There's certainly a lot to love about the Angels; more notes (cont.)
Abreu thriving in Southern Cal, a good spot for him
Abreu was shocked at his lack of market last offseason, but he should do better this time, especially with Scioscia calling him the team MVP (he would have been the ALDS MVP, too, if they gave those out) and others crediting him for making leadoff man Figgins much more patient. Figgins is going to make a lot of money as a free agent, thanks to his newfound patience. But it remains to be seen what Abreu's market value will be (it should be high).
The Angels opened contract talks, but the sides are thought to be far apart at this point.
Abreu had to take a salary cut from $16 million with the Yankees to $5 million when the market mistreated him last winter following his usual solid offensive season. He'd surely like to make something closer to his old salary, while some teams may try to get him with only a modest raise.
The Angels have been a nice team for him. There isn't a lot of harping about his reluctance to crash into outfield walls there, as there was in New York (in the long run, it's smart, as it has enabled him to play 150-plus games every year). And there's still appreciation for his offensive exploits. "Of course I want to come back and play with the Angels," Abreu said. "I'm enjoying it. I want to be in this situation. This is the team that gave me the opportunity."
The Brewers will try to sign star Prince Fielder to a long-term contract this winter. If those talks don't go well, it's possible they could consider trading him. However, it will probably be difficult to get fair value for him in a year when the ridiculously cost-efficient Adrian Gonzalez (who has two years left at $9 million) also is expected to hit the trade market.
Pitching guru Rick Peterson, who's close to Brewers coach Willie Randolph from their Mets days (they were fired the same day), was interviewed in New Jersey by Brewers GM Doug Melvin, reported Nick Cafardo in the Boston Globe. Ken Macha is returning as manager, but Randolph could be a candidate in the future.
There are rumors that the Astros might try to hire the vaunted tandem of Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan (those rumors were even mentioned here once). However, Cardinals insiders say La Russa does love the history of the Cardinals and presumably isn't quite as upset as Duncan about the whole Chris Duncan situation. In a phone interview a couple weeks ago, Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt expressed some optimism that La Russa would be back. Jim Fregosi, Tim Bogar and Manny Acta have been cited as favorites for the Astros job.
The Chicago Tribune is the latest to speculate that Reds GM Walt Jocketty might try to lure his friend La Russa to Cincinnati, which does make sense. But to do that, they'd have to pay off Dusty Baker's $3 million-plus salary, which seems like something of a long shot.
Red Sox assistant GM Jed Hoyer appears to be the favorite to replace Kevin Towers in San Diego. Jeff Moorad said in a recent phone interview that he'd like to have someone in place soon.
Angels GM Tony Reagins may have the busiest winter of anyone, with Abreu, Lackey, Figgins and Guerrero as free agents.
Billy Wagner performed well in Boston as an expensive rent-a-player and has said he has designs on closing elsewhere. But the closing market won't necessarily be to his liking. The Cubs could be one of the few big-market teams looking at closers, as could the Braves and his old Astros. He wouldn't discuss his future after his latest postseason disappointment. The Red Sox have retained the right to offer him arbitration, and have every expectation that he'll turn it down, since they have Papelbon (and Bard) to close, and Wagner relishes closing and wants to improve his career save totals for Hall of Fame consideration (he's currently sixth all time with 385).
If there's a Freeway World Series in L.A., Scioscia will be a rare manager to have a shorter commute from his house to the away games. The ex-Dodgers catcher didn't want to delve into all the possible storylines with a round to go, but he drives 75 miles daily from Thousand Oaks to Anaheim and would have to drive only around 40 to Dodger Stadium. (During the 2000 Subway Series, Joe Torre's commute to Shea Stadium was longer, as he lived in Westchester County.)
The NL West doesn't get the respect it deserves. The Dodgers' three-game sweep of St. Louis makes it three straight years that the NL West has swept the Central in the Division Series. There is a belief that there's a paucity of publicity because of the time difference. Hunter said simply, "The West is the best."
Forget all the other blown calls, has anyone else noticed that the umpires are wrong way too often on ball-strike calls? The strike-zone graphic illuminates the issues. Often, six inches outside is a strike, while the lowest couple inches of the strike zone is a ball. But please, no extra replay, and no robots making calls.
MLB Truth & Rumors