Angels acquire Garland for Cabrera
Team trades shortstop and cash considerations for righty
Dealing from a position of strength to add a durable starting pitcher and expand trade options, the Angels sent Rawlings Gold Glove shortstop Orlando Cabrera to the Chicago White Sox on Monday in exchange for Jon Garland.
Cabrera is coming off one of his finest seasons, offensively as well as defensively, while Garland endured his first losing season since 2003, pitching for a White Sox team that finished 18 games below .500, 24 games behind Cleveland in the American League Central.
"I don't know if it's a bold move," Tony Reagins, the Angels' new general manager, said of his first major deal. "It's a move that makes us better. This puts us in the right direction and opens up opportunities to do things down the line if that opens up."
The Angels have been linked with the Florida Marlins in a potential swap involving 24-year-old slugger Miguel Cabrera. The Marlins are seeking pitching and several position players in return for one of the game's premier hitters, a man who'd fill the cleanup spot behind Vladimir Guerrero.
Garland, 28, joins one of the game's premier rotations with the AL West champion Angels. He was 10-13 with a 4.23 ERA in 32 starts, working 208 1/3 innings in 2007. It was his fourth consecutive 200-plus-innings season, something the Angels clearly value in terms of saving wear on the bullpen.
"It's exciting for me," said Garland, a key component in the White Sox run to the 2005 World Series championship as an 18-game winner. "It's definitely a challenge. I'm preparing myself, looking forward to trying to get the Angels back to the World Series -- and to win another title."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia has the luxury of uncommon rotation depth, with Garland joining John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar, Jered Weaver, Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana.
"This organization is built on pitching and defense," Scioscia said, "If we get far away from that model, we're not going to be the perennial contenders we want to be.
"More important, it gives Tony the opportunity to look at some things in the [Dec. 3-6] Winter Meetings [in Nashville]. Obviously, there's been a lot of focus on the offensive side. Tony's not done. ... He's going to address that, and he has the tools to do things. Every club we've talked to asks about pitching, and we have a legitimate six-man rotation."
Scioscia acknowledged Cabrera's value on the field and as a leader, but he feels the Angels are deep enough to absorb the loss.
"To get something, you have to give up something," Scioscia said. "We gave up a guy who has had three terrific seasons for us. But pitching is as much of a premium as it's been at any time in baseball, and we're getting a guy who has pitched in big games."
As for replacing Cabrera, Scioscia nominated Erick Aybar and Maicer Izturis as immediate candidates, with super-prospect Brandon Wood in the wings.
"Izzy and Erick may not have the experience Orlando had," Scioscia said, "but they certainly have the skill set to bring the special presence at shortstop we need."
Playing second and third base primarily in 2007, with Howard Kendrick and Chone Figgins both on the disabled list for extended periods, Izturis was consistently productive with the glove and the bat. He also made two trips to the DL with hamstring problems.
Izturis batted .289 in 336 at-bats with a .406 average with runners in scoring position. Aybar, a superb athlete who missed most of the second half after undergoing right wrist surgery on July 5, batted .237 in 194 at-bats.
Wood spent most of the year learning a new position -- third base -- at Triple-A Salt Lake, where he continued to show big-time power along with Major League-caliber defense at both third and shortstop, Scioscia said.
Garland followed his 18-win 2005 season with another 18 wins in 2006. His 46 victories in the past three seasons have him tied for the sixth most in the Majors.
Along with durability -- he has pitched at least 191 innings each of the past six seasons -- the 6-foot-6, 215-pound Garland brings a sinker/slider/changeup repertoire that should play well at Angel Stadium, a more pitcher-friendly environment than U.S. Cellular Field.
"I feel I'm getting better," Garland said, attributing his subpar '07 record to matters beyond his control with the White Sox. "That  was really the beginning of my career. I think I've learned a lot and become a better pitcher."
Garland, a Southern California native, will be a free agent after the '07 season if the Angels don't sign him to an extension, something he said he'd like to see happen.
This is a homecoming for Garland, who attended John F. Kennedy High School in Granada Hills -- the alma mater of Angels left fielder Garret Anderson.
"He's a competitor and a World Series champion and will bring both passion and character to our ballclub," Reagins said of Garland. "We thank Orlando Cabrera for his service to the Angels and wish he and his family well in the future."
Garland has reached 10 wins, 30 starts and 200 innings pitched for four consecutive seasons. Since 2002, he ranks ninth among all pitchers in starts, 10th in innings pitched and 14th in wins.
A 2005 All-Star, Garland owns a career record of 92-81 with eight complete games, six shutouts and 4.41 ERA in 246 games, 223 as a starter.
Originally selected by the Chicago Cubs in the first round (10th overall) of the 1997 First-Year Player Draft, Garland was traded by the Cubs to the White Sox in exchange for Matt Karchner on July 29, 1998.
Cabrera, 33, also is entering the final year of his contract, and there was speculation that the club would not enter the bidding to bring him back given the organizational depth at the position.
Cabrera's Gold Glove was the second of his career. A 2001 honoree with Montreal, he led American League shortstops with a .983 fielding percentage in 2007 while leading the Angels in runs (101) for the second straight season. His career-high 192 hits were the most by an Angels shortstop, and his.301 batting average and 86 RBIs ranked third among AL shortstops.
Hitting second for most of the season, he finished sixth in the AL with his 192 hits and third with 63 multihit games.
Scioscia said the Angels will have a number of candidates to hit second, including Kendrick.
"Let's wait and see what our roster looks like on April 1," Scioscia said.
A native of Cartagena, Colombia, Cabrera was the shortstop for the 2004 World Series champion Boston Red Sox and was selected as the Expos' team MVP in 2001 and 2003. He owns a career batting average of .273 with 706 runs scored, 97 home runs and 627 RBIs in 1,411 games.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.