Posts Tagged ‘John Lackey’

Seattle Mariners Lockup Felix Hernandez

January 19, 2010

The Seattle Mariners invested not only for 2010, but in their future last night.

According to ESPN.com’s Keith Law, the Mariners have signed ace Felix Hernandez to a five-year, $78 million contract extension. The deal buys out Hernandez’s two remaining years of arbitration.

"King Felix" got paid last night

First, kudos to the Mariners’ front office for locking up Hernandez. It always pleases me to see when teams lock up home-grown talent to long-term deals.

The Cleveland Indians started this trend in the early to mid-90’s and it’s great to see the trend continuing into the 2000’s. We have seen over the years teams like the Kansas City Royals (Zack Greinke), and most recently the Florida Marlins (Josh Johnson) lockup young talent.

Second, kudos for Hernandez for taking a home town discount. I know it’s hard to say to a guy he just accepted a home town discount at $78 million, but the reality of the situation is, he did.

$78 million for a guy of Hernandez’s age (23) and caliber, is a pretty good deal for the Mariners. Just look at all the pitchers who signed contracts similar to Hernandez’s over the last couple of years.

Derek Lowe – Four years, $60 million

Roy Oswalt – Five years, $73 million

AJ Burnett – Five years, $82.5 million

John Lackey – Five years, $82.5 million

Carlos Zambrano – Five years, $91.5

Now, all of these pitchers are pretty good. There is no arguing that. But, none of them at the age of 23, have accomplished what Hernandez has accomplished so far at the major league level and has the skill level of Hernandez.

Last year, Hernandez was 19-5 with a 2.49 ERA and struck out 217 in 238.2 innings of work. He also finished second in the AL Cy Young award voting to Greinke.

One could make the argument that Hernandez could have asked for a CC Sabathia (seven years, $161 million) or Johan Santana (six years, $137.5 million) like contract. But he didn’t and now the Mariners have Hernandez locked up to a reasonable contract for the next five years.

Now that they have Hernandez locked up, I wonder how this affects the re-signing of Cliff Lee? Lee is a free agent after this season and will be looking for a significant raise from his $5.75 million salary in 2010.

If the Mariners can lockup both Hernandez and Lee, then they will really have something going in Seattle.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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Starting Rotation: American League East

January 18, 2010

Update:

I would like to make a correction to this post. I would also like to apologize to Blue Jays fans for making this error.

Shaun Marcum will be starting for the Blue Jays in 2010, not Dustin McGowan. Both are coming back from injuries in 2009, but Marcum will get a chance to earn his starting rotation spot back in spring training.

Again, I apologize for this oversight.

Original Post

On the heels of our Starting Nine posts that debuted last week, I thought we would take a look at the other side of ball this week. This week, I wanted to take a look at each team’s starting rotation as presently constructed.

Like last week, each day I will look at one division in baseball until all the divisions are analyzed. And like last week, we will start this segment with the American League East.

The American League East lost one major pitcher this offseason (Roy Halladay), but also gained a pretty good pitcher (John Lackey). While the offenses in this division get most of the headlines, the pitching staffs are no slouches.

Here are the starting rotations for each American League East team as presently constructed.

New York Yankees

1. C.C. Sabathia, LHP

2. A.J. Burnett, RHP

3. Andy Pettitte, LHP

4. Javier Vazquez, RHP

5. Joba Chamberlain, RHP

Quick Take – The Yankees’ starting rotation got better in the offseason with the addition of Vazquez. He becomes a pretty impressive fourth starter. There is still some debate as to who will start in 2010–Chamberlain or Phil Hughes. I believe Chamberlain will start.

Boston Red Sox

1. Josh Beckett, RHP

2. Jon Lester, LHP

3. John Lackey, RHP

4. Daisuke Matsuzaka, RHP

5. Clay Buchholz, RHP

Quick Take – Beckett might be the No. 1 starter, but this staff is really led by Lester. He will be a leading candidate for the Cy Young award in 2010. Lackey gives this staff incredible depth. Look for Dice-K to have a bounce back year.

Tampa Bay Rays

1. James Shields, RHP

2. Matt Garza, RHP

3. Jeff Niemann, RHP

4. David Price, LHP

5. Wade Davis, RHP

Quick Take – This rotation won’t miss the highly overrated Scott Kazmir in 2010. Garza has really turned the corner and has developed into a very solid No.2 pitcher. Starting rotation will only go as far as Price and Davis take them.

Baltimore Orioles

1. Kevin Millwood, RHP

2. Jeremy Guthrie, RHP

3. Brad Bergesen, RHP

4. Chris Tillman, RHP

5. Brian Matusz, LHP

Quick Take – The Orioles acquired Millwood to mentor this young staff and to eat up innings. Tillman and Matusz are two top prospects, who will have to earn their stripes pitching in the very tough AL East. The Orioles need Guthrie to really step up in 2010.

Toronto Blue Jays

1. Ricky Romero, LHP

2. Scott Richmond, RHP

3. Brandon Morrow, RHP

4. Brett Cecil, LHP

5. Dustin McGowan, RHP

Quick Take – Any time a staff loses a pitcher of Halladay’s caliber, they are going to experience a major drop off. It looks like Morrow is going to start in Toronto, so perhaps he can realize his potential. Romero (and I think he is good) becomes the Blue Jays’ No.1 starter by default.

So that’s it for the AL East. Tomorrow, I will take a look at the American League Central, home of the reigning AL Cy Young award winner Zack Greinke.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

With The Events Of The Last 24 Hours, Met Fans Grow More Angry

December 15, 2009

It’s getting ugly for a baseball team in New York and it’s not the New York Yankees.

With the John Lackey signing and the potential Roy Halladay trade (I say potential because it is not official yet) taking place yesterday, New York Met fans are up in arms. Met fans are growing angrier by the minute.

Going into the offseason, I thought there were three teams whose offseason was more important than the other 27 teams–the St. Louis Cardinals, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and the Mets.

I’ll take it one step further with the Mets. I am going to say this is the most important offseason in the history if the Mets franchise.

Minaya failed to make a splash this offseason

The Mets need this offseason to wipe away the anger that Mets fans have towards this team after what happened last season. For most teams, the fan base gets frustrated with what the team does.

In the Mets case, their fans have a physical hatred toward this front office and ownership group. The Mets right now are viewed by their fans as a Mickey Mouse franchise.

Between what happened on the field last year, all the injuries, the Mets’ medical staff not being able to diagnose the injuries, the Tony Bernazard incident, the Omar Minaya-Adam Rubin incident, and all the issues with the new stadium the Mets were considered a joke last season.

Mickey Mouse franchises don’t work in New York. Just ask the New York Islanders.

The Mets needed to make a splash, not only to appease their fan base, but to help sell corporate tickets. Corporations aren’t going to buy season tickets or luxury suites to watch a mediocre Mets team in this economy when the Yankees are in town putting out a better product.

The splash the Mets needed to make was acquiring either Lackey or Halladay.

The Mets have an extreme pitchers park. The Mets need to be built on pitching, pitching, and more pitching.

The Mets could have sold or marketed Lackey or Halladay along with Johan Santana as the best one-two punch in the National League.

That would have sold tickets. That would have gotten people excited about the Mets because as we all know–pitching wins championships.

I don’t know if signing Jason Bay, Bengie Molina, and let’s say Jon Garland is going to help the Mets sell tickets in 2010. While Bay is a good player, he has zero marketing ability.

The Mets can try to sell people with the addition of those three players, plus a healthy Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes, they will be contenders in 2010. It’s a nice sales pitch or marketing ploy, but I don’t think the Mets fans are buying it.

Mets fans are too smart for that.

I don’t know what the rest of this offseason holds for the Mets. But what I do know their opportunity to make a splash this offseason went out the window with the events that took place yesterday.

The anger is only growing in New York.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Red Sox Officially End The Jason Bay Era, Sign Mike Cameron

December 15, 2009

The Boston Red Sox signing of John Lackey earlier today symbolized a coffin for the Jason Bay era in Boston. Tonight, the Red Sox put the final nail in that coffin and the final nail in the Jason Bay era in Boston.

The Associated Press is reporting that the Red Sox have signed OF Mike Cameron to a two-year, $15.5 million contract. Cameron will either play center field or left field for the Red Sox in 2010.

Cameron is the newest Red Sock

With the Cameron signing, the Red Sox have now signed my biggest bust of the offseason (Marco Scutaro), my best free agent pitcher (Lackey), and my best value signing (Cameron). And something tells me they aren’t done yet.

Let me talk about Bay here for a second. I like Bay. I thought he came to Boston in a very, very tough situation trying to replace Manny Ramirez and he handled himself better than I ever thought he would.

We will never know if he really wanted to stay in Boston. If he did, then he handled his position completely wrong. You can’t play hardball with a big market team who isn’t desperate to sign you. That just doesn’t work.

If Bay didn’t care about staying in Boston and just wants the most money possible (it sounds like that is the case) then he is doing the right thing. I don’t blame Bay for wanting the most money possible.

If some team wants to give him five years and $75 million then that’s fine. But as Theo Epstein has shown throughout his tenure in Boston, no one player is bigger than the organization–just ask Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe, and Johnny Damon.

As for Cameron, this is a very good value signing by the Red Sox. Yes, I know Cameron doesn’t hit for average and yes I know Cameron doesn’t walk–which almost seems like a mandatory requirement for any Red Sox player–but there a lot of things that Cameron does very well.

Did you know that Cameron had a higher WAR than Bay did last year? That is fascinating. Cameron had a 4.3 WAR and Bay had a 3.5 WAR.

The reason for this? Defense.

Cameron is a superior defensive player. If there is a theme with the Red Sox this offseason, it’s that they are trying to improve their defense across the board.

Improving the defense is the reason they want to trade Mike Lowell, who is a statue at this point in his career and improving the defense is the reason for the Cameron signing.

Cameron will either play left or center in 2010. I would leave him in center and move Ellsbury to left because Cameron has the better arm.

Cameron will be 37 in January and shows no signs of slowing down defensively. I am confident he can cover the space between center and right center in Fenway.

On offense, Cameron is not a liability in the lineup. He will hit around .255 to .265 with 25+ home runs and an OPS around .780. For a guy who is going to probably bat seventh in the Red Sox order, that is not bad at all.

The Red Sox had a very busy today and I am confident in saying they are not done yet. There is still a third baseman or first baseman to be had this offseason.

What ever the Red Sox decide to do in the future, one thing was sure about today–they got better on the mound with Lackey and on defense with Cameron.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

John Lackey Heads To Boston For A Physical; Deal Pending

December 14, 2009

When I woke up this morning, I had two things–I had a job and I had the idea to write a post titled–“If Jason Bay “Moves On,” What Will The Red Sox Do?”

By 2:00 in the afternoon, I was told I no longer had a job–at least until after December 31st and the Red Sox have perhaps already figured out how they are going to replace Jason Bay.

To be honest, not having a job after Dec. 31st, really doesn’t bother me that much. It clearly bothers my parents more. I guess even after you turn 30, parents will always be parents.

But not having a job will allow me to write more about baseball, which I have figured out is my real passion in life, start running again (between working and writing, I have gained a couple of pounds as my grandma pointed out last night), and of course find a better opportunity with a better company.

While I might be out of a job, John Lackey might not be out of a job for much longer.

Lackey is headed to Boston

According to Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse, Lackey headed to Boston for a physical today and according to SI.com’s Jon Heyman, the Red Sox and Lackey have a five-year, $85 million deal in place.

This is a very, very good move by the Red Sox.

Lackey is by far the best pitcher on this free agent market. I have always been a fan of Lackey and it’s not because he has seemingly been on my fantasy team every year for the past 10 years.

I think he is a workhorse, he is a gamer, and he is one of the toughest competitors in baseball. To get him for the same amount the New York Yankees gave AJ Burnett is a pretty good deal in my opinion. I always considered Lackey to be the better pitcher.

I think teams being concerned with his injury history is just silly.

He has never had major surgery on either his elbow or shoulder. Yes, he has been on the DL a couple of times over the last two years, but if I had a dollar for every pitcher who went on the DL during the course of the season, I would be a millionaire.

As I wrote in my free agent primer, the same people who say Lackey is injury prone are the same people who said Adrian Peterson was injury prone coming out of Oklahoma. It’s kind of silly.

The Red Sox figure if they lose Bay, their offense will take a hit. So if the offense takes a hit, why not improve other aspects of their team. The Red Sox counteract their weaker offense by having a dynamic starting rotation.

The Red Sox could go into 2010 with a starting rotation of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, and Daisuke Matsuzaka. That my friends, is as good as it gets.

I say “could” because the potential signing of Lackey does give the Red Sox options in their starting rotation. They could make Buchholz available to trade for a bat like Adrian Gonzalez.

As for how the Red Sox are going to fill their hole in left field? I think they have a couple of options.

I don’t think there is room in the budget for Matt Holliday and I don’t think the Red Sox were all that crazy about him to begin with. They could give Jeremy Hermida first crack and hope that he finally realizes the potential that once made him one of the top prospects in baseball.

The Red Sox could also sign someone like Mike Cameron for one-year and move either him or Jacoby Ellsbury to left.

The Red Sox have figured out a way to replace Bay by getting better in another area. Now I have to find a job and like the Red Sox hopefully improve myself.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Arbitration Roundup

December 2, 2009

For those of you who are not aware, yesterday at 11:59 pm est was the last day at teams could offer their free agents arbitration. Once a team offers arbitration to a player, that player has until Dec. 7 to accept.

A team would offer arbitration to a player–especially to a Type A or a Type B free agent because that team then would receive draft compensation as a result of that player signing with a new team.

A great example of this is what we saw this morning.

Since Billy Wagner signed with the Atlanta Braves and he was a Type A free agent who was offered arbitration, the Boston Red Sox will receive the Braves’ first-round pick (20th overall) and a supplemental pick in 2010.

Here is a list of the players who were offered arbitration by their current clubs. This list is courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors.

Type A Free Agents (10 players)

Chone Figgins

Figgins was offered arbitration by the Angels

John Lackey
Jose Valverde
Marco Scutaro
Mike Gonzalez
Rafael Soriano
Matt Holliday
Billy Wagner
Jason Bay
Rafael Betancourt

Type B Free Agents (13 players)

Justin Duchscherer
Rod Barajas
Joel Pineiro
Mark DeRosa
Adrian Beltre
Ivan Rodriguez
Marlon Byrd
Brian Shouse
Gregg Zaun
Jason Marquis
Brandon Lyon
Fernando Rodney
Carl Pavano

Yesterday was a good day for guys like Bengie Molina, Jermaine Dye, LaTroy Hawkins, and Kevin Gregg, who are all Type A free agents. Since these players were not offered arbitration and will not cost a first-round draft pick, they become much more attractive for teams to sign.

My predictions are that Molina ends up with the New York Mets and Dye ends up with the San Francisco Giants.

Yesterday was a bad day for a player like Rafael Betancourt. With him being a Type A free agent and offered arbitration by the Colorado Rockies, he is going to have a hard time finding work.

It’s hard to justify giving up a first-round pick for a middle reliever, who has been up and down for much of his career. My guess is he ends up back with the Rockies in 2010.

After Dec. 7, we will start to see the dominoes start to fall in the free agent market.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Free Agent Primer: What To Look For This Offseason

November 19, 2009

At 12:01 tomorrow morning, the free agent signing period begins in baseball. Will you see players signing with teams at 12:05 like in the NFL and NBA? No, you won’t.

This will be a very long offseason in baseball. Just like last year, you will see some quality players still available going into the month of February. And just like last year, you are going to see GM’s try to wait out players hoping to get their version of a Bobby Abreu deal.

With the free agent signing period just a mere 12 hours away, here is a free agent primer on this year’s batch of free agents.

Best Free Agent Starting Pitcher: John Lackey. The same people who are concerned with Lackey being “injury prone” are the same people who thought Adrian Peterson was “injury prone” coming out of Oklahoma.

Kind of silly.

Best Free Agent Hitter: Matt Holliday. Holliday is the best hitter in a weak free agent hitting class. I am not sold on Holliday being paid like a franchise player, but he will be.

Best Free Agent Relief Pitcher: Rafael Soriano. Soriano is only 30-years-old and is entering the prime of his career. 12.1 K/9 in 2009 is very impressive.

Biggest Free Agent Hitter Bust: Marco Scutaro. I am sorry, but I just don’t see it from this guy. He has been a scrub all his life and now at 34-years-old he is worth a mutli-year deal? No thanks.

Biggest Free Agent Hitter Bust II: Chone Figgins. This is Juan Pierre Part II. Some team is going to give this guy a four-year, $42 million deal and regret it from the first day. In the third year of this deal he will be a pinch runner off the bench.

Biggest Free Agent Starting Pitcher Bust: Joel Pineiro. Back in August I wrote about how teams should stay away from Pineiro. My feelings towards him haven’t changed. He has Jeff Suppan and Kyle Lohse written all over him.

Biggest Free Agent Relief Pitcher Bust: Brandon Lyon. If a team signs Lyon as an eighth inning, set-up guy, I have no problem with that. But if a teams signs him to be their closer, all bets are off.

If you go into 2010 with Lyon as your closer, you are pretty much telling your fan base we have no shot to win in 2010.

Perfect Match Most Likely To Happen: Mark DeRosa to the Philadelphia Phillies. When you look at the Phillies team and then you look at the type of player DeRosa is, this is a perfect match. DeRosa is a “baseball player” and on a team filled with “baseball players,” DeRosa fits in perfectly.

Perfect Match Most Likely NOT To Happen: Orlando Hudson to the New York Mets. Hudson wanted to play for the Mets last year and it didn’t happen. He wants to play for them again this year and it won’t happen again.

Hudson is just what the Mets need, but since Luis Castillo and his horrific contract are holding down the fort at second base, Hudson will need to look for work somewhere else.

Biggest Free Agent Surprise: Jason Bay will not be back with the Boston Red Sox. As I told my buddy Odie, Bay is like the girl in high school who appears all sweet and innocent, but has slept with the entire football team.

Bay won't be a Red Sock in 2010

Everyone thinks because Bay is a soft-spoken nice guy and has thrived in Boston, he will just accept whatever Theo Epstein offers him and money doesn’t matter–not the case. I think Bay gets a five-year deal from another team and takes the years and the money and runs.

And I wouldn’t fault him for that.

Player Who Will Make The Most Money Who You Never Heard Of: Aroldis Chapman. Chapman is the 22-year-old Cuban defector, who is a starting pitcher and just happens to throw 100 mph. It looks like it will be a two-team race for Chapman’s services–the Red Sox and the New York Yankees.

This is Jose Contreras Part II.

Best Low-Risk, High-Reward Hitter: Xavier Nady. Last year, I correctly predicted that Russell Branyan would be the 2007 version of Carlos Pena–a journeyman guy, who finally gets a chance to start and has a big year.

Nady is that free agent this year. Let a small market team sign him to a one-year deal, let him play 1B/DH and watch him hit 30 home runs.

Best Low-Risk, High-Reward Hitter Part II: Troy Glaus. Glaus is relatively young at 33 and just two years ago hit 27 home runs and had an .856 OPS. Can he play third at this point in his career? Probably not.

But he can probably play first or DH and still be a power threat at a very low-cost.

Best Low-Rick, High Reward Pitcher: Ben Sheets. Sheets missed all of the 2009 season because of flexor tendon surgery. But Sheets should be 100 percent healthy by the start of spring training and I think could have an impact in 2010.

Remember, Andy Pettitte had the same surgery in 2004 and he has fully recovered from the injury. A team like the Texas Rangers would be wise to sign him to an incentive laden deal.

Pitchers Who Have To Stay In The NL In Order To Be Successful: Randy Wolf and Brad Penny. American League teams should really stay away from these guys. Hopefully both of these guys know where their bread is buttered and won’t pull a Jeff Weaver after the 2006 season.

Bedard won't work in New York or Boston

Big Market Teams Should Stay Away: Erik Bedard. Bedard just strikes me as a guy who would rather pitch in Kansas City and not be bothered than pitching in a pennant race in New York of Boston.

Worst Pitcher To Be This Offseason: Kevin Gregg. Gregg is a Type A free agent and he stinks. Very bad spot to be in.

Worst Hitter To Be This Offseason: Jermaine Dye. Dye is a Type A free agent, is 37-years-old, and can’t play a lick of defense. He is a DH in a strong DH market. I think it will be a while before a team looks at Dye.

Hitter Who Should Get More Love, But Won’t: Mike Cameron. Despite being 37-years-old, all Cameron is going to do is play a Gold Glove caliber center field, hit around .265, and hit 20-25 home runs.

Something tells me because of his relationship with CC Sabathia, Cameron signs with the Yankees on a one-year deal.

Pitcher Who Should Get More Love, But Won’t: Jon Garland. Why Garland was sitting the bench, while Hiroki Kuroda was starting playoff games for the Los Angeles Dodgers last year is beyond me.

I know wins for pitchers are overrated, but all Garland does is win. That does count for something. He is going to win games and pitch 200 innings. Teams could do a lot worse.

The Milwaukee Brewers would be smart to sign him.

Best Utility Player: Jamey Carroll. Great club house guy, who can play second, third, left, and right. Every team could use a player like Carroll on their roster.

Non-Tender Candidate Sleeper: Kelly Johnson. On December 12th, hundreds of players will not be tendered contracts. The sleeper out of this bunch–Kelly Johnson.

Johnson was put in Bobby Cox’s doghouse in Atlanta in 2009, but in 2007 he had an OPS of .831 and in 2007 he had an OPS of .795. He is a classic change of scenery guy.

You can find a full list of this year’s free agents here.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

A Perfect Fit: Bobby Abreu Re-signs With Angels

November 6, 2009

I wrote last week there were three teams whose future would be dramatically affected by what happens this offseason. Those three teams were the New York Mets, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

For the Angels, they are facing an offseason where their core group of players from years past and present were free agents to be. Chone Figgins, John Lackey, Vladimir Guerrero, and Bobby Abreu are all potential free agents.

With that many key free agents, the Angels have to figure out quickly, who is going to be part of their core group in the future.

Bobby Abreu

Abreu will be back with the Angels

Yesterday, the Angels made it clear who they want to be part of their core group for 2010 and for the future.

According to Ed Price at AOL Fanhouse, Bobby Abreu re-signed with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim yesterday. The deal is worth $19 million over two years with vesting option for 2012.

This was such a perfect fit for both Abreu and the Angels, that it was good business to get a deal done.

As we all know, Abreu took a discounted deal at $5 million to come to the Angels last year. For that $5 million all he did was hit .293/.390/.435 with 15 homeruns and 30 SB’s.

According to Fangraphs, Abreu’s value to the Angels last year was around $11 million. Thus making Abreu on of the best free agent bargains in baseball last winter.

But Abreu’s value to the Angels went beyond numbers. Abreu taught the Angels hitters how to be patient at the plate. He taught them how to work the count and how to look for their pitch more often.

Thanks to the Angels new found approach, the Angels led baseball with a .285 team batting average. Their team OBP also increased by 20 points from 2008 to 2009 (.330 to .350) thanks to Abreu.

Now the Angels have to figure out how to replace Figgins, Guerrero, and Lackey. Knowing how the Angels operate, I am confident in saying they will figure it out and make the best decision possible.

And one last note about this signing. Yesterday was a good day for Jason Bay and Matt Holliday. With Abreu now out of the way, Bay and Holliday are by far and away the two best hitters on the market.

Abreu’s signing only increases their leverage to teams who are looking for an offensive player.

Big Offseason Looms For The Angels

October 27, 2009

I was planning on writing my World Series preview and predictions today, but I think I am going to hold off for one more day. I want to wait until the rotations and rosters are set. I want to make sure everything is in place before I give my thoughts on the series.

As for today, I am going to write about the team I have written about the most in the past 10 months.

The New York Yankees? Nope.

The Boston Red Sox? Nope.

Perhaps the Colorado Rockies? Not quite.

Today, I will be talking about the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. I have written more articles that concern the Angels than any other team.

I guess that makes sense. I have been ripping Brian Fuentes all year, they are always active in free agency and trades, and most importantly–they had a great season.

I am guessing the Angels will be around the top talked about teams next year as well. And next year for the Angels began yesterday when they were eliminated by the Yankees in the ALCS.

There are three teams in my opinion, who face massive offseason decisions. The St. Louis Cardinals, the New York Mets, and the Angels.

Listen, every team faces offseason decisions, but these three teams face decisions that could set the course of their franchise for years to come.

Vladimir Guerrero

Vlad could be moving on this Winter

The Angels have a myriad of impending free agents. Vladimir Guerrero ($15 million), John Lackey ($9 million), Kelvim Escobar ($9.5 million), Chone Figgins ($5.8 million), Bobby Abreu ($5 million), and Darren Oliver ($3.7 million) all could be available for other teams this offseason.

For those of you scoring at home the Angels could lose their No. One starter, their leadoff hitter, their No. Two hitter, and their cleanup hitter.That is a lot to replace in one offseason.

The good news is that the Angels are also losing about $48 million in salary. Now what to do with that $48 million is the hard part.

My guess is that Abreu and Oliver come back and the Angels let Figgins, Guerrero, Escobar, and Lackey go. They should then put all of their resources into improving their bullpen and trying to sign an impact bat for the middle of the lineup.

As we saw in the ALCS, the Angels still don’t have that impact bat in the middle of the lineup that scares you. Kendry Morales and Torii Hunter are nice players, but they really don’t scare anyone.

Of course, Matt Holliday and Jason Bay come to mind for the impact bat the Angels need.

Hopefully the Angels will replace Figgins with Brandon Wood. I say hopefully because it seems the Angels are reluctant to give Wood a full-time job at the big league level.

I know he has a long swing, but Wood can hit 25-30 HR’s at the major league level.

Every team hits a “peak” with a certain group of players, then they have to rebuild or retool. The Mets peak was in 2006, the Milwaukee Brewers peak was in 2008, the Chicago White Sox peak was 2005, and the Angels peak was in 2008 as well.

The Angels were the best team in baseball in 2008 and that was their year to win the World Series. Now, they have to retool to get back to that point.

The Angels have more questions than answers going into the offseason. What ever the Angels decide to do, something tells me they will be one of the top teams in baseball yet again next year and I will be writing about them a lot again in 2010.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Game Six Of The ALCS Postponed

October 24, 2009

Game Six of the American League Championship Series was postponed to Sunday night at 8:20 p.m. due to rain. If necessary, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the New York Yankees will play Game 7 on Monday at 7:57 p.m.

The weather wasn’t that bad in New York City today. When I went out to get lunch around two, it was about 60 degrees and overcast skies.

But right now it’s drizzling and the weather is only supposed to get worse as the night goes on. Makes sense to cancel the game now instead of sitting through rain delays and having the game end at three in the morning.

The rain out slightly favors the Angels. If they win Game Six, Mike Scioscia can come back with John Lackey in Game Seven on three days rest if he chooses to do so.