Halos not making big splash at Meetings
GM Reagins feels earlier improvements should be enough
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tony Reagins, general manager of the Angels, remained upbeat on Wednesday even though he was unable to reel in Florida's Miguel Cabrera after days of pursuit.
With the Marlins' big bopper bound for Detroit along with pitcher Dontrelle Willis, Reagins retained a confident posture when he was asked how his club stacks up against the World Series champion Red Sox, Yankees, upgraded Tigers and Indians in the American League power structure.
"Those teams have to play the Angels too," Reagins said.
Even if he leaves the Winter Meetings empty-handed on Thursday, Reagins is convinced the Angels are poised to play with the big guys and hold their own.
"The investment we've made has already been great," Reagins said, referring to Thanksgiving week additions of Torii Hunter as a free agent and Jon Garland, the latter at the expense of Orlando Cabrera. "We think we're in a position to contend, and not only contend, but win. We're committed and ready for the season to start."
Reagins said he did meet with the Twins on Wednesday but underscored his position on Johan Santana -- that the Angels never made a move on the Twins' great southpaw who can command a megadeal as a free agent after the 2008 season.
"We're not pursuing starting pitching," Reagins said. "We have six [starters] right now."
As for the the fruitless, complex Miguel Cabrera negotiations with the Marlins, who ultimately surrendered Cabrera and Willis for six prospects, Reagins was satisfied that he'd done everything within reason to acquire the 24-year-old slugger.
"We think we made a competitive offer that we felt was fair," Reagins said. "It didn't match up. It takes two teams to make a deal. If one of those teams doesn't see a fit, it doesn't happen."
Various player combinations were tossed around by the two clubs. A second player -- not Willis -- surfaced from the Marlins' end at one point. The Angels were willing to surrender players coveted by Florida, just not all of them in one deal.
"The proposals changed," Reagins said. "Proposal [No. 1] didn't work, and proposal [No. 2] didn't work. We provided a couple of good scenarios that we thought were fits and could get things done."
The focus on the weapon the Angels didn't land (Miguel Cabrera) seems to obscure the arrival of the big bat (Hunter) they did add to their arsenal.
The new center fielder has averaged 29.5 homers and 102.5 RBIs the past two seasons. Across six full Major League seasons, his numbers are 27.5 and 92.3, respectively.
"A lot of clubs would like 30/100, Gold Glove defense, tremendous clubhouse presence," Reagins said, referring to gifts Hunter brings to Anaheim from Minnesota.
Cabrera's four-year averages are 31.5 homers and 115.2 RBIs. He's an average defender at best, while Hunter is one of the game's premier center fielders.
Even if nothing tangible gets done before he departs on Thursday, Reagins feels groundwork laid during his first Winter Meetings as the club's GM made the trip worthwhile -- and could pay dividends down the road.
"Some of the things that have materialized are interesting -- and are going to need some more work," Reagins said. "They're still out there, still possibilities."
Avenues he's exploring, he added, are "not limited. If we could add some offense, we'd look into that."
Since winning the World Series in 2002, the Angels have claimed one playoff series, in 2005 against the Yankees, and are 4-13 in the postseason. They've lost their past seven postseason games, getting swept by the Red Sox this season after taking the opener and then dropping the final four in the 2005 ALCS against the White Sox.
Both those clubs, the Red Sox and White Sox, went on to win the World Series.
Angels fans are getting restless, focusing on offensive deficiencies in those two series. Reagins points to timing -- and injuries -- as elements that have come into play.
"History shows if you play well at the right time, you can get to where your goals are," he said. "Colorado -- ask them."
He was referring to the runaway Rockies, who won 21 of 22 before running head-on into the Red Sox in a World Series sweep. Boston had lost Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz to injuries earlier in the season, but both were healthy -- and deadly -- in the postseason. Their timing was perfect.
The Angels, meanwhile, fell apart physically in the season's final two weeks, dragging down the offense.
Vladimir Guerrero was diminished by several ailments. Gary Matthews Jr. was sidelined by a knee ailment. Garret Anderson (conjunctivitis) and Casey Kotchman (virus) were severely impaired, with Kotchman hospitalized when the Red Sox completed their ALDS sweep.
"We'll play them hard," Reagins said of the Red Sox. "We'll compete. With a healthy Vlad Guerrero, Garret Anderson, Gary Matthews, a healthy Kotchman ... I like our chances. Injuries are part of the game. You have to deal with them."
The arrival of Hunter and return to form of power-hitting Juan Rivera, after a broken leg cost him most of 2007, should give the Angels added protection.
"You can absorb injuries when you have that depth," Reagins said.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.