Well, this is going to be one of the easier posts, since the Angels have pretty much finished making their big splash this off-season, by signing both C.J. Wilson and Albert Pujols. The only questions that might remain are in regards to what they might do with the rest of their players in an effort to save a little money after forking over more than $300 million to these two guys. The intriguing thing about these moves for the Angels is that they were already a very good team. They finished 2011 86-76, which was 2nd in the AL West. I suppose what pushed them to make such big free agent moves was the fact that they still were 10 games behind division-winner Texas. And, it appeared as though Texas was ready to try and make improvements themselves.
The Angels have 13 players under contract already for 2012, and once you throw in the $2.5 million buyout of Scott Kazmir‘s contract, the payroll is already up to around $145 million! There are some big contracts that there’s no chance they will be able to get out of (Vernon Wells @ $21 million), but they absolutely should consider trading away a guy like Bobby Abreu. Abreu is slotted to make $9 million in 2012, but the Angels have so many other options at DH/LF that are going to be considerably cheaper. If there was a way for them to find a home for Torii Hunter and his $18 million, I’d say go for it. Hunter is aging, and can easily be replaced by some of the young talent they have that’s on the verge of being ready for the majors. Getting rid of Abreu and Hunter would negate $27 million in guaranteed contracts, and they would be replaced by guys that would make a total of maybe $1 million. If the Angels don’t make moves like this, then they are going to have a payroll of at least $160 million in 2012, which is ridiculous. Here’s how that adds up . . .
Starting lineup would be: 1B – Pujols ($25.4 million), 2B – Howie Kendrick ($5 million in arbitration), SS – Erick Aybar ($5 million in arbitration), 3B – Alberto Callaspo ($3.5 million in arbitration) platooning with Maicer Izturis ($3.8 million), C – Chris Iannetta ($3.55 million – a trade made with Colorado), DH – Abreu ($9 million – a vesting option that activated in July), LF – Wells ($21 million – that is, if they allow him to stay out there and play as miserably as he did in 2011), CF – Peter Bourjos ($500k – the only pre-arbitration starter they would have in this lineup), and RF – Hunter ($18 million).
Starting pitching rotation: 1. Jered Weaver ($14 million), 2. C.J. Wilson ($10 million), 3. Dan Haren ($12.75 million), 4. Ervin Santana ($11.2 million), 5. Jerome Williams ($820k) – or possibly Williams would have to compete with Garrett Richards, a youngster with potential that could fit very well as the #5 starter in 2012.
The Bullpen would consist of: Closer – Jordan Walden ($500k – pre-arbitration), Scott Downs ($5 million), Hisanori Takahashi ($4.2 million), and most likely they would fill out the rest of the ‘pen with pre-arbitration guys in order to save some money. Guys like Rich Thompson, Bobby Cassevah, Trevor Bell, and Tyler Chatwood could battle it out in spring training for the final 3 spots.
If the Angels don’t make any trades to cut down on their payroll, their bench is going to be stacked with quality players: Izturis in a platoon role at 3B, Mark Trumbo ($500k – pre-arbitration; was their primary first-baseman in 2011, and hit 29 hr’s with a .768 OPS, and finished 2nd in the Rookie of the Year voting), Mike Trout ($500k – pre-arbitration; an outfielder who could easily replace Wells or Hunter, and was the #1 overall prospect in all of baseball going into 2011), Hank Conger ($500k – pre-arbitration; the best back-up catcher they have at the moment), and possibly Kendrys Morales ($2-3 million – arbitration eligible, but only played in 51 games in 2010, and none in 2011 due to a broken leg on a freak accident at home plate after a home run). Morales plays 1B and RF. And, all of this is before you even start thinking about younger guys that could be ready, like Alexi Amarista (a top-of-the-order type who plays primarily 2B, but can fill in at a lot of positions). Between Morales (if he’s healthy), Trout and Trumbo, I’d say they have the talent to replace the likes of Abreu, Hunter, and Wells. Wells is untradeable, but if you could send Abreu and Hunter somewhere for some more young talent to add to the farm system, it would not only help keep the 2012 team from looking like a bunch of old geezers (average age on opening day for the starting lineup would be 31 without any more trades), but it could be a boost to the future as well. Plus, you’d have the added bonus of keeping your payroll closer to $130 million, rather than $160 million without giving up much of anything in the way of power in your lineup, and you’d have better, younger, speed on the base paths and in the field.
The bottom line for me is the Angels need to get younger with a couple more trades that will help ease the burden of their payroll as well. What do you think?