July is a month of Peak Baseball Fervor. No matter where your team is at in the standings or how high/low their prospects for post-season glory stand, you will fall into one of two exciting categories: Buyer or Seller. There are always some teams that go through the deadline without making a phone call of even modest importance, or nary a conversation had about moving prized pieces. But most clubs will be running about like they've been left behind in the Rapture, or just a baseline fugue state brought on by some sort of cataclysm. General managers and beat writers alike, watching Twitter agog and perpetuating rumors with aplomb, will find themselves truly in their element, with endless possibilities behind every hushed superstar dealor prospect possibility. As a fan, you become a kid again, trading baseball cards or dreaming up ways to cheat your friend out of baseball cards...and such it is with the real deal, closed door meetings. It's a time to make a name for yourself, while also staying away from anything that will turn around in a few years and end a GM's career. Of course, you could also find yourself in the same place as the Angels this year: making moves, but also doing nothing.
It's tough to blame the Angels for not banging down doors and going all in on a name like Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce or Ben Zobrist. They have a barren farm system; they have a handful of highly touted or respectable pitchers, but positioanl players are almost non-existent. If they did have some better depth, perhaps the LF situation wouldn't have been so dire in racing to replace Josh Hamilton, a task they ultimately put upon Matt Joyce. That hasn't worked out, and if the Angels had an obvious need to address, that was it. But again, how do you pick up a positional player while not having any of them in your farm system worth dealing, and while also remaining stoic and unwavering in your reluctance to not send away any arms? The answer is: you don't. Not really, at least.
The Angels made a few moves after all, and at the end of the furious trade deadline, they now had three new outfielders. First came Shane Victorino, from Boston. The Halos gave up IF Josh Rutledge on their side of the deal, and he's already found a spot on their big league club. Good for him. As for Victorino, it's still too early to tell if he'll end up helping this club. The same can be said for their next two OF acquisitions: David Murphy(Indians) and David DeJesus(Rays). They gave up IF prospect Eric Stamets for Murphy, and reliever Eduardo Lopez for DeJesus. In a matter of three hours, they now had three new guys to try to plug the mess being made in LF. So far...it hasn't panned out. I will fall back on my refrain from earlier, in an attempt to quell my angry soul: it's still too early to tell if they'll end up helping this club.
There was also the case of Conor Gillaspie, although the Angels procured him with cash considerations. Still, it was a move amidst the deadline, albeit without an actual player coming from the Angels. Gillaspie has already made strides to help the team, but when David Freese comes back, it may all get washed away by Mike Scioscia's lineup choices.
We did our best to apprise Angels fans of the situation at hand: a depleted farm and refusal to ship away a stud like Sean Newcomb for a rental bat, which put us in the position of talking ourselves into liking the Victorino trade, or merely just hoping it would work while being skeptical as one can be. We attempted to do the same thing for Murphy and DeJesus, although with only the hope that the deal will leave us "relatively unoffended".
Every name thrown around in the comments section, no matter how small or how big, either stayed put with their current team, or they were sent to a team in hopes of bolstering playoff runs. None of them came to us, the rabid Angels fans. Perhaps it was for the best...we hang on to Newcomb. We still have Nate Smith and Nick Tropeano. Chirs Ellis is still part of the Angels organization. There's much to be excited about for the future of Halos hurlers. But we wanted more. We see the likes of newly-annointed rivals Houston and Kansas City, getting exponentially better and reaping the rewards of GMs who capitalize on draft pick after draft pick, stocking their minor league teams with more trade bait than any front office could possibly handle. We see Toronto going all in, and becoming a legit powerhouse with no more excuses for not winning. It makes me jealous, but I have to talk myself down and realize that as much as we wanted those names and that excitement, it just wasn't going to happen this year. Not with the lack of depth, and definitely not with Bill Stoneman at the helm.
All we ever wanted was everything...and all we ever got was cold, in the form of hot stove fizzle and that cruel jester known as hope. Was that too much to ask? In a trade season where the most deals went down since 1997, the Angels stood still and did as little as they could, while still addressing some needs. Meanwhile, they got swept in Houston, and are staring down a harsh reality of a long, tough slog ahead. Their enemies have become stronger, and the Halos are set to depend on veteran grit and getting hot at the right time. It leaves an uneasy feeling in my stomach. But the trade deadline has come and gone, and this is still our team and we should all buckle up for an interesting ride. The sound of the drum is calling. The sound of the drum has called. We Will (try to) Win With What We Got