How Angels Can One-Up The Dodgers
The opportunity is just sitting there, waiting for the Angels.
They can upgrade their farm system and embarrass the crosstown rival Dodgers all with one simple move.
They merely need to sign their No. 1 draft pick Kaleb Cowart before Monday night’s 9 p.m. PDT deadline. That’s it. Just get his name on a contract and it’s a huge double victory for Arte Moreno’s team.
You see, it’s almost common knowledge the Dodgers won’t be signing their No. 1 pick, pitcher Zach Lee. Baseball people, who understand the dire financial straits in which the McCourt divorce has put the franchise, think the gentlemen in blue drafted Lee knowing they couldn’t sign him.
The Dodgers, of course, deny the accusations, but the kid, who made it clear he wanted a big bonus, has told media that no one from the Dodgers organization has even contacted him.
The Angels, meanwhile, have had ongoing talks with Cowart, a power hitting third baseman who also throws 97 mph fastballs as a pitcher. The club is known to covet him more for his bat than his arm, and that’s understandable when you look at their depth chart of late.
But will Moreno pay the price the kid wants? Eddie Bane, the scouting director who made the pick, is optimistic about signing Cowart. But then, Bane, one of those rare execs who actually likes talking to writers, is always optimistic.
That doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen.
Reports are that the Angels have offered Cowart a $1.5 million bonus, and the young man from Georgia is seeking something between $2 million and $3 million.
This is an interesting test for Moreno, whose reputation as a free spending owner has taken some hits of late. Prime example: The acquisition of late-hitting, but relatively low-salaried Alberto Callaspo, instead of a power-hitting, more expensive player at the trade deadline.
Already, everyone is waiting to see if Arte will open his wallet and compete for soon-to-be free agent Carl Crawford, knowing the Yankees and Red Sox are likely to be bidding, as well. But that’s not until the off-season.
This current scenario plays out in the next couple of days. Angels fans are hoping Bane and his scouts are reminding the owner that the organization is badly in need of some power hitting prospects. If Mark Trumbo, the best one at the moment, was as polished as they would like, he would already have been called up from Triple A Salt Lake City.
Even the enthusiasm for Mike Trout, who has become the most hyped Angels prospect since Darin Erstad, has been somewhat tempered of late. After tearing up low Class A Cedar Rapids, Trout was promoted to high Class A Rancho Cucamonga, where he is batting a more modest .282 after only a few weeks. Considering Trout just turned 19, they’re not worried.
But you get the idea. The franchise is badly in need of more bats for the future. That’s why the Cowart signing is so essential. This was the draft where the Angels had a slew of top picks, but what good are they if they can’t sign the highest one of the bunch?
Look at it this way, Arte: To pay the difference, you can always add a few more signs to the seemingly hundreds already encircling Angel Stadium.
Both practically and PR-wise, this is something you have to step up and do. Rest assured, the frustrated fans of a certain L.A. team will be watching.
So will everyone in Orange County.