January 4, 2011

Happy Deja-vu Year!

The Angels went into this off season with huge needs on offense. I’m talking about holes big enough to drive a truck through. They had to find an impact bat and a leadoff hitter. They also needed to upgrade the defense (to put it mildly) in the outfield; hopefully with players that would address those offensive needs at the same time.

Arte Moreno knew it. Mike Scioscia said it. Tony Reagins just hasn’t done it.

As we enter 2011 it sure feels like 2010 all over again. I really had hoped to start the New Year with something other than a rant, but when I read that the Texas Rangers are on the verge of signing Adrian Beltre to a contract, I don’t feel like doing much else; unless you count screaming.

That being said, the Angels are in a no-win situation. If they don’t sign Beltre, they’re going to be hammered by the media and their fans... If they sign him to the ridiculous contract the Rangers are rumored to be proposing (6 years and $96 million), they’ll get hammered.

Let’s not forget how many experts, analysts and pundits predicted the Angels would be the favorites for Crawford, Beltre and even Rafael Soriano. Let’s not forget how often those experts are wrong in their predictions and how often I like to remind readers of that.

Reagins is in a tough spot, but that’s the kind of thing that comes with the job of a GM. After the 2009 season ended, the Angels lost a middle of the lineup hitter in Vladimir Guerrero (even though he struggled in 2009) and a lead-off hitter in Chone Figgins. How did they respond? They found a stop gap in Hideki Matsui and misjudged Erick Aybar’s abilities.

2010 has come and gone and the Angels find them back in the same position. This is unacceptable. Okay, Crawford wanted to go to Boston and Beltre apparently wants to simply go to the highest bidder. I get t hat. I understand that.

That doesn’t excuse the fact that Reagins has yet to do anything to improve the offense. At this point in time – it’s looking like the Angels will have to find some stop gaps for yet another season. It’s looking like Scott Podsedik and fill-in-the-blank might be the best option. There’s even talk of the Angels bringing Vlad Guerrero back.

While the idea of Vlad back in Anaheim might have some PR appeal, it makes absolutely no practical sense. The Angels have three DH’s in Bobby Abreu, Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera who are cleverly disguised as position players when in reality they’re little more than DH’s. Even staying at a Holiday Inn Express isn’t going to improve their defense any time soon.

What happens after this season? Well, let’s just say that unless you think the Angels can sign either Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder, things don’t look great. The free agent class of 2012 is not impressive.

Mean while, the window is closing for the Angels. Torii Hunter is not getting any younger and Jered Weaver and Kendry Morales are not too far removed from free agency. The time to improve the offense is now. Why now? Because a solid offense matched with the current pitching staff could be a dynamic combo.

If we have to sit through another season where the offense is dependent on “frenzy” hitting and not the long ball or at least doubles into the gap, it’s going to be a long one. A lack of offense puts pressure on the pitchers. That didn’t work out so well last season.

Again, the Angels are in a tough spot; more specifically, Tony Reagins is in a tough spot. He has a farm system that needs to provide depth and right now that system only has a hand full of top level prospects. Trading any of them would be detrimental to the long-term health of the organization. The free agent pool is dwindling and time is running out.

It’s time for some big boy moves. It’s time for some real strategic thinking and creativity. Is Reagins up to the challenge? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

Note to TR and Arte: Things look bad. Fix it. And while you’re at it, please don’t show us any fancy dance moves… where you dance around the issues with some cockamamie speech about how getting Kendry Morales back and a full season of Dan Haren is all the team needs. You can’t really sell that with a straight face, so don’t’ even try.

And just so I can feel a little better about my post today – I have a few things to say about Adrian Beltre.

Adrian – you’d be a great fit in Anaheim, but if you really want to come back to So. Cal then the ball’s in your court. If you don’t want to come and play in Anaheim for five years and $70 million – which is a very fair offer, you’re a fool. Yeah, I said it; a fool. You can sweat your brains out playing next to Ian Kinsler in that Texas heat for all I care. If you don’t want to be here, we don’t want you. Have fun playing in front a half empty stadium in the sweltering heat.

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