Sisk Could Fill A Need For Angels

LOS ANGELES—In blunt terms, the Angels were hoping to get something for nothing.

When the 2012 season ended, the decision was made to rebuild the rotation without veteran righthanders Ervin Santana and Dan Haren—both of whom had expensive club options for 2013.

The Angels had no intention of exercising those options to bring either pitcher back. But general manager Jerry Dipoto did hope to use the cost-certainty of those options and the track records of both pitchers to swing a deal before simply declining the options and losing Santana and Haren for no return.

He wasn't able to make a trade for Haren, losing the veteran to free agency. But Dipoto did deal Santana to the Royals for minor league reliever Brandon Sisk, 27, who steps into an area of particular need in the Angels system: lefthanded relief.

"First of all, just as a historic minor league performer, Brandon has been successful," Dipoto said. "He's been a little older for each level but he's conquered each level."

Sisk's road hasn't been smooth. He missed one year at Azusa Pacific (Calif.) with an elbow injury and was undrafted out of college. He worked in construction for a year before spending most of the 2008 season in the now defunct independent Continental League.

The Royals signed him out of independent ball and set him on a path that reached Triple-A in 2011. In parts of two seasons at Triple-A Omaha, Sisk had a 2.17 ERA, 10 saves and 103 strikeouts in 99 innings.

It is that ability to miss bats despite a fastball that barely touches 90 mph and didn't jump out at scouts that made Dipoto think the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Sisk might have value in a big league bullpen.

"It's not overpowering stuff. More than anything it's deception," Dipoto said. "His fastball sits 88-90 (mph), not a real mover. But it's a unique plane. He hides the ball well and it's tough to pick up.

"He has a history of missing bats. His contact rate has always been low . . . He's a three-pitch guy with a lot of guts who generally keeps the ball down and misses bats."

The Angels are set in the bullpen with lefthanders Sean Burnett and Scott Downs. Behind them, though, the organization is "a little short" on lefthanded bullpen options, Dipoto admitted. That gives Sisk a chance to break through with the Angels. This spring, the final spot in the bullpen should be a crowded battle among righthanders Garrett Richards, Bobby Cassevah, Michael Kohn (recovering from Tommy John surgery) and lefthanders Nick Maronde, Mitch Stetter and Sisk.

"He's never been on a 40-man roster before," Dipoto said of Sisk. "This is his chance and that's what I told him."

Angel Food

• The Angels' acquisitions of Jason Vargas, Joe Blanton and Tommy Hanson likely pushed Richards out of the running for a spot in the major league rotation. But Dipoto said Richards has a very good chance to open the season in the Angels' bullpen.

• Former Angels outfielder Jeremy Moore signed as a minor league free agent with the Dodgers. Moore, 25, missed all of 2012 after hip surgery last spring.