There's still plenty of shopping for several teams to do, and not just for the Angels, who have taken the collar so far this winter and are up to plan D. Or is it plan G or even plan M?
Whatever it is, it doesn't look like they've had their heads in the game this entire winter.
The L.A. (south) squad began the offseason with owner Arte Moreno proclaiming that they'd do what it takes to win. Then they made lowball offers with deadlines attached, and struck out time and again. They claim not to have made any offer at all to top target Carl Crawford, disputing reports they offered an absurdly low $108 million for six years and other reports they were prepared to go to $140 million or more, if only they'd gotten their act together in time. They did offer Adrian Beltre $70 million over five years, and apparently they set a short three-day deadline that wasn't taken very seriously. "I don't understand their ultimatum strategy,'' one competing executive said.
Meanwhile, with Crawford long since signed with the Red Sox and Beltre now gone to the Rangers, the Angels still need a third baseman, plus leadoff help and probably a closer. Which is a lot to acquire with only six weeks to go before spring training, especially for a team whose owner seems to think that free-agent contracts are out of whack.
Lucky for them there are plenty of free-agents remaining, if --and that's a big word there -- they are willing to pry open their wallets. They have looked into outfielder Scott Podsednik, but there's no word if they've issued any ultimatums to him yet.
Here are some of the other teams with late shopping to do.
If Pettitte retires, it's likely they'll make a play for top free-agent closer Rafael Soriano with the hope of converting him to the world's best set-up man the next two years and thereby forming baseball's best back-end bullpen combo, to go with iconic closer Mariano Rivera. If Pettitte returns, though, there seems to be a sense they will pass on Soriano.
No matter what Pettitte decides, it may behoove them to look into another starter, and there seems to be at least a modicum of interest in Freddy Garcia and Kevin Millwood. If they don't make a play for Soriano, perhaps they'll consider reliever Brian Fuentes more closely. They also seek an outfield bat and will weigh Andruw Jones and ex-Yankee Johnny Damon, and will also look at a spare infielder, preferably someone who has the arm for third base to give aging superstar Alex Rodriguez a spell here or there.
The Nationals now are looking at Carl Pavano as a possibility to anchor the rotation until phenom Stephen Strasburg returns from injury, but they will have to outbid at least the incumbent Twins to get him. If they don't, they are looking at a decent-sized dropoff. They also wouldn't mind adding to the bullpen.
The new plan under GM Mike Rizzo is to emphasize pitching and defense, which is why first baseman Adam Dunn was allowed to leave as a free-agent. LaRoche is only solid defensively but represents a major upgrade from Dunn.