L.A. Angels: Why a Heath Bell Trade (or Any Other) Can't Save the Halos Now

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L.A. Angels: Why a Heath Bell Trade (or Any Other) Can't Save the Halos Now
Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Angel fans: it's time.

Time to throw away those far-fetched hopes of trading for Aramis Ramirez, Heath Bell or any other potential savior whose name has been thrown around the past two weeks. Barring any rabbit-out-of-hat magic tricks, it's just not going to happen in 2011.

Well, on second thought, it might happen, but it shouldn't. A little sobriety is what this team needs right now.

The last few years, GM Tony Reagins has been able to pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat as trading deadlines loomed. Last year he did it with Dan Haren, and in 2008 pulled off a doozy by grabbing Mark Teixeira from the Atlanta Braves.

While the Haren trade has and will continue to pay dividends, the Teixeira trade, which seemed like a nice deal at the time, may now be seen differently. Maybe Casey Kotchman didn't pan out to be the player the Angels and Braves thought he could have been, but maybe he could've been traded for something other than a half-year rental, which ultimately warranted a first-round exit at the hands of the Boston Red Sox in 2008.

Regardless, every year since the championship run of 2002, it seems like the Angels have been buyers at the deadline. It's no wonder then that everyone expects them to be buyers as we near the end of this deadline too.

But should they be?

The Angels find themselves in the uncomfortable position of looking up at the Texas Rangers, and (sour news, folks) the Rangers are good.

Surprisingly, the talk from most of the writers here on B/R has been about how the Angels need to add a power hitter, add middle relief, add something to catch the streaking Rangers.

But the real problem is: who can the Angels trade away to get any of those players? And even supposing they could, is it financially feasible to keep them beyond this year? Moreover, is it financially responsible? Why is it that nobody is asking these questions?


Trades from Angels' Past Plague the Future

The real problem begins in the front office. For every great move Angels GM Tony Reagins has made (Dan Haren, Mark Teixeira), another has blown up in his face (Scott Kazmir, Gary Matthews Jr, Vernon Wells).

And now that the Angels have made their bed, they've got to sleep in it.

The fact is the Angels are out of money. Due to reckless trades, the Angels have handcuffed themselves this season from making the necessary moves for a final push into the playoffs and beyond.

They have the fourth highest payroll in MLB at $138 million, capped by the grotesque salary of Vernon Wells who stands to make $26 million. In addition, 36-year-old Torii Hunter is making $18.5 million and now-cut Scott Kazmir was making $12 million.

Needless to say, none of these salaries are movable.

So what should the Angels be doing at the deadline?

Joel Pineiro is making $9 million this year. If he could stay healthy and show that he is still a quality number three or four pitcher, there could be some moderate interest from a pitching-desperate Yankee or Red Sox team who is looking for a steady, veteran arm to bolster their rotation going into August and September.

Or, what about a trade to move Fernando Rodney and his $5.5 million contract to a team that needs a power arm in their middle relief corps? It wouldn't matter who the Angels got in return for him, they just have to stop taking on water.

Only exacerbating this problem would be taking on the $7.5 million contract of Heath Bell, so the Angels could have two closers. A much better, more reasonable option would be to check out the availability of Jason Isringhausen or Tim Byrdak from the New York Mets to strengthen their middle relief at half the cost.

Don't get me wrong; I am not trying to preach gloom and doom here. I still believe the Angels have an outside shot of winning the division this year. They are only two games out of first place, and as much as the local media continues to try and write them off, they continue winning.

Torii Hunter was right last week when he said of coming back to beat the Rangers 9-8 after trailing 8-0, that the Angels just have to play “Angel baseball.” Texas is a great hitting team, but the Angels are a great pitching team. And if they can make it into the playoffs, facing Weaver, Haren, and Santana in games one, two, and three is frightening to any lineup.

Even more encouraging should be the fact that the Angels are one of the best teams set up for future success.

They have three solid (possibly great) right-handed starting pitchers in Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana, an exciting young closer and four top-notch young position players. If they could add a few veteran pieces, and if Kendrys Morales can return to be the player he was before he got injured last year, we're talking a possible championship—possibly multiple championships.

So, yes. I am disinterested in the Angels talking about acquiring Aramis Ramirez, or Heath Bell, or Hunter Pence or any other Johnny-Come-Lately if it means jeopardizing their very bright future or bogging down their finances. And if you're an Angels fan, you should be too!

The best trade rumors at this point should be those that unload dead weight and set them up for success next year to make a move for the big-name free agents who will hit the market at the end of the season.

Get young. Get fresh. That should be the Angels' game plan come July 31.

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