Sunday, October 19, 2008

By David Saltzer - Columnist

As we plan for 2009, many Angels fans have wondered: What happens if we don’t resign Teixeira? While failing to sign Teixeira will be bad for us (we traded 3 years of Kotchman to get Teixeira), life without Teixeira won’t be the end of the world.

Without a doubt, the team that took the field in 2008 was the best the organization has ever fielded. Yet, it failed to go past the first round due to the lack of timely hitting and the lack of power. The team in 2008 needed another bat and getting that additional bat should be the focus of this offseason.

If the Angels go into the season in 2009 without Teixeira, they won’t need just one more bat—they’ll need two more bats to replace the offense lost by Teixeira. And, in 2009, we should be breaking Wood and Morales as regulars, and we will need to get the veteran hitters who can carry the weight until those two get settled into our lineup. This offseason, offense should be the priority and getting 2 bats will most likely require a trade and a FA signing.

In some ways, life without Teixeira opens up more possibilities than life with Teixeira. There are many directions Reagins could go. So, trying to predict his moves becomes much more speculative in a post-Teixeira universe.

The obvious target that Reagins should pursue is Matt Holliday. He’s a comparable hitter who is just now entering into his prime. While not as powerful as Teixeira, he has more speed and would make a great #3 hitter to get on base in front of Vlad. He would be the most comparable slugger available and the most able to fill the hole left by Teixeira.

The risk, of course, is that Holliday will be a FA at the end of 2009. Any trade involving Holliday would need to include a window to sign him long-term. We can’t afford to risk losing all that it would cost to land him for just 1 year. And, with Boras as his agent, odds are high that he will push us by declaring himself a FA next year.

To land Holliday, it would most likely take a combination of Nick Adenhart, Anthony Ortega, Mark Trumbo, Peter Bourjos and Sean Rodriguez. That’s a lot to risk, but, Holliday is worth it.

Beyond Holliday, we would need to sign another FA slugger. We need another hitter capable of an 850 OPS. Without Teixeira, Kendry Morales will most likely takeover 1B, so, that means we will have a hole open for another OF/DH type. While Dunn and Burrell have been tossed around, it would require us to convince one to split time between RH and the DH spot rather than their customary spot in LF. Between the two, I’d prefer Adam Dunn, as he’d bring a left-handed bat with more power and fewer health issues.

While many would like to see Manny here, I don’t think we can afford him AND Holliday, and frankly between the two, I’d rather have Holliday. He’s younger, faster and doesn’t bring the baggage with him that Manny does while playing better defense. But, if we got both, we would finally have the hitting and confidence to go deep in the post season. The only question with Manny is whether his offense is worth the headaches and his financial cost.

The one downside to pursuing Holliday is that it doesn’t give us much flexibility to pursue a 5th starter or to upgrade to another top-tiered starter and weakens a lot of our depth. However, with the offense, we’d still win plenty of games—enough to win the division—and would finally have the offense to go deep into October.

Another direction that Reagins could go is to pursue Prince Fielder. There have been rumors that he could be moved so that the Brewers could free up some money to pursue Sabathia. They have a prospect for 1B that they believe is ready and might be willing to deal him. If we did make a deal for Fielder, we could still afford to pursue a FA OFer, move Morales to the DH spot and still potentially have money left to pursue a pitcher to round out our rotation. While we couldn’t afford top-tiered pitching with the remaining money, we could get someone from the second tier.

These are only two of the many ways in which we could go in a life without Teixeira. Right now, there are rumors about Peavy floating around that could change everything. Other teams may have to make some moves depending on how they see the economy affecting their revenue. The possibilities are nearly limitless for us without Teixeira.

At this point, I still believe that we need to go for broke to sign Teixeira. Keeping him and adding another bat will help us move beyond the 1st round. While I believe that signing Teixeira, trading for a young bat and signing Sabathia is ideal, if we lose out on Teixeira, we could still win the weakened AL West by trading for a hitter and signing another FA slugger. At that point, we’d have enough pitching to win the shortened series and the upgraded offense to finally get past the 1st round. And getting this team past the first round has got to be the goal for this offseason.
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