Sunday, November 24, 2013

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By Greg Bearringer, AngelsWin.com Columnist -

1) David Freese might as well wear a sign that says "average third baseman" around his neck, because I think that's probably what the Angels are expecting out of him next season. He is probably better that (since he has pretty good plate discipline), but a back injury might just eat into his playing time over the next two seasons. Barring that,  "average"  marks a huge upgrade for the Angels at the hot corner, and makes a fine bridge to Kaleb Cowart.

2) That being said (and I am going to parrot Keith Law ($) here somewhat), I'd probably rather have three seasons of Peter Bourjos than two of Freese, but its not a huge difference-- and, considering the Angels roster, its a move that makes perfect sense. In a vacuum, you'd prefer  the cheaper defensive ace with an extra year of control, but this ain't a vacuum and the Angels don't exactly have Brooks Robinson available to take over third. The noise 'round here hates the deal because it's an organization giving up Bourjos, and there is a decent chance that he is a better player over the next three years-- but its no guarantee.  Over the past three years, he's had one really good season and two wrecked by injuries and middling results. If he's 2011 Bourjos this is a great move for the Cards-- but remember that season's stats were inflated with a higher than average BABIP-- which might be sustainable, but might not be.. Its half a step back, a full step forward move for the Halo's, especially considering how bad their third base options really are.

3) If we think of this as two separate trades,  the Angels loose a value in the Freese-Bourjos deal but break even in the Fernando Salas -Randal Grichuk deal. It is my opinion that the Angels needed two relievers this offseason, but only one 8th/9th inning guy. Salas might be that, but probably isn't. I like hime better than most people seem to, but remember this: building a good bullpen is essentially a numbers game, and he's got a chance to be a pretty good 5th guy out of the pen. Grichuk is nothing more than lottery ticket with the upside of Mark Trumbo and the downside of Adam Dunn minus all the walks (albeit with an actual, according-to-Hoyle defensive position). While I wouldn't put it past the Cardinals to develop Grichuk into a regular, the odds are long at best.

4) This deal will look better in about two weeks. Why, you ask? Simple: this move is essentially telegraphing the long-expected pitchin' trade by the Angels. What this move says to me is that the Angels aren't afraid to add a little salary or trade an asset since they like their other trade options. The addition of Freese does allow for an offensive downgrade at another position.  My guess is that Jerry Dipoto has a few Howie Kendrick/ Mark Trumbo conversations going on, and he's confident in his ability to convert at least one of the pair into some young pitching.

In summary, this deal will probably look much better when the offseason is complete, but as it stands it's a small positive move for the Angels in 2014 and '15. If Bourjos goes ham and becomes the guy so many here believe he can be,  if Grichuk becomes a solid player down the line,  or if Freese's back injury weighs him down too much, the Angels will be kicking themselves.  However, it will probably be a small step back for the Angels in terms of total value-- but, since they are filling a cavernous void at third base from a position of depth, it will probably end up as a net positive. 

Love to hear what you think!

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