Angels Will Deal; Napoli Likely to Go
The Angels have seen enough.
Quietly, without any public comment, they have decided they need to do something to help their popgun offense, especially the pillow-soft lower half of the lineup.
Will they go after a big name, an Adam Dunn or a Prince Fielder? No, not without losing one of their best starting pitchers and/or a couple of elite minor league prospects (problem is, they only have a couple).
What they are more likely to do is deal for a somewhat lesser proven major league bat, probably someone who can play first base and maybe a little third base, somebody who can contribute some key RBIs. A Ty Wigginton from Baltimore, that’s the kind of player we’re talking about here.
More and more, it appears Mike Napoli will be the bait. The fact that the catcher/first baseman produced a couple of home runs in the past two games was convenient, considering scouts from all clubs are watching as the July 31 trading deadline approaches.
There are fans out there who will scream and say why not keep Napoli and his 16 homers? They figure he’s as capable as any of the lower-tier players available.
The truth is, he’s not. Sure, he hits occasional home runs and probably would deliver 25 to 30 if he had 600 at bats. But he is a liability both behind the plate and at first base, the latter not his fault since he’s trying to learn the position at the big league level. More important, he is among the more streaky hitters in the American League, and his numbers with runners in scoring position this year have been abysmal.
A team that could use a back-up catcher and a right-handed DH certainly would be tempted by Napoli, who never will win over his manager Mike Scioscia, the noted catching critic, with his defense.
Jeff Mathis is simply far superior, even though he can’t hit much. And next year, Hank Conger, who can hit, is likely to be promoted to the big club.
If you were to offer Napoli and a decent minor league prospect (say speedy center fielder Peter Bourjos), you might be able to land a first baseman who can help you stay in the race, at least for a while longer.
The question is, have the Angels already waited too long? These next 12 games, against the Yankees, Rangers and Red Sox, could drop them so far in arrears of Texas that a deal might eventually be nixed.
Still, my sense is they’ve already made up their mind to acquire some help.
“When you try to play role players full time, you realize why they’re role players in the first place,” said one member of the organization.
If the Angels do trade for a first baseman and they get Maicer Izturis back to play third base in a few days, that would actually give them nine legitimate major leaguers in their lineup.
Considering the way this disappointing season has gone so far, that, alone, would be a welcome novelty.
— Steve Bisheff