It isn’t quite official, but it will be momentarily, but Chone Figgins, the Angel leadoff man extraordinaire, is about to become the FORMER Angel leadoff man extraordinaire as he defects northward to the AL West rival Seattle Mariners. But the pain doesn’t stop there. Losing Figgins doesn’t just cost the Halos their sparkplug but creates a domino effect that rips holes throughout the entire Angel roster. I think I speak for Angels fans everywhere when I say, “frak.”
I know, Chone, it is sad to not be wanted anymore.
The Angels decided to let Chone Figgins walk away, and let’s get this straight, they let him walk away. The Mariners did not sign Figgy to an exorbitant contract, so the Halos could have easily matched if they were so inclined, especially since Chone had expressed multiple times that LAA was his destination of preference. What they maybe didn’t count on though was that when Figgins left, he would leave a trail of destruction in his wake. The Halos now find themselves without a lead-off hitter, no left fielder (assuming Rivera is moved to DH as planned) and still without a fifth starter and a leaky bullpen. Oh, and did I mention that they have approximately $14 million to fill all of those holes? Yeah, not such a big fan of this plan.
So, let’s try and tackle these issues one a time. First, the lead-off hitter. The Angels do have in-house options like Erick Aybar, but none have the same level of patience that Figgins displayed or the ability to steal so many bases. Bobby Abreu could be moved to the top of the order but that forces the Angels to move one of their run producers out of RBI position. There are no real lead-off hitters on the market, other than the decrepit Johnny Damon, so the Angels are pretty much guaranteeing that they will be downgrading at the top of the order in some way.
As for left field, the plan all off-season for the Halos is to move Juan Rivera to DH on a more permanent basis with him occasionally relieving Bobby Abreu in right. Had Figgins stayed, Rivera could have remained in left with Wood taking over at DH or Figgins could have moved to left with Wood taking over third base but with Figgins hanging around as a nice insurance policy if it turns out Wood can’t cut it as an everyday starter. Instead, the Angels have no left fielder at all and no safety net for Wood should he flop. Just wonderful. Tony Reagins could try and sign someone like Jason Bay, but given his salary demands, that leaves Arte Moreno’s wallet empty to address the fifth starter position and the shaky bullpen. And forget about trading Juan Rivera in a package for Curtis Granderson because that only moves the roster hole from left field to designated hitter.
You two better have a plan after letting Figgy get away to a division foe.
Finally, the pitching. How could losing a third basemen possibly hinder a team’s pitching performance? I’ll tell you why, because Brandon Wood now must be an everyday player for the Angels and not a trade chip. There is no way that the Angels are going to be able to trade for someone like Roy Halladay without including Wood in the package and, of course, if they pick up Halladay, they won’t have the budget left to sign a decent starting third baseman to take Wood’s place (much less a left fielder or an additional reliever).
If there is any hope in this otherwise untenable situation is that the Angel front office isn’t dumb. They have to have a plan for how to fill these holes and use their remaining budget. Plans have a bad way of going awry, but it is better than no plan. I just hope it isn’t a plan that relies entirely promoting youngsters and nothing more.