As the trading deadline draws near, the possibility of an Angels blockbuster move seems to be getting smaller in the rear-view mirror. The Jose Reyes sweepstakes, which analysts and bloggers alike were drooling over early on in the year, has subsided with Reyes's increasingly electric play and, sadly, recent injuries.
But can the Angels still make a move? Are there still moves to be made?
The answer is, of course, there are. The great qualifier, however, is: how much of the future franchise should they risk for fleeting success in 2011? And, how close are the Angels to making a legitimate run against the likes of perennially loaded teams like the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees this year?
The Bucs Dealing?
Perhaps the most promising, least risky possibility lay in the Jeff Mathis for Garrett Jones talk. The sense in the trade hinged on the fact that the Pittsburgh Pirates were already platooning Jones in right field with lefty-hitting specialist Matt Diaz, so there was room to move Jones.
Moreover, the two starting catchers for the Pirates, Chris Snyder and Ryan Doumit, currently reside on the DL, leaving not quite major league-ready catcher, Michael McKenry, to shoulder the load behind the plate.
The Angels haven't been able to find a reliable source of power this year. They would have had plenty of room for Jones, who is currently hitting .248 with 9 home runs, as a left-handed bat in their otherwise right hand-heavy lineup.
But the Pirates have found themselves in the very unfamiliar position of being potential buyers at the break. With significant power issues of their own (Jones is second on the team in home runs only to Andrew McCutchen with 14), they seemed to shy away from trade talks once they started getting serious.
Other rumors continue to circulate around a possible trade for Carlos Pena or Aramis Ramirez of the Chicago Cubs. But the rub there is the lack of deal-able prospects in the Angels' farm system. A trade involving either Pena or Ramirez would, in all likelihood, include talks for Angels' top prospect Mike Trout.
And while the issue of whether to deal Trout is significant in itself, there are also lingering concerns about Pena and Ramirez, who have both underperformed this year and only recently begun to surge in the power department.
Further complicating matters in the trade for Carlos Pena is what then to do with Mark Trumbo. Having both Trumbo and Pena on the roster this year wouldn't pose any significant, immediate problems for the team. However, when Kendrys Morales returns next year, the Angels would find themselves three first basemen deep with little flexibility defensively to get them all in the lineup.
The future probably has Trumbo in right field anyway, with Mike Trout and Peter Bourjos in left and center. But again, how much can the Angels risk to give away for a shot at Pena?
And that's really what it all boils down to. Both Pena and Ramirez would provide some depth in some otherwise minor voids. But with the young Angel pitching staff anchored by Jered Weaver and Dan Haren and a young, brutally talented outfield on the horizon, a couple solid seasons from Pena or Ramirez don't seem worth it.
That answer probably isn't what Angel fans want to hear right now because making no trades at the deadline for a team just one game out of first place is very unsexy. But in the long run, allowing Torii Hunter and Bobby Abreu to provide what pop they have left, while keeping the seats warm for Trout, Trumbo and Bourjos puts the Angels in the driver's seat—right where they want to be.