What’s next for the Angels?

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So, the Halos added a bit to their payroll today, committing $250 million to Albert Pujols and another $77.5 million to C.J. Wilson. Not clear at the moment is whether is they’ll have to make some tough choices to squeeze both in. After acquiring Vernon Wells, the Angels opened last year with a $141 million payroll, up from $121 million in 2010.

As for the 2012 payroll, the Angels opened today with $106 million committed to 11 players. Pujols and Wilson would add another $40 million to that if their salaries are constant throughout their contracts, but there’s a good chance those deals are backloaded somewhat. So, let’s instead say $32 million, bringing the total to $138 million.

The Angels have five players eligible for arbitration: Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick, Alberto Callaspo, Kendrys Morales and Jerome Williams. Those five should combine to make $17 million-$18 million in 2012, upping the Angels’ payroll to $155 million. Throw in another seven players making barely more than that minimum and that brings the total to $159 million for 2012. Which doesn’t seem like a completely unmanageable total for Arte Moreno. Still, the Angels could scale it back to $145 million-$150 million with a few moves. Such as…

– Non-tendering Morales – This looks like the obvious one. Morales missed most of 2010 and all of last season with a broken ankle, and while there’s some hope he’ll be ready for 2012, there’s no guarantee at all. Also, he happens to play the same position as Pujols. Non-tendering him would shave about $3 million off the payroll.

– Trading Ervin Santana – Teams were calling the Angels about Santana in anticipation of a Wilson signing. He’ll make $11.2 million next year, so he’s the one who would have to go if the Angels want to get back to a $140 million payroll. However, the whole point of signing Wilson was to give the Halos four great starters and the team still lacks starting pitching depth in a big way. I think he stays put.

– Trading Maicer Izturis – Izturis is a nice player, but at $3.8 million, he makes for an awfully expensive utilityman. The Angels could slide Alexi Amarista into his spot next year and save $3.3 million. With so many teams looking for an experienced backup shortstop, they might even get a pretty good prospect in return.

The Angels also have the option of trading Rookie of the Year runner-up Mark Trumbo, but since he’s making the minimum, that wouldn’t do anything for the payroll. If someone offers a quality reliever or a young starter for him, the Angels will surely listen. However, it looks like they intend to keep him as a part-time third baseman/outfielder/DH.

Joe Girardi won’t use Masahiro Tanaka in Game 7

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The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.

Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.

Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.

Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.