Friday, December 28, 2007

7 Bold Moves GM Tony Reagins Should Pursue (Part III)

Moving right into suggestion number three, the decision has been made to trade/release Gary Matthews Jr., as well as signed Barry Bonds to a one-year deal.

To reiterate, the Matthews move would help alleviate the logjam in the outfield, as well as give a higher upside player like Juan Rivera or a better lead-off man like Reggie Willits a chance to play. The Bonds signing would immediately infuse world-class offense production into the lineup from the DH slot, without sacrificing the flexibility at DH (with Matthews gone and Bonds able to play occasional left field, Mike Scioscia would keep his important OF rotation intact).

Here we go:

3) Trade for St. Louis Cardinals for 3B Scott Rolen, preferably sending Gary Matthews Jr. in return.

Why this could happen...

*The Cardinals traded their center fielder Jim Edmonds, and they could be looking to plug in a veteran player that can hit a bit and play solid defense. They don't have any great options for center field, although reclamation project Rick Ankiel should get a good look, despite his shortcomings (namely a lack of plate discipline, high strikeout rate, so-so walk rate).

*Scott Rolen and his manager Tony La Russa do not get along, and he has already asked the team for a trade after the 2007 season. He has been an All-Star performer in the past, but his performance has slipped badly due to injuries the past 2 seasons.

*The Angels need a power hitting third baseman that can field his position. It's pretty simple.

*Scott Rolen has put up a career .283/.372/.507 line, and that figures to be a reasonable expectation if he can finally shake off the injuries of the past 3 years. That's more typical third base production than what can be expected of the possible Chone Figgins/Maicer Izturis platoon at third, and it will help them compete with the Miguel Cabrera, Alex Rodriguez, and Mike Lowell trio the Angels are sure to face in October.

*Rolen is a professional hitter, displaying obvious skill with a keen eye (above average walk rate) and improving bat control .

*Gary Matthews Jr., 33, is owed a little over $43 million over the next 4 seasons. *Scott Rolen, 32, is owed $36 million over the next 3 seasons.

*The potential needs fit, and the salaries and ages are similar enough to be a wash. The players are either clearly not happy or potentially walking into an unhappy situation (Matthews Jr. lost his center field job to new signing Torii Hunter).

Why it might not happen...

*La Russa has already said, "Nobody has more often said that I don't think Scott should be traded than me. I think he should be with our club. I think we need him. We need him to reassert himself as an impact player. I don't care what anybody wants in a trade. We need him and we expect him to be productive."

*The Cardinals are a smart organization, and they know that 4 years and $43+ million isn't a great investment to make in a 33-year-old center fielder with one truly stellar season under his belt.

*The Angels are usually unable to acquire their trade targets, for whatever reason. They apparently were close for Miguel Tejada and Miguel Cabrera, and in the past were interested in Mark Teixeira, Johan Santana, Garrett Atkins, Jason Giambi, Manny Ramirez, Todd Helton, Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, Jon Garland, and many others. They acquired exactly one of those players, and with all due respect to Jon Garland, they got the one with the least upside.

The Angels have just had a hard time parting with their own players, which is admirable but not necessarily in the best interests of their on-the-field performance.

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