ANAHEIM, Calif. – At the end of a couple days in which their best player held up a Mariners jersey in Seattle and their best pitcher tried on a Red Sox jersey in Boston, in which the No. 1 starter they then needed put on a P cap in Philly, the Angels, as an organization, believed in what they are.
It's a nice attribute, confidence.
''If we didn't do anything the rest of the way,'' GM Tony Reagins said Wednesday, ''I'd be absolutely fine with this club.''
So overcome with joy they were hoping just not to wet themselves in other cities, where, ohmygod, Chone Figgins(notes) and Cliff Lee(notes) are coming, or nokiddin', John freakin' Lackey just signed, or canyoubelieveit, Roy Halladay(notes) – the Roy Halladay – is gonna wear a Phils uni, the Angels, as an organization, woke up, had a cup and drove to work.
Not really that interested.
''It's not just one guy,'' manager Mike Scioscia said.
That would be a tough sell this morning in Seattle, where a team that two years ago lost 101 games now believes it can win the AL West, and whose general manager, almost-58-year-old Jack Zduriencik, has nicknamed his own offseason work, ''Earth, Wind and Fire.'' (What, Z, no Johnny Mathis love?)
They're not buying it in Boston, where their division series ERA was almost six against a team (the, uh, Angels) they'd owned in October for two decades, and now they'll line up Josh Beckett(notes), Jon Lester(notes), Lackey and Clay Buchholz(notes) in the postseason. Of the Lackey signing, Red Sox general manager Terry Francona said, "It makes us all a lot smarter,'' – and where does that leave the Angels?
Their plan now is to add pitching, but there are no more aces out there, and even the everyday available starter – Derek Lowe, say – doesn't come much cheaper than Lackey would have.
They'd argue that in Philly, where they'd come up a pitcher or two short of a repeat, and even if Cliff Lee was the farthest thing from the problem, Halladay is better than anybody out there right now, and right now he's theirs through 2013. ''It doesn't come around very often,'' Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said, ''when you have an opportunity to bring this type of player to your organization.''
In 48 hours, the baseball landscape changed. Tired of losing, especially to the Angels, the Mariners got better. Unwilling to live with another postseason three-and-out, the Red Sox got better. Acting on Charlie Manuel's promise in the moments after World Series Game 6 – ''They've got the trophy. We gave it up. But, we're going to get it back,'' he'd said – the Phillies got better. The Yankees are better. The Rangers are better. The White Sox. Maybe even the Tigers.
''We still have work to do,'' Reagins admitted.
Not a left fielder.
They'll try, though. They'll talk it over in spring training and ice the rickety parts and hope to steal a couple games a week in left.
''They actually have been getting better over the years,'' Matsui said of his arthritic knees.
So, they're actually going to try it.
''We're a better team,'' Scioscia said, ''if he can play the outfield.''
One thing you must appreciate about the Angels, they do believe in who they are, the sum of their parts, what they can make of a ballplayer.
Here's another: They will not be led by sentiment.
And, they will not – absolutely will not – chance some slight fiscal headache in 2014, assuming, you know, there is a 2014.
So that's three things.
There's strength in that, isn't there. There's trust in the system, developed over six years in which they'd won five AL West titles, over a decade in which they were world champions once.
Scioscia, who created and abides by the system, advanced all the same truths.
He said they'd miss Vladimir Guerrero(notes) the guy, and the gangly, tangled mess of a line drive who'd become the face of the franchise, but they'd had to get something done today. So, thanks, Vlad, see you at the number-retiring ceremony.
He said they'd miss Lackey the guy, and the game, no-guff king of the clubhouse and mound, who'd won the deciding game of their only championship, but they weren't going to pay him like the Red Sox would. So, thanks, Big John, see you in Game 3.
He said they'd miss Figgins the guy, and the daring, merciless legs of their first-to-third heartbeat, who'd shown up and played wherever they'd pointed, but life goes on. So, thanks, Figgy, see you over and over real soon.
''There's a lot of talent going out of the clubhouse,'' Scioscia admitted.
The Angels seem intent on testing the system, though.
And so on an odd afternoon in baseball, when so much of them was scattered across the game, the Angels held up a No. 55 jersey with MATSUI on the back and smiled.
Yeah, nice, that confidence.
- Red Sox
- Hideki Matsui
- Mike Scioscia