Purgatory Online

Friday, October 15, 2004

Okay, it's time to start talking about 2005.

Let's start with the 2004 payroll. Added up, the Angels spent $122.53 million on player salaries this past year. That includes non-roster players like Kevin Appier, who received an appalling $12 million for pitching badly for the Royals, and Raul Mondesi, who picked up a cool $1.75 million for a stint that was over faster than the extended version of The Fellowship of the Ring.

The Angels have consistently maintained that they are planning to reduce payroll in 2005. This would almost seem to be inevitable, given the chunk Appier made and the $8 million paid out to departing free agent Aaron Sele. Exactly how much the payroll will be reduced, however, has been the subject of speculation. From what I've read, the expectation seems to be that the Angels' 2005 payroll will be in the neighborhood of $90 - $100 million, though Arte Moreno has shown that he's not afraid to spend more if he feels he can get a good free agent.

The logical place to start, then, would be to make a list of the guys who are guaranteed money going into 2005. The Angels currently have the following players under contract:

Garret Anderson - $9.0 million
Bartolo Colon - 11.0 million
Darin Erstad - 8.0 million
Kelvim Escobar - 6.0 million
Vladimir Guerrero - 11.50 million
Jose Guillen - 3.50 million
Adam Kennedy - 3.0 million
Tim Salmon - 9.75 million

Those eight players will cost $61.75 million in 2005, and cover two starters, zero relievers, the outfield, first base, and second base. Salmon, of course, is in the process of undergoing two surgeries that are expected to sideline him for up to ten months. While I wouldn't be totally surprised to see him return in time to make a contribution as the designated hitter, this will probably not be until midsummer or later. The Angels will therefore have to decide whether to look for another DH in free agency, or fill that hole with someone already in their system, like Jeff DaVanon.

In addition, the Angels will almost certainly renew the contracts of certain individuals. The following dollar figures are approximate, and I'm not entirely certain about everyone's arbitration eligibility, but these should be close enough for government work:

Jarrod Washburn - $5.45 million. Washburn made that amount in 2004 after signing a one-year deal to avoid arbitration; I belive the Angels can simply renew it for 2005, after which Washburn will become a free agent. Any increase or decrease will likely be modest.

John Lackey - $2.00 million. I think that Lackey is eligible for arbitration this year. He made $0.38 million in 2004. I'm not sure what he'll get, $2 million should be close enough for our purposes.

Brendan Donnelly - $1.20 million. Another arbitration-eligible guy, Donnelly made $0.38 million in 2004.

Frankie Rodriguez - $0.50 million. The Angels can just renew his contract, which was $0.40 in 2004, but I'm guessing he'll get a modest raise.

Scot Shields - $0.90 million. Shields is eligible for arbitration, and made $0.38 million in 2004.

Kevin Gregg - $0.34 million, $40,000 more than the amount he made in 2004.

Jeff DaVanon - $1.0 million. DaVanon should also be eligible for arbitration this year. He made $0.38 million in 2004.

Chone Figgins - $0.40 million. Figgins is not eligible for arbitration, and made $0.32 million in 2004. With Adam Kennedy questionable for the start of the season, and Figgins being so useful this past year, his job should be pretty safe.

Jose Molina - $0.50 million. Molina may be eligible for arbitration, but I don't think so. He made $0.34 million in 2004.

Like I said, I'm not positive about the arbitration status of any of those guys (except Washburn), but we're also not dealing with a ton of money for any of them (again, except Washburn, and possibly Lackey). By my estimation, they come to $12.29 million, to which I'm going to add a 10% fudge factor and call it $13.52. That buys two more starters, four relievers, and three guys who can either come off the bench or start, depending on circumstances. Theoretically, most of these guys could just be released, or traded, but they probably won't be because they're relatively cheap. Once again, the exception is Washburn, but Washburn will stick around because it's going to be hard enough to find one starter, let alone two.

The Angels also have the option of bringing back David Eckstein at about $2.15 million (2005 is his walk year) and Bengie Molina at $3.00 million (undera club option in his current contract). Since the club has options at those positions, however, I'm going to look at them separately.

At this point, the payroll is at $75.27 million, and the Angels still need, by my estimation, a starter, two relievers, a shortstop, a third baseman, a catcher, and a DH to start the season. In addition, for reasons that should be obvious, the club may decide to release or trade Jose Guillen, which would open up another bench position, since that would probably make Chone Figgins or JeffDaVanon the everyday center fielder (with Anderson moving to left).

In the coming days, I'll take a look at the options the Angels will have to fill those positions, starting Monday with shortstop. Is Eckstein a lock to return?