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July 28, 2010

BP Unfiltered

Behr or Bull: Angels Have More Moves to Make

by Jesse Behr

The Angels' basis for acquiring Dan Haren was the future, not the 2010 season. However, considering they shouldn't write off this year, they went in the wrong direction. While a starter would help, they needed to improve their offense and bullpen first, and then move their focus to starter.

I feel this was a bit of a "tit-for-tat" (to steal Christina Kahrl's phrase--here is her take on the move) deal. The Angels' primary rival in the AL West, the Rangers, made a strong move to acquire one of baseball's best pitchers in Cliff Lee. There was no way the Angels were just going to sit back and let Texas take the division. They had to make a matching trade. In Haren, they have a pitcher signed through 2012 with a club option for 2013. Yet, Haren will have no marking on 2010 unless the Halos can find a power bat they desperately need to replace the injured Kendry Morales.

Remember, this is the AL West we're talking about, NOT the AL East. The Halos sit 8 ˝ games behind the Rangers. It's a large gap to overcome but not insurmountable as the Rangers are not the Yankees, Rays or Red Sox.

I also question the Angels' acquisition of Alberto Callaspo. He is nothing but an extra pair of legs, a slap hitter with little pop (.403 SLG, .131 ISO) and certainly not the prototypical third baseman. This was a purely depth move, and if the Angels want to seriously consider chasing down the Rangers, they need to make moves that are more than that. This is the end of July, not the middle of December.

Here are some Angels' rankings in a few categories that need fixing:

24th in MLB with .319 OBP
17th
in MLB with .403 SLG
15th
in MLB with .147 ISO
26th
in MLB with .255 TAv
25th
in MLB with 45.2 Hitter VORP
15th
in MLB with 4.336 WXRL

They desperately need a big bat and another reliever wouldn't hurt, either. The Halos have never really been a slugging club, but to compete with the powerful hitters from Arlington, they're going to need a big bat. Mike Scioscia could also use another reliever (to move a middle of the road bullpen into the top tier) and a fourth or fifth starter to add to a pool with Scott Kazmir, Trevor Bell, or Michael Kohn as options. It's worth noting that the Angels are seventh in the AL in runs scored but 11th in runs allowed.  Haren should help close the gap there, but adding a veteran presence to the rotation could do wonders.

Here are eight acquisition suggestions I have for the Angels:

Jesse Behr is a Baseball Prospectus intern.

Jesse Behr is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jesse's other articles. You can contact Jesse by clicking here

Related Content:  Halos

10 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

djbrown

doesn't the fact that they need 3-4 more pieces (power bat, another starter, two relievers) and sit 8.5 games back indicate that their season IS over, and playing for 2011 is the right move?

Jul 28, 2010 10:06 AM
rating: 0
 
Brian Oakchunas

The mainstream media does a lot of stuff like this. The offense sucks, get bat. I think you have to consider who you're replacing. It is going to help just as much to upgrade a near-replacement level pitcher, like Saunders, as it is going to help to improve on a near-replacement level hitter (like Callaspo). Yes, there is a point at which the offense is so bad that they can't score any runs and then no pitching can help, but for a team that is 11th in runs and 24th in ERA, I don't think that is even an issue.

If your point is that the Angels need to get a first baseman and reinstall Napoli as the primary catcher, I can see your point, but the Angels are hellbent on not doing that and then you have a whole other article on your hands, where your persuation has a lot more to do with the idea of moving Nap than who they get after that.

Jul 28, 2010 11:39 AM
rating: 3
 
eneff1
(940)

It's not really fair to criticize a trade for Haren on the grounds that they need a hitter more. No matter whether you need a hitter or not, you make that trade any day of the week because it was such a steal. A marginal run saved is still the same as a marginal run scored, and Haren saves a bundle of runs. Make the steal of a trade, worry about getting a bat at less of a bargain tomorrow.

Also it's a little confusing why one would criticize the team for getting a starter, and then make the only players you suggest for trades starters.

Jul 28, 2010 12:28 PM
rating: 2
 
eneff1
(940)

not only i meant first.

Jul 28, 2010 12:28 PM
rating: 0
 
ScottyB

I'll echo these criticisms: A run prevented = a run scored, right?

Jul 28, 2010 12:31 PM
rating: 0
 
conwell

One of the biggest problems even if they get a first baseman is that it will likely mean that Napoli goes to the bench with Scioscia's infatuation with Jeff Mathis. Adam LaRoche and Lyle Overbay are upgrades on Jeff Mathis, but they're not (at least by much) over Napoli.

If either of those happen and it moves Napoli to the bench or into some job sharing arrangement, there's not much of an improvement. In fact, the Callaspo move would be a much bigger upgrade (with Wood going to the bench).

I'm not against getting a bat, but the Halos really only shot at the west is a return to form of Rivera, Matsui, and Abreu. On top of that they need some consistency out of the rotation (which Haren should help with). With the exception of Weaver, there aren't any players on the roster having better seasons than they did last year and in most cases are considerably worse. Obviously, losing Morales was a huge blow, but the underperformance of the rest of the roster is equally damaging.

Jul 28, 2010 12:40 PM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Jesse Behr
BP staff

Hey guys. I believe the Angels could've competed with the rotation they had, vying that they made some moves to shore up the bottom portion of it (a 4th or 5th starter). I'm not here to say the Haren move was bad - clearly they acquired an amazing pitcher. Every team could use a couple of extra pieces if they're seriously considering a postseason spot, and acquiring Haren was no exception. I was not criticizing Reagins for making the deal, but rather to say now that he's made it, he can't just give up on the 2010 season. You can't acquire an ace in July, no matter the circumstances, and say a club has given up on for the rest of the year. Imagine if Reagins got his hands on Brett Myers, D.J. Carrasco to patch up the 'pen, and a LaRoche or a Cantu. In my eyes, that 8.5 gap would seem like an easier challenge to overcome.

Jul 28, 2010 12:44 PM
 
Brian Oakchunas

Jesse, please respond to your original quote: "they went in the wrong direction" and ScottyB's summation of some of the comments: "A run prevented = a run scored, right?"

I still don't understand why they went in the wrong direction.

Jul 28, 2010 13:15 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jesse Behr
BP staff

In my opinion, Brain, the right direction would've been to acquire someone like a Westbrook/Myers and acquire a Cantu/LaRoche. Reagins still has a chance to do both, with the main focus being on a big bat. Imagine having a run prevented = a run scored plus an extra bat for support?

Jul 28, 2010 15:10 PM
 
pobothecat

I suspect getting Haren wasn't Plan A but, instead, Opportunity Irresistible --- such a benefit to the 3-year outlook that it couldn't be passed on. (kind of CK's point in her appraisal)

Jul 28, 2010 16:40 PM
rating: 0
 
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