Last offseason our GM saw a need for relief help and he acted. Almost a year later, it's time to review the decision to deal two top 10 middle infield prospects for 2 middle of the road reliever's that either did absolutely nothing (Bulger) or bloated the staff's ERA (Romero). That combined with Jeff Weaver throwing BP to opposing teams saw Stoneman's ratings sink like that of George W's in 06.
Sure one could say, Romero was used incorrectly by Scioscia, leaving him into face right-handed hitter's rather than stick to what JC did best, get out lefties. Still, if you're going to deal a top prospect you better get a guy that can do more than just get out left-handed hitter's, for just one year mind you.
Bulger who showed signs early on of being a good return with a nice strikeouts to innings rate at Salt Lake, saw his ERA balloon up to 4.72, with yet another trip to the DL. Bulger, like Romero was not offered to come back as a member of the LA Angels. But really, who would want them back?
Meanwhile, Casilla and Callaspo made their major league debut's in 2006 show tremendous promise (See below) and will both contribute at the top of the lineup for some team soon.
Both of these guys can get on base, make contact, hit for a high average, steal a base, play excellent defense and be a spark for a contending club from the leadoff or 2 spot in the lineup.
So why deal these guys? Why not negotiate with the Twins & Diamondbacks GM's for someone else in our deep system? Why not sign a couple free agent RP's and save Callaspo & Casilla for a larger return at the deadline or later on when a team would give up alot more? Why not target a Pat Neshek or Jessie Crain from Minny, or Jose Valverde or Brian Bruney from the D-Backs? Someone that could stick around for a while and be productive.
Bill Stoneman wanted to clear the logjam at the middle infield position within our system and that's fair, but get something in return that at the very least can perform at a high level or contribute in a positive manner, for at the very least 1 season, if not more.
At any rate, Stoneman is still at the helm and that concerns me a bit as we're still overloaded with MI prospects: Mount, Phillips, Statia, S. Rodriguez, Wood and Aybar. We also have Orlando Cabrera for 2 more years and Maicer Izturis who played extremely well in '06. What's next on tap is anyone's guess, but don't be suprised if you see An Aybar for middle reliever or Triple-A starter to improve our pitching depth.
Stoneman has done some good things for the Angels since coming on board 7 years ago, and my intention isn't to rip on the guy now, but he deserves an F grade for his dealings & non-dealings in 2006! Though that could be reduced however slightly if Terry Evans pans out.
Starting pitching won us 89 games in '06 and Stoneman likes arms. But without a roster balanced with pitching, defense & hitting we're just a "leap of faith" away from another Sept. showdown with Oakland when we could have kicked Oakland when they were already down, losing the ace of their staff (Zito) and best run producer (Thomas) in '06.
Our high end prospects should be dangled like precious diamonds to opposing GM's, with the expectation of fair value given in return. Anything else, is failing to manage the team to bigger and better things down the road.
The Brewers, Blue Jays, Cardinals & Mets had injuries or issues at 2B a couple months into the season. Patience Bill, patience! the reward and return is much greater..
The latest from Baseball America
Jan 30th, 2007Winter Baseball Notes:
Another player who dramatically improved his stock this winter was Twins infielder Alexi Casilla. After coming over to Minnesota last year from the Angels for J.C. Romero, Casilla blossomed in 2006, pushing his way first to Double-A New Britain and ultimately the big leagues where he served as a late-inning replacement.Casilla played second base and batted leadoff for the majority of the winter for Gigantes in the Dominican Winter League.
The 22-year-old ranked fourth with a .338 average, ranked second in hits, and scored 10 runs in 18 postseason games. During the regular season last year in the States, Casilla led the Twins organization with 50 steals and finished second with a .318 average."He puts the ball in play and it seems like he does it every time he's up there," Twins farm director Jim Rantz said. "He makes things happen and he's always a threat on the bases."Twins second baseman Luis Castillo's contract is up at the end of the season, and it appears likely Casilla is the second baseman of the future in the Twin Cities."He's a guy who's just sort of waiting in the wings," Rantz said. "All I know is he performs well wherever he goes."
Angels shortstop Erick Aybar and Diamondbacks second baseman Alberto Callaspo might still be blocked from becoming big league regulars, but that didn't stop either one from improving this winter."I think you look at both those guys and say they're as close as they've ever been to ready," Angels director of baseball operations Abe Flores said. "I can't really talk for Alberto anymore, but Erick is coming into camp fighting for a role on the big leagues."Just two years ago, Flores could talk for both of them--before the middle infield tandem that was once referred to as "Hoover and Oreck,"--was broken up when Callaspo was dealt to Arizona last February.
But the Diamondbacks weren't the only ones to see Callaspo's value. Callaspo, coming off a .337/.404/.478 season at Triple-A Tucson, played all over the infield, and saw a lot of time at third base in particular. Callaspo started out the offseason playing for Caribes in the Venezuelan Winter League, but was traded to Zulia in December--in a nine-for-one deal between Caribes and Aguilas."When I saw that I thought 'wow,' " Diamondbacks farm director A.J. Hinch said. "But then you consider the kind of player he is and the situation--heck, I would have traded for him too."Callaspo might have the nine-to-one deal to brag about, but Aybar had the better winter statistically, hitting .301 in the Dominican for Licey, who bowed out of the playoffs before the finals.
Aybar will take reps behind Orlando Cabrera during spring training, but his overall tools could prompt the Angels to keep him as utilityman."I'd like to see him control the strike zone a little better," Flores said. "And he's got to cut down on the errors to fit into that kind of (utility) category. Most of them are on balls normal people wouldn't get to. He's just so fearless, he gets careless. It's not lack of ability by no means--he's so exciting, so dynamic . . . and needs to play a little more under control."