Everyone seems to have a fix for the Angels. Most involve some sort of miraculous trade which gets the Angels some young and controllable pitching talent, or spending even more money to dig themselves out of the whole they’re already in as a result of the Pujols and Hamilton deals. Admittedly, pretty much every option that’s being considered has some merit to it. Otherwise fans wouldn’t care. I’m just here to add one more option to it all, an easier option. Don’t spend any money.
Yeah, the Angels were terrible in 2013 and logically speaking, not opening up the wallet would make them awful in 2014. It’s hard not to disagree with this logic, except that even if the Angels do spend money, in essence the team will still be the same in 2014 as it was in 2013. Free Agency will not take Josh Hamilton or Albert Pujols out of the lineup. It isn’t going to make the Angels relievers pitch better. All it could do is mask some of the weaknesses the Angels have as currently constructed. I’m arguing that instead of spending the money to appear “fixed” on paper, the Angels turn it over to the youngsters.
At third base, why look to trade or free agency and further deplete the farm or take money away from an inevitable Trout extension? We already know Luis Jimenez (Lucho) won’t be any worse than Albert Callaspo was. He has some pop, is a good clubhouse personality and is solid defensively. Anyone they wish to sign in Free Agency like Michael Young or Kevin Youkilis won’t provide a large enough upgrade to justify spending million and further blocking Lucho, who has hit at every stop in the minors.
Instead I’d argue the Angels opt to trade some of their more established players and turn the team over to younger players. Bourjos’ speed gives the Angels a much needed dimension they’ve lacked for a while, which is unfortunately a byproduct of separating themselves from their NL style roots. Unless the angels choose to start from scratch, Bourjos’ speed and defense alone will not alter the way the Angels do business. So trade him to a team that does value his skill set and get some pitching in return. I use the exact counter-argument in order to justify dealing hometown favorite Mark Trumbo. The Angels already have enough station-to-station players in Hamilton, Pujols and Iannetta, keeping Trumbo’s .300 OBP and singularly dimensional skill set is not going to improve the Angels offensively. Trade him to a team that needs offensive fire power for…..you guessed it, young pitching. Finally, trade away Howie Kendrick. He’s a good second baseman, but the issue here is he’s making 9 million a year for an organization that churns out 2B from the minor leagues on a regular basis. Kendrick plays the same position as Grant Green and Taylor Lindsey and really isn’t the difference between making the playoffs and not making the playoffs. Trade Kendrick for…..young pitching.
By making these moves, we in essence put the success of the team on two factors.
1. Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton hitting the ball. The reality of the situation is the Angels are depending on these two hitting the ball regardless. So this should come as no surprise to anyone.
2. Grant Green, Taylor Lindsey, Luis Jimenez, Kole Calhoun and potentially C.J. Cron and Randal Grichuk picking up the slack. We know Green can hit the ball, he’s done it in the minors and in his appearances with the Angels after being traded for, he’s done it in Anaheim. The question is, will he defend? I think Alfredo Griffin could definitely help him. In the same thought, Taylor Lindsey looks deserving of a shot. He’s performed extremely well in AA and has added power and patience to his overall game which could exceed Kendrick’s eventually. Luis Jimenez isn’t going to be a great MLB hitter, but you could make a strong case he’d be better than Callaspo, if he isn’t already. Kole Calhoun just keeps hitting the ball for the Angels this season, which comes as no surprise to those that saw him in the minors. There really is no weakness in his game and he could be an everyday outfielder for them. Then there’s Cron and Grichuk, who have both impressed so far in the minors and should be in line for a late 2014 call up. They’d add a dimension of power that could replace what the Angels would lose in a Trumbo trade.
So far we haven’t mention relievers R.J. Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian and Mike Morin. These three are all young and could slot into the Angels bullpen soon. Granted there are quite a few Free Agent options on the relief market, but why spend the money when we’ve guys like Sean Burnett, Ryan Madson and going further back Fernando Rodney and Brian Fuentes just blow up in their face? The most successful Angel relievers are guys that haven’t cost them very much money.
I can’t pretend like this is the “be all-end all” solution. It’s just one of many. All I’m arguing is that the Angels probably won’t be a ton better if they spend money, but they could be considerably better if they take their lumps and bring in young pitching to match the young position player talent they have that are already in the majors or fast approaching.