By Mike DiGiovanna, Times Staff Writer
September 27, 2006
If the opinion of the pitcher who will be a rotation cornerstone for years to come carries any weight, the Angels should think long and hard before allowing two respected veterans, second baseman Adam Kennedy and first baseman Darin Erstad, to leave as free agents this winter.
"The organization is going to have to be real careful," right-hander John Lackey, who is signed through 2008 with an option for 2009, said Tuesday. "We've lost the things that made us good, piece by piece; you can't let them all go. Some things are more important than numbers -- intangibles, guys who know how to win, who are gamers, who have done it before."
Kennedy and Erstad played key roles on teams that won the World Series in 2002 and American League West titles in 2004 and 2005, Kennedy's providing consistent, high-level defense and some clutch postseason hits and Erstad's adding grit, some key playoff hits and superb defense.
Kennedy is almost certain to go the way of Troy Glaus, Bengie Molina, Jarrod Washburn and Troy Percival, productive veterans who were cleared out to make room for younger, less-expensive players. Howie Kendrick, Kennedy's heir apparent, has shown he's capable of hitting big league pitching and has looked sharp defensively.
Most figured Erstad, in the last year of a four-year, $32-million deal, would not be re-signed, but an ankle injury that sidelined him for most of 2006 and will require surgery could actually increase his chances of returning; he will probably be offered a minor league deal and invited to spring training.
"Bill and the guys upstairs are in a tough spot," Lackey said, referring to General Manager Bill Stoneman. "He's put together a playoff contender the last two years, so you can't fault him too much, but you're definitely going to lose something in the clubhouse if you let those guys go.
"If you do let them go, I hope they replace them with the same kind of character and intangibles."
Now my opinion:
Before going off and trying to find two or three editions of Jesus Christ mixed with Babe Ruth, how about telling the guys we ALREADY HAVE to start acting like BASEBALL PLAYERS?
These guys won a WS and two consecutive divisional titles, for chrissakes. And, to the WS team, we ADDED Vladi, Colon, Rivera, Izzy, OC, WTY, and now Saunders. Those are HUGE.
If Vladi was still with the Expos, you guys would be bitching about how much we should spend to get him. Well, we already GOT him. So why not tell Vladi to use 2 hands to catch the freakin ball. He may be your worst baserunner. Don't have your worst runners try to squeeze out that extra base. Teach some plate discipline and not ALWAYS swing at the first pitch.
Hey managers! Quit trying the suicide ALL THE TIME! It's supposed to catch the other guys off guard. Instead, we're just increasing the number of outs for our offense and surprising nobody. Quit having runners go home from third when the ball is hit in shallow left. When a player is obviously grimacing in pain, pull them out until they are healthy; pain is your body's way of saying something is WRONG. Quit moving around your players to every position and screwing around with their mental state. Play the positive aspects of the players. Tell the pitchers to do their job or they are gone.
Hey "fans"! Quit blaming all the coaches. The players are alleged adults making big bucks for their skills & talents-they need to pull their heads out of their ass and act like the professional baseball players they were hired to be. You can lead a horse to water, yada yada yada.
Get back to the frickin basics for chrissake. Learn to run, catch & hit. Woulda, coulda, shoulda has been the theme this year.
Send these guys out on a wilderness trip for 2 weeks and make them bond and become a team. I just didn't see that this year and I think that's an integral part that was obviously missing.