Say this about these Angels: They're not haunted by the past.
The Angels traded three players and took on $24.5 million to get Scott Kazmir last year, a bust so far. They traded four players and took on $32 million to get Dan Haren on Sunday, with no regrets about the Kazmir deal.
In the first inning of his first game with the Angels, Mo Vaughn tumbled into the dugout and wrenched his ankle. He had just become the costliest purchase in club history, and he was never the same again.
In the fifth inning of Haren's first game with the Angels, he fell to his knees in pain, after a line drive collided with his pitching arm. But ball did not hit bone, and the Angels do not expect Haren to land on the disabled list for the first time in his career.
Haren was all smiles after the game, and not just because he had apparently dodged serious injury. The Angels might be just two games above .500, but his former employers in Arizona are 25 games under.
"Playing for a team that many games under .500 can drag you down a little bit," Haren said. "It was tough coming to the field every day. It seems like they don't accept losing here, which is a good thing."
These Angels don't accept losing in October anymore, so they no longer approach the July trading deadline as curious bystanders. Haren might help pitch them to the World Series one of these years, if not this one.
In his eight years as the Angels' general manager, Bill Stoneman's most notable July import was reserve outfielder Alex Ochoa. His successor, Tony Reagins, imported Mark Teixeira two years ago, Kazmir last year and Haren this year.
In his eight years, Stoneman traded five minor league pitchers. Reagins just traded five minor league pitchers within four days, for Haren and infielder Alberto Callaspo.
"Prospects are just that -- prospects," Reagins said. "Certain times, they have value. Certain times, that value increases or decreases."
Stoneman hoarded prospects to build organizational depth. Reagins and Manager Mike Scioscia appear willing to sacrifice some of that depth for a better chance at winning the World Series.
"Nothing's changed in our philosophy," Scioscia said. "We're moving guys for really talented guys who can help us for the next three to four years.
"It could be we have more to trade."
And it could be they have another trade to make, with an ill-fitting roster and a desire for a power hitter, whatever the position.
"There's going to be a time when the offensive piece is available," Reagins said. "I don't know if that is today, tomorrow, at the deadline or even after the deadline."
The Angels have three catchers, with Futures game MVP Hank Conger waiting at triple-A Salt Lake. They have six infielders for the three spots beyond first base.
They also have four designated hitters, in Hideki Matsui, Juan Rivera, Bobby Abreu and Mike Napoli.
The Haren trade also offered the latest illustration of the handicap facing Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti as he tries to fortify a ragged pitching staff with a thinning minor league inventory.
The Angels included one minor leaguer, Patrick Corbin, drafted with a compensation pick, the type of bonus pick the Dodgers forfeited this year by not offering arbitration to Randy Wolf. The Angels included another minor leaguer, Rafael Rodriguez, signed out of the Dominican Republic for $780,000; the Dodgers have all but pulled out of the bidding for top teenage talent in Latin America.
The Angels also assumed all of a contract that guarantees Haren $32 million through 2013.
In the Kazmir, Callaspo and Haren trades, the Angels sacrificed Joe Saunders and eight prospects.
"If we draft better and develop better, you can replenish your system," Reagins said.
These Angels would rather trade for a $30-million pitcher than sign a $160-million one, and that requires a constant supply of prospects to avoid overpaid or over-the-hill free agents.
That is their course to the World Series, an obstacle course worth navigating, or trying to.
"If you're in it to be average, or you're satisfied with winning the division," Reagins said, "this is the wrong business for you."
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