Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Angels beyond October

Proverbs 3:7 says: "Do not be wise in your own eyes." In times of desperation, many feel the need to point fingers. A season of sub .500 baseball has Angels fans pointing in one direction, to the person of Tony Reagins, and he knows it. However, Tony Reagins is not trying to justify himself, rather he appears to have humbled himself and seen the error of his ways. His recent comments have made it clear that he is committed to make things right and put the Angels back in a contention spot.

But actions speak more than words. In this coming offseason, the Angels office will have to address those areas in which the organization has faltered and thus resulted to be a season full of disappointment and disillusion. Indeed, it is Reagins' responsibility to put talent in the field, and for 2011 it will be no easy task. If the Angels will keep their budget from 2010, this means they only have about $10-15M available for free agents, after arbitration raises. If major changes are to occur, they will most probably come from trades rather than free agent signings.

Many of us, fans and professionals alike, believe that what the Angels need is a player with speed at the top of the order (somebody who leads off perhaps), a power bat for the middle of the order, and security in the bullpen. These are some of the options that the Angels could consider in the offseason, though some trades or signings seem more viable than others.


Dan Uggla: Currently earns $7.8M and will head to arbitration for the third time this coming offseason and could earn up to $12M in 2011, and barring an extension he will become a free agent in 2012. The second baseman has hit at least 30 HR in each of the last 4 seasons (2007-2010), and posted a 5.2 WAR, but also a -7.9 UZR, in 2010. Comparatively, Howie Kendrick has a 1.5 WAR and a -7.6 UZR (Kendrick posted a +4.3 UZR in '09). Given the rumors that the Marlins considered trading Uggla to the Rockies and Giants before the trade deadline, Florida might consider trading the slugging second baseman. UPDATE: Mlbtraderumors.com reports that extension talks between the Marlins and Uggla not going favorably for either side.

Kelly Johnson: Johnson improved from his 2009 form and batted .284 with a .370 OBP and 79 BB, not to mention 26 HR. Although not being loaded with speed, he has 13 SB for the season and could be a solid leadoff man for the Angels. Johnson is earning $2.35M in 2010 and will go through arbitration in the offseason. It may appear that the Dbacks would consider moving him. 


Jose Reyes: Baseball insider Ken Davidoff recently opined about the possible availability of Reyes given the direction of a potential new GM in the Mets organization. If the Mets were to make Reyes available, he would be a nice addition to the Angels and the leadoff guy the team needs. Reyes is a career .286 hitter and has a .335 OBP. His OBP this year has dropped down to .321 from a .358 and .354 in 2007 and 2008 respectively; his BB totals have been declining since 2007. He also possesses plenty of speed and is a good defender, although he has posted a negative UZR in the last two seasons. The issues with Reyes are health concerns and what it would take to get him. The All-Star shortstop has been battling with injuries since 2009, which limited him to 39 games that season, and has missed considerable playing time in 2010 in June and August-September due to other injuries. In Davidoff's same article, a NL official considers that it would take a "really good prospect, a good prospect and two medium range prospects" to acquire the services of Reyes. That "really good prospect" tag belongs to Mike Trout in the Angels organization and earlier this year the Halos said that he was 'untouchable'. His price tag might also be high for the Angels considering their offseason plans as Reyes will earn $9.375M in 2011 and has a club option for 2012.


Adrian Beltre: There is no doubt he is having a magnificent year. He finished 6th best in the majors in batting average at .321, has a 2nd best career mark in HR with 28, and a career best 49 doubles, to name a few stats. Beltre is earning $9M in 2010 and has a player option for 2011. He will most likely become a FA in the offseason where he could command a multi-year deal ranging from $12-15M per year.

David Wright: In Davidoff's article about Reyes the same NL official whose name is not revealed states that the Mets should also consider moving Wright. If this becomes the case, the Angels could explore the possibility about acquiring Wright from the Mets. Wright's credentials are well-known, he is a 5 time All-Star and has two Silver Slugger and two Golden Glove awards he can brag about. It seems that Wright is bouncing back from a power shortage he displayed in 2009, where he only hit 10 HR after hitting 63 HR between 2007-2008. This season he hit 29 homers, although his BA for the year finished at a career low, .283, which is still not too shabby. Wright is under team control through 2013 (club option for the last year), earning $14.25M in 2011 and $15.25M in 2012. Davidoff is skeptical about the Mets actually moving Reyes and Wright, and even if they proceeded with these transactions, it would require the Angels to deplete their farm system in order to bring any of these players to Anaheim.

Mark Reynolds: He is indeed a HR threat. He hit 28 HR in 2008, 44 in 2009, and 32 in 2010. He is also known for striking out, a lot. In each of the last 3 seasons he has had 200+ SO. Defensively, he surprisingly posted a +1.3 UZR in 2010 (career -25.0 UZR). His numbers have some similarity to Mike Napoli's, which is why some argue that they would prefer to keep him over trading for Reynolds. Napoli in 2010 hit 26 HR so far in 453 AB (Reynolds hit 32 HR in 499 AB), and a -0.2 UZR for the year. The issue here is Scioscia's unwillingness to play Napoli as the team's everyday catcher. The notable difference is Reynolds' avg with RISP (.277), while Napoli's stands at .186. Reynolds is set to earn $5.3M in 2011 (similar to what Napoli will earn after arbitration), $7.83M in 2012, and holds a club option for 2013.

Ty Wigginton: Wigginton made it to the AL All-Star team at the Big A representing the Orioles and he could certainly provide some pop for the Angels at 3B and play some 1B. Wigginton has had 4 seasons, including 2010, in which he has hit 20+ HR. He is a career slashline of .267/.326/.446. Advanced metrics do not like his defense, he had a -7.1 UZR in 2010 and a -11.1 UZR in 2009. He could be an alternative to Wood and Callaspo at 3B and would give the Angels the ability to make more trades or FA signings. Wigginton currently earns $3.5M in 2010 and will be a free agent after this season. The Angels could sign him to a similar deal that the O's offered, at 2 yr/$6M.


Carl Crawford: Ah yes, Carl Crawford. Bloggers and insiders alike have assigned 3 very possible destinations for Crawford, and the Angels are one of them. It is so easy to imagine him wearing an Angels uniform because of his style of play. He is an above average defender (18.4 UZR so in 2010), can hit for average (career .296 hitter), has some pop (15+ HR in both 2009-2010), and is arguably the fastest player in the majors (averaging 45 SB per season). What's not to like? His contract beyond 2010. He is making $10M this year and will probably double that amount for the next years. Peter Gammons of the MLB Network believes he will sign a 7yr/$140M contract. The Angels viability to sign him will all come down to price.

Jayson Werth: Many believe that if the Angels fail to sign Crawford they will make a run at Werth. The 2009 All-Star has been solid in his last three seasons, batting .273 with 24 homers in '08, .268 with 36 homers in '09, and .296 with 27 HR in 2010. Defensively, Werth is also a good defender, posting positive season UZRs throughout his career with the exemption of 2010 so far. Werth is earning $7.5M this year and will likely request a whole lot more in a contract since he is a Boras client.

Jacoby Ellsbury: The Angels may revisit the BoSox with a trade that includes Mike Napoli. The Halos may want Ellsbury to be part of the deal in case they don't want to spend a ton on Crawford. Ellsbury could become the Angels' leadoff hitter, if they're willing to take a risk on the speedy outfielder. Jacoby has been dealing with rib injuries after his collision with Beltre, and thus has been limited to only 18 games this season. Between '08 and '09 Ellsbury had a slash line of .290/.345/.404 and stole 120 bases. Advanced metrics liked his defense in '08 (21.3 UZR) but changed dramatically for '09 (-9.7 UZR). Ellsbury is making $.495M this year all will go through arbitratrion for the first time this offseason. He will become a free agent in 2014.

Scott Podsednik: Pods could also be a cheap option to leadoff for the Angels if their SoCal rivals, the Dodgers, do not pick up his option for 2011. Podsednik's last two years have not been bad, batting .304/.353/.412 with 35 SB in '09 and .294/.342/.382 with 30 SB in '10. His 2010 season was cut short when manager Joe Torre announced in mid-September that Pods would miss the rest of the season with plantar fascitis. Podsednik earned $1.65M in 2010 and could become a free agent later this year.

David DeJesus: Similar situation to former teammate Scott Podsednik, DeJesus could become a free agent in 2011 if the Royals do not exercise his option for next year. According to Bob Dutton from the Kansas City Star, DeJesus does not know in which direction the Royals are going with his option. If DeJesus becomes available, the Angels could explore this option and stick him in the leadoff spot in the line-up. DeJesus has also struggled with injury this year, he has been in the disabled list since June and is still hoping to come back, even though the regular season has little life left. DeJesus has a career .289/.360/.427 slashline and is earning $4.7M in 2010. UPDATE: On Oct 2nd, 2010, the Royals exercised his option for the 2011 season

Nyjer Morgan: ESPN's Jayson Stark has sources that believe the Morgan will not be playing for the Nats in 2011 because of his issues on and off the field. If the Nationals shop Morgan the Angels could be interested if they have not fixed their leadoff man problem yet. Morgan's numbers have dropped from his performance in '09 (.307/.369/.388 in '09, .253/.319/.314 in 2010). Even though he has struggled he has still managed to maintain a positive UZR and WAR in 2010. Morgan is under team control through 2014. He is earning $.426M in 2010 and will go through arbitration for the first time in 2011. UPDATE: Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post says that GM Mike Rizzo stated that the organization will be committed to Morgan in 2011.


Adam Dunn: Back in June, Torii Hunter was lobbying for the Angels to acquire Dunn after Morales had gone down. Although Morales will be back for 2011, the Angels could still use a power bat at DH if Matsui (most likely) does not re-sign with the Angels. Dunn would bring a lot of power to the plate, including 2010 he has 7 straight seasons in which he has hit 35+ home runs and doesn't show signs of stopping. Dunn signed a 2yr/$20M deal with the Nats in 2009 and Washington is still trying to negotiate an extension with him. A few days ago, Mike Axisa from mlbtraderumors.com informed that talks between Dunn and the Nationals were picking up. Time will tell whether Dunn will be wearing red and white at Washington D.C., or at another place.

Lance Berkman: The Angels may continue the trend of signing ex-Yankees (Abreu in '09, Matsui in '10) if Berkman's mutual option is not excercised. Berkman's power numbers have been steadily declining since 2006 when he hit a career high 45 homers with an OPS of 1.041. He is had a rough year hitting only .248/.368/.413 with 14 HR, which are full season career lows, but he is still a switch-hitting power threat. With the way the market reacted to DH free agents last year (Matusi signing a 1yr/$6M deal, Guerrero signed a 1yr/$6.5M with a club option), and if Berkman does indeed become a free agent, expect him to sign a similar deal. Berkman is making $14.5M this season.


Rafael Soriano: The people booed Brian Fuentes at the Big A every time he took the mound, too much suspense. The Angels then got rid of Fuentes and Fernando Rodney proceeded to take his place. He did not make the fans forget about Fuentes' erratic ways, it is now Rodney who is getting booed. The Angels need a lot of help in the bullpen, and Rafael Soriano could provide that help. Soriano started closing for the Braves in 2009 and has actually improved since going to Tampa. He has a 1.82 ERA with a .79 WHIP and 43 saves in 46 opportunities. Between Fuentes and Rodney they have successfully closed 36 games in 46 opportunities for the Angels so far in 2010. Ouch. Soriano will surely become a free agent in the upcoming offseason given the Rays' decision to cut their payroll. Soriano is making $7.25M for the year, and at 30, he could still command a hefty contract, especially after his 2010 performance. The playoffs may raise his stock even more.

Jon Rauch: Rauch was the closer for the Twins when the 2010 season began. He converted 21 of 25 saves, and then Matt Capps arrived, bumping Rauch to the set-up position. With Joe Nathan scheduled to return to the bullpen in 2011, it is not unlikely that Rauch parts ways with the Twins. Given his closing experience and the instability of the backend of the bullpen, the Angels might look to bring another closer, just as they did last year when they signed Rodney to a 2 year deal. Rauch is making $2.9M this year.

Heath Bell: Heath is an All-Star closer who is always showing hustle when he comes out of the bullpen.  The Angels had strong intentions to bring Bell to Anaheim but a deal could not be completed before the 2009 trade deadline. In July of this year, before the trade deadline, Mike Axisa of mlbtraderumors.com reported that the Padres were looking to add some offense, and although they weren't willing to trade any of their prospects, Heath Bell was mentioned as someone who could be shopped. If the Padres finish strong this year and make another run for the playoffs next year, the Angels could approach the Padres in the offseason (or even at next year's trade deadline if the closer situation is not resolved) and work out a deal that would send a big league bat and prospects to San Diego in exchange for Bell. He is having a lot of success this year, posting a 1.87 ERA in 62.2 IP, and has already tied his career high in saves with a few weeks still left in the season. Bell is earning $4M this year and is eligible for arbitration once the season is over. He'll become a free agent in 2012.

Francisco Rodriguez: Would the Angels bring back their single season all-time saves leader from 2008? Davidoff's aforementioned NL official also thinks the team should move K-Rod after many problems made the Mets move him to the restricted list. In New York, Rodriguez has posted a 2.95 ERA in 125.1 IP with 140 strikeouts and 60 saves over two seasons. He is set to make $12.167M in 2011 and has an option for 2012. Would the Angels even consider this possibility? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

There are many other players the Angels could consider or analyze in this coming offseason, this is only a short list of potential players the Halos could acquire to serve as a panorama for what the front office will face after the last out in the US is called in November.

Who do you think the Angels will sign? Who do you think the Angels should sign?

I'll leave it up to you, to the thousands of fans like you, to Tony Reagins, and to Arte Moreno.

Angels, you have some work to do.

Anyway, it's just my opinion.