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Los Angeles Angels: Howie Kendrick Trade Rumors Have Begun

A Team Desperate for Pitching Must Make Bold Moves

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | Given what was expected of them, one could argue the Los Angeles Angels were the most disappointing team this baseball season and 2013 was easily their worst year in the last decade.

They weren't the absolute worst team in the league, but they managed to garner a couple of honorable mentions in my annual "Best of the Worst" column I wrote last week.

However, it's time to put this season as far back in the rear-view as possible, and the only way to make that happen is to start making smarter moves. With one of the league's best offenses -- headed by baseball's most valuable player, Mike Trout -- this offseason, the focus for the Angels will be pitching, pitching, pitching.

They're sure to be involved in rumors about every available pitcher -- whether a free agent or not. They don't have much of a farm system, but the team does have a few tradeable major-league assets that could net them some pitching. Rumors have already started about the availability of second baseman Howie Kendrick.

The postseason can't come to an end soon enough for the Angels and their fans. Sure, there's the frustration of missing the playoffs yet again, but both World Series teams feature players that are sore reminders of the questionable moves made by the team of late.

Rookie sensation Michael Wacha was the draft pick compensation the St. Louis Cardinals got when the Angels signed Albert Pujols. And the hard-hitting, bearded Mike Napoli was traded away for the honor of paying Vernon Wells tens of millions for doing almost nothing.

A team that's invested this much in its players and that's this close to bouncing back and making the playoffs needs to plug the holes any way they can. The Angels' addition of Grant Green and the dire need for pitching make trading Kendrick an unfortunate necessity.

Kendrick is not an elite second baseman, but he's certainly a top 10 guy. He has a very good bat and is above-average in the field. He's an ideal No. 2 hitter for a contender.

When you see someone like the Kansas City Royals' Dayton Moore overpay last offseason for a pitcher like James Shields, the question of just what the return will be for Kendrick becomes very intriguing.

There were rumors last trade deadline that the Los Angeles Dodgers were interested in Kendrick for pitcher Zach Lee, and they could certainly be interested again this offseason. It would been a smart move for both teams. Besidesm the Dodgers already have one Zack. Two Zacks sounds like more trouble than it's worth.

Any playoff team with real need at second base becomes a potential suitor. The Atlanta Braves come to mind. However, where you can really get a nice return is from one of those teams that thinks it's a playoff team but really isn't and doesn't know it even though the rest of us do, like the Royals, Baltimore Orioles and Arizona Diamondbacks.

The more teams that get involved, the better the return the Angels could get for having to move one of their fan-favorites.

When the rumors that David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays might be traded this offseason, I wrote that the Angels had no shot and they should target the Philadelphia Phillies' Cliff Lee. However, sending along Kendrick (paying some salary, of course) and another player like Peter Bourjos might start to do the trick to bring back Price.

OK, so that probably wouldn't work, but Kendrick will bring back very good prospects. All offseason trade rumors are just in their ethereal stage now and while most of them won't actually come to pass, I think it's safe to assume that 2013 was Kendrick's last year with the Angels.

And the pitching reinforcements for the team are on the way.

Jed Rigney is a Los Angeles-based award-winning filmmaker who also fancies himself a sportswriter. You can discuss sports and pop culture with him on Twitter @JedRigney.

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