Angels and Marlins Make Moves…Rangers Next?

by Alex “The Dors” Dorsky

It’s been one of the crazier off-seasons in a while, and most of the attention was centered around the same few teams.

As to the BIG move, I’ll admit I was wrong. I thought Albert Pujols would remain in St Louis, guessing that Arte Moreno would make a bid but St. Louis would match it.

The Angels ended up offering 10 years and $254 million, $34 million more than the Cardinals’ $220 million proposal, and Albert jumped ship. $3.4 million (15%) more per year is nothing to sniff at, but I think Pujols also preferred to move to the American League where he can transition to DH at the end of his career.

Yes, his numbers will drop in the second half of the contract as he rounds 40 and the Angels will probably be saddled with some dead money, but Pujols will likely remain one of the top two or three hitters in the game over the next 5 year.

I’m sure Angels fans are happy with the signing (and Moreno now understands why the Steinbrenners love TV revenue so much) and even happier that they’ll get to watch Sir Albert on his chase to break Babe’s then Barry’s record.

"Holy Crap, we signed who?"

The Halos also nabbed pitcher C.J. Wilson, who had limited success for Texas in the playoffs but put up great numbers over the 2010-2011 regular seasons. Wilson, Texas’ ace, will probably be the 3 or 4 in Anaheim as he joins Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana in an imposing starting rotation.

Anaheim is a bit weak on the left side of the infield, but Torii Hunter should keep rolling and if Vernon Wells returns to form or Kendrys Morales can finally return from a broken leg suffered in 2010, the Angels could reach 100 wins and lock up the best record in the American League. For you fantasy players out there, look for new catcher Chris Iannetta to put up solid numbers if he can secure the daily job, and for OF/1B Mike Trout (who struggled a bit at the end of last year) to fulfill his potential in 2012.

The Horn’s hometown Marlins also made a big splash during the winter meetings, coming away with prize SS Jose Reyes (6 years, $106 million), All-Star closer Heath Bell (3 years, $27 million), and accomplished LHP Mark Buehrle (4 years, $58 million). That’s $191 million and over $40 million per year. Buehrle joins stud Josh Johnson and Anibal “The Animal” Sanchez at the top of the Fish’s rotation.

The Reyes signing shifts Hanley Ramirez to 3B, so hopefully the petulant superstar can put his ego aside and just play baseball. If that happens, and Mike Stanton, Gaby Sanchez, and Logan Morrison continue to improve, the Marlins have a legitimate shot at the post season. Owner Jeffrey Loria showed he’s serious about opening his new stadium with a bang and playing with the big boys…at least this year.

The next biggest move might have been the Arizona Diamondbacks signing Trevor Cahill. The reigning NL West champs have to compete with the tough rotation of the 2010 World Series champ SF Giants. With Cahill joining Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, and Josh Collmenter, the Snakes look to have done the job. Both teams are somewhat offensively challenged, but a strong rotation goes a long way toward reaching the post season.

The Yankees and Red Sox have been surprisingly quiet. The Cubs’ attention has been focused on their new President Theo Epstein.

Prince Fielder is still on the market, but there aren’t many other impact players looking for homes.

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like it’s been a long time since AL East teams weren’t the ones hogging the headlines during the winter meetings. But then the Rangers went and threw $51.7 million at a Japanese club, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, for the rights to negotiate with the best pitcher in Japan, Yu Darvish. They now have 30 days to negotiate a contract with Darvish, a  6’5″, 25 yr old right-hander with a reported repertoire of 7 pitches.

At least we don’t have too long to wait, as pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to camp on February 19, barely over 2 months away…

"Oh well, 2nd place ain't so bad"