Deal or no Deal: Potential Trade Thoughts from the AL West

With the MLB trade deadline quickly approaching I asked each of our site leads to give me their thoughts on what the team they cover should do. Should they buy, sell, or stand pat?  Who should they target or look to move?  As always, our writers were free to answer in whatever fashion they felt appropriate.

The responses that follow (after the jump) are from our Lead Writers in the AL West.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Halo Hangout Lead Writer Nate Proctor

With Scott Kazmir on the DL with “shoulder fatigue” (a codeword for being a terrible pitcher), the Angels called up Sean O’Sullivan to take his start in New York, and he helped them to a 10-2 win. Apparently that was a bit of an audition. O’Sullivan and minor leaguer Will Smith are now getting jiggy wit it on the Royals, and Alberto Callaspo has rejoined the Angels (he was in their system from 2002-2005) as their next new 3B. This move, to me, shows the Angels plan on continuing after the AL West title, since Callaspo, while not a huge pickup, is not someone you’d get to build your future on, either.

Of course, Callaspo will not address the fact that the pitching is a mess, but he will help bring up the Angels’ Major League-worst 0.262 wOBA at 3B, and may improve their defense a bit there, too. Are they going to catch the Rangers because of this trade? No. It’s hard to imagine anyone thinks they will, but it shows the Angels are at least looking at making some moves to improve the team.  That could, potentially, be a good thing if they can make moves that improve the team in 2010 and beyond.

The first, and perhaps biggest move I think the Angels should make is to acquire Adam Dunn. As has been mentioned on Call to the Pen before, I’m very much in favor of Dunn wearing a Halo. Admittedly, his defensive skills are among the worst in baseball (and certainly among the worst we’ve seen since the creation of UZR), but the Angels need a DH that can actually hit this season (Matui’s wOBA ranks him 10th among DH’s with at least 200 PA).  Since Matsui only signed for this season (thankfully), resigning Dunn would give them a far more long-term, and far more potent bat for their perpetual DH issues. As a side note to this, did you know that the last season the Angels truly had a productive DH was Brad Fullmer’s 0.366 wOBA in 2002? Ouch.

Trading for Dunn allows them to put someone at 1B occasionally this season when Scioscia gets tired of watching Napoli hit HRs for them.  For next season and beyond it gives them someone that can occasionally spell Morales at 1B and would give them the best DH the team has had in more than a decade. He won’t solve all their problems, but he goes a long way towards helping the offense. This is all contingent, of course, on resigning Dunn.  This shouldn’t be difficult for a team willing to give him a fair market offer. He seems like someone that always wants to stay where he’s at, even if it’s a team with no real chance of winning.  A long-term deal with the Angels would give Dunn the security he desires and a chance to play on a consistently competitive team.

As for what to do to address the pitching … honestly, I don’t know. It’s a riddle I haven’t really solved yet, given the people they have signed to multiple-year contracts for way more money than they’re worth, and the people on the farm they have to trade for any pitching. It’s likely an issue that will have to be solved through some free agency signings (Cliff Lee, come on down!), because I don’t see anyone even close to Lee’s caliber that is being offered for trade, or that the Angels have any real chance of acquiring. Dan Haren is the only name really being tossed around, and I would be shocked if the Angels were really involved in that in any real way.

Now, whether or not Dunn will help them win this season is another question entirely, and one I think I can answer pretty simply: No. He could go a long way towards helping the offense (which is currently terrible), but won’t do much to help the pitching (which is also pretty terrible outside of Weaver) or the defense (which might be the worst of the three). Of the many problems this team has right now, acquiring Dunn could go a long way to solving at least one of them. Whether or not the Angels are still planning to compete for this season or looking towards 2011, I think acquiring Dunn could help them in both respects.

Oakland Athletics: Swingin’ A’s Lead Writer Joseph Lopez

The Oakland A’s are known for making their share of moves at the trade deadline, but General Manager Billy Beane insists that the team will remain relatively quiet this year. The A’s, who enter today right at 0.500 and 8.5 games behind first-place Texas, have a few chips they could potentially deal before the deadline. Ben Sheets, who was signed this offseason for a healthy $10 million, could be dealt to a team looking for a solid arm. Sheets (4-9, 4.53 ERA), who has pitched better recently (1-2, 2.51 ERA in July), should stay in Oakland simply because of the role he plays in the rotation. This season, the A’s strength has been their pitching, and it’s not insane to say that a veteran guy like Sheets has had some kind of impact on the younger guys.

The A’s team ERA as of today, stands at 3.78 (6th in MLB). The young guys like Trevor Cahill (9-4, 3.15 ERA), Gio Gonzalez (9-6, 3.75 ERA) and Vin Mazzaro (5-2, 3.50 ERA) seemed to have matured a lot since last season, but it certainly helps to have a veteran guy in the rotation like Sheets, who is a four-time NL All-Star. When it comes to Sheets, the A’s should consider keeping him around for the rest of the season, especially if the team manages to put together a serious playoff run. Pitching would be key, if such a run were to happen, and Sheets would be a integral part of the success.

Also mentioned in the recent trade rumors were relief pitchers Michael Wuertz (2-1, 4.71 ERA) and Craig Breslow (4-2, 3.02ERA). With Wuertz, the A’s would have to receive a pretty good offer in order to deal their veteran reliever. Same probably goes with Breslow, too. The A’s really like their bullpen, and their entire pitching staff for that matter. Despite being stuck in third-place, the A’s probably won’t be sellers at the deadline. In my opinion, they probably will stay relatively quiet in the next week.

Seattle Mariners: SoDo Mojo Lead Writer Griffin Cooper

With Cliff Lee being dealt earlier in the month, there’s a really good chance that the Mariners won’t have anything to do at the trade deadline. While they are certainly playing for the future at this point, they just don’t have any other pieces to move with significant value. The only players that come to mind are David Aardsma, Jose Lopez, and Casey Kotchman. None of which are real impressive names at this point. Aardsma has seriously regressed this year.  On the surface he appears to have suffered a major drop off from 2009, despite posting similar peripherals. Jose Lopez has been one of the worst hitters in baseball, and Casey Kotchman seems to have taken his own step backward in 2010. The reality is, none of these guys are going to bring much in on the trade market, and because of that the Mariners might end up being idle at the deadline.

Fortunately, they did the right thing a couple weeks ago when they opted to move their most valuable piece, Cliff Lee, well before the July 31st deadline. If they had waited until the last minute, they probably would have settled for significantly less than the package they got from the Rangers, including blue chip prospect Justin Smoak. When it comes right down to it, the Seattle Mariners might not be busy on the eve of August, but they made the right move when they needed to.

Texas Rangers: Nolan Wrtin’ Lead Writer Brandon Wolfe

The Rangers have already made the biggest splash before the trade deadline by acquiring arguably the best pitcher on the market in Cliff Lee. On the day the Rangers acquired Lee, it was reported that a deal was pretty much done for him to head to the Yankees and out of nowhere the Rangers sent a better prospect package. That package, which was significant, included 2008 first round 1B Justin Smoak, but certainly brought back a very talented front line ace. His acquisition was a bit of a shock, even though he is worth the price, since the Rangers are pretty much broke and are waiting the August 4th auction of the team.  The financial issues were mitigated in part because the team traded off Kevin Millwood before the start of the season and got the Mariners to pick up most of Lee’s salary.

The Rangers also helped solidify their catcher situation with the acquisition of Bengie Molina from the San Francisco Giants. Molina addresses a spot that has been a weak link on the Rangers roster for quite some time.  With both of the team’s opening day catchers in the minors and career backup, Matt Treanor, serving as the primary catcher, Molina’s presence offers and immediate and significant upgrade at a very weak position on the roster.

So with Lee and Molina already in the fold, it is understandable if the Rangers are quiet from now until the trade deadline. Even if they wanted to make additional deals, the ongoing ownership and financial issues limit the team’s ability to freely make moves. Fortunately with the current roster and the moves already made by the front office, the Texas Rangers are in excellent shape to win the AL West and make the playoffs for the first time since 1999.  They might have the safest lead in all of baseball holding a 7.0 game lead on a listless Angels team.

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Tags: Adam Dunn Alberto Callaspo Ben Sheets Bengie Molina Casey Kotchman Cliff Lee Craig Breslow Dan Haren David Aardsma Gio Gonzalez Jose Lopez Justin Smoak Kevin Millwood LA Angels Matt Treanor Michael Wuertz Oakland A's Scott Kazmir Sean O'Sullivan Seattle Mariners Texas Rangers Trevor Cahill Vin Mazzaro Will Smith

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