Injuries in professional sports are always tragic. Some are obviously worse than others (Bo Jackson for instance) and no one ever wants to see someone get hurt doing their job to the best of their ability. However, one can never forget that professional sports are a business at their roots and everything is utilized to create angles towards success. On Wednesday, Garret Richards, playing hard and attempting to do the best at his job, appeared to have severely injured his knee, potentially leaving the Angels, in a tight pennant race with the Athletics, a pitcher short. In the business of baseball, this is Sandy Alderson’s time to move and take advantage of what is a terrible situation for Richards and the Angels.
Bartolo Colon has yet to be passed through waivers, but now it’s time. The Angels were already in need of pitching, but now, with the moves the Athletics have made, acquiring Jon Lester and Jeff Samardzija and with this potentially devastating injury to one of their top starters, the perfect situation has been created for an Alderson special, trading the veteran for a return that is greater than the value of the vet.
Colon is exactly what the Angels need. He’s imperturbable on the mound, eats up innings and keeps his team in games. The Angels biggest Achilles heel has been their bullpen, which was helped by the Huston Street acquisition, but still remains an uncertainty. The last thing the Angels need is a young starting pitcher being brought up to the majors, in a pennant race and expected to pitch a lot of innings. A pitcher like Colon, who is also familiar with the AL west and is a pitcher who can normally be relied upon to pitch into the seventh inning, is the guy the team needs to not only hide their biggest weakness, the bullpen, but also compete with the pitching strong Athletics.
The questions about such a move are related to what the Mets could get from the Angels and whether Billy Beane and the Athletics will allow it to happen. The Angels farm system isn’t exactly loaded right now with talent that the Mets need, namely young players at shortstop or the outfield that can impact the team at the latest next year. Kole Calhoun would obviously be a player they would be interested in, but the Angels aren’t going to be jumping to move him, even for a player that obviously fits exactly what their needs dictate. CJ Cron is probably the best young player the Angels could offer, and his power does match what the Mets have a need at, but he’s never played a position outside of first base in his entire professional career. Since Lucas Duda might hit 30 home runs and knock in over 90 runs at that position for the Mets, Cron doesn’t fit, unless the Mets want to create another Duda in the outfield situation. The Angels could offer a big contract back, like Josh Hamilton, but the Mets aren’t going to accept anything like that as compensation.
Knowing how Beane treats these kinds of situations, the Mets might not even get that far. The Athletics currently would have to pass on Colon for him to get to the Angels on a waiver claim. Beane’s Machiavellian nature could lead him to put in a claim on Colon. With Jason Hammel’s struggles, the protégé might even be willing to cut a deal with his old mentor, to further solidify his pitching staff into one that would be absolutely frightening to run into in the postseason.
Waiver rules will also factor into this as some of the players the Mets might want might not have passed through waivers themselves. Another team could also put in a claim (he has to get through the entire National League first also). In the end, nothing could come of this, but why Colon hasn’t been put onto waivers yet is mind boggling. It’s possible that Alderson was waiting for the perfect time to do so, but if it isn’t now, with the Angels injury concerns and Hammel’s terrible start in the Athletics rotation, then when would it be? Alderson had done extremely well in these types of deals so far (the Marlon Byrd and Carlos Beltran deals) and it’s hard to see a time where he could get more for Colon (right before the playoffs, another year left on Colon’s deal at a manageable salary, etc.), so it’s time for him to strike. Let’s hope, if he does, that he gets back something of significance that can help the Mets sooner rather than later.