Sunday, June 22, 2008

Will GM Tony Reagins make a deal this July?

By David Saltzer - Columnist

It’s That Time of Year Again . . . for TRADESSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!

Yes, once again, Angels fans know the offense is struggling and want to see a championship in October. So, how do we get there? Do we need to make a trade to fix the offense? Or will we stand pat as usual?

If history is any guide, odds are we won’t be making a major trade. So far, Mr. Moreno has said that there is no available player out there presently who “wows” him. But, it’s also clear that our offense is in a funk—a funk that has lasted 3+ years, even with the addition of Torii Hunter. Our offense is prone to funks and cannot afford to have another one at the wrong time, such as in the post season. The lineup still needs another MOTO (middle of the order) bat—one with a high OB% who can have a multiplying effect throughout the lineup. So the question is: where can we fit another MOTO bat on the field to improve the team?

The best way to see where we can fit in a new player is to measure our current lineup and project our future lineup to what our needs are and what could be filled internally. There’s no point filling a hole that doesn’t need filling and there’s no point making one hole just to fill another.

Right now, we need a MOTO bat, preferably a lefty, with a high OB%. And, in the future, we will still need that. Our best potential MOTO lefty bat is Mark Trumbo, who is playing at Rancho, and who still needs to work on improving his OB%. While he could fill that position, like Kendry Morales, he plays 1B which most likely will be manned by Kotchman and still needs to improve his plate discipline to be that presence in the order that we need.

By 2010, our infield appears to be set. Kotchman’s defense and steady hitting will most likely make him a fixture for the infield. Kendrick is still starting to blossom, will relatively cheap due to his arbitration years, so, he’s most likely not going anywhere. Shortstop is most likely covered by either Wood or Aybar who again will be relatively cheap and productive. 3B will still be manned by Figgins with his improved defense and leadoff abilities. Catching, which Scioscia views as a defensive position, could receive a major boost offensively with Hank Conger’s arrival.

As for the Outfield, there could be a lot of transition here. Even with his struggles, Vlad will most likely be resigned. The Angels want a Hall of Famer, and Vlad is exactly that. He’s already showing signs of coming out of his season-long slump, and will still be good for around 25 HRs, 100 rbis and a 300 BA. However, his defense is definitely declining and as much as he may not want it, he needs to move to the DH spot.

Hunter will be on year 3 of his contract, and should be earning every penny of it. However, his spot in the OF may be changing. Already, we are seeing signs of our potential future CF at Rancho in Peter Bourjos. By 2010, he could be making his debut in our OF, possibly taking over CF. Hunter could move to RF giving us an incredible defense in the OF. That leaves LF as a potentially open position.

Most likely, GA’s option will not be picked up. While he has meant a lot to the organization over the years, his offense and his health are both in decline and not likely to get better. He could be replaced by GMJr, but, the reality is that GMJr does not fit the profile of the player we need to boost our offense. He’s not a MOTO bat, and, he’s not a leadoff/2-hole hitter. So, while Mr. Moreno’s checkbook may not like it, we will need to find a way to trade him or sit him and replace him with a player who better fits out lineup needs.

Looking at that future team in 2010, the vast majority of it is right handed. Vlad, Kendrick, Hunter, Bourjos, and Wood are all righties and Kotchman is our sole lefty (Figgy, Aybar, and Conger are all switch hitters). So, if we are going to make the move for a MOTO bat, ideally, he should be a lefty.

So, who presently fits our needs? Three players come to mind. But, before I get into this, I have to issue the standard disclaimers: I have no knowledge if any of these players are or will be available—these are just my thoughts as to who could fill our needs. And, I have no special knowledge about the other teams’ needs—only making a guess on the value of the player.

The first player is that comes close to fitting our needs and who might be available at a reasonable price is Adam Dunn. He should be a lot easier and cheaper to trade for since he will be a FA next year and will most likely leave his present team for greener pastures. While many point to his low BA, he still gets on base at an amazing rate and hits for power. Sure, Dunn won’t hit as many dingers in Anaheim as he does in Cincinnati, but, he’ll still hit plenty of doubles for us and will post a SLG over 500. While I don’t know their needs fully, I believe they need a leadoff hitter and a SS, so, a combination of Willits and Izturis could get the job done.

The second player, Lance Berkman, would cost a LOT, is most likely not available but would fit the mold perfectly. Berkman is still on the younger side of 30, can play in the field or DH and is an ideal MOTO bat. Most likely he is not available, and, if he were available, we’d have to pony up most of our farm to get him (think M. Cabrera type trade). I doubt we’d make that move, although, Berkman is in the middle of a long term deal—so the money issues are more well known with him. If Houston decides to go into a serious rebuilding mode (again unlikely), he would be the one prize worth pursuing.

The third player, Jason Giambi, most likely will not be considered due to his age, his steroid past, his salary, and because he is not the ideal defensive fit for us. He’s 37, but, is posting great numbers, hopefully steroid free. It’s highly unlikely that Mr. Moreno would take a gamble on him due to his stance on steroids (although Giambi is one of the few who has come away from the scandals with his image not totally ruined). However, if the Yankees offered to eat a large portion of his salary this year, and Mr. Moreno approved for the character issues, a trade for Kendry Morales and Adenhart might get the deal done.

Looking at our needs and looking at what’s out there, I can see why a trade for us is not likely. Our needs and what’s available don’t match up. Who knows if any of those players are available? Who knows who else is available (such as Holliday or Bay?). But, the key for us to is recognize and work towards filling our need for a MOTO bat who can play either OF or DH both now and in the future.

Love to hear what you think!

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