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 ½ 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:
RHP Brett Myers, Astros
7-6, 3.24 ERA, 3.99 SIERA, 2.8 SNLVAR, 24.4 VORP
RHP Jake Westbrook, Indians
6-7, 4.65 ERA, 4.43 SIERA, 1.3 SNLVAR, 10.4 VORP
RHP D.J. Carrasco, Pirates
2-2, 3.95 ERA, 3.23 SIERA, 0.70 WXRL, 8.1 VORP
RHP Octavio Dotel, Pirates
2-2, 20 SV, 4.50 ERA, 3.12 SIERA, 1.06 WXRL, 1.3 VORP
RHP Livan Hernandez, Nationals
7-6, 3.12 ERA, 4.80 SIERA, 3.8 SNLVAR, 32.9 VORP
1B Adam LaRoche, Diamondbacks
14 HR, .195 ISO, .450 SLG, .045 MLVr, .269 TAv, 5.5 VORP
1B Lyle Overbay, Blue Jays
11 HR, .163 ISO, .411 SLG, -.020 MLVr, .263 TAv, 2.8 VORP
3B Jorge Cantu, Marlins
10 HR, .150 ISO, 410 SLG, -.026 MLVr, .257 TAv, 4.9 VORP
Jesse Behr is a Baseball Prospectus intern.
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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.
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.
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.
I still don't understand why they went in the wrong direction.