Angels happy about not making any deals
The Angels left baseball’s winter meetings Thursday without a slugger such as Manny Ramirez, Todd Helton or Adam LaRoche, three of the players they had targeted in trade talks, but the week wasn’t a total loss.
The Angels didn’t lose closer Francisco Rodriguez or setup man Scot Shields. They didn’t lose starters John Lackey, Ervin Santana, Jered Weaver or Joe Saunders. They didn’t lose top pitching prospect Nick Adenhart.
“And we’re not at all disappointed with that,” General Manager Bill Stoneman said. “Shoot, we control that part of it. We have guys coming to us, other GMs, who say they know exactly what our position is, and you’re right on. We really do put a high value on pitching.”
So do those teams looking to deal with the Angels, which is why almost every trade they discussed for a power hitter would have cost them one of their coveted starters or relievers.
There was speculation that when the Angels signed setup man Justin Speier to a four-year, $18-million contract, they had enough bullpen depth to package the durable and versatile Shields in a trade for a big bat.
But with the cost of free-agent pitching skyrocketing, the high premium put on talented young arms, and the belief that a deep and effective bullpen is required for a championship run, Stoneman’s faith in his pitching staff seems even more resolute.
“From day one, I came in with a certain view of how to put together a winning club, and I hired Mike Scioscia, who had the same view,” Stoneman said. “We’ve been in agreement about that. Now, we’ve built the pitching staff to a point where we’re really happy with what we’ve got.”
There is still a chance the Angels could add a bat -- the Helton deal, which wouldn’t cost a front-line pitcher, is not dead, and with the Braves acquiring Seattle reliever Rafael Soriano, they may be more open to the idea of trading LaRoche without demanding a pitcher.
And there is still a chance the Angels will jump into the bidding for free-agent left-hander Barry Zito, whose signing would enable them to trade one of their young starters for a hitter.
“There are some things we wanted to do that now we know are not going to happen, and some things we want to do that could still happen,” Stoneman said. “We walk away from here with some good leads.”
And if the Angels walk into next season with the team they currently have, is there enough offense to win the World Series?
Perhaps, but that will take another big year from Vladimir Guerrero, injury-free and productive years from Garret Anderson and Juan Rivera, a repeat of 2006 from free-agent center fielder Gary Matthews Jr., and consistent production from infielders Howie Kendrick, Orlando Cabrera, Chone Figgins and whoever plays first base.
“Although we don’t have as much balance on the offensive side as you would like, we have the ability to score runs, to win games, with our pitching staff intact,” Scioscia said. “If you start to lose some of the key pieces of your rotation and the back end of the bullpen, you’re not going to find enough offense to win games.”
The Angels lost catcher Ryan Budde, who hit .233 with eight home runs and 33 runs batted in at triple-A Salt Lake, to Philadelphia in Thursday’s Rule 5 draft. The Phillies, who paid the Angels $50,000 for the pick, will have to keep Budde on their major league roster all season or risk losing him.
If the Phillies wanted to send Budde to the minors, he would first have to clear waivers and then be offered back to the Angels, who could reclaim him for $25,000.