Impending Angels Free Agents: Who To Keep And Who To Let Go?

Seeing as the World Series and baseball season in general is coming to a close, I thought I would throw my two cents in on each team’s soon-to-be free agents. I’ll start off with the AL West; the first being the Angels.

Joel Pineiro – After posting ok stats for a couple years with the Cardinals, it appeared he broke out in 2009, with a 15-12 record and a 3.49 ERA. The Angels then got him with a 2-year $16 million deal. In that time span, he’s gone 17-14, including a mediocre 7-7 (24 starts/27 games) record this year. In addition, his ERA was a 5.13, and his opponent’s batting average and WHIP was his highest in five years.

Thoughts/Prediction: After posting such mediocre stats the past couple of years, Pineiro will definitely not be receiving such a large, short-team conract, as he did with the Angels. He’s 33, so I don’t expect for him to receive a contract longer than 2 years. He’ll probably make $2.5-4 million next year, depending on where he signs. I can’t see any AL West teams taking him; in fact, I don’t think he should sign with an AL team at all. Since he had some success in the NL Central, I can see him as a middle-of-the-rotation starter for a team like the Cubs or Astros.

 

Fernando Rodney: During the same offseason, the Angels picked up Rodney for 2 years and $11 million. Despite converting 37 saves out of 38 opportunities with Detroit in 2009, the Angels decided to use him initially as a setup man. When then-closer Brian Fuentes was out with an injury, he then filled in, earning 14 saves out of 17 opportunities. But this year, Jordan Walden took over as full-time closer, converting 32 of 42 in saves, and earning an All-Star appearance in the process. Since then, he’s been unpopular with Angels fan and Rodney has been frustrated by his lack of appearances (39 games) to the point where has asked manager general manager Tony Reagins for a trade.

Thoughts/Prediction: It’s pretty obvious that Rodney will not be an Angel next year. Where he goes next depends on whether that team wants him as a closer, a setup man, a mix of both, or even just a relief role for that matter; it also depends on what roles Rodney will be willing to play; if it’s just closer, the list of interested teams may be rather short. That being said, he certainly has the ability to close games, as highlighted by his 2009 season. However, he did receive Tommy John surgery in 2003, suffered from shoulder tendinitis in 2008, and turns 35 in March. Again, with Pineiro, don’t expect a contract longer than 2 years. Depending on what role he’s given, his salary will fall somewhere betwen $2-5 million. I predict he’ll stay in the AL; if a closer, I can see him moving to the AL East, like Baltimore. If a setup man, I can definitely see him in Seattle.

Interest in Rodney all depends on what reliever roles he's willing to play in. He can be an effective closer sure, but just how many teams are interested?

 

Bobby Abreu (player option) – Abreu has certainly been a mixed bag. His average is about the same as it was last year (.253), but the power has dropped off considerably (from 20 home runs in 2010 to just 8 this year). Though primarily used as a DH, he did play 28 of his 142 games in both corner outfield positions and committed only 1 error. In addiion, he did have 60 RBIs despite his diminished power, and stole 21 bases. He turns 38 in March. His player option is $9 million for 2012 and has a $1 million buyout.

Thoughts/Prediction: This is a tough one with Abreu. Obviously, he’ll want to stay, considering he likes Scioscia, not to mention no club is going to offer even close to a $9 million buyout. The question is: How will he be used? His 2011 season indicates that any power he has is just about gone, and is no longer the .290 career hitter he once was, but instead a .250 hitter.  In addition, the influx of youth in the outfield (Peter Bourjos, Mike Trout, Jeremy Moore)) not to mention the fact they have Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter means Abreu will have few opportunities to start in the outfield, at all. However, his ability to steal bases, even at age 38, could mean continued work as designated hitter (though you have to consider where Kendrys Morales would fit in the lineup equation). I believe he’ll be used frequently in the lineup, but will be then traded midseason to a contender looking for that extra push (Abreu is the only oufielder that makes sense because Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells’ conracts are too large and last beyond 2012, unless the Angels eat up a good portion of either one of them).

 

Russell Branyan – An interesting 2011 for Branyan. After posting a career-best average of .250 and hitting a combined 25 home runs in 2010 for Seattle and Cleveland, he garnered little interest and signed a Minor League contract and Spring Training invite with the Diamondbacks. He was relased in May, and then signed with the Angels just a few days later. In a combined 68 games, he was 25-for-127 (a .197 batting average) with 5 HRs.

Thoughts/Prediction: The guy has plenty of power, but his horrible batting average and frequent strikeouts make people close their eyes when he comes up to bat. He does however drive a lot of walks, leading him to earn the nickname 3TO (which stands for three true outcomes; either he walks, strikes out, or hits a home run). He’ll likely receive the same thing he did last year: a Spring Training invite; in which he’ll most likely serve as a pinch-hitter for a team lacking major-league ready depth at either first or third base, with the occasional fill-in for DH (provided he signs with an AL team, of course).

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About Michael Desjardins

I am a sports writer for The Quinnipiac Chronicle, a panelist for the Q30 television show, "Bobcat Blitz" and a men's soccer beat writer for the newly-founded Quinnipiac Bobcats Sports Network. I am currently a junior at Quinnipiac University and am pursuing a degree in Broadcast Journalism.
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