Nolan Ryan's 4 no-hitters.
Winning the team's first division title in 1979.
Mike Witt's perfect game.
Jim Edmond's catch.
Winning the World Series in 2002.
And now, to this list of team highlights, we can add January 21, 2010: the day Gary Matthews, Jr. finally left the team by virtue of being traded to the New York Mets.
Well, I guess I should temper my enthusiasm a bit, given that the Angels will be paying nearly all of his salary for the next two years. Still, paying $21.5 million to get nothing is better than paying $23 million to get less than nothing (literally: Little Sarge was below replacement level for each of the past two years).
I also like the deal for a couple of other reasons. On an intangible level, it's nice to be rid of a constant reminder of what was, without a doubt, one of the 25 worst contracts in baseball history. I mean, "Thank God he's gone" is a better thought in my head than "Why is he still here?", right? This factor may not affect the team on the field, but it does give me some satisfaction as an Angels fan, which is worth something.
The other reason I like the deal is that is frees up a spot on the roster for a young player to get a chance at the big leagues. Let's be honest: with the Matsui signing, GMJ wasn't going to play much this year. His ability to hurt the team would have been very limited. Nonetheless, he would have been taking up one of the 25 active roster spots, preventing someone like Chris Pettit or Terry Evans from getting a chance to show what they can do. Maybe they're big league material, maybe they're not, but it will be more fun to see them get their chance than to see GMJ suck up at-bats. Again, this will not have a big effect upon the product on the field, but it makes my fan experience a little better.
By the way, the Angels actually got a player in return for Little Sarge. His name is Brian Stokes, and he's a replacement level right-handed middle reliever. I know, be still my beating heart. Those guys are hard to find, you know. He'll be making essentially league-minimum this year because he is not yet eligible for arbitration, but he appears to be out of options. So, he either makes the team or is sent on his way. Matt Palmer is the only guy in the pen whose job may be in danger as a result, but the Angels may decide to keep 7 guys in the pen, in which case both Palmer and Stokes would presumably stay.