So, it's Friday. The Winter Meetings are over. Last year, the Angels and Marlins got all the attention (and a fat lot of good that did them, but enough about that). This year, nobody got all the attention. Because nobody signed any premier free agents, and nobody seemed to change the balance of power anywhere.
There weren't really any big winners or losers. Or so they say. Still, I can't help thinking the Angels have taken a step backward this winter. So far, anyway. Here's a bit from Jayson Stark's wrap of the Winter Meetings:
Rival execs we surveyed praised their financial restraint in not forking over $160 million or so to Greinke. But in the end, is their team any better? There wasn't much sentiment that it was.
"When you're talking about Hanson and Blanton, I think you're talking about a collection of parts that's going the wrong way," said one NL exec. "There's no way Atlanta gives up on Hanson unless there's something wrong. He's going in reverse, I think. And giving two years to Blanton, I don't get that at all."
I have a semi-rule: I don't criticize teams for not spending money.*
* Even the Yankees. What, now we're going to complain they're not spending enough?
That said, it seems to me the Angels have had the worst winter. They've apparently lost Zack Greinke, and they have lost Dan Haren ... but could have kept him. Now, the Angels should know Haren as well as anybody, but he did pitch pretty well for them last season and his innings must be replaced.
Now, this isn't apples to apples. Whoever "replaces" "Greinke" is actually replacing "two months of Greinke", as actual Greinke didn't join the Angels until late July. But there are other innings to replace. Greinke and Haren are gone, and so is Ervin Santana.
Now, you might think "addition by subtraction" when you think about Santana, but he wasn't that bad.
Okay, yeah he was that bad. He gave up 39 home runs in 178 innings. Still, the Angels have to replace Santana's 178 innings, Haren's 177 innings, and Greinke's 89 innings. That's 464 innings. Here are the pitchers currently slated to replace those 464 innings:
You see the pattern there? Last season, anyway, three-fifths of the Angels' projected rotation was well below league-average. And two-fourths of that three-fifths was well below National League average. The other day in his Winter Meetings press availability, Mike Scioscia said, "We're going to have a strong rotation, with or without Zack."
That depends on how you define "strong", I guess. Jered Weaver's so good, and C.J. Wilson potentially so good, that the Angels should have, at the least, a decent rotation and perhaps even a good one. But as currently composed, the Angels' rotation isn't really a strength. It's sort of ... there: interesting because of Weaver, but nothing that the A's and the Rangers and the Mariners will fear (the Astros, maybe).
None of which means they can't win. The Angels are going to score a bunch of runs next season. The Rangers have problems of their own, at least until they sign Greinke or re-sign Josh Hamilton. The Mariners won't be competitive even if they sign Hamilton. And the A's will be trying to do something that few teams can.