Francisco Rodriguez may see his days as an Angel numbered.
He is asking for $12.5 million in arbitration, the Angels have offered $10 million. The last Angel to win in arbitration over the team was David Eckstein prior to the 2004 season. He was released the following December.
Absent Frankie, the Angels have adequate in-house closers in Justin Speier and Scot Shields.
Both are deeply experienced with pressure situations. Both are signed for 3 more years. Either would likely have a lower innings-pitched workload as a closer than in the current middle-relief/set-up roles they have been assigned. These lower innings pitched would inevitably lead to better pitching performances, as opposed to the perceived decline each is assumed to possibly be having in 2008.
With Shields and Speier ensconced in the set-up/closer roles, Darren Oliver becomes the critical 7th-inning arm with Chris Bootcheck and Dustin Moseley neck and neck for the Righty men-on-base pressure cooker position, with the weaker of the two likely assuming the mop.
Keep your eyes on Rich Thompson for a prominent role, as well as the ever-present Jason Bulger looking to break out.
The most interesting possibility is Ervin Santana pitching in two-inning spurts from the pen were Joe Saunders to assume the 5th spot in the rotation. While Ervin is legend as having his head screwed on sideways in day games, away games and Full Moon madness nightmares, the big paydays that await elite closers coupled with the ADDHD cure that 40-pitch outings seem to enact - these could be the cure for the Common Ervin and make Black Magic arise in a positive manner for the 2008 Angels.