The Angels are a tough one, they have a lot of different ways to go and I'm going to break down everything a little more beforehand. I may start doing this for all the teams, depending on how time consuming it is.
Holes to fill:
LF, 1B, SP, RP
Potential major losses:
Mark Teixeira, Francisco Rodriguez, Jon Garland, Juan Rivera, Darren Oliver
Major Free Agents after 2009:
Vlad Guerrero, John Lackey, Chone Figgins
Gary Matthews, 3 years $33 million remaining, full no trade clause, can block trades to four teams in the final 2 years.
Kelvin Escobar, 1 year $9 million remaining.
Large arbitration increases:
Figgins, Wood, Aybar, Kendrick, Rodriguez and Izturis is more than enough to handle 2b, 3b, ss and whats left of DH after Vlad's 25-40 games and Hunter's 15-20 games. Kendrick and Figgins should each get consistent DH time as well an attempt to keep them healthy. I would strongly consider trading Figgins in season if the rest of the infield pieces perform well. I don't like trading him before the season starts as you will get more for him if he stays healthy the first 2 months of the season. There is still a giant hole at 1B, and Kendry Morales is not the guy to fill it.
Reggie Willits and Gary Matthews are both fourth outfielders. Vlad (30-40 games) and Hunter (15-20) should both be given more time at DH this season. I think Willits should be traded, and another OF worth starting brought in. Matthews can still play when Vlad/Hunter DH, and then after this season when his no trade clause is gone and his contract is short enough to be dumped he can be traded. Vlad's 30-40 games and Hunter's 15-20 games.
Their 1-2-3 of Lackey, Saunders and Santana is very formidable, I'm not sold on them needing an ace like Sabathia or Peavy. Besides, a 30 year old Lackey will likely command $18-20 million a year next offseason, as he's better than both Lowe and Burnett. If they would sign Sabathia, after Lackey's contract and arbitration increases from this season and next the Angels would have $50-60 million a year invested in the rotation alone in 2010, and they won't stay with a number than high. Signing Sabathia would force the Angels to either let Lackey walk after next season or trade Ervin Santana before his second arbitration. I don't think the risk of a $120+ million contract is worth being forced to lose a pitcher of that quality who costs significantly less. To me, a second tier starter makes more sense, leaving more money to spend on the offense.
Like most, I don't find it necessary to sign a big money closer. I don't mind giving Arredondo the closing duties, but I think they should at least add another reliable setup man if they do. Shields is getting up there in age and he threw way too many innings from 2003-2007 for a reliever. I'm expecting a drop off very soon. They will also need to resign Oliver or sign another lefty for the bullpen.
the moves to make:
1. Sign Mark Teixeira. 8 years, $160 million. No the terms aren't ideal, but they need one power bat for this season and another for the next season after Vlad leaves. They essentially must sign either Manny or Tex. I'm sure that the 10 year deal is just Boras starting the bidding high and it will only take 8 to get him. I'm making my bet that Teixeira is a better investment from age 29-37 than Manny is from 37-41. I realize this is a long and risky contract, but you have to overpay on the FA market for elite talents. If I was the GM, I would have given up the prospects it would have taken to get Miguel Cabrera from the Marlins and not be stuck in this spot to begin with. Not only that, but Cabrera is 3 years younger, so the 8 year contract that ends at age 34 would be much less of a risk.
2. Sign Ben Sheets. 3 years, $36 million. I realize there is a lot of risk in this deal as well but look at it comparitively. Is investing $36 million in Sheets safer than $60 million in Lowe or $80 million on Burnett? I think its a much better deal than overpaying for the top teir. Also, Sheets is really only a 3 or 4 on this team with Lackey, Santana and Saunders, you aren't relying on him as an ace like Milwaukee was and Nick Adenhart should be ready to step into the rotation this season if needed. You could probably also structure this deal in the 2 year $26-28 million range with a vesting 3rd year of $16-18 million reducing the risk.
3. Resign Juan Rivera. 2 years $14 million. I wanted a mid priced upside pick to play LF. Bringing Rivera back makes the most sense to me. I still see him capable of .280, 30 HR, 100 RBI seasons if he can stay healthy. Plus, he could move to RF next season after Vlad walks freeing up LF......
4. Trade Reggie Willits and Kendry Morales for a decent setup man. I'm too lazy right now to find a perfect fit somewhere but this deal could work. Morales is only ever going to be a platoon man against RHP, but his minor league resume and age still give him some value. Willits speed, versatility and age will make him useful to someone as well.
5. Resign Darren Oliver. They need the lefty in the bullpen. Bring Oliver back for chemistry.
No matter what moves the Angels make they will likely remain AL West favorites until the stacked pitching in Texas and Oakland's farm system starts making an impact in the big leagues. Even without adding the big money starter this team would have 5 starters capable of 15 wins (would any team have a 4/5 with as high of a ceiling as Sheets and Weaver?). More importantly, saving the money from not going after Sabathia, Peavy, Burnett and Lowe should make it possible to pursue Matt Holliday after next season when Vlad, Escobar and Figgins come off the books and Matthews becomes tradable.