The Angels made a valiant effort in the ALCS, but they fell short against a superior team. I think that much was clear. Yes, I’m a biased Yankees fan, but I think that when you look at the whole picture, the Yankees were the better team and won in the end. Not that the Angels are a bad team. Far from it. Some people have argued that they were the second best team in the majors this year, ahead of any NL team, and while I don’t necessarily agree, I’m definitely receptive to that argument.
While their success in 2009 is undisputed, the Angels are a team in transition heading into 2010. They locked up Bobby Abreu, which fills a need, but they also have looming decisions on two key free agents, John Lackey and Chone Figgins. The Angels would suffer a big setback if they lost both their ace pitcher and leadoff hitter. They might be able to replace Figgins, though he’s definitely the best third baseman on the market, but they can’t replace Lackey with a free agent. So, it stands to reason that if the Angels don’t bring back their two guys, they could be a bit weaker in 2010.
Mike Scioscia is hearing none of that. At a fundraiser last night, reporters couldn’t help from asking the Angels’ skipper questions about the team’s future. Among them was a question about the Yankees “buying” another World Series title. Scioscia took the bait.
“I don’t care if the Yankees go out and spend $350 million next year, we’re going to beat them because we have the team,” Scioscia said.
Setting aside the near impossibility of spending $350 million on a baseball team, Scioscia might be speaking a bit too soon here. The Angels have some serious work to do this off-season. That’s not to say that they can’t field a strong team in 2010. Rather, it’s to say that if they don’t move to improve their starting pitching, they could be in for some trouble. Their rotation will consist of Jered Weaver, Scott Kazmir, Joe Saunders, and Ervin Santana. That’s just not going to cut it, not with the Rangers and Mariners improving.
Sure, managers have to stand by the strength of their team, but Scioscia went out of his way to make a statement about his. That’s fine, but in criticism of his statement, I don’t think the Angels are anywhere close to set for next season. Losing Figgins would hurt, as it would be difficult to replace him at third base and atop the order. But losing Lackey could hurt most of all, because it will be even more difficult to replace him atop the rotation. So no, as it stands, the Angels do not have the team. We’ll see what measures they make to build that team in the next few months.