Angels off-season trade porn and predictions

Trade porn.  That’s really what it is for Angels fans that are thirsty for change and excitement.  Each and every article is fascinating because it brings to light all these possibilities and allows us to dream big for the future.  The Angels 2013/2014 offseason is the MOTHER of all trade porns because as explained thoroughly in every article, the Angels have to change but can’t afford to spend any more money because of the luxury tax.  The Angels are primed to go all fantasy baseball on the world, and no one, including me, can resist speculating on what they might do. 

But first, let me preface all of this by explaining who the Angels are.  As an organization they have an identity.  It’s shaped by their owner, GM, manager, scouts and players.  For years they were the blue collar scrappers from the other side of the tracks.  They were Rocky Balboa in this first Rocky film.  Now, they’ve grown a bit of the flair for the dramatic. It isn’t as if Dipoto wanted to go out and sign Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, but he’s certainly smart enough not to argue when his owner tells him he wants to add these guys to the team.  Dramatic

The Angels also like to take risks.  Dipoto’s first season he gambled on an unproven bullpen and paid the price.  His second season he tried to beat the market by bringing in unheralded starters that no one else was bidding for.  That one backfired too.  Risky

Finally, the Angels are obsessed with their own legacy.  Mike Scioscia’s determined to prove his management style fits 2014 as well as it did in 2004.  Arte Moreno’s determined to take a huge chunk of Southern California away from the Dodgers.  Jerry Dipoto seems hell bent on signing or trading for any So-Cal native and bringing them home.  And as an organization, the Angels are looking to bring back everything that made the good ol’ days so good and are really trying to build themselves up as a Southern California family.  See Don Baylor and Gary Disarcina.  Legacy

So what’s going to happen?  I have no clue.  But I have guesses, and here they are.

1. Jerome Williams will be non-tendered.  Pitching depth or not, no one pays 3 million for a swing man unless they’re forced to.

2. Joe Blanton will be an 8-million dollar swingman.  See what I did there?  Right after saying no one pays 3-million for a swingman I go and explain the Angels will pay 8-million for theirs.  Really they have no choice.  Blanton’s going to get paid no matter what, might as well use him for depth, it’s not like he’ll ever do anyone a favor and get hurt. 

3. Tommy Hanson will be non-tendered.  I’m with MWAH overlord Garrett Wilson on this one (double the r, double the t, double the flava).  Hanson converting to relief makes way too much sense, so of course the Angels won’t do it.  He’ll make too much in arbitration anyway.  Some team is going to get smart and sign him for 1-million, put him in relief and reap the rewards. 

4. The Angels will not sign Masahiro Tanaka.  Have they scouted him a bunch?  Yeah, so has everyone else.  It’s called due diligence.  And it is attractive that the positing fee will not count against the Angels luxury tax.  But the Dodgers and Yankees need pitching too, and Jerry’s not going to outbid them, especially when he has to explain to Arte he’ll have to pay more than Texas did for Darvish just to talk to Tanaka. 

5. The Angels won’t plan on trading Mark Trumbo, but I think that late in the offseason the Pirates are going to get desperate and agree to part ways with RHP Nick Kingham, one of the better starters in the Pirates system.  He’ll be ticketed for AA/AAA and has middle of the rotation potential. 

6. The Angels will trade 2B Howie Kendrick to the Baltimore Orioles for RHP Miguel Gonzalez.  Did I mention the Angels were really trying to return to their roots?  If I hadn’t yet, here it is.  Miguel Gonzalez was signed by the Angels as a 19 year old in Mexico and eventually made it to the show with the Orioles, positing two consecutive seasons with an ERA under 4.  Dipoto has shown in the past he likes to complete one for one trades and I think he has a golden opportunity for another here, especially if the Orioles emerge as a dark horse for Tanaka.  Gonzalez is a solid middle of the rotation starter and is four years away from free agency.

7. The Angels will trade CF Peter Bourjos, RHP Kevin Jepsen, SS Eric Stamets and a player to be named later (LHP Hunter Green) to the St. Louis Cardinals in return for RHP Joe Kelly and 3B David Freese.  Kelly appears to be one of the odd men out in the Cardinals legitimate 8-man deep pitching rotation.  The Cards needs for a CF and shortstop are well documented and while Bourjos will step into a starting role immediately and make an already unfair pitching staff even better, Eric Stamets will ensure the Cardinals with a future defensive whiz at shortstop.  As for Hunter Green, he can’t be traded until a year after being drafted.  Kevin Jepsen is just an add-on, he’s a hard thrower which couldn’t tap into potential under Mike Butcher so we’ll see if he thrives under different management the way Jordan Walden did.  As if this trade needed to be legitimized even more, it should be mentioned that Joe Kelly is a UC Riverside and Corona High alumni, yet another local product.  Kelly is also five years away from free agency and projects to be a solid #4 starter. As for David Freese, no ties to California apart from coming up with the Padres, but the Angels do need a 3B if they’re unwilling to entrust Luis Jimenez to a starting spot.  Freese is relatively cheap and two years away from free agency which should buy additional time until top prospect 3B Kaleb Cowart is ready. 

8. Angels will sign 3B/2B/DH/Decrepit old man Michael Young to a one year, 7.5-million dollar contract.  Young is a Southern California product as was even besties with former Angel Vernon Wells.  With Trumbo out of the picture, Kendrick traded and Pujols’ real age being approximately 846 years old, the Angels could use some insurance at 1B/DH/2B/3B.  Young also provides some stability at the top half of the order.

9. Angels sign RHP Brian Wilson to a two year deal worth 15-million.  The Angels will go out and sign a lot of local products, but I think this is the one deal they make for the sole purpose of being flashy.   There are a lot of relievers out there, but Wilson’s personality and West coast preference makes him a virtual lock to sign with the Angels.

To their credit, the Angels will certainly shed salary by parting ways with Howie Kendrick as well as eliminating arbitration cases in Jerome Williams, Tommy Hanson, Mark Trumbo and Peter Bourjos.  Their payroll could potentially drop down toward 130 million, which should only help reserve the necessary funds in the future to pay Pujols and Hamilton as well as a Trout extension. 

So here’s what I believe will be the 2014 Angels.

Lineup
SS Erick Aybar
DH Michael Young
CF Mike Trout
1B Albert Pujols
RF Josh Hamilton
3B David Freese
LF Kole Calhoun
C Hank Conger
2B Grant Green

Bench: OF J.B. Shuck, IF Andrew Romine, 3B Luis Jimenez, C Chris Iannetta.

Starting Rotation
RHP Jered Weaver
LHP C.J. Wilson
RHP Miguel Gonzalez
RHP Joe Kelly
RHP Garrett Richards

Bullpen
RHP Brian Wilson
RHP Ernesto Frieri
RHP Mike Morin
RHP Dane De La Rosa
LHP Sean Burnett
RHP Joe Blanton

Strengths – A strong rotation with long term projection as Weaver and Wilson are three years away from free agency, Gonzalez is four years and Kelly and Richards are five years.  This is also a true typical pitching staff of a winning ball club.  Wilson has ace-like numbers, Weaver even with the decline is still resembling a #2/3 starter, Gonzalez is your fairly typical #3/4 starter both in numbers and arsenal, Kelly’s simply not as good as his numbers have been but even a regression to the mean still pits him as a very solid #3/4 starter and Richards has front of the rotation capability but youth, refinement and inexperience has relegated him to the back half of the rotation for now.  Conceivably, you could see a staff with five different starters posting an ERA under 4. 

Perhaps just as important, the Angels will have Kingham and Sappington both in AA/AAA.  Both have considerable potential and could help the team if Weaver loses any more effectiveness working with an 86 mph fastball.  Offensively, this is a deep lineup, with particularly the 2-7 hitters being capable of inflicting considerable damage.

Weaknesses – Bullpen.  I wish there was another way around it, but this seems like the sort of pen Dipoto would create.  Wilson can be a great closer, but he could also get hurt and/or regress.  Frieri has been solid in the late innings for two years now, but you have to wonder if last year’s numbers are more accurate to his abilities than 2012.  Mike Morin has flashed greatness in the minors so far, but will it translate?  Dane De La Rosa logged so many innings in 2013 I’m surprised his arm is still attached.  Can Sean Burnett still throw a baseball? 

Another potential weakness, that’s a slow lineup.  Aybar has quickness but isn’t a base stealing threat, the same goes for Calhoun.  Sciosica refuses to allow Trout to take advantage of his amazing speed while he’s a middle of the order hitter.  The rest of the lineup is just below average in terms of foot speed.  So you could expect a lot more station to station movement, which Scioscia has yet to master.

Scott Allen

About Scott Allen

Scott is a writer for The Outside Corner and writer/prospect expert at Monkey With A Halo can be followed on Twitter @ScottyA_MWAH

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