Angels: Who Stays and Who Goes?
As the most interesting offseason of the Arte Moreno regime approaches, it’s time to take a look at the Angels on the bubble.
Who will stay and who will go? Here’s a quick look at the way I think it is coming down:
JUAN RIVERA — They owe him $5.2 million for 2011, but do they really want him around? He regressed at the plate this summer and his outfield defense was . . .well, embarrassing. Add the fact that he is the least energized player on the roster, and you have to think they’ll do everything they can to include him in a deal elsewhere. Verdict: Goes.
BOBBY ABREU — His offensive numbers were down and, yes, so was his performance in the outfield. But he still gives you 20 homers, 20 stolen bases and some big hits in the clutch. Besides, he’ll be in the second year of a two-year $19 million contract, and there will be a hole to fill at DH. Expect him to be the one to fill it. Verdict: Stays.
MIKE NAPOLI — He actually played fairly well at first base filling in for Kendry Morales, but that’s not the point. We all know what Mike Scioscia thinks of him as a catcher. He led the team with 26 home runs, but his batting average has been in the .240s and he’s been terrible with runners in scoring position. With Hank Conger ready to add his bat to a catching group that includes Jeff Mathis and Bobby Wilson, Napoli becomes the odd man out even though the club has him signed through 2011. The real key, though, is that he is the one chip GM Tony Reagins has that might be worth something substantial in a trade. Verdict: Goes.
SCOTT KAZMIR — Say hello to the worst trade acquisition of the Mike Scioscia era. If his contract were up, there would be no question that his future is elsewhere. But the Angels are still on the hook for — get ready — $28 million on his deal across the next three years. So they’ll try to shoehorn him back into the starting rotation, even though his 6-plus ERA and lackluster performances scream otherwise. Can you win with him as your No. 5 starter? Not the way he’s pitched this year. Doesn’t matter, though. Verdict: Stays.
HIDEKI MATSUI — He finished well and his numbers — 20 homers and 80-plus RBIs — aren’t bad. But that two month slump he had in the middle of the season was a killer. At his age, you have to doubt the Angels will bring him back, especially with Abreu now becoming a viable option at DH. Looks like all those Japanese writers who follow him around will have to move to a different destination next year. Verdict: Goes.
ALBERTO CALLASPO — Has this guy hit more than a couple of balls hard since his trade from Kansas City? I don’t think so. He has a good glove at third base and he doesn’t strike out much, but why you need him on a team that already has Maicer Izturis is beyond me. They’re basically the same player, although Izturis has a bit more pop. If the Angels can’t get Carl Crawford and go after Adrian Beltre, instead, in the free agent market, Callaspo becomes vulnerable. But he’s still under control of the team, although he is arbitration eligible, which is sort of funny. I mean, how much bargaining power can he have? If Scioscia pencils him in as his opening day third baseman, it’s a mistake. But it could happen. Verdict: Stays.
SCOT SHIELDS — He’s already talking retirement, which is good. It prevents the Angels from making a hard, but necessary business decision. Truth is, he didn’t deserve to be on the roster this season. But he’s pitched so well through the years and he is such a class act, Scioscia kept sending him out there. He is the finest set-up man in franchise history and one of the best in recent baseball history. If he leaves now, he’ll be remembered that way. Let’s hope he does. Verdict: Goes.
— STEVE BISHEFF