Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim off Season Report

Season Wrap Up

The Angels no doubt have the blue print for making the playoffs memorized. The only problem is that in the past few seasons, when they get there, they are unable to get out of the Divisional round where they were the victim of the Boston Red Sox this season in just four games. General manager Tony Reagins has to be frustrated with the recent lack of success in the post season because it seems like he has all of the pieces for a deep October run during the season. With the Angels leading the major leagues with 100 wins in 2008, it seemed like they were at least destined for the ALCS, but the Sox had too much October experience for them to take down. The team received the most nation-wide press during the season for the record breaking performance of closer Francisco Rodriguez. K-Rod, who is currently a free agent, broke the major league record with 62 saves. Obviously, to win 100 games, the team was doing things right in all aspects of the game. The interesting thing will be to see how they decide to fine tune an already deep team this off season.

Holes to Fill

Depending on what the team decides to do with their own free agent outfielders, they will probably have to look for some talent in that area. There doesn’t seem to be any talent at the AAA level that would be ready to come up to compete for an outfield position just yet, so that probably means they will have to bring in at least one player for a corner outfield position (probably left field) that wasn’t on the team last season. The Angels may have an upper hand in this area because many teams are going to be looking for corner outfielders this off season (perhaps the biggest position besides pitchers), but the Halos have shown that they are willing to spend money to get talent, evidenced by their sixth ranked $119.2 million payroll last season. Adding another arm to the starting rotation wouldn’t hurt either. While their pitching was one of the best in the majors last season, some depth at this spot has never hurt anyone. It currently looks like they are probably not going to resign K-Rod unless he is willing to take some sort of home town discount. This would mean that the Angels will have the position of closer open. Spending on closers (and other relievers) on the open market is always risky business as they often have one good year and one off year due to their usage. Due to this fact, the team may try to fill the closer roll internally as they have a few arms they believe may be able to take the spot.

Free Agents

At the beginning of the off season, the Angels had eight players who could have entered free agency including outfielders Vladimir Guerrero, Garret Anderson and Jaun Rivera, pitchers Rodriguez, John Lackey and Jon Garland and first baseman Mark Teixeira. The Angels have already made the decisions on some of these players as they have picked up the 2009 club options for Guerrero and Lackey, while also declining the option on Anderson. Due to this fact, it is almost a lock that Anderson will not be back for this Los Angeles team next season (leaving the hole in left field mentioned earlier). Teixeira is no doubt their number one in house priority this off season. A lot of what they do during the rest of the off season will depend on whether or not they are able to work out a deal with the first baseman who they acquired at the trade deadline. The team has made some serious bids to free agent pitcher CC Sabathia and since he seems to want to play on the west coast, they have a serious shot of landing him (written pre-signing with the Yankees).

The Outlook

It is very realistic to see the Angels repeating as division winners once again, especially if they are able to land Teixeira and Sabathia in the off season. Whether these two players would give them the push that they have recently been lacking in the post season is yet to be seen (especially due to the fact that Sabathia has been less than stellar during the past two post seasons with the Indians and Brewers). Manager Mike Scioscia is probably one of the more respectable managers in the game at this point and has shown that he knows how to handle having a lot of big egos on his team during the 162 game season.

The Halos will probably look for takers for outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. during the off season, which would open up yet another spot in the outfield. Even though Matthews is a quality player and has three years left on his current deal, he has not been able to get along with the team’s management since coming to Anaheim as a free agent two seasons ago and all of this makes him expandable at the right price. If they are able to pick-up some extra offense this off season, they could realistically improve on their runs scored ranking which was tenth in 2008 at 765. With all of the fire power the team has, it’s some what surprising that it was not higher than that, although it did receive a jump at mid-season when Teixeira was acquired from the Braves. Part of that low scoring total could have been the fact that they really didn’t need to score a whole lot because their starting pitching was so stellar throughout the season with Lackey and youngster Ervin Santana both making bids for the Cy Young Award. Winning 100 games is a tough thing to do, and even tougher to repeat, but if the Angels are willing to spend the money to land the free agents they seem to be eying this off season, having a goal of exceeding 100 regular season wins would not seem out of the ordinary.

Bill Jordan is a contributing writer to BaseballReflections.com and can be reached by e-mail at billjordaniv@yahoo.com.

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