Footprints in the Snow is FanHouse's look at the paths to be forged by MLB teams this winter as they look ahead to 2009.
The Angels led the majors with 100 wins, but in hindsight they were something of a paper tiger, quietly bowing out of the playoffs in four games against the Red Sox. What happened? For starters, their lineup was exposed.
This is a team that ranked 10th in the AL in runs scored, and with the exception of Mark Teixeira, who did most of his damage with the Braves, no one on this team topped 100 RBI. The heart of the lineup (Teixeira, Vladimir Guerrero, Torii Hunter) did its job, but the supporting cast simply didn't support. Over the course of a long regular season, this team racked up wins thanks to a outstanding pitching staff, but in a short playoff series, cold bats killed this team's chances.
Arte Moreno is willing to spend big to keep his team in the hunt, but even his pockets have a limit ... right? Is he willing to break the bank to retain his own blue-chip free agents, Teixeira and Francisco Rodriguez, and throw his hat in the CC Sabathia sweepstakes? We'll have to wait and see.
It's too early to say for sure, but six Angels have filed for free agency: Teixeira, Rodriguez, Jon Garland, Juan Rivera, Darren Oliver and Garret Anderson. The team did lock up Guerrero for at least one more season by picking up his $15 million option, but talks regarding a long-term extension have been shelved for the time being. The Angels declined their $11 million option for Anderson, but it's theoretically possible he'll accept less money for a reduced role.
What do they need?
Bigger bats, especially if Teixeira leaves. Anderson's power has declined over the years but he continued to hit for average, so replacing him won't be easy, either. Stealing Manny Ramirez from the crosstown rival Dodgers would add punch, but going after a (slightly) more economical option like Pat Burrell, Adam Dunn, Raul Ibanez, or Milton Bradley might allow the team to fill the void in left field and pay Teixeira. Signing or trading for a new third baseman (Casey Blake? Joe Crede?) and bumping the speedy, slap-hitting Chone Figgins back to a super-utility role wouldn't hurt, either.
Scot Shields Jose Arredondo has also been mentioned
What will they do?
playing it cool with Teixeira Scott Boras (cough, Yankees, cough)