What To Make Of Anaheim's Spending Splurge

If you spent the past month in a cave, you may have missed the Anaheim Angels' two note-worthy free agent signings: 1B Albert Pujols, who they've promised $250M over the next decade, and LHP C.J. Wilson, who will earn $77.5M over the next five seasons.

Anaheim should have worries though. Pujols,* one of the great hitters of this era, had the worst season of his career this year, racking up only (a relative term) 5.4 WAR at the age of 31. He could very well be declining. His WAR has dropped each of the last three seasons. Was 2011 part of most player's natural, early-30s decline, or was it just an off-year? Anaheim gambled a lot of money that it was merely an off-year. (At least A-Rod's moronic contract was awarded after a career year.) Don't get me wrong, a 150 OPS+ is still excellent, but it's not what we've gotten used to from Pujols in slightly less recent memory.

As for Wilson, he has a lot of question marks as well. The biggest of which is how he'll cope, long term, with workloads imposed on starting pitchers. He's been a starter for all of two seasons! That's right, he made 252 relief appearances, from 2005-09, before entering the Texas rotation in 2010. I guess there are two ways to look at that, though: 1) Cynically, he hasn't shown long term viability as a SP, or 2) optimistically, his body hasn't been burdened by starting, so he should stay healthy for a long while. In fairness, he wasn't given much of a chance to show he could be a SP before the age of 29, despite 70 of his 94 MiL appearances being starts (ahem, sound familiar?).

With the Yankees trying to get their payroll down to $189M by 2014, and with Anaheim's on the rise every year since 2005, will they challenge the Yanks as a perennial powerhouse in the near future?

Going back a few years, the Yanks spent more than $400M in the '08-'09 offseason on three players: CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira. So debate this question today - which is/was a better investment: the Angels in '11-'12, or the Bombers in '08-'09?

* I learned there was a Kengshill Pujols that played in the Dodgers' organization in the mid-2000s.

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