A couple weeks ago when the Angels traded CF Peter Bourjos to the Cardinals for 3B David Freese, it left footprints from owner Arte Moreno and manager Mike Scioscia, furthermore giving off the impression that if the once supposed power struggle did exist between Scioscia and general manager, Jerry Dipoto, Scioscia was the victor. By default, it’s illogical for a major business’s manager (Scioscia, signed through 2018) under contract longer than the general manager (Dipoto, signed through 2014); imagine a scenario where your job security was better than that of your boss; and understand that this isn’t merely a hypothetical when it comes to the Angels, but a reality.
Nonetheless, Peter Bourjos — for some reason — never received the proper love he deserved from his manager, and without a position to play, they dealt him for an older, lesser player in David Freese. Bourjos will now roam center field on an everyday basis for the best franchise in the National League, while the Angels are straddled with an aging 3rd baseman who will rot away beneath the marine layer of Angels Stadium.
Today, however, Jerry Dipoto exhibited his prowess as a GM, trading perhaps the most overrated player in Major League Baseball, Mark Trumbo, while receiving two middle-of-the-rotation starters in return; one from the Diamondbacks (Tyler Skaggs), one from the White Sox (Hector Santiago).
The White Sox, meanwhile, parlayed their #4 starter for center fielder Adam Eaton, who should start everyday from the get-go;
The Diamondbacks, oddly, get Mark Trumbo and a player to be named later, or cash considerations, from both the Angels and White Sox.
So the deal looks like this, in an easier-to-digest form:
Angels receive: LHP Tyler Skaggs, LHP Hector Santiago;
White Sox receive: CF Adam Eaton;
Diamondbacks receive: 1B/3B/COF Mark Trumbo, PTBNL or cash (Angels), PTBNL or cash (White Sox).
There’s a reason why, in baseball, three-team trades are so rare. It’s because one team inevitably gets the short end of the stick while the other two teams, generally, benefit. While the White Sox turned a #4 starter into an everyday center fielder, and while the Angels turned a defensive liability who can’t do anything but hit for some occasional power into two immediate rotation candidates, the Diamondbacks gave away a promising left-handed starter and a young, controllable outfielder, and all they got in return was a big white guy who can’t get on base.
Mark Trumbo, 27, broke into the major leagues in 2010, and in three full big league seasons has produced 95 home runs and 218 RBI, which is what you’ll hear talked about so much from the media pundits who still believe that is the key to offensive production. What you won’t hear — mainly because who wants to hear negativity? — is that he cannot defend any position on the diamond, and he can’t draw a walk to save his life.
In three years Trumbo has produced on base percentages of .291, .317 and .294, respectively, with strikeout rates of 20.9%, 26.1% and 27.1%, also respectively. Because he hits home runs, on the surface, all his sins are forgiven; from an early age we are conditioned to believe home runs and runs batted in are the end-all for offensive performance; in the modern era, inquiring minds are instructed a different blueprint, driven by OBP; the more a player gets on base, the greater the potentiality for said player to cross home plate. Mark Trumbo is not that guy. He just isn’t.
Over the last three years, the Angels have created for themselves a track record of terrible front office decisions, starting with signing Albert Pujols to a 10-year, $242 million contract, to Josh Hamilton’s 5-year, $125 million deal, to trading Jordan Waldon for Tommy Hanson, to the Bourjos-for-Freese swap, and oh hell I don’t think it’s worth your while to keep going.
Selfishly, as a fan of the Rangers, I’m not sure if I feel more disappointment that today’s trade actually made the Angels better — by 3-4 wins — or more shocked that, against all odds, Anaheim is indeed capable of making clever front office decisions. Tyler Skaggs was a hot prospect once upon a time and, if all the pieces fall into place, could make for a decent #2 starting pitcher someday. Hector Santiago, although he doesn’t possess the same hype or ceiling, could produce better than his #4 label pitching half his games in such a run-suppressive ballpark.
Now, I’m not saying a rotation of Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Hector Santiago, Tyler Skaggs and Garrett Richards is enough to bring home an AL West title in 2014, but it’s a solid step in the right direction in comparison to what the Angels were looking at before. With Mike Trout still leading what should be an offense to be reckoned with, pitching is all Anaheim needs to compress the gap between themselves and the Rangers, and Athletics. As I referenced, the aforementioned rotation isn’t talented enough to compete with the two best teams in the West, and their bullpen is still a clusterfuck, but if Dipoto can swing a couple more arms this offseason, the Halos can at least throw their hats in the ring next season.
After being a non-factor over the last few years, that’s probably more than most Angels fans could ask for at this point.