Angels Won’t Be Fixing a Hole This Time Either
Once the trading deadline had passed, I talked to Arte Moreno, who was standing outside his stadium suite Monday night waiting for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who wasn’t exactly the heavy hitter I had in mind for the Angels.
I had already been on the phone with Dodgers GM Ned Colletti who really did have something to say about improving his team.
And for all those people who believe I’m not capable of complimenting the Dodgers for a job well done, congrats to them on getting Greg Maddux, who might prove to be a better pinch-hitter than Jose Cruz down the stretch.
As for the Angels, they swung and missed on attempts to make deals for big hitters such as Carlos Lee, Miguel Tejada and Alfonso Soriano, and then went out and scored one run against division-leading Oakland.
The glaring hole in the Angels’ lineup, of course, is one more reminder that GM Bill Stoneman has the best job in baseball because he continues to do nothing.
For the seventh straight year, the trading deadline passed without Stoneman pulling the trigger on a significant deal, and taking Stoneman’s job as Angels’ GM in its entirety, his biggest deal to date has been trading away Jim Edmonds.
Moreno said he likes to let his baseball people do their jobs, and he’s “convinced” Stoneman did everything he could to bring the Angels a big bat.
We were told the Angels made a run for Tejada before the season, and talked to Boston about Manny Ramirez. The Angels obviously know how to talk a big game, but to date have done nothing more than hang onto Ervin Santana, who took the loss against Oakland.
“We made the better deal for Carlos Lee, a combination of major league players and minor leaguers, but Milwaukee wanted all big leaguers and got that from Texas,” Moreno said. “And we had a deal done for Tejada.”
The deal was in place before Tejada went public saying he’d only play shortstop, which surprisingly didn’t change the Angels’ plans.
“We were willing to gamble we could change his mind,” Moreno said. “We were also concerned about his right to leave after the season despite having three years left on his contract, but again we were willing to gamble we’d convince him to stay.”
But then Baltimore owner Peter Angelos put the kibosh on the deal.
The Angels made a pitch for Soriano, offered a pair of prospects, but then one hour before the trading deadline, “Washington came back and wanted another minor league pitcher in the deal,” Moreno said. “They were asking for three high-end minor leaguers for a two-month rental, and we just wouldn’t do that.”
The Angels have had a huge hole in their lineup for the last two seasons and Stoneman has been unable to fill it. Juan Rivera has shown recent signs of maybe filling it, but the Angels managed to post only one run against Oakland -- a Rivera home run with Rivera then taking a called third strike to end the game.
Like last year, they are now banking on pitching to win a division title and hang tough in postseason play, because what else are they going to say now that the trading deadline has passed?
“If a big bat had been available just for prospects, my feeling is Bill would have made that deal,” said Manager Mike Scioscia, but anyone who has heard Stoneman’s love of prospects can just imagine the look on his face when Washington raised the asking price on Soriano from two to three prospects.
The Angels probably couldn’t revive Stoneman in time to make the deal.
OAKLAND’S MILTON BRADLEY gave me a hug, we talked about the home run he hit against the Angels, then I teased him about throwing his bat after taking a called third strike in his first at-bat and he began yelling at me in the middle of the A’s clubhouse.
“I’m not a man to be teased,” he snapped. “I’ll throw the bat every day the rest of my career,” and I told him I have no doubt about that.
“But the ball will go a lot further off it,” he said with a grin, and that’s why he still remains one of my favorite players.
THE DODGERS’ brass continues to covet its prospects, but I think back to the infield that had Adrian Beltre at third and Cesar Izturis at short, and right now that would be the best defense on the left side in baseball.
IT LOOKS like the signing of Rafael Furcal will cost the team Joel Guzman, Izturis and probably Julio Lugo.
Guzman went from an untouchable prospect at shortstop, to moving to left field to playing baseball in Tampa -- along with another former untouchable Dodger prospect, Edwin Jackson.
Izturis earned a Gold Glove playing short, but the Dodgers were committed to Furcal, and now they have acquired Lugo, a free agent at season’s end who said he will be playing for a team next year that makes him a shortstop.
THE ANGELS probably deserve to be criticized for doing nothing at the trading deadline, but doing nothing with Adam Kennedy, who has been the subject of trade rumors for months, is probably the best thing they did.
Kennedy, who came to the Angels in the Edmonds deal, has hit in 14 straight games, helping put the team back in the playoff race despite the trade rumors and the promotion of Howie Kendrick, proving once again he’s a pro’s pro.
TODAY’S LAST word comes in e-mail from Miguel Galvez:
“I believe like Tommy Lasorda, the Dodgers will win their division and T.J. Simers will be eating his words.”
If there’s anything to be eaten, you know Lasorda will beat me to it.
T.J. Simers can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. To read previous columns by Simers, go to latimes.com/simers.