Cliff Lee would be a nice addition, but other pieces of puzzle are more necessary
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have gone through a season in which could best be described as abysmal. Missing the playoffs for the first time since 2006, they will be embarking on a sport in October that has been unfamiliar to them: golf.
The Angels will be celebrating their 50th birthday next season, and owner Arte Moreno and general manager Tony Reagins will undoubtedly be looking to put together a team in 2011 that will showcase their year-long celebration.
The 2011 MLB free agent class is certainly an option in which Moreno and Reagins will explore and invest in. Although the class itself may not be one of the better free agent classes in recent history, there are names on that list that will generate much interest among many teams, including the Halos.
As mentioned in a previous article, the Angels will have money to spend in the upcoming offseason. Between trades and expiring contracts of players who most likely will not be returning, the Halos will have approximately $25.5 million with which to play with.
While both players clearly have their upsides and have contributed mightily to the success of their current teams, there are other options available in which Reagins and the Angels could, and should, explore.
Here are ten reasons why the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim should pass on the temptation of signing either Cliff Lee or Jayson Werth, and utilize the money for options that will best serve their needs in 2011.
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Weaver leads a rotation that matches up with any in all of baseball
With the exception of Jered Weaver, who is arbitration eligible, all of the Angels' starting pitchers are locked up by the Halos for next season. Judging by their performances thus far, the rotation will be a strength in 2011.
Reagins will make the re-signing of Weaver a top priority this offseason. Weaver has been the mainstay of the Angels' staff, with a 13-11 record and a 2.99 ERA. He has established himself as one of the top right-handed starters in all of baseball.
Would Cliff Lee be a nice fit in this rotation? He would undoubtedly be a nice fit in any MLB team's rotation, but in the case of the Angels, their priorities lay elsewhere, and money would definitely be better served in investment of those more important priorities.
Based on Lee's performance over the last three seasons, which include a Cy Young award, he will no doubt be looking for a contract similar to one signed by his former teammate, C.C. Sabathia. Five to seven years at an average of $20 million annually for a 32 year-old pitcher is a steep investment, and certainly carries an element of risk.
While Lee would clearly be a great complement to both Weaver and Dan Haren, signing Lee would push the investment of money in the Halos' starting rotation to somewhere north of $65 million for 2011, severely limiting the Angels' financial options for more important priorities.
Since the beginning of the 2009 season, Lee has been with the Cleveland Indians, Philadelphia Phillies, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers.
The argument can definitely be made that his move to Philadelphia at the trade deadline in 2009 was clearly a salary dump by the Indians, looking to move forward with a youth movement. The same argument could be made with the Seattle Mariners this season, with the team hopelessly lost in last place and looking to rebuild.
However, four teams in two seasons is a LOT of movement for any player. Lee was said to be a lock in the Phillies starting rotation for 2010, but instead was involved in the trade that landed Roy Halladay in Philly and Lee with the Mariners.
Certainly not looking to start rumors here, but is there more to this story than what we may think? Just throwing it out there...
Let's face it: The New York Yankees are cash cows. They have clearly displayed they have no issues in spending big dollars to land the major players in free agency. With the miserable performance by starter A.J. Burnett this season, and the expiring contract of the aging Andy Pettitte, the Yankees are clear frontrunners for the services of Cliff Lee.
The Boston Red Sox could also be players in this equation. With the ongoing health concerns of Josh Beckett, coupled with the disappointing performance of Daisuke Matsuzaka, Lee is an attractive option for the Sox. General manager Theo Epstein has always been reticent about signing long-term contracts for players in their thirties; however Epstein could surprise and make an exception in this case.
In any event, the Angels would most certainly be involved in a protracted bidding war for Lee, and would be better served by saving that time and money for other priorities that are more important in the long run.
The Los Angeles Angels bullpen in 2010 has not been the strength of this team as compared to years past. Going into weekend play, Angels' relievers led the lead in walks (218) and wild pitches (38), and were 11th overall in the American League with a 4.23 earned run average.
The trade of Brian Fuentes to the Twins in late August gave Fernando Rodney the opportunity to become the closer for the Halos; however his performance thus far has been spotty at best.
In recent organizational meetings, GM Reagins and manager Mike Scioscia all but stated that the acquisition of a veteran middle reliever would be a priority during the offseason. Considering that the Angels were winning divisions and making the playoffs in years past with a solid, veteran bullpen, this option makes much more sense than going after Lee in the long run.
In Werth's three full seasons as a full-time player for the Philadelphia Phillies, he has put up nice offensive numbers. His power declined somewhat this season, with 25 HR and 79 RBI compared to 36 HR and 99 RBI in 2009; however his batting average increased from .268 to .291, and OBP slightly increased as well.
Werth will definitely command serious looks from several teams this offseason, and with the Phillies' future right fielder waiting in the wings in Domonic Brown, it's highly unlikely that Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. will pony up for the services of Werth.
With the promotion of young rookie center fielder Peter Bourjos, and the subsequent move to right field by Torii Hunter, the Angels appear to be set in the outfield with a combination that works for them.
With the announcement last week that Werth had replaced agent Jeff Borris with Scott Boras, a collective gasp could be heard from various MLB team offices looking to sign him.
To say that Boras has a bulldog reputation is akin to saying that Lady Gaga is a shy, understated woman.
Boras will do everything in his power to get the most money possible for every one of his players, and general managers throughout the league have fallen prey to his tactics.
Angels GM Reagins would be better served by avoiding this potential confrontation, and could even enhance his viewing pleasure this offseason just by watching the soap opera that Boras will produce with negotiations involving other teams for Werth's services.
The Angels have made no bones about the fact that they will aggressively pursue current Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Carl Crawford in free agency.
Crawford is close friends with Angels right fielder Torii Hunter, and has commented in the past about the opportunity to play in the same outfield with his friend.
Crawford's speed, defense, and offensive prowess at the top of the lineup would be a much bigger priority for the Angels than the offensive production of Werth, and the ability to put runners on at the top of the lineup has been a major concern for the Angels this season.
The signing of Crawford would be an instant fix for the leadoff position in the Angels' lineup, giving middle of the lineup batters Hunter, Kendry Morales and Bobby Abreu more opportunities to capitalize on scoring chances.
When Angels first baseman Kendry Morales was lost for the season after suffering a broken leg during a celebration of a walk-off grand-slam homer in late May, the Halos were unable to replace his offensive production in the lineup.
Kevin Frandsen, Howie Kendrick, Paul McAnulty, Mike Napoli, Michael Ryan, Bobby Wilson, Brandon Wood, Robb Quinlan, Juan Rivera and Mark Trumbo have all been utilized at first base since the injury to Morales, and not even the combination of these players' overall offensive numbers have even come close to the numbers that Morales would have produced on his own.
Going after players that can provide better depth and producing better numbers when used sporadically will be a bigger priority for the Angels than wasting the money on Werth.
Werth's brief career with the Los Angeles Dodgers probably does not bring back warm, fuzzy memories of his days spent in California. He started out okay in 2004, hitting .262 in 89 games while playing for a division winner.
It went downhill fast after that. The following spring, Florida Marlins pitcher A.J. Burnett hit Werth in the wrist with a pitch in the very first preseason game. He spent a good portion of 2005 on the disabled list, missed the entire 2006 season, and was then released by the Dodgers.
California dreamin' may not be the type of dreams that Werth would want to live out all over again.