Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
First-half record: 50-42
Standings: Trailing Rangers by 1 in AL West, Yankees by 5 in wild card
Catcher: Well, any reasonable person would think so. Jeff Mathis is hitting .195/.241/.286, and while Mike Scioscia deserves credit for working Hank Conger into the mix, Conger hasn’t quite shined while batting .221/.305/.369. The Angels should bring in a half-season stopgap and kick Mathis to the curb.
Bench: The Angels don’t really have any holes besides the catcher spot: the problem is that they’re not that good anyway. They had the financial power to add a superstar last winter, but they took on Vernon Wells’ salary instead. Now all they can do is fill in around the margins. With just 18 homers from left-handed hitters this year, the Angels could really use a left-handed bat for the bench. Russell Branyan was nice in theory, but he’s useless when he’s not playing fairly regularly.
Closer: With Rich Thompson looking good and Hisanori Takahashi having improved as the season has progressed, the Angels don’t need any sixth- and seventh-inning help. So, there’s no point to upgrading the pen unless it’s to replace Jordan Walden in the closer’s role. Heath Bell, though, wouldn’t be nearly as much of an upgrade here as he would be in some cases.
Ramon Hernandez (C Reds): Stumbling along at 45-47, Cincinnati is a team in need of a bit of a shakeup, and a Hernandez deal, with top prospect Devin Mesoraco stepping into his place, would definitely create some upheaval.
Hernandez for RHP Garrett Richards
Richards, a 2009 supplemental first-round pick, is 10-1 with a 3.14 ERA and a 79/31 K/BB ratio in 106 innings for Double-A Arkansas this season. It’d be a high price to pay for a half-season rental, but the Reds aren’t simply going to make a change for change’s sake. All Hernandez has done this year is hit .322/.377/.539 with 10 homers in 180 at-bats.