With this season pretty much done, I think its about time to get a sneak peak into what the offseason might entitle and what this team might look like next year.
Here are some big questions going into the offseason.
1) What is the deal with Helton? Is he healthy? If he is healthy, can he be productive, or has he turned into Sean Casey?
2) Will one of Atkins or Holliday be traded? How about both? Any Long term Contracts for one?
3) Is Fowler ready?
4) What about the Rotation? Can Cook repeat? Can Jiminez build upon this year? Will Francis Rebound? Can one or more of Morales, Hirsh, Reynolds, Hynick be productive?
5) Do we resign Fuentes? If not can Corpas be effective as a closer again? Was Weathers a waste of a number one pick?
6) Second base?
Here is what I am thinking in respect to these questions.
1) Helton is probably 3 years away from Retirement, and I think their is a small chance that he retires this offseason. Small being less then 3% If he comes back and is healthy, I still think he is capable of being a .800 OPS hitter with a good walk rate and moderate power numbers.... a line like .280/.410/.430 is not out of the question I don't think. While thats terrible for a guy who makes 16 million a year, he can still be quite useful if used correctly. He's not a middle of the order type hitter anymore, but he can be useful in the number 2 hole or even the number 6 hole.
2) Atkins is a goner given the development of Ian Stewart and the fact that Helton is probably going to be back. I do think the team will make a run at resigning Holliday however and I can see something getting done. However I am not holding my breath.
3) No, Fowler is close but I don't think he's ready yet. I would like to see if Smith can handle CF full time, and I would also like to see Spilly get some playing time as well. By mid-season if Smith is holding his own, he can then become trade bait and bring in something useful, while Fowler slides in CF... just an idea.
4) I have long liked Cook and thought he was very under rated before this season. I think he is going to be effective next year, and a top three of Cook, Francis and Jiminez looks fairly solid. De La Rosa is ok as a 4, but I have my doubts that one of Hirsh, Morales, or Reynolds is ready. This is were the Monforts need to open up their pocket books a bit and get something better then Wells, Towers, et all.
5) Corpas will be fine, I think he was getting killed by BABIP earlier in the year and he should be fine. Take your draft picks and run.
6) Your guess is as good as mine. Baker and Barmes are nice little utility guys, but are not full time players. I think Ellis might cost to much... but I have a plan.
Here is what I would do if I was the GM.
The Angels have a guy who I thought was very unappreciated and could easily be thrown in along with a pitching prospect in return for Atkins. Something along the lines of
Walden or O'Sullivan
If we have to we can throw in a Barmes type.
Allow Spilly and Smith the Platoon in CF while Fowler spends time in AAA. (I am assuming the projections for Fowler aren't wonderful yet but feel free to correct me)
Trade Willy T, Baker, and Barmes for whoever wants them.
Sign the following Free Agents to something reasonable.
Russell Branyan - Could cover if Stewart slumps and could spell Helton when he needs rest... Branyan has always been a favorite of mine and could be a huge threat off the bench.
Rocco Baldelli - If he comes cheap (which given health concernse he very well could) he could be a nice buy low sell high type of player.
Cory Patterson - Again if he come cheap he becomes a nice little 4th outfielder with some pop in his bat and a good late inning defensive sub.
Oliver Perez, Bartolo Colon, Derek Lowe, Ryan Dempster, Freddy Garcia, Jon Garland
There are guys on this list I would rather have then others, but this is where we need to spend some money and get a solid number 4 type starter. If we stop wasting money on the likes of Vizciano and Wells, we might be closer to affording one of these guys then one would think. Anyways, this is how I envision the opening day roster after my tweaks.
1. Spilly/Smith CF
2. Helton 1b
3. Holliday LF
4. Hawpe RF
5. Stewart 3b
6. Tulo SS
7. Ianetta C
8. Izturis 2b
Baldelli or Patterson OF
4. One of the pitchers listed above
5. De La Rosa
So how many wins does that team project to? I think something like this isn't far out of the realm of possibility either. I would love to hear others thoughts and opinions on this as well.