Big Questions Await Angels

The Angles will be good next year, but the lineup may see some turnover.

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It has been three American League West titles in a row for the same core of Angels players. But Sunday night in the Bronx may have been the end of that run.

Vladimir Guerrero, John Lackey and Chone Figgins are all free agents. Bobby Abreu and Darren Oliver also can test the free agent market. In today’s unpredictable baseball market, saying the Angels can bring them all back is a long shot.

Next year's Angels are going to look different. How different is the question.

Lackey may be the hardest to keep, or at least the most expensive. He is a proven top of the rotation starter and a guy with playoff experience (this year in the postseason he made three starts and finished with an impressive 2.29 ERA). There are just not a lot of pitchers like that around, and top teams spend for them. Fortunately, the Angels (behind owner Arte Moreno) are one of those teams that can spend. This discussion could come down to how many years teams are willing to pay for — CC Sabathia got seven years, but would any team but the money-printing Yankees take that long-term a risk?

Guerrero is at the end of his first, big contract from the Angels. And if this is the end of his run here, let it be known his last at-bat was vintage Vlad — he swung at a pitch way out of the strike zone but flared it for a double down the line that drove in the last Angels run of the night.

There will be demand for his services, but he has motivation to stay — his mother has said she likes it here, for one. The question is how much will he get paid in this down economy? What is a fair price?

Then there is Figgins, the fan favorite who hit .086 through the playoffs and could be considered one of the goats of the series against the Yankees. Plus he is 32. But is Eric Aybar really ready to take over this role, or should the Angels bring back Figgins on a shorter deal.

Then there are guys like Abreu, who was here on a one-year deal and said he wants to return, and steady guys like Oliver.

This season the Angels were one of the best hitting teams in baseball, but their pitching — starting somewhat and the bull pen even more — was what let the team down. Those are areas the Angels may target.

With an owner like Moreno, the Angels are going to do what it takes to field a competitive team next year. A fourth-straight American League West title is a distinct possibility.

But what that team will look like is anybody’s guess.

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