Now that it's been confirmed that Kendry Morales' ankle surgery will sideline him for the rest of the season, the flurry of rumors connecting the Angels to various available first basemen will only intensify. It's possible that the likes of Lance Berkman, Paul Konerko, or maybe Derrek Lee could be wearing Anaheim red before the season is out, but Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com has another suggestion: none of them.
Rather than give up prospects and money to pick up a big-name first baseman, Saxon thinks the Halos should instead use the resources to get starting pitching, bullpen help or a third baseman. Getting a first baseman wouldn't help the club get any further in the postseason.
"Even with, say, Konerko hitting home runs fairly regularly in the second half, was this team ever going to make any noise in October?" Saxon asks. "How do you like the Angels' chances against the New York Yankees again? How about the Tampa Bay Rays, even the Minnesota Twins? In their current incarnation, the Angels would be first-round fodder and, these days, their fans don't get too worked up about making playoff appearances. They have higher aspirations, and so does the organization."
Saxon doesn't say L.A. should wave the white flag on the season; indeed, it might be hard to do that given that a .500 record might be good enough to compete in the AL West. The Angels had won 12 of 15 games heading into today's action to move a half-game behind Texas for first place. Rather, Saxon is suggesting that a first baseman is a needless addition given that he believes at best, such an acquistion would just net the Halos the division title (which they could win anyway).
It's a reasonable argument to make given that the Angels are coming off some significant offseason losses — John Lackey, Vladimir Guerrero, Chone Figgins, etc. — and already have over $80MM in committed salary for 2011 (thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts). Adding a high-priced bat for a late-season rental can cost the Angels a lot of money and valuable prospects. Los Angeles has worked hard under Arte Moreno's ownership to turn itself into a franchise that is perpetually in contention and never "gives up" on its quest for a World Series, but there's no reason why Morales' freak injury should potentially wreck more than one season if L.A. overpays to fill Morales' spot.