I’ve said more than once that I was 95 percent sure that the Angels would trade Mike Napoli this offseason. In my mind, any trade away from Mike Scioscia, who continued to bench his best power threat last season, would be a good one. But Toronto? A team that already has J.P. Arencibia and Jose Molina behind the plate and Adam Lind along with Edwin Encarnacion to split time between 1B/DH.
How does this play out?
My guess is that Arencibia still catches the majority of games in 2011, with Napoli catching once or twice per week. I really don’t see where Jose Molina fits now, though he’s probably going to remain on the roster to help coach the young Arencibia. On the days Napoli isn’t catching, he should play 1B or DH, splitting time with Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion. Lind should also see time in LF, splitting time with Juan Rivera, who is also coming over from Anaheim. The whole situation is muddled and not good for fantasy GM’s.
Given around 500 at-bats, especially in a good park for home runs, Napoli could easily approach 30 home runs for the Jays. Will he get the at-bats? It’s hard to say as of now.
The roto loser in this scenario could be Edwin Encarnacion. E5 isn’t fit to play third base, never was, really, and now he has to compete for at-bats with Napoli and Lind at 1B/DH. I really liked Encarnacion to have a surprise season for fantasy owners in 2011, but now that prediction has been thrown off a bit.
Going to Anaheim is Vernon Well, who hit .273 with 31 home runs in 2010. Wells’ overall numbers look good, but he really slowed down after an incredibly hot start. Going from Sky Dome (I know it’s not called that anymore, but I don’t care, I love Sky Dome) to Angels Staduim should adversely affect Wells’ home run output. ESPN’s park factors list Sky Dome (ok, fine, Rogers Centre) as the fourth best park for home runs in 2010. Angel Stadium ranked 23rd. Ouch.
I won’t be touching Vernon Wells with a ten foot pole on draft day 2011.
With Napoli now out of the picture and Jeff Mathis making Jose Molina look like a batting champ, the door is open for catching prospect Hank Conger. Conger had the ability to turn into a very good offensive catcher, hitting .280/.350 or better with 12-15 homers annually. The problem is his defense, which still needs work. That factor alone should hold back his playing time should he break camp with the big club. Mike Scioscia loves his defensive catchers (Is there any other way to justify Jeff Mathis’s playing time?) and Mathis should get most of the innings behind the plate once again in 2011.
Conger certainly has the projection to be a top 10 fantasy catcher down the road.
The Angels now have a choice to make. Do they keep the young, extremely athletic defensive whiz Pete Bourjos in center, moving Wells to left and Abreu to DH or do they go with an outfield of Wells, Hunter, Abreu and mix-and-match at DH? Do they give Mark Trumbo, who hit 36 home runs at triple-A Salt Lake last year, a chance at the DH job? We’ll have to wait and see how those scenarios play out.
This was an interesting trade in both the real and fantasy world. The Angels seem to be desperately trying to make up for a lackluster offseason, but adding Wells to the mix instead of giving Napoli 500-plus at-bats at DH is probably a negative move for their offense. In Toronto, they could be welcoming around 30 home runs and a decent OBP if they commit to giving Napoli 500-plus at-bats. Their C/1B/DH/LF situation is log-jammed right now and someone is going to get the short end of the stick.