Los Angeles Angels: Jon Daniels

The Yu Darvish effect

January, 18, 2012
1/18/12
5:30
PM PT
The Texas Rangers were in need of a No. 1 starter after the Angels snatched C.J. Wilson from the top of their rotation. Wednesday they got their man, agreeing to a six-year, $60 million deal with the most dominant pitcher in Japan, Yu Darvish.

What does it say about the way the Rangers evaluated Wilson? They were unwilling to match the Angels' offer of $77.5 million, so they spent more than $111 million on his replacement?

Maybe it says more about the way they valued Darvish. The Rangers have scouted the Pacific Rim as earnestly as any team in the major leagues, with the guy who figures to start Opening Day for them, Colby Lewis, their most high-profile find until this Darvish deal. They had a scout at nearly all of Darvish's 2011 starts, according to ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett.

Darvish, 25, struck out 276 batters last year with a league-best 1.44 ERA. He throws seven pitches and has pinpoint command, according to scouting reports.

"We saw a guy that we felt was built to pitch innings and has a classic pitcher's build," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels told reporters. "He has a real commitment to his conditioning and work ethic. We think he can pitch innings at a high caliber for a large amount of time."

The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Darvish pitched in the 2009 World Baseball Classic and the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In his second year, he was 12-5 with a 2.89 ERA and 115 strikeouts. He's gone 93-38 with a 1.99 ERA in his career since then.

Pitching was a much bigger part of Texas' success last year than most people realize, with the Rangers' starters posting a combined 3.65 ERA, just a few ticks behind the Angels' staff, and they had to work in a much more hitter-friendly home ballpark. If Darvish transitions as well as Daisuke Matsuzaka did, he could make things surprisingly close again between the AL West rivals. Injuries and heavy workloads caught up with Matsuzaka, but according to Fangraphs.com's Wins Above Replacement stats, Matsuzaka lived up to his salary in the first two years of his six-year deal.

So what will the Angels do to respond? Probably nothing, according to general manager Jerry Dipoto as recently as Wednesday, which is reasonable considering owner Arte Moreno has already spent more than $330 million this winter. They'll take their chances behind a beefed-up offense led by Albert Pujols and a rotation featuring Wilson, Jered Weaver and Dan Haren at the top. Now they just have to hope Texas doesn't have the money to sign free-agent slugger Prince Fielder.

The Angels landed their blows early in this off-season fight. Now, they're in a defensive position, taking body shots and hoping to win on points in the end.

Keeping up with the Rangers?

January, 6, 2012
1/06/12
2:02
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The Angels' $330 million off-season spending spree has prompted many people to compare the dynamics in the AL West to the longstanding arms race between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox back east.

Now that the Angels have added Albert Pujols and plucked C.J. Wilson off the Texas Rangers' roster, they have to wait and see what moves the Rangers answer with. Texas has until Jan. 18 to reach a deal with Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish and it's still hanging around on the Prince Fielder rumor boards.

But general manager Jerry Dipoto insists that what Texas does between now and mid-February won't impact what the Angels do.

"What we do is control our own environment and try to put the best team on the field within the parameters and dollars left to spend," Dipoto said. "I'm sure the Texas Rangers and other teams feel the same way. You go out and try to put the best team you can put together without being overly concerned with what other teams are doing."

Besides, Dipoto has indicated he doesn't have much more of owner Arte Moreno's money left to spend anyway.

Of course, things can change quickly once the season starts. If the rivalry between the Angels and Texas is as good as many people think it will be, Dipoto and Rangers GM Jon Daniels could be the difference-makers as the July 31 trade deadline approaches.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Jered Weaver
WINS ERA SO IP
13 3.70 126 167
OTHER LEADERS
BAM. Trout .287
HRM. Trout 27
RBIM. Trout 89
RM. Trout 84
OPSM. Trout .928
ERAG. Richards 2.61
SOG. Richards 164