High-Paid Free Agents Fail, Angels Roll With Low-Paid Subs

Kole Calhoun, Grant Greene, Hank Conger, Peter Bourjos, Luis Jimenez, J.B. Shuck, Dane De La Rosa, Garrett Richards, Cory Rasmus, Buddy Boshers – Ten players who, with only a couple of exceptions, few Angels’ fans had even even heard of a month ago; ten players whose combined salaries barely reach $5,000,000, that is, who each make the major league minimum salary, or just over it, and thus who combined earn less than 1/3 of what the injured Luis Pujols is paid, far less than 1/3 of what Josh Hamilton is paid, and believe it or not, $1,500,000 less that Joe Blanton is paid. And yet, the Angels, playing their best baseball of the season with out Pujols, Howie Hendrick, and Tommy Hanson, and with Hamilton in and out of the lineup, winning nine of their last ten games, have done so due to the aggressive, motivated, and generally sparkling play of these ten guys who, except for Bourjos, are all getting the first real chances in the major leagues.



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I’ve always been a great fan of the home-grown, farm-system grad – any day of the week I’d give a shot to a J.B. Shuck or a Kole Calhoun rather than pay an obscene free agent salary to a Worthless Vernon Wells. It’s great to see an unheralded “fifth outfielder” like Shuck lead all AL rookies in hits. It’s a blast to see a Garrett Richards finally harness his great arm and begin to look like a quality major league pitcher. It’s also terrific to see a De La Rosa who languished in the minors for years make the most of perhaps his last shot.

So what of the guy held accountable for so many of these moves – the signings of Pujols, Hamilton, and Blanton, the trades for Greene and Rasmus? What is in the future for Angels’ General Manager Jerry Dipoto?

Tension between him and manager Mike Scioscia has been written about much of the

season, and between the two, Dipoto would be far less expensive to let go. But just who was responsible for many of the biggest free agents and their megabuck deals? DiPoto? Not really. Pujols was practically hand deliver to Scioscia by owner Artie Moreno, and the deals for others like Hamilton had his paw prints all over the. So, in a

business where you can’t fire the owner, does Dipoto take the blame, and the next train out of town?

Unfortunately, that is likely to be a yes. I wrote a while back that maybe it was time for Scioscia, whose image is tarnishing more and more, to move on. That doesn’t look like it will happen, but the guy in the middle, Dipoto, is probably on the way out. I hope some other owner will be wise enough to give him another shot, and in a situation with hands-off ownership, not with an organization where anything and everything is fair game for the owner’s paw prints.

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