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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

LOOKING FORWARD 

As the midpoint of the season draws near, rumors begin to swirl about what, if anything, the Angels will and should do to secure their lead in the West.

However, the most imminent and likely rumor has to do with dispatching someone; the Yankees, as has been reported all over the Halosphere, have expressed interest in Shea Hillenbrand. It's hard to argue that the Angels really need Shea at this point (or that they ever did, really), but, nonetheless, we are reportedly uneasy with trading him while Garret Anderson resides on the DL and Casey Kotchman's near future is uncertain due to his concussion.

Signing Hillenbrand was a panic move in light of Juan Rivera's injury, of course. An understandable panic move, but one that was likely unnecessary (as I argued before the season). Given that he is being out-produced by both Reggie Willits and Robb Quinlan, I hold to this position.

Still, I understand wanting to make sure Casey is okay before moving forward. But I have no reservations with moving him. Kendry Morales is a better use of the roster spot.

In addition to ridding ourselves of Hillenbrand, there is talk of the Angels going out to get Adam Dunn. This is far more complicated.

Dunn certainly is an intriguing player. He has a ton of power and draws a lot of walks, two things our offense could use. But he's also a poor defender and, most likely, an ordinary baserunner (at best), and he strikes out a lot. However, being in the AL would allow him to DH, removing the poor defense from consideration, and you can live with the strikeouts when he produces like he can (a career OPS+ of 128, 134 so far this season). Dunn is an elite hitter who has never played in late summer games of particular significance, so he might really shine in a spotlight.

But, even outside of pondering what we'd have to give up (Joe Saunders and Hainley Staitia and someone else, perhaps?), he would create something of a logjam once Garret and Rivera return from injury. Rivera is about to start taking batting practice, and if he can return, even at his career 115-OPS+ level, he still would help the team considerably at bat, and with his solid defense and outstanding arm would provide a great service by relieving our corner outfielders. Dunn might be able to give Vlad a break as a DH twice a month or something, but that's far from ideal.

Reggie Willits has proven he belongs in the lineup; the Angels aren't going to bench a healthy Garret Anderson (though assuming health from him may be a case of counting chickens before they hatch) and Juan Rivera has earned playing time, as well. Though I wouldn't be adverse to acquiring Dunn if the price were right, I don't see Stoneman making such a move that could disrupt our current "offensive continuity" until he knows more about the condition of Garret and Juan.

Now, if from a month from now, neither one of those guys is healthy enough to produce, then we can revisit it. But as of this moment, I don't see anything developing on that front, and that doesn't really bother me.

I'm actually far more concerned about our bullpen, which we can discuss later this week.

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Comments:
Looking forward to your bullpen review.

A return-to-health from Justin Speier would probably solve most of the current 'pen woes, I imagine. It might be time to give Jason Bulger a shot as well; it's hard to imagine that he'd do appreciably worse than Oliver or Carrasco at this point.
 
Matt Welch's assessment of the Hillenbrand situation is very interesting, and has me about 2/3ds convinced that moving his is, at this point, a mistake. He'll produce around GA level, and isn't as likely to be injured. We'll need to deal with Rivera when he becomes available, but until then, there's not a lot to talk about.
 
That should be "moving him is ... a mistake". And the text of his commentary is here.
 
Sorry about your loss, Chronicler.

Hillenbrand is an insurance policy, one that comes close to guaranteeing league-average offensive production (including much-needed power) from here on out (despite the suckage until recently), should 1) G.A. shut it down, 2) Rivera not make it up to speed, or 3) Casey suffer another freak injury.

Given that 1, 2 & 3 are all in effect at the moment, I see no reason to shop him around just now, unless the Yanks are offering Hughes or something.

Kendry might produce that well (despite his early-season suckage), and there would certainly be value in having him get some more MLB at bats under his belt, but then again he might just hit .235/.293/.380, which is unacceptable.

And what I fear most, given Scioscia's proclivities, is that he'll end up DHing Izturis & Aybar and the like....
 
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