<!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> Normal 0 0 1 940 5358 44 10 6580 11.1282 </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> 0 0 0 </xml><![endif]--> My opinion of what the Angels should do this off-season:
1) Offer arbitration to all of our free agents. It goes without being said that we should get draft picks for any departing free agent. The biggest risk is Guerrero accepting arbitration and getting paid way more than he deserves. But I still think he will be considered a type A free agent so the risk is worth it, especially for only one year.
2) Let Figgins depart via free agency.
A) It is time for the "give Brandon Wood a chance" era. He is out of options (meaning 25 man roster or waivers). If we were going to trade him we should of done it when he had value. I say we let him play a half to ¾ of season and see what he can do. You never know until we give him a chance. He could be good or he could flame out. If he fails we can always fill third with Izzy. Who would not be much of a downgrade from Figgins (especially in an average Figgins year)
Izzy: .283/.346/.398/69/18 (BA/OBP/SLG/Avg RBI over 162 gm/SB over 162 gm)*
Figgins: .291/.363/.388/59/48 - counting his career year.
*Izzy's stats do not include the half-year in Montreal
B) Figgins has killed us in the playoffs. Figgins career stats in the playoffs are .172/.223/.246 (BA/OBP/SLG). In 135 playoff plate appearances Figgins has scored a total of 13 runs and has 6 RBI's. He is not scoring or driving them in. The only good thing that Figgins has done in the playoffs is steal bases (35 steals) when on base.
C) Figgins had a career year on the eve of free agency. Don't expect a repeat performance.
3) Sign an outfielder.
A) Bobby Abreu has done wonders for this team in terms attitude, chemistry, and teaching the younger guys about hitting. (I think his influence far exceeds that of Mickey Hatcher and would be especially helpful to guys like Wood, Aybar, Morales, and Kendrick). I also think it is possible to get him with a relatively short-term contract (two years with an option for a third).
B) I think Guerrero really wants to stay with the Angels. I think it will be possible to sign him for a short-term deal (one to two years) for a respectable amount of money (5 to 8 million/yr). He just needs to understand that he may not be batting in the heart of the order and that he will not be playing in the outfield.
C) We should not go after Jason Bay or Matt Holliday. Holliday could not hit in the AL and Bay is hitting in Boston. It would be a mistake to sign an outfielder on the wrong side of 30 for a long-term deal. We have some pretty good prospects in the minors (Peter Bourjos in AA, and Trout/Grechuck probably in low A at the start of next season). Of course none of these players are guaranteed to make it to the Majors let alone be a star. But with another draft coming up where I envision at least a few picks in the higher rounds than previous years, lets not create a log jam in the outfield with aging, overpriced, underperforming players. If none of our young guys pan out then there will always be a FA outfielder in the market. There will be a time in the next year or two where we will need the money to lock up our young infielders to long-term deals anyways.
4) Trade GMJ for anything. I mean I would even take a bag of balls and a case of sunflower seeds (Just not Milton Bradley). If the Ninja can do it without eating his whole salary the trade will instantly be a success.
5) Sign John Lackey unless he wants more than a $100 mil.
A) If the Angels don't make a serious run at Lackey I think it will be because they know more about his medical issues that they have reported during the season.
B) As the saying goes you can never have too much pitching. A rotation of Lackey, Weaver, Saunders, Kazmir, Santana looks really nice on paper, doesn't it. The only problem with this staff is the lack of a true #1 starter. You know the type that can completely shut down good team when the time matters (during the season and playoffs). Lackey is very good, but he just falls short of the Santana/Haliday/(I hate to say it) Sabathia class. But then again he should not get that kind of money either. I think it is possible to get him for a little more that Burnett money.
C) We can't afford not to have Lackey. A rotation of Weaver, Saunders, Kazmir, Santana, plus unproven rookie pitcher does not sound good at all. One injury, which would most likely occur to someone on the staff, could easily prevent us from winning the AL west let alone making another serious run in the playoffs. Our rookies (Bell/O'Sullivan/Walden/Reckling/Ortega) all need at least one more year in the minors. And it might be a good idea to introduce some of them to the majors by having them pitch relief in the second half of the season if they progress well enough.
6) Make a serious run at Aroldis Chapman. Just because NY and Boston are chasing him does not mean he is unavailable to us. We are a big market team (I know some will hate to admit that) that may not have the monetary advantage that Boston or NY has, but we have a few social factors that can be pretty persuasive. We have a Cuban player in the majors who can help mentor him. We have a strong Latin presence within the clubhouse, management, and community. We have good weather. After he meets with the northeastern teams have him come on down to warm So Cal and eat cabrito made by Guerrero's mom in the backyard. After that half the battle is won.
7) Address our relief pitching. I would be happy if Fuentes never got another save for the Angels in his career. I can count on one hand the amount of times Fuentes had a 1-2-3 inning. In a best-case scenario Shields could come back and be the closer (I know he is not perfect), Arrendondo can turn things around to compete with Jepsen for the set up role. Fuentes can become a situational later inning type pitcher. There are definitely a lot of ifs in that plan. Another option would be to pursue Papelbon. Just writing that make me feel weird and it would take a lot of money.
8) Lock up Jared Weaver. I know this will be difficult with Boras as his agent. He is a So Cal kid who likes playing here. The longer we wait the more expensive it is going to get. He will probably have to get a little more than Ervin Santana
Just don't propose a trade in which we give San Diego a poo poo platter of type B prospects for Adrian Gonzales. If a trade is going to be made, each team will have to view it as an advantageous deal.
Lets hope the Ninja has a good off-season.