ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 7: Jeff Mathis #5 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim reacts after striking out to end the sixth inning with two runners on base against the Cleveland Indians on May 7, 2011 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Angels fans wont have Jeff Mathis to kick around anymore, as Los Angeles traded a starting catcher to the Blue Jays for the second straight offseason.
After acquiring Chris Ianetta in a trade, the Los Angeles Angels were expected to non-tender incumbent catcher Jeff Mathis. Before they could do that, though, they found a trade parter, shipping Mathis to the Toronto Blue Jays for young starting pitcher Brad Mills.
Last year, the Angels traded power-hitting catcher Mike Napoli to the Blue Jays for Vernon Wells, and then the Blue Jays flipped Napoli to the Rangers. The Rangers used Napoli to win the AL West and advance to the World Series. Has anyone mentioned this before? Feels like I'm the first, like I'm the love-child of Neil Armstrong and Peter Gammons.
Anyways, the trade didn't work out. It wasn't just that Napoli went to a division rival, and it wasn't just that a bazillion-dollar flop came back in the deal. Part of the ire had to do with the idea that Napoli was shipped out to make room for Jeff Mathis.
Not bad in a league populated with Kirk Rueter clones, but in the current Major League Baseball world, that's not the prettiest season or career line. And it came while the guy behind the plate for the other team was raking his way to MVP votes. Zounds.
The Blue Jays lost Jose Molina to free agency, and they were likely looking for a defense-first catcher to pair with J.P. Arencibia. But why go defense-first when you can go defense-only? To get Mathis, they traded away Brad Mills, a 26-year-old starter, who owns an 8.57 ERA in 14 major league games. His stats in AAA were more encouraging, though, as he owned a 4.32 ERA with a respectable K/BB raitio. The ERA might seem high for AAA, but he played in Las Vegas, which is like Coors Field, but drunk.
A common practice over the past year has been for the internet to fall over backwards in praise for an Alex Anthopolous deal. Well, here you go! Have at it. There's probably something we don't know, and now we can look forward to the Angels' team ERA ballooning to 5.39, while the Blue Jays shock the world and win the AL East behind a surprisingly strong pitching staff.
Mike Scioscia could not be reached for comment, but if he could say something, it would probably be something like "Aw, nuts" or choking sobs. Possibly something in between. Good luck, Chris Ianetta. Mike Scioscia is going to think you're the Gary Cherone to Mathis's Sammy Hagar.