The Angels and Dodgers have already identified their most significant need and will head into the 2008 baseball winter meetings with a distinct purpose - to find and sign as many outfielders as they possibly can.
"Andruw Jones is a nice start," said Ned Colletti. "But with only Pierre, Ethier, Kemp, Jones, and Delwyn Young as outfielders, we run a significant possibility of a shortage." He emphasized that if one of them were to get hurt or need to take a breather, there was a distinct chance that "someone might have to play every single day, and that's obviously unacceptable."
Angels' new GM Tony Reagins agrees. "This is the way Bill (Stoneman) did things, and the way Arty (Angels owner' Arte Moreno) likes them, and who can blame them? Outfielders are required to cover more of the ground than any other single position of the team. I don't know what you'd do without at least seven of them." The Angels have showed the commitment to their policy by signing centerfielders Gary Matthews. Jr. and Torii Hunter in the last two free agency periods and carrying 6 outfielders on their roster.
"It's not just outfielders. It's veteran outfielders, as the positional tools and ability reach their peak at around 37 or 38. Can't wait for those final two years of contracts for Matthews and Hunter," Reagins continued. "They sould be amazing talent, Vlad should start to reach his prime, and maybe (Reggie) Willits will be old enough to platoon in once in awhile. Just look at Garret Anderson and I think you'll see what we're talking about."
Meanwhile, back in Chavez Ravine, the Dodgers can go with a new look outfield practically every day. "It's great," said manager Joe Torre. "They never know what in the heck I'm going to throw out there. You should see the looks of surprise on the fans' faces when Andre Ethier stays on the bench. Imagine what that does to the other team."
Luckily for both of the LA area franchises there could be a variety of toolsy, aging outfielders available in the upcoming offseason, and they should foretell a flurry of interest. Reports have indicated that the Angels have already offered Brian Giles, Juan Encarnacion, and Bobby Abreu 7 year contracts worth around 144 million dollars to start the bidding. The Dodgers plan on being aggressive as well, but perhaps more shrewd - they hope at least 1 of those years on the Giles contract will be a club option.