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Monday, November 28, 2005

SO, WHERE WERE WE?
A few things have happened in the last week that have indirect effects on the Angels:

- The White Sox traded Aaron Rowand for Jim Thome.

Though I think the first reaction a lot of people had is that this move gets the ChiSox out of the Paul Konerko derby, the player it really seems to free up is Frank Thomas.

If the Sox re-sign Konerko, and per Kenny Williams we should know one way or another within a week, that leaves The Big Hurt without a position, and for the first time in his illustrious career he would have to seek employment outside of Chicago.

Thomas is a pretty intriguing player, actually. The only question with him, though a big one, is his health. He had only around 100 at-bats last year, but was the same old Frank, posting a 131 OPS+. The shape of it was a bit odd, with an AVG/OBP/SLG of 219/315/590, but you have to imagine that would have normalized with more playing time. In 2004, in over twice as many plate appearances, Frank hit 271/434/562.

The big problem, of course, is that he has had only 435 plate appearances over the past two seasons. Practically, this means that he could likely be signed to a short and cheap contract, although one loaded with incentives should he actually be able to play.

If this comes to pass, should the Angels look to sign Frank Thomas to such a contract? They could do a lot worse, if they are really looking for a right-handed power hitter for a DH or 1B slot. In fact, I think signing Thomas to be a DH would make a hell of a lot more sense than signing Konerko:

1. Thomas would be much, much cheaper. Were he not to work out, almost nothing would have been expended.

2. Thomas, if healthy, would be much, much better. Sure, he'll turn 38 in May, but his OPS+ over the last four years is 136; Konerko's is 119.

3. Thomas, who would be signed to a short-term deal, would not be blocking any players in the future, i.e. Casey Kotchman and Kendry Morales. He could DH for a year and be gone. Konerko will likely command a four- or even five-year deal, which would knot up the easy end of the defensive spectrum, causing a logjam with Kotchman, Kendry, and an increasingly gimpy Garret Anderson.

If you add it all up, I'm not convinced that he might not be a better acquisition than Manny, once you account for the cost in money and players it would take to acquire Man Ram.

I guess one problem with this scenario is that it leaves no place for Tim Salmon, in the unlikely event that he can be healthy and productive. We'd all like to see Tim have a heroic return, but I think we all recognize that the chances of that happening are rather slim. And, quite frankly, the chances of both Tim and The Hurt being healthy simultaneously are pretty low, as well.

I just think it's something worth considering.

- The Mets acquired Carlos Delgado for Mike Jacobs and Yusmeiro Petit.

There has been some chatter that the Angels were involved in Delgado negotiations. Given what the Marlins acquired in this deal, it appears that the Angels would likely have been asked to offer up something like Casey Kotchman and Ervin Santana to get Delgado. As fine a hitter as he is, that cost is too steep.

- That's about it.

Yeah, the BoSox acquisition of Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell doesn't directly affect us, though it does make one postseason contender stronger. But there's little reason to believe the Angels were ever in the Josh Beckett market.

However, it does indicate that the Marlins are shedding salary, and some of their other marquee players are believed to be available. This includes the likes of Juan Pierre, who, at first glance, may appear to fit into the Angel offense, and fills a defensive need, as well. But I think that's a longshot, and I hope we don't pursue him, as his defense is not sufficient to make up for his mediocre-at-best offensive skills.

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