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In Iannetta, Angels hope for pop behind the plate

Tim Brown
Yahoo Sports
In Iannetta, Angels hope for pop behind the plate

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After six years with the Rockies, Chris Iannetta heads to the Dodgers for 2012

Desperate for production out of their catchers since their ill-advised trade of Mike Napoli(notes), the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday acquired Chris Iannetta(notes) from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for pitching prospect Tyler Chatwood(notes).

This would be new GM Jerry Dipoto cleaning up after former GM Tony Reagins.

The Rockies, in turn, were expected to reach a contract agreement with free-agent catcher Ramon Hernandez(notes), who probably will find in Colorado one of the younger rotations in the game.

Among a set of rotation candidates including the likes of Chatwood, Jhoulys Chacin(notes), Jason Hammel(notes), Esmil Rogers(notes), Juan Nicasio(notes), Clayton Mortensen(notes), Alex White(notes), Drew Pomeranz(notes), etc., only Hammel is even close to 30.

Hernandez's contract is for two years. Fox Sports reported it was for $6.5 million.

At the core of this trade, however, is Iannetta. The Angels offense was 10th in the American League in runs last season, and their catchers – primarily Jeff Mathis(notes), occasionally Hank Conger(notes) and Bobby Wilson(notes) – had a .192 batting average and .252 on-base percentage.

Mathis, the Angels' primary catcher for much of the past four seasons, likely will be non-tendered. Valued by manager Mike Scioscia for his defense, Mathis – a career .194 hitter – batted .174 in 2011.

For the Angels, it was particularly hard to watch given Napoli's offensive breakthrough. Napoli had been included in the Vernon Wells(notes) trade with the Toronto Blue Jays in order to soften Wells' massive contract, and then was flipped to Texas, where he hit 30 home runs and batted .320.

Iannetta was no Napoli. But in 426 plate appearances he had an on-base percentage of .370 and hit 14 home runs. That said, his production skewed drastically toward Coors Field. On the road, Iannetta was Mathis-ian, batting .172 and slugging .266.

Also …

After all those years of Yankees GMs contemplating long leaps from tall buildings, it's good to see one actually following through.

For the second consecutive holiday season (though this year with a new, three-year contract), Brian Cashman will rappel from a 22-story building in Stamford, Conn., while wearing an elf suit.

[Related: Does Valentine hire bode ill for new Sox GM?]

The event will take place Sunday – on the eve of the winter meetings, where generally the leaps are of faith and very pricy. …

Meantime, the Yankees seem content to ride out the early days of winter without much activity. They've reworked CC Sabathia's(notes) contract and re-signed Freddy Garcia(notes). The rotation therefore looks a lot like it did at the end of the season, with Sabathia, A.J. Burnett(notes), Ivan Nova(notes), Phil Hughes(notes) and Garcia.

The club has Hughes on an intense offseason program in the L.A. area to tighten a body that already was getting away from him in his mid-20s.

So, that's good, assuming Hughes sticks with it. The organization believes he can be very good in '12. Also, reports out of the Dominican Republic are that Hector Noesi(notes) is pitching very well. All but a couple bullpen spots are claimed, and while the Yankees probably will sign a reliever in December (when the market comes to them), they'll also leave room for spring competition.

The Yankees are not averse to using their organizational depth – that being at catcher and starting pitcher – for help in their big-league rotation, no matter how comfortable with it they claim to be today. The Tampa Bay Rays appear to be willing to deal from their rotation, but it's unlikely they'd make a trade that would strengthen the Yankees.

So, keep an eye on the Oakland A's and Chicago White Sox, in particular. …

Theo Epstein made his first significant move as overseer of the Chicago Cubs, signing outfielder David DeJesus(notes) to a two-year, $10 million contract with an option for 2014. A left-handed hitter (which the Cubs desperately needed), DeJesus seeks a rebound from a rough '11, when, as an Oakland A, he batted .240 and had a career-low .323 on-base percentage.

GM Jed Hoyer said DeJesus would be the regular right fielder, which means Tyler Colvin(notes) won't be. …

Thad Levine, assistant GM of the Texas Rangers, won't interview for the GM job with the Houston Astros. Considered a frontrunner if, as expected, Rays GM Andrew Friedman passes on the gig, Levine said Wednesday he'd withdrawn his name.

"My family and I have happily decided to forgo any current outside opportunities and remain part of the Texas Rangers family," he said in a statement released by the club. "We are extremely appreciative of all the opportunities that Jon Daniels, Nolan Ryan and ownership have provided to us. Winning a championship and bringing it home to the Metroplex remains my singular focus."

Levine, 40, worked for the Dodgers and Rockies before the Rangers. …

The Boston Red Sox were set to introduce Bobby Valentine as their manager Thursday after making the announcement Wednesday, and it took about eight minutes for the first dustup.

Two Boston outlets reported Wednesday that at least one player was told the Red Sox would not hire a Valentine-like manager, meaning one with a hard-line reputation. What followed were reports indicating some Red Sox players were upset about the hire.

Perhaps had they cared as much about their last manager as they seem to this one, there never would have been a press conference Thursday.

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