The Angels have, in my opinion, addressed their needs heading into the offseason. They've definitely helped the bullpen woes with Burnett and Madson. They've filled in the starting rotation with Blanton, Vargas, and Hanson. And they beefed up the lineup with the addition of Hamilton. With all these additions and how much better the Angels have gotten, what can they still do to improve a team with the potential of champions? Well as Dipoto has said countless times, you can never have enough depth. With this in mind, I look towards the bench and pitching depth as areas that can become stronger.
As it stands, the utiility infielder battle consists of, Luis Rodriguez, Andrew Romine, and Brendan Harris. The backup catcher is between Conger and Hester. And the outfield bench of Big Splash and Kole Calhoun. The Angels could sit and wait until Spring Training for these players to duke it out for the playing time, although it's safe to say Wells will be on the team regardless, and have a cheap (minus Vernon), in-house, and OKAY bench. But I think there's room to improve. I want Conger as the backup catcher, I want Calhoun as the 4th outfielder even though Tony's Tumor will probably get the job, and I'm content with Harris, Rodriguez, and Romine battling for the utility infielder spot. But I think some tweaks could be made. Namely giving "Lucho" Jimenez a shot as a bench bat to spell Callaspo at 3rd and give the bench a little more potential for some power. Once again, I'm okay with giving Romine the job of playing 2nd and SS, but I don't trust him at third and I think Jimenez deserves a shot. Or there's the possibility of adding a bench bat that doesn't play a position. I'm thinking of Jim Thome, who could DH while Trumbo plays left, right, first, or just needs a day off and could be a nice pinch hitter late in ballgames. I realize he's over 40 years old, but I think adding Thome gives the Angels a veteran, left handed bat off the bench who can still offer a contending team something. Either way, Jimenez or Thome could help create some nice alternatives off the bench (and neither would be expensive.)
Dipoto has already done wonders adding Madson and Burnett to a bullpen that ranked in the bottom of the AL last season. And while I love the core/potential of Madson, Frieri, Downs, Burnett, Jepsen, and Williams, I still think there are a couple things the Angels could do to create some nice low-risk/high reward options and not break the bank. There are a couple questions about the bullpen, how will Madson come back from TJ surgery? And was the second half of Jepsen the real Jepsen? In case either falter, it would be nice to have a couple options available. There are two pitchers specifically I'm looking at. I really like Peter Moylan, and I like Matt Lindstrom. Moylan has only pitched 13.1 innings the last two seasons, but when he's healthy he's death to right handed hitters. For his career, Moylan has held right handed hitters to a .213/.273/.301 slash line but has had some serious problems staying healthy. But that's something to consider, he would certainly come cheap and I don't think he would command anything more than a minor league deal. Why not take a flyer? Those are the kind of moves that can return the favor in a huge way. The other option, albeit more expensive, is Matt Lindstrom. Lindstrom's a very hard throwing righty who generates a lot of groundballs which is surprising with the kind of stuff he has, but he could be a very nice pickup for a middle innings guy who can come in and generate some groundball outs and get some key double plays. While he would be more expensive than Moylan, he still wouldn't necessarily break the bank and could turn into a pretty smart signing. I would prefer Moylan on a minor league deal and let Geltz, Berg, and Sisk battle for a bullpen spot to go along with Williams to finish of a solid bullpen.
Dropping A "Big Splash":
This is something I didn't mention at the beginning of this fanshot and is something that EVERY Angels fan obviously wants, dumping Vernon Wells. Like in physics, Wells is an immovable object that is being met with an immovable force (younger players playing time) and needs to be taken care of. This could be the final move that caps off an already very solid offseason and helps the team go forward with Calhoun getting more playing time and opening up more options to replace Wells' "suckiness." Whether it's a trade and eating up 90% of his salary or simply releasing him, something needs to happen. I would love to have a bench of Calhoun, Conger, Romine, Jimenez/Thome, giving more playing and developing time, aside from Thome, to younger players with higher upside.
With all this being said, aside from potentially trading Wells, I think the Angels are definitely done making major moves and think they only to need make a couple tweaks here and there to have an amazing team with some insurance in case of injuries. None of the moves I stated cost much money either, especially having Jimenez on the bench and signing Moylan to a minor league deal, and could potentially become solid pickups. The 2002 Angels had a very solid bench which I think helped get them to World Series, and in turn, could do the same for the 2013 Angels.
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