As I was preparing to write about third baseman Alberto Callaspo the Angels announced the signing of a two-year $8.975 MM contract keeping Callaspo in the fold through the 2014 season.
Sorry fans. This means that Jerry Dipoto will not be trading the farm for Chase Headley. It's why he did not make an offer for Kevin Youkilis' services. Insert Name Here will not be the Angels third baseman; that job belongs to Alberto Callaspo.
Here's why. Consistency and affordability, Like it or not the Angels are making the correct baseball and business decision going with Callaspo.
Don't Gnash Your Teeth, He's Not That Bad
Would the ballclub be better off if the Marlins had sent Miguel Cabrera to the Angels. Of course they would. Did Angels owner Arte Moreno make a tremendous blunder by allowing Scott Boras to get under his skin and Adrian Beltre to the AL West rival Rangers. It's probably his worst move as owner. Or how about why wasn't good old Brandon Wood good enough to put up numbers like Brett Lawrie and be a solid starter in the Major Leagues.
I bring up these names because they are the top three American League third basemen base on the WAR stat. Alberto Callaspo ranks 4th at 3.2 in the AL ahead of Michael Moustakas, Kyle Seagar, Evan Longoria and the bane of the New York Yankees, Alex Rodriguez. When you include National Leaguers, Callaspo is ranked 9th.
This is where Wins Above Replacement stat loses old school stat baseball fans. A third baseman should be a big guy who hits 30 home runs. Sorry to break the news to you but that player does not exist. Only four players (Cabrera, Beltre, Headley & Alvarez) hit 30 or more homers in 2012. Nine third baseman reached 20. Depending on the season the Major League average for homers by third baseman is between 9-13.
Callaspo is not a power hitter but he's one of the more consistent and plate savvy hitters who does not strikeout a lot. He'll take his walks and is good for 20 plus doubles and 10 plus homers.
His ZIPS projections for the 2013 season are a .706 OPS with 10 homers and 53 RBI. Essentially duplicating his 2012 season. If Alberto can draw a few more walks and have a few line drives fall in there is no real reason not to believe he could get his on base percentage back into the .350 range. Callaspo is also a capable alternate for Mike Scioscia to use in the number two hole behind Mike Trout.
But It's Two More Seasons !?
Yes folks, two more seasons. This is if Angels top prospect Kaleb Cowart can make the leap that Dallas McPherson and Brandon Wood could not before him. Be a regular starting third baseman for the Angels for at least six seasons.
The 20 year-old Cowart is the prototypical third baseman that fans and organizations hope to see. At 6'3, 195 lbs the slick fielding switch hitter with power is hopefully the Angels long term solution at the hot corner. Cowart is likely to start the season at AA Arkansas Travelers but the it is possible Georgia native could start 2013 back with the A Inland Empire 66'ers. Cowart will not be 21 until June but if he is able to produce at the next level he will be on the fast track. 2014 at Triple-A and 2015 with Angels is all goes according to plan.