Angels’ Arredondo Misses 2010 Season, Bullpen Looks Bleak


When Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings got underway on Dec. 7, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were said to be serious contenders in the bidding war for outfielder Jason Bay.

By week’s end, Bay remained unsigned and Angels manager Mike Scioscia told reporters his team had “more pressing needs” to address.

Scioscia may have meant a new starting pitcher, but he might as well have been talking about his bullpen.

On Friday, the Angels announced reliever Jose Arredondo will undergo Tommy John surgery in January and miss the entire 2010 season.

Arredondo exploded on the Major League scene in 2008, going 10-2 with a 1.62 ERA as a rookie. His blazing fastball hard breaking stuff lead many to label him the second coming of Francisco Rodriguez.

But in 2009, Arredondo was plagued by elbow issues, which may have contributed to his miserable 6.00 ERA and eventual demotion to Triple-A.

The Angels’ bullpen has a whole struggled throughout the majority of the season, with injuries to Arredondo and Scot Shields, and poor performances from Justin Speier, Brian Fuentes, and in the early goings, Jason Bulger.

Bulger bounced back to finish the season strong, but Speier and Fuentes—who admittedly lead the Majors with 48 saves—had a hard time keeping men off the base paths.

In Speier’s case, his failures became too much for the team to endure and he was released after surrendering three home runs in one inning to the Tampa Bay Rays.

And therein lies the Angels’ most “pressing need.”

Despite owning one of the worst bullpen ERA’s in baseball—a rare and disappointing feat in Anaheim—the Angels have yet to be linked to any trades or free agent signings regarding relief pitchers.

Instead, they seem to be counting on guys like Shields to come back from injury and the rest to rebound from what they hope were “off” seasons.

Bulger, Kevin Jepsen, and Darren Oliver where the only relievers who stepped up in the second half and pitched well in their respective setup roles.

But Oliver, one the Angels’ many free agents, is being courted by more than just the Angels and it may take more than previously thought to lure him back. Without him, Bulger and Jepsen remain the only reliable non-starters left.

Still, that is just the tip of the iceberg. The Angels will have to do more than re-sign Oliver if they want their bullpen to have any hope of returning to its former glory.

The problem, of course, is that with all of their attention fixed on Roy Halladay and John Lackey, the Angels have already missed the boat on several strong relievers.

The Florida Marlins traded Matt Lindstrom, who struggled in 2009 but had sparkling numbers the two previous years, to the Houston Astros while the Atlanta Braves pawned off closer Rafael Soriano on the Rays.

Oft-injured J.J. Putz has also signed a one-year deal with the Chicago White Sox. Sure, his health is a little spotty, but when he’s right, he can be dominant.

Now George Sherrill, former Baltimore Orioles closer-turned Dodgers setup man, is apparently being shopped by L.A., making him the best available reliever.

If that rumor is true, the Angels should jump all over him.

L.A. of A. already expressed interest in Sherrill at last season’s trade deadline, before Baltimore shipped him to Chavez Ravine, where he was lights out in Dodger blue.

There is no reason to think he couldn’t do the same in Angel red.

Whatever the Angels do, though, they’ll need to do it quickly. Negotiations with Halladay and Lackey are going to take weeks before anything gets done. They are, after all, the biggest names on the market.

In the meantime, the Angels need to focus on securing lesser-known relievers who will be able to hold leads for those big name starters.