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Point/Counterpoint - Beating a Dead Horse: The Street Trade


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By Glen McKee & Nate Trop, AngelsWin.com Columnist & Satirist

As we write this, the “Angels Acquire Huston Street” thread is at 48 pages and it’s only been a little over a day since the news was breaking.  That may be more than even the Pujols signing generated in such a short time.  It’s a combination of the scope of the trade and having nothing else to bitch about at the moment that is making that thread grow like Hamilton’s strikeout total.  So, you’d think there would be nothing else to say about the trade.  48 pages, plus a handful of related threads.  Yep, that’s enough.
You’re not new here, right?  If not, you know that’s nowhere near enough repeating of the same points, just in different ways.  If there’s one thing we’re good at here at the P/CP headquarters, it’s talking about a subject after its relevance has faded.  The other thing we’re kinda good at is beating a dead horse.  We wouldn’t post here if we weren’t.  Without further padding, here is the ultimate P/CP for the Huston Street trade.

Good trade – by Glen McKee
lets-beat-that-horse.jpg

First, let me pick a bone with Huston Street and Anjelica Huston – your name is Huston, not Houston.  It should be pronounced to rhyme with bustin’ or dustin’, not Houston.  Get it right!
That aside, I like this trade.  I don’t love it, but I like it.  If it was a car, it would be a Tesla.  Too expensive but a helluva ride.  Immediately before the trade our bullpen was performing well.  Did we really need another front-end reliever?  Yes, abso-damn-lutely.  The bullpen is one of those areas where you can’t have enough top-shelf arms because you never know when you’re gonna burn through them.  Jeppy is great right now, but he could revert.  Smith is aces as the closer but he was the same as the setup guy.  Getting Street moves everybody down a notch in the pen and that’s a good thing.  At the start of the year our bullpen was a question mark, and it showed.  Dipoto took action and now it’s an exclamation point.  This is especially important with the abundance of unproven starters the team has.  Now they only have to get through five innings before the pen can safely take over.
Think about it: a bullpen pecking order now looks like Street, Smith, Jepsen, Grilli, Salas, and other dudes.  That will be extremely helpful as the season drags on.  We also now have a closing duo of Street & Smith.  It’s like a guide to how to end games.  That’s what’s called kismet.  
My esteemed counterpart will surely point out the cost of acquiring Street.  Whatever.  A few things to consider: first, we were probably the only team that was talking to the Padres about Street.  Even if that isn’t true, it really is.  It was a seller’s market for the Padres and we paid the price.  It may seem like a steep price but it was a price that had to be paid.  
Second, you have to consider the volatility of prospects.  The names of the failed can’t-miss Angels prospects are legion, say them with me: Jason Dickson…Brandon Wood…Dallas McPherson…Ryan Leaf.  Well, not the last but it seems like he could have been on the Angels.  Sure, we got that Trout kid and he’s working out okay so far, but prospects are always a crapshoot.  I will confess that I think that Rondon plus one should have done the deal, but I’m not a major league GM.  What do I know?
Yes, this trade may kick us in the ass later.  All trades are like that.  In the old animated “Robin Hood” movie by Disney, Little John gives Robin some sage advice: “a faint heart never won a fair maiden.”  Street is our fair maiden.  He alone won’t guarantee us anything (you fool, there are no guarantees in baseball!) but he sure makes us a lot better right now, and that’s what we need.  To end with another quote, “right now is your tomorrow.  Right now is everything.”  
Let’s worry about next year, next year.

Absurd Price to Pay for a Closer! By Nathan Trop

Glen, you ignorant slut.

Full disclosure, I have the luxury of writing this after seeing Street’s first performance as an Angel while my counterpart was not able to.  Some more boring details; the Angels traded their top RP prospect, and two of the top 3 position players and some dude I never heard of for Street and a guy named Gott, who immediately opened up our esteemed forum to a cavalcade of “You have Gott to be kidding me” puns.  This alone should have been enough to turn everyone against this trade.

The reason for my disclosure above is I saw Street pitch in his Angels debut last night.  He pitched a scoreless inning giving up one hit and struck out one.  He mostly threw strikes and got his strikeout on a high fastball, but the thing that stood out to me is he only throws 91.  He didn’t look like a dominant closer to me.  Dominant closers have to throw mid to upper 90s and have an electric breaking ball.  A dominant closer must be fearless with the ability to overpower any hitter.  You know who else threw in the low 90s and was an esteemed closer before he came to the Angels?  Brian Fuentes.  We know how that ended up.  At least we only gave up money for him.

For Street we gave up Rondon, a SS that hits the crap outta the ball and plays amazing defence.  SS is the most important and hardest IF position to fill behind only third base.  Let’s face it, Aybar might be having a nice season, a resurgent season but he isn’t getting any younger.  He is signed through the 2016 season and considering that he sucks on a bear turd sized wad of chew every game you have to wonder how healthy he is.  Imagine not having to dip into FA to look for a SS, Rondon would have been ready to take over for him.  We also gave up RJ Alvarez, an electric reliever that is absolutely dominating AA.  You can’t have enough of these in the system.  The Angels now don’t have any in their system, which means several more years of over paying for washed up relievers on the FA market.

Take a look at the teams that have had great postseason runs lately.  Texas, Boston, StL and Detroit have all done it with many home grown players.  They develop pitchers, they develop position players and they have minor league depth.  The Angels have struggled with all of that.  The reason why, aside from years of poor drafting is that they keep overpaying on the trade market for pitchers and this trade is the worst.  It smacks of desperation.  If the Angels win the World Series in the next two seasons then sure, this trade is ok, but how likely is that?  If they don’t everyone that has been screaming about “win now mode” better be ready for four more years of garbage because that is what we get for dumping the farm yet again.

Every team, it doesn’t matter if they are the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, etc, has to develop talent from the farm in order to be successful.  Money does not buy wins, it just fills gaps.  By trading away the farm yet again, the Angels will have too many holes to fill.  Look no further than the Angels playoffs runs from 2002-2009.  They certainly didn’t do that with Stoneman trading away the farm every year.  It is hard for me to admit but, I miss Stoneman, he did a darn good job.
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Lindsey will probably be an around average second baseman if everything works out for him, and we have depth there anyways.  Alvarez could be dominant, but even a dominant reliever only contributes about 60 IP a year and bullpen guys are like the revolving door of MLB positions.

 

Losing Rondon is what stings the most, as most people probably agree with.  If he develops even a little more power into his frame over the next few years he could be a potentially great all around SS both offensively and defensively.

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http://www.pitching.com/blog/how-pitchers-can-dominate-with-mediocre-pitching-velocity/

 

Here is an article on pitch velocities.

Notice where it mentions Uehara, likely the most dominant AL reliever in 2013/2014.   He sits at 89mph, but dominates with the splitter.  

 

Street does seem to have a knack for pinpoint command and sits (90-91mph) even a little higher than Uehara does.

 

What's important today is having the right balance in your pen between hard throwers and off speed guys. 

We do have that with hard thrower Jepsen who now can abuse hitters with the breaking pitch, guys who can touch close to mid 90s and get you out with off-speed stuff in Grilli and Morin, a developing guy who can throw hard and also increasingly now command the breaking pitch in Rasmus, and the two finesse guys with great stats so far in 2014 in Street and Smith (do they moonlight by putting out sports publications?-LOL). 

 

We did give up too much, but after thinking about it for 3 days, really just Rondon and maybe Alvarez really hurt to lose.

I did wish we kept Rondon, unless they are seriously wanting to re-sign Aybar after 2016 (age 33 in 2017). 

Edited by Angel Oracle
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I always love these posts. Great job as usual.

 

Here are some thoughts that I've had on the trade. This move was done because our best window to a WS is 2014-2015. Winning a WS in that time span (or even getting there) helps the organization across the board--including down to negotiations over a stadium lease. As I noted in my mid-season report card, the bullpen has been the weakest link on the team. Now it is a strength. We have that conveyor belt from the starters to a victory, and a chance to comeback if we are behind in a game. This season will come down to just a couple of games, particularly the head to head games versus Oakland. We can't let them have another walkoff on us--we needed to improve the pen.

 

As one of the few on here who has seen all of the guys play that we traded, yes, we overpaid a bit. Again, we had to do it. The competition for bullpen arms was fierce (every scout I've talked to has talked about it). We weren't the only ones bidding here. We needed to make the deal now rather than get into a bidding war and risk coming away with nothing. I like the deal, just don't love it.

 

Here's what we gave up:

 

Lindsey--really enjoyed getting to know him over the years. Very happy he came out to Spring Training Fanfest this year. Has a very solid bat and improving glove. Would be ML average defensively over time. While his bat's ceiling is higher than Yarbrough (the next highest 2B in the system), Yarbrough is more consistent. I think Lindsey gets a good break going to the Padres, and I hope to see him in the Majors within a year or so for their team.

 

Alvarez--good relief pitcher with plus potential. This is the one that I wish we didn't give up. We took back a reliever with a similar profile, so I don't like giving up one of our own to get back Gott. Unless there are more questions about his arm than I know, this is the piece that I think stung the most. Would have preferred to keep him and not get Gott, but, I can't change it. I haven't seen Gott to comment on how the two compare.

 

Rondon--He's been a contact machine for the organization. His defense is good, not great. He can make some incredible plays and really mess up some routine ones. It could be a function of being very young. Some question whether he will stick long term at SS. The power hasn't shown itself as much as I thought it would (considering the Cal League), but the potential is still there. Same with the speed. He needs to get better reads and jumps.

 

Morris--Putting together a good season. Needs to work on command and putting hitters away. Could be a back end of the rotation guy or could get moved to middle relief down the road.

 

So, here's some more food for thought on the trade. After the deal, here's my preliminary Top-10 Angels Prospects

1. Newcomb

2. Bedrosian

3. Yarbrough

4. Sanchez

5. Delgado

6. Green

7. Nate Smith

8. Gott

9. Cowart

10. Alcantara

 

That's a very rough sketch for the current Top-10. There are other names that I'm considering, but it gives everyone a flavor of what is still left on the farm. 

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Texas? 

 

 

cruz

napoli

hamilton

beltre

murphy

torrealba

harrison

darvish

nathan

ogando

 

dempster-drafted, traded a yr later,  reacquired 16 yrs later

lewis - drafted, waived and reacquired 6 yrs later

 

not as homegrown as you may have led us to believe

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I agree, we gave up a ton. But personally, I like the move. (I still like the grienke move).

Saltzer is right, the window is smaller than some think. Pujols doesnt have much time left to be effective, weaver is fading (well), cj is regressing to douchdom, etc. I dont know anything about rondon, only what I read here. But I dont think he would have made it in time for the 'window'.

I said a few weeks back, as much of a fan o am having a deep farm, id hate to miss a REAL chance of fixing something now for someone who might or might not help us a few years from now where we might be back in 3rd or 4th

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Texas? 

 

 

cruz

napoli

hamilton

beltre

murphy

torrealba

harrison

darvish

nathan

ogando

 

dempster-drafted, traded a yr later,  reacquired 16 yrs later

lewis - drafted, waived and reacquired 6 yrs later

 

not as homegrown as you may have led us to believe

 

Ogando

Harrison

Cruz

Hamilton

 

All still came through the Texas farm, even if not in every level.  They could have easily traded them but they held on.

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Here are some thoughts that I've had on the trade. This move was done because our best window to a WS is 2014-2015.

 

Best as opposed to what, 2016 and beyond? See, here's my problem with this thinking. Dipoto and Moreno have effectively robbed the mid-to-longterm future to pay the present and near future. They saddled the Angels with some horrible contracts and traded away many of their best prospects in an already barren farm system in order to increase chances in the short term. Already the big contracts of Pujols and Hamilton haven't paid off. Both have performed far below anyone's expectations and at a level that would have been pretty easy to duplicate on the open market for a fraction of the cost.

 

But with the mentality that "our best window is 2014-15," it justifies damaging 2016 and beyond. Not long after Jerry came on as GM he gave some interview sitting at a desk where he talked about trying to build a strong team now, while also building for mid and long-term future - I liked that. But I haven't seen much evidence that he's doing anything more than just cashing in all his chips for a shot at 2014-15, and in so doing robbing the future.

 

The other thing that bothers me about this trade is that it, as well as the Grilli and Thatcher acquisitions, are the result of poor offseason planning by Dipoto. Obviously they needed to happen--and all three together improve the bullpen--but they only needed to happen because Jerry didn't do what he should have done in the offseason: build a competent bullpen. OK, maybe he couldn't have predicted that Frieri would implode, but there were signs of this last year. And he couldn't have known that Burnett wouldn't recover, but again he seems to be a  poor judge of this - consider Madson as well. Add this to a complete mis-reading of Pujols and Hamilton and I honestly question his ability to assess talent.

 

Anyhow, don't get me wrong: I think Street, in and of himself, was a great acquisition and that he increases the team's chances of doing well in the post-season, more than can be reflected by WAR. A real closer has a psychological effect that can't be measured in the numbers. But I'm also worried about this "win now" mentality that is extremely short-sighted.

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It is not so simple as homegrown vs. external acquisitions, it is who and at what stage in their careers that you acquire players. Notice how Jerry is rarely trading down in age - almost always he's getting the older players in return, or via free agency. Also, most of his big signings were duds - unlike, say, Adrian Beltre or Yu Darvish or Josh Hamilton (who was a brilliant trade by the Rangers, who sent Edinson Volquez to the Reds, having one good year for them before getting hurt and hasn't been the same since).

 

I'm not opposed to trades or free agent signings, I'm just opposed to BAD trades and free agent signings. Dipoto's had a few good ones, but far more mediocre, bad or outright terrible ones.

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our farm system has been trashed for years now by the  experts. 

However,  guys like Richards, Shoemaker, Skaggs, Cron, Navarro, Calhoun, Cowgill, Conger,Morin, Greene,etc have all made contributions to the team.

Oh, and that Trout kid.

 

I'm guessing nobody would have seen this coming 3 years ago.

For that reason,  I'll enjoy winning now and worry about 2017 after the 2016 season has ended.

 

After all, it's been a while since we've been able to enjoy a full baseball season. 

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It is not so simple as homegrown vs. external acquisitions, it is who and at what stage in their careers that you acquire players. Notice how Jerry is rarely trading down in age - almost always he's getting the older players in return, or via free agency. Also, most of his big signings were duds - unlike, say, Adrian Beltre or Yu Darvish or Josh Hamilton (who was a brilliant trade by the Rangers, who sent Edinson Volquez to the Reds, having one good year for them before getting hurt and hasn't been the same since).

 

I'm not opposed to trades or free agent signings, I'm just opposed to BAD trades and free agent signings. Dipoto's had a few good ones, but far more mediocre, bad or outright terrible ones.

 

and all those horrible moves have led us to the 2nd best record in baseball.  Something just doesn't add up here

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2014 is fun, and either it or 2015 better produce a WS appearance. Because 2016 and beyond doesn't look as encouraging, with several aging players by then and a farm without enough reinforcements until maybe 2017-2018.

2002 gets further and further away each year, to where outsiders likely call it a fluke now.

A memorable one of course, and there are elements of 2002 in place now.

It would be nice to actually get to a 2nd WS sometime, without crippling the farm.

Edited by Angel Oracle
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To be fair AJ, he did flip callaspo for green and somebody for cowgill (for the sake of argument lets pretend the other guy was older). But I see your point.

In terms of bullpen, agree with you and doc that he should have fixed it in the offseason. I think though that after 2013 the org was in a holding pattern to see how it shaped up...would calhoun live up to expectstions. Is skaggs for real. Will pujols rebound etc.

If the team was scuffling right now, or even .500, we dont trade for street and likely shop howie, aybar and maybe iannetta. But since theyre winning, and winning big, the 'plan B' came up

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I still say Alvarez is the only guy that we miss in this trade. The one positive thing is that the org actually has depth in pitching but it is all in single A and rookie ball but the pitching is all under contract for the next two years.

Lindsay and rondon are backups. Rondon needs to seriously get on a lifting program or some peds. A lot of the doubles I saw him hit in Orem would never be doubles in the mlb. His SO surge in the cal league is interesting since there as no power increase. Lindsay had a good year in Orem but he was a dead pull hitter. It would be interesting to see how many mlb'ers with the angels had sub .800 ops in both the cal league and the PCL. My guess would be close to zero if not zero, but I could be wrong.

Edited by Stevestevens
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Talk all you wan't about what should have been done in the off season but we all had to sit around with a thumb up our rears waiting for Tanaka then had to watch as every left handed RP they acquired either got hurt or became Nick Maronde. Then there's the DDLR implosion. It got broke. It got fixed. The march for back-to-back World Series titles is in high gear.

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our farm system has been trashed for years now by the  experts. 

However,  guys like Richards, Shoemaker, Skaggs, Cron, Navarro, Calhoun, Cowgill, Conger,Morin, Greene,etc have all made contributions to the team.

Oh, and that Trout kid.

 

I'm guessing nobody would have seen this coming 3 years ago.

For that reason,  I'll enjoy winning now and worry about 2017 after the 2016 season has ended.

 

After all, it's been a while since we've been able to enjoy a full baseball season. 

 

That is how 2010-2013 happened.

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