Sweeney could give Angels a big boost
The Angels are no-doubt-about-it hurting in only one spot — the slot behind Vladimir Guerrero in the batting order. They have lots of good players, and scads more in the minor leagues. As “Let’s Make a Deal” partners, the Angels and Royals are perfect for each other. So let’s get busy on this, can we, Bill Stoneman? Pick up the phone to your Royals counterpart, Allard Baird, and do the general manager thing. Sweeney would work for the Angels for several reasons. He makes a lot of money, $11 million a season through 2007, and the Angels are one of the few teams that can afford him. Sweeney has 18 homers and 63 RBI, and is batting a tick under .300 — for a horrible club. Park him behind Guerrero and watch him pile up the numbers. And he is still only 32. The Angels’ “protection” for Guerrero was Garret Anderson, until GA came down with another ouchy — what looks like the same mysterious back pain/arthritis that shelved him for 43 games in 2004. In Anderson’s absence, manager Mike Scioscia is attempting to make do with Bengie Molina, who is having a nice season — for a 7-hole hitter. Opponents have stopped throwing anything even resembling a strike to Guerrero. Sweeney would end all those intentional walks to Vlad the Whaler. Sweeney has hit in the middle of the Royals lineup for most of a decade. He is known for spraying line drives and has hit as many as 29 home runs. He has cleared waivers. He grew up an Angels fan and would approve the trade. He seems so eager to see it happen that he reportedly would waive the clause in his contract calling for an extra $1.5 million per year if he is traded from Kansas City. Sweeney also is a great presence in the clubhouse. A stand-up, high-morals guy and natural leader. Who deserves a chance to play in the postseason before he retires. OK, his back can be balky, but Scioscia could use him at designated hitter. Or first base, on his good days, sending Darin Erstad back to left field. To free Mr. Royal from Kansas City, the Angels shouldn’t have to give up much talent. Just taking his salary off the Royals’ books would allow K.C. to spend $11 million on several competent players. The Angels could throw in a kid or two from the low minors. Or maybe a Juan Rivera. Worst-case scenario, perhaps young first baseman Casey Kotchman – who could be a star someday, but isn’t right now. And “right now” is when the Angels need help. They lead the American League West, but we don’t like their chances of staying there without another bat for Scioscia to swing at the opposition. And we really don’t like their chances of surviving in the playoffs with Bengie hitting fourth or fifth and Jeff DaVanon or Kotchman DH’ing. Sweeney isn’t the only veteran who might be available. Magglio Ordonez, Aubrey Huff … just look at pricey guys playing out the string with bad clubs, and they can be had. Ken Griffey Jr. would be quite a coup, but he is signed through 2008 at $12.5 million a year, might not approve the trade – and Cincinnati fans might burn down the town if Junior were sent away during his best season since 2000. The Angels have made noises about being the serious ballclub in the L.A. market. But not many of us have bought it. Here is a chance for Arte Moreno & Co. to show that the “A Team” stuff isn’t just hot air. Make a move, spend some money, reel in an accomplished hitter. This is about seizing an opportunity. And making the cash-strapped Dodgers look bad, too. Mike Sweeney, in Angels red. It has to have crossed Stoneman’s mind. If ordinary fans can figure it out … certainly the Angels’ GM can, too. Paul Oberjuerge’s column appears Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday. He can be reached at [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 The Angels are desperate for a middle-of-the-lineup presence. A veteran. A man who knows his business. Before their offense dries up and is blown away. And we have someone in mind. Mike Sweeney. Sweeney is a career .300 hitter and Ontario High School alumnus who is living out a nightmare with the Kansas City Royals. A bigger-than-usual Royals nightmare, that is. To the tune of 18 consecutive defeats, only three shy of the American League record. The Royals need help almost everywhere. They have one good player, Sweeney, and precious little else. We have reached such a moment, with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and most anybody can see it. This team must add a run-producer. Now. Not next week. Not next month. Not if it wants to make a serious World Series run. ANAHEIM – You don’t always have to be a slow-talkin’, tobacco-chawin’ baseball lifer to spot the gaping hole in a lineup. Stat wonks with advanced degrees in statistical analysis aren’t necessarily required to divine the baseball move that must be made.