July 19, 2014
Angels are in for a Street
For the third time in a month, Jerry Dipoto went outside the organization for bullpen help. Unlike the other deals, which saw the Angels acquire Jason Grilli and Joe Thatcher, Street has the potential to be more than a rental, thanks to a $7 million option for next season. Whether Dipoto decides to take advantage of that option will depend on Street's health, as he's spent time on the DL in each of the past four seasons, and there's no telling when he'll break down next.
When Street is available, he's a high-quality reliever with an impressive track record. Though he lacks the big-time velocity associated with the ninth inning, he does a good job of commanding his low-90s fastball. Additionally, Street's arsenal features a slider and, more and more as of late, a changeup. Despite the limited sizzle, Street is a good (if predictable) fit; one who should help the Angels win this season, and perhaps next as well.
The question then is whether Dipoto was smart to use his limited pieces to add to one of the league's deepest bullpens, especially at the cost of not upgrading a thin rotation. Perhaps Dipoto realized the cost for a better starter outweighed what he had to offer, and so he decided to do the next best thing by giving Mike Scioscia enough arms that he can, if needed, piece together six or seven strong relief innings. It's neither ideal nor conventional, but it just might work. —R.J. Anderson
Trevor Gott is a short fireplug of a reliever. His fastball clocks anywhere from 92-97 mph and recently touched 98 mph with wicked movement; he challenges hitters with the pitch, and he doesn’t seem intimidated by anyone. Gott is also blessed with a plus to plus-plus curveball that has severe two-plane break and can be a legitimate hammer at the highest level. The command can be a little loose, but the fastball is what’s going to get him to the highest level. What the Angels lost in Alvarez, they gained back in Gott. —Chris Rodriguez
Huston Street: Street assumes the closer duties for the Angels and he figures to have a few more save situations thrown his way than he got 100 miles south. Street will still be in a good ballpark, and anyway he has the stuff to survive any environment. Street generates strikeouts at a high rate and has superb control. His 0.75 WHIP and 100 percent LOB rate are absurd. In –Only leagues Street will be a valuable commodity and the bids should be pretty high.
Joe Smith: Ah, mister Smith. It seemed the Angels were willing to give him an extended stay as the closer, but that dream is over. Smith has pitched well all year and was really coming on of late. Since a disaster outing against Oakland on May 31st he has pitched 20 innings and given up three earned runs. Should Street go down with an injury he’ll reassume the role, but his value has taken an obvious hit here in standard 5x5 formats.
Jason Grilli: When the Grilli-Ernesto Frieri trade happened, I speculated that Grilli would have the better opportunity of the two to get saves. He just got pushed down the depth chart one slot and is further away from mattering on any fantasy rosters. Set your Grillis free, my friends. —Mauricio Rubio
Released 2B-R Dan Uggla. [7/18]
How far has Uggla's star dropped? He was, prior to his release, arguably the fourth-best second baseman on the Braves roster. Tommy La Stella, who replaced Uggla in the starting lineup in May, was ahead for certain, while Ramiro Pena and Tyler Pastornicky had both outhit and out-fielded Uggla this season. With neither a use nor a hope for Uggla remaining, Frank Wren decided it was time to move on—even if it meant eating the $18 million left on his contract, which runs through next season.
While Wren deserves blame for extending Uggla in the first place, it's hard to bicker with his decision to end the relationship. Uggla has been, for the past year and a half, a disaster. Always a poor defender, his OPS+ over the past two seasons is comparable to those posted by glove-only types, like Eric Sogard and Mark Ellis. Even when Uggla succeeded, there seemed to be a negative attached. Take, for instance, his reduced strikeout rate this season: Uggla might have been making more contact, but his walk rate and ISO suffered for it. As a result, he was no longer employable; not even as a bench bat.
Yet some team will give Uggla a look after he clears release waivers. Partially because he's cheap, partially because he's experienced. Odds are, he won't finish the season on an active roster. —R.J. Anderson
Acquired 2B-L Taylor Lindsey, SS-R Jose Rondon, RHP R.J. Alvarez, and RHP Elliot Morris from the Angels in exchange for RHP Huston Street and RHP Trevor Gott. [7/18]
The Padres still don't have a new general manager in place, but they did get a solid return for their seldom-used closer, and perhaps a new plan for Jedd Gyorko. Lindsey's acquisition might be the surest sign yet that Gyorko's future is at third base, which would make Chase Headley even more likely to be dealt in the coming weeks. Of course Gyorko has his own issues to sort out—he has to get healthy first, then figure out what kind of hitter he wants to be—but the new San Diego GM, whomever that might be, could take over with three-fourths of a starting infield in place. —R.J. Anderson
Lindsey, the top-rated prospect in the weak Angels system, has the potential for plus hittability, thanks to above-average bat speed. The 2010 first-round pick has ascended within the Angels' farm system quickly for a high-school bat, settling in this year at Triple-A, where he’s hit .247/.323/.400 with decent defense at second base. He’s a hit-first prospect, meaning he doesn’t possess above-average peripheral tools, like power and defense. But Lindsey could become a solid big-league contributor at the keystone if the Padres give him a little more time to marinate.
In Rondon, the Padres acquire an under-the-radar talent who has (save for power) solid-average tools across the board. He has good bat speed and a knack for hard contact, though he can be wild with the barrel and doesn't project for double-digit home runs down the line. A safe bet to stick at shortstop for the foreseeable future, Rondon could move to second base and become a plus defender there if needed. Either way, he might not be a regular, but there's a chance he's a utility player.
Alvarez is a potential late-innings arm, with a mid-to-high 90s cheese and a wipeout slider. Thus far in Double-A, he’s struck out 38 batters in 28 innings, while walking just 10. He could reach the majors as soon as this September for the Padres. —Chris Rodriguez
Joaquin Benoit: If you bet on Benoit to assume the closer role due to a Huston Street trade, then this ascension is right on schedule. Benoit is having a superlative year as he is suppressing hits, missing bats, hitting the strike zone and limiting the long ball. It’s all added up to a 1.86 ERA and a 0.80 WHIP. He was Detroit’s closer for a period last year and did well in that role, with 24 saves and a stat line that was just slightly worse than his 2014 version. For the most part he’s been a stash play in deeper leagues and now you can feel free to add him in shallower leagues as well. The prophecy has been fulfilled. —Mauricio Rubio
R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Follow @r_j_anderson