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PENNIES FROM Heaven
Phil Taylor
February 09, 2004
By spending many of his millions on prime free agents, new Anaheim owner Arte Moreno hopes to turn L.A. into the City of his Angels
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February 09, 2004

Pennies From Heaven

By spending many of his millions on prime free agents, new Anaheim owner Arte Moreno hopes to turn L.A. into the City of his Angels

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The only remaining question is, Did the Angels spend their money wisely? Colon is a power pitcher with an ace's stuff, but his 15-13 record and 3.87 ERA with the Chicago White Sox last year weren't ace's numbers. Some teams reportedly shied away from him because of concerns about his weight. Scioscia rates Escobar's arm as the best on the staff and believes he's on the verge of a breakout year, but in his seven major league seasons he has never been much better than a .500 pitcher. Guillen is coming off a career year (.311, 31 home runs, 86 RBIs), but the Reds weren't crazy about his hotheaded demeanor before they traded him to the Oakland As in July. Guerrero, a cannon-armed rightfielder, is one of the best all-around players in baseball—when healthy. A herniated disk forced him to miss 48 games last season, and although he still hit .330 with 25 homers and 79 RBIs, that was die main reason he stayed on the free-agent market as long as he did.

"The guy I question the most is Colon," says one American League scout. "He's getting ace money, but he hasn't really shown himself to be a consistent Number 1 starter. Guerrero is a gamble, but it's one worth taking. If his back holds up, he's worth every penny, but that's a big if. You'd have to make them favorites to win the American League West, but it's not hard to see how it could all fall apart."

The Angels are thinking more about how nicely it could all fit together. All-Star leftfielder Garret Anderson will shift to center to make room for Guillen, and with Guerrero in right, Anaheim will have arguably the most potent outfield in the league. Darin Erstad will move from centerfield to first base, replacing Scott Spiezio, who signed with Seattle as a free agent. With Colon and Escobar joining Jarrod Washburn, Ramon Ortiz, John Lackey and Aaron Sele, the Angels have an abundance of starting pitchers, which gives them the flexibility to make a deal if necessary.

Anaheim could also swing a trade to reduce its payroll, which is projected to be $110 million this season, $31 million more than last year's and about $10 million over what Moreno had targeted—not that he seems to mind. "He told me that it would be O.K. to go north of what we had planned," Stoneman says. The Angels appear to be headed in the same direction.

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