January 15th, 2009
By Chuck Richter - Executive Editor
I'm going to take the opportunity to kick off the New Year with our second annual Ask Angelswin.com segment, primarily addressing questions regarding the Angels activity this offseason, or to a lot of the fans, the lack thereof. I had a chance to speak with an Angels official last night and I thought it was time to answer some of the burning questions that the fans have had this offseason. Since there are so many of the same types of questions, I will address them from the general audience, rather than answering the individuals who sent in the question exclusively.
Here are the three biggest questions I've read from our Ask Angelswin.com email account. Two of which were questions heavily asked in the final month of '08.
On to the questions and comments......
Q: (Angelswin Inbox) - Why don't the Angels use the $$$$ (160 million dollars) that was to be used on Mark Teixeira on an excess of other players?
A: (Chuck Richter) - When you go out to buy your dream house with a certain amount of $ that you've saved up for, will you settle for less and buy a bunch of smaller homes or will you settle for a lesser home and pocket the money, hoping you'll be happy with your purchase rather than being sure about the target home you set out for?
See, the Angels were set to make Mark Teixeira the highest paid player in the history of their franchise. Torii Hunter got wind of this and was excited at both the gesture and the amount of $ Teixeira was offered. Mark Teixeira knew 2 weeks before his decision was publicly made that he was going to sign with the Yankees, but choose to jerk around with the other teams, including the Angels, in attempts to drive up the New York Yankees contract figures.
Angels fans, including myself, have been barking about making a big splash at the trading deadline for years and when they finally do, they're getting heat because the player they acquired signed with another team. We asked for this, we got it. But the Angels are smart see, they said publicly at the time of the trade that they felt comfortable making the deal because they had both Kendry Morales (ready to step in) and Mark Trumbo (later) in the fold for 1B, should Mark Teixeira sign with another club in the offseason. They traded away their blue chip prospect and solid young player in Casey Kotchman to help their chances in October. It didn't work out, as the Angels didn't perform well in a short 5 game series against the Red Sox, but they had the team in place to win it all.
While Tony Reagins said he's always looking to improve the team and hasn't shut the door on any potential trades or signings, do not look for an Adam Dunn or Bobby Abreu to be signed, or a risky signing of Ben Sheets for the rotation, with all of the medical attention he's received over the years. The Angels were looking for Mercedes Benz when they sought after Mark Teixeira this offseason, not an '80 Ford Escort and a beat up VW bus that has seen the mechanic more times than the gas station attendant.
The Angels like the Tampa Rays of last year need to find out if their farm system of talent is major league caliber surrounded by a Championship caliber coaching staff, pitching staff and core of solid veterans on offense. If Brandon Wood or Matt Brown do well in Spring Training, expect Figgins to be moved to LF and share time there with Juan Rivera and the DH spot in the lineup. Expect Anthony Ortega, Nick Adenhart, Dustin Moseley or perhaps a surprise pitcher to show up in Tempe and take the spot out of nowhere.
One great player like Teixeira didn't guarantee us October wins. The Red Sox who looked invincible and beat the 100 win Angels' couldn't get past the young Rays and the highly acclaimed Detroit Tigers lineup and rotation heading into '08 didn't even finish in 1st place, but in the cellar in a weak AL Central.
Q: (Angelswin Inbox) - Why should I commit to season tickets in '09 when the Angels haven't shown us the fans that they're committed to winning in 2009?
A: (Chuck Richter) - As mentioned above, nothing is guaranteed, despite what the team looks like on paper. Most of the fans and sports writing pundits predicted that the '02 Angels were a last placed club.
Look, if you've followed the club through the 90's and endured, if you've witnessed the '02 club and hopped on the bandwagon thereafter, you should know that this is a different organization headed by Arte Moreno, Tony Reagins, Eddie Bane and Mike Scioscia. This is a club committed to winning & building within. A blend of young talent and veterans that we witnessed in '02, and from the Rockies in '07 and the Rays in '08.
If you like to watch Angels Baseball live at Anaheim Stadium, which is one of the finest venues I've been to, you're going to renew your season tickets despite the lack of offseason activity. Championships aren't won in the offseason, but on the field during the season and October. The best offseason to date for us Angels fans was in 2003-2004 when the Angels signed Bartolo Colon, Kelvim Escobar, Jose Guillen and later on in January, Vladimir Guerrero. The result in '04 was a 1st round exit. Get to the playoffs and anything can happen! The Angels are good enough to win 90+ games and win the AL West in '09 so make sure you're there at the stadium to witness some of the best Baseball played in the game orchestrated by one of the best managers in the game - Mike Scioscia.
Q: (Angelswin Inbox) - Why do the Angels and some of their fans look towards the 2002 club when giving an excuse that a roster of talent does not have to be great on paper? We all know that the 2002 World Championship Angels team will never be duplicated. It was a special club, a Cinderella story, not reality.
A: (Chuck Richter) - To respond to the last part of the question that suggests the Angels 2002 club was a Cinderella story that can never be duplicated again - that is a load of crap.
If that were the case, how many teams that were predicted to win it all in January or February every year, actually win it? That would mean, every season there is a Cinderella story right? Look, I'll take players that you put on the field that are hungry to win and impress their manager over high paid ball players who lack that same intensity and desire to excel and win (See the Yankees ball clubs over the years), since they had their big payday, any day of the week. Speaking of the Yankees and other teams with a high payroll that fail to get to the promise land every season, do they have the same type of team chemistry the Angels have had in recent years? Do they have the same grit and desire to not only earn a job on the major league roster, but keep it?
While the Championship ballclub of '02 was special to watch, they were hardly a one of kind club that cannot be duplicated ever again. Mike Scioscia manages the same and expects the same out of his ball players. The same ball players that will be headed to spring training next month. Ball players that Scioscia knows have the Championship caliber mentality, work ethic and talent that can get us not only to October, but another ring this decade.
That club had key rookies such as John Lackey, Brendon Donnelly and Francisco Rodriguez step up and be key players in a mixed roster of veterans to win a Championship. This year it could be Arredondo, Morales and Wood. Make sure you're not missing out in the action or struggling to get tickets once the red sea of Angels fans have filled the crowd with yet another successful campaign in 2009. Get your season tickets and excitement going NOW!
If you have a question, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org Please include your full name and hometown if you'd like your letter to be considered for use in an upcoming column. Also, please understand that we can't respond to every question. Ask Angelswin.com takes questions both on the Angels minor leagues & current players on the parent team, including your comments about Angelswin.com as a whole.