Trading Wood For Wood Makes Sense for L.A. Angels, Cleveland Indians

Steve KeeganCorrespondent IJune 29, 2010

CLEVELAND - MAY 25:  Kerry Wood #34 of the Cleveland Indians pitches against the Chicago White Sox during the game on May 25, 2010 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The Angels need bullpen help.

The Indians need payroll relief.

The Angels are about to give up on their top prospect Brandon Wood.

The Indians are about to give up on their season and closer Kerry Wood.

These are just a few of the reasons why a Wood-for-Wood trade might be win, win for both teams.

Kerry's bloated 7.02 ERA and 1.56 WHIP are not exactly living up to his bloated $10.5 million salary. It's going to make it extremely hard for the Indians to get anything for him if they choose to try and get out from under that albatross of a contract.

Cleveland (28-47) is in another early death spiral, as they have already fallen 13 games behind first place Detroit.

The Indians probably felt they could trade Kerry for prospects mid-season if things didn't go their way. Unfortunately, they probably weren't counting on Kerry to have such a disastrous start from a statistical standpoint.

Good luck getting anything for him now. The best Cleveland can hope for is to convince a large-market team to take Kerry's salary off their hands. If they happen to pick up a prospect or two along the way, that would be gravy.

Similarly for the Angels, things could not have gone worse for their 25-year-old infield prospect Brandon Wood, who was compared to the likes of Troy Glaus and Mike Schmidt during his minor league career.

The reality has been a nightmarish .176 batting average with four extra base hits and 45 strikeouts over 150 at-bats. Brandon hasn't exactly made up for his anemic offense with stellar defense either. He has made eight errors in 399 innings.

However, Brandon's upside might appeal to the Indians. Baseball America had Brandon ranked no lower than the 16th best prospect in baseball for three straight years—ranking him as high as third at one point.

Did I mention he also makes only $410,000 per year?

Brandon hit 43 homers, 116 RBI and had a .321 average one year in the minors. He seemed to be on track to put up similar numbers in the majors until the wheels fell off that turnip truck.

Many have speculated one reason was the unrealistic and unfair expectations put on the kid by the Angels organization and their fans. A change of scenery where not much is expected might be just what the doctor ordered for Brandon, who is obviously pressing.

Kerry Wood is a player that can probably relate to not living up to the hype, even though his problems were more physical than mental.

Kerry might be an excellent gamble for the Angels, who desperately need help at the back end of their pen. They are one of the few clubs who could handle that kind of a payroll hit.

A closer look at Kerry's stats show 13 of his 16 innings this year were clean. His poor numbers are largely because of a horrible outing against Kanas City, where he gave up 5 runs while only recording one out. In contrast, Angels closer Brian Fuentes has given up runs in 30 percent of his one-inning appearances.

Although he has been wild at times, Kerry is still recording almost a strikeout per inning. When he is on, he has proven he still has the mental toughness and "stuff" to come into games at big moments and shut teams down. Playing for a contender again might start to stir Kerry's competitive juices and bring back some of his intensity.

It would definitely be a gamble for the Angels to take on the $10.2 million contract of a fragile and declining Kerry Wood, but I like his upside over that of Fuentes.

Angles fans are at the end of their rope with Brandon. At this point his very presence has to be a distraction to his teammates—most of which he played with in the Angels farm system and are friends with Brandon.

It is actually becoming awkward to see Brandon embarrass himself the way he has this season. It has to be demoralizing to his teammates just to see his name on the lineup card.

I know it is for the fans.

Brandon might put it together and be a successful major leaguer one day, but it won't be in an Angels uniform. If the Angels can find a way to get anyone for him, they should do it. Even if they have to throw in a couple of fungo bats and some pine tar, or in this case take on a $10.2 millon contact of an aging star.

There really is no gamble in this scenario for the Indians, who stand to save almost $10 million with this move—a move that they would be hard pressed to pull off with virtually any other club.

The Angels are clearly not going anywhere this season until they solidify their bullpen, which has ranked at the bottom in all of baseball all season. If they don't make a move for Kerry, they better find someone else in a hurry.


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