Really, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim? For two years of Fernando Rodney's ball-throwing, walk-issuing style of pitching, you're willing to write checks that add up to $11 million? But the real news isn't the contract. As Sam Miller writes, it's where the contract seems to fit into the Angels' payroll:
- If this is accurate, the Angels’ payroll is now at roughly $113 million, same as last year. The Angels’ front office has previously said payroll would probably not increase this offseason, so — until we hear otherwise — that’s your 2010 Angels.
Rodney saved a lot of games last year, but his ERA was worse than Brian Fuentes’, and his career ERA is higher than average for a reliever. Bill James’ projection system predicts another ERA higher than 4 this year for Rodney. He does have a very good changeup and averaged 95 mph with his fastball in 2009, but has always struggled with walks.
I'm not wild about committing $11 million to relief pitchers who aren't Hall of Fame candidates, but it's not the money that's really an issue, nor is it Rodney's performance (which will probably be better in 2010 than it was in 2009.
What would worry me, were I an Angels fan, is that the front office seems to be paying Rodney for his 37 saves rather than his 4.40 ERa. What would also worry me is "that's your 2010 Angels."
Not that we should give up on the Angels. The American League West is still theirs until someone takes it, and we shouldn't discount the possibility that Scott Kazmir will fill in for Lackey quite nicely. Also, Kendry Morales, Howie Kendrick, Erick Aybar, and Brandon Wood -- presumably taking over for Figgins at third base -- are all still young enough to surprise us.
On balance, though, it's awfully hard to argue that this has been a good winter for the defending champs.