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Angels prepare for life after K-Rod

Angels prepare for life after K-Rod

LAS VEGAS -- The Angels will have a new look on the mound in the ninth inning of close games in 2009.

Left to be determined is who that closer will be -- and what the lineup surrounding Francisco Rodriguez's heir apparent will look like.

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With K-Rod on his way to New York and the Mets, a physical exam left to finalize a three-year deal worth $37 million with a vesting option for 2012 taking it to $51 million, the Angels continued to focus on Mark Teixeira from a distance four floors above agent Scott Boras' suite at the Bellagio.

Angels general manager Tony Reagins said he did not speak with Boras on Tuesday but has an understanding with Teixeira's agent and will come forward with a proposal "when the time is appropriate."

"At some point, we're going to have to make a decision whether we're in or out -- and that time is not here yet," Reagins said as reports circulated that the Red Sox were stepping up their efforts to sign Teixeira, a Maryland native said to favor a return to the East Coast in a long-term deal worth about $20 million per year.

As for Rodriguez, the Angels made their last multiyear proposal 13 months ago, soon after Reagins replaced Bill Stoneman as general manager. It was in the three-year, $34 million range. The Angels went to arbitration with K-Rod, who settled for $10 million in a losing case, and did not extend another extension offer as he launched a record-setting season with 62 saves.

Those K-Rod dollars and many more have been reserved for the pursuit of Teixeira. If the first baseman doesn't return, the Angels could be losing their No. 3 hitter, their closer, their fifth starter (Jon Garland) and two of their outfielders (Garret Anderson, second on the club in RBIs, and Juan Rivera).

Manager Mike Scioscia, who sees Teixeira as a wheel in his attack and defensive anchor at first, thinks geography is being overstated in the switch-hitter's case.

"I don't think it's as much [of a factor] now that he's spent time out in Southern California," Scioscia said of Teixeira, acquired last July by the Angels from the Braves. "I think he's very comfortable there, as comfortable as he is moving back East with all the connections he has back East.

"I don't anticipate that being an issue. I think it would have been different if maybe if he never had had a chance to play [in Anaheim] for a couple months and gotten to experience it. I know Mark had a great experience with us and was very comfortable.

"My perception is that part isn't going to be as big as maybe it would have been if he had a chance to go out [to Southern California] and play for a couple months."

While retaining Teixeira has been Plan A since the Angels' season ended in four games of the American League Division Series against the Red Sox, they are not without Plans B, C, D -- "and maybe E," Reagins said.

The GM has contacted the representatives for CC Sabathia, who appears to be taking shape as the club's Plan B if Plan A doesn't pan out.

"We've had discussions with them as an option," Reagins said of Team Sabathia. "He's looking for a place to win, first and foremost, and a place for his family to be comfortable. We just talked about scenarios, gauging his level of interest in us and ours in him. Very preliminary."

Sabathia, the premier starting pitcher in free agency, reportedly has been handed concrete offers by the Brewers, with whom he finished a dominant 2008 season, and the Yankees, whose six-year, $140 million proposal apparently has not drawn a response.

The prevailing view is that Sabathia would like to find a team closer to his Northern California home, whether it's the Angels, Dodgers, Giants or Athletics.

Reagins said he couldn't confirm the accuracy of a report that Sabathia prefers the National League, where he can use his formidable bat.

Asked if he thought it could be possible for the Angels to sign both Teixeira and Sabathia, Scioscia called it "unlikely -- but I don't think it's been ruled out" by owner Arte Moreno and Reagins.

Replacing Rodriguez, who amassed 208 saves in 240 chances for the Angels and led the AL in three of the past four seasons, could take a small village.

There are a number of avenues the Angels might travel, from in-house candidates Scot Shields and Jose Arredondo to free agency to trades.

"We think they're capable," Reagins said of Shields, the AL leader in holds the past four seasons, and Arredondo, who showed poise and tremendous stuff going 10-2 with a 1.62 ERA in his rookie year.

Left-hander Brian Fuentes, who saved at least 30 games three of the past four seasons for the Rockies, heads the free-agent market with Rodriguez gone. The Angels have contacted Fuentes' representatives.

Quality bullpen depth comes from veterans Darren Oliver and Justin Speier, with Kevin Jepsen, Jason Bulger and Darren O'Day pushing for jobs.

"If there are arms out there that are going to help us, I know Tony will pursue them and is pursuing them," Scioscia said. "But if we don't add anybody into our bullpen, I don't think there's any doubt at our comfort level and our confidence we have in who's down there now."

Scioscia said he wouldn't mind starting the season with a bullpen by committee and see who eventually assumes the closing role.

As for the prospect of infusing the offense with Manny Ramirez's bat, neither Reagins nor Scioscia expressed optimism that his demands could be met -- in spite of Moreno's clearly expressed admiration of the slugger extraordinaire.

"Internally, Manny has been discussed and I think he's a great fit on a lot of clubs," Scioscia said. "I think our priorities are very well defined for what we're trying to do, and obviously there's only so much you're going to be able to do.

"It doesn't mean that Manny is not an option, but there are things that need to be worked out with all these guys. And when you're talking about Teixeira or Sabathia or Manny or any other free agents that are out there, the contract and ... the dollars are something that has to be a fit."

If Ramirez is Plan C, the GM clearly didn't plan to get there.

"It's not a likely scenario," Reagins said.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["winter_meetings" ] }
{"content":["winter_meetings" ] }