Monday, April 12, 2004

Everything is magnified at the beginning of the season, and fans and observers are quick to panic over every small detail that goes awry.

Yes, Ramon Ortiz and Aaron Sele have already started their Arsenic/Anthrax routine. Yes, John Lackey looks like April 2003 Lackey and not October 2003 Lackey. Yes, Scot Shields is making a poor case for moving into the rotation right now.

But, for the most part, these are the flaws and pitfalls we knew about coming into the season. Ortiz, Sele, and Lackey got beat up by a good hitting team in a good hitting park. It's not the end of the world.

And the last week has seen many positives: Bartolo Colon earning his keep, Vlad hitting the sweet spot, Troy Glaus locked in and loaded.

On balance, absolutely nothing has happened in the first week of the season to alter my point of view on the club: that we should be a competitive team in a tough division.

(Still, I wouldn't mind picking up one more starter as the season goes on.)

In a link picked up via Rob at 6-4-2, comes now Bob Keisser of the Long Beach Press-Telegram to doomsay the Angels season -- by which he means next year. To wit:

"The big worry for Angel fans is the prospect of Arte Moreno having to settle on signing one of their two stars eligible for free agency next season, Troy Glaus and Garret Anderson. They're both indispensable, but having spent heavily in the offseason, he may have only enough payroll for one."

First of all, as Rob points out, we'll be rid of money due to Kevin Appier and Aaron Sele, which should clear up quite a bit. Remember, Appier is signed for $12 million this season, the bulk of which comes out of Arte's pocket, while Sele is earning another $8.5M. So right there we have another $20 million to spend, which we can either use to put Tom Cruise in a movie or distribute to Garret and Glaus.

Garret made an average of $5M a year over his expiring contract, and I wouldn't be surprised to see that double after this season. Glaus is at $9M this year, and a big year could push him up. Still, I can't imagine having to pay the two of them more than a total of $10M more per year, which still leaves $10M left over from the Appier/Sele fund -- $10M that can be spent on an extra hitter or a pitcher for the back of the rotation. Or, better yet, a combination of cheaper players who can pick up some slack.

(In addition, this may be the last year for Troy Percival, which would clear up an additional $7.5M. Even if he decides to come back, it would likely be for slightly less money.)

And this doesn't even account for the fact that Dallas McPherson and/or Jeff Mathis may be ready by this time next year, which could make some of the more expensive players expendable.

Arte's pursestrings are the last thing we should be worrying about. As for next year, we need to focus on how the minor leaguers develop, and whether or not Garret and Glaus will even be worth what money they demand. I love them both, but neither is truly indispensable, and Angel management has to keep their eyes open to that fact

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