Thursday, December 1, 2011
Angels ready for some action
By Mark Saxon ESPNLosAngeles.com
Wednesday's trade for Colorado Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta could be the first of several thrusts the Los Angeles Angels make in the coming weeks, perhaps even in the coming days, to change directions.
New general manager Jerry Dipoto seems intent on reshaping the roster he inherited from Tony Reagins to fit the new set of philosophies he's trying to instill. The next episode of what could be a busy offseason is next week's winter meetings in Dallas.
Dipoto remains committed to adding a late-inning reliever, a fourth or fifth starter and at least one more powerful, patient hitter. If he's willing to trade a 21-year-old pitcher who already has a season's worth of big-league experience (Tyler Chatwood), there probably aren't too many Angels he considers untouchable.
"It's a long offseason," Dipoto said. "We have a lot we still want to accomplish."
Angels GM Jerry Dipoto would like to add at least two more pitchers and a power hitter to the roster.
What you're likely to see at the meetings
People will be talking.
That's what the winter meetings are. They're a giant gab-fest. Media members mingle in the lobby, front-office executives hold court in their private suites and agents drift around the hotel selling the virtues of their clients.
The Angels figure to wade into the free-agent pool, but lately they haven't exactly thrived in deep waters.
Dipoto has publically acknowledged checking in on a couple of the major free agents on the market, left-handed starter C.J. Wilson and third baseman Aramis Ramirez. He offered a "no comment" when asked whether he has made Wilson an offer -- which means he probably has -- but he was fairly conclusive about Ramirez, a 33-year-old with a dubious reputation in the clubhouse.
"I hesitate to use the phrase 'kicking the tires,' " Dipoto said, "but we're interested in the best players in the world who are out there right now and we're trying to sort through who are the best fits for us."
Some people expect Wilson to decide where he'll pitch next year by Thursday, when the meetings wrap up.
Dipoto says he has no idea when Wilson will reach that conclusion. He and his agent have dined with teams all across America by now.
Last year at the winter meetings, the Angels learned that outfielder Carl Crawford had jilted them and signed with the Boston Red Sox, starting a domino effect of poor winter outcomes that eventually led to Reagins' dismissal. Dipoto is hoping this offseason gets off to a better start.
What's possible at the meetings
If things go well in Dallas, the Angels could have most of their shopping wrapped up before Christmas, maybe even before Hanukkah. There have been reports Dipoto has dangled Maicer Izturis, a valuable player, in trade talks with the Rockies and Detroit Tigers. That could mean he plans on using Alberto Callaspo in Izturis' super-utility role.
That, in turn, could mean he's looking into acquiring a power-hitting third baseman, probably via trade. Is that surprising given that Callaspo, as the everyday third baseman, led the Angels in batting average (.288) and on-base percentage (.366) last year? Probably not.
"We also need a third baseman, no doubt," Torii Hunter said Wednesday on 710 ESPN radio. "I'm not taking anything away from Callaspo -- he did a great job. But you probably want a little thump there. That's just my opinion."
The dream would be Evan Longoria in an Angels uniform, but that would take parting with uber-prospect Mike Trout and a bushel of other promising young talent, including, probably, major leaguers. The New York Post wrote earlier this month that the Angels have discussed a trade that would send Peter Bourjos to the New York Mets in return for David Wright. That seems unlikely, considering Bourjos was -- by several measures -- the Angels' best player in 2011.
It makes some sense, however, if the Angels think Trout is ready to play on an everyday basis before his 21st birthday. More likely, they'll wait until Hunter leaves via free agency next winter and slide Trout to right field.
What you won't see at the meetings
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Don't expect to read about a contract extension for Jeff Mathis or Bobby Abreu.
With the acquisition of Iannetta, the Angels don't figure to tender Mathis a contract by the Dec. 12 deadline, saving them about $1.5 million in the process. Abreu, who turns 38 next March, appears to have virtually no role if Kendrys Morales finally returns from a 22-month sabbatical recuperating from a fractured ankle and could be shopped aggressively.
The Angels would probably have to swallow most, or all, of Abreu's $9 million salary to move him, yet another gift Reagins left his successor.
Angels fans, who have griped about Mathis' offensive shortcomings for years, might find out why Mike Scioscia stubbornly wrote his name in the lineup all those years. Iannetta has a dubious reputation defensively, raising the question of whether Angels pitching will slip a bit in 2012. Even if it does modestly decline, getting Mathis' .194 lifetime average out of the lineup should be a positive.
Mark Saxon covers the Angels for ESPNLosAngeles.com.