Don't count the Angels out on Lackey and Figgins

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CBS’s Scott Miller talks to Angels’ GM Tony Reagins who says that we shouldn’t assume that John Lackey and Chone Figgins have played their last games in Anaheim:

While that still could happen, Angels GM Tony Reagins said Wednesday that there’s “no question” the club intends to attempt to retain Lackey, as well as leadoff man Chone Figgins. Both are high atop the desirables this winter in a weak free-agent class. . .

. . . Reagins said the Angels have been in touch with Lackey’s representative, Steve Hilliard, since the season ended. “The communication has been good thus far,” Reagins said. “I think that’s what’s important.” As for Figgins, whom the Philadelphia Phillies and others have expressed interest in, Reagins says that there have been “positive lines of communication.”

I’m not sure why everyone has discounted Anaheim’s chances of re-signing Lackey and Figgins.  As of now, the Angels have a little north of $70 million in guaranteed 2010 money to Torii Hunter, Gary Matthews, Jr., Bobby Abreu, Brian Fuentes, Scott Kazmir, Scot Shields, Ervin Santana, and Juan Rivera.  They have 10 or so pre-arb players who made less than half a million last year. Most of them will get raises, but even then, that puts the team at, what, the $95 million range, tops?  Spare change rounds out the roster.

The Angels had a payroll of $113 million in 2009 and Reagins tells Miller that he expects it will be similar in 2010.  Assuming there’s at least a bit of give in those numbers, it’s at least plausible to suggest that the Angels could sign both Lackey and Figgins to long term deals without significant hometown discounts.  Yes, that means walking away from Vlad, but maybe the Angels do that anyway, covering the DH slot with Abreu and Rivera and whoever needs rest at any given time.  And let us not forget: Gary Matthews wants out of Anaheim. No, it’s not likely the Angels will find someone dumb enough to pick up a significant portion of his salary, but maybe a little of it goes away.  Crazier things have happened.

Maybe that’s a stretch, but they certainly could be players for one of those guys, and any hot stove speculation that doesn’t at least acknowledge Anaheim’s chances at signing either Figgins or Lackey — or maybe even both — is missing part of the story.

Ramón Laureano made an absolutely ridiculous play yesterday

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I talked about it in the recaps, but dear lord does Oakland A’s outfielder Ramón Laureano’s play in yesterday’s game against the Blue Jays deserve it’s own post.

Jays first baseman Justin Smoak led off the second with a single Then Teoscar Hernández then came up and hit a long drive to center. In what, in and of itself, would’ve lead the highlight reels yesterday, Laureano ranged back to the wall and reached over to rob Hernández of a homer.

Laureano is known best for his arm, though, and that’s when he unleashed that hose, attempting to double off Smoak at first base all the way from the warning track. The throw was not on target — indeed, it sailed way past first base — but that was itself impressive as all get-out. As A’s pitcher Brett Anderson said after the game, he’s pretty sure the throw went farther than Hernández hit the ball in the first place. The arm strength on display there was simply phenomenal. But it was also lucky.

Lucky because the throw went so far into foul territory that it gave Smoak the courage to break for second base. Laureano was not the only one playing great defense on the play, though: A’s catcher Nick Hundley backed up the play, got Laureano’s errant throw and fired it down to second, nailing Smoak. And heck, Hundley’s throw was nothing to sneeze at either:

That did not go as an outfield assist for Lauerano, obviously, as his bad throw — which would’ve been an error had Smoak managed to advance, we must admit — broke that up. So, in the books it goes as an F7 and then a separate 2-4 putout. Still, it just shows Laueano’s incredible defensive abilities, both with the leather and with that cannon he has for an arm.

An arm that, this play not withstanding, gets him plenty of assists. Indeed, he has has five assists this season already and has 14 assists in just 70 games, which is a lot. To put it in perspective, it usually takes somewhere between 12-18 to lead the league in a full season with 20 being an outlier of sorts, only seen once every five years or so.

So, if you’re gonna hit it to center against the A’s, make sure you hit it all the way out. And if Laureano gets to it, for god’s sake, don’t run on him.