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Friday, December 09, 2005

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT THE ANGELS TODAY
- A number of new possibilities mentioned in today's LA Times, the most intriguing of which is an Erstad-for-Javy Lopez deal. The O's would insert The Punter at first base and the Angels would make Javy a DH and third catcher. Both players are in the last year of their respective deals, and are due to make $8.5M, so the financial side is a wash.

The baseball side, of course, favors the Angels. Lopez's OPS+ the last two years is 117, whereas Erstad hasn't even surpassed 100 since his alien-infested 2000 campaign.

One thing the Angels are mulling, reportedly, is whether or not Lopez would be a real improvement on Juan Rivera. Per the Baltimore Sun (via Rob), talks have already cooled, and the Angels are the source of the frosting. This would lead us to believe that the Angels have concluded that Lopez isn't worth $7M or so more than Juan Rivera at this point.

I'm bound to agree. Last year I fooled around a bit with a projection system for batters ... it turned out okay, if not great. Here are my projections for Lopez and Rivera:
Player   AB   H   2B   3B   HR   BB   SO   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS+  
Lopez 458 133 26 2 22 31 82 291 342 496 117
Rivera 300 85 17 1 11 23 37 284 334 460 110
Though those should be taken with a mountain of salt, you can see that they project to be pretty close ... and part of Lopez's projection is his monster 2003, which I don't think he has a reasonable chance of repeating.

Of course, Lopez would just be replacing Erstad's salary, and he's probably a better use of that $8.5M unless Darin is still an unworldly center fielder with his glove. But Lopez wouldn't be a huge upgrade at DH and center would be weakened defensively if Figgins were to replace Erstad (which he'll have to do when Darin gets hurt, anyway). So I see why the Angels would be hesitant to pull this trigger.

- Two other DH candidates are mentioned -- Nomar Garciaparra, who has been oft-discussed, and Frank Thomas, who has been discussed heretofore only here, I believe. In the interest of completeness, and of making me look like an idiot come October:
Player   AB   H   2B   3B   HR   BB   SO   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS+  
Nomar 383 113 23 4 14 24 37 294 341 484 113
Thomas 276 69 15 0 20 55 65 249 379 526 134
I think a healthy Nomar (ha ha ha) could outperform that, and I'll set the over/under on Thomas' plate appearances in '06 at 200. But these are both intriguing guys, who could probably picked up for low cost but who could explode and reward their team with a high pay-off.

- As for lefty bullpen help, there is talk of JC Romero and Ricardo Rincon (maybe he will punch out Jim Thome!). Romero, in his four seasons of full-time relief, has an ERA+ of 153 in 275 1/3 innings -- a good number, but pushed up by a ridiculous 234 in 2002. He's probably a better bet for being in the 120 range, which is okay. He would cost the Angels a prospect, but not a marquee one, I would imagine.

Rincon, who perhaps the Angels could flip for Brian Giles, has been slipping the last few years, with his ERA+'s going from 131 to 127 to 104, a nice companion to a mediocre strikeout-to-walk ratio (1.45 the last three years). Like a lot of guys available this offseason, he's just kind of there, not terrible but not all that thrilling, either.

- The chances of the Angels acquiring Manny, which I never thought were high, are going down every day. With the BoSox in need of a shortstop and Miguel Tejada looking for a way out of Baltimore, it seems like there might be a match made in heaven for those two AL East clubs. Especially considering that, per the Times, the Sox asked the Angels for one of Escobar and Shields plus two of Brandon Wood, Howie Kendrick, Erick Aybar, and another minor leaguer in return for their overpaid malcontent DH who can't run the bases. I understand where Boston's coming from -- they have a remarkable hitter and want good value for him -- but that's crazy, especially considering the Angels don't need Manny and, to be honest, Boston doesn't need to trade him, either.

Comments:
I read somewhere that Frank Thomas' home vs. road power numbers are striking. Seems he doesn't hit with much power on the road anymmore.
 
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