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Angels Get Romero, and His Baggage

December 10, 2005|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

The Angels filled a hole in their bullpen, acquiring veteran left-hander J.C. Romero from the Minnesota Twins on Friday for Class-A infielder Alexi Casilla, a trade that seems a little lopsided until the circumstances surrounding it are examined.

Romero was one of the American League's top relievers in 2002, going 9-2 with a 1.89 earned-run average in 81 games to help the Twins reach the AL championship series, and his numbers in the last three seasons -- a 13-7 record and 3.98 ERA in 215 games -- suggest that the 29-year-old has been fairly effective.

But there are reasons an established left-handed reliever, something the Angels have lacked for two seasons, can be acquired for a minor leaguer who spent the bulk of 2005 at Class-A Cedar Rapids:

Romero clashed several times with Twin Manager Ron Gardenhire last season; he allowed 19 of 42 inherited runners to score, the worst percentage among AL relievers; he had a 6.35 ERA in August and September; he has had command problems, with 209 walks in 408 2/3 career innings; and he was such a burden that the Twins felt they had no choice but to comply with Romero's trade request.

"We're aware of all this, but in the absence of his difficulties with Gardenhire, he wouldn't have been available to us or anyone," Angel General Manager Bill Stoneman said. "If he had a personality conflict with Gardenhire, maybe a change of scenery is best for him, and that's what we're counting on. We have people who know him, and they suggest we're going to be happy with him, and he'll be happy here."

Romero, who held left-handers to a .198 average and right-handers to a .268 mark last season, said he was delighted to be an Angel.

"I believe things happen in life for a reason," Romero said. "I played five years with the Twins, and now it's time to move on. I'm very optimistic about it. I don't expect anything but good things."

To make room for Romero on the 40-man roster, the Angels designated reserve catcher Josh Paul for assignment.

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