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Wednesday November 25, 2009 11:43 pm

Holes in the Halos need filling

Chone FigginsWith the MLB Awards now all handed out, the offseason can officially begin and teams can start re-tooling, re-shaping, or flat out re-building, and 2010 is already shaping up to be a huge question mark for the Los Angeles Angels. They have six players that have filed for free agency, some of which are among their best. Kelvim Escobar, Chone Figgins, Vladimir Guerrero, John Lackey, Darren Oliver, and Robb Quinlan are all on the open market looking for jobs, and the odds are that not all will return to the City of Angels.

Three of the six Angels who have gone on the market are Type A free agents in Figgins, Lackey, and Oliver, meaning if they are offered arbitration and sign elsewhere before Dec. 1 or decline arbitration outright and sign elsewhere, that team will give the Angels their first-round pick if it is not among the top 15 – otherwise their second round pick – as well as a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds. Should each of the players sign elsewhere, the Angels could stand to get a huge amount of early selections, but at the price of losing three Major League-proven talented players.

Lackey and Figgins will be among the most sought-after players. Lackey wasn’t at his best this year, but he did go 11-8 with a 3.83 ERA for the Halos. However, with teams drooling over Roy Halladay, Lackey’s future may not be decided for a while. Figgins, who is one of the best players in the game, had an excellent 2009; arguably the best in his career. His .395 on-base percentage, 183 hits, 114 runs and 42 stolen bases as the lead-off man will definitely catch a few eyes across baseball. Wherever Figgins ends up, he’ll be making top dollars. Guerrero’s season was marred by injury. He played in 100 games and hit just 15 home runs, his lowest total since 1997. His lack of production this year lessens his appeal to other clubs, but there’s no reason to believe that he’s done yet.

The Angels have already solidified their outfield by signing Bobby Abreu to a two-year deal. Defensively, they can match most teams in the league. It’s the pitching that they (as well as most teams) will be looking to upgrade. As for the situation at third, anything other than re-signing Figgins will likely be a downgrade, but it’s not as if the Angels can’t afford to re-sign him. Their operating budget was among the highest in 2009, and they’re clearly getting what they pay for. While the Angels now have some holes to fill on their roster, they’ll surely be just as good overall next season.

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