What is your opinion of the A.J. Pierzynski signing?
MJH on accountability
Traded Ervin Santana to Royals for LHP Brandon SiskDeclined Dan Haren's $15.5 optionSigned Ryan Madson to a one-year, $3.5 million contractTraded RHP Jordan Walden for RHP Tommy Hanson from the BravesSigned LHP Sean Burnett to a two-year, $8 million contractSigned RHP Joe Blanton to a two-year, $15 million contractSigned OF Josh Hamilton to a 5-year, $125 million contract to replace Torii Hunter (who posted a higher WAR than Hamilton in 2012)
So the Angels now have a much improved bullpen, and they also have an offense that will likely score more runs than last year with Torii Hunter gone but Hamilton hitting cleanup behind Pujols.
Trout CFKendrick 2BPujols 1BHamilton LFTrumbo RFMorales DHIannetta CCallaspo 3BAybar SS
But look at the rotation difference:
I'm sorry, but that's not a playoff rotation. Losing Hamilton to a division rival definitely hurts and will make their lineup that much scarier, but it's pitching that wins championships. Exhibit A: The San Francisco Giants, 2010 and 2012 WS Champs. I'm not of the opinion that the Rangers won't have a chance to compete in 2013. Like Jon Daniels, even though we've lost key contributors to playoff runs, I still like our club a lot, and I'm excited to see what some of our young players can do. With Michael Young off the roster they can be given an opportunity to go out there and perform. There's still plenty of time for the front office to make moves. I also think it's fair to say that the Rangers' rotation is quite a bit better than that of the Angels and has a lot of upside. The Cards, a year after leading the NL in runs scored, finished 2nd in the NL in runs scored and went onto the NLCS without Pujols and Berkman. So I don't think the team with the #1 offense in baseball in 2012, even after losing Hamilton and Napoli, will simply stop contending.
I hate the Angels, but I think they definitely look much better already.
As far as their hitting and fielding, their lineup should be scary good. The questioning of the size of the last few years of Hamilton's deal won't keep him from being a monster still in his prime for the first few years at least. Pretending he's anything but an incredibly talented hitter is just plain dumb, and we saw in Detroit what adding a basher to a fringe contender can do.
I agree with the idea that their starting pitching was underwhelming in 2012. They needed (if possible) to get better. But even though they haven't necessarily gotten better (yet), I don't buy that they've gotten worse than what they had at the beginning and through the bulk of 2012. Those starters (with number of starts) were1 Weaver (30)2 Wilson (34)3 Haren (30)4 Santana (30)5 Williams (15), Richards (9)
They still have 3/5 of that rotation, and are replacing Haren-Santana with Blanton-Hanson. Yes that's iffiness in, but since it's mediocrity out, it doesn't seem like a turn for the worse compared to what they had.
In addition, with Hamilton now on board, they have a surplus in the OF and may be able to swap the excess talent for some pitching. What kind of young, controllable and affordable quality starter could they land with Bourjos and/or Trumbo? And why wouldn't they be working at doing something like that?
But more important, while I don't think they have the best bullpen lined up, it;s already shaping up to be much better in 2013. In 2012 their bullpen screwed with leads - and in so doing, with the heads of the whole team - all season long. No lead was safe. If you can't trust the bullpen to take the game home, it alters everything else you do.
As bad as that bullpen was, I believe every little bit of added potential there will have a ripple effect. My suspicion is that some added confidence in that bullpen is going to make them a very different - and much more daunting - team than anyone realizes.
People forget, though, how dominant Frieri was early after that trade and that guys like Hawkins and Downs played WAY over their heads early in the season (as did Frieri). So the bullpen did have overachievers at times.
I don't think anyone can look at the Angels and say they've gotten significantly worse, and I think most believe they've gotten better. Let's assume that the latter is true, and the Angels are a 95-win team next season. How will they achieve it? By dramatically overpaying in the long-term to achieve short-term wins. Their farm system is depleted, and they've got BIG money locked up in aging veteran players. Even most casual fans realize that this will likely bite the Angels big-time down the road.
The question for the Rangers is this: if other teams are overpaying long-term for short-term success, should the Rangers follow suit in an effort to stay competitive? Should they cash in some of their prospects for a boost in 2013? Should they let go of their cash to do the same? I think we'll find our Rangers somewhere in between before all's said and done, and that, IMO, is the more prudent approach that simply throwing long-term money away.
The rotation is about equivalent to ours, but that lineup is probably in a race with the Tigers for the best lineup in the AL.
You can't depend on waiting for the Angels wild spending to catch up to them. It won't necessarily happen that way ...but more importantly, even if it does, then the Angels drop back while some other team(s) overspend for a while. In other words, there are plenty of teams that can adopt the Marlins model of swapping a couple years of playoff success for 3-4 years of paying for it, with a different two or three or half dozen emerging every year to scoop up all the talent with overspending, without ever getting to the point that the conservative spending model is left to be the winner.
When it comes to deciding to spend, when you're close to having a winner already, those last few wins, while they might be a bit more expensive than you'd otherwise want to pay for, are difference makers. And winning right now rather than later is crucial, because the prime Ranger years for players like Beltre, Andrus, and Darvish are going to get away before we know it, as we wait ...and whoosh the window will be closed. They already lost the final opportunity to use the talents of Napoli, Hamilton, and so on in 2012 and now it's going to be even harder without them.
Ansel, your assumption is that the big spenders will win. I'd argue that there will be a lot of years in which the big spenders aren't crowned champions. Hell, how do you think the Rangers made two WS appearances despite having a payroll lower than the Yankees, Red Sox, and Angels? Further, how can we spend with the Angels or Yankees, anyway?
Yes, the Rangers will have to overspend at various points (either via trade or FA), but they have to do it on the right player. Does anyone believe Josh Hamilton was the right player to overspend on? I sure don't. Greinke? Yes, I would've overpaid....but we can't overpay enough to beat out a team like the Dodgers. Napoli? Nope. Elvis for Upton? Profar for Shields? I'd pass on that, too. If the right player isn't available, don't overspend.
You stay competitive long-term by fielding a team comprised of veterans and young players, making strategic moves (typically during the season) to improve yourself, and seeing what happens. And, of course, the offseason isn't even close to finished, so I'm reserving judgment.
From the Angels perspective, they are not really competing with the Rangers any more, they are competing with the Dodgers for star power of/in LA LA LAND. Scioscia will not see it entirely that way, he still views his opponents as the Rangers, As and Mariners, but it really is like a one-on-one pcikup game with Magic, so $$$$ becomes less relevant and therefore did not overpay for Josh, though the contract is structured to move him in his third year, but wait to 2015 to decide.
Teams do not have to over pay for talent, witness the Rays and the A's.
I agree that the Angels rotation problems are overblown. After Weaver and Wilson, their rotation was bad last season. Haren, Williams, and Santana had ERAs that ranged from 4.33 to 5.16. Yet they still won 89 games. They have what will probably be the best offense in MLB, an elite defense, a solid bullpen, and a rotation that is probably sufficient. Plus, they can trade Bourjos for another starter if need be. The possiblity always exists that they will suffer key injuries. But barring that, I'd expect them to win close to 95 games.
As for the constant complaint that teams are "overspending" and sacrificing the future to win now, that's not necessarily true of the Angels. They have a big market and a new tv deal. It's entirely possible that they can maintain a much larger payroll than the Rangers. The Yankees have had the highest payroll in baseball for 15 years. During that time, they've consistently made the playoffs. They won 95 games last season.
And the Rangers didn't need to overspend to remain competitive this season. They needed to sign 2 of Upton/Swisher/Sanchez. That's it. JD aimed too high (Greinke/Hamilton) b/c he underestimated what these players would cost. Now, I'd imagine that he's scrambling to find a way to salvage the season. If not, our fate in 2013 rests in the hands of Profar/Olt/Martin/Perez. Those guys will probably need to contribute 8 to 12 WAR for us to reach 93 wins again. That's a lot to ask of a group of rookies. We'll see.
RFan, I agree with the notion that the Angels may not be "overspending" relative to their ability to pay. Yes, they're spending more than what most would consider fair value for the talent they're getting, but, as you indicated, they can probably afford it. The Rangers, IMO, can't afford to take that route.
You're also correct that the Rangers don't really have to overspend this offseason to remain competitive. I don't think they'd have to overpay Swisher, though Andrus-for-Upton is probably overpaying (though I'd strongly consider it). Sanchez would've been nice, I agree. But we might've had to overpay Sanchez to get him to pitching in Arlington, so I'm not sure the return would've worthwhile. Who knows.
If we want to be more certain that we'll be competitive in 2013, I agree that we need the rough equivalent of a Swisher/Upton in the outfield and a Sanchez in the starting rotation. Again, though, while many have thrown in the towel on the offseason, there are plenty of deals out there to get those types of players. Whether they do or not is up in the air. But considering the hefty prospect costs for guys like Dickey and Shields, I'm not holding my breath on bringing in a quality starter via trade. We shall see.
For those who replied to me ....1 - Regarding the concept that spending doesn't guarantee success, that's clearly true. 2 - But my point was about adding talent at the margins, especially when you are close but don't have enough - - the point being that there will ALWAYS be big spenders every season, so if you are positioning to wait out everyone for fear of overpaying, you will probably wait a long time.3 - While some smaller spending teams make the playoffs and even get to the WS, only once in the last 18 years has the ring been won by a team whose spending was in the bottom half (FLA in 2003) and only 3 other teams have made the WS (and lost) with a lower tier payroll (Colo in 2007, TB in 2008, Tex in 2010).4 - For all the acclaim of fielding a good team with a lower payroll and smarts, TB had just the one great year, and since then has missed the playoffs 2 years out of 4, and lost in the first round both times they made it. The As have been to the playoffs 6 times in 18 years, and have won a playoff series only once. Is that the model we want, as a sometime-in-the-playoffs team who gets ushered out early each time?5 - I'm not saying that you have to be the biggest spender in free agency to win, but when you're close, it's the one surefire way to ADD talent without sending away talent to get it and at some point if you envision yourself a contender, it makes more sense to overspend than to shy away. The Rangers team over the next few seasons will have whatever talent they now have, but they could have had that PLUS Hamilton and Greinke if they had been willing to spend more.6 - The attitude that Greinke and Hamilton couldn't have been signed is absurd. Both were leaning towards Texas as we went through the process, and both went elsewhere when it actually got down to money because the Rangers insisted on "team-friendly" deals for players who were positioned to get someone to take a gamble on their future. When it came down to check cutting time, the Rangers spit the bit.7 - I'm not saying the Rangers can't win without having spent big. But they have to be better in 2013. The best way to do that is to add more talent (free agency) while not having to give away talent to get it (trade). However, the players who are clear upgrades are now off the market, so it's a much dicier proposition (and perhaps expensive in terms of using talent in trade) as to whether they can get better in 2013...which is why I would have preferred they "overspent" on top talent when they had a chance.
I do not agree that the Angels 2013 looks better than the Rangers 2013, as curreltly consitituted.
I really don't understand the argument that "the Angels farm system is depleted AND four years from now their aging contracts will catch up to them." That doesn't help the rangers win at all in 2013 and 2013 is what matters. Will the performance of their AA team constitute their ability to win a championship in 2013? Of course not.while the Rangers may be in a better situation to compete in five years from now, that doesn't help them at all next year when the Angels are in a much better situation to win the WS.
I'd rather see the Rangers be competitive for a decade or so rather than go all-in for 2013. And besides, like I previously showed, the Angels rotation is NOT World Series caliber.
SilverSlugger, I understand where you're coming from, but when stated in such absolutes, I gotta disagree with both of your assessments.
"We're the guys playing for the long run so right now isn't that important" is the loser's excuse for failure. If you want to be a perennial contender, this year, next year, and every year has to be treated as The Year.
As for whether the Angels are WS capable with their pitching, no team is ever a lock, but LAA has the pieces.
First you need a team good enough to get into the playoffs. Check. (Arguably TB had "pitching capable of winning a WS" in 2012, and didn't even make the playoffs.So there's that.)
Then you need two pitchers who can (and do) win games regularly against other top teams. That's enough to carry you through the playoffs once you get there. Weaver and Wilson. Check.
Ultimately, the WS isn't an award for "best pitching staff." It's about being able to win games, some way or another. The Rangers could have won a ring if they only had a pitcher who could hold the Cards to 8 runs or less in game 6 ...and that's not some sort of requirement for ace-level performance.
The rotation is equivalent to ours? You're really low on Holland and Ogando apparently. I think Hanson and Blanton are a shade above replacement level.
The Rangers most certainly can take that route but they choose not to. Why forego flexibilty to allocate dollars (and no trade clauses) for pieces that have substantial risk and/or aren't elite pieces? It seems JD values flexibility AND premium asset allocation to position the team for continued success with the option to acquire elite tier talent at reasonable cost.
Why burden your budget for pieces like Hamilton or Greinke at prices that limit maneuvering for future acquisitions (re: Felix, Price Kershaw, etc free agency/extensions/acquisitions - those guys are premium talents and will be more than likely to be obtained via trade (Kershaw is a pipe dream but point still holds) with the additional benefit of having payroll flexibility to extend AND having the requisite talent on the team for them to make a significant difference on championship aspirations)?Not to mention those were absolutely ridiculous prices and contracts.
I may be alone on this but I see a much larger picture in which JD is trying to position the team for sustained success while prolonging the period in which the team has a realistic shot at the playoffs rather than paying a premium through free agency that only marginally increases the chances at the playoffs in the short run, all the while positioning the club to be able to acquire top tier elite difference makers that increase the probabilities of success in the short run without limiting flexibility to extend contracts to those proper pieces. I can actually see this. I trust in it. I'm not saying everyone needs to view it the same way, but at least give it some credence. It's not really about having faith, I believe JD doesn't cave in to public perception - he has a price point that falls in line with his long term goals and if it don't fit, he moves on.
No impulse buys, no deviating from his plans, and no real clues to the media. Ninja.
Bottom line is the players or the field need to produce. Last year Texas and LAA had the players capable of going all the way but they did not produce. It was felt Oakland did not have the right players but the ones on the field produced enough above what LAA and Texas did. The same with SF who won it all. It is that way every year in every league in every sport, the players must produce. All a GM can do is assemble the players that he feels have the ability to produce enough to win and then hope they do.
Txball said "The rotation is equivalent to ours? You're really low on Holland and Ogando apparently. I think Hanson and Blanton are a shade above replacement level."
That was written immediately after my post, but if it was meant to be addressed to me, you've misunderstood my thoughts.Because I think like you do, that barring the highly unexpected, Holland-Ogando should be better than Hanson-Blanton. (I never did comprehend why Wash refused to give an extended opportunity in the rotation to Ogando in 2012, especially as they were thrashing around for a 5th starter and getting lousy results. It was like he got so married to Ogando as his 7th inning guy, that he couldn't see the forest for the trees.)
Sorry, my fault. I have a bad habit of not addressing the person directly.
I read that they might trade Morales:
I'd assume for another starting pitcher if possible.
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