The Angels cruised to 94 wins and their third AL West title in the past four years, but their season was surprisingly tumultuous. They had 13 players land on the disabled list -- six of them twice -- and the disruptions forced manager Mike Scioscia to write out 126 different lineups. The organization was also embarrassed by the revelation of a vermin infestation at the Angel Stadium concession stands.
The season ended with the disappointment of a three-game sweep at the hands of the Red Sox in the first round. That series, in which the Angels were outscored 19-4, was followed by the resignation of general manager Bill Stoneman. He was replaced by Tony Reagins, their 40-year-old farm director.
1. The Angels clearly need another power hitter to complement the superb Vladimir Guerrero, and figure to be in the middle of the Alex Rodriguez sweepstakes. Though Garret Anderson rebounded strongly to drive in 65 runs after the All-Star break (compared to 15 before the break), the Angels were forced to use Maicer Izturis, with 13 career home runs, in the fifth spot down the stretch.
2. They must figure out the working dynamic between Reagins, who is largely untested in the day-to-day business of running a baseball team, and Scioscia, who stands to get much more input into the decision-making process with Stoneman's departure.
3. With indispensable closer Francisco Rodriguez entering his final year of arbitration, it would behoove the Angels to wrap him up to a multiyear deal rather than risk losing K-Rod (averaging 44 saves the past three years) to free agency.
Even though owner Arte Moreno has shot down the idea of paying one player $20 million, A-Rod to the Angels makes too much sense for them not to pursue it. A Guerrero-Rodriguez tandem would be as devastating as David Ortiz-Manny Ramirez. Moreno has yet to deliver on his promise to Angels fans for a big-ticket addition, and he has the means to pay A-Rod, despite his protestations. If that doesn't work out, the Angels could make a play for Mike Lowell -- and Scioscia didn't rule out Barry Bonds at the right price.
In 2006, the Angels were reportedly on the verge of trading pitcher Ervin Santana and shortstop Erick Aybar to Baltimore for Miguel Tejada until the deal collapsed. Both Santana and Aybar are probably still available, although Santana's star has fallen considerably. He went from a team-leading 16 wins in 2006 to a 7-14 mark in '07 that included a 1-10 record on the road and a monthlong demotion to Triple-A. There are rumblings that the Angels could make a run at the other Santana -- Johan -- which would require them to dip deeply into their productive farm system, most likely starting with third baseman Brandon Wood. Chone Figgins' name always seems to surface in trade rumors and will again, especially if A-Rod is signed.
Wood is their prize prospect, and he has tremendous power potential (107 homers in 549 minor league games, including 43 in 2005). But Wood still strikes out too much (120 times in 437 at-bats at Triple-A). He will go to Mexico this winter to try to get a better handle on off-speed pitching, but is likely to start next year back in the minors. He hit .152 in 33 at-bats with the Angels last year. Rookies who could help at some point in 2008 include outfielder Terry Evans, infielder Matt Brown, and pitchers Jason Bulger and Richard Thompson.
Moreno is an aggressive owner, and he's no doubt frustrated by the Angels' seven consecutive playoff losses. If they believe that the only thing keeping them out of the World Series is one more big bat, the Angels could go hot and heavy after the biggest bat out there, Alex Rodriguez. The Angels, who like to have extra starters in reserve in case of injury, will probably go after another arm to augment their strong rotation, particularly if Ervin Santana is dealt. With Mike Scioscia having more input in personnel decisions, and the ultracautious Stoneman retired, it will be interesting to see if the Angels shake things up this winter.
Larry Stone is the national baseball writer for The Seattle Times. Click here to visit the Times' Web site.