Thursday, December 08, 2005

Stoneman Spinning Wheels

Bill Stoneman concluded his stay at the GM winter meetings in Dallas having accomplished very little. The Angels have not acquired a strong middle-of-the-lineup bat or a reliever and the deals that the LA Times reported were 'in the works' would not in my opinion make the Angels any better than they are now.

According to the Times these are the 'hot' deals Stoneman is pursuing:

1. C Javy Lopez - The Orioles are offering up Lopez whose knees will no longer make him a viable starting catcher. The O's are finishing up a deal for Ramon Hernandez which makes Javy and his $8.5 million contract for 2006 more than available. The proposed deal is an even swap for Darin Erstad with the idea being Lopez would become the Angels full-time DH and emergency catcher.

Analysis: What? Similar salaries, similar batting stats with the only real difference being the Angels lose a gold-glove caliber defensive first baseman. It does open up first for Casey Kotchman but if the Angels are intent on going that route why not shift Erstad back to center and let Finley DH? Will Javy Lopez give Guerrero protection in the lineup? They won't be able to walk Vladdy fast enough if that is what the Halo brass is thinking.

2. RP J.C. Romero - The long-time Twins reliever is apparently being shopped after he had some altercations with Minnesota skipper Ron Gardenhire. Cost: a prospect. How high is not known but presumably it would not be any of the Angels 'crown jewels'. While Romero was a top reliever in 2002 he has not been nearly as effective over the last three seasons with an ERA hovering just under 4.

Analysis: Romero's $2.2 million is a bit spendy but on the other-hand he is left-handed. But a deteriorating lefty with an attitude problem might not be the answer in the bullpen.

3. RP Ricardo Rincon - The A's lefty for the past three seasons is a free-agent coming off a fairly lousy 2005 season which saw his ERA jump from 3.68 in 2004 to 4.34 last season. He also had an ugly walk-to-strike-out ratio of 20:27 and made just under $2 million last year. On second thought, maybe that Romero trade is not such a bad idea.

4. 1B/DH Frank Thomas - The Big Hurt has been cut loose by the ChiSox after two injury-plagued seasons finished his career in the Windy City. I thought the days of the Angels signing washed-up sluggers to finish their careers in the quiet comfort of Orange County were over. Nothing good can come of this.

5. SS Nomar Garciaparra - When the Sox were shopping Nomar a couple of years ago I liked the idea of his coming to the Angels. But with Brandon Wood knocking on the door and Orlando Cabera holding down the fort -- there is no need or reason to sign him now.

Not one of these players would make a significant difference to the Angels. Of the entire group I would probably say Romero makes the most sense. When the Angels said goodbye to Jarrod Washburn they lost their last lefty. While I am not sorry to see Washburn go I would like to see the Halos acquire at least one decent lefty for the pen.

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