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Angels trade Donnelly to Boston for minor leaguer

Reliever, a stalwart for the 2002 World Series winners, expresses mixed emotions about leaving.

December 16, 2006|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

The Angels lost another link to their 2002 World Series-winning team Friday when they traded relief pitcher Brendan Donnelly to the Boston Red Sox for 27-year-old left-hander Phil Seibel, a deal that left Donnelly, 35, with mixed emotions.

"It stinks that I'm leaving the Angels, because they were the only team that gave me a chance, and we did some good things together," said Donnelly, who spent 10 years in the minor leagues before reaching Anaheim in 2002.

"I'm going to miss the clubhouse, the fans. ... They seemed to respect the fact that I left everything on the field every time I went to the mound.

"The flip side is, I'm going to Boston, and the fans there embrace baseball like no other. I'm excited about getting a fresh start, being with a team that's going to win. I'm leaving a good rivalry with the Angels and Oakland and going to the biggest rivalry of all, Boston-New York."

Though Donnelly went 6-0 with a 3.94 earned-run average in 62 games last season, and 9-3 with a 3.72 ERA in 65 games in 2005, he wasn't as consistent as he had been in 2002 and 2003, when he was one of baseball's most effective setup men and a 2003 All-Star.

Besides losing about four mph on his fastball, Donnelly lost his job as primary setup man to Scot Shields in 2005 and was so frustrated with his reduced role last April that he asked to be traded.

After the Angels signed setup man Justin Speier to a four-year, $18-million deal in November, Donnelly, whose salary could jump to $2 million via arbitration, became even more expendable.

"We'll have a lot of guys competing for innings, and the question became, 'How much is Brendan going to get used?' " General Manager Bill Stoneman said. "It looked like the opportunities for him might not be as good this year as they were last year. We don't have many left-handers, and [Seibel] is a guy our scouts like."

Seibel, a Cypress High graduate who played at the University of Texas, missed the 2005 season while recovering from reconstructive elbow surgery but bounced back in 2006 to go a combined 6-3 with a 1.25 ERA in 80 innings from Class A to triple A, striking out 83 and walking 15.

According to Stoneman, Seibel has a 90-mph fastball and an above-average curve. Though his big league role will be as a reliever, he may start at triple-A Salt Lake.

Though the deal may weaken the bullpen slightly, Stoneman says it will improve pitching depth in the long run. And with Angels starters often pitching into the seventh inning, Shields and Speier setting up closer Francisco Rodriguez, and Hector Carrasco and left-hander Darren Oliver in middle and long relief, the Angels apparently feel they can manage without Donnelly.

And that's fine with Donnelly, who will join a team that is so desperate for relief it signed Angels castoff J.C. Romero on Friday.

With 2006 closer Jonathan Papelbon expected to join the rotation, Boston's top current relievers are veteran right-handers Mike Timlin and Julian Tavarez, and youngsters Manny Delcarmen and Craig Hansen.

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mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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