Are the Angels buyers or sellers? Does it really matter? Why do people automatically default to those two stances when the trade deadline comes around? What deals should they make, if any? That's pretty much Angels General Manager Jerry Dipoto's position on the July 31 trade deadline. It's understandable given the season the Angels are having. But here's an idea: How about just building for the future… and maybe even for now?
That's right. Don't trade anyone away for prospects. The Angels are only 3 games under .500 on July 13. That's not that big of a deficit. After starting 15-27 in their first 42, they almost completely reversed their record in their next 42, going 25-17, and are 29-20 overall since then. So, why sell? But why buy for October either?
Throw those two out the window, and Jerry Dipoto can start building for 2014. That's a good strategy that Tony Reagins used when he acquired Dan Haren; he took care of their need to get a starting pitcher before the offseason even began. Dipoto can do that this July, it's just a question of whether the right move/s can be made, and if that's what he'll do in the first place. Before making any of those moves, however, Dipoto will have to take a close look at his top prospects that he can deal.
The Angels' farm system, although ranked 30th by Baseball America, does have prospects to trade. Fans all over think the Angels' system was ranked 30th because they have no one to deal or call up for depth. Not the case. Almost all of the Angels prospects that are worth anything are now at AAA, with very little else below that. That's their problem.
Fans have also gone along with these stories in the media about the prospects the Angels traded away to get Dan Haren and Zack Greinke. Well, Jean Segura faced the same problem that players like Luis Jiminez and CJ Cron are facing: they're blocked. There's nowhere else to go in the Angels' system. So how big of a problem is it, really, that the Angels have almost all their top prospects in AAA, and are depleted below that?
That was Arte Moreno's and Jerry Dipoto's plan. It's not like they had a brain fart and missed the talents of Jean Segura, Johnny Hellweg, Patrick Corbin, etc. The entire starting lineup of the Angels big club is locked at least through 2015. So, see you later to any position players in AA and AAA. That's the reality. And that's a good thing. It's called stability on the major league roster.
Much of the pitching is also locked at least through 2014. Jered Weaver, CJ Wilson, Jerome Williams, Garrett Richards, Ernesto Frieri, Kevin Jepsen, Michael Kohn, and Sean Burnett are here to stay. That's a lot! And that was the plan. Several prospects were deemed expendable by the Angels' front office for a reason.
So, now to business. Who is down there, mainly at AAA, who can bring a return, or two, or whatever?
And keep in mind, that the Mets... yes, the Mets, who are hitting the pitching jackpot with former Angels draftee Matt Harvey, and possibly Zack Wheeler, asked for pitcher Matt Shoemaker, who has never really put up great numbers in the minors so far.
Kole Calhoun, Andrew Romine, Luis Jiminez, CJ Cron, Taylor Lindsey, Matt Shoemaker, and... yes, Hank Conger are probably the main course of prospects Dipoto can, or should deal.
Since the starting lineup is locked at least through 2015, one can understandably assume that Dipoto would go for pitching. The Red Sox just gave up a somewhat declining prospect for reliever Matt Thornton, who has lost a step, but can still be among the most dominant of bullpen arms in the Majors. So again, one can argue that it might just take a Shoemaker to land a good reliever to stabilize the bullpen, while Sean Burnett hopefully returns with the dominance he brought early in the season.
A starting pitcher is also a great idea. How much are the Royals going to ask for in return for James Shields? Are two top prospects really worth Bud Norris? Could the Kyle Lohse offseason controversy (involving the Angels) come full circle by the Halos acquiring him at the deadline instead? What if the Angels brought back K-Rod in a Kyle Lohse trade?
This is all in the imagination. Who knows, really? These are all questions that would revolve around any approach here. Buyers, sellers, whatever, these are the same questions. Except, in the case, it's a matter of looking beyond 2013, and maybe... just maybe it could work to help the Angels put together a run down the stretch in 2013. It's improbable, but it's happened so many times in history, there's no reason to close the book. However, in any case, buying for the future now can allow the Angels, not only to bring depth to places they need it the most (pitching), but can also allow them to focus on other areas of depth during the offseason.
The bottom line with this subject, is that the Angels are in a position to deal for depth. Perhaps not necessarily star players, but a balance of bargain chips to fill in holes, kind of the way the Rangers did it -- even though their offense clearly needs Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli back. Still, the Angels could use their prospects to get that same kind of balance, but with the added bonus of having superstars like Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and Josh Hamilton on top of that.
The Angels can do it now, or they can wait. Either way, buy for the future now. And if gets the Angels to the playoffs in '13, great. Either way, the approach Jerry Dipoto should probably take is buying for 2014 and beyond.