Much has been written about the moves (and non-moves) made by the Angels general manager recently, and he has earned his share of admirers and detractors. For the most part, it seems fan sentiment is turning against him although a large segment of the fan base is willing to give him more time before forming a conclusion. Count me in the latter group.
I work in sales and know that people buy emotionally, then rationalize that decision logically. So, instead of shaping my view when Kazmir is on the hill getting shelled, I thought a nice look at the man's entire body of work was in order. If I leave something out, please fill in the blanks.
First Year (Winter 2007 through 2008 season)
Traded Orlando Cabrera for Jon Garland. I was not a fan of this move at the time, but Garland did provide the Angels with 196.2 innings and the move made room for Erick Aybar. Not too bad, not that great, still a little down on this one.
Traded Casey Kotchman and minor leaguers for Mark Teixeira. This is the type of move a serious World Series contender is supposed to make if a ring is in sight. It did leave the Angels exposed at first base in 2009, but, no disrespect to Casey, Kotchman is not the type of first baseman championship teams are built around. Great move.
Second Year (Winter 2008 through 2009 season)
He let Garret Anderson and Jon Garland leave. Losing Anderson hurt emotionally (he was my favorite player for years), but his production was slipping. Garland was an innings eater, but had a 4.90 ERA. Solid moves.
Let Francisco Rodriguez walk. Or actually run, to $75 million paid by the Mets. He has 61 saves and an arrest so far in NY. No closer is worth that type of money. Good move.
Signed Brian Fuentes. Not your prototypical closer, but he did a pretty good job and wasn't a huge financial burden.
He got played by Boras in the Teixeira talks. The start of a continuing theme, he was used as a pawn in negotiations he was never going to win. It's not the first time Boras has pulled this, it won't be the last. Bad move.
Traded Sean Rodriguez and prospects for Scott Kazmir. At the time, I was excited about this move. When Kazmir came out firing in his first few starts for the Angels, so were most fans. At that time, it looked like another move championship teams are supposed to make to go after the prize. Obviously, this trade has turned into a stinker, but the cliche is "hindsight is 20/20," not "foresight." Had the Angels pulled a ring out of 2009, the sting would be a lot less, but this has turned into a very bad trade.
Third Year (Winter 2009 through 2010 season)
He let Chone Figgins and John Lackey get overpaid elsewhere. Both were stalwarts of the Angels success and many fans wanted them back. Seattle paid $36 million guaranteed with a $9 million dollar option for a guy who has hit .253 with an OBP of .332 for them. Lackey fleeced Boston for $87.5 million and continues to see a slide in his production. Once again painful moves that turned out for the better.
He let Vladimir Guerrero go. At the time, a move that made sense due to Vladdy's health in recent seasons. Had Vladdy played for a team other than Texas, or perhaps a bit more like his two previous seasons, the move would be looked at approvingly. Well, he went to Texas and raked, especially against us, so bad move.
Let Darren Oliver go. Of all the players we lost, this one made the least sense and, in my opinion, hurt us the most. Horrible move.
Signed Hideki Matsui to one year deal. I figured Matsui would be patient and let the steal/hit-and-run offense really work. I figured his stat line would look about like .280/20/90. It turned out to be .274/21/84. Decent move.
Signed Joel Pineiro. He pitched well until getting hurt. Hopefully, he gets back soon. So far a decent move that has the ability to turn into a really good one.
Signed Fernando Rodney. At the time, a decent looking deal. Rocky at times. Overall, not his best move, but Sosh seems to have a handle on this guy and he seems to be coming around. Neutral on this one.
Traded prospects for Alberto Callaspo. I've always like Callaspo and am glad he's back in the fold. A solid third baseman with versatility and club control. Good move.
Fourth Year (Winter 2010 through present)
Failed to land Carl Crawford, Adrian Beltre, or Rafael Soriano. There was a lot of money thrown at those guys and whether or not they are worth it remains to be seen. Yeah, it was disappointing, but the jury is still out on those deals for me.
Signed Scott Downs and Hisanori Takahashi. Arguably the best set-up man in baseball and a versatile lefty to help fill Oliver's role. These signings were a move to turn the bullpen from a weakness to a strength. I love both these moves.
Traded Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera for Vernon Wells and cash. The move that really turned him into a villain. Due to our flyball pitchers and manager's stubborn attitude towards Napoli, I was cool with this trade. The contract notwithstanding, the Angels have greatly improved the outfield defense and, by proxy, the pitching staff. I'm going to withhold judgment on this one until the playoffs roll around.
Overall, some hits, some misses, and some good decisions to let popular players walk instead of burdening the team with bad contracts. Of course, the term "bad contract" immediately conjures to mind Vernon Wells, and some fans will choose to judge the trade before a season has been completed.
I'm sure I've missed a transaction or two, but overall I have agreed with the man at the time the deal was made much more often than not. So far, I give him a B. You?
Note: For reasons not explainable, I failed to mention his two best free agent signings: Torii Hunter and Bobby Abreu. Torii has been the face of the franchise and Abreu was arguably the steal of the 2008 offseason. Great moves.