December 13, 2010

Surprises abound

It’s been a few days, but I’m still reeling from the Carl Crawford news.

I know I should let it go and move on because there’s plenty of off-season left, but I can’t. Here’s the thing – the way the deal went down just doesn’t sit well with me. Sean McAdam wrote a detailed accounting of how the Red Sox acquired Crawford and it doesn’t paint Tony Reagins in the best of light.

The story is interesting on many levels and speaks volumes about the way the Red Sox go about their business and I mean that in a good way. Like I said last week – the Red Sox play big boy baseball and after reading McAdam’s column, images of Carlton Banks continue to dance in my head when I think about Tony Reagins. I'm not happy about this image; it just is what it is.

The gist of the article is that the Red Sox identified Crawford as their #1 off season target when they began to fall out of contention in the AL East. The dedicated a scout to get as much "intel" on him as possible. They wanted to know about his game, his character and personality, etc.

They had a plan and they paid attention. They didn’t ignore the chatter about his aversion to playing in Boston and had a face to face discussion about the whole thing. They were smart and methodical.

In the end, they made Carl Crawford want to go to Boston and the Angels… well… they were left red faced and screaming (my perception). It’s getting to the point where it seems like the Angels aren’t as cool as they think they are and players are looking elsewhere when all things are equal (like money).

The whole thing just makes me anxious. I’ll admit it. I don’t have a lot of confidence in Tony Reagins right now. That being said, he has plenty of time to convince me otherwise, but the best offensive options in free agency are disappearing and I’d rather not see the Angels gut their minor league system via a trade for a quick fix.

Signing Adrian Beltre is critical. Yeah, I said critical. Even still, he won’t be enough. The Angels can’t afford to go into the 2011 campaign with Juan Rivera/Bobby Abreu in left field and both Peter Bourjos and Jeff Mathis in the lineup with something to prove offensively.

The longer the Beltre talks go on, the less confident I feel. I fully expect to read about another missed opportunity that got away from the Angels because of a deadline, a cross look, take-it-or-leave-it offer, a broken promise, egos or some other crazy scenario. Scott Boras must be loving this because he has the Angels right where he wants them.

Say whatever you want about Boras; but at the end of the day, he often looks like a hired gun who has just slapped the town sherriff silly.

Now, I’m a rational guy. I know it’s only December 13, 2010. I know there’s time, but there’s this feeling in my gut that didn’t get there because of something I ate. The uneasy feeling is the result of what my friend Dan (a retried San Diego detective) calls “priors.” In other words, Reagins track record of late isn’t comforting and neither is that of Arte Moreno for that matter.

The perception isn't pretty.

They give me the impression of being over-matched and over-confident. The reports from the Winter Meetings were of Angel executives talking as if they already had Crawford on their roster. Stuff like that makes me cringe and shakes my confidence in the front office to the core.

Now, all that can change in the blink of an eye… but as I stare at my computer and frequently check – I’m not blinking. I’m not getting wide eyed either. I’m feeling like I’m falling asleep and when I wake up; it will be 2010 all over again.

I hope I’m wrong. I’m not used to being this pessimistic, but last season took its toll on me. I keep looking back to last year when I proclaimed the Angels had gotten older and slower and had lost their ace… and then my tune changed as the weather got nicer and spring came calling. Looking back I see now that my initial gut reaction was right last off season and I was foolish to ignore my instincts.

I’m not going to make that mistake again.

I know I don’t have any control over what the front office does, but I can certainly form an opinion about what they do or don’t do.

To compound my anxiety – Keith Law broke down the Scott Downs signing (subscription required) and he makes some good points that don’t speak well of the whole thing. My eyes narrowed as I read about how Downs only threw in the high 80’s as visions of Brian Fuentes danced in my head. Law went on to say “I'd bet good money he ends his career in a specialist role.” Ouch. $15 million for a specialist? Double ouch.

I’m anxious. I’m not throwing in the towel or proclaiming that the sky is falling; but then again, I’m kind of afraid to look up.

Tonight we learned that the Cliff Lee sweepstakes ended in a surprise. As the negotations went on and on - we were lead to believe that the Yankees and Rangers were the front runners for Lee. We then learned that there was a "mystery" third team. When the news came out that the mystery team was the Phillies; a lot of people dismissed the idea.

This is what the writers and insiders do consistently... they miss the boat.

If you haven't heard - the Phillies signed Lee. Lee took less money and fewer years when all the experts thought he'd simply go to the highest bidder. Turns out the time Lee spent in Philly last year, were the happiest baseball days of his life. Who knew?

Well, we know who didn't know....

Baseball is unpredictable and this off season is proving to be as unpredictable as the season itself. I have no idea what will happen next, but my hope is that the Angels get in the game and stop watching other teams get better.

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