The Hot Stove League is now officially open for business, but before we start thinking too much about the future, it is always a good idea to reflect on the past. Tony Reagins will be making some tough decisions this winter, so to get a read on just how well he will perform, let's look back on all the transactions he has made in the last year and see how well those worked out:
- Granting Chris Bootcheck free agency - Bootcheck sucked hard for the Halos in 2008 and even though they needed all the bullpen help in the world this year, I can't imagine a guy who signed a minor-league deal with the Pirates and couldn't crack their big league roster is someone the Angels really missed. Grade: A
- Declining Garret Anderson's option - Some were sad to see GA walk away. I was NOT one of them and neither was Tony Reagins. Anderson tried to extend his career by heading to the National League, but even though he was a bit healthier for a change, he barely managed an OPS over .700 in an inferior league. Considering that keeping GA would have cost the Halos $14 million to pick up his option Tony Reagins would never have had enough money to bring back Juan Rivera or sign Bobby Abreu. Yeah, that was a pretty good decision. Grade: A+
Don't be upset, GA, but the Angels couldn't possibly have missed you less.
- Giving Jon Garland his walking papers - It turns out that the Angels ended up really needing another starting pitcher last year, but there is no way they could have predicted it at the time. Besides, it wasn't like Garland was any good in his one year in Anaheim. Factor in that Garland ultimately signed a one-year deal with a club option that ultimately paid him nearly $10 million, I think it is safe to say that Tony Reagins comes out of this particular transaction smelling like a rose. Grade: A-
- Re-signing Darren Oliver - It seemed like minor decision at the time, but bringing Darren Oliver back for one more season was easily the most underrated move Reagins made last off-season. Without him, the Bullpen of Doom would have been more like the Bullpen of Doomsday. Grade: A+
- Losing Darren O'Day in the Rule V draft - This little transaction probably went totally unnoticed at the time, but the Angels left O'Day exposed to the Rule V draft after he hurt his arm the year before. The Mets ended up taking him and then actually wived him, but the Angels declined to take him back, so it was a double whammy for Reagins here. O'Day spent most of the season with the Texas Rangers, finishing with a 1.84 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 20 holds and 56 Ks in 58.2 innings. How much would that have helped the beleaguered Angel bullpen? Yikes! Grade: F
Yeah, the Angels didn't need this guy and his microscopic ERA at all.
- Re-signing Juan Rivera - Most people were probably ambivalent about the Halos bringing back Rivera in the off-season. He'd certainly had productive stretches, but health issues always seemed to prevent him from ever locking down a full-time gig. The three-year, $12.75 million contract he got seemed like a reasonable investment as he was going to be at a minimum a very good fourth outfielder. It turned out he was a very good starter who brought stability to the middle of the Angel order. Grade: A
- Signing Brian Fuentes instead of re-signing Francisco Rodriguez - Tito was much maligned by Angel fans by the end of the season, but he was an inarguable All-Star the first half of the season. Ultimately, he ended up with an ERA just south of 4.00 and seven blown saves. K-Rod ended up with almost the exact same line and cost a bit more this last year and is also signed for one year more than Fuentes. For year one, it looks pretty much like a push but Fuentes still isn't looking like a very good signing. Grade: C-
- Failing to re-sign Mark Teixeira - The Halos went hard after Tex, but came up short. Something that could look really bad if Teixeira ends up winning the MVP this year (he probably won't, but he might). To be perfectly fair to Reagins, the odds were stacked against him as Scott Boras never seemed interested in giving them a fair shot and they probably wouldn't have had enough money anyway. This ended up being a serendipitous failure though as it left them enough money to sign Bobby Abreu and created an everyday job for Kendry Morales. Sometimes it pays to be more lucky than good. Grade: B-
- Signing Bobby Abreu - When you sign a former All-Star for just $6 million and he becomes your team MVP and a almost single-handedly changed the way the Halo line-up approaches the game, that move is generally going to be graded out well. Grade: A+
Quite possibly Reagins' best signing ever.
- Releasing Justin Speier - This is a bizarre transaction to grade, but if you think about it, this was an important move because it sent a message to the rest of the bullpen to step it up, which they generally did after Speier was bought out. Plus, removing Speier from the bullpen created a path for Kevin Jepsen to establish himself as a potential closer of the future. Grade: B
- Trading for Scott Kazmir - The Angels badly needed a fifth starter and finally got one in Kazmir. They also needed another top arm for the playoffs; that part didn't end up going so well though. Kazmir was decidedly subpar in his post-season starts, making this trade look bad initially. But Kazmir was also brought into solidify the rotation for the next few years with the idea that John Lackey is likely to leave. That is a great play by Reagins to make and should help them win the AL West again. Some Angel fans were a bit upset that Sean Rodriguez got dealt as part of the Kazmir package, but there really just wasn't ever going to be a spot for him in the Angel line-up, so it actually turns out Reagins did a good job of selling high on a player the team won't miss. Grade: B
Overall, not a bad season at all for Tony the GM. Really the only obvious misstep he made was the Brian Fuentes signing, but he can easily make up for it this off-season or next as Reagins was at least smart enough to only sign Tito for two years. Reagins has already started this current off-season well by re-signing Bobby Abreu, but he has his work cut out for him with all the other Angel free agents and a limited budget.