This off-season has been a trying one so far for Angel fans and many of us are still trying to make sense of it all. There is a lot of different sentiments floating around about what the Angels have done so far and what they should do going forward, and half of them conflict with each other, muddying the waters even further. Time to clear up all the confusion with a quick True/False pop quiz.
Got your pencil ready for the test? You do? You realize this is the intranet, right? Silly rabbit.
TRUE OR FALSE: Tony Reagins is a moron and should be fired immediately.
ANSWER: FALSE. Look, we get it, everyone is unhappy about the Carl Crawford Catastrophe, and I am certainly amongst them. But is Reagins really bad at his job? No, but he has made some errors in his tenure with the mishandling of the Crawford negotiations being chief among them. However, his successes vastly outnumber his failures. Let's not forget that just a few months ago Reagins was being lauded for how much he ripped off the Diamondbacks in the Dan Haren trade. He also has made some very savvy moves in free agency the last few years including signing Joel Pineiro and Bobby Abreu, not to mention all the moves he smartly didn't make like overpaying to bring back Chone Figgins or John Lackey. So how about we all settle down and quit calling for his head, OK? At least Reagins actually makes some moves, unlike his predecessor, Bill Stoneman.
TRUE OR FALSE: The Angels haven't made a single "big splash" move to improve themselves for 2011.
ANSWER: FALSE. No, I'm not buying the company line that Takahashi and Downs were "big splash" moves. Despite that asanine line of BS, Reagins actually has already made a big and smart move. In fact, it is just further proof that Tony Reagins is actually good at his job. He did a fantastic job of reading the tea leaves headed into this off-season and realized that the cost of adding another premium arm in a thin market this winter was going to be astronomical, so he got a head start on everyone with the Haren Heist. You didn't really think that trade was about making the playoffs last season did you? It was for 2011 and beyond, and nothing more. A whole season of Haren should make a big difference this coming season.
TRUE OR FALSE: The Angels still have plenty of money left to spend.
ANSWER: TRUE. Well, sorta. Arte Moreno committed to a $135 million payroll for 2011 and after all their arbitration cases settle, they are looking at around $130 million already on the books before they ever get around to making another signing. That being said, they have a lot of dead weight on the roster that needs to be trimmed. Juan Rivera is making over $5 million but seems destined for a bench roll, meaning he is major trade bait. Mike Napoli is in the same boat as he should make at least $6 million this season but still isn't exactly Mike Scioscia's first choice to start at catcher. And then there is the inevitable attempts to dump Scott Kazmir and at least part of his hefty salary, coupled with a need to clear up the infielder logjam. By the time the dust settles, the Angels figure to have about $12 million to $15 million to spend, which just so happens to be the exact salary slot that Adrian Beltre would fit very nicely into. How convenient.
TRUE OR FALSE: The Angels should sign Rafael Soriano.
ANSWER: FALSE. Even before the Halos added Takahashi and Downs, I was never a big fan of handing big money over to Soriano, or really any closer-type in general. Paying for saves is colossally stupid (that may just be a personal bias though), as evidenced by the disastrous Brian Fuentes signing. Really the only closer worth spending crazy jack on is Mariano Rivera because he is the greatest closer ever. Soriano is good, but is he really that good? I kind of doubt it. His FIP has only been under 3.80 just once in the last five seasons and his K/9 rate fell down to 8.23 in 2010, his worst rate since his rookie season. That probably isn't a good thing considering that he has a pretty substantial injury history. I know the Halos are soon going to have a yearning need to spend all that free agency money burning in their pockets, but Soriano is not who they should spend it on.
TRUE OR FALSE: The Angels need to replace Peter Bourjos in the outfield because he can't hit.
ANSWER: FALSE. This one is a pet peeve of mine because I keep seeing it pop up in conversation. First off, Bourjos wasn't actually that bad offensively. He struck out quite a bit and barely hit over .200, but his .228 BABIP suggests that he probably was a bit unlucky. What is truly encouraging though his is .177 ISO in the majors, which was actually better power than he showed in the minors. That Bourjos was able to drive the ball is a pretty good indicator that his ability to make contact will come around as he gets more accustomed to big league pitching. Let's not forget either that Bourjos had just over 400 at-bats at Triple-A before being called up, so he has lots of learning left to do. Bourjos probably won't be an offensive force in 2011, but he should be much better than he was as a rookie. But really, his offensive production doesn't matter very much. Bourjos needs to stay in center for the Halos because his defensive prowess is too important. How quickly everyone forgets that the Angel outfield defense was abysmal before Bourjos was called up last season. Peter changed all that as he turned out to show elite defensive skills in center while moving Torii Hunter, who has degraded defensively (he said as he ducked out of the way of a lightning bolt from the heavens), to right field where he is once again a defensive asset. The kid gets to stay, so shut up. Have I made myself clear, Bourjos-haters?
TRUE OR FALSE: Adrian Beltre is destined to end up with the Angels.
ANSWER: TRUE. I know everyone is a little gunshy about believing statements like that last one since we heard it so often earlier in the off-season, except instead of Beltre, it was Carl Crawford as the subject of the sentence. However, this time I think we are OK to believe. The fact of the matter is that Beltre simply doesn't have anywhere else to go. The Rangers have money, but they have much bigger needs than installing Beltre at third. Last time I checked, they suddenly have a giant Cliff Lee-sized hole in their starting rotation that they need to fill. Plus, I'm not sure that they are actually interested so much as they are being used as a pawn by Scott Boras to drive up Beltre's price. Every other team that has been linked to Beltre over the last few weeks has since moved on and filled their vacancy with someone else. There is the possibility that a "mystery team" could emerge to snag him, but that kind of thing only happens once a decade and the Phillies just used up that quota on Cliff Lee.