Angels Lose Hot Stove Battle....

Michael EspositoContributor IDecember 15, 2009

NEW YORK - JULY 04:  Roy Halladay #32 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the New York Yankees on July 4, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

John Lackey signs with Boston.  Roy Halladay is traded to the Phillies and signs an extension.  Cliff Lee is traded to the Mariners.  Mike Cameron signs with Boston.  Lots of prospects go to Toronto

The Angels get no one. 

This all went down in a 24 hour stretch and it may go down as the day that the Angels came back to earth.  They lost their No. 1 starter to rival Boston, a former CY Young winner went to division rival Seattle, and they were spurned by Halladay. 

I kept hearing all offseason that re-signing Lackey was their top priority.  I've also heard from a source that Lackey didn't prefer to play on the east coast.  Yet, somehow, Lackey will be suiting up for Boston to be their No. 3 starter behind Beckett and Lester.  It shouldn't have happened, but it did.

The Mariners struck first this offseason by signing Chone Figgins to a deal that will pay him $9 million annually.  The Angels were simply not willing to shell out that much for an oft-injured player, even if that player was integral to their success the past few seasons. 

Seattle's signing of Figgins did show that they weren't messing around and wanted to make a run.  In doing so, they became the perfect team to block the Angels from getting Halladay.  Now Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee sit atop their rotation and the Angels no longer have a gutsy pitcher like Lackey to face them.  Seattle became an instant threat overnight.  What happens if they bring back Erik Bedard on the cheap or get another bat?  The Mariners may have a case to be ranked No. 1 in the AL West going into the 2010 season.

Texas will be better next season with the addition of Rich Harden and a fully healed Josh Hamilton.  Their young pitching staff will be a year older and their offense doesn't look to be slowing down. 

So what about Halladay?  Did he just not want to play in California?  Why was he so willing to sign a "below market" 3 year $60 million extension with Philly and not the Angels?  There has to be something else other than the whole "Halladay has a home mere minutes from the Phillies spring training facility," thing.  I would personally rather play in California than in Philly.  Maybe Halladay just likes snow and angry fans better than sunshine and relaxation. 

The Angels, did however, win the AL West by ten games without Lackey for a large chunk of the season.  A lot of credit has to go to their skipper Mike Scioscia, who in my opinion is one of the top five managers in all of baseball.  The Halos are highly likely to sign Hideki Matsui and say peace-out to Vlad Guererro. 

What do they do next?  Do they overpay for Joel Pineiro and Jason Marquis?  Trading for Derek Lowe is certainly an option.  They could sign Matt Holliday and add to an already impressive offense.  The Angels have the pieces to trade for virtually anybody.  They have to do something to re-establish their dominance, even if it’s making a bunch of smaller moves. 

The Angels have been successful for much of this decade.  It's made them the team that everyone in the AL West measures themselves against.  Seattle knew it couldn't beat the Angels with the team they had last year so they made dramatic improvements.  Texas knew that the risk/reward of signing Rich Harden was higher than if they had just kept Kevin Millwood.

I don't doubt the Angels front office, nor do I doubt their coaching staff and scouts. They have a fine organization, great fans, and play in the California sunshine.  There's no doubt they've lost a battle, but the war is ultimately won on the field. 

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