December 23, 2009

Optimistic, but concerned

I’ve become accustomed to the Angels way of doing things; to the way they fly in the face of conventional wisdom as dished out by the so-called “experts” and simply do their own thing. It’s hard to argue with the results given the overall success of the franchise since 2002.

This is without any question the golden era of Angels' baseball. There’s never been a better time to be an Angels fan and I’m thankful for their success. I’ve bought into how they do business over the past several years and believe the Angels have the best owner and a manager who is second to no one.

Never-the-less, I have hard a very hard time understanding this off season. Now mind you, this is coming from someone who can be accused at times of drinking the company kool-aid and wearing rose colored glasses.

If you listen to enough sports talk radio – you will hear a lot of Angel apologists telling anyone who has a complaint or concern to be patient and trust what the team is doing because their track record has been so good. It’s as if it’s become some sort of sin to question anything the Angels are doing. Our concerns are often labeled as being “silly” and some believe to question is to panic and we shouldn’t ever do that.

The thing is even though the Angels have been highly successful, that doesn’t mean they’ll continue to be good to great every year. Let’s face it, they’ve stumbled here and there with some of their signings of players like Shea Hillenbrand, Steve Finley, Justin Speier, Jeff Weaver, J. C. Romero, and Gary Matthews, Jr. to name a few. Granted, no team is perfect and the Angels have been able to overcome some mistakes for the most part.

That being said, you have to figure that some of these mistakes are finally catching up with them. Clearly the Angels would have more flexibility in their payroll if they didn’t have to pay Matthews $23 million over the next two years and still had to pay Speier’s contract even though he is no longer on their roster.

These mistakes become magnified when Angel fans watch players who have been cornerstones of the organization leave via free agency only to be replaced by players who seem older, slower and even in decline.

This brings me to their latest free agent acquisition in Fernando Rodney. In my last post, I outlined some of my reasons for believing he was not the best option. Granted, the Angels front office know more about baseball than I could ever possibly imagine, but that doesn’t mean I can’t question this move.

My understanding was that the Angels didn’t offer Darren Oliver arbitration because they believed he would become too costly and weren’t willing to go above the $3.655 million he made in 2009. They gambled that they’d be able to re-sign him at a good price and they lost. They then go out and sign Rodney for two years and $11 million, despite numbers that would seem to indicate he might be in decline.

On one hand I would like to trust Tony Reagins and Mike Scioscia on this matter, but quite honestly; I’m having a hard time with it.

One of my favorite sites – ranked Rodney 47th on their list of the top 50 free agents. They even predicted that "no one would want to pay a premium for his 37 saves."

I really can’t recall reading anything positive about Rodney and instead read many times that he wasn’t likely to land a closer job with another team. When the Phillies were reported to be interested in signing him for two years and $12 million there appeared to be some snickering going on.

So… what’s a fan like me supposed to think when the Angels come around and give the same guy $11 million?

It’s a ways away from April 5, 2010 (opening day) and I’m certain that when that day rolls around, I’ll be as gun-ho as any fan about the Angels chances because that’s what we fans do. I know games aren’t won on paper and anything can happen in baseball. I’d simply like my team’s chances a little more if they would do some things that actually made sense to me.

Don’t mock me because I have concerns and please don’t spout the mantra that we should blindly trust the Angels front office because of their success. If you do, I’ll accuse you of being complacent and over confident; two attributes that can easily lead to disaster.

At the end of the day I trust the Angels and believe they’ll compete again in 2010, but I refuse just blindly follow and not question some of the things they do.

For the record, I’m very excited about Brandon Wood, delighted that Joe Saunders is off the trade rumor circuit and I can’t wait to see what Kendry Morales will do in 2010. I’m also thrilled that Torii Hunter plays on my favorite team and that Mike Scioscia will be leading this team for many, many years.

It’s also important to note that for me, 2002 is starting to become a distant memory and I fully expected the Angels to have won another title by now. My expectations have been raised and even though I appreciate what they’ve accomplished, I expect better.

1 comment:

  1. Nothing wrong with being a little critical, Grich. Just be thankful you aren't a Cubs fan this offseason. The Angels have come back to the pack a bit. I understand your pessimism concerning Rodney. I agree that they overpaid, but the good news is, the Angels brass once again resisted the temptation to deal their good young players, so you'll get to watch Erick Aybar, Joe Saunders, Ervin Santana, and Kendry Morales for several years to come.