Angels owner shuts door on Holliday, weighs Bay

Leave a comment

moreno champagne.jpgAngels owner Arte Moreno gave the Los Angeles Times a bunch of quotes that illustrate where his team stands entering free agency.
*Reaffirming GM Tony Reagins’ quotes from a couple of days ago, Moreno said there will be no pursuit of free agent Matt Holliday:
“He is not going to be an Angel. We are not looking at Holliday at all.”
Moreno also made it pretty clear that free agent Vladimir Guerrero wasn’t in the team’s plans, but that Jason Bay, who reportedly turned down an offer from the Red Sox, might be.
*Moreno claimed the team is currently looking at $101 million in commitments for 2010, leaving the Angels not far short of their $113 million output from last season.
Guerrero, John Lackey and Chone Figgins are all off the books, but the Angels are currently at $76 million for next year anyway and it seems they’re currently accounting for $25 million in arbitration raises. Jered Weaver, Joe Saunders, Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick and Jeff Mathis are all eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter, and Mike Napoli and Maicer Izturis are all due raises. $22 million-$24 million looks like a reasonable estimate for what they’ll earn.
So, that’s $100 million. Add in $4 million more for free agent Darren Oliver or a similar replacement. If the Angels want to stay in the $120 million range, then they’re only going to be able to sign one player from the group of Bay, Lackey and Figgins.
The fact that the team is spending $22 million on Gary Matthews Jr., Scot Shields and the already forgotten Justin Speier doesn’t help matters.
*Moreno did suggest that the Angels could save money by turning third base over to Brandon Wood:
“Eventually, Brandon is going to get his 600, 800, 1,000 at-bats. He’s done everything he can in our minor league system. He’s been a very patient guy. … I can’t tell you he’ll be guaranteed a job. He’s one of the players that’s earned an opportunity to try to win a job.”
Given the Angels lack of payroll flexibility, it seems pretty likely that Wood will be in the lineup on Opening Day.

There is, indeed, an MLB-to-Portland group

Associated Press
Leave a comment

On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”

There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.

It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:

On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.

“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”

One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.

None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”