With the Angels' new GM vacancy they've made it publicly know that they want to pursue aggressive and creative options on the free agent market. The standing opinion is that the Angels need to upgrade in the bullpen and at 3B, and while these aren't the only spots that need improvement, they are the most important. But what if I told you that the Angels could fare much better chasing a starting pitcher on the FA market over anything else? What if I told you that pitcher should be longtime Ranger C.J Wilson? Now let's be nice and civilized Angels fans while I state my case, in fact, let's just throw our Angels fandom in the backseat so I can throw some cold hard facts your way without facing some ire from the Rangers haters (all of us).
Yes, this C.J Wilson, in case you were hoping I was talking about a different one.
Now, before you bite my head off, I do realize that C.J Wilson is one of the least liked Rangers to us Angel fans. He's made some less than desirable statements about the Angels to the media before, and there's the fact that he magically dominates the Angels in nearly every start. You can't hate a man for showing loyalty to his team, even if it is the wrong team. I know you're probably saying to yourself "Why would the Angels chase a starter, an expensive one at that, when they have other holes that need immediate attention?" While C.J Wilson sees himself as a 100 million dollar man, like most of the media, he is not, it's as simple and clear cut as that. Out of the 3 years starting experience he's had (2005,2010,2011) he's only been good for 2 of them, posting a 6.94 ERA with a 1-7 record in 24 starts in 2005. A pitcher with 2 years of starting experience, no matter how great they were, is not going to command a 100 million+ contract. The only teams willing to throw that money at him will be teams desperate for starting pitching, namely the Red Sox and the Yankees. With the Red Sox throwing half of their payroll at players like Gonzo and Crawford they won't have the financial liberty OR the organizational support to throw a reckless amount of money at C.J. If the Angels were to chase C.J they wouldn't give him any more money then Weaver got with his extension, they would likely use that 5 year $85 million contract as a precedent for Wilson.
With the Angels limited financial room to make big moves this season why would they throw all of their remaining money at a starting pitcher when they could very well use that money to pay for a exceptional hitter or bullpen arm? Like I said, the Angels have limited room to make a big splash in the free agent market, therefore they'll probably only be able to pull either one quality hitter or a reliever or two. The Angels could make a move for a 1st basemen and slot Trumbo at 3rd, or at least give him a chance to prove he won't be an absolute train wreck at 3rd. Before we start speculating on more "ifs," "ands," or "buts" let's take a quick look at which players will be free agents that fit the Angels needs going into the off-season.
(I'm going to go ahead and weed out the less than desirable players on the FA list to shorten up the list)
Michael Cuddyer (33)
Prince Fielder (28)
Carlos Pena (34)
Albert Pujols (32)
Aramis Ramirez (33)
Edwin Encarnacion (28)
A few of these names could be interchanged with 3B, namely Michael Cuddyer. We can go ahead and cross Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder off the list, as they would be much too expensive and would make the infield logjam worse than it already is. Pena is a tricky case, as he cannot put up a strong BA, yet he can get on base at an average clip and bash homers at that. He would come as relatively inexpensive, but he would also be a big gamble to take on. After seeing how Reagins previous gambles worked out I doubt the new GM will want to follow in those footsteps, so now Pena is out of the running. That just leaves Cuddyer, and while he is getting up there in age his performance this past season has only solidified his value as a player. He's coming off his first All-Star season, and while he doesn't have the pop the Angels are looking for, he does have enough power to justify an acquisition. Unfortunately for him, the last thing the Angels need is another player who's getting up there in age and has the occasional pop in his bat. While I wouldn't slam the GM for signing Cuddyer, I wouldn't praise that move either.
On top of that list you can go ahead and throw Aramis Ramirez into that discussion, as he is most likely going to opt out of his contract with the Cubs. Since there is a rather thin market for 3B this year a small bidding war could possibly break out over Ramirez. One of the bidders could possibly be the Angels, though they would just be adding another aged veteran to the lineup, a move that has become incredibly unpopular with the fans and extremely counter productive to the team. However, Ramirez has more pop than Cuddyer and can get on base at a better clip this move would not do much to improve the team. If this is a move that is bound to happen, I would prefer for the GM to shell out no more than a 2, MAYBE 3 year contract for Ramirez if it's absolutely necessary. The only way the Angels are going to find a 3rd basemen that fits them both financially and skill-wise is on the trade market, which leaves the Angels with relievers to cross off the FA list. Those reliever FA's are as follows.
(For your convenience I'm going to weed this list out as well, namely taking out bad or old relievers)
Right Handed Relievers:
Ryan Madson (31)
Heath Bell (34)
Johnathan Papelbon (31)
This year's free agent righty reliever pool is flooded with over-aged relievers and guys whose production can be replicated by guys already on the staff like Rich Thompson and Bobby Cassevah. Though if the Angels do want to improve their bullpen they would be best fit to chase one of the three previously stated candidates. There was some concern last year as to whether or not Papelbon was on the downslide, but after a strong year he's proven himself to be as strong a closer as you would expect from him. Though, there was that rather ugly blown saves against the Orioles that kept the Red Sox out of the postseason, that and he probably hates the Angels. I couldn't see Papelbon commanding a bidding war in his name, though there will be a few takers willing to shell out some cash for him, there always is. Heath Bell, on the other hand, could command a generous contract this coming off-season, although the general consensus is that Bell will end up staying with the Padres.
If the Angels really wanted to bring on another righty reliever to right the ship (hur hur hur) they'll be better off signing Ryan Madson if they could snake him away from the Phillies. If the Phillies end up choosing to go outside the organization for a closer this would give the Angels a huge chance to pounce on the righty closer. He'll probably pull a nice contract wherever he goes, so the Angels will have to willing to shell out the money hard and early in order to avoid what could be an ugly bidding war.
Assuming the Angels went ahead and signed Ryan Madson they would still have some money to play around with, granted the new GM doesn't throw stupid money at him. That still gives them room to play with an offer for C.J Wilson; though they won't be able to reach any 100 million dollar offers that the Red Sox and the Yankees are bound to throw at him. The best playing cards the Angels would have is the Southern California sun that Wilson is in absolute love with, that and the promise the team could make to him that they "totally wouldn't suck with you on the staff", with a brah or broskis thrown in for good measure. Southern California Hipster language is the only language Wilson understands, and if the Angels want a shot they're going to have to get in on the lingo. C.J wouldn't roll with a team with a bunch of "unfab oldsters", or whatever the hipsters call middle aged men nowadays.
It would be a toss up as to where C.J Wilson goes, as he's stated he loves California and really likes Texas and the East Coast. That's already three big time players that have entered the C.J Wilson lottery, though the Rangers and the East Coast teams will be more involved in Wilson than the Angels. The Angels wouldn't be able to handle a bidding war of that magnitude, the best chance they would have is if C.C Sabathia decides to opt out of his contract. If that happens you better believe the Red Sox and the Yankees will be going hard for Sabathia, hard enough to take all the attention away from C.J Wilson. C.C's dreams to become the richest pitcher in baseball history could come true for the big man, and if it does it will do nothing but wonders for the Angels. The Angels are going to have to play on C.J's love of Southern California and throw him a sizeable offer right out of the gate, and not a self destructive offer like the ones Reagins was so in love with giving. It's either hit him so hard he can't possibly say no, or give him time to size up the free agent market to see what the desperate teams will be willing to throw at him. If C.C does opt out the bidding war will start between the Angels and Rangers, but if the Wilson sweepstakes gets drawn out past the C.C bidding's then the Angels could face a third big time bidder, which would probably take them out of the war. We're going to have to hope that C.J's love for SoCal is greater then his love for ridiculous free agent market ruining contracts much akin to the one Jayson Werth received a year ago.
Last year the Angels had arguably one of the best starting staffs in the AL, even with a crappy Pineiro and a 5 spot that was constantly up for grabs between 4 pitchers the entire season. If the Angels signed C.J there would be no argument about it, they would have the best starting staff in the AL, that's a staff that could go pound for pound with the Phillies starting 4 in a playoff series. That would make the Angels starting rotation problems much easier to solve, with a set 1-4 they would only have one spot for Chatwood and Williams to battle for. Think about that for a second; imagine looking at the Angels rotation 5 months from now and seeing Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, C.J Wilson, Ervin Santana, and Jerome Williams. Just thinking about that lineup rocks my socks off, to put it as tamely as possible. That's a starting 4 that could rival even the 1966 Los Angeles Dodgers.
I can only hope that this gets to the Angels front office, not so their new GM can take my advice, but so I can get thrown on the GM shortlist. Don't overlook me now Arte, I've already proved myself better than Reagins with these fresh ideas!
The Angels would better off allowing Chatwood, Richards, Williams and maybe even Shoemaker battle for the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation then throw money at Harden. He's too big of an injury risk and frankly he isn't good enough to make up for that risk. The idea of throwing 10mil at Harden so he could (probably) sit on the DL for a while isn't very appealing to me. If we want to save money I'd rather take a chance on Yu Darvish.
If the Angels do end up landing Pujols or Fielder, which would happen seeing as how Arte is gearing towards big changes this offseason, a flip of Trumbo for good relief pitching seems like a good move to make. Though the Rangers would probably find a way to trade for Trumbo and we'd have to watch him put up big time numbers with the Rangers. Even though I'm being a little sarcastic on that, I am a little worried the Rangers would make that kind of move. After seeing what they've done with our sloppy seconds these past couple years I'm a little wary of giving them the opportunity to do something like that again, especially with our young superstars in the making.
@rmfalla The big difference this time will be the fact we'll have a great man playing his spot, not stuck with someone who can't even bat a regular 1-for-5. And speaking of batting average, I must say I don't like Prince Fielder's careeer avg of .280, at least not considering he will try a 200 double-grand contract.
I said 10M/2Y thinking it more of an unrefusable offer. Maybe we could land him with 4M for an year. And this is because I believe Chatwood, Williams and Richards together won't give us more than one starter this year. Schoemaker's time will come and so will Richards'. But not now...
Guys, don't forget he has yet to turn 28, so he can command a couple extra years, and my best guesses are 175M/8Y (about 22M per), or 160M/7Y. I greatly doubt he won't get at least 7 years.
That being said, please @scioscialite , do not overvalue Fielder's OBP. He has been batting after Ryan J. Braun and before Rickie Weks, it's not just about discipline, it's also opportunity.
@alansmafra@rmfalla Prince's BA is nothing special, but he's posted OBPs over .400 the last three years. Not only that, it looks like he's controlling the strike zone better. He had 107 walks and 106 Ks this year. And no way he will get a $200 million contract; he will most likely have to settle for less than the 7 year, $154 million deal Adrian Gonzalez got this winter given how neither the Red Sox or Yankees will be bidding for his services. I'm guessing he will land a contract along the lines of 6 years, $ 138 million ($23 mil per year).
I do like your idea of going after a high-risk, high-reward type like Harden if they end up signing Fielder. I'd prefer Erik Bedard, though, he does a much better job of keeping the ball in the park. And it wouldn't take nearly a $ 4 mil contract to get either one. They were both on one year contracts this year, with Harden making $1 million and Bedard $1.5 million. I'd think a one year, $2.5 million contract would be enough to get Bedard.
@Rick K.@scioscialite@rmfalla I doubt Buherle would come. First, he has already said he'd either come back to CWS or retire. Second, he's the ace there (I mean, the best pitcher), I'm not sure if he'd accept a job in Anaheim and be a 3rd man. I'd love to have him, especially because he'd cost little. But he won't come.
@scioscialite@alansmafra@rmfalla Yeah, he's been talking about retiring for a couple of years so he's a perfect candidate for the big bux two year deal. That's one of the reasons he jumped out to me as a nice short term solution. And over-paying a little would be no problem if we weren't stuck with Abreu. Maybe even with him. I'd sure trust him more than Bedard or Harden. To me, there's big sex appeal in consistency.
@Rick K.@alansmafra@rmfalla Sure, Buehrle would be a nice pickup. He will probably command a lot of money, though. Read this evening that the Sox want to bring him back on a 2 year deal, and I think Buerhle had said before that he doesn't really want to be pitching too long, so he may be an ideal candidate for the Colletti tactic of offering money for a shorter deal. Buehrle kind of reminds me of Geoff Zahn, another innings eating lefty whose FB couldn't dent a bean bag chair and struck out nobody but had exquisite command. But if the money was the same, I see Buehrle staying in the Midwest, either with the Chisox or St. Louis.
@scioscialite@alansmafra@rmfalla Wait, when did we lose the pitching part of the thread? The guy I was actually thinking of as a #4 (or #3) starter was Mark Buehrle but not for an extended period of time. Give him that more money for less years thing. He's as close to a sure thing as you can sign for a pitcher. Now back to the Fielder thing; we all thought Crawford would be a sure thing given his age, etc., but at the price and time the Sox committed to him? Check this:
"Red Sox owner John Henry “threw $60MM into the air,'' by making it clear that he views the Carl Crawford signing as a mistake, according to one baseball person. Henry said on the airwaves of 98.5 the Sports Hub that he was not in favor of signing the left fielder for $142MM."
And there are still those who think the Angels blew it by not outbidding them!
@scioscialite@alansmafra@rmfalla Other than the Angels there are no other takers for Abreu. We might as well get that out of the way right now. Why he wasn't cut 7/1 I will never, ever understand. Any conspiracy theorists out there?
Call me wacky, I just don't understand the fascination with throwing all this money at one questionable guy. Once again, I'm pretty sure that's just me. We are probably exhibiting a few of the basic GMing theories that might be in play at some point.
@Rick K.@alansmafra@rmfalla Totally understand Rick's trepidation about signing another wide-body 1B to a long term deal. On the bright side, Prince will only turn 28 next year, while Mo was already 31 when we signed him. And the biggest factor, I think, is that the free agent landscape this winter and next winter are just so barren...Next winter, the only real impact FAs are Josh Hamilton and Matt Kemp, and I just don't see us getting another OF, esp. with Vernon on the books. So maybe the smart play is signing Fielder this winter and just laying low next winter...
One possibility I've been thinking about is David Ortiz. Yes, Scioscia loves to rotate his overpaid, out of shape OFers through the DH slot, and Ortiz can't do anything BUT dH, making him a 145 game player. But we can probably sign him to a 2, at most 3 year deal. But this could be very problematic in that we would have to : 1) find a taker for Abreu or just eat his contract; 2) either send Trout back to the minors for another year or flat out bench Vernon (which a strong new GM may be able to convince Arte to do). But then again, Ortiz will be 36 next year, and he can fall off a cliff at any time, so maybe it's just better to pay the money for Fielder... Tough call...a lot of our future success will ride on our new GM's ability to evaluate talent and project future performance...
@scioscialite@alansmafra@rmfalla That six years Dennis (rightly) predicts will still be too long a commitment for Fielder. That guy is going to be another Mo Vaughn. If it's in that six year area the Angels need to gracefully bow out.
I haven't looked at the pitching logs but isn't Erik "Quarter Season" Bedard even more Rich Harden than Rich Harden? That could be just my perception.
Yes, the Angels will have a usable pitcher in Richards some day but it's not in April of '12. It was a good thing he got to see the bigs this season and maybe a guy like Harden could keep him in the minors long enough to make him useful. If I said Chatwood will ever be more than a middle reliever, I'd say I was dreaming. They will have to ride Williams as the fifth starter and hope he can be passable. Maybe when the inevitable injury to Harden or Bedard happens he will also have gained enough experience to be called a fourth starter.
I understand this market as a thin one in which very little can be done. Your perspective for adding a nice SP is something I've been thinking in the last couple of weeks, but looking into what you've written, I see I wasn't thinking big enough, as the goal was to get Rich Harden as a 4th man. Of course, Harden wouldn't command anything close to 80M, but something like 10M/2Y, but I think it would be wisely expended money.
Money I was inclined to save, maybe throwing some into a trade for Wright, which I have yet to figure how to do. But I liked @scioscialite idea of landing Fielder (or maybe Pujols, I like to dream sometimes) and include Trumbo in a trade for pitching. The problem is just which one.
@alansmafra@scioscialite I like Alan's idea of looking for pitching in Harden Territory than in Wilson's. There was thought he'd be looking for a big-time contract but I'll bet each weak start in the playoffs is lopping off a little bit more money. If it looks bad for him maybe he'll take a shorter contract to build more confidence in his ability to pitch deep into the season. On the other hand, some idiot with more money than brains will more than likely make some ridiculous offer to him. Let's take Alan's suggestion and look more in the second tier for pitching improvement.
Nice article. I actually like Callaspo way more than Aramis Ramirez or Cuddyer,esp. considering their price tags. I have no problem if Callaspo played 3rd and hit lead off. I think his .366 OBP was tops or close to tops on the team, and he walked more than struck out. I wouldn't be surprised if the Angels actually landed Fielder, then flipped Trumbo for a really good reliever (say to the Nats for Tyler Clippard) or two. Fielder/Pujols could help more than any available FA in 2013.
But I also like the idea of pursuing a really good SP to bolster the rotation. Not sure if I like Wilson, given how much he will cost. Would love it if they took a chance on Yu Darvish if he was posted, but he probably won't be. I'm intrigued by Hisashi Iwakuma, he will be a FA this winter and looks like he can be a pretty solid mid-rotation starter for a fraction of the price Wilson would command. So I'd be happy if we got Iwakuma and a stud reliever like Madson.
Yeah, I pretty much agree here. The free agent pickings at the Angels weak spots are incredibly thin. Even searching through the castoff shortstops and second basemen doesn't give any names that could be converted to third base and most of the infielders are castoffs in the sense that they are too old or, uh, "under talented" or both to gamble on.
The Angels strength, as the team is presently constituted, is starting pitching and defense so I can see that a strong fourth starter would be a terrific place to upgrade, hoping that JWilliams does better than the magical combination of Scott Kazmir and Tyler Chatwood as the fifth starter, which shouldn't be real hard.
I like the idea of adding Madsen as a reliever, unless he wants more than two years. I never want to see one of those contracts for a reliever again. And I especially don't want to see a lot of money or years spent on Heath Bell. At 34, his talent is on the downhill side. If you don't get Madsen, don't panic and throw money at some aged has-been, please!
Spending at those two spots and saving some money for a mid-season pickup might be the better way to go.
Excellent article my friend....my only initial feedback would be 100% absolutely under no circumstances should Palebon be considered for the Angels....ZERO!! Let him pout in Boston all he wants!!
@azhalofan I shared the same sentiment as you while writing this article, though I had to put all my power into putting logic over emotion. I strained a few muscles and popped blood vessels in both my eyes during that struggle