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ANGELS FYI

Angels will have some economic decisions to make

Many key players will be free agents or eligible for arbitration, and GM Tony Reagins doesn't know what the 2010 payroll will be.

September 11, 2009|Kevin Baxter

The Angels concluded two days of organizational meetings Thursday, assessing the current state of the team and discussing what they need to accomplish this off-season. And while General Manager Tony Reagins said he came away from the meetings pleased, he didn't come away with a firm payroll figure for 2010.

"I have an understanding of where we'll end up financially. And that's about it," said Reagins, who chose to keep that understanding to himself.

Salary figures probably dominated the meeting because the Angels have 12 key players who will be without contracts at the end of the season. John Lackey, Darren Oliver, Chone Figgins, Vladimir Guerrero and Bobby Abreu are eligible for free agency and Jered Weaver, Joe Saunders, Howie Kendrick, Mike Napoli, Erick Aybar, Jeff Mathis and Maicer Izturis are among those eligible for salary arbitration.

Keeping more than a handful of those players could expand the Angels payroll well beyond its current $121 million, which ranks ninth among the 30 big league teams.

"Economics is always a part of any business," Reagins said. "You have to make the best economic decisions and the best decisions on the field that you can. And we're in a position where we want to win, and win every year.

"At the end of the day our goal is to win a world championship."

Pitching in

The Mariners entered Thursday with a team earned-run average of 3.95, making them the only team in the American League with an ERA below 4.00. And though that steady pitching hasn't paid off this season, Manager Don Wakamatsu says it bodes well for next season.

"We go into next year with quite a few choices," he said. "More choices that we had going into this year."

Wakamatsu said the Mariners began the season hoping to have three starters pitch at least 200 innings each. Only Felix Hernadez, who leads the team with 14 wins and a 2.61 ERA, will get there. But rookies Doug Fister (2-1, 2.79) and Shawn Kelley (4-2, 4.82) and 25-year-old Brandon Morrow (0-4, 5.28), a closer who is reinventing himself as a starter, have been impressive.

"You look at the group of guys that have stepped in and given us some innings. But no one has over 100 innings," said Wakamatsu, who gave credit to pitching coach Rick Adair and bullpen coach John Wetteland. "The philosophy that Rick and John have stayed with this year has been solid. We simplified some things, especially with some young pitchers."

Hunter honored

Torii Hunter was honored twice for his humanitarian work Thursday when he was named winner of the Branch Rickey Award and then recognized as the Angels' nominee for Major League Baseball's Roberto Clemente Award, which will be presented during the World Series.

"It's not about winning the awards. It's life," said Hunter, who was touted for his work with children in Southern California, Las Vegas, Minnesota and in his home town of Pine Bluff, Ark. "After baseball, I'm still going to continue to do it."

Hunter was also nominated for the Clemente Award in 2002, when he played with the Twins. But it's the first time he has won the Rickey prize, created by the Rotary Club of Denver to honor individuals in baseball who contribute to their communities and are strong role models. It is named for the former Dodgers general manager who helped break baseball's color barrier when he signed Jackie Robinson.

"Branch Rickey was a very important part of Major League Baseball," Hunter said. "This guy took a chance and stepped out and did something great. I'm honored to get the Branch Rickey Award.

"He's just as important as Jackie Robinson, Branch Rickey is."

Hunter will be honored at a banquet in Denver on Nov.14.

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kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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