Analyzing what might be Billy Eppler’s finest hour as LA Angels GM.

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 25: Justin Upton
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 25: Justin Upton /

What a difference a month makes.  After the LA Angels did next to nothing at the non-waiver trade deadline in late July, the Angels have caught fire.  The team went 18-10 in August and have climbed back into the wild-card chase.

With the LA Angels showing that could be contenders rather than pretenders in the AL wild-card hunt the Angels management has responded in a big way. Angels owner Arte Moreno followed through on his early season promise to loosen the purse strings down the stretch if the Angels were in contention and the move made sense.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler made good on his bosses’ promise by making two big moves on Thursday that could have a major impact on the team’s chances of reaching the playoffs for the first time in three years and only the second time since 2009.

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Eppler pulled the trigger on a blockbuster deal early in the day acquiring potential MVP candidate Justin Upton from Detroit to solidify the left field position and add a big bat to the middle of the Angels line-up that will more than provide protection for reigning MVP Mike Trout.  Not only that, Upton could be here for awhile as he has four years remaining on his contract.  The only issue is that Upton could choose to opt-out at the end of this season, forcing the Angels to pony up more dough to keep him the 2017 All-Star.

The best thing is the Angels did not have to give up a handful of prospects to get Upton’s services for a September stretch run.

They did lose one of their top pitching prospect Grayson Long who has done very well in Double-A this season. Long went 8-6 in 121 innings for Mobile with a 2.52 ERA striking out 111 batters and only walking 38. He was the Angels third round draft pick in 2015 out of Texas A&M.

However, with the plethora of major league pitching the Angels will have over the next couple of season with the return of Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs, Andrew Heaney, and Nick Tropeano all looking like they will be healthy and ready to lead a group of young arms into the 2018 season. You can also add Matt Shoemaker, Alex Meyer, and Parker Bridwell to that mix, not to mention Nate Smith and Troy Scribner as well.  So Long while talented was expendable to get one of the top players in the AL this season in Upton.

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Upton is in the middle of a six-year deal worth more than 120 million dollars.  Upton just turned 30 last week and is still in his prime has hit .279 this season with 28 homers and 94 RBIs while stealing 10 bases. His OPS in .904 which is only second to the Angels Mike Trout and will make a formidable outfield trio with Trout and Kole Calhoun.

Eppler however was not done as he went out and acquired the Angels only other hole at second base by acquiring veteran second baseman Brandon Phillips from the Atlanta Braves for Triple-A catcher Tony Sanchez just moments before the post-season roster deadline of 12 midnight East Coast time.

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Phillips is another strong veteran presence who can both hit and field as well and will provide some extra pop at second base where the Angels have been using prospect Kaleb Cowart the last month since releasing veteran Danny Espinosa in mid-July.  While Cowart has been solid defensively and been adequate offensively, Phillips is a major upgrade plus a veteran presence that will help the Angels down the stretch and in the playoffs if they qualify.

Phillips is a career .279 hitter who has hit 208 home runs and driven in 941 runs in his 16-year career.  Phillips has also stolen 208 bases as well.  This season he is hitting .291 with 11 home runs and driven in 52 runs and also has stolen 10 bases.

The one subtraction from the team was Cameron Maybin who was put on waivers and claimed by AL West leaders the Houston Astros.  Maybin has provided the Angels with speed and a bonafide lead-off hitter when he has been healthy, but was made expendable when the Angels acquired Upton.

Yes Billy Eppler who has made a habit of scrounging the waiver wire to find hidden gems and turned it into an art form has not got some big guns to mix-in with the already existing talent the Angels have. Hopefully this could turn into a magical October like 2002 when the Angels last reached the playoffs as a wild-card and went on to win their only World Series title.

Next: Garrett Richards could be back next week

Thank you Arte and great job Mr. Eppler you have done your job very well now we just have to sit back and enjoy this last month and hopefully there will be a pot of gold at the end of the 2017 rainbow.