It seems like it’s going to be a busy off-season for bloggers like me, either one of two things have happened, either the Angels have been intensely reading my blog, or Jerry Dipoto is shaping up to be a very valuable magician pulling rabbits out of hats that I didn’t even know existed. I believe it’s the latter.
Today, Saturday, he traded Jeff Mathis a player who had virtually no trade value for Brad Mills of the Toronto Blue Jays. For those who read my blog regularly, I’ve been calling for the Angels to move Mathis in some way, shape, or form for a while now. The Jeff Mathis “error” (era) as most Angels’ fans call it is officially over. I prefer to call it an era simply because it’s a segment of history in Angels baseball that can’t be dismissed as an error. I prefer to call it the Mike Napoli/Jeff Mathis saga, because one can’t talk about one player without talking about the other, and it is how these players relate to each other that made an impact on Angels’ history.
When they were both still with the team, I myself questioned why Mike Scioscia opted to play Mathis over Napoli, yet I understood Mathis had virtually no trade value even then, at that time, the Angels were shopping Napoli around because the Angels needed an offensive constant. Mike Scioscia wanted Jeff Mathis to get acclimated with the team since the trade of Mike Napoli was a very probable one. Mike Napoli at the time was a very streaky hitter. He had the most trade value so it made sense to trade him away when the Angels acquired Vernon Wells, whether that was a good trade is a totally different story, but from a logical standpoint the Angels made the most logical move. Vernon Wells’ contract aside, the Angels felt that they were getting a much more consistent power hitter in Wells then Napoli. There was no way the Angels could’ve predicted that Wells would struggle in Anaheim his first year.
When Mike Napoli was traded to the Blue Jays, there was no way that the Angels could’ve foreseen that the Blue Jays would turn around and trade Napoli to the division rival, the Texas Rangers. Before I stir grumblings among Angels’ fans, let’s take a look at the situation with some perspective, there is only one main reason that Napoli had a career year in Texas and a stellar World Series; the Rangers home stadium.
Angel Stadium, “The Big A” is a bigger stadium in its dimensions compared to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.”The Big A” is a hitters park during the daytime, but becomes a pitchers park during night games. The ballpark in Texas has smaller dimensions than Angel Stadium couple that with the warmer temperatures in Arlington and the ball carries even for evening games. Thus, when one combines the warmer temperatures at night with the smaller ballpark it creates an artificially inflated statistic when it comes to power numbers such as Home Runs.
In my opinion that’s the case with Mike Napoli if he were still in an Angels uniform, Angels’ fans would still be complaining about how streaky of a hitter he is. I for one I’m just glad that the Angels’ organization came to their senses and trading away Jeff Mathis. If I had to pick between Mathis and Napoli of course I would’ve picked Napoli, who wouldn’t?
It’s important for Angels’ fans not to confuse the business and logic of the game with a passion for a team. As a fan, between the two; Mike Napoli is bar none the better choice, but from a business standpoint since Jeff Mathis had no trade value, it made sense to trade Napoli.
The Major League Baseball Winter Meetings begin this coming Monday; I have already received an early Christmas present, the Angels trading away Jeff Mathis. Ladies and gentlemen this is the magic that is the Christmas and holiday season, I can’t wait to see what magic Jerry Dipoto does next to make this truly a Winter Wonderland.