Gary Matthews Jr. Headed to Mets, Angels 'Stoked'

Johnathan KronckeCorrespondent IJanuary 22, 2010

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 17:  Gary Matthews Jr. #24 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim scoring in the 11th inning against the New York Yankees during Game Two of the ALCS during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium on October 17, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim got a long overdue lesson in math this week.
They learned about the age-old principle of addition by subtraction.
It's simple. All you have to do is subtract $21 million of useless player from the payroll and you'll wind up adding emotional stability and tangible worth to your squad.
On Friday, the Angels put their lesson to good use when they sent reserve outfielder and resident malcontent Gary Matthews Jr. to the New York Mets, agreeing to pay more than $21 million of the remaining $23.5 million left on his contract.
It's not often you see a team is willing to pay a player that kind of money just to go away, but in this case, it's a welcome sacrifice.
Like the Seattle Mariners with Adrian Beltre, the Angels got suckered into offering Matthews Jr. a huge contract after he had a career year with the Texas Rangers, in which he batted .313, smacked 19 home runs, and made his first All-Star team.
And just like Beltre, he never came anywhere close to repeating it.
Matthews Jr. failed to bat higher than .252 in his three years in Anaheim and pouted like a child when Torii Hunter took his place, making him the Angels' most expensive and sullen bench warmer.
He also served to keep up-and-coming outfielders like Terry Evans and Chris Pettit stuck in the minors, with no room left on the roster for both prospects and Gary's ego.
Now, with GMJ in NY, the Angels will have a shot at maintaining a positive attitude in the clubhouse while giving their young guys some big league experience.
For their part, the Mets relinquished Brian Stokes, their 30-year-old relief pitcher who was expected to compete with former Angel Kelvim Escobar for the setup role in New York's bullpen.
Stokes appeared in 69 games for the Mets last season, striking out 45 batters while walking 38 across 70 1/3 innings and racking up a 3.97 ERA.
In the Angels' bullpen, Stokes is going to have to work hard for playing time.
The setup/closing duties will likely be spread between Brian Fuentes, Scot Shields, Kevin Jepsen, and recent acquisition Fernando Rodney, depending on performance, while Matt Palmer and Jason Bulger are primed to shoulder the middle- and long-relief load.
Backing them up will be a host of minor league starters and relievers looking to break through, including Rafael Rodriguez, Rich Thompson, Sean O'Sullivan, and Trevor Bell.
But hey, it's always better to have too many players than too few.
After a disturbingly quiet offseason, it's nice to see the Angels killing two birds with one trade: dumping a player with a bad attitude and a worse contract, and addressing lingering issues after an unusually poor season from the bullpen.
Apparently Gary Matthews Jr. was of some use after all.