It’s going to be difficult to top last year. The Jerry DiPoto era began with a few splashes. Albert Pujols signed with the mystery team. CJ Wilson went home. It was probably the craziest few days of my baseball consciousness. Those few days shaped my interest in covering the Angels, and here we are, a year later, ready for Papa Moreno to deliver another gift or six.
With that said, there are a few gifts that I think would make excellent fits for the Angels’ toy collection. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
Chien-Ming Wang, RHP
Wang has struggled in limited spurts since injuring himself in a freakish base-running incident way back in 2008. Since then he’s become even more reliant on his sinking fastball, but command issues have kept him from returning to his days of glory from 2005-2008, in which he had a GB rate over 55 percent in every season.
It’s unlikely that Wang makes it back to the 4-WAR player that he was in 2006 and 2007, but the stuff is still there and a healthy season of Wang could be a bargain for the back end of the Halos’ rotation.
Ronny Cedeno, MIF
The departure of Maicer Izturis leaves room for a middle infielder to step up and grab a utility role. Internally, Andrew Romine could be a solution to the problem, but the Halos might decide that they’re better off with a player who has a more extensive track record at the big league level.
Ronny Cedeno has appeared at shortstop in 575 games in his career, and at second base in 109 games. He has the ability to play adequate defense up the middle, and the stick has allowed him to hit .254/.301/.370 over the past three seasons. That won’t win a Silver Slugger award, but it’s more than enough for a utility middle infielder.
Cedeno is an appealing option to teams that lack depth up the middle, but he may be more inclined to search for a starter job, which could be available on a team that wants to allow more developmental time for a top prospect (Miami) or a team that could look to flip him for a modest prospect mid-season (Minnesota).
Sean Burnett, LHP
Earlier today, Mike DiGiovanna reported (via Twitter) that the Halos are one of eight teams interested in lefty reliever Sean Burnett. The 30-year-old had a fantastic season in 2012 after a disappointing 2011, and is clearly the top left-handed reliever in the market.
In 2010, Burnett began to command the strike zone better, bringing his walk rate under three per nine innings for the first time in his career. In 2011, Burnett’s K rate took a significant dip, but in 2012 his K rate was a career-best, striking out over a batter per inning. The southpaw also saw a spike in his groundball and left-on-base rates, respectively topping out at 57.4 percent and 84.6 percent.
Scott Downs is the only left-handed cog in the Angels’ bullpen, so an addition of Burnett would allow Mike Scioscia a ton of flexibility in the late innings, and could be enough to rectify the club’s bullpen issues entirely.
Still, the direction of the Angels at the Winter Meetings could be shaped by what happens with Zack Greinke. The right-hander could shape the market for starting pitching, but teams could also get tired of waiting for him to sign the dotted line. It wouldn’t be crazy to see a club spend it’s way out of the running for Greinke, and it wouldn’t be crazy if that club was the Angels. Together, several acquisitions could provide the value that a Greinke signing could.