So, last week was fun, wasn’t it? Jerry Dipoto has been quite busy so far this winter with the Chris Iannetta extension, signing Angel Sanchez, trading Ervin Santana and then almost trading but ultimately declining Dan Haren‘s 2013 option. I hope you are getting time and a half Jerry.
Now that the Hot Stove season is in full swing for the Halos, why don’t we take a couple minutes to break down just what the Angels have to work with as far as their budget is concerned. Thankfully, Cot’s takes care of all the silly math, making it a lot easier to get a bead on where the payroll currently stands. This link (should you be so inclined to click it) shows the payroll as is for players currently under contract. That total comes to $93.618MM. That’s a lot of lettuce. What it doesn’t include are the arbitration eligible players salary (because they don’t have one right now), or the players who will be at or around league minimum. If we include the pre-arbitration players, and the ones making at or near league minimum, the payroll gets pushed up to $99MM. Luckily, MJ already wrote about what we should expect with regards to arbitration. In his post, our four arbitration eligible players will be making roughly $12MM combined, bringing the payroll up to $111MM. That wiggle room just keeps shrinking and shrinking, doesn’t it? Dipoto has been quoted saying that the Angels are most likely going to have a payroll somewhere in the $145MM-$150MM range, bringing it down from the team record $159MM payroll they had this past season. Giving the team roughly $34MM-$39MM to work with. Peanuts really. Now, the fun part, spending Arte Moreno’s money.
What We Have
A Solid Lineup
Last year, the Angels offense was one of the better offenses in the American League. They finished third in runs, second in stolen bases (thank you Mike Trout), fourth in OBP, third in slugging and first in batting average. Not too shabby. Even if Torii Hunter is not brought back into the fold, this is an offense that can still do serious damage. We are fast, strong and we make solid consistent contact.
A Shaky bullpen
Yet again, our bullpen was the reason for far too many losses. Between Jason Isringhausen and Latroy Hawkins being old, Kevin Jepsen being Fernando Rodney in the first half and Scott Downs and Ernesto Frieri turning into pumpkins in the second half; we enjoyed maybe one month of baseball where we could put it on cruise control once the relief corp took over for the starting pitcher. Thank you maalox.
Depleted Starting Pitching
Surprisingly, the rotation is the only part of the team that has seen any kind of overhaul. What was a rotation that was supposed to rival some of the best ever going into 2012, has now seen 40% of it’s starters (up to this point) get sent packing. Leaving us with a rotation of Weaver/Wilson/Williams/Richards/Warm Body. Three cheers for pitcher volatility.
What We Need
Say it with me, “We need pitching, not a third baseman, or an outfielder because we have this weird idea that Peter Bourjos is Reggie Willits 2.0. We. Need. Pitching.” You with me so far? In the starting rotation, signing one starter is mandatory given that we have almost no depth down on the farm (Brad Mills, Barry Enright, Salt Lake Bees batting practice pitcher). Zack Greinke is the target, but some of the names that jump out on this list are Anibal Sanchez, Scott Baker and Brandon McCarthy. And Baker is the most interesting of the three. Scott missed all of last year after having Tommy John surgery, but was coming off a 2011 where he put up a bWAR of 4.2. If the Angels want to go long term, go Greinke. If they want to go short term, I’d take a serious look at Baker who could probably be had on a two or three year deal that is south of the $10MM per year mark.
And now the bullpen. I’m going to say it now, I don’t like spending money on free agent relievers. Tie up money in the rotation and starting lineup, but go cheap in the bullpen. With that being said, Ryan Madson is definitely worth a look since he declined his player option. He strikes out a batter per inning, and he’s stingy with the walks, he’s my kind of reliever. There’s also Joakim Soria just kind of hanging out on the scrap heap as well. Other than that, We do have a couple of interesting bullpen arms on the farm in Daniel Tillman and Steven Geltz. We also have Nick Maronde (be still me heart) who has starter upside, but was fantastic out of the pen last September. I’d sign one of those two relievers, and then proceed to revamp the pen through promotions and trades.
Having nearly $40MM to play with is a luxury that most GM’s simply don’t have. Dipoto could easily lock up Greinke, which would (according to rumor of Greinke’s price tag) leave him with roughly $20MM. I would like to see Haren come back on a one or two year deal, but I admittedly know less about his back than the Angels do (or the Cubs for that matter since it was apparently smarter for them to keep Carlos Marmol instead of taking that trade). Hunter, I’m sorry to say, is most likely gone now that everyone knows Josh Hamilton‘s asking price (seven years $175MM…….LAWLZ). Luckily, we can absorb the loss of Torii in the lineup. But, pitching wise, Dipoto needs to make things happen soon. Or he is going to be priced out of the premium pitching market thanks to the budget, and Vernon Wells.