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Insider

Angels do well in Chris Iannetta deal

11/30/2011

Jerry Dipoto made his first significant move as general manager of the Los Angeles Angels earlier Wednesday when he sent right-hander Tyler Chatwood to the Colorado Rockies for catcher Chris Iannetta. As a follow-up to that trade, Colorado is close to a deal with catcher Ramon Hernandez for two years at a little less than $6.5 million.

The Rockies swore Iannetta was their catcher for 2012 but apparently had their fingers crossed when they said it, as they've shipped him off for a pitcher who doesn't fit the profile of a guy who'll succeed at Coors Field.

Iannetta scarcely got a fair shake from Jim Tracy, who's one of the worst tactical managers in the game today, and he's much better off out of the organization. Iannetta has a solid eye at the plate, although his 2011 on-base percentage (.370) was boosted by hitting in front of the pitcher so often, and he has 20-plus home run power if the Angels let him play every day. He's at least an average overall defensive catcher, better at throwing than receiving. Plus, his offensive profile is more valuable than the $3.55 million he'll be paid this year. It does raise the question of what the Angels intend to do with Hank Conger, still a very promising prospect with a similar offensive projection of patience and power but a need for regular playing time to reach it. Either way, I would like to think the Jeff Mathis experiment is over, several years after the conclusion was obvious.

The Rockies, meanwhile, get Chatwood, who has arm strength and a plus curveball that won't break as well in Coors Field, and who has to work to get downhill plane on his fastball. He didn't belong in the big leagues in 2011 -- ex-Angels GM Tony Reagins' legacy just looks worse with each passing day -- and his performance there was awful, with nearly a walk per strikeout, and it could have been worse had he not made half his starts in spacious Angel Stadium. Maybe Chatwood will find success in Colorado's bullpen, but he didn't necessarily project as a starter in Anaheim, and his repertoire and lack of control don't project as well in Denver.

Hernandez, whom I had at No. 32 on my free-agent rankings, started off well in 2011 but was awful in the second half. Considering that he's 35 years old, it's hard to see a ton of upside here.