I think it is time we had someone play devil's advocate.
It is easy to see the fault with this trade. If the Angels have anything, they are chalk full of under performing, limited power hitting third baseman (see Frandsen, Kevin; Wood, Brandon; Izturis, Macier).
But I think the brunt of the critical fury that has followed the deal revolves around two things: a) this is not a cure all for the Angles woes and b) everyone was expecting the first move from the Angels to be the splash that could save the season.
Remove those two criteria and this move becomes less of a head scratcher.
Callaspo gives the Angels options. Whether it be trading Wood, Frandsen, Izturis or even Kendrick, Callaspo doesn't force them to worry about creating a whole while trying to fill one.
Do I think the Angels are planning to spin one of those players off? No, unless a team requests Wood as that “we'll take a chance on him” cherry on a larger trade package.
As part of a plan for this season that doesn't hedge the future, it gives the Angels flexibility to compete while not taking a step back.
To understand that, you have to step away from the hype and understand the team's needs in 2010 and beyond: Left field, third base, middle relief, first base and catcher. Yes, catcher.
Jeff Mathis has gotten progressively worse behind the plate and as a hitter. Bobby Wilson has shown only limited ability at the big league level. With Napoli spending most of his days at first base, it means on most nights, you have a poor defensive and offensive catcher.
Callaspo, hopefully, gives the Angels some improvement at three positions, albeit marginal.
With Callaspo it frees Frandsen to play first base while Napoli can catch. While Frandsen isn't the power hitting first baseman everyone would hope for, the guys' average is about 60 points higher than Mathis. When you are talking about the lineup for the Angels as it currently exists, Frandsen over Mathis/Wilson is a huge step up.
Plus you keep Napoli's bat in the lineup without creating a hole at catcher or first base.
But none of this would be possible without depth at third base outside of Wood. With Callaspo, you can split time with Izturis (who then is also free to spell Kendrick and Aybar at times) without worrying about Izturis' health leaving a void on the bench.
That means, you have upgraded at third base slightly, get a huge lift at catcher with Napoli, and first base (when accounting for Frandsen's bat over Mathis/Wilson/McAnulty) moderately.
The leaves left field and middle relief. You live with Rivera for the remainder of the year and hope for Carl Crawford next year.
As for middle relief, you look for a deal that takes minimal prospects before the deadline. If that doesn't work, you live with what you got. If you get Crawford in the off-season, you have options with the bulk of middle infielders and Rivera to make a play for a middle of the rotation starter and/or bullpen help.
The Callaspo deal gives the Angels options, not just for now, but in the future. They lose little, while gaining some. Maybe most importantly, they gain trade bait for the future.
If the future is 2011 and not 2010 (as I suspect) look for a busy off season from the Angels.
Think about this. The Angels are able to pull off a coup and nab Crawford.
The lineup then can look like this (given they don't move Napoli for Dunn or some other equivalent, excruciatingly short sighted move).
It gives you the option of platooning Rivera with Abreu, or moving Rivera for a SP or middle relief. You have depth in the middle infield with Izturis, Frandsen and Wood. It also gives you the opportunity to test Conger without relying on him, keep Napoli's bat in the lineup, and use Bourjos as your outfield depth.
Not making a major move this year and instead getting a guy like Callaspo may give you the best opportunity to win next year, while not completely giving up on 2010.