|Angels No Longer Have Halos|
Written by Robert Democh (Contact & Archive) on February 10, 2009
Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno has never hesitated to open his wallet in an effort to help his team.Â Witness the big bucks he shelled out last winter for Torii Hunter ($90 million over five years). That makes his decision to withdraw from the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes truly puzzling. If it was a gambit, it failed miserably when the Yankees scooped up Tex for the princely sum of $180 million over eight years. The wisdom of showering all that money on one player was undoubtedly a popular topic of conversation in America's crowded soup kitchens and homeless shelters during the recent holidays.Â Â Â ÂÂ
But now the Angels must regroup. Having lost out on Pat Burrell and indicating that they are not interested in acquiring Manny Ramirez, their options dwindle. Do they target Adam Dunn, whose 40 home run punch is marred by an appalling lack of plate discipline that would surely clash with Angel manager Mike Scioscia's orderly universe?Â Perhaps a trade could fetch an aging veteran like Jermaine Dye or Paul Konerko. None offer the clubhouse presence or all-around talent Teixeira possesses.Â
The winning-est team in baseball during the 2008 regular season, the Angels bowed out of the playoffs after a tepid showing against the Red Sox, a surprising development since they had bested Boston eight of the nine times they met during the regular season.Â For much of this decade, the Angels have dominated the Yankees in playoff competition. Boston can now make a similar boast concerning the Angels, having defeated the Halos in 10 straight postseason games dating to 1986, including first-round sweeps in 2004 and 2007.Â
This is an Angels team suddenly treading water. They failed to land either C.C. Sabathia or Teixeira after boasting they had the means to acquire both. Compounding this are the departures of all-time single season saves leader Francisco Rodriguez, long-time left field fixture Garret Anderson and Jon Garland, who proved to be a valuable innings eater at the back end of the Angels rotation.Â Los Angeles must now resort to Kendry Morales as their everyday first baseman. Morales, who performed admirably in the Dominican Winter League this year, has 35 extra base hits but only 27 walks in 377 big league at bats. Vladimir Guerrero will split time between right field and DH depending on the health of his fragile knees.Â With Juan Rivera, Reggie Willits and Gary Matthews Jr., the Angels have cornered the market on fourth outfielders that no one else wants.ÂÂ
To remain a viable contender, they need to attract at least one starter from the remaining free-agent pool.Â In addition to Ramirez and Dunn, Bobby Abreu is still unsigned but would not come cheap. He lacks the ability to smack the 25-30 home runs this team desperately needs. Simply put, Moreno rolled the dice and lost out on the big free agent scramble.Â
Entering the 2009 season, the Angels are again poised to fail in addressing their biggest off season need:Â Acquiring a big bopper, that 30 homer, 120 RBI type who could really anchor the offense and provide balance for what has consistently been among the best pitching staffs in the American League over past five seasons.Â
Torii Hunter demonstrated in 2008 that he can carry the offensive load in spurts, just not for extended periods of time. The same could be said of Guerrero. Vlad remains a formidable presence, but is no longer the elite talent that struck fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers as he did four or five years ago.Â Both need additional lineup protection but there is no cavalry coming to their rescue. The clock is ticking as the Angels stand on the sidelines, hoping for a miracle.
What can the Angels do this season to obtain a big bat? Let your comments be heard below in our comments section.