KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It won't rival Babe Ruth's Called Shot during the 1932 World Series, but it could be the Shot Heard 'Round Los Angeles of Anaheim.
Unable to add an impact bat last off-season or before the July 31 trade deadline, Angels owner Arte Moreno vowed Tuesday that things would be different this winter. Actually, he did more than vow.
"I'll guarantee we're going to do something major," Moreno said before the Angels' 5-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals in Kauffman Stadium. "We explored it before, but now we have goals we want to attain and that we will accomplish, whether through free agency or trades."
Moreno would not say what he considered "major," but after watching his team's power-starved offense struggle for two seasons, it's clear he's convinced the Angels, who are 6 1/2 games behind Oakland in the American League West with 11 games left, need to act.
"That's fine," General Manager Bill Stoneman said, when asked if he felt pressured by Moreno's pledge. "Whether it's free agency or trade, it's a somewhat thin market this winter. But it's nice to know you're being backed up."
Moreno was in town Tuesday to meet with the major league coaching staff, several front-office executives and the team's major league scouts to evaluate the current roster. Today, the group will meet to plot strategies for the winter.
The Angels will target third base and first base -- Dallas McPherson's injuries and Casey Kotchman's illness have left huge questions there -- center field and the back of the bullpen as areas to improve.
The Angels will not pick up left-hander J.C. Romero's $2.75-million option, and long reliever Kevin Gregg probably won't be re-signed.
The organization appears split on whether to retain right-hander Brendan Donnelly.
The Angels will look to use pitcher Joe Saunders, center fielder Chone Figgins, catcher Jose Molina and possibly outfielder Juan Rivera as chips in trades, but it may take starter Ervin Santana to land the kind of hitter they're seeking.
First baseman Darin Erstad, who will undergo ankle surgery after the season, will be invited to spring training on a minor league deal. Barring a change of heart, the Angels will allow popular second baseman Adam Kennedy to leave as a free agent to make room for Howie Kendrick.
"He's been great for the organization, a great community guy, and he was a key part of a world championship," Moreno said. "After the season, we'll make a decision. He's one of those players who is an Angel and will always be an Angel....It's a tough business."
The Angels have $73.5 million committed to the 10 players under contract for 2007, and significant raises to closer Francisco Rodriguez and Scot Shields will boost the payroll to about $83.5 million.
Moreno said finances "won't be a hurdle" in the team's efforts to upgrade, but the market is not exactly bustling with impact players.
The top free-agent hitters will be Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Lee, though Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez could become available if he opts out of his contract. The top free-agent pitchers are Barry Zito and Jason Schmidt.
Among the possible trade targets are center fielders Vernon Wells (Toronto) and Torii Hunter (Minnesota), who each have options for 2007, and Baltimore shortstop Miguel Tejada, whom the Angels nearly acquired in July.
"We're economically sound, we're making money ... even though we're not leading the division, we're real optimistic about our position going forward," Moreno said. "We're not in a situation where we have to fix everything."
Including the general manager. Stoneman has come under fire for his inability to add an impact bat, but Moreno has no plans to fire him.
"Everyone wants instant satisfaction -- that's tough," Moreno said. "You've got to have stability. If you have a revolving door, where every year you have a new GM and manager....I won't want that. If you want to point the finger, point it at me."