Billy Wagner went to the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday, almost a surplus weapon for the best bullpen in the American League. The Angels, with an inexperienced and statistically poor bullpen, could draw the Red Sox in the first round of the playoffs.
The Angels had interest in Wagner but it is not clear whether they put in a claim when the New York Mets put him on waivers.
General Manager Tony Reagins, citing the confidentiality of the waiver process, would not say whether the Angels claimed the six-time All-Star. They could not have prevented the Red Sox from getting Wagner, since a player claimed by multiple teams is awarded to the team with the lesser record, and the Angels have a better record than Boston.
Aside from Fuentes and setup man Darren Oliver, none of the Angels' relievers has completed a season in which he did not pitch in the minor leagues. "Bulger and Jepsen have been in tough situations, and they have been successful," Reagins said. "We've seen times they haven't fared as well. That's a part of growing up at the major league level."
October can be unforgiving in that regard. The Red Sox have four relievers -- Hideki Okajima, Ramon Ramirez, Takashi Saito and closer Jonathan Papelbon -- with an earned-run average better than any of the Angels' relievers. Boston led the league with a 3.64 bullpen ERA entering play Tuesday; the Angels ranked next-to-last, at 4.84.
"I think what is more important is what our starting pitching does," Reagins said. "If our starting pitching gets us deeper into games, we can set up the bullpen in a different way."
Reagins was reluctant to discuss postseason play since the Angels have not clinched a spot, but he said he does not fear how his rookie-laden bullpen matches up against the Red Sox.
"The way I look at it is, they have to play against the Angels as well," he said. "That goes for the other contending teams as well. We have to play baseball the way we're capable of. If we do that, we'll be fine."
Call-ups? A few
Although rosters can expand to 40 next week, the Angels are expected to limit their call-ups and might wait to promote some players until after the minor league season ends Sept. 7.
"I don't know if there will be any huge surprises about the depth we bring up," Manager Mike Scioscia said.
"We're going to bring guys up who have a role here."
The Angels do not have a spare left-hander on their 40-man roster and appear unlikely to try top prospect Trevor Reckling, who has walked 70 in 130 innings at double-A Arkansas, in a relief role during the pennant stretch.
The Angels designated right-hander Shane Loux for assignment, clearing a roster spot for them to activate left-hander Joe Saunders. Loux, who turns 30 next week, went 2-3 with a 5.86 ERA, and opponents batted .343 against him. . . . The Angels assigned catcher Hank Conger, infielder Ryan Mount, outfielder Peter Bourjos and right-handers Bobby Cassevah, Jeremy Haynes, Tim Kiely and Tommy Mendoza to the Arizona Fall League.