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Are the LA Angels in the Mix at the Trade Deadline?

Dean ChabanContributor IJuly 1, 2009

ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 1:  Center fielder Marlon Byrd #22 of the Texas Rangers makes the fly out against Juan Rivera #20 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (not pictured) at Rangers Ballpark July 1, 2009 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Are the Angels in the mix at the trade deadline?

Historically, one would have to say no. Why? Reagins is a disciple of Bill Stoneman, but this alone does not make a case.  Stoneman rarely made a trade at the deadline any of the years he was in the GM spot for the Angels. Stoneman was routinely criticized by fans and sportswriters alike for not making trades.

Last year, Reagins moved away from the Stoneman model by going after Mark Teixeira at the trade deadline from the Atlanta Braves. Considering what the Braves gave up for Teixeira, Reagins practically stole him—Casey Kotchman and a minor leaguer. 

Kotchman, whose excellent defense was unquestioned, was improving offensively as well when he was traded. It was a risk to trade such an asset and a player whose father has deep ties to the organization. Kotchman is young, has a few years before he is eligible for arbitration, and is definitely a player that is ascending.

The Angels would have liked to have kept him, I'm sure, but to get a player of Teixiera's magnitude you have to give up quality to get quality—or in this case, rent it as it turned out. 

The team hoped that they had a good shot at retaining Teixeira following the season.  They also hoped that he would be the bat that the Angels had always needed to protect Vlad in the lineup. But the penultimate hope was that he was the final piece to the puzzle of getting past the Boston Red Sox and on to the team's second World Series this decade.

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The Angels this year are in a different place. First of all, the Angels have found power in unlikely places this year in Torii Hunter, Juan Rivera, Mike Napoli, and Kendry Morales.  Even though they are No.18 in home runs, they are improving. They have hit more home runs in the last two weeks then they had in all the games prior. 

They are hitting .278 as a team, which is tops in the major leagues—not just the American League, but the Major Leagues. They are No.8 in runs scored.  Offense is not the problem with this team. If Howie Kendrick can overcome his third year jitters and regain the form that make the Angels think make him special, they will only get better.

Starting pitching is the possible and probable problem. Kelvim Escobar's hope of coming back early from shoulder problems has evaporated into him possibly not being able to come back at all this season. John Lackey hasn't regained his Cy Young candidate form which this team needs desperately. 

That's an issue considering this is his contract year. Half of the team that went to last year's All Star Game, Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana, who both carried the team last year when the expected rotation fell apart, is expected back this weekend but will be far from mid-season shape. 

If he can regain last year's form this will solve a large chunk of the Angels starting pitching problems. 

The Angels have filled in with Triple A players who have come through unexpectedly.  Matt Palmer has been lights out this year so far. I don't know if this 30-year-old is a one-year wonder, but he has been wonderful so far.

Sean O'Sullivan has come through spot starting with two wins. The teams' most successful starters this year, besides Matt Palmer, have been Joe Saunders and Jered Weaver. Saunders, who only joined the rotation last year, looks like he might be the staff ace for years to come. 

Weaver has been erratic in his first few years in the league but also has quality stuff.

Bullpen pitching was an issue earlier in the year but has since come around in their successful run of late. When Scot Shields went down with season ending knee surgery and Jose Arredondo went on the disabled list in the minors, the outlook seemed bleak. 

However, two relievers that have been disappointments so far this season, Darren Oliver and Justin Speier, have come through of late. 

Brian Fuentes who showed early season jitters has also come through in a big way to fill the large shoes that were left by the record setting Frankie Rodriguez. Fuentes is tied for the Major League lead in saves despite a 3.71 era. Guess who he is ahead of by just one save? That's right, K-Rod.

Can the Angels keep this up?  Have they found the form that they have been looking for all season or is this a team that is overachieving? These are questions that Mike Scioscia and Tony Reagins are obviously asking themselves as the trading deadline approaches.

Considering what this team has been through the first half of the season, I think this team is starting to play up to their potential. Personally, I don't think their is one player that can put this team over the top, which is the difference between last year and this year and the reason they won't be part of any major trades at the deadline. 

Maybe they will pick up an arm over the next few weeks but I think it will be one of the minor variety, not an earthshaker. Why? Because the Angels like what they have in the minor leagues and are not about to give up something they think will be special for something that is mediocre. 

Scioscia has always said that the only moves that will be made are moves that will make this team better. He has also always had the long view in regards to this team and the players in the organization. Make no mistake, if he thought Pedro Martinez would improve this team he would "advise" Tony Reagins to sign him. 

At this point, though, their doesn't seem to be anybody out there that would improve the team enough to make a difference.

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