Monday, January 7, 2008

By Eric Notti - Columnist

No, it's not the 80's all over again where we spend to pump prime the economy, but the same could be observed about the Angels offense. So far Reagins had traded and spent the roster to $125 million. Reagins has been given the go ahead to improve the roster but how far can he take it?

"Arte and I talk about a lot of things, and the most important is improving the club, bringing a quality product to the fans year after year. If something makes sense, we'll take a strong look at it." Reagins said in an interview back in October when payroll was around $100 million. Then the news broke that a deal at Del Taco cost the Angels $19 million more a year and Torii Hunter started putting Rally Monkeys on his shoulder. Afterwards Reagins was quoted as saying, “We're still looking at our club to see if we can improve. I like our club today. If Opening Day started tomorrow, I'd be ready to go.”

Evidently the rumor mill seems to think they are not quite as ready as they'd like to be and they are looking at trading for Paul Konerko with the possibility of adding also Joe Crede to play 3rd, creating speculation that Kendrick would be shipped to Chicago and Figgins moved to 2nd. Can they really afford the trade not just in talent but dollars?

Where is the ceiling for the Angels and what constitutes stepping into territory reserved once for Boston and the Yankees? If you look at the proposed trades for Konerko and Crede, that tier will be entered. It is not as though the Angels have been afraid to be big spenders the last few years but always they kept it within a budget reflective of their income potential. Last year the Angels reported a modest profit, something the previous owners were unable to achieve. How much payroll can be supported before they run red not just on the base paths but on the spreadsheet?

Konerko alone raises the payroll by another $12 million a year with Joe Crede earning in the $6+ million dollar range after arbitration. That is going to run the payroll into the $145 million dollar range and leave the Angels with two players from trades that will be free agents in 2009, Crede and Garland. Add into the mix Figgins will also be a free agent and the infield now becomes as expensive as any in the majors.

Is this worth the money spent and the additional cost after 2008 to keep either or both players (Crede and Garland) if they are productive? Calculating what the two would make combined could be in the $25 - 30 million dollar range driving payroll past the $160 million range. Where exactly is the end?

If the Angels stand pat with the infield of Kotchman, Kendrick, Aybar (Wood) and Figgins, the only free agent of the group is Figgins. Effectively the economics of keeping this infield intact is far less expensive than Crede's salary alone. Would the offensive gains outweigh the salary increase or will the Angels burden themselves getting older and maybe not more effective in the long run?

The stats for both players, Crede and Konerko, raise plenty of their own questions as do also the ceilings for Kotchman and Kendrick. A trade seems to indicate the Angels have less faith in their home grown talents abilities and a fear of Boston so great that they are willing to mortgage a future for a shot at the World Series today. Will the players and money invested result in a payoff?

All trades are a gamble but the proposed deals look to be a price tag that not even a billionaire will be apt to approve.
Love to hear what you think!


Christo P. Ney said...

Help me out. This is where I currently have the Angels' payroll.

With McPherson being dumped, a 25th man needs to added (25 man roster projected by me, not an expert on such matters).

Rodriguez's new contract, currently in preliminary negotiations, will most likely be modestly back-loaded.

2008 Angels payroll:


Hunter: $16M
Guerrero: $14.5M
Anderson: $12M
Garland: $12M
Escobar: $9M
F. Rodriguez: $7M (?)
Matthews: $9M
Lackey: $7M
Speier: $4.25M
Figgins: $4.75M
Shields: $4.25M
Rivera: $1.5M (?)
Oliver: $2M
Quinlan: $1.05M
Izturis: $.4M
Santana: $.4M
Kendrick: $.4M
Napoli: $.4M
Weaver: $.4M
Aybar: $.4M
Kotchman: $.4M
Willits: $.4M
Moseley: $.4M
Bootcheck: $.4M
25th man: $.4M

$108.3 million

With operating expenses at $11.5M.

A Figgins/Santana trade for Konerko adds $7M to the payroll, bringing the total to $115.3M, assuming the Angels don't add Crede (he's not seriously being talked about, according to most sources).

No contradiction, just asking.

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