It's the most wonderful time of the year. Time for me to keep with the time honored annual tradition of me donning the Angels general manager cap and detailing what I would do if I had the privilege of being the Angels real general manager for a day in the off-season. Normally, I just do this for my own edification, but given that the GM position actual is vacant at the moment, I think this is my big chance to impress good ol' Uncle Arte!
Or I will just make some really smart (or not) suggestions that will be completely ignored, like usual.
But before I unveil my master plan, let me just lay down the ground rules. This isn't entirely a fantasy so I will be spending and dealing within the bounds of reality, meaning that the Angels budget is my budget. That means I am going to have at most $25 million to spend this off-season. And since this isn't a video game where I can force the other team to accept a trade or a player to accept a contract, the deals I propose will be realistic and fair, at least to the best of my estimation. The other caveat I am going to work under is that Kendrys Morales is 50/50 to play a significant amount this season. I don't have access to his medical reports, obviously, so I can't just assume that Morales is going to be his old self by Opening Day or the All-Star break or ever again.
There, all done with that. So without further adieu, on to the grand plan to turn the Angels back into real contenders!
First things first. As the new GM, I want to send a message that the status quo will no longer be accepted, and that applies to everyone in the organization. To accomplish that, my first official act as GM is to non-tender Jeff Mathis (which is partly what allows me to have $25 million to work with). Plain and simple, Mathis is symbolic of all that has been wrong with the Angels the last few years and he cannot stay, no matter how much Scioscia might dislike it.
However, I am still a benevolent executive and will not deprive Scioscia of the catcher defense he loves so much. As a compromise, Mathis will be replaced on the roster by our old friend Jose Molina, who might just be the best defensive catcher in baseball. He made $1.2 million last year, so I don't think he'll need much more than $1.25 million to come back to the Halos. Surely some will worry that Molina will just be the new Mathis, but that is the beauty of the move. Jose is now 36 years old and probably can't be effective if he starts more than 60 games, meaning he HAS to be a back-up. Plus Jose actually has hit a little bit throughout most of his career, at least compared to Mathis. But the real motivation here is that Molina is a respected veteran, as opposed to a maligned one like Mathis, so he actually can be the defensive mentor that Hank Conger really needs.
But enough of this catcher nonsense. Let's get to the big fat juicy moves!
Speaking of big and fat, let's talk about Prince Fielder. I've gone back and forth on whether the Angels should pursue him or not and after a long deliberation I've decided that... I want him. I want him real bad. I want him more than I wanted Carl Crawford last off-season.
Yes, I know he is a terrible defender. Yes, I know that his size makes him a risky bet to keep performing at high levels for the duration of whatever contract I give him. I also know that there is some concern that his stats are somewhat inflated by his home park.
But you know what else I know? The Angels desperately need to sign Fielder for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, this team hasn't had a big threat in the middle of the order since Morales snapped his ankle. Fielder is a virtual lock to give the Angels that for the next several years. As much as Scioscia likes to play small ball and manufacture runs, that doesn't always work (he said in the understatement of the year). They need someone who can consistently give them one-swing offense to offset all the times when the small ball attack goes in the tank. And I emphasized "consistently" for a reason. Hunter, Kendrick, Trumbo and others can get hot for periods, but none of them are constant threats to change the game with one swing of the bat.
The other marjor reason for adding him is proving that the Angels aren't going to make fools of themselves in talks with big name free agents like they did last season. The Halo front office has become a joke the last few off-season and that needs to be rectified. Signing a Scott Boras client (for real, not like when Weaver ordered Boras to work out an extension) wouldn't hurt my GM street cred either. So, to land Fielder, I'm offering him $160 million over seven years, which is about $23 million per year. That is a year shorter than Mark Teixeira's contract (the target Boras is reportedly setting for Fielder), but it is also worth a little bit more annually. More importantly, it is much more than Carl Crawford's contract ($142 million over seven years) which is the current standard for huge free agency contracts. If that doesn't get him signed, then so be it. At least I made a good show of it.
So, let's assume that I now have Fielder locked up. That's great, but I am now out of money and have a number of holes to fill still. That's not so great. It also isn't so great that Fielder only adds to the logjam at 1B/DH. Fortunately, I can solve both of those problems in one fell swoop.
This won't be popular, but as far as I am concerned, Fielder makes Mark Trumbo expendable. I could keep him as a 1B/DH partner with Fielder, but frankly, I don't like Trumbo's lack of plate discipline and think it will curtail his career before long. So, before we find out for sure if my hunch is right, I want to take advantage of Trumbo's value being at a possible all-time high and trade him. But he isn't going to be moving on alone. I'll put the word out that Trumbo can be had by any team willing to take on Bobby Abreu's entire contract as well. The return I demand will be a decent starting pitcher. The ideal trade for me in this scenario is sending Trumbo and Abreu to Houston for Wandy Rodriguez. I don't know how well Wandy will do in the AL, but he only needs to be a #4 starter now and, frankly, I like the idea of the Angels having a southpaw in their rotation. I think Houston will accept this deal since Trumbo is a somewhat proven young talent, something the Astros have so little of. I'd probably have to throw in a mid-level prospect like Daniel Tillman or the wayward Trevor Reckling to get the Astros to let Wandy go AND eat the $1.5 million difference in salaries between him and Abreu (I kind of feel like I am overpaying, but I just want to make sure this is realistic). If they don't eat it, that's OK, I will just send them less of a prospect. Heck, they don't have much at catcher either, maybe I can buy them off with Bobby Wilson.
That's two big checks off my shopping list, now I need some bullpen help and I still have no money. That mean's I'm going to have to get risky. But if I am going to take a risk, I want a big reward, so my plan is to offer a one-year, incentive-laden deal to Jonathan Broxton. He has had some health issues, but if he is even 85% of his top form, he'd still make for a nice right-handed power arm to set up for Jordan Walden. My guess is that if I offer him a deal starting at $2 million and capping out at $7 million, he'll take it.
Now I just need to clear some budget space so that Broxton's deal fits in. This won't be popular either, especially with Scioscia, but it is time for Maicer Izturis to go. But I'm not just giving him away, I am going to use him to both clear salary but also add another bullpen arm to hedge my bet on Broxton. The trade I have in mind here is sending him to the Kansas City Royals who have a bevvy young relief arms available and almost nothing up the middle of their infield. My preference would be righty Aaron Crow, but I'd settle for lefty Tim Collins. Either way, I get a cheap young reliever with an electric arm that just needs some fine tuning. I also save almost $4 million bucks. That just so happens to put me exactly on budget for the season, maybe even a million or two under depending on how many incentives Broxton reaches. I hate losing Izturis, but the Angels have guys like Alexi Amarista and Andrew Romine available to help fill his void a little bit. I'd rather trade Callaspo, but I don't think his value is the same since he can't play shortstop. I still also likely have enough cash leftover to add someone like John McDonald or Jack Wilson who I at least know are reliable defensively. Or maybe I get some insurance at the corners with Kevin Kouzmanoff.
That's it, I'm done and now my roster looks like this:
SP: Weaver, Haren, Santana, Rodriguez, Williams/Chatwood/Richards
RH RP: Walden, Broxton, Crow, Cassevah
LH RP: Downs, Takahashi
BENCH: Amarista, Moore, Kouzmanoff
This is all a very risk-heavy strategy, but I find it hard to believe that this new roster I've constructed isn't significantly better than the 2011 team that just won 86 games. Or maybe I just totally hosed the Angel payroll for years to come just so they can now win 88 games instead. The beauty of this is that we will never know since the Angels probably aren't bold enough to make this many crazy moves.
Like your ideas! And I agree that a 7 year, $160 million deal would be enough to ink Prince given the lack of competition from the Big Boys for his services. I do think he is the likeliest of the "big" (no pun intended) FAs to land with the Angels.
At the same time, I am still intrigued with the idea of loading up on pitching, esp. if the new GM and Scouting Director feel that upgrading the pitching would be more likely to get us back to the postseason than investing in Prince. I'd like to see them trying something like: 1) Sign Yu Darvish. Just insane numbers in Japan. 1,268.1 career IP, 1.99 career ERA. had a 1.44 ERA this year with a 276/36 k/bb ratio this year in 232 IP. He will only be 25 next year. He will likely require at least a 6 year, $66 million deal, plus a hefty (over $40 million) posting fee. 2) Sign Ramon Hernandez, who is no Napoli, but hit well enough this year (.282/.341/.446) with OK defense and wouldn't be a black hole in the lineup. He probably could be had on a one year, $3.5 million deal. 3) Trade Chatwood and Jeremy Moore for a stud reliever, maybe Tyler Clippard of the Nats, who are looking for a CF and could certainly use a SP 4) Sign Erik Bedard to a one year, $2.5 million deal as the 5th starter. Use Jerome Williams as a swing man out of the pen to provide long relief and take Bedard's starts when he breaks down.
I'm not so sure about signing Fielder, but I would go all in on a trade for Ryan Zimmerman to play 3B and then, as rmfalla notes, look at signing Wilson. I hate to count to Wells here, but given the contract, I think we'd need to look at him as a Brad Fullmer DH type ... without the average.
I was thinking about doing an article like this, but then I realized it probably wouldn't be a good idea since all it would only consist of "throw all of our money at C.J Wilson".
Crow is one of the Royals brightest young stars and they are transitioning him into a starting role for 2012. They wouldn't be interested in Izturis as a one year rental. Also, 7 years 160 won't cut it for Prince Fielder. I'm all for trading Trumbo right now though.
@scioscialite I'd go with the pitching idea. Although Japanese pitchers have not worked out really well and give even worse value when you add in the posting fee. I read somewhere than Darvish may wait until his contract is complete so the competing teams can give him more money rather than paying the posting fee. There are some guys that might be available to plug the holes until we can get past the Angels' Era Of Weak Pitcher Drafting.
Can somebody show me some long-term contracts that didn't end up abysmal failures? And I don't mean the extensions given to players before they reach arbitration, I mean true free agents. The only one I felt had a chance to work out was Tex's but even he's not performing to his standard in what should be his best physical years. Adding in his defensive ability is what keeps this contract from looking even uglier early on. Why are we even considering Fielder? Scotty's point-by-point analysis above is spot on. And let me say that I'm glad Arte reaches that conclusion in point #4.
@RAntonette I love Zimmerman too, but he isn't available. For some reason people keep suggesting him though. The Nats actually could be pretty good next year and he is their best player, so he isn't going anywhere.
@ScottyAllenLAAI Yeah, wasn't sure about Crow, he had a high draft profile, but only barely cracked most top ten lists for them last year. He is definitely a reach which is why I mentioned Collins as well. I think the main take away here is trade Izturis for a decent young bullpen arm.
I think I am right about Fielder though. There isn't a big market for him, so Boras is going to have a hard time driving the price up too far.
FWIW, my plan B was to keep Trumbo and sign Aramis Ramirez and Hiroki Kuroda instead,
@monkeywithahalo@RAntonette Finally Livefyre loaded here, so I can comment. Wright is the only 3B avaliable in the trade market which deserves some consideration. Guess what? I think he'll be another Mark Teixeira, coming for less than half a season in a position we had a decent but not great player (just like Kotch), making a huge impact and (hope not) defecting the next offseason.
Still, I'd be willing to part with some prospects as Wright would surely give us 2 draft picks. In fact, I even think Callaspo would finely fill Mets' void at 3B, relieving a couple of millions of our budget.
@monkeywithahalo The entire offseason has me worried already.
1. We need a 3B, but Wright would be an expensive one year rental that would cost 15million next year + prospects that we can't afford to give up. I like Luis Jimenez and think he'll be a good major league 3B, but by trading for Wright who will test the FA market, we're putting an awful lot of pressure on Lucho to succeed.
2. Aramis Ramirez would prefer top stay in Chicago, but will only sign for a 5 year contract. Ramirez is reportedly 34 years old but realistically, coming from Latin America, saying he's 35 or 36 may be a safe bet. Signing him for anything longer than 2 or 3 years would be awful and for 2 or 3 years, he probably wouldn't accept the Angels offer and go to either Miami or Colorado.
3. Albert Pujols will probably return to the Cards and while he says he's 32, there's a good chance he's 34. Plus the Angels probably couldn't afford him.
4. There may not be a huge market for Prince Fielder, but Boras will play it up as if there were. Fielder is a lock for Mark Texeira's contract and Moreno has proven time and again that he's not willing to go that high for anyone.
5. With the team losing money like it has the past two years, I think it's unreasonable to expect the Angels to maintain a 140 million dollar payroll. I still think they intend to decrease payroll by about 10 million dollars.
6. Howie Kendrick has been tweeting some highly cryptic stuff lately. Maybe I'm making something out of nothing, but it sounds like he's either been told he's on the trade block or they started discussing a multi-year extension. Either way, I think something big is in the works.
@alansmafra@monkeywithahalo@RAntonette Keep in mind, that's Callaspo, Geltz, Hellweg and 13 million in salary relief they'd be getting for one season of David Wright. That's an awfully steep price to pay. For those 3 players, I'd ask Wright to guarantee his option if that trade were made. If he's Wright's traded his 2013 option isn't automatically voided, it becomes Wright's decision whether or not to void it, which he normally would because he'd hit FA a year sooner. So if the Angels could get 2 yearsof Wright at around 15 million a year in return for Callaspo, Geltz and Hellweg then I'd for sure do it.
@ScottyAllenLAAI@monkeywithahalo@RAntonette When I made a parallel there, I wasn't thinking primarly about it being such a jackpot, but in how the trade would work. Don't forget that Tex earned 12.5M that year too. I don't know Hellweg enough, but as far as I can tell, it's quite a good prospect, yet far from the majors and I would make this trade. But I guess the Mets would ask for someone older than Hellweg, which would make me think. Younger guys are easier to replace from the draft.
@alansmafra@monkeywithahalo@RAntonette Tex was a total winner of a trade. We traded a fringe starting 3B and a minor league RP for him and even though we didn't resign him, we netted two 2 draft picks, one of which was spent on Mike Trout. For a full season of David Wright, the Mets would expect the perceived value of what Kotchman the the minor league reliever were, plus more on top. Otherwise they'd wait till the deadline for someone to blow them away or just net the draft picks like they will with Reyes should he sign elsewhere.
For David Wright, we're looking at Callaspo who is a perceived average starting 3B as Kotchman was going to be an average starting 1B, we'd include a solid minor league reliever, probably someone promising like Steven Geltz and then because they'd need a prospect so substantial that they'd forego netting they prospect they would from FA, we'd probably be forced to trade a good up and coming starting pitcher like John Hellweg.
So bringing in Wright would increase payroll by about 13 million and we'd lose Callaspo, Geltz and Hellweg. Not exactly a winner of a trade. I'm all for adding offense, and David Wright does just that, but the price tag simply doesn't fit. Now if Wright were willing to sign an extension with the Angels and he checked out physically, the Angels could throw in Chatwood and call it a deal, but he's more than likely not going to be willing to do that coming off a down year because he wouldn't receive top dollar.
I hate to say it, but with the circumstances not matching up with Wright and with Ramirez asking for a 5 year deal, the Angels my actually be better off sticking with Callaspo at 3B and giving under rated prospect 3B Luis Jimenez a long look in Spring Training. I mean hitting .290 with 40 doubles and 18 HR in the Texas League is no minor feat. Trumbo is a power hitter and he couldn't do that, which should give everyone an idea of what Jimenez is capable of.
And I forgot to say... Blowxton? Not even for free. He'll be another Fuentes, or worse, Rodney... I'd rather have Maicer pitching...
Geez, maybe I should read all of his tweets before taking them out of context. That's just the knee jerk reaction in me. I'm still fully confident that David Wright is and will be an elite 3B for another 5 years, he simply had injury woes this year. While one might think this is a perfect time to buy low, his salary and the Mets' demands make it unlikely unless a desperate team is willing to give up some prospects.
Ramirez has been labeled as lazy and unwilling to play through the pain before and to be honest, it wasn't unfairly either. He really did show an unwillingness to go all out for the Cubs because they lost so much, yet at the same time refused to waive his NTC. It sounds like a headache the Angels don't need.
As for payroll, I totally understand not wanting to handcuff a new GM, but I think they're hiring a new GM and scouting staff so they can start operating more cost efficiently. Tony Reagins knew how to do one this, try to fix holes by trading and taking on payroll. I think they'll be looking to someone like Oppenheimer or DiPoto to come in and cut some of the fat (perhaps trade away Abreu, or even eat most of Wells' contract and trade him if he/she is a miracle worker).
Segura will be jumping up to AA and may be ready by the end of next season and he plays a very good SS and 2B. Amarista does as well. The Angels showed a willingness to trade Aybar last season when they offered him straight up for jose Reyes. My hunch says the Angels the Angels go with aybar and Kendrick this year, but only Kendrick will be resigned. Both Aybar and Izturis will hit free agency.
Yeah, I was all about Wright before the season, but he did not bounce back well from his back problems. He scares me now.
Didn't hear Aramis wanted five years. No way on that. Like you said, 2 maybe 3 years otherwise he can stay in Chicago.
I don't see how they can reduce payroll. Moreno would be an idiot to cut back on salary with the Dodgers on the ropes now. The last thing he needs, especially when he is trying to hire a new GM, is cut the legs out from under the club by slashing budget. Besides, let's not forget he said he wanted to stay at $130M last year and got talked into moving budget up. I doubt he'll raise payroll, but I have a hard time seeing him reducing it.
The only thing I saw from Howie was him talking about "why he stays" but that appeared to be about not quitting Twitter. Not sure I see what else you were referring to. That being said, I could see either of those scenarios unfolding this off-season. Part of the reason I think the Angels should trade Izturis and not Callaspo is because Callaspo is under control through 2013 whereas Iztruis, Kendrick and Aybar are all free agents after this coming season. At worst, Callaspo is insurance in the infield.