Matsui is the Angels' consolation prize

Tim Brown
Yahoo! Sports

One New York-based agent on Monday evening looked back across the most significant day of the offseason and observed, “Obviously, this is a big shoe to drop.”

World Series MVP Hideki Matsui is heading west as he'll serve as the Angels' new designated hitter.
(Getty Images)

By then, there was news (some of it unconfirmed, but all of it convincing) of Roy Halladay(notes) headed to Philadelphia, John Lackey(notes) to Boston, Cliff Lee(notes) to Seattle. Offers to Matt Holliday(notes) and Jason Bay(notes). Chone Figgins(notes) settling in Seattle, Curtis Granderson(notes) and Andy Pettitte(notes) in New York, Marco Scutaro(notes) in Boston, Randy Wolf(notes) in Milwaukee.

Getting Halladay and Lackey off a half-dozen GMs' desks meant the beginning of clarity, too. The Red Sox, having been dismissed by Bay's representatives, moved on in left field and were looking into Mike Cameron(notes). The Yankees were getting around to the same trouble spot, starting with Johnny Damon(notes). That left a little less confusion for the Mets and Cardinals on the left-field front, even, where discussions led back to Bay and Holliday.

On the same day, the Angels came to terms with the guy with tender knees.

Since the day their owner, Arte Moreno, said he would refuse to engage Holliday, who is the market's best hitter, the Angels have said so long to Figgins and Lackey, and now, apparently, to Vladimir Guerrero(notes). On Monday, they agreed to a one-year contract with Hideki Matsui(notes). The deal is worth $6.5 million and is pending a physical, according to a source close to negotiations.

A couple weeks into December, that big, dropping shoe has left a heel print on the Angels' foreheads.

Not that Matsui can't hit, necessarily. He can. He hit 28 home runs in 2009 (more on the road than at Yankee Stadium) and was World Series MVP, thanks to one of the great nights in postseason history.

But, this will be his first offseason in his last three without knee surgery, assuming he holds on for the next couple months. Anything he does for the Angels (and assuming he gets past the physical) in 2010 will be atop arthritic knees, one of which was drained twice last season. He did not play a game in the outfield last season, and no matter how long or hard he begs Mike Scioscia for a day or two a week in left, he should not be allowed to even carry a glove to the ballpark.

So, the Angels have their DH.

What they don't have is a proven leadoff hitter or third baseman. Presumably, they believed they'd just witnessed Figgins' career season and didn't want to commit to four or five seasons of him tailing off.

Their pitching staff has taken a huge hit. Presumably, they know enough about Lackey's annual elbow issues not to have committed to five seasons there, either.

Guerrero wobbled around on bad legs himself and, even if it was time to go, his influence in the clubhouse and on the other Latin players is not replaceable, not even by Bobby Abreu(notes), the other 35-year-old the Angels signed this winter.

Presumably, they have a bigger plan than being outspent by division and league rivals and outmaneuvered by the Phillies for Halladay.

Angels officials said last week they were focused on pitching, meaning Lackey and Halladay at the top. Seems they're gone. They also said they were a “longshot” to sign Bay and, of course, had no willingness to sign Holliday.

They will, however, send two scouts to watch Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman on Tuesday in Houston. So maybe the rebuild will start there. First they might check his shoe size.

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