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Does Hisanori Takahashi Make Any Angels Expendable?

The Angels signing of lefty reliever Hisanori Takahashi brings pause when the team's subpar bullpen depth chart is analyzed. The bargain of $5.5 million $8 million (updated info) for two seasons of competent bridge-relief work might be the best contract in the entire Angels pen is okay by Justin Speier standards but not compared to the younger players, most of whom make the league minimum.

On the team's site the depth chart lists Fernando Rodney as the Closer (doom doom doom) followed by:

  • Jason Bulger (sore most of the time, mediocre the rest)
  • Kevin Jepsen (moments of brilliance in between bouts of base-on-ball-syndrome)
  • Rich Thompson (His just-debuted cutter could be the best newly-acquired pitch of any Angels major league arm)
  • Francisco Rodriguez (no great shakes)
  • Michael Kohn (I'd love to buy the hype, but I am not betting the bullpen on him being anything better than a Jepsen)
  • Jordan Walden (Gotta love the heat, gotta fear investing anything too deeply into his elbow)
  • Bobby Cassevah (Someone who helps Kohn and Thompson stand out)
  • Trevor Bell (long-term more likely to be a starter)
  • Matt Palmer (a long-man, AAA starter, spot call-up duty)

So, there you have it... two and a half medicore barbershop quartets. Does the addition of Takahasi move any of these pitchers into the trade bait category? It is inconceivable that there is much of a market for Fernando Rodney, due to his age, mediocrity and salary. So is anyone closer to being offered to other teams? Read On...


Bulger is perceived as too fragile and past his prime. Rodriguez, Cassevah and Palmer are so league average replaceable that they would not likely drop in any swap. Bell has league-average third starter written all over his ceiling and would be the 5th starter on 15 major league teams. Of the remaining four relievers (Jepsen, Kohn, Thompson and Walden), the chance that one of these would be more than just a shiny object in a trade for a big bat just got more plausible.

Jepsen will go to arbitration after this season. The other three have a ways to go. Takahashi's arrival could spell the trade route departure of Trevor Bell or Kevin Jepsen, especially if the Angels fail to land Carl Crawford or Adrian Beltre. If they do add Rafael Soriano this offseason, look for one or more of these bullpen prospects to be on the block.