They picked up the pieces
The loss of first baseman Mark Teixeira left a gaping hole in the middle of the order, but Manager Mike Scioscia is convinced the spackle-and-paste job General Manager Tony Reagins did in Teixeira’s wake will make the Angels as good or better in 2009.
“We’ve chopped up Tex into three pretty good ballplayers,” Scioscia said. “If you look at Brian Fuentes, Bobby Abreu and Juan Rivera, those are three guys we would not have if we signed Tex. I think we’re a stronger team now with more depth than if we just had Tex, and that’s going to be proven this year.”
Teixeira, who hit .358 with 13 homers and 43 runs batted in for the Angels after a July 29 trade from Atlanta, spurned the Angels’ eight-year, $160-million offer to sign an eight-year, $180-million deal with the Yankees in late December.
The Angels used the 2009 money allocated to Teixeira to sign Rivera, an outfielder, to a three-year, $12.75-million deal, Fuentes, a left-handed closer, to a two-year, $17.5-million deal and Abreu, an outfielder, to a one-year, $5-million deal.
The new first baseman will be Kendry Morales, a switch-hitter with 20-homer, 85-RBI potential.
Had the Angels signed Teixeira, they would have gone with either Scot Shields or Jose Arredondo at closer and Gary Matthews Jr. or Reggie Willits in the outfield.
“Fuentes gives us more versatility and balance in our bullpen,” Scioscia said. “On the offensive side, I see a deeper lineup and a stronger bench, which is important as you move through a season.”
Let’s make a deal
Steve Hilliard, the agent for ace John Lackey, was in Tempe Diablo Stadium to meet with Reagins on Friday, an indication negotiations on a contract extension for the veteran right-hander are heating up.
The Angels picked up Lackey’s $10-million option for 2009, but if the 30-year-old hits the free-agent market next winter, he would be the best pitcher available and could command a deal in excess of the five-year, $82.5-million contract A.J. Burnett signed with the Yankees this winter.
Lackey, 91-63 with a 3.81 earned-run average in six-plus big league seasons, is open to an extension but said he would like to complete negotiations before the regular season. He is believed to be seeking a deal in the five-year, $75-million range.
Another WBC casualty
Scratch Arredondo from the World Baseball Classic. The right-hander from the Dominican Republic suffered a strained left hip flexor last Saturday and pulled out of the event.
Arredondo, who went 10-2 with a 1.62 ERA in 52 games in 2008, returned to fielding drills Friday morning and threw a hitless inning in the Angels’ 5-4 exhibition win over San Francisco in the afternoon.
“It responded well [to treatment], but he doesn’t feel it’s where he wants it to be to go out there and compete,” Scioscia said. “He wants to stay here. It was his decision.”
Brad Coon provided an exciting finish Friday, crushing a two-run home run off reliever Billy Sadler in the bottom of the ninth to give the Angels a walk-off victory over the Giants.
San Francisco took a 4-3 lead in the top of the ninth when Ryan Rohlinger hit a two-run home run off reliever Jason Bulger. But Luis Figueroa led off the bottom of the ninth with a double to left, and Coon drove his game-winner to right.
Angels starter Dustin Moseley gave up two runs and five hits in three innings and remained in the game after being struck in the left wrist by Edgar Renteria’s one-hop smash in the third inning.
Center fielder Torii Hunter remained sidelined because of a sore left hamstring, but he said the injury is not serious, and he expects to play Monday or Tuesday. “It’s really minor, not even a problem,” Hunter said. “Put it this way: If this was the regular season, I’d be playing.” . . . Pitcher Ervin Santana, sidelined because of elbow tightness, expects to begin throwing “in a few days,” he said.