With the major league trade deadline fixed to the minute before play begins on the afternoon of next Sunday, July 31, the Angels are vexed by the worst possible place to be in the standings: a few games behind a powder keg of a Texas Rangers team that could race ahead with another dominant winning streak or limp to a second place finish with injuries to its delicate bunch of star-crossed superstars.
With Adrian Beltre being placed on the DL, the temptation to trade now for division help is probably outweighing the taunting notion that better things await a team who can ill-afford to trade away another Tyler Skaggs or Alex Torres.
If the trading of fan favorite Joe Saunders last July is any indication, "Trigger Happy" Tony Reagins considers no man to be above a trade. The Scioscia-Moreno-Reagins Angels don't rebuild, they reload to win now. It is the players that Angels fans most love that are inevitably on the chopping block:
Howie Kendrick: now with the fail-safe term of "All-Star" attached, Howie's got a third year of arbitration ahead of him in 2013 and could bring in a power bat or number three starter. There are patchwork possibilities to replace him in the field, and less likely in the lineup, until heir apparent Jean Segura moves through the ranks.
Peter Bourjos: the defensive magician and speedy baserunner could be something a more sabremetrically-inclined team might want to build a flyball-tending pitching staff around. With the green light from Moreno to take on salary, Bourjos might bring in a big name bat from a team falling out of contention.
Mark Trumbo: it could haunt them for a decade or more if the player leading all of baseball's rookies with 18 home runs was shipped off unceremoniously, but the theoretical recovery of Kendry(s) Morales next year might make two months of a Paul Konerko type more palatable as would a few prospects following that big bat into town.
Erick Aybar: his steadiness is a commodity that never goes out of style. With a shaky Joel Pineiro, could he be packaged with one of the above for Wandy Rodriguez?
Torii Hunter has a no-trade clause, Vernon Wells has an untradrable contract and Bobby Abreu is Arte Moreno's favorite player. This logjam makes for the acquisition of a big bat at either third or first base the most logical. Russell Branyan is as good as gone by this time next week.
Of course, we can all dream of an extended audition of Jeff Mathis handling pitchers as warranting the lifetime 52 OPS+ catcher being traded. Fans of Hank Conger can always hope their guy gets released form his Salt Lake CIty CERA prison in a trade to a team that values a 23-year old switch hitting power bat without regard to his lack of pitch-framing perfection. Other than Mike Trout and Jered Weaver, the only thing that isn't under threat of being released or going away this week in Anaheim is Mickey Mouse and even he is checking the weather reports in Orlando.