Thursday, December 6, 2007
Trade Analysis: Orlando Cabrera for Jon Garland
New GM Tony Reagins began his reign with a bold trade with the Chicago White Sox to bolster his already deep rotation, acquiring SP Jon Garland in exchange for shortstop Orlando Cabrera.
Cabrera, coming off his second finest season as a major leaguer, will depart and create an opportunity for the Angels to go with youth in their infield. Cabrera, 33, is a year away from free agency, and I can't help but think that this is the right moment to trade him and not let him walk away with nothing in return. Cabrera, while a solid defender, is not a superior bat. He was a quality bat last season, his .345 OBP driven by a career high .301 average.
He was a good 2nd hitter, but he would have been better served hitting 7th, given his unspectacular OBP. At 33, Cabrera is performing at his peak, and the decline is coming soon. With, say, Maicer Izturis as the Angels starting SS, the Angels upgrade their OBP, as Izturis is a patient hitter, and get 5 years younger. If they chose to go with Eric Aybar (a mistake, his bat isn't ready), they get even younger and put a plus defender in there at short.
Simply put, this deal made a lot of sense, and I give GM Reagins an B+ for this move. I haven't even mentioned Garland, because in this crazy market, getting any decent pitcher (which is what Garland is) deserves a positive mark.
Garland gives the Angels the flexibility to trade a young arm to get a needed power hitting 3rd baseman (Editor's note: Since this posting, Miguel Cabrera has been lost to the Tigers). Garland isn't my definition of an ideal pitcher, but his durability is unquestioned, and he has flashed brilliance before.
His low career strikeout rate, a career 4.79 K/9 innings, and his so-so strike zone dominance, 1.61 K/BB, signal Garland's reliance on pitching to contact. He does not induce as many groundballs as I'd like to see considering how often hitters make contact against him, 1.27 GB/FB, but going to Anaheim will help. Angels Stadium is a far better pitchers park than Chicago's U.S. Cellular, so his HR rate should shrink.
In the end, Garland is about league average, and Angels' fans should be wise to realize this and remember he's a #5 starter, nothing more. With that in mind, a 4.40 ERA over 210 innings is perfectly acceptable from a bottom of the rotation. This is a solid acquisition, keeping in mind what it cost to get Garland. As long as the Angels don't re-sign Garland (free agent after 2008) to a 5+ year deal worth big money, this move is a fine one.