Here's the thing: Tony Reagins has been an awful GM.
I had this long essay about how he's done nothing but make the team worse through bad trades (Kazmir), bad management of talent (Oliver, O'Day), lateral moves (Callaspo, Bulger) and bad acquisitions (Matsui, Fuentes). And it's true, he's made a mess of an organization which, while slow and unexciting with Stoneman at the helm, nevertheless stockpiled talent and seemed poised to rule the weak AL West for the next couple decades.
When Reagins signed Torii Hunter to an enormous contract out of nowhere, I knew that there were going to be serious changes in the organization. What I did not forsee, however, were the myriad negative changes accompanying the small beneficial ones, ultimately leading for my to call for Reagins' firing as early as January this year. When Guerrero was let go in favor of another aging slugger, I was concerned. When Fernando Rodney, previously billed as "the worst closer in baseball" by Detroit fans signed a multiyear contract, I knew the Angels were in trouble.
Yesterday's trade of Saunders + minor leaguers to Arizona for Dan Haren might be the trade that keeps Regains his job. This is what the Kazmir trade was supposed to be: buy low on major league talent, sell high on minor league talent. As long as the PTBNL isn't Mike Trout, and it won't be, it'll be a lopsided trade in the Angels' favor for a great pitcher with a favorable contract that pays him less than he's worth. And it gets rid of Joe Saunders, who was a great man and a great Angel, but not a particularly good pitcher, and one who's performance this season illustrates his mediocrity.
For the record, I have no faith that the Angels will make the playoffs this season. A 7 game deficit with ~60 games remaining is a deep hole, especially when the Rangers are able to take 3 of 4 games. Texas and LA have 10 games remaining, but the Angels will now need to exceed the Rangers' pace through the nondivisional schedule as well.
But I'm feeling much more optimistic about next season than I was at the beginning of this one, so while I wait for Haren to start with the Angels, I'll give Reagins a reprieve. But only for a minute.