No doubt the “Fire Tony Reagins” fanatics are out in full force today. Since I am not prone to making rash judgments because I do things like think and analyze, I am not amongst those calling for Reagins’ head on a platter. I am, however, disappointed in Tony.
In many ways, Tony Reagins made a well-calculated and intelligent decision by opting to stand pat at the trade deadline. The Angels had two basic needs: a big bat and middle relief help. Trading for a big bat was obviously never going to happen. The only two players that even remotely fit the bill of being an offense-changing hitter were Carlos Beltran and Hunter Pence and thanks to Tony’s previously itchy trade-trigger finger, there was simply no room at the inn that is the Angel outfield. That he didn’t even kick the tires on either player shows that he at least has some common sense (an accusation lobbied at him with great regularity of late).
As for the bullpen, Reagins has a little less cover there. The trade market for relievers did end up being pretty shallow with only K-Rod, Mike Adams, Koji Uehara, Brad Ziegler and Jason Frasor being dealt. Reagins gets a free pass on Frasor since he was part of that odd three-way deal the White Sox, Jays and Cards made with Edwin Jackson and Colby Rasmus. And he should probably be cleared of any wrongdoing in regards to K-Rod since it seems likely the Halos didn’t have the cash to afford him nor the willingness to deal with his caustic personality.
Personally, I was irked that the Angels didn’t get Koji Uehara, mostly because I had my heart set on it. Having seen what Baltimore received though, I do understand why the Rangers won out. Tommy Hunter may be a back of the rotation starter and Chris Davis may end up being the next Jack Cust, but the Orioles clearly knew what they wanted and that was young big league-ready talent. With that as their price for Uehara, Reagins never stood a chance since the Angel minor league system is almost totally devoid of talent at Triple-A. Granted, this is a problem Reagins created, but in this moment, there was nothing he could do about it, thus no chance for him to make a real bid for Uehara.
That’s now three free passes for Tony, and he is about to get one more. Texas got arguably the best reliever on the market in Mike Adams by offering up two quality but lower level pitching prospects, something the Angel farm system actually does have. I imagine a commensurate offer from the Halos would have been forking over Fabio Martinez Mesa and Steve Geltz. It is a steep price to pay, but Adams is fantastic and under team control in 2012 for what should be a reasonable price. Alas, I don’t see Reagins pulling the trigger here either. The Angels’ prospect depth is getting better, but giving up two quality pitching prospects for a reliever just seems like a poor value and a hit the Angels may not be able to absorb in the same way the bountiful Texas system can.
Ironically, the missed deal that annoys me the most is Ziegler. He is practically a righty specialist, but he would have at least been something. And the lack of “something” is what is bothering me. The way I like to think about the trade deadline is that if you are a legit contender (or at least think you are and I think the Angels are, though I know not all experts agree), you need to ask your self one question: “If we miss the playoffs it will be because of (FILL IN THE BLANK).” Once you go all Mad Libs and fill in that blank, you owe it to your team to address that blank. For Texas, their obvious blank fill-in was “our lousy bullpen.” They recognized that and addressed it, exceedingly so. For the Angels, that blank is filled in by “the lame lineup and shoddy middle relief.”
As I explained before, I understand the lack of offensive additions, but I can’t get over the neglect of the middle relief. At this point, it is a dubious belief to say that the Angels have a single average right-handed middle reliever. Really, getting any righty reliever with any level of accomplishment would have been an upgrade. It didn’t have to be Heath Bell, but to not even land a Rafael Betancourt is downright puzzling. Literally anyone would have made the Angels better and I just refuse to believe that there wasn’t a single deal to be had for a slightly above average middle reliever that wouldn’t have cost the Angels a premium prospect package.
Maybe Reagins will once again surprise us all and pick up a useful reliever via the waiver process some time in August and do so for a bargain basement price. I just hope that Fraudney and his merry men of meltdowns doesn’t submarine the Angels’ divisional hopes first.