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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Angels Deal Kendrys Morales To Seattle For Jason Vargas

Reuniting old Cal State Long Beach teammate Jered Weaver, the Mariners have traded Jason Vargas for fifth wheel DH Kendrys Morales. Morales couldn't really hit lefties in 2012 (.229/.289/.471), though he did manage to do better earlier (career .250/.286/.416). On a typical late Scioscia-era team full of DH candidates who will need to rotate into that spot as a "day off" position, this move makes a ton of sense; it gives the Angels some much needed rotation depth, if mothing else, and makes someone like a Jerome Williams (is he even still in the picture?) at least superfluous so far as the starting staff is concerned.

Vargas was better at striking out righties than lefties, but lefties hit him worse last year than righties. A big red flag, though was his home and away splits, where he earned a 2.74 ERA in Safeco but a 4.78 ERA on the road, almost twice as high. Still, I can grit my teeth through the road if his 2.27 career ERA at Angel Stadium is any indication of how he'll pitch. Welcome aboard, and go Dirtbags!

Update: Weird paragraph from this Alden Gonzalez piece at MLB.com:

The Angels used the flexibility afforded to them with the Josh Hamilton signing, sending switch-hitting designated hitter Kendrys Morales to the Mariners on Wednesday in exchange for left-handed starting pitcher Jason Vargas.
Usually when one discusses "flexibility", the word "payroll" is in the same sentence. While the Dodgers have gotten all the press for the spendy spendy, Jerry Dipoto hasn't exactly taken his foot of the fiscal gas pedal, either.

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You've been holding Dipoto fully responsible for the recent spendiness, but there's abundant evidence that both the Pujols and Hamilton deals were chiefly Moreno's business. Two straight years where Dipoto indicated at the beginning of the offseason that Moreno had imposed clear financial constraints, and two straight seasons where Moreno stepped in and offered salary supplementals for 'exceptional' players. In each case, the closing deal was done by Moreno and his wife in a multi-hour conference with the player himself.

Dipoto is just stepping out of the way and handling the paperwork at this point. I think the small, savvy deals are all his, but these walletbusters are the work of Arte himself. The Angels have an emotional owner with a big wallet, and these big contracts are only 'mistakes' to the degree that Moreno reverses course in future years and determines he's unwilling to lose big money in the MLB casino. Until then, he's throwing bad money after good to the fan's benefit.
No question that Arte's driving the bus on the top end, in my estimation; but, as with the Dodgers, I question the "it's Arte's money" meme and am more inclined to say, "it's Fox's money". In that perspective, this is the window they've got -- their TV deals are fresh, and miles better than anyone in the division, at least.
The beginning was hard, but I think it was worth it.
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