Tuesday, December 10, 2013


By Greg Bearringer, AngelsWin.com Columnist -

The narrative for this trade has been written out since the Angels once again dug themselves a huge hole they couldn't dig themselves out of early in the season-- and Joe Blanton was a target for a lot of it, since he symbolized the #1 problem for the Angels: starting pitching.

You know, already, the position the Angels found themselves in heading into the Winter meetings: two starters needed; $15 Million or so to spend; Mark Trumbo and Howie Kendrick as the two top  trade pieces.

So How did they do? Lets look at the trade:

Trade: Mark Trumbo, 2 Players to be named later (Diamondbacks)
Receive: Hector Santiago (White Sox) and Tyler Skaggs (D'backs)

Trade: Tyler Skaggs (Angels), Adam Eaton (White Sox)
Recieve: Mark Trumbo, 2 Players to be named later (From Angels)

White Sox:
Recieve: Adam Eaton
Trade: Hector Santiago

This deal makes the most sense, perhaps, for the White Sox, who are rebuilding without cutting payroll (at least not yet). Eaton would give them a young, quality player who can play defense and get on base, which is something they sorely lack. While Santiago is a young pitcher, he doesn't have a super long track record of success as a starter and has spent some time in the bullpen. He's also not an ace and won't have much value over the next two years, assuming they aren't competing for a playoff spot in a talented (if volatile, outside of Detroit) division.  Eaton gives them their best center fielder since Aaron Rowand. Yikes.

As for the Diamondbacks, this deal is a head scratcher. This team has four outfielders good enough to start, and are swapping the best of the group and a decent (if flawed) prospect for still ANOTHER outfielder. I know they must be wanting protection for Paul Goldschmidt, but Trumbo's low OPB and high strikeout rates call into question this strategy. He has many good qualities: 35 homers is a mid range estimate on how many home runs he'll hit in that park and in the National league. He's also not absolutely terrible in the outfield. He's also a lot cheaper than the other sluggers on the market, which will allow them to sign or trade for a top of the rotation starter. And in the NL, Goldschmidt/ Trumbo is a darn good heart of the lineup.

As for the prospects the Diamondbacks are receiving, the names will obviously be important in the final judgement of the deal. However, the Angels will gladly give them up since they don't have any tier-1 prospects (though CJ Cron and the unlucky Kaleb Cowart are close), and their need for pitching is so dire that risking one of them pullin' a Corbin on them is worth it. Taylor Lindsey ( the best current long-term option at second base, depending on your opinion of Grant Green) would probably sting the most, especially if Kendrick is still on the market.

For the Angels: their work isn't done. Santiago has decent stats last season, but was a tad lucky last season (..289 BABIP). He's know for throwing a screwball despite the fact that he doesn't throw it often or effectively. He is mainly a fastball/ change up guy, which he throws about 93 and 83 MPH, respectively. As a guy with a control problem (5.1 BB/ 9), he should focus on his Fastball/change up/ Curve combination, which give him the most whiffs of all his pitches. (He also throws a cutter, which might be a useful "show-me" pitch  for now and is good enough to develop over the next couple of seasons).  Thinking of him as a solid #4 option is probably best for Angels fans who want to temper expectation. His upside is higher than that, and he might reach it pretty soon with more experience on the mound PLUS a move to a much more pitcher friendly park.

Tyler Skaggs is a guy who has always been about projection, going back to when he was with the Angels the first time around.  He has a change up that still needs to develop but could compliment his other pitches nicely. He eventually got his fastball up to the mid-90's, which complimented his wicked, high 70's/low 80's curve ball. However, a big drop in his velocity is cause for concern, ending last season in the upper 80's too often to be effective. However, we've seen pitchers loose velocity before and it comes back just often enough to think this is a good upside play for the Angels. Upside in a nutshell: his curveball is frightening and his left-handedness is valuable. 

Like I said: their work isn't done. They need to give Skaggs enough time to show his velocity has returned, and they still don't have a good enough #5 to allow him the necessary time in the minors. They still have Howie Kendrick and about $19 Million still laying around, so I'd expect another starter and a DH to come down the pike pretty soon, either  via trade or signing.  Adding someone like Matt Garza-- or, heck, even someone with less upside-- would allow them to complete their rotation and allow them to potentially trade Kendrick for prospects, which the Angels desperately need.

Love to hear what you think!

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