Moreno is willing to open his wallet

Times Staff Writer

Two weeks ago, Angels owner Arte Moreno emerged from the team’s annual organizational meetings and said he wants to keep his 2009 payroll where the 2008 payroll is, about $124 million, which would make it impossible to keep this year’s roster intact for next season.

But Moreno amended those comments before Game 1 of the division series Wednesday night, saying he would be willing to go beyond his budget -- as he did this season -- for the right players.

How far the Angels go in October could factor into decisions; Moreno said a team can net an additional $18 million to $20 million in revenue if it reaches the World Series and plays close to the maximum number of games.


The Angels plan to make a strong effort to retain first baseman Mark Teixeira, who will be among the most expensive free agents on the market this winter; they’re expected to make a run at closer Francisco Rodriguez, and they could pursue pitcher CC Sabathia.

“I can bump the payroll to whatever I want to -- the question is, what do we want to accomplish, having the highest payroll or putting the best team on the field?” Moreno said.

“Objectively, you look at the revenue you generate and determine what percentage goes to payroll. We budgeted $114 million this year, and we’re at $124 million. We exceeded the budget to sign Torii Hunter and to add Teixeira.

“If we find a player that is going to fit in and help us get to the promised land, we’ll make adjustments. But I’m not saying, ‘OK guys, go get what you want.’ The object is to keep winning, and afterward, decide who should be on the team.”

Charged battery

Catcher Mike Napoli was the Angels’ hottest hitter entering the playoffs, with a .453 average (24 for 53), six home runs and 16 runs batted in during September, but Manager Mike Scioscia said Jeff Mathis will catch Ervin Santana in Game 2 on Friday night.

Mathis, who hit .194 with nine homers and 42 RBIs, has caught 189 of Santana’s 219 innings this season, with an earned-run average of 3.19.

Napoli, who hit .273 with 20 homers and 49 RBIs, caught only 25 of Santana’s innings, with a 4.68 ERA.

“From what we’re looking at on the defensive side, Jeff and Ervin have been incredible together,” Scioscia said. “That’s going to play out more in a game than the at-bats a catcher will get. There’s a significant difference with Mike and Jeff catching Ervin.”

25th man

The Angels haven’t carried three catchers regularly on their roster for years, but Scioscia said he seriously considered adding a third catcher -- most likely Bobby Wilson -- to his playoff roster.

But with shortstop Erick Aybar and second baseman Howie Kendrick recovering from hamstring strains, the Angels went with Brandon Wood, who can play shortstop and third base.

“Carrying a third catcher was something we put a lot of thought into,” Scioscia said.

“But you start putting together situations in games, what might happen, and the cost of carrying three catchers would probably prohibit us from doing some other things we might want to do.”

Korean import

It didn’t expand his payroll nearly as much as Hunter and Teixeira, but Moreno said he approved another addition to the budget this week, a 20-year-old pitcher from Korea.

The Angels signed Pil Joon Jang, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound right-hander, to a bonus believed to be in the $550,000 range.