L.A. Angels: 7 Waiver Deals to Help Them Pass the Texas Rangers
The Los Angeles Angels are six games out of first place, have lost four in row (two to the Rangers) and are 3-7 in their last 10, and all of Orange County appears poised to collectively jump off the Premier Commercial Bank building out onto Katella Ave.
(Out-of-staters: That is the white building you can see just outside Angel Stadium left field on TV.)
It's getting so bad that just listening to the postgame show on AM radio makes you feel like you've just finished listening to Nirvana's In Utero—hopeless and alone.
Let's try to look on the bright side.
Really, the Angels are not sh...ahem, great. (Let's agree.)
Also, they play in a generally weak division, yes? (Tentatively, nod your head.)
Can we also agree that in recent years, other "not great" teams have sneaked into the playoffs in the last month of the season, teams that were nowhere near as good as they should have been, and went on to win the World Series, a la the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals, 2003 Florida Marlins and the 2010 San Francisco Giants?
Right, eh? Are we feeling better?
So, is it idealistic to believe the Angels are just one piece away from making a championship run behind the great young arms of Dan Haren and Jered Weaver?
Look, I'm not saying it's likely; just, can it happen?
Well, check out these guys on the trade wire and find out which one may end up being that piece the Halos need in order to make a championship run.
Trade Target No. 1: NOT Aramis Ramirez
Brian Kersey/Getty Images
Angel fans, let this one go.
We all knew Aramis Ramirez wasn't coming to Anaheim when he said he wouldn't waive his no-trade clause in early July, yet for weeks after, Angel fans irrationally held on to the belief that there was a chance.
Well, there wasn't then, and there isn't now.
Let it go.
He's definitely not coming to Anaheim.
Nope, no chance.
Trade Target No. 2: Wandy Rodriguez
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
The Angels need another starter to bolster the back end of their rotation. As of right now, they've got Tyler Chatwood holding steady in the four-slot, but nobody really in the fifth spot.
It's been Joel Pineiro. It's been Garrett Richards. But neither stands to be very effective—or reliable—from now until September.
With that in mind, a possibility to trade for Wandy Rodriguez may prove to be an option, as Ken Rosenthal reports the Houston Astros will place him on waivers as early as next week. Due to the $36 million he'll make over the next three years, he's likely to clear.
However, a trade with the Angels is unlikely because even before the non-waiver trade deadline, the Astros were rumored to be placing a huge price tag on Wandy. If that's true, don't expect the Angels to be making any moves for him any time soon.
Trade Target No. 3: Chris Capuano
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
In my opinion, Chris Capuano is the best option available for the Angels right now.
Unlike Wandy Rodriguez, Capuano is built for the back end of a rotation, while he still provides many of the same benefits Rodriguez does.
He is left-handed and is a good complement to the hard-throwing pitchers on the front end of the Angels rotation, as he features a big 12-6 curveball and a bevy of off-speed pitches. In fact, he really is like a poor man's Wandy Rodriguez and a perfect fit for the Angels' four-slot in the rotation if they can get him.
Also, for Capuano, the price is right, and it probably wouldn't take heaven and earth to move him. He stands to earn only $1.5 million this season (plus incentives), which makes it puzzling that he even cleared waivers at all.
If I'm Tony Reagins, I'm making a play for Chris Capuano—and soon.
Trade Target No. 4: Jason Vargas
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
When Jason Vargas is on your radar, that's either a really good sign or a really bad one. It suggests either that you're very close and need to add just that one minor piece, or it suggests that you're unwilling to part with any significant prospects and therefore will take what you can get.
For the Angels, if they express any interest in Vargas, it'll be due to the latter.
Sure, Vargas is not the sexiest pick (by the way, the photo I chose for him is just wrong—I'm feeling a little guilty), but again, he seems to decently fill a void at the back end of the Angel pitching rotation.
He is left-handed, uses an off-speed pitching arsenal and is owed less than a million bucks in 2011.
But if Chris Capuano is the poor man's Wandy Rodriguez, what does that make Jason Vargas?
Trade Target No. 5: Heath Bell
Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images
Yeah, yeah. Look, I know what I said.
But that was then, and this is now.
Right now, the Angels have more walk-off losses (with 12) than any other team in Major League Baseball. Clearly that suggests that they have a lack of clutch, impact pitchers at the back end of their bullpen too—and that they're playing in a lot of close games due to a sluggish offense.
Jordan Walden is a decent enough closer with a decent enough year going for him (and let us not forget he's a rookie to boot). Despite his good 2.87 ERA and 26 saves, though, he also leads the league with eight blown saves.
Enter Heath Bell.
Unfortunately, things won't be so simple. Although Bell has a hefty contract (he earns more than $7 million this year), he probably wouldn't make it through waivers if the San Diego Padres put him up. Quality relief pitching is difficult to come by, and Heath Bell is among the very best.
Still, if the Padres put him up on waivers, and on the outside chance he gets through, maybe the Angels ought to take a look at him.
Trade Target No. 6: Hideki Matsui
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
If the Hideki Matsui experiment hadn't failed so miserably last season in Anaheim, there may have been an argument to be made for making a trade for him this year.
The problem is nobody in Anaheim wants to see this play out again; they already know the ending to that story.
Sure, Hideki comes cheaply (he makes just a little over $4 million this season), but he adds absolutely nothing new to the Angel attack. Also, if they were to add Matsui, it would overcrowd their outfield/DH rotation, especially if Mike Trout gets the late-season call-up.
Trade Target No. 7: Alfonso Soriano
David Banks/Getty Images
So I am the only one who thinks this trade may be crazy enough to work?
Yes, I am, you say? Okay, fine.
I understand all the con arguments: He strikes out too much, he plays terrible defense, his speed is gone, his OBP is horrendous, etc.
Yes, yes. Agreed—on all counts.
But the Chicago Cubs have said they are willing to eat a significant (the quote was "major, major") portion of his contract, and I find Soriano plugged into the Angel offense an interesting experiment.
He could play in the outfield, DH or even possibly play second base (though I'm sure it's been a number of years since he's played there). On the Angels, he would immediately become their second-best power hitter behind young Mark Trumbo.
Again, this is only worth it if Soriano comes with an experimental price tag. But if the Cubs are that desperate to get rid of him, which they clearly are, I think this may play out as a high-risk, high-reward type of scenario.
Then again, maybe I'm just crazy.