September 27, 2010

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction

Last week I tried to answer the question of how the Angels got here? “Here” now meaning in third place and eliminated from the American League West pennant hunt. (By the way, I can’t tell you how much I hated writing that last sentence just now).

So, it's now September 27 and there are only three home games left in the season. I imagine that most Angel fans have a million things going through their minds right about now and most of that is most likely about how does the organization move forward?.

Believe it or not, I have some random and maybe not so random thoughts/questions of my own on the subject at hand. These aren’t necessarily the typical thoughts of an Angel fan, but then again – maybe they are. You tell me.

As we enter this important off season, I have to wonder if the Angels will ever do business with Scott Boras again. We all know how badly the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes went in 2008 and it appears that Boras may have burned his bridge to Anaheim forever.

Prior to the Teixeira negotiations taking place we heard that he and Arte Moreno had a great relationship. Boras was known to have season seats at Angel Stadium and it was reported that the two even had lunch together now and then.

Somewhere between sharing sandwiches and Teixeira signing a contract in New York something went wrong and a promising relationship soured (to put it mildly).

That point was hammered home when the Angels avoided any and all free agents in 2009 that were attached to Boras. Which begs the question: Was this a one time act or will the Angels do the same this year and in years to come?

If the Angels are in fact done with Boras that would put an end to any hope we might have in seeing Adrian Beltre (who is represented by Boras) in an Angels uniform next season. To make matters worse, it calls into question the future of Kendry Morales and Jered Weaver (who are also Boras clients) in Anaheim.

Boras really doesn’t have any other significant clients hitting the market in 2011 (unless you believe that Johnny Damon and/or Manny Ramirez have something left in the tank). Edit: Since writing this, I discovered that Jayson Werth is also a Boras' client.

Regardless of how anyone feels (good or bad) about Brandon Wood and/or Alberto Callaspo, it’s clear the Angels have a need at third base. If they don’t pursue Beltre at all, that might tell us a lot about the organization’s relationship or more importantly – Arte Moreno’s relationship with Boras.

Another thought. The Angels seem to have depth in all the wrong places. I know we shouldn’t get too excited about anyone who is a prospect, but it appears to me that Mike Trout is for real and he’s coming; maybe not this next year, but soon. The problem is he’s a center fielder and the Angels seem to have written Peter Bourjos in as the every day guy there. A fact made more evident by Torii Hunter’s move to right field.

So… what happens when Trout arrives? The easy solution would be to move one of them to a corner, but how do you do that if Hunter is in right and say someone like Carl Crawford is in left? I know I’m getting way ahead of myself here with the Trout scenario (and with Crawford), but this is the kind of stuff that wanders through my mind as I’m watching the Angels getting swept by the White Sox.

Let me add this – don’t be surprised if Bourjos is moved. Even though I’d hate to see that happen; I wouldn’t be stunned if Hunter was back in center and the Angels added some offense in both corner outfield positions (knowing Trout is not far away).

And then there’s Mark Trumbo. Word is he’s going to play some outfield in winter ball. Okay, sounds good – but again, how does a guy like Trumbo get a shot if someone like Carl Crawford is in left and Hunter is in right?

Is Trumbo going to be an insurance policy for Kendry Morales or a back up DH plan for either Bobby Abreu or Mike Napoli? Or is he going to have to go back to Salt Lake City for another year of AAA ball? You’d think a guy who has hit 36 homeruns with a career high .945 OPS doesn’t have anything left to prove there, wouldn’t you? Do you let him languish on the bench?

The more I think about it, the more puzzled I become. How do you decide between a free agent and a prospect when you need to fill a need at a certain position? It’s all kind of fuzzy despite the Angels having a history here. Everything that might happen impacts whatever happens after that.

The Angels have demonstrated time after time that they’re willing to let productive players walk in order to fill that position with a prospect they believe is ready. Granted those decisions haven’t always panned out (and no I’m not going to revisit any of them yet again).

I will say that the failures of Dallas McPherson and Wood have probably made it all the more difficult for guys like Trumbo to get a fair shot. Given the Angels track record, that history lesson is apt to make anyone gun shy.

More thoughts…

I’d sure like to meet the guy who is responsible for tagging Howie Kendrick with the “future batting champ” label. I’d not only like to know who that was, but ask him if he still holds that belief in his head.

As I look around the league, there seems to be a lot of mediocre second basemen out there. And you know what? Kendrick is one of them. There I said it.

This begs yet another question in my mind. Should the Angels trade Howie Kendrick? Look, I like Kendrick, but the Angels have to get better some how and the free agent landscape looks a little weak. They may need to get a little creative this off season. The wait and buy attitude of 2009 didn’t pan out so well. Time for a change.

The way I see it, if you’re going to have a mediocre second baseman, might as well make it Alberto Callaspo. Besides, the Angels have a 21 year old named Alexi Amarista who put together a pretty good minor league season (between Rancho Cucamonga, Arkansas and Salt Lake City) coming along.

Callaspo is the kind of hitter the Angels have been successful with. Even though he doesn’t walk a ton, he doesn’t strike out much either. In fact, he’s among the best at not striking out (just 7.3% of the time). He puts the ball in play and that goes hand in hand with the Angels offensive philosophy. Seems to me that he’s a better fit for what the Angels like to do than Kendrick is. He’s the prototypical #2 hitter, something the Angels have been waiting for Kendrick to become.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Callaspo is anyone to get overly excited about but neither are most of the second basemen in the league. I don’t think the difference between Callaspo and Kendrick is all that great (they’re even the same age) and yet – I think someone like Kendrick has value in a trade to another team.

The other question/thought I have is regarding Erick Aybar. Is he the guy who hit .312 or the guy hitting 58 points below that at .254? Is he something in between? More importantly is this really the Angels answer at short stop for the next few years?

Aybar has committed 20 fielding errors (he’s tied for 4th most in baseball). If there was category for base running blunders, he’d probably be among the league leaders for that too. My beef with Aybar isn’t the talent because it’s clear there’s a lot of that there. I have a problem with his focus. Anyone who has spent any amount of time watching Aybar play ball knows exactly what I’m talking about. I call him Gilligan for a reason.

So what am I talking about here? My thoughts (as random as they appear to be) do have a purpose. I’m thinking this off season may be unlike any other in team history. I think that it may be the most active off-season we’ve ever seen. I’m not talking about just signing free agents. I’m talking about the team making significant deals as well.

let's just say I will not be surprised if the 2011 roster looks significantly different than this year’s.

Last thought of the day. Some people (crazy ones) have the opinion that Mike Scioscia needs to go. There are a few people out there (again, crazy ones) who believe Scioscia has worn out his welcome and that maybe he’s lost the players.

If that were the case (and I don’t believe it is), I’d rather look for new players than get rid of Scioscia. He’s that important to the Angels success in my opinion and on that note, I’ll sign off for today.

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