Angels Trade Orlando Cabrera for Jon Garland

Jon Garland
Photo Credit: MLB Pressbox

My first thought when I heard the Angels had traded Orlando Cabrera for Jon Garland was, “Maybe NOW people will figure out not to believe trade rumors.”

The media have been falling all over themselves reporting Cabrera trade rumors, but those were about Florida Marlins third baseman Miguel Cabrera. That trade has yet to happen, and perhaps never will.

As I’ve written many times, baseball general managers don’t spend their days telling beat writers about their trade discussions. Yet fan boards run rampant with hysteria every time some story is printed claiming a trade is imminent. This trade is just further proof that GMs don’t engage in pillow talk with reporters.

My second thought was, “Thank goodness they didn’t trade any prospects.”

As I wrote in my October 9 blog, Orlando Cabrera will be a free agent after 2008 so the Angels might move Brandon Wood back to shortstop as his eventual replacement. This trade opens that possibility one year earlier.

For all the hubbub about Wood moving to third base in 2007, in fact he played 34 games at shortstop for Salt Lake this year in addition to his 74 appearances at third. Just as Cal Ripken moved between SS and 3B during his career, Wood is capable of the same versatility. Mike Schmidt in his 1971 Triple-A season played 2B for 76 games, 3B for 52 games and SS for 5 games. Some fans question why a player isn’t locked into one position. The reason is that it increases the player’s versatility, giving him an opportunity to make the majors at more than one position. Remember that Howie Kendrick reached the majors in 2006 not as a second baseman, but as an emergency first baseman. Howie never played that position in the minors, but in 2006 he was at 1B for 44 games and his native 2B for 28 games.

Moving Cabrera opened the door as well for Maicer Izturis and Erick Aybar. Izturis filled in at third base and second base when Chone Figgins and Howie Kendrick were injured, but in his minor league days he played a lot of shortstop too. Aybar has been considered a top prospect for some time and also played a utility role this year, but as I’ve written over the years in the Top 10 Prospects reports his style of play is quite reckless, leading to mental errors and injuries.

Let’s not forget Dallas McPherson, who began his rehab in September from his latest back surgery. McPherson homered in his first rehab game at Tempe on September 22, but that’s a long way from the big leagues. He’ll need at-bats in 2008, which probably means he starts the year at Salt Lake, but a healthy McPherson at 3B and an emerging Wood at SS easily add 30 HR to the lineup, and in 2009 maybe 50 HR between them. If Dallas isn’t ready to go, Wood can play 3B with Izturis or Aybar at SS.

Where does Chone Figgins play? I covered that in the October 9 blog. Just as with Cabrera, I think Chone’s value will never be higher, so I’d look to move him in the right deal.

Of course, all the speculation is that the Garland trade is a pre-cursor to another deal, packaging some of the above with Nick Adenhart or Ervin Santana or some of the above names to Florida for Miguel Cabrera.

I hope not.

As I wrote on November 10, the Angels can add 50 HR internally in 2008 just by staying reasonably healthy. Flushing the farm for Miguel Cabrera may please the instant gratification crowd and give the press something new to write about, but the internal options are a lot cheaper and in the long run just as productive.

In the aforementioned October 9 blog, I wrote that I felt the Angels’ priority should be to add a veteran pitcher, maybe a guy like Curt Schilling. He went back to Boston, but Garland at 28 is entering his prime. He’s not an ace, but he’ll make a decent back-of-the-rotation starter. Add him to a rotation that includes Kelvim Escobar, John Lackey, Jered Weaver, and Joe Saunders, and that’s an impressive corps. Garland will be a free agent after 2008, but he’s a SoCal native so the Angels may hope to sign him to an extension.

In the October 9 blog, I also wrote that I thought the Angels needed to restructure their bullpen, starting with a trade of Francisco Rodriguez (who’s also a free agent after 2008). Acquiring Garland allows the Angels to move Ervin Santana to the bullpen. I still think Ervin’s destiny is to become a dominant starting pitcher, but for now maybe he needs to rebuild his confidence by working relief. In two regular-season relief appearances, Ervin worked four no-hit shutout innings, striking out seven and walking two. Hardly a reasonable sample, but it’s a reason for optimism. If effective, he’d add some badly needed bullpen depth.

My third thought was, “The Angels finally got their man.”

Rumor had it during the December 2001 winter meetings that Angels GM Bill Stoneman and White Sox GM Ken Williams had tentatively agreed on a trade that would send Erstad to Chicago for Garland, outfielder Chris Singleton, and two unnamed minor leaguers. According to the rumor, Disney ownership nixed the deal, possibly because Erstad was a marketable commodity. Stoneman never confirmed the deal, and the Angels’ version of the tale was that no trade is ever complete until ownership approves it, which is just as true today under Arte Moreno as it was six years ago under Disney.

In any case, Garland has remained on the Angels’ radar for years. A year from now, if he’d remained in Chicago, maybe he would have become a free agent and they would have pursued him on the open market. This trade gives them Garland one year earlier and the inside track on an extension.

And my final thought was, “Well, this will blow the Warner Madrigal flub off the map.”

This article is copyright © 2007 Stephen C. Smith DBA It may not be reprinted elsewhere without the prior expressed written permission of the author. To obtain permission, e-mail Stephen at



    OK, I’ll miss a smart and stabilizing player like Orlando Cabrera. But I get that the Angels do have infield help (a current strong point with them) in the form of younger players. What worries me is the mass hysteria about trading off so many good young players to get the other Cabrera, Miguel.

    I keep reading and hearing talk about his “relaxed” attitude toward conditioning and that he will probably only have the physical tools to play third for one more season. What good is this for the Angels? Another outfielder/DH to squeeze into the lineup? They need to hold that spot open for GA and Vlad to fill when their health problems require it.

    A secondary problem for the Angels is the immediate trouble losing these young players may cause. Stephen will be able to comment more accurately on this but I read a comment on Baseball Prospectus that the Angels farm player supply has hit a lull after this current group graduates/gets traded off. Again, this would be a lot of talent to trade off for one out-of-shape left fielder/DH.

    Stephen, can you help us out with this train of thought?


    I like Garland alot, between him, Lackey and Escobar they’re going to eat up innings galore in 2008.

    And as much as I love O.C., I understand he had to go; last year of his contract, glut of talented middle infielders on the roster.

    But please Angels don’t give up Kendrick and Adenhart for Miguel Cabrera. Pitching and defense win championships and with O.C. gone and Aybar and M.C. on the left side of the infield, our defense will be horrible.

    Kendrick is going to be around for a long time and half of that time for a lot less money! He’ll tear up the N.L. and when it comes time to be paid, he’ll sign with the Yankees and come back to haunt us!

    In 2009 the big three in the rotation could be a young group led by Saunders, Weaver and Adenhart!

    I’ve totally been on board with Stephen’s thinking and felt we only needed a big starter, not a big bat. Let’s hope Scosc, Arte and Reagin’s all think the same.


    The ‘big bat’ zeitgeist among Angels fans may be one of the stupidest things I’ve seen in a long time.

    But there is a middle ground here in an analysis as to why something akin to a ‘big bat’ is needed.

    Tallying up homers and extrapolating the current roster’s long ball potential is fun and all while giving a bigger picture w/r/t what a team potentially possesses. But getting to some magical number (200 hrs?) in order to demonstrate what a team has instead of what a team supposedly needs doesn’t work in the baseball world. Heck, the Reds were third in the MLB in homers last year and they were just terrible.

    So the exercise answers the ****** and their wee little brains but who cares about the ******.

    It’s about protection, lineup construction and flow, protecting against an onslaught of injuries, protecting against slumps (both hitting and pitching) and making sure if something goes awry, there’s enough flexibility to weather the storm.

    It isn’t about year-end stats, it’s about having the pieces to win games on a daily/weekly/monthly basis.

    Yes, the Angels were sixth in runs this year, but they were 17th in slugging. Ask any baseball scout and they will tell you that level of runs with that SLG isn’t really sustainable. It’s a concern.

    This year had loads of clutch hitting and big innings. It was great. But it can’t be relied upon over the long term. You can’t stock a roster with guys and bank on everyone to be above-average clutch hitters. It’s a recipe for disaster.

    Sure, Rivera has the potential to hit 30 hrs, but what if he hits .240 as the league finds holes in his swing (like middle-in). Wood obviously could hit 25 in his first/second year, but with his contact rate, he easily could hit .220 in his first and second year.

    This is a concern. To count on unproven/marginally proven youth to meet or exceed expectations belies any sort of rational thinking. It’s cute but not realistic.

    I have come around on the Garland deal. The Angels now have a ridiculous amount of good starting pitching. But that doesn’t mean an upgrade in hitting isn’t needed, if only to counteract the superlative (and young) starting pitching in the AL right now.

    Kotchman protects nobody. Maybe in two to three years, but in no world, this or any other, does he protect anyone now. You can only go off what he’s shown so far and he has shown to be mildly injury-prone (even taking away the ball to the head) and tends to disappear for long stretches at a time (he showed this at Salt Lake two/three years ago as well).

    The potential is there (great K/BB rate) but it has to be shown before anyone can make a judgment w/r/t his ability to protect. Check out all his Major League hrs and see who they were hit off. It’s a bit startling. He hasn’t shown he can hit no matter who is pitching.

    I don’t know who the Angels should get. Kendrick/Adenhart is a lot to give up for Cabrera. Kendrick’s inevitable move to the two hole really cushions the blow of the OC/Garland deal. Much of this seems to setting up for the free agent market after the 2008 season with so much coming off the books.

    If the team stands pat, we could be watching a lot of 3-2 games next year and the Angels could, could, could be on the wrong end of it.

    This are concerns. I applaud your faith in the system and respect the rationale behind it but there is just too much on the other side of the ledger to warrant me to blindly believe this team, as currently constructed, does anything outside the brutal AL West next year.

    Division titles are cute and all but the Red Sox/Yankees/Indians/Tigers are good. Do the Angels have enough to compete. Sure. Do they have enough to win? Not yet.

  4. Stephen wrote:

    “A secondary problem for the Angels is the immediate trouble losing these young players may cause. Stephen will be able to comment more accurately on this but I read a comment on Baseball Prospectus that the Angels farm player supply has hit a lull after this current group graduates/gets traded off. Again, this would be a lot of talent to trade off for one out-of-shape left fielder/DH. Stephen, can you help us out with this train of thought?”

    I’m working on the Top 10 Prospects report right now. With luck, it’ll be online by the end of the holiday weekend.

    Unlike BP or other amateur sites, mine differs because:

    (1) I’ve actually seen these kids play.

    (2) You don’t have to pay to read the article.

    (3) Most importantly, mine will have video clips of each player so you can view him yourself and make your own judgment.

    I think there’s quite a bit of talent in the system, but it’s at lower levels. Rancho should have a monster team in 2008. But we have to get through the winter first; trades can always change what talent is in the system.

    So far as I’m concerned, show me another organization that match Wood, Adenhart and Walden.


    My feeling is that, even after the Garland acquisition, the only way that the Angels can compete with the likes of the Red Sox, Indians and Tigers is with better starting pitching. They have compiled an impressive group of #2 and #3 starters, but none on the level of a Beckett, Sabathia, Santana, Peavy, etc.

    If they are going to package a few top prospects in order to pull off a major deal, I would rather it be for Santana than M. Cabrera. They need a true stopper with legitimate “no-hit” capability each time he takes the mound. The Red Sox bats are hard to stop, especially at Fenway. There’s only one thing that will stop good hitting. Of course more power would be nice, but not if it means tossing out the long-term plan.

    That said, I would prefer no deal at all, unless a true stopper in his prime could be had without giving up Adenhart, Kendrick or Wood. I would prefer to wait until spring to evaluate the progress/development of McPherson, Wood, Willits, Morales, Weaver, Saunders and both catchers. I would like to see if E. Santana can learn to follow through with his delivery and regain his form and confidence. I would like to see if Figgins can pick up where he left off, or if the last 4 months of last season were just a fluke.

    There’s plenty of time to measure progress and make any necessary personnel changes early next year.

    One other thing. If the Red Sox are able to land both Santana and Kerry Wood (whom they are rumored to be pursuing), they will have raised the bar considerably. Artie’s goal of being perennial World Series contenders AND approaching or achieving profitablity, may need some rethinking. I feel very confident he will continue to do the right thing for the organization.


    Boy, Stephen, you must be really proud to have such an intelligent readership! I agree with every one of these comments but it looks like we’re preaching to the choir.

    BTW, your description of the farm condition does, in fact, sound like a “lull”. I didn’t say “Armageddon”, after all. 😉 And look at those names, Wood and Adenhart are rumored to be on that Miami Wish list.

    I’m just worried that Angels brass will succumb to public panic but I still hold hope that Sanity will win out.

    Torii Hunter?? Maybe this allows them to go with the young guys on the left side of the infield now that the right side has shown they can perform, health permitting, and the outfield should make a good contribution no matter who’s ailing on any given day.

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