Tuesday, December 20, 2011
What's next for Jerry Dipoto, Angels?
By Mark Saxon
Things have settled down since the Angels shook up baseball and energized their fans with the acquisitions of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson.
Angels GM Jerry Dipoto.
That doesn't mean their winter work is over.
They still have to unclog a logjam of first basemen/DH types, with a trade of Bobby Abreu looking increasingly unavoidable. Funny, it was pretty apparent at the end of the season that the Angels would need to move Abreu. It just got a little more pronounced when Pujols signed a 10-year contract and added a big log to the jam.
Now, the Angels need the DH spot Abreu would occupy to give at-bats to Mark Trumbo and Kendrys Morales. They'll miss Abreu's patience and his left-handed bat (Let's not forget, he's been a marvelous player for a long time), but his declining production the past three seasons makes him expendable.
Can they get anything for him? That could come down to finances, as in how much of his $9 million contract are they willing to eat? They're unlikely to land any of the things they covet most at this point: a closer, a power-hitting third baseman, a good left-handed hitter of any kind.
To get one or more of those kinds of players the Angels would have to trade one of their promising young players: Hank Conger, Mark Trumbo, Garrett Richards, Peter Bourjos or Mike Trout. I list them here in order of their likelihood of being dealt.
Conger has yet to prove himself in the major leagues, but teams are always looking for catchers who can hit, especially left-handed ones. Mike Scioscia has yet to get comfortable with Conger's defense. The Angels would love to hold onto Trumbo, who is both inexpensive and productive, but this might be the time to strike. His value is high coming off a Rookie of the Year runner-up season, there's no vacant position for him to play and his lack of on-base skills don't fit with Dipoto's vision.
Teams are always looking for young pitching and Richards has the kind of live arm they covet, but he's currently the Angels' No. 6 starting pitcher, a commodity almost as valuable as a backup quarterback in the NFL. They can hardly afford to part with what scant pitching depth they have now that Tyler Chatwood is a Rockie.
It would take more for the Angels to give up Bourjos or Trout (especially Trout), two unique talents, but bear in mind they both play the same position and do a lot of the same things. Moving Trout to a corner outfield spot would waste some of his primary asset, his blinding speed and, thus, reduce his value.
It's too early to tell whether Dipoto's final strokes will be brush-up work or bold changes, but it's pretty obvious he's still exploring his options.