Angels one of the top pitching prospects in the minor leagues, someone who will probably step into the rotation in 2009. After Nick, the well is a bit dry (more on that in my annual Top 10 Prospects report later this month), so if the Angels give away Adenhart then any additional pitching depth will have to come via trade or free agency.

Howie Kendrick was a career .361 hitter in the minors, with a .405 OBP and .570 SLG. Adding him to the package would just be insane.

As I’ve written many times, the Angels’ offensive problem this year wasn’t a lack of talent. Injuries were to blame. In 2008, assuming everyone stays reasonably healthy, we’ll have a maturing Casey Kotchman, a more experienced Howie Kendrick, and a healed Juan Rivera to bolster the offense. Garret Anderson showed late in the season he can still hit when healthy. Add Wood at the bottom of the lineup and the Angels probably increase their team HR total by at least 50 overall.

Which would be about how many homers A-Rod would hit.

As for that "big bat" everyone wants behind Vlad Guerrero, I’d go with Kotchman. Opponents want to pitch around Vlad and put him on base to face Casey? Be my guest. Kotchman is a left-handed pull hitter who makes contact and would love that big hole on the right side as the first baseman holds Vladi on the bag.

As they age, Guerrero and Anderson will spend more time rotating through the DH while Rivera spells them in the outfield, but just for giggles here’s one potential 2008 lineup using what we have now:

1. Gary Matthews, Jr. CF
2. Orlando Cabrera SS
3. Howie Kendrick 2B
4. Vlad Guerrero RF
5. Casey Kotchman 1B
6. Juan Rivera DH
7. Garret Anderson LF
8. Brandon Wood 3B
9. Jeff Mathis/Mike Napoli C

You could probably flip-flop Rivera and Anderson in the 6-7 slots depending on whether the opposing pitcher is left- or right-handed.

Where’s Chone Figgins?

Good question. After his career year, I think he’s the guy we should dangle in a trade for a pitcher to bolster the starting rotation. I think the world of Chone, but if I were GM I’d rather make room for Wood than have him return to Triple-A or, even worse, trade him.

Someone else to remember is Kendry Morales. There’s no place for him right now. With Anderson a free agent after 2008, I’d probably have Morales start 2008 playing left field at Triple-A Salt Lake, grooming him for the position with Anaheim in 2009. He won’t be pretty (can he be any worse than Manny Ramirez?), but with Kotchman on first there’s no other place for Kendry — unless he’s traded.

Figgins and Morales are a pretty good start on a decent trade package, something far more reasonable than asking for Wood, Kendrick and Adenhart, and could bring a #3 or #4 starting pitcher.

And just think of all the money you’d save not paying A-Rod $30 million/year for the next eight years.

1 Comment

I was enjoying every word until I was hit with the unfortunate real possibility that Morales could be traded without ever having reached his potential with the Angels. I was there to see that first swing of the bat in Rancho Cucamonga.

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