In Sean O'Sullivan and Will Smith, the Angels traded a major league rotation arm and a pitching prospect for Alberto Callaspo. The career numbers of Callaspo are eerily similar to Howie Kendrick, enough to call him a third-base version of Kendrick.
Callaspo is less than three months older than Kendrick. Neither is a great base-stealing threat. Callaspo hits a little lower for average but a few more walks gives him a small lead in oOn-base percentage (.333 to .329 lifetime) over Kendrick. While Howie's slugging percentage over his a career has been about 20 points higher, one wonders if that little bit of oomph can be attributed to being in a much more stacked lineup for his 1800+ career Plate Appearances, whereas Callaspo has been stuck carrying the load on the Diamondbacks and Royals over his 1400+ career plate appearances.
Perhaps Mike Scioscia feels interjecting this league average type of production into his lineup will be a spark that moves things along for the Angels as far as producing runs. Another school of thought is that this move is a harbinger of some other trade about to come that will add a more complete piece or two to the "How to Get to the Playoffs" puzzle facing the Angels in 2010.
But dumping a little bit of the farm onto the midwest in exchange for a wife-beating version of Kendrick makes one thing crystal clear: The Brandon Wood era (so short that it could be termed an "experiment") is over in Anaheim. Callaspo has three years of arbitration after 2010 and will not cost much more than the $1.75 million in 2011 that Howie cost the Angels this year. He will be the Angels third baseman for the foreseeable future. Once an untouchable prospect, Wood may not be sitting on the Los Angeles Bench of Anaheim much longer. He could be the "gamble" half of another trade the Angels make before July 31. Wood has had 20 at-bats in July and only three since the All Star break.
One could have speculated about what his role was going to be on the team up until the Callaspo trade was made. But looking at the numbers and type of player that this newest Angel is and the Scioscia-friendly mold into which Callaspo slips only brings home the truth about Wood: He is now the fourth-string third baseman on a second-place club. If there is nowhere to go but up from that position, it will have to be in another team. There is nowhere to go but out of Anaheim for yet another complete prospect bust from the Angels.
The Angels gambled on Wood being able to make the transition with a year too much of Triple A in 2009 and paid for it with the baseball equivalent of overripe fruit. Callaspo does not have the projected ceiling that Wood had allowed his advocates to dream about, but he can punch the clock close enough to the major league average that the Angels have ditched their dream and embraced an ordinary baseball player instead. And while two Kendricks are not really that much better than one, they are better than Howie plus another Brandon 0-fer.