AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREChargers go winless in AFC West with season-ending loss in Kansas CityIs there anybody out there who can help the Angels knock a ball over the fence, or at the very least put one into the gap? Last year the rumor was the Angels might trade for Alex Rodriguez. This year, Rodriguez could be a free agent if he opts out of his Yankees contract. So even though Angels owner Arte Moreno has ruled out acquiring Rodriguez on more than one occasion, the rumors will persist. Now that the Angels offseason has started, let the winter of A-Rod begin. A day after they were swept out of the postseason by the Boston Red Sox, Angels players cleaned out their lockers and freely admitted that having some muscle on offense would have been nice. Whether it’s A-Rod or not, a proven bat is the desire. Even Manager Mike Scioscia, never one to stir up controversy, said he desires a 2008 club that could do a little more with one swing of the bat. BASEBALL: After an early postseason exit, the Angels know they could use another big bat. By Doug Padilla STAFF WRITER After proving for six months that a power bat wasn’t needed, all it took was three games in the playoffs to get the Angels right back to where they were one year ago. “Sure there’s a need, not that we can’t get it done in other ways,” Scioscia said Monday morning, wearing a sweat suit while lounging around in is office. “I think at some point our slugging percentage is something you need to address.” So there you have it. Moreno and General Manager Bill Stoneman have just received Scioscia’s Christmas list. There is no doubt Vladimir Guerrero has a similar list since he is the one that needs the lineup protection the most. “It’s not a secret we need a right-handed power hitter to protect our big guy Vladdy,” Kelvim Escobar said. “You saw (Maicer Izturis) for most of the time at the end of the year as our fifth hitter, and Izzy’s not a fifth hitter. He did a good job, don’t get me wrong, but when you see Izzy and he’s a little guy and you compare Izzy with the other (No. 5 hitters) and it’s not (the same).” The Angels prefer the free-agent route, but Scioscia said that avenue hardly looks promising. Rodriguez and agent Scott Boras are said to be looking for up to eight years and $200 million if they hit the market. So what else is out there? A power hitter at third base is the best fit. Of the free agents at third base this winter, the Red Sox’s Mike Lowell is the only proven run producer and the majority of his run production was in cozy Fenway Park. “I think if we are going to try to improve offensively, it’s most likely going to have to either come from within or from trades because on the free-agent market, I’m not sure there’s the impact guy you’re looking for,” Scioscia said. The proven third baseman that Angels could target in a trade are the Mariners’ Adrian Beltre and the Orioles’ Miguel Tejada, who is actually a shortstop who would be asked to change positions. Another option is to give the current group one more try. Aside from the oft-injured Bartolo Colon, all the starters are returning. Closer Francisco Rodriguez is arbitration eligible, but can’t become a free agent until 2008. On offense, every starter is either signed through 2008 or is under contract control of the team. The contracts of Guerrero, Garret Anderson and Orlando Cabrera all expire after next season. With better health, perhaps the Angels can be better at manufacturing runs thanks to the experience they gained this year. But counting on health is a big risk with guys like Anderson and Guerrero in the outfield. “A-Rod doesn’t grow on trees; Manny (Ramirez) and (David) Ortiz don’t grow on trees,” said Gary Matthews Jr., who missed most of the last month and the three playoff games because of injuries. “You have to go out and get it done with what you have. The bottom line, we didn’t get it done. “We won our division with what we had and I’m sure everyone would love to be healthy going into the playoffs. But how many teams are? Every team is aching this time of the year.” Now the Angels are aching to make an offensive upgrade and are sure to mash those A-Rod numbers through a calculator one more time. The Angels made in the neighborhood of a $6 million profit this season and that was with the ballpark full most nights. Giving out between $22 million and $30 million a year to Rodriguez would leave them in the red. Perhaps ticket prices, parking, food and even – gulp – beer prices all end up rising in upcoming seasons. The Angels will have to decide if a huge jump in payroll is worth alienating some of their fan base all in the name of getting further in the playoffs next season. “That’s not a guarantee to get you the World Series, but it definitely will give you more depth in the lineup, more power, more offense,” Escobar said. [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
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