Why Angels Now Should Sell, Instead of Buy
For some reason, sitting there in Angels Stadium on Wednesday, I kept thinking of the classic Don McLean song, “American Pie,” where he sings about “The Day The Music Died.”
Maybe it’s because this was the day the Angels season died.
Seriously, with their puny offense all but disappearing and the struggling Red Sox still somehow strong enough to come in and sweep them, all Mike Scioscia’s guys needed to absorb was one final, crushing blow. They got it before the game when starting pitcher Joel Pineiro strained an oblique muscle and was ruled out for as long as two months.
Already so far behind Texas the Rangers can barely see them in their rear view mirror, the mediocre, .500 Angels now have no No. 4 or No. 5 starter heading into the dog days of August. This, friends, could get ugly fast.
The solution, as difficult as it might be to accept, is to become sellers instead of buyers in these last couple of days before the trading deadline, hoping to strengthen the roster for next year and maybe clear some cash for the inevitable Carl Crawford auction.
As long as you’re not apt to be in the race anyway — and come on, has that ever seemed more obvious? — why not shop some of your talent around and hope to land a couple of nice prospects? I know, I know, there aren’t a lot of players who have much value on this team, but you never know. Why not throw some of the following names out there:
BRIAN FUENTES — It’s doubtful another team would take him as a closer, but he’s been a valuable setup guy before and could be again.
Besides, is he really the one you want closing out games for the Angels in 2011?
MIKE NAPOLI — Those 18 homers might be tempting to a team looking for a backup catcher/DH. Napoli’s future certainly doesn’t seem to be here, as long as Jeff Mathis remains Scioscia’s guy behind the plate and Bobby Wilson has emerged as a likely backup until Hank Conger is ready.
JUAN RIVERA — Talk about people who have worn out their welcome. His shoddy defensive play has made it tough to play him more than a couple of times a week, and young Peter Bourjos could be called up soon to take over in left. But Rivera can still hit some and his record shows he heats up down the stretch. Yeah, they’d probably have to pick up some of his salary, but hey, the Angels can dream, can’t they?
FERNANDO RODNEY — If somebody can get past that dreadful eighth inning on Wednesday, you never know. He’s got a power arm and teams desperate for bullpen help might bite.
HIDEKI MATSUI — He is still a professional hitter, even if he hasn’t delivered the way management envisioned. He could be appealing to a contending team looking for a solid left-handed bat to DH or pinch hit.
BOBBY ABREU — Yeah, I know, this one sounds desperate. He is still the team’s most reliable clutch hitter, but the batting average has dipped into the .250s and his defense also has fallen off of late. His attitude and presence in the clubhouse could convince some teams to consider him. But chances are, the Angels would want a top prospect in return.
HOWIE KENDRICK — Another surprising name, but suddenly, this team is loaded with middle infielders. Erick Aybar remains an untouchable, and Scioscia never would consider parting with “his guy,” Maicer Izturis. Considering Alberto Callaspo has just arrived, that leaves Kendrick, whose bat has been somewhat disappointing, as a possible odd man out. In a trade, he might bring the most value. Brandon Wood is another possibility. As bad as he has played, some team might still take a chance on him, hoping a change of scenery might awaken some of that potential.
The big surprise is that all this has happened so fast. Only two days ago, Dan Haren arrived in a trade with Arizona, and the talk was how this soft-hitting club could still make a run at Texas.
But three losses and a stunning pre-game injury later, that’s all changed.
When Boston’s Marco Scuturo sent that eighth-inning grand slam soaring out of the ballpark on Wednesday, you couldn’t help but think the rest of the Angels’ season went flying out with it.
— Steve Bisheff