December 4, 2009

Figgins couldn't be further from home

One of the first things I do each morning is log on to It’s kind of a one-stop shopping place for all things related to the Hot Stove. This morning, I was delighted to see that the Angels have not given up on signing John Lackey. More on that in a bit…

But first, the big news of the day was Chone Figgins. Following we learned that one minute he was on the verge of signing with the Seattle Mariners. A little while later, they were reporting the Angels were still "hanging in there." He was signing, then he was "maybe" signing. It was kind of a roller coaster.

Then as the evening unfolded it was becoming more and more clear that Figgins was indeed heading to Seattle. Per Greg Bell of the Associated Press, Figgins and Mariners have a preliminary agreement on a four year, $36 million dollar deal, with an option that could push the contract to $45 million.

Earlier Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown tweeted that "Angels officials had conceded that Figgins was as good as gone to the M’s."

The deal is expected to be announced Monday at the Winter Meetings.

Good for Figgy. Sucks for us.

It’s going to be strange seeing him in a Mariners uniform and I’m not going to like it one single bit. The Angels usually play the M’s 19 times in a season. Nineteen games I will be a lot less likely to enjoy. Nineteen games where I will have to cheer against Figgy.

Like I said; it sucks for us.

There was some talk that signing Figgins to a contract of four or more years would be a bad idea... Some surmised that his skills would start to decline and that players who rely on speed (like Figgins) are bad investments as they get older. I don't necessarily agree. Bobby Abreu is 35 and he managed to steal 30 bases this year. Rickey Henderson was 39 when he stole 66 bases in 1998. Figgins will only be 32 years old next season.

Reports had the Angels offering Figgins three years for $24 million. I am disappointed that the Angels didn’t offer more years. I know all about the reports about the Angels budget for 2010, but we’re talking about a very good player in Figgins.

Figgins reinvented himself this past year. He became the ultimate lead off hitter with a .395 OBP; leading the league in walks with 101.

Some soured on Figgins after his lack luster post-season. He is a career .172 hitter in the play-offs with an anemic .223 OBP. Some assumed he would never become the kind of post season performer the Angels need. I didn’t necessarily feel the same way.

The sad thing is that now that he’s in Seattle, Figgins might not get a chance to disprove his critics. I can’t see Seattle in the post season next year or any time soon. Granted, it’s only December – but the M’s have lots of work to do before they can be considered legitimate contenders in the west. That being said, signing Figgins is a nice start.

The bright side and there is a bright side is that Brandon Wood should finally get his shot; at least I hope so. Some have begun to speculate that the Angels could sign Adrian Beltre, who was last seen under-performing in Seattle.

I may not know as much about baseball as the so-called pundits, but I’d be willing to bet that Brandon Wood could do better than a .265 batting average with just 8 homeruns and a .779 OPS, which are the numbers Beltre put up this past season.

I don’t want Miguel Tejada either. I mean talk about a player in decline. In fact, none of the remaining free agent third basemen appeal to me over Wood. Not Melvin Mora, Joe Crede or even Troy Glaus.

It’s time for Brandon Wood and seeing him get his chance is the best way to get over the loss of Figgins.

The funny thing about this is that I had believed Figgins might want to play close to home. I couldn't have been more wrong. You can't get much further away from Florida than Seattle, Washington. I think it's safe to say that my ability (or lack of) to predict where free agents might end up basically stinks. I've been wrong on most of my predictions thus far.

I also have to wonder; will Figgins be happy in Seattle? Adrian Beltre was the last So. Cal third basemen to sign a big contract with the M's. He had five uneventful years there. Yes, he was paid well, but if he could have done it over would he have gone to Seattle? We'll see if money buys Figgins happiness.

Now, let’s get back to John Lackey.

According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, "Club officials had all but decided to part with Lackey during the team's organizational meetings at the end of the regular season, according to multiple major-league sources."

Rosenthal adds - "But Moreno, after watching Lackey pitch well in his three postseason starts against the Red Sox and Yankees, decided that the Angels should renew their efforts to sign him, the sources said."

Rosenthal notes that the main reason for this "change" (per Rosenthal, Reagins says Lackey has been a priority all along) is due to the steep price (in players) to acquire Roy Halladay, the rocky performance of Scott Kazmir in the post season and the Mariners big push to sign Lackey. Lackey’s post season performance didn’t hurt either.

As I noted in my Open Letter to John Lackey, the thought of him pitching within the division is more than I can take. If Lackey ends up in Seattle, I’m not going to be happy. I won’t be able to let it go. It’s bad enough that Figgins will be there, but if they add Lackey as well, I will have a new team to hate.

The Angels need to get a deal done. The two sides need to find some common ground. I don’t know what Lackey’s demands are (he reportedly turned down a four-year $72 million extension), but he needs to meet the Angels part way. $72 million is a lot of money. Granted, it’s not A.J. Burnett money, but just because the Yankees overpaid for Burnett, it shouldn't equate into someone else also over paying for a player.

I don’t want Roy Halladay. I’m afraid of what it might cost the Angels in the way of players to get him. Besides, there's something that doesn't sit well with me when a guy says he's only willing to go to Red Sox, Yankees, Angels or Phillies. It just feels wrong. Hallady is also imposing deadlines now (says he won't agree to a trade once Spring Training starts). Again, this kind of stuff just doesn't make me comfortable.

Besides, the Angels can't afford to trade for Halladay. Brandon Wood is no longer an option to be moved in my mind. We know the Angels aren’t going to part with Erick Aybar and parting with one of Joe Saunders, Ervin Santana or Jered Weaver would still leave the Angels with a hole in their rotation.

Just sign Lackey.

So here we are. Figgins is gone, but the Angels are still in the hunt for Lackey. I’m not a happy camper right now, but I'll be extra cranky if Lackey goes. My wife Cheryl is not liking the Figgy deal either. Figgins is one of her favorites. She's going to miss him. We're all going to miss him.

What can you do, right? Time to turn the page...

Get ready Brandon Wood. Cheryl and I (not to mention countless other Angel fans) are counting on you. We know you can do it.

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