Dec 12, 2010

That Angel NOT in the Oufield: Assessing the Halos' Options

In the wake of the failure to sign Carl Crawford, the Angels seem to be reeling about what to do next. Some consider them to go hard after Lee; others consider them to go after Beltre. The Halos want to make a move, but it is unclear about what exactly they will do in the rapidly depleting market of top free agents. Here is a list of some possibilities.

Halos Making a Push for Lee:
I find this one to be highly unrealistic. While the Angels could make Lee a priority and would probably have a decent chance of signing in terms of dollars, the Halos' front office does not hide their reluctance to sign players, especially pitchers, to long-term deals. They even hesitated to go to seven years in their offer to Crawford, who is considered a great athlete at 29 years of age. So I don’t see anyway at all that the Angels would offer Lee, a 32 year old pitcher, a contract of at least six years, especially when it seems as if it would take a deal of at least seven years to sign the southpaw.

Currently the Angels already have one of the better rotations in baseball consisting of co-aces Jered Weaver and Dan Haren. Although Haren has never been considered an ace by some standards, he has gotten Cy Young votes and is a three time all star. His 2010 campaign was his worst since 2006, and once he was traded to the Angels, he posted a 2.91 ERA in two solid months in the rotation. The Angels also have a strong three and four in Ervin Santana and Joel Pineiro. Lefty Scott Kazmir, who was one of the worst pitchers in the majors last year, is currently bring monitored closely in an offseason workout plan, and is expected to bounce back well and find his ace potential that he had with the Rays only a few years ago.

So my conclusion on this matter is that the Angels’ interest in Lee is simply due diligence because he is the best remaining free agent. They don’t need him, but I don’t think any team would say that they do not want him. He makes any team better.

Angels Push for Adrian Beltre
This is the more likely scenario. The Angels desperately need offense. They were expecting that upgrade to come in the form of Carl Crawford, as he would have been the perfect fit with his five tool abilities, however I won’t dwell on that too much because simply it didn’t happen. One position of extreme weakness last season was at the hot corner. Beltre is a talented third baseman that had an excellent year last year. I could see the Angels putting their all-in attitude towards Beltre. The only hitch on this scenario is Arte Moreno’s distaste for Scott Boras and the way he deals with teams. After the Angels failed to land Mark Teixeira in 2008, Moreno has adamantly avoided the agent and any player he represents. This is evidenced by the Angels' reluctance to sign Rafael Soriano. Instead they opted for two lefties in Hasinori Takahashi. and Scott Downs. Recent comments would suggest they will cease to pursue anymore relief pitcher. So the question is this: does the Angels' desire to improve on their worst record in seven seasons outweigh their feelings toward Scott Boras? We will see in the days and weeks ahead.

Signing a DH
If they miss out on the last few top tier free agents, the Angels can go bargain shopping like they did after the 2008 season where they signed Bobby Abreu. While it is possible that they take a look at Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero, Hideki Matsui and Manny Ramirez types of players, the Angels seem to be content with the wealth of aging players that they have. The team seems to desire their youthful presence again, as can be seen in their decision to push Torii Hunter over to right for the speedy Peter Bourjos. So signing a permanent DH would leave a difficult spot of having an overcrowded outfield with Bobby Abreu already beginning to fill the DH role with Torii in right. So I highly doubt this will happen.

Acquisition by Trade
With Adrian Gonzalez also off the market as of last week, a huge and unlikely trade target was taken away from the Angels. There are still plenty of viable options, such as Prince Fielder. The Angels have the depth at certain positions (such and the outfield and catcher) to try and get a deal done for a major offensive piece. But I do not think a deal would happen during the off season, and is more likely to happen as a midseason deal, which Tony Reagins has made his signature over the past few seasons. This would allow for the team to determine where it's needs are while also allowing for pieces such as Rivera, Napoli or Aybar to regain their value after less than stellar 2010 statistics.

These are some of the likely scenarios I see for the Halos in the offseason. Let me know what you think as there will likely be a part two to this article.

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