Angels are ‘still in shock’

first_img Pitcher Paul Byrd, the Angels’ starting pitcher in Game 5, filled boxes with framed pictures, letters from fans and other personal belongings. He piled numerous pairs of spikes and athletic shoes near the trash can, which caught outfielder Juan Rivera’s attention. “Do you mind if I take those with me to Venezuela?” Rivera asked. “There are lots of kids down there who could use those.” ANAHEIM – One by one, Angels players filed into the Angel Stadium clubhouse for the final time in 2005 on Monday morning. Soundly beaten in the American League Championship Series by the Chicago White Sox in five games, the Angels’ season ended abruptly Sunday night. Instead of a flight to Chicago Monday, all that was left for them to do was clean out their lockers, some for the final time in Anaheim. “I still feel like a bone’s sticking out of my arm,” Angels first baseman Darin Erstad said. “I’m still in shock a little bit.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Byrd obliged. “I’m in a daze,” Byrd said. “I didn’t sleep last night.” Such is the state of mind of players who went so hard for so long, only to see their season end short of their goal of the World Series. The Angels won 99 games in 2005 – 95 in the regular season and four in the postseason, the second most in franchise history. Yet they view the season with mixed emotions. “No,” second baseman Adam Kennedy (Cal State Northridge) said when asked of the season was a success. “A lot of teams would have liked to have done what we did. But this team is built and has the ability to do a little more.” Said Byrd: “There are 26 teams who would have loved to be in our shoes.” center_img Byrd will be a free agent once the season is over, but he wants to come back and the Angels want him back. There are others who are free agents whose status is more difficult to figure out. Pitcher Jarrod Washburn is expected to command a three-year deal in the $20-24 million range, something the Angels may not be willing to do considering the number of young pitchers, like Jered Weaver and Joe Saunders, ready to emerge. Catcher Bengie Molina is looking for a four-year deal and probably would accept a three-year deal, but the Angels have prospect Jeff Mathis waiting in the wings. With general manager Bill Stoneman running the show, replacing experienced and expensive players with talented, younger and cheaper players is the norm. He did it last year with Troy Glaus, going with Dallas McPherson at third base. McPherson’s injuries prevented him from making Stoneman look good, but it won’t change the GM’s philosophy. “We don’t give shots, guys earn shots,” Stoneman said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys knocking on the door pretty soon, it’s not just the pitchers. When that happens, you try to create room for guys who earned spots.” Molina admitted it was “strange” to pack his things not knowing if he would be coming back. “I hope we get to an agreement, I don’t want to go to free agency,” Molina said. “But at the same time if I have to go, it means they don’t have any plans for me. I’ll move on and hope for the best.” Losing Bartolo Colon for the ALCS was big, Molina said, bigger than most people realize. “It hurt a lot, he was our No. 1 guy,” he said. “And we didn’t get any rest (between series). At the same time, you’ll never hear that from these guys. We went down with pride. We never made excuses.” Tim Salmon didn’t play all season as he recovered from surgeries to his shoulder and knee while in the final year of his contract which paid him $10 million. He still hopes to come back next season but realizes it’s a long shot. “It’s definitely different,” Salmon said while packing his things. “You get a little sentimental. No question most times you do this and you don’t give it a second thought. You know you’ll be back next year. Well, not this year, not this time.” If Salmon and Washburn do not return, the Angels will save $16 million that was on the books this season. But they have plenty of arbitration-eligible players who will command significant raises. They include Francisco Rodriguez, John Lackey, Chone Figgins, Scot Shields and Juan Rivera. Brendan Donnelly, Jose Molina and Jeff DaVanon also are eligible for arbitration. “There’s going to be some (financial) flexibility, but we’re not projecting a lower payroll by any stretch,” said Stoneman, whose payroll was $95 million in ’05. “It’ll probably be a little higher than it is now.” The Angels’ top priority this winter will be to add offense, and one of their potential targets just got done beating up on them. White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, the ALCS MVP, will be a free agent when he’s done with the World Series, though he would fit into the Angels’ plans more as a designated hitter. That Erstad and Figgins are capable of playing different positions gives the Angels some versatility in their search, though manager Mike Scioscia said the answers could come from within. “The offense isn’t going to be purely resurrected from outside influences,” he said. “There’s a possibility it can be resurrected from within, with guys like McPherson and (Casey) Kotchman, and with (Steve) Finley’s struggles, was that it or was it getting used to a new league. There’s a lot to look at.” Joe Haakenson, (626) 962-8811 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more