With Halladay likely heading to Philadelphia in a trade that will send Lee to Seattle, and with news from Boston suggesting that John Lackey is likely to sign with the Red Sox on some massively overpriced deal, the Angels front office is in their "danger zone."
This "danger zone" is where they start throwing money at aging, mediocre players in the hopes that this somehow gets them over the hump and back into the playoffs. Hideki Matsui is one of these aging, mediocre players. So is Jason Bay. So is Joel Piniero.
Instead of freaking out because everyone else seems to be improving, the Angels need to look at WHY everyone else is improving, and how they can parlay a year of missing the playoffs into another 5 years of contention.
Seattle brought in new management and offloaded terrible contracts, signed top-notch defensive players, and converted a couple players who had seen only part time duty into major league regulars. They succeeded with this approach.
Texas has been bringing up young talent acquired through years of losing following the A-Rod contract debacle that destroyed a once-proud franchise. They slowed down or ceased their terrible contract signings and allowed some of their talented kids to earn regular playing time. They are succeeding with this approach.
The Red Sox have a lot of money, and spend it on players who are usually worth it. They have succeeded with this approach.
My point is that the Angels are better off sitting on their hands if they can't get Halladay or Lackey. Bay is not a great player, and he's very average if forced to play the field. This sounds a lot like another old outfielder on the Angels, Abreu, and it's incredibly dumb to lock up a DH spot with an old Matsui when Abreu should be sitting in the dugout when the Angels are on defense.
The fans will forgive a bad year if it means the team has the payroll flexibility to pick up WORTHWHILE free agents at the end of next season, combined with solid performances from graduates of a relatively weak farm system.
Put down the phone, Reagins, and relax. If you can't get Lackey or Halladay, then your winter is over. Concentrate on scouting and let some of our miserable contracts expire. You'll have your turn to pick up legitimate stars next year.