Where does Juan Rivera fit into the Angels 2008 plans?
By Chuck Richter - Senior Editor Angelswin.com
Rivera seems to be the forgotten man among Angels fans and unfortunately, the Angels front office. Juan had a great 2nd half of the 2006 season posting a line that's quite impressive considering he only had 448 at bats, while platooning primarily in the 1st half (.310-.362-.525 + 23 Hr's & 85 RBI's). Acquired following the 2004 season along with Maicer Izturis from Montreal Expos for the roid-raging Jose Guillen, saw his first full campaign with the Halos wasted in 2005, sharing time with stud Steve Finley and Garret Anderson, which had Rivera getting little action.
For whatever reason, whether it's bad luck being on the wrong team, untimely injuries or bad team management, the Yankees and now Angels seem to find ways to exclude Rivera in their plans, which is a shame considering Rivera was the 2001 & 2002 Top Prospect of the New York Yankees.
Can't blame Juan for breaking his leg in winter ball last year as he was simply trying to keep in shape during the offseason and improve his game coming off what was his best season yet, finally fulfilling the potential that made him a top prospect at one time. Seems to be a conundrum of sorts as the Angels have trouble parting with their top prospects for a big time slugger to protect Vladimir Guerrero, yet this former top prospect may be dumped for nothing.
Torii Hunter is fantastic, he's like-able for many reasons. He's a quality guy with a big stick and a gold glove, but his arrival will have Rivera grabbing some pine yet again or quite possibly the unthinkable will happen, as Juan could get Madrigaled by the Angels front office, should they not tender him a contract next week. That would be yet another brain fart by management.
Here's the ninety million dollar question in closing: Is Juan Rivera at his projected salary and power production worth letting go in favor of Torii Hunter's 17.5 million that he'll make in '08? Remember, we already had a very good defensive centerfielder in Gary Matthews Jr., with Willits and Haynes as respectable backups. While I love Torii Hunter, I think the Angels forgot to check their own roster and depth in the outfield before dishing out some serious