Angels stand pat at deadline; Houston Astros don’t.

The Angels did not consummate any deals in the final hours before baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline, but one of their division rivals made a significant move.

The Houston Astros traded starting pitcher Bud Norris to the Baltimore Orioles, reportedly receiving a pair of minor-leaguers, L.J. Hoes and Josh Hader, and a 2014 draft pick, in return.

That’s of significance to the Angels, who faced Norris four times this season and scored one run in 28 innings. Norris’ 0.36 earned-run average against the Angels was his best against any team he faced at least twice. The Angels are scheduled to play Houston six more times this year, but won’t face Norris’ Orioles until next season.

Yesterday, the Angels traded Alberto Callaspo to the Oakland A’s for minor-league infielder Grant Green. While they were rumored to have made infielders Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick available to other teams, both players remained Angels through the non-waiver trade deadline at 1 p.m.

Teams can still make trades through August 31 if the players involved pass through the waiver system unclaimed.

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One more thought on the Vernon Wells trade to the New York Yankees.

I had the chance to ask a veteran baseball guy — not a team employee, but someone with decades of experience in different facets of the game — about the Vernon Wells trade on Monday. Specifically, is there such a thing as an “unmovable contract” if Wells gets traded twice after signing a seven-year, $126 million deal?

“The economics of the game have changed so much in the last one, two seasons,” he said, “between cable revenue and MLB revenue sharing, unmovable contracts are looking movable to teams that have money.”

Keep that in mind in 2014, when Albert Pujols‘ salary jumps to $23 million, and gradually escalates before expiring in 2021. Or in 2015, when Josh Hamilton‘s salary jumps to $25.4 million, or 2016 when Hamilton becomes a $32.4 million man.

Who knows where the economics of the game will be then, but don’t call either contract unmovable.

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More on the two newest Angels minor leaguers, Exicardo Cayones and Kramer Sneed.

Someone suggested this morning that the two players the Angels acquired for Vernon Wells on Tuesday, Exicardo Cayones and Kramer Sneed, would be good title characters in a Buddy Comedy. Look out Harold and Kumar…here come Exicardo and Kramer!

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Angels, New York Yankees finalize Vernon Wells trade.

Vernon WellsIt’s official. 

Vernon Wells has passed his physical and Major League Baseball has signed off on a trade sending the outfielder to the New York Yankees.

The Angels received Exicardo Cayones and Kramer Sneed from the Yankees. Cayones, a 21-year-old outfielder, finished last season in the Yankees’ Low-A affiliate in the New York Penn League. Sneed, a 24-year-old pitcher, went 0-7 with a 5.37 ERA with the Yankees’ affiliate in the High-A Florida State League in 2012.

The Yankees will also send approximately $13 million to Anaheim over the next two years to offset some of Wells’ salary.

Wells, who cost the Angels Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera in a January 2011 trade with the Blue Jays, was a major disappointment on the field during his two seasons in Anaheim.

In 2011, one year removed from his third career all-star appearance, Wells batted .218 with a .248 on-base percentage and .412 slugging percentage. His batting average was the lowest among qualifying American League players.

In 2012, Wells was relegated to the bench when Mike Trout emerged as the Angels’ everyday center fielder and eventual American League rookie of the year. Wells played only 77 games, batting .230/.279/.403.

Meanwhile, he continued to earn the team’s highest salary as a result of the seven-year, $126 million contract he signed with Toronto in 2008.

Now that Wells is gone, here’s your chance to chime in:

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Reports: Angels seeking alternative to Hank Conger.

According to multiple reports, the Angels are seeking help for their backup catcher position. Hank Conger is the front-runner in camp, hitting .417 in Cactus League play, but his erratic throws to second base have given the team pause.

While Conger has pledged to straighten out the issue in time for Opening Day, it makes sense if the Angels are in the market for a better defensive alternative to starter Chris Iannetta.

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Daily Distractions: Debating the ex-Angels on the Hall of Fame ballot.

There are two former Angels making their first appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot this year, Steve Finley and Aaron Sele.

Finley played one forgettable season in Anaheim, batting .222/.271/.374 in 2005. The 40-year-old was the weak link in an outfield that included Garret Anderson and Vladimir Guerrero in their primes, and occasionally Chone Figgins. He was pushed for time at DH by Jeff DaVanon. Each of Finley’s 440 plate appearances that season served as a reminder that the World Series run of 2003 was firmly in the past.

But don’t let Finley’s Hall of Fame credentials be obscured by one bad season. By several metrics, he’s on par with Jack Morris — who, in some voters’ opinions, is the only worthy Hall of Famer on this year’s ballot (see below). My biggest gripe with those metrics is that they don’t consider playoff performances, which is the primary reason Morris got two-thirds of the BBWAA electorate to vote for him last year. Performing in the clutch counts for something, and I doubt Finley’s contribution to the Arizona Diamondbacks’ 2001 World Series championship is enough to keep him on the ballot beyond this year.

Sele is also on the ballot for the first time. His line as an Angel from 2002-04: 24-24, 5.20 ERA.

And then there’s Lee Smith, who recorded 37 of his 478 career saves in a California Angels uniform. If he isn’t a Hall of Famer, the same writers who leave Smith off their ballots need to re-evaluate how they view the save statistic. That’s not an endorsement or an indictment on either Smith or the save – just an observation.

There was plenty of Hall of Fame debate today with the final voting coming tomorrow. As I often say, there’s nothing like parsing through the moral crises of a bunch of cranky sports writers to start your morning off right …
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