When the Angels skidded to an 18-25 start, many in Anaheim were hitting the panic button. After the most aggressive offseason of any club in baseball, the offense was flatlining – thanks in large part to the remarkable struggles of LA's marquee acquisition: Albert Pujols.
Akin to the 2006 Twins, who reversed course after a 25-33 start to win 96 games, the Angels have gone on a midseason tear, with rookie and MVP frontrunner Mike Trout leading the way. They are 5.5 games behind the Rangers in the AL West, but lead the race for the top wild-card spot. At this point, they've got to be feeling pretty good about their chances of making the postseason.
Why They Will Trade With the Twins
Of course, when you splurge for $316 million over the winter, simply making the postseason isn't enough. The Angels have championship aspirations, and with the Rangers and Yankees both looking especially strong, they'll need any edge they can get.
Los Angeles will likely be looking to upgrade the lineup, where there are a few clear weak spots. While Trout and Torii Hunter are holding down two outfield positions, the the final corner has been hurting, with Peter Bourjos hitting .237 and Vernon Wells looking unappealing as a full-time option when he returns from the disabled list. Adding a guy like, say, Denard Span or Josh Willingham would certainly round out that group nicely while pushing the lineup closer to the level of a Texas or New York.
Why They Won't Trade With the Twins
Pitching is a major strength for the Halos, so unless they're looking for a fourth weapon in the rotation to complement Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Dan Haren, they seem unlikely to be major players for Francisco Liriano.
Aside from left field, the biggest weakness in the Angel lineup is catcher, where Bobby Wilson has been getting regular tread with a .483 OPS. Ryan Doumit certainly looks like a potential fit, but the Twins seem unlikely to move him after handing him a two-year extension.
The Angels are front line contenders and are certainly in position to buy at the deadline, but they're red-hot right now and it's not clear their need is great enough to drop big prospects for a guy like Span or Liriano.
Then again, with expectations as higher as they are, who knows where their desperation may lead.
Read on to find a few prospects in LA's system that could intrigue the Twins should Jerry Dipoto come calling (sadly, I somehow doubt Trout is an option).
Potential Trade Candidates
Garrett Richards – RHP
He was considered the organization's top pitching prospect entering the season, but he's scuffled in Triple-A and the majors this year. Still, his numbers in the minors up until this point cannot be ignored and he works in the mid-90s with his fastball. He's still only 24.
Nick Maronde – LHP
Another promising young hurler who has looked good this year, flashing strikeout stuff and good control in Single-A at age 22, though he missed a couple months due to a strained lat.
John Hellweg – RHP
Hellweg is a nice prospect in his own right. His stock his has dropped this year with a good-not-great performance in Double-A as a 23-year-old (3.31 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 84/56 K/BB in 111 IP), but that could be just what makes him him gettable.
Ariel Pena – RHP
Pitching on the same team as Hellweg, and posting slightly better numbers at the same age. Neither Hellweg, Maronde nor Pena are top-tier prospects, but they're all fairly similar in quality and their redundancy may make them more expendable in the eyes of Dipoto.